Monthly Archives: June 2009

Very Good Article on John 6, 10

Here is a great article on the order of faith and election in the Gospel of John. Thanks to Brian Abasciano for making me aware of this work.

Robert Hamilton, “The Order of Faith and Election in John’s Gospel: You Do Not Believe Because You Are Not My Sheep”

Summary Review:
Calvinists use portions of the Gospel of John to establish the concept of unconditional particular election. For example this passage:

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. John 10:25-26 (NIV)

Calvinists point to this passage to prove particular election before faith – that the non-believing Jews didn’t follow Jesus because God didn’t elect them to believe.

Hamilton argues that this is a misinterpretation of the passage, and doesn’t take into account the historical context. He argues that the sheep were God fearing Jews who seeking after the Father prior to the arrival of Jesus. When Jesus came, all these God fearing Jews (and later Gentiles) were given by the Father to the son, and these are the sheep Jesus speaks of.

On the other hand, the non-believing Jews were not following God prior to the coming of Jesus, and therefore were not given to him by the Father.

So the passage is not about particular election before faith. It is simply Jesus explaining to the Pharisees that they were not following him because they were not following the Father in the first place.


Filed under John 10, John 6

The Greek Word Diakonos in Romans 16:1

The Greek word diakonos is often translated as deacon. It is a New Testament term that refers to leaders or ministers in the local church body. This post is about how the term is translated in Romans 16:1, when it refers to the person of Phoebe.

Here’s the NIV translation of diakonos when referring to Phoebe: Romans 16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea.

Here’ the NIV translation of diakonos elsewhere when referring to a man: 1 Timothy 3:12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well.

I was curious how different English translations would handle these two passages, given the possible relevance to women in leadership. Here are the results:

Notice that in 1 Tim 3:12 diakonos is always translated as deacon. But in Romans 16:1 when it refers to Phoebe it is frequently translated as servant.

Servant does not at all convey the idea of leadership, while the word deacon does. We can’t be certain what Phoebe’s role was in the church in Cenchrea, however, I don’t believe that the word servant adequately conveys the leadership aspect of her role.

Specifically, I wonder if there is translation bias going on here. The translators who are suspicious of female leadership pick the word “servant”. The translators who advocate female leadership pick the word “deacon”.

The gender specific translations (ESV, NASB, NKJV) go with servant (which interestingly is also a gender neutral term). The usually more gender neutral translations (NRSV, TNIV, NLT) go with deacon. None go with the female specific term of deaconess, although the NIV and ESV do list that as a footnote alternative (to their credit).


Filed under Bible Transalations, Greek

Interesting Links – 06/23/09

What “makes” us chose one way or the other? J.C. Thibodaux at the Arminian Perspectives blog is doing a multiple part series on the fallacies of Calvinist apologetics. part1, part2, part3,

Dan at Arminian Chronicles is working on a comprehensive list of Arminian resources for Romans 9.

David Nilsen askes Arminian Molinists: If God’s plan is to get the maximum number of people saved, then why would He ever return?

Iranian Christians are praying for their homeland. So am I. May this current unrest point the people of Iran to Jesus Christ – the source of freedom.

The (conservative) Presbyterian Church of America rejects studying the role of women in the denomination.

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Filed under Interesting Links

Calvin and Hobbes on Fatalism

HT: Dale Wayman


Filed under fatalism, humor

Interesting Links – 6/10/2009

Was Toplady’s hymn “Rock of Ages” a satirical swipe against the Wesley brothers? “Whereas most hymns have been written out of some deep personal need or experience, this hymn evidently was born in a spirit of passionate controversy.”

Former Calvinist Bob Brewer shares the Good News.

A homeschooling mom stays Wesleyan, despite the peer pressure. Way to go!

Have you heard that American Christianity is on the decline? This article says maybe not. (HT: Peter Lumpkins).

Ben Witherington interviews N.T. Wright. This is well worth the read.

John Calvin, John Wesley, and a modern Wesleyan have a chat.


Filed under Interesting Links

A.W. Tozer on the Sovereignty of God.

Here is a great quote by A.W. Tozer on the sovereignty of God:

God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, “What doest thou?” Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.

A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, chapter 22 “The Sovereignty of God”. (book can be found online here)


Filed under quotes, Sovereignty

Audio link: William Lane Craig Discussing Calvinist and Arminian Theology

Theologian William Lane Craig is currently doing a series on the differences between Calvinist and Arminian Theology. The series can be found on his website here: Defender’s Podcast.

Craig is a gentleman. He presents both Calvinism and Arminianism in a way that their adherents will appreciate. He addresses the differences in interpretation of the key Calvinist passages (Romans 9, Ephesians 1, etc). He also has a knack for getting to the heart of what’s important for each system – avoiding the myths.

As of the date of this post, they are adding new podcasts every week. The Arminian and Calvinist related discussion starts on the podcast entitled “The Doctrine of Man – Part 12 (dated 5/4/09), and continues through to the present series entitled “The Doctrine of Salvation”.

The series has also apparently drawn the attention of James White.

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Filed under Arminian Audio, Ephesians 1, Romans 9, William Lane Craig