Wednesday, March 11, 2009
F.F. Bruce on the Warning Passage
F.F. Bruce's NICNT commentary on Hebrews says the following on Heb. 6.4-6:
The reason why there is no point in laying the foundation over again is now stated: apostasy is irremediable. Once more our author emphasizes that continuance is the test of reality. In these verses he is not questioning the perseverance of the saints; we might say that rather he is insisting that those who persevere are the true saints. But in fact he is stating a practical truth that has verified itself repeatedly in the experience of the church. Those who have shared the covenant privileges of the people of God, and then deliberately renounce them, are the most difficult persons of all to reclaim for the faith. It is indeed impossible to reclaim them, says our author. We know, of course, that nothing of this sort is ultimately impossible for the grace of God, but as a matter of human experience the reclamation of such people is, practically speaking, impossible. People are frequently immunized against a disease with a mild form of it, or with a related but milder disease. And in the spiritual realm experience suggests that it is possible to be "immunized" against Christianity by being innoculated with something which, for the time being, looks so like the real thing that it is generally mistaken for it. This is not a question of those who are attached in a formal way to the profession of true religion without having experienced its power; it is blessedly possible for such people to have an experience of God's grace which changes what was once a matter of formal attachment into a matter of inward reality. It is a question of people who see clearly where the truth lies, and perhaps for a period to conform to it, but then, for one reason or another, renounce it (p. 144).