Popular Theology - 2

I talked about this a couple days ago and thought it appropriate to add a few more notes.

Often we try to take the easy way out and find that that way has more obstacles that the apparently more difficult one. Or we may make assumptions that lead us down a road that forces us into making even more assumption to make sense of an issue. We can settle with what we've come up with or go back to the drawing board. Starting over isn't a lot of fun but it is sometimes necessary if we want the best. Whether it is some presentation some woodworking project or some aspect of our life. Because of all the time and effort we've wasted we may want to again take an easy road.

That is what many scholars have done with Hebrews 4:4-8. The easy road among Calvinists (i.e. Baptists) is to assume the people being referred to are Christians. These people have been enlightened have tasted and have seen the powers. The Baptists theology is then to analyze the context and in particular the meaning and grammar of terms like renew unto repentance.

The more difficult road is not to assume the person in question is a believer but to begin with analysis of enlightenment what it means to taste and what powers are being referred to and if they have significance.

In short the word enlightened means to successfully provide knowledge or understanding from teaching. Same as the English concept and its connotations. It may or may not precede faith and salvation. We can never presume that our knowledge of the gospel is paramount to salvation. We must not believe that our belief in the gospel message and our knowledge OF Jesus or God is the same as our faith IN Jesus. The devils believe that much.

The "tasting" in the text is another illustration of the person's involvement in the movement although they may not be a genuine part of it. It is knowledge based on outward experience. They have tasted of the heavenly gift. The text doesn't say what the gift is. Since salvation is not something that you can just taste it more likely means the Holy Spirit or evidences of it. The scriptures describe some unbelievers that have the powers to prophesy or cast out demons and I Corinthians 13 hypothesizes the use of the gifts without the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

In all they have known and experienced all there is to experience in regards to the gospel short of salvation. They know it and understand the concepts of grace salvation and the church to come. It's no mystery but they still choose something else withering away like the seed in rocky soil. Though these people have fallen away there may be many in the church that have been enlightened and still have not been saved.

If we then assume based on this analysis that these people are not Christians then the rest of the passage both preceding and following makes much more sense. There's no use in trying to re-sell the gospel to those who have rejected it. It also provides some balanced warnings about our own salvation experience.

Arthur Pinks discussion of this passage has more details that you may want to review.

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