Dr. J. Vernon McGee on Calvinism, Dr. J. Vernon McGee Denounces Calvinism!

Listen to this brief answer given by Dr. J. Vernon McGee, the late famed pastor and founder of “Thru the Bible Radio,” to a young woman who asks, in effect, “What’s wrong with Calvinism?”


23 responses to “Dr. J. Vernon McGee on Calvinism, Dr. J. Vernon McGee Denounces Calvinism!

  1. Bruce,

    Thanks so much for that amazing video..I had not heard that from McGee, What a wonderful, clear, logical explanation of the lie of Calvinism, even with a touch of McGee’s humor.

    I pray all of our friends and readers will watch and listen.

    In Christ, Jack

  2. Got a “this video is currently unavailable” message when I clicked on it. 8>(

  3. I was available to view it on YouTube though.

  4. Hello Vern,

    Welcome — sorry it failed. will check it out. Good to have you drop in. We have a lot of readers so you may have caught it at a busy time.

    Drop in again, friend.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  5. Vernon,

    Just tried the video from several ways and they all worked.

    No more ideas — you are the expert!!

    In Christ, Jack

  6. Had the opportunity to know J. Vernon McGee personally. He obtained his B.D. (M.Div.) from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, GA. Where he was taught Presbyterian Calvinism. He then obtained his TH.M. and TH>D. from Dallas. Before accepting the Pastorate at the Church of the Open Door in LA, he Pastored a Presbyterian church in Pasadena, CA. He was no stranger to Calvinism/Reformed theology. He gave an invitation every Sunday Morning at COD. The people who responded were asked to go to the back of the auditorium where they were met by a counselor.
    He had lunch regularly with Charles Fuller. When Fuller seminary had rumors of rejection of certain doctrines in the 1960s McGee wrote letters to certain faculty with questions. He states he got vague answers. So he made up a sheet with clear questions and a place to check yes or no as to the person’s belief. He received no response. He asked Charles Fuller regarding the rumors several times. Charles Fuller finally said; “Vernon, if we are to remain friends do not bring up the subject of the Seminary.”
    The above was conveyed to me in 1976. McGee was at the Cannon Beach conference grounds in Oregon. We had early morning coffee together each day and a two hour conversation each day. He had personal convictions regarding many controversial subjects. He was against the then rising New Evangelicalism. However some Fundamentalist types thought McGee too lenient on some subjects. He was a good and spiritual man who provided good teaching and an example to young preachers on how to teach the Bible verse by verse. While had humor woven in much he did he was not an entertainer. Today some teachers are over the line in entertainment and family and other stories. It reduces the effect that the word of God should have in bringing conviction.
    Bob Topartzer

  7. Hi Bob,

    Nice to have you join our discussion again. Thanks so much for giving us that insightful background on J. Vernon McGee’s early Reformed affiliation. This helps us to understand that he certainly knew of what he spoke when he, in later years, spoke out against Calvinism. You were privileged to know McGee personally.

    Thanks again for the information.



  8. I appreciate Bob’s personal memories of J. Vernon McGee. I once listened daily to McGee’s Thru the Bible Radio and still peruse his 5 volume commentary. On Lordship Salvation I heard McGee once say, “You had better make Jesus Lord of your life, but you had better receive Him as Savior first!”

    Years later during an ordination counsel of a young pastor, the LS issue came up. One of the men on the counsel was defending LS. After taking exception to LS I repeated the quote from McGee above. The man defending LS shouted, “NO!”

    Thanks for this article.


  9. Lou, I used to listen to J. Vernon McGee as a little girl, when my parents had Bible studies in our home. I’d get sent to bed, but when they started the study, I’d come and lay down in the hallway on the carpeting, and listen to the reel to reel. I can still hear the drawl…

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this. Back in the 80’s Dr. Vernon McGee was one of teachers I listened to when i first got saved? I loved the way he made what ever topic he taught on so clear! Line by line Scripture teaching ! So to hear this really brought back memories! Good ones thank The Lord. He could not have made it any clearer . ” Free Will !” Who so ever will! We are not Zombies! I’m going back and listen to some more!

    Thanks again

  11. Terry, it was fun to see the different people come up with old quotes. “The Saints and the Aint’s”, or I remember something like, “This is where the rubber meets the road”.

  12. Hi Holly,

    You gave me a chuckle today about J. Vernon McGee’s favorite quote, “Where the rubber meets the road.” I heard that the overseas radio networks have the most trouble trying to translate that expression into other languages.

    Sometimes he would follow that line with, “We’re talking shoe leather folks!”

    By the way, his 5-year Thru The Bible series continues to recycle across the world nearly twenty-five years after McGee’s death. Once, several years ago, I was listening to one of his taped broadcasts. He made a then current-event reference to “Watergate.” So some of the tapes are pretty old.

  13. I haven’t listened to him in awhile, but have some old cassettes too. I can actually hear him say that,“We’re talking shoe leather folks!”

    Now you turned around and gave me a chuckle with the current event reference to Watergate.

    I can imagine how some of his idioms must have given the translators fits. Thanks for the story, never even thought about how that must have been for them. Wonder how it turned out in some languages :)

  14. thru the bible radio http://www.ttb.org/ free 5 year thru the bible mp3 downloads.

  15. David,

    Welcome and thanks for the link. I hear that Dr. McGee’s Bible tapes are heard much more now worldwide than even when he was still living.

