The Subjunctive Mood argument of “Calvinism Strongholds” by Kerrigan Skelly examined

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by ReformedBaptist, Mar 23, 2011.

  1. ReformedBaptist

    ReformedBaptist
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    http://www.youtube.com/refutingcalvinism

    The above link to Youtube is a video, and website, dedicated to trying to refute Calvinism. A friend of mine taken in by this man sent me the above link to learn 'the truth' about Calvinism. I love the truth. And it may be possible that the author of the video has valid and true points.

    The video is 45 minutes long. To view a video like that and respond to all the points and arguments takes a very long time. What I have done is listened to the first 5 minutes, taking notes, and then researched some of his points. The author built his first arguments on the subjunctive mood of the Greek language from John 5.

    I am not professionally trained in the Greek language, yet I know that what he shared was too brief and simplistic. Therefore, I researched the subjunctive mood. The following is my conclusions. It appears to me that Mr. Skelly is also not professionally trained in the Greek language, otherwise he would not have made the mistake he did in the uses of the subjunctive mood.

    I also intially touch on the use of words.

    The Subjunctive Mood argument of “Calvinism Strongholds” by Kerrigan Skelly examined

    1. The first argument in the video Mr. Skelly highlights John 5:34 and zeros in on the Greek Sozo being in the subjunctive mood. The word means to keep safe, rescue from danger or destruction, et. It can be used in the sense of being saved from a disease that will cause death, meaning to heal, or in the sense we commonly understand to be salvation from sin/death/hell.

    a. Ex. Mark 5:34 “And he said unter her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. This phrase is rendered sozo se sozo. The context is describing an action that has taken place, so the tense then is in the perfect, active, indicative. Perfect means it has happened, active shows that the daughter is the one the action applies to, and the indicative means a simple statement of fact. It has happened. It is obvious from the context of this passage that the word sozo is not referring to salvation in the sense of being born again, but of healing from a physical illness.

    b. The point is this: Most words have a wide range of meaning. This is called the semantic range. It is the context of the passage that determines, or narrows, the meaning and is quite often clear.

    c. Mr. Skelly’s argument is that the subjunctive mood of the word refutes the concept of predestination. His argument also rests on the verse being salvific in the biblical sense. That is, predestined unto eternal life. So, his suggestion is that the mood of the word refutes the historic Calvinistic doctrine of predestination.

    d. Mr. Skelly correctly identifies the mood of the Greek word. He also correctly identifies to whom Jesus is referring to and why the Jews took issue with Jesus.

    e. His argument against Calvinism is that because the mood is subjunctive which means means possibility, or potentiality, then the Calvinist understanding is wrong and God has not chosen men to salvation. The action being described may or may not occur, and Mr. Skelly’s argument is that if this is the case, that these Jews may or may not be saved, then their salvation is not determined or chosen by God.

    f. Like me, Mr. Skelly may not be thoroughly trained in Greek. The use of a lexicon or dictionary, or the use of an interlinear is not enough to gain the meaning of the tense and meaning of the Greek language. To the untrained in the Greek language Mr. Skelly’s argument may appear valid. After a little research with regard to the use of the subjunctive mood in Greek, here is what I found:

    i. There are various uses of the subjunctive mood in Greek. For example, there are Horatory Subjunctive, Deliberative Subjunctive, Subjuntive of Emphatic Negation, Subjunctive of Prohibition, Purpose Clause, Indefinite Relative Clause, Indefinite Temporal Clause, Third Class Conditional Sentences, et. Souce: ntgreek.org.

    ii. It appears to me that the subjunctive use in John 5:34 is the Purpose Clause. As stated on the ntgreek.org site, “If the subjunctive mood is used in a ‘purpose’ (or in a ‘result’) clause, then the action should not be thought of a possible result, but should be viewed as the stated outcome that will happen (or has happened) as a result of another stated action. The use of the subjunctive is not to indicate that something “may” or “might” result from a given action, but it is stating the “purpose of” or “reason for” an action.

    iii. The example given on the site is John 1:7 “The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.”The phrase “might believe” is in the subjunctive mood. The site points out, “Notice that this verse has two purpose clauses, emphasizing the ultimate reason for John’s coming as a testimony to Christ.

    iv. Notice in our text of John 5:34 is also a purpose clause. “…But these things I say, that ye might be saved.” The purpose of Jesus’ saying the things he said, His testimony, the testimony of John concerning Him, and Jesus’ miracles, have a purpose. The Scriptures referenced by Mr. Skelly are written as a purpose clause.

