I came across this blog the other day and really appreciated what the author had to say about Hebrews 6:4-6. The author is a Calvinist and so here is an honest and admirably reflective post. I also thought the comments were rather entertaining and have posted them here as well. Enjoy.
Well, I’ve made it to the always-treacherous Hebrews 6:4-8 in my morning series. I still struggle with this passage, which shouldn’t be a surprise given my belief in eternal security. My study through the passage this time has yielded some helpful insights, but questions remain.
One article I read proposed an interesting interpretation. It was “Hebrews 6:4-6 from an Oral Critical Perspective” by Casey W. Davis (JETS 51/4, December 2008, 753–67). Essentially he argued that the author of Hebrews was suggesting that he himself could no longer assist them in restoring repentance due to their immaturity. Of course, the argument is much more detailed and if you’re interested in reading it, I’ll be glad to send you a copy (assuming there’d be no issues with sharing an article).
At the end of the day, I think the author means for the warnings to be taken seriously, otherwise they seem rather gratuitous. All the references back to the wilderness wanderings can’t be ignored. Yet, at the same time, I read the teachings of Christ, Paul, et al, to show that God will keep his people from committing full-blown apostasy. So how do I reconcile?
Jason, Hebrews is filled with warnings of apostasy, and not just in 6.4-8. 10 calls it a willful sin, hearkening back to the high handed sin in Numbers. The Psalms of Solomon (c. 63bce) speaks only of repentance for sins of ignorance, which no doubt includes sins of weakness. The way I read the entire book of Hebrews is that if we commit apostasy with our hand raised to heaven, they is no hope for us. Yet, in our sins of stupidity, weakness, and ignorance God keeps us.
P.S. Paul himself wrote that he didn’t want to become a reprobate, which is the same language used in Hebrews 6.
Joel: So do you read this in terms of impossibility of being renewed to repentance=damnation? I tend toward being renewed to repentance means that there is a point that Christian can reach in living disobediently that warrants God’s punishment/discipline and from which there is little likelihood of repentance.
I think there is more here than just being disobedient, but out right rejecting Christ. I do think there is a point, however, that being disobedient leads to a point where rejection is possible and probable.
Davis’ article is available on the internet:
I know how you can reconcile the “tensions”: adopt the Arminian perspective.
Brian: What, and disregard the whole of Scripture?
Jason, don’t you mean the ‘hole’ in Scripture, as seeing that Calvinism was left out completely.