I continue reviewing the anti-Reformed interpretation of John 6 and John 10 offered by our pseudo-Calvinist scholar, Paul Owen. Before moving on to his next statement, I would like to briefly note the amusing attempt Owen has posted to provide for himself some cover regarding my previous comments on Romans 11. Though no serious minded individual could possibly be impacted by Owen’s response, it remains educational to note not only the errors men like Owen propound with a serious look of scholarship on their face, but how they then attempt to get around refutations of their position. Rather than dealing with the substance of the response, Owen chose to use misdirection, focusing upon the fact that when Paul presents his imaginary arrogant Gentile who boasts of his position, he uses a singular rather than a plural. This, somehow, is supposed to be some major fact that I “missed” in my comments. Of course, I never mentioned the number of the pronoun since, as anyone can see, it is utterly irrelevant. When you present an imaginary speaker, are you going to use a singular pronoun (as in, “You will say, then, ‘They were broken off so that I may be grafted in…'” etc.) or a plural pronoun? The singular, of course. This is somehow supposed to be relevant to the fact that we are still addressing Gentiles in general? Is Owen seriously suggesting that the use of the singular means Paul is speaking specifically of a particular member of the New Covenant? The singular proves a New Covenant member, rather than a single member of a group as a whole (Gentiles), is in view? Really? Yet again, amazing argumentation to say the least. This is the best Dr. Owen can come up with in the face of the refutation of his position?
Then, in another attempt to blow smoke across the discussion, Owen tries to argue for the Jeremiah identification of the OT citation in 6:45 despite the clear verbal superiority of the Isaiah reading, all the while completely ignoring the refutation of his position provided in the ensuing discussion. Likewise, another rC writer chimes in who seemingly is unaware of the difference between citation and allusion. Almost any verbal parallel, no matter how weak or a-contextual, can be listed as an allusion. [Steve Hays provides a fuller discussion, including a useful list of citations, here]. We are truly seeing a classic example of failed exegesis flailing about helplessly, with nothing more at its disposal than obfuscation.
Well, as I said, Owen continues with some more outlandish commentary, at least given that the man claims to be a Calvinist. It is not that we have not heard his arguments before: they are common in Arminian writings. In fact, keep in mind that Owen has been on this kick for quite a while. He referred us to “serious Arminian exegesis of Calvinist prooftexts” quite a while back and likewise made reference to John 6 at that time (here and here). Of course, we demonstrated his error then as well. And it should be kept in mind: not only does Owen defend Rome’s gospel as not falling under Paul’s anathema, but he says God used Joseph Smith and that Mormons are “confused” but do not have the “wrong Jesus” in light of Paul’s apostolic teaching—and that as a “former Mormon.” The more I read from this man, the more I think my first words to him long ago were correct. And I think the more he is exposed, the more clearly his real agenda will be seen (at least for those willing to look).
After eisegetically man-handling John 6, ignoring every basic canon of context and flow and the like, he continues:
Actually, we do not need to be in the dark on this matter, for John 17:12 tells us of at least one of those whom the Father gave to the Son, who did fall away and was lost: “not one of them perished, except the son of perdition.” So one of “them” did perish. Who is the “them” of verse 12? By “them” Jesus is referring to those whom he kept and guarded. Yet in order to fulfill Scripture, Jesus stopped guarding and keeping Judas, and allowed him to fall. And who are these persons, one of whom was Judas, whom Jesus was keeping and guarding? According to verse 6, they are those whom the Father gave to the Son.
But does verse 6 not say that they have kept his word? Certainly–yet with one exception–Judas, according to verse 12. Jesus stopped keeping Judas, and Judas stopped keeping his word. There is no way to get around verse 12, by claiming that Judas is not one of those given to the Son by the Father, whom Jesus was keeping and guarding. The language is clear. If I say, “Not one of my dogs is a Shih Tzu, except Muffin,” I am obviously not denying that Muffin is one of my dogs. So when Jesus says that not one of those given to him by the Father perished except Judas, it is ludicrous to claim that this means Judas was not one of those given to Jesus by the Father.
Now once again, there is nothing new here, only that the person writing these words pretends to be a Calvinist and a scholarly exegete. One always benefits by reading the text under consideration very carefully. Consider for just a moment the words of the Lord in their context in His high priestly prayer:
John 17:11-16 11 “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. 12 “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14 “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.
Owen ends by insisting that Judas was one of those given to Jesus by the Father. For what? For salvation? Jesus identifies Judas as the son of perdition who had to function as he did to fulfill the Scriptures. Are we seriously to believe that the Father gave Judas to the Son for salvation when, at the same time, Judas was predestined to be the son of perdition and betray Christ? This involves clear and obvious equivocation that is then used to completely overthrow the plain meaning of the text at John 6. Why does Owen assume “given” means the same thing in different contexts, and that despite the rather painfully obvious description of Judas as the son of perdition so that “given to the Son for salvation” (i.e., 6:38-39) is obviously not what the text is referring to? Does Owen even try to support this obviously errant insistence that “given” to the Son in this case means “given for salvation”? No, of course not. Will he try to now? Probably, given his track record so far, but we can already see that given his complete failure to even begin to address John 6 contextually, we should not be looking for a contextually-driven response, but yet another “my theology says this, therefore Judas, though the son of perdition, was given to the Son for salvation, which proves that not only the elect are drawn to the Son, etc.” Instead, we can see that it would be foolishness for the Father to give the son of perdition to the Son for the purpose of salvation, thereby causing the Son to fail in the fulfillment of the Father’s will for Him (6:39). Owen can have his man-centered system of salvation which renders the promises of God null and void, and turns Jesus into a “wannabe” Savior. The people of God have no need for such teachings.