    v. The subjunctive mood used in a purpose clause “..actually functions more like a verb in the indicative mood rather than in the optative mood. It is not stating the possibility of an action, but instead telling the intention of the primary action.” Remember, the indicative mood is a simple statement of fact.

    vi. While Mr. Kelly is correct in identifying the meaning of the subjunctive mood, he has failed to show the use of it in the passages he cites. I am not one to believe that Mr. Skelly is doing this maliciously, but rather out of a lack of knowledge of the Greek language.

    vii. That John 5:34 is using the subjunctive in a purpose clause the argument that this verse is teaching that salvation is possible for all men does not stand. Jesus is not teaching here that it was possible that these Jews could be saved if they were willing. What Jesus is teaching is that the testimony of John, Jesus’ miracles, and His sayings are for the purpose of saving souls.
     
  2. ReformedBaptist

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    Nobody touched this with a 10ft pole dance. :type:
     
  3. preachinjesus

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    I didn't see this yesterday...apologies...

    I didn't a video on the subjunctive mood when I pulled up the link. I got a guy, who apparently has spent way too much time refuting Calvinism when he could be doing actual ministry, talking about Jesus having a sinful human nature.

    My only thought really is something my Greek prof told us in class more than several times. The languages will get you into the text but will not totally answer/solve all your theological problems. You have systematic theology for that.

    His point was that languages are great at helping us really connect with what the text is saying but just citing (whether poorly or well) the Greek or Hebrew doesn't immediately offer a sledgehammer argument for whatever you're arguing for or against. If this had been the case we would have solved all our theological problems in about AD 105.
     
  4. glfredrick

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    Reformed... Thanks for a great example of how a theologian approaches a text. Nothing is quite as simple, for formulating a doctrine or theological approach, as merely reading or concording a word, then plugging in one's preferred context. The text drives context, and the Greek is quite specific once drawn out to its final conclusions. To that, weight is added from other passages of Scripture that deal with the same subject (which are also exegeted at that high level) and the result is a doctrine or theology formulated to most accurately reflect what is ACTUALLY being said by God in His Word.

    That all who propose their theologies on the board would take as much care! :applause:
     
  5. Gabriel Elijah

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    Reformed, Preachinjesus, & glfred— very good posts & explanations about how Greek works in interpreting Scripture! While it cannot give you all the answers—it can at least eliminate many problematic theories by showing how they are not grammatically relevant. Thus, while it cannot prove one’s theological idea with 100% certainty, Greek is a helpful tool in witling away the false premises.
     
  6. Van

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    Yes, I agree, Greek grammar precludes many false assertions as to what a verse actually says. And so the modern translations that more closely mirror the Greek grammar, even if it makes them "clunky" are the best to study from.

    Words do have a range of meanings, but the context of how the word is used in the Bible will narrow the range to just a few related meanings. That is the purpose of Biblical Word Studies.

    Lets consider John 5:34 (NASB) "But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you might be saved."

    The big idea is that Jesus is saying things about John the Baptist for the purpose that they heed John's witness which could start them out on the path that leads to salvation.

    Now to avoid this obvious truth, how do the Calvinists seek to rewrite this verse? They say what Jesus really meant to say was John's testimony was for the purpose of saving previously chosen souls.

    Since this assertion is ludicrous on its face, they make the claim that this must be what the verse means because of the underlying Greek grammar. Their understanding is superior to the understanding of those who translated it as it appears in the NASB. So another false teacher tool is employed, the "you have to trust me on this."

    Now lets look at the actual grammar. What kind of a sentence is it? A compound sentence, we have "the testimony is not from man" and then the second sentence in the compound, " I say that you might be saved." So lets just focus on the second one with the subjective mood verb "might be saved." Jesus is saying what He is saying for the purpose that "you" might be saved. He is not saying they have already been saved, i.e. previously chosen souls, but to folks who are not yet saved.

    This part of the compound is a "Conditional Sentence" - I am saying something "that" (which means in order that) something may happen. The use of "hina" plus subjective can indicate purpose, the "why" the action was taken, but technically does not form a "purpose clause" and therefore the quotations indicating it shows a definite result are completely off the mark.

    Folks, that is why the NASB scholars translated it as shown, and why the Calvinist effort to override the grammar and then claim it is according to grammar is off the mark.
     
    #6 Van, Mar 24, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2011
  7. glfredrick

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    First, I hate to burst your bubble here Van, but you have made multiple errors in your interpretation, and they are not based (completely) in some faulty word study, but in plainly seeing that it was Jesus Himself who said the words, and your complete misunderstanding of election, in that election DOES NOT EQUAL "salvation." The elect are just that, elect, not "saved." After election comes the effectual call, justification, regeneration, faith/repentance, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification, in totality making up the term "salvation."

