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Source: (consider it) Thread: Hebrews and definition of enlightenment.
Aijalon
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Might have been staring at this passage too long..... been looking for a consistent framework to draft an understanding of the text I can hopefully explain to others. I sometimes read parts of Hebrews to be in the vein of convincing Jews who have never converted to Christ but are open to it, and other times in the sense scholars seem to go with, which is that it is about preventing the church from reverting away from the New Covenant after having accepted it.

Hebrews 6 (KJV)
1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3And this will we do, if God permit. 4For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Is the use of the word enlightened to be taken as equivalent with believing unto salvation? That seems to be one view, but I don't feel that is correct. I take it to mean more generally that the readers collectively had heard the truth, and as a group substantially behaved in accordance with that truth. So not necessarily that it deals with heart-faith in the sense of any one individual.

Alternatively, is the use of enlightened in that case really more about the historical context of the Jews having been enlightened by the Law of Moses/the revelation handed down by angels discussed in the previous chapters?

If consistent with the Hebews 10:32 occurrence of the term, enlightenment is defined by the first option. Or is there a third option I might have missed?

[Corrected typo in thread title. Mamacita, Host]

[ 25. July 2017, 15:27: Message edited by: Mamacita ]

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Alan Cresswell

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I've always taken "enlightened" to be part and parcel of the rest of those verses describing someone who has become a Christian:
enlightened
tasted of the heavenly gift
partakers of the Holy Ghost
tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come

Things which are marked by the "principles of the doctrine of Christ":
repentance from dead works
faith toward God
baptism and of laying on of hands
the resurrection of the dead
eternal judgment

I don't think these can be divided. The author is saying "if you have repented and been baptised, have faith in God, believe in the resurrection and eternal judgement, tasted the power of the coming Kingdom, recieved the Spirit etc then you cannot go through that process again - even if you fall away.

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Nigel M
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I agree with Alan’s take on the word “enlightened”. The degree of emphasis suggests that it is to Christians (probably Jewish Christians) that the letter (a.k.a. sermon) is addressed. I think it is difficult to see why such a text would circulate among Christian groups to the later point of being accepted into the canon if this was addressed to Mosaic Jews.

There is also the contrast with Moses that the author sets up in chapter 3, for example verses 5 and 6 (NET Version here):
quote:
Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. We are of his house, if in fact we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope we take pride in.
Moses was in God’s household as a servant, Jesus was over that house – and “we” are that house. This rather suggests a distinction between followers of a servant and followers of the house steward, with the real believers being the latter.

Methinks, anyway.

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keibat
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I also agree with Alan's reading – it seems to me that this is how the thrust of the longer-term argumentation in the passage works. One of the problems with biblical exegesis, possibly particularly with Paul, but also, as here, with other Epistles, is that one needs BOTH to be looking very closely at the precise 'local' phrasing AND to be constantly keeping the longer thrust of argumentation in mind.

Also, to Aljalon, I would suggest that when one is struggling with making sense of a biblical passage, then the KJV really is not the best version to be working with. So much good and indeed essential scholarship has been done since 1611. My own practice is to compare as many different translations as seem to be necessary – mainly recent ones, certainly also including the KJV – until things begin to make more sense; for the Epistles, I often find that J B Phillips' somewhat freer translation can be very helpful in teasing out what I called above the 'thrust' of the argumentation.

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Zappa
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I don't know how helpful this is, but as ever context is everything. The passage falls into an address on the the Hebrews' (whoever) lapse into nonchalance and ennui. The sexy first flushes of faith are long gone and it's all become meh to the Hebrews. Very 21st century!

So the author launches into a recapitulation of her (I maintain she could be a she so therefore address her as she) previous teachings, the agreed common ground that is an established part of her discourse with the "Hebrews". She simply trots out (using what I have called elsewhere "a benevolent form of apophasis," for the technically inclined) a catena of sine qua non of agreed territory, a part of author and audience's shared experience of ecstasy and joy. Scholars note there's nothing christological about the list, incidentally (vv 1b-2). But then she throws what baseball fans would call a curve ball and cricket fans a googly ... "move on from the solipsism of those first experiential highs, dudes." The use of the word here rendered "enlightened" is simply shorthand for that powerful experience, that "beyond understanding magnificence of earlier ecstasies." "Kids, you've had the good times, don't diss them or forget them as we journey through dull times and tough times."

