The Warning Passages of Hebrews: A Formal Analysis and Theological Conclusions -- By: Scot McKnight

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 13:1 (Spring 1992)
Article: The Warning Passages of Hebrews: A Formal Analysis and Theological Conclusions
Author: Scot McKnight


The Warning Passages of Hebrews: A Formal Analysis and Theological Conclusions

Scot McKnight

I. Introduction

Few are the number of Christians who have not been at least troubled by the warning passages of Hebrews, troubled perhaps to the point of despair or even terror. It is in these passages that the singular issue of the security of the believer is apparently addressed: Are believers unconditionally secure with respect to their final salvation or is their salvation conditional upon their own faithfulness to God? Can true believers lose their faith and thereby forfeit their final salvation? The warning passages of Hebrews address this issue of the security of the believer directly, but I am not persuaded that the response to them should be one either of fear or despair. Instead, I contend that a new approach to these difficult passages can alleviate much of the fear they have generated.

Now while it would be foolhardy to think that any theologian could finally resolve the tension that exists between major theological options (in this case between Calvinism and Arminianism1 ), it is not foolish to engage our attention once more in the biblical texts that have decisively shaped the contours of the discussions. In what follows I hope to shed some light on the theological issues dividing Calvinism and Arminianism by

* Scot McKnight is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

examining the warning passages of Hebrews.2 Furthermore, we will look at the warning passages (2:1–4; 3:7–4:13; 5:11–6:12; 10:19–39; 12:1–293 ), not as unrelated texts as they have been traditionally

treated,4 but as an organic whole, each of which expresses four components of the author’s message.5

Before we look at the warning passages synthetically, we need to survey the positions on the nature of the audience briefly.6 In general, one might say there are four positions on the nature of the warnings and their audience: the hypothetical view, the false believer view, the phenomenological believe...

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