    Second, you suggest that Calvinists "Calvinists seek to rewrite this verse..." but, of course they do not. The verse is what it is. I am a Calvinist and I am particularly pleased with this verse just as it is written, and even more in the original Greek, where it is somewhat more clear. I understand that you think that you are reading the text without bias, but in fact, you are introducing your bias into everything you do read, including the fact that you are projecting that same bias onto those who would likely do a sound exegesis of that verse in context before jumping into a shallow pool with both feet as you have done here.

    Third, you are mislead concerning the hina clause used so often in John's gospel. The clause in John 5:34 is an adversative hina clause, which is most often used (in context) in John's writing to suggest a very high probability (not a complete certainly, however) of the event coming to pass. The hina clause as used by John in 5:34 is used to express a high probability in the fact that the words of John WOULD be used by God to draw men to Himself, exactly what John confirms elsewhere as he records Jesus' words.

    Third, because this particular verse DOES NOT point particularly to an assurance of salvation for the elect (I do not notice that the "elect" are mentioned, which makes much of your goings on concerning election about, well, nothing). It is a general statement of Christ in regards to (here comes that pesky context again...) salvation being IN HIS CONTROL as given Him BY THE FATHER. If you back up to 5:25, you will find Jesus saying that the DEAD will hear His voice AND, those who respond to HIS CALL will live. That rather sets the tone apart from the common Arminian understanding that humans hear, while living, and believe before being regenerated by Christ. Just isn't so in John's writings.
     
  8. Van

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    I had no bubble to burst, but thanks for your compassion.

    I may have made errors in my interpretation, but perhaps you have too.

    My understanding of our individual election for salvation is very different from your, and I do not believe election equals salvation, but they occur together with little or no time between individual election and being placed in Christ. Romans 8:33 precludes any other view.

    See my thread on the Salvation Equation for my "order of salvation." We differ and my view, I believe, has more support in scripture taken as it is, rather than rewritten or nullified.

    You can say you accept the verse as written, but then you say it is written saying something that the NASB completely got wrong. Enough said.

    I certainly view scripture in light of what I think other scripture says, but to suggest I am alone in this fraility seems a tad self-serving. Just saying :)

    However deep the pool, you jumped in first, and I just joined the party.

    I did not address the level of probablity, it may well be high, but I objected to your assertion of that it addressed a result rather than an intended possible outcome.

    Lets leave it that your assertions concerning the grammar were not validated, in my opinion. And while we are "projecting" let me say Calvinists often make arcane grammatical arguments concerning why scripture must be understood as they understand it, and for me it is a red flag, a "trust me on this" argument.

    I am familiar with "hina + subjective in the Aor tense, and my view works in every case that I reviewed. I chucked when I read John 3:17 where Jesus came that the world might be saved. If we applied your reasoning, Universalism would be true. Of course Calvinism has already butched that verse too, saying world means elect here and non-elect there and so forth. As for me, I think John aways uses "world" the same way, referring to the "kosmos of fallen mankind." But that is for another thread.
     
  9. jbh28

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    Election took place "before the foundation of the world." I'm not sure why that's so hard to understand. Whether you believe in conditional or unconditional election, the Bible is very clear when the "electing" took place.
    I believe that "world" means that too....go figure :)
     
  10. Van

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    Hi Jbh28, like you I do not understand what is so hard to understand.

    I said individual election for salvation occurs during our lifetime, just as 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says. Yes, an election did occur before the foundation of the world, God chose us in Him. Where we part company is I believe that was a corporate election, all those the chosen Redeemer would redeem, and thus this verse refers to the corporately elected target group of God's redemption plan, and not to any individuals.

    Yes the bible is very clear, an election occurred before the foundation of the world and individual elections occur during our lifetime. What is so hard to understand.

    Careful Jbh28, your acceptance of the obvious meaning of "world" as used by John has let your integrety slip into view. Thanks Van
     
  11. jbh28

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    Ephesians 1 is about individuals when you read the entire context. It's about salvation. While yes, there were many that were chosen(which could be called a group of people) it was groups of individuals being chosen here. It's just like when we say Christ did for us. He died for a group and he died for individuals.
    I get my theology from the Bible and not a system so there are going to be times where I'm going to disagree with the Calvinist on issues. If one looks at John 3:16 and says that "world" means "elect," there's an issue there. Whosoever of the elect gets saved....all the elect are going to be saved. It's whosoever out of the entire world that gets saved.
     
