Is McGee being illogical? Clearly, believing and receiving Christ is doing something, is it not? Yet, John Calvin stated it in nearly the same way as McGee:
Calvin writes: “Now it may be asked how men receive the salvation offered to them by the hand of God? I reply, by faith. Hence he concludes that here is nothing of our own. If, on the part of God, it is grace alone, and if we bring nothing but faith, which strips us of all praise, it follows that salvation is not of us. … When, on man’s side, he places the only way of receiving salvation in faith alone, he rejects all other means on which men are accustomed to rely. Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, p.144)
So what's going on? Where is the logic in this?
Question: How can a faith-alone salvation equate to a grace-alone salvation? How can salvation be “all of God” and “none of us,” if we come to God with something, namely, with faith in Him?
Answer: Consider a broader context than just Calvinist vs. Arminian. For instance, lost people come before God saying, “Look at my life. I was a good person, and that should count for something, and if my life isn’t good enough for You, well then….” Meanwhile, the Christian comes before God and says, “I don’t come to you with my life. I come to you with His life. I come to you with the life that Jesus lived, and not my own.” In that way, the Christian comes before God “empty-handed,” as John Calvin puts it. This is why the Arminian (and McGee and Calvin), ultimately say, “It’s all God” when they come before God with nothing but their faith in Christ. However, most Calvinists of today will object, by pointing out that if we come to God with our trust in Christ, then aren’t, in fact, coming to God with something? However, the solution is in what kind of “something” that we come before God with. The lost person comes before God with self-righteousness, while the Christian comes before God seeking Jesus’ Imputed Righteousness. That’s a technical term simply to mean that we get credit for what Jesus did, simply because God said that He would do this for whoever places their trust in Him. Faith in Christ is not reflective of man’s goodness, but of the goodness of the One in whom we place our trust. This is why boasting is overthrown by a law of faith, as Paul states: “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.” (Romans 3:27) One person explained: “Calvinists say that if you say that YOU believed, you are boasting, but the verse points out something that refutes that idea, which is that when you believe, you can’t boast.” And the reason why you can’t boast, is because faith in Christ removes the logical basis for which one might try, since since faith in Christ credits the One in whom you are placing your trust. This is also why Paul contrasted faith and works, rather than to link them together as one: “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5)
Since faith is treated as a contrast to merit and works, there is therefore a logical basis for which to insist that trusting in Christ reduces to “nothing that you do,” being “all of God,” since what you do, points solely to what Christ did, and therefore faith is merely the channel through which God imputes righteousness to the believer. A faith-alone salvation is indeed a grace-alone salvation, and while Calvinists are free to insist otherwise, I am free to insist that Calvinists are just being stubborn. I like having Romans 3:27 and Romans 4:5 to bolster my argument, and it doesn’t hurt to cite a few Calvinists in agreement with you.