The first of the above mentioned issues is Universalism. It is the Calvinist's contention that if John 12:32 is read back into 6:44, then the result is an affirmation of Universalism. The reason for this contention is in how both verses read. For instance, 6:44 reads thus:
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. NASB
And John 12:32:
And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself. NASB
The plain reading of John 6:44 is that no one can come to Christ unless first drawn to Him by the Father. Non-Calvinists will often concede this if pressed. It's the rest of the verse that causes problems for them as the verse goes on to state that those who are drawn (represented by "him") are also raised to life by the Son. What non-Calvinists are essentially doing then, is accepting the first half of the verse but denying the second half. This is done by going to John 12:32 and insisting that all men are drawn to Christ. Now, the problem should be obvious. If 6:44 states that all those that are drawn are then raised, and if all men without exception are drawn to Christ per 12:32, then you have an affirmation of Universalism. Since both sides reject Universalism, another explanation must be sought. For the non-Calvinist, this usually means an immediate switch to "all these other verses over here". For the Calvinist, it means dealing with these verses on their own and in their immediate contexts.
Now, when John 12:32 is brought forward by non-Calvinists, there is never any mention about the context in which Jesus makes His statements. The only thing that seems to interest those using this verse against Calvinists is the appearance of the term "all". The assumption is that "all" always means all men everywhere. This assumption remains even when the Calvinist points out that the term "all" is often times limited by contextual considerations. So obviously, the question is what did Jesus mean when He said that He will "draw all men" to Himself? Did He mean all men everywhere, or all *kinds* of men?
The important thing to note about the non-Calvinist's use of this verse is that "all men everywhere" are not in fact drawn to Christ. We know this to be true by both Biblical and experiential considerations. The Pharisees for instance, were not drawn to Christ unless one wishes to count their attempts at killing Him. Further, each of us knows or have known people who have never had an interest in Christianity outside of trying to disprove it. There is also the issue of those who have never heard of Jesus Christ. So, either Jesus was mistaken in what He said, or He did not mean "all men everywhere" but rather, all kinds of men. In support of this, we find in John 12:20 that there were Gentiles who were wishing to see Jesus. When Jesus got word of this, He began to address a crowd that now comprised both Jew and Gentile. It is to this mixed crowd that Jesus made His comments about "drawing all men". And it is this consideration that makes the Calvinist's interpretation of this verse not only plausible, but probable. That is, the Calvinist believes this verse is limited by this contextual consideration coupled with the above mentioned issues. If the non-Calvinist's interpretation clashes with other texts, and makes no sense of the verse when considered on it's own, then the Calvinist's interpretation becomes the most probable. Indeed, it would seem that these considerations would make the Calvinist's interpretation the only one *possible*.
Undoubtebly, the non-Calvinist will object with something like, "but you're changing *all* men into *some* men just to make it fit your doctrine!". But I would point out that this isn't a response to the argument offered. In fact, I haven't heard a non-Calvinist address the Calvinist's interpretation of 12:32 with anything other than comments like this. Indeed, in order to refute the Calvinist interpretation of John 12:32, the non-Calvinist will first need to:
- Harmonize this verse with John 6:44
- Show that all men since the time of Christ have in fact been drawn to Him
- Refute the contextual argument derived from John 12:20 with the appearance of Gentiles seeking Jesus
Without addressing these issues, the non-Calvinist will be obliged to hand over one of their primary prooftexts to Calvinism.