  16. Hi my name is Cody! I had a question, was J.Vernon McGee a Calvinist? I used to believe he wasn’t, but after listening through this video about 5 times I cought him saying “when you see a Coca Cola sign and it says Thirsty? You have the choice wether or not you will get a Coke, but some people don’t have that thirst” to me it sounds like he was saying God doesn’t give everybody that call or thirst, but that only those he chose will choose since he gave them that thirst, but those who never received that thirst from God will not choose because God never gave them that desire. Now I know that is not quote for quote, but it gets the point across. Anyway I hope I wrong because I do love listing to Vernon McGee.

  17. Cody, welcome and thanks for your comment.

    I have not listened to J. Vernon McGee extensively, but I don’t think he was generally associated with Calvinism. We had an article on McGee a couple of years ago posted by Bruce Bauer, one of our former administrators. It is linked below:


    God does not give anyone faith or lack of faith in Christ. The gift of God is eternal life, available to everyone. Anything that implies otherwise is error.

  18. here is a teaching sermon on “Non-Meritorious Faith”

  19. Excellent commentary on Calvinism by Dr. J Vernon McGee. Thank you Califgracer for sharing this video. McGee made some very excellent points. One is that God gave us free will, and that everyone chose to go their own way (even the Lordship Salvationists) as McGee noted in Isaiah 53. But the Lord loved us enough to take our sins upon himself in human flesh, and endure the wrath that we deserved, just so that we could be reconciled to Him. I was actually listening to Isaiah 53 on an audio tape once while playing the song of Gandalf’s fall from Lord of the Rings for special effects, and I was meditating on the words, and it seemed as if the Spirit somehow supernaturally illuminated that all to me.

    I also love how McGee quoted a part in Isaiah 55 when the Lord says, “let whomever is thirsty come to drink.” That means ANYBODY and EVERYBODY is invited to come to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation- no strings attached! I remember having trouble with Isaiah 55:7 as it initially seemed to support the Lordship Salvation notion of “turn from sin to be saved.” Then I rethought it and realized that Isaiah 55:7 could also apply to religious people and moralists who think that God will accept them on the basis of their clean life (Isaiah 64:6 blatantly contradicts that of course). I actually did a commentary on Isaiah 55:1-9 in a FaceBook post not too long ago, and here is an excerpt on Isaiah 55:6-9….

    “The command to seek the Lord for salvation is not only directed toward Israel, but also to everyone else on this planet; including you and me. It is not only people living in lewd immorality who need to forsake their ways and thoughts, but also religious people and moralists. We are not asked to make a big long list of things that we need to give up or things that we need to do before coming to Christ, but to admit that we were thinking wrongly about whatever path we took and seek Him for refuge. It could be indulging in lewd immorality and thinking there is nothing sinful about it, thinking that you will go to Heaven for live a “clean and moral life,” thinking that God will save you on the basis of your life of religious piety and sacrifice, etc. Our Lord is nothing like you and me. His lovingkindess is meant to lead us to repentance. He is eager to freely forgive our sins on the basis of faith, not by works (which will never be enough to compensate). He does not hold grudges or slam us with a rulebook of terms and conditions for obtaining His mercy, like some of us would do if we’re honest with ourselves. After we come to Him in faith, owning to our true sinful condition, He will work within our hearts and lives to heal us of our sin sickness.”

    I love how McGee noted that God’s thoughts and ways are not our ways, as this man seems to look at it the same way I do. God is eager to accept us freely if we repent (change our minds- realizing our sinfulness, inability to please God, and need of a Savior- then turn to the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation) and believe the Gospel (that Jesus was the perfect Son of God who bled and died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day- and we personally, from our hearts, trust Jesus to be our Savior). Our Lord is no brutal taskmaster like Macarthur, Washer, Piper, Chan, Platt, Sproul, et al. Knowing that God loves us and accepts us freely ought to help us grow in love and appreciation for Him after we are saved. Fixing our eyes on Him will help us to turn from our sins, not to be saved or to stay saved, but BECAUSE we are saved.


  20. Ben, there are some pretty good pearls in there about the availability of eternal life to anyone (whosoever will) who will accept Jesus as Savior.

    As to owning up to our sinful condition, we cannot possibly know the extent of it. It is fortunate for us that God’s grace does not require that we forsake our ways or thoughts in order to be saved. If a person knows he is guilty of at least one sin, and trusts in the payment that Christ made to take away his sin, he is saved.

    After one accepts Jesus as his Savior, he has a new nature that is completely sinless. So, in a sense, we are healed of our sin sickness the moment we are saved. But, the old nature is still there. I think the way that the ensuing conflict is described in our statement of faith describes it pretty well:

    9. A child of God has two births; one of the flesh, the other of the Spirit, giving man a flesh nature and a Spirit nature. The flesh nature is neither good nor righteous. The Spiritual Man does not commit any sin. This results in a warfare between the Spirit and the flesh, which continues until physical death, or the return of the Lord. The flesh nature of the man does not change in any way with the new birth, but can be controlled and kept subdued by the new man as the believer is obedient to the Lord through His Word. John 3:3-7; Romans 7:15-25; Romans 8:8; Galatians 5:17; I John 3~9; I Peter 1:23; I John 5:18; I John 1:8.

  21. That is exactly what I was thinking John. Thank you for sharing with me. God bless you brother!

  22. I apologize if I wasn’t clear enough. McGee’s critique on Calvinism brought a lot to my mind that I wanted to share. And I thought perhaps I could brings some clarity to Isaiah 55:7, that we are not told to make a big long list of things that we need to give up or things that we need to do before coming to Christ (it will NEVER be enough), but to admit that we were thinking wrongly about whatever path we were taking (even if it has “good” intentions like Lordship Salvation) and seek the Him for refuge and salvation.

  23. Also Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” It’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, apart from ANY works.

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