  12. Van

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    Yes Ephesians 1 is about individuals. But again, if you look at the context, what is Paul saying? Talking to specific individuals who have been individually elected during their lifetime, he say they have received blessings from the heavenly. Now what was the first blessing those individuals received? He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. Now if the election before Christ was Christ and corporately all those Christ would redeem, then those redeemed have received a blessing from before the foundation of the world, when God chose Christ to be His Redeemer. This view is consistent with the context, and the grammar, and everything else thrown at it. :)

    Now why is this view superior to the alternate view, God chose foreseen individuals before creation. Let me count the ways. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says God chose you, and this time it does not say "in Him" for salvation, so we are talking about our individual election to salvation, through sanctification by the Holy Spirit and [through] faith in the truth. Now how could we be chosen individually through faith in the truth before we heard the call and the call is through the gospel, and how could we hear the gospel before we lived? It is a lock.

    But we need not pick between two verses. There is also James 2:5 where God chose the poor. Are we to insert, God chose the foreseen poor? Unsound.

    How about 1 Peter 2:9-10. Once we were not a people. Now the "people" in view are those chosen by God for His own possession. If God chose us before He created us, which redefines the meaning of creation, when were not a people? Next, how did we not have mercy, then had mercy. Over and over, it is a lock.

    How about 1 Corinthians 1:26-28. Are we to insert, God chose the foreseen base things of the world. Yes, by adding to scripture, you can make the election before creation fit with rewritten scripture, but if you let scripture rule, then the election before creation must be Christ and the corporately elected target group of His redemption plan.

    That is why I insist my view is more likely than your view.
     
  13. jbh28

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    Are you saying that in Ephesians, it's Christ that is being elected and not the individuals?

    I'll respond to the rest later...I'm watching Duke lose and can't miss that!!!! :D
     
  14. Van

    Van
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    Yes and no, I am saying Christ was chosen individually as Redeemer, the Lamb of God, and therefore in choosing Christ, God was also choosing to redeem whoever would trust in Christ, not individually, but corporately. That is why it says He chose us in Him before..., rather than He chose us before ....
     
  15. ReformedBaptist

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    I'd like to see any group of people that isn't made up of individuals....

    I'd also like to see how God may elect a group in Christ, and not know who they were? The modern non-cal likes to think that God knew who would accept and who wouldn't. Well, when did He know that? From all eternity no doubt. So, their number is precise and exact and cannot possibly be added to or taken away from.

    Unless, of course, God limited His knowledge...enter the spectre of Open Theism and the God of possibility... eek!
     
  16. Van

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    Any target group of any plan is not comprised of individuals.

    Why would God choose a group corporately, and not individually before He created them? Gee that is a tuffy.

    Does God limit is knowledge when He remembers our sins no more forever? eek indeed.
     
  17. Allan

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    Uhh.. first, the video you give does not even speak regarding the Subjunctive mood. It is about if Jesus was a son of Adam (lineage wise) or not, though I not sure what argument he is trying to refute (that being Jesus IS of the lineage of Adam). I listened for 10 minutes but nothing on what you state. I tried other videos but nothing on them either.. what video was it you listened to.

    I will listen to what he has to say, but if what you give is what he says, I already see some problems. However, what you give (if your posting is correct, not saying it isn't) is more correct but your grasp is incorrect regarding it. I will post at another time after I here his point cause I would also like to address him as well. (but really I don't have time over the next couple of days) but I would like to return and speak on this if you don't mind.

    Thanks for the post.
     
  18. Allan

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    You miss understand the statement is you think God erases His memory. It refers to Him holding their sins against them in judgment.
    God is ALL knowing, at all times, regarding all things. Thus scripture declares and thus it is.
     
  19. Van

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    Allan, I accept what scripture says, not what it needs to say in order for an overarching doctrine to be valid. If God had wanted to say I forgive your sins and will not hold them against you forever, why did He say what He said. Anyone who adds or takes away....

    Is God all knowing with "all" meaning everything imaginable? How about Jesus not knowing the time of His second coming, even though Peter said He knows everything. I say God knows whatever He chooses to know. Perhaps the less modern view is the one that misunderstands scripture?

    The real difference is if God remembers but just does not punish, our knowledge of "secret" knowledge might hinder our relationship. I remember being with my mom in her last years, when she did not remember the foolish things I had done. No she loved me without reservation. See why your view takes away from scripture?
     
    #19 Van, Mar 26, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2011
  20. ReformedBaptist

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    The link could be broken. If I misapplied the use of the subjunctive I am certainly open to being corrected. I will need it to be verifiable though.
     

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