Does God Drag?

Derek Ouellette —  December 20, 2010

It is sometimes said that God “drags” people to Christ.

In John 6:44 Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

“Draw” is interpreted as “drag”. God drags people “kicking and screaming” into the Kingdom…

But wait! Let’s be consistent in our interpretation of “draw”.

In John 12:32 Jesus states, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”

The Greek word in both passages is precisely the same.

So in an attempt to explain particular redemption – God only saves those he drags to Jesus, consistency demands that we became universalists instead, since by the cross Jesus drags all people to himself.

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • Eric Gregory

    Actually, one could be Calvinist with that perspective quite easily. It was said once, though I disagree wholeheartedly as I lean towards a belief in the salvation of all people, that only difference between Calvinism and universalism is the niceness of God.

    • Derek Ouellette

      There’s a lot of truth to that Eric. In my view, if Calvinists esteemed the love of God to the same extent in which they esteemed His sovereignty, it would lead them directly into the realm of Universalism.

  • Aaron

    Calvinists will argue that the “all” here refers to People from every nation – Not just Israel. So they would argue that the “All” does not mean every single person. I think that goes against the meaning of this verse, but does anyone have a better explanation as to why All truly means All People?

    • Derek Ouellette

      I don’t see a justification for separating “all peoples” from “all persons”. So every nation, yes. But also everyone in those nations. The onus is not on us to prove the separation, but on the Calvinist who would make that claim. Besides, the footwork Calvinists do to escape the biblical teaching that Christ died for all people is comically impressive indeed. (See here.)

      • Aaron

        Derek – Thanks for the link to “died for all, beyond a scriptural doubt”

  • Eric Gregory

    [T]he footwork Calvinists do to escape the biblicals teaching that Christ died for all people is comically impressive indeed.


    That said, I lean pretty heavily towards Christian universalism (I already subscribe at least to the idea that we should hope that all people will be saved and that it’s a distinct possibility). The main argument against this is that “hell” is taught in the Bible (it’s not quite explicated the way we’d like, though, is it? nor is it consistent with the Jewish understanding of Sheol) and that, if we remove God’s justice, God ceases to be almighty. While I agree with the second part, the universal salvation of all humankind doesn’t remove justice from God’s repertoire because God’s justice is God’s mercy.

    The idea that hell is eternal conscious punishment is a rather un-Godlike vision of finite sin, is it not?

    • Derek Ouellette

      I can’t get past wondering why the New Testament speaks so much of the need for salvation if it is universal.

      • Eric Gregory

        Sure, salvation is necessary, but why would that keep one from embracing Christian universalism?

        The Eastern Orthodox understanding of salvation (which comes from the writing of the Cappodocian Fathers, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Basil the Great) is “theosis.” Theosis is the process of becoming unified with the Trinity – in other words, it is to become a part of God. This, to me, is a much better depiction of salvation as unveiled in Scripture than a strict courtroom metaphor and is able to incorporate the absolute need for personal holiness, because of the coming judgment based on works that both Jesus and St. Paul affirm.

        Universal reconciliationists (?) are not obligated to disbelieve in hell (though it would be odd to affirm hell as eternal conscious punishment if one were of this theological persuasion), and are likely to believe in a purgative “punishment” similar to Paul’s parable in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (note that “the foundation” here has “already been laid,” and can be in reference to the ontological saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross rather what has previously been preached to the Corinthians).

        If you’re at all interested in the topic, I’d strongly suggest reading Gregory of Nyssa’s De anima (“On the Soul and the Resurrection”) or his Catechetical Oration along with Hans Urs von Balthasar’s epic “Dare We Hope That ‘All Men Be Saved’?”. I also wrote a paper this semester on Gregory of Nyssa’s texts and their central theme of apokatastasis (e.g. the idea that all things will be “as they were in the beginning” at the eschaton). Let me know if you want me to send it to you :)

  • Derek Ouellette

    I’ve been exploring the Orthodox Church over the past few months so, sure, send your paper. To answer your question, because it just seems redundant.