In our last installment in reviewing Tim Warner’s response to me on John 6 we entered into his assertion that the use of the word “see” in the present tense meant physical sight, so that Jesus was only referring to the Jews of that day believing in Him. Though Warner recognizes that “believing” is likewise a present tense participle (would it not follow that believing, then, was only relevant to those Jews in that day?), he does not seem to recognize that the contrast in John is not between “Jews believing in one particular way in the days of Jesus, and now, due to our progressive dispensationalism, we see that things are different now than they were then,” but between the kind of faith referred to by the use of the present tense (on-going faith) vs. the temporary faith that does not save seen a number of times in John (John 2:23-25, John 8:30), normally using the aorist. Given that John is writing all of this long after the cross, the arbitrary insistence that John’s words are to be limited in their application and meaning to a period no longer relevant to anyone to whom he was writing is truly one of the worst logical outcomes of certain forms of dispensationalism. The fact that his words would be invariably misunderstood and would lead to all sorts of errors down through the centuries until dispensationalism came along to sort things out is truly enough to prove the error of this movement. Remember, the book itself places the issue of faith in the days of John, after the cross:
John 20:30-31 30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
Notice that the text uses i[na with the subjunctive yet once again to express simple purpose: these things have been written with the purpose that the reader may believe that Jesus is the Christ, and, then, a second use of i[na, by believing you may have life in His name. As we noted earlier, it would be gross misreading to read into the text issues of “Well, it was God’s purpose that everyone believe, and since not everyone believes, then God’s will can be thwarted!” just as it would be an error to think that any person who truly does believe might not have life in the name of Christ. Instead, John has written his gospel so that it may be used to bring men and women to faith in Christ, and all who truly believe do, in fact, receive eternal life through that faith. But notice that John’s gospel, no matter when you date it, was written after the cross. Hence, John is saying that what he has written he has written so that by reading these gracious words a person may believe and have eternal life. Now, how would a person, living at the end of the first century, know that the gracious promise of Christ to save perfectly those coming to Him and believing in Him recorded in chapter six was no longer relevant to him or her? This is surely a misreading of the text, and the fact that John would present to his audience his gospel, with almost all of it narrating events and teachings prior to the cross, shows that he, unlike Warner, did not embrace this particular “progressive dispensational” hermeneutic so that Jesus’ words in the synagogue at Capernaum have only a historical and passing interest to his readers.
It is almost sad to see how far removed from the plain meaning of the text in front of him Warner is forced by his a-contextual dispensationalism. Note this statement:
Both “seeing” and “believing” in verse 40 are present participles. They referred to people doing these things at that time. Since the immediate audience actually did see Jesus with their eyes, there is no doubt that they understood Jesus literally in this verse. To allegorize the term in order to stretch the scope of Jesus’ teaching beyond the immediate audience is “wresting the Scriptures” in my opinion. The idea of seeing Jesus and then believing that He was the Messiah is repeated many times in the Gospels. It has reference to their seeing the miracles that Jesus did as proof that He was the Messiah. His miracles were all the proof required.
The number of obvious errors in thought and reasoning in this single paragraph, given the context, are hard to catalog. Once again Warner ignores the fact that John wrote this long after these events took place for a purpose. Next, isn’t the whole point of John 6 that these men were unbelievers, who, though they had seen the miracles, did not in fact believe? Isn’t Jesus explaining why? And if we take his literalism, will we not fall into the very same trap Rome has fallen in to as well? Does it not follow that eating flesh and drinking blood is “literal”? Warner even “sees” the disjunction the Lord presents between seeing (physically) and believing in v. 36, but misses that in v. 40 the two are joined together, for those the Son raises up to eternal life see and believe. That is the whole point: while they had seen the miracles, they had not really seen; and while they were seeing Jesus, they were not really seeing Jesus. It is common all through John for this kind of play on words to be used: hearing, but not hearing, for example; seeing, but not seeing. When seeing is joined with believing, it is clearly spiritual in nature, not physical; when hearing is joined with faith, it is not physical hearing, it is spiritual hearing, hearing of the Word of God (with understanding), seeing the Lord Jesus Christ for who He is. The whole point of this text is that these men are looking on the outward, looking for signs, but they are not truly looking. The words Jesus gives them are “spirit and are life,” as He Himself indicated. Will Warner accuse the Lord of using improper metaphors for His teaching, we wonder? So we must reject as utterly groundless and once again utterly against the flow of the context Warner’s assertion, “Clearly, ‘seeing’ Christ in this passage refers to actually observing Jesus in the flesh with the eyes.”
Despite having God’s truth right before him, Tim Warner cannot “see” it plainly due to his outside sources and beliefs. The irony is that he even makes reference to the concluding words John provides in reference to Jesus’ ministry from John 12, which specifically states God’s sovereign activity in hardening hearts and blinding eyes, and yet this clearly has nothing to do with physical sight! Such glaring inconsistency is the hallmark of the eisegesis flowing from Warner’s odd form of progressive dispensationalism, one that is joined, for some odd reason, with an uncritical utilization of patristic sources.
[continued in next installment]