I'd be very careful about overloading the word with soteriology (the ghastly "unto salvation": drop "unto" from christian discourse, puhlease!). It's just basically "hang in there, kiddies."

But not alone. The archetypal Melchizedek priest is doing the hard yards with us and in us and for us. If there is an "unto salvation" (ugh) it's his: we just cling to his toenails and he'll see us on and through. "The perfection" is Christ's and he'll do the important hanging on because it is who he is. He can't let go because it's his is-ness. And he won't let go of us, either.

The author probably overloads the word we translate as "perfection" ... completion, fulfilment ... but it's of the is-ness of the High Priest, and the believers' task is just to keep on keeping on, even when the sexiness of faith runs out.

Which is bloody hard. But the High Priest knows that and he'll do the heavy lifting.

[ 29. July 2017, 18:44: Message edited by: Zappa ]

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Doone
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Zappa [Overused]
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Aijalon
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FWIW, I don't rely on the KJV, but I do paste from it as I have found it to be a good basis point, mostly for easy searching of Strong's concordance. My interlinear Greek NT (JP Green) inlays the KJV on the right as a reference, I suppose I follow that pattern, I don't assume that others use an interlinear....

Thanks for the insights and feedback, and especially to Zappa .... "sexiness of faith".... how very modernly interpreted. That's top shelf 21st century relevancy right there, love it [Big Grin]

The Bible study group I'm in is Baptist one, and the classmates are really all wadded up on how to resolve the soteriology questions. In large part they are extreem right wing Calvinists, but also laced with heavy doses of salvation being founded on outward appearances. Some have ways to work this out, but others are in a conflicted state of dissonance.

For my part, I can tell the author of Hebrews is not equating "enlightenment" with "conversion", but I am not precisely sure what it does mean. The teacher of the class is a bit of Greek nerd (ie. a shiny new PHD) and not quite helpful in resolving these questions, either.

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Aijalon
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could not edit previous.....*not that defaulting full force to either Calvinism or Works is a good thing, the natural dissonance is due to both of those positions being flawed and unacceptable I suppose*

[ 30. July 2017, 14:39: Message edited by: Aijalon ]

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Jengie jon

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quote:
Originally posted by Aijalon:

The Bible study group I'm in is Baptist one, and the classmates are really all wadded up on how to resolve the soteriology questions. In large part they are extreme right wing Calvinists, but also laced with heavy doses of salvation being founded on outward appearances. Some have ways to work this out, but others are in a conflicted state of dissonance.

Sounds as if they may know a bit about Calvinism. The pre-evangelical revival way of detecting whether one was Saved or not was through looking for signs of Sanctification in yourself. That is the work of the Holy Spirit leading to acts of righteousness. They may not realise this is the doctrine and it is often ignored but still, it persists.

Jengie

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Lamb Chopped
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Yes. It's one reason I'm so glad there's the Lutheran position, irrational as it is--Calvinism of the old high type would have destroyed me. (I have subclinical OCD and no assurance was ever enough--my teens were hell.)

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
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Nick Tamen

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Which is somewhat ironic, since the whole point of talking about predestination was, from Calvin's perspective, to relieve people from having to worry about their salvation.

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Jengie jon

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Yes. But we can see it in this simply because it is a defunct technique. In more recent techniques e.g. assurance of salvation, conversion experience and baptism in the holy spirit, we tend not to see it. It seems human nature wants a sign rather than relying simply on the Grace of God.

Jengie

[ 30. July 2017, 19:37: Message edited by: Jengie jon ]

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Lamb Chopped
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Didn't Calvin teach what he did simply because he thought it was true? Seems odd to speak of a purpose for having a doctrine.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Jengie jon

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No Calvin does not teach something because it is true. He teaches it because he feels that it is the best he can do at explaining the truth to others. There is a difference. There are times when he is basically saying "You may want to think of it this way". At other times he even says "This is one way" (implying there are others) to satisfy the requirements of God. In his Institutes, in particular, he is always conscious of the need to persuade his audience.

In the case of predestinarianism, he seems really to have decided on that as a matter of pastoral approach, that is to avoid people getting caught up about whether they were saved or not. You can hear his internal debate of which way to phrase it even in his Institutes.

Jengie

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Nick Tamen

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I'm not sure it's a "defunct" way of looking things though. It's the approach I've been taught all of my life.

[ 30. July 2017, 20:03: Message edited by: Nick Tamen ]

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Lamb Chopped
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Dang. I suppose this is another way we differ, then. Luther was concerned about communication, yes, but if what he saw in the Scriptures was either not logical or was lacking data (like how to have assurance etc.) he just left it that way.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Zappa
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Wise soul, that Luther dude (sometimes [Biased] )

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Lamb Chopped
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Heh.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Sarah G
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Reading Hebrews 6 put me very much in mind of what Paul wrote in Galatians 5:4 and even more in Romans 8:15 .

In both of these passages, Paul is attacking those Jews who had moved from Torah to Christ, but were moving back again. In Romans 8:15, Paul is using an Exodus narrative, with all the language of escape from slavery. He's saying to the New Israelites 'if you go back to where you were, you return back to slavery'.

I think the writer of Hebrews is making the exact same point. We know that everyone from Peter downwards had a problem with this.

'You've come from slavery to freedom (v1 dead Torah observance vs faith), you've tasted the heavenly gift (v4,5=manna and quails), and you still want to go back? Fine, but you won't be entering the promised land, then. Enjoy your slavery. Oh, and you're turning Christ's sacrifice into a meaningless, nasty, embarrassing death (v6). Good one.

(v13+)God made a promise to Abraham to free mankind, but you're denying that it's happened yet.'

Also see Hebrews 7:11+ reminding the Jews that belief in Jesus implies a change in Torah.

So my thinking is that she's telling the Christian Jews to stop drifting back to Torah, before it's too late.

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Zappa
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I think that's right, Sarah. I think there is a Pauline influence on the author of Hebrews, at least in so far as there is a common distrust of Torah. Which Matthew revokes, or tries to in his presentation of the Jesus story. That to me suggests that there was both a wildly swinging pendulum and regional variations at work as the Christians came to terms with their new experiences, faith, and shared narrative.

At this stage though she is still willing to portray Torah as deadening, and contrast it with the Hebrews' past experiences of ecstasy. That probably defeats her own argument that the hard work of believing-after-ecstasy is beginning, but she's trying to shift the focus to the Melchizedeck-Priest whose been there done that, and will get us through the dark times.


[edit to correct a terminal "h" [Biased] ]

[ 02. August 2017, 19:34: Message edited by: Zappa ]

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Aijalon
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Didn't Calvin teach what he did simply because he thought it was true? Seems odd to speak of a purpose for having a doctrine.

In one book on the Reformers it said that Calvin's supporters later formed TULIP and "Calvinism" as a defense against various attacks on Calvin's teachings, so Calvin himself may or may not fully agree to the five points as they are today expressed

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Jengie jon

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Not quite.

TULIP is Dutch Reformed development and a response to the five points of Arminianism. It was never intended as a full and valid statement of Calvinism. They were not arguing over what it meant to be a Calvinist but what standards the Dutch Church was to hold to. It is about drawing a line to say who is out and has continued to be used in that way ever since. As such it fails as a statement of the faith as its primary concern is identity not faithfulness.

It is pretty clear that Calvin would not have signed up to all five. I forget which is the major problem but know that Calvin's predestinarianism is not the Double of TULIP. Calvin was a much more subtle theologian than those involved in the synod of Dort.

Jengie

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Jamat
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quote:
enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
There seems to be more than mental understanding implied. What seems to be suggested is experience, eg 'tasted,' as well. This could link to the unforgivable sin. If you clearly are confronted by God's grace but nevertheless turn your back on it, God has no plan B to reach you.
Sometimes, we over complicate these things.

[ 07. August 2017, 22:00: Message edited by: Jamat ]

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Gamaliel
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Sure. FWIW, my own take is that God isn't going to 'stop' us if we choose to walk away, although he will welcome us back at any time - like the Prodigal Son - unless we topple over into 'unforgivable sin' territory ...

Any further than that, I won't speculate.

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