NB: I am planning on posting more in this series as times permits me to do so. I will be looking a lot at the so-called Warning Passages this semester and will find ways to post on this topic on a more regular basis
I do not remember my first encounter with the book of Hebrews, nor do I remember the first time I came across the phrase “Warning Passages.”(1) Nevertheless, I soon became intrigued (and troubled) by these perplexing and harsh statements of warning, judgment, and peril. I am unapologetically a Calvinist; therefore I read these passages through that grid of interpretation. Nevertheless, I will be honest upfront that these passages prove troublesome for both my Calvinist and Arminian brothers and sisters. Why is this? Why do godly and skilled exegetes still spill ink over the soteriological message of these passages and never seem to reach an agreement on their precise meaning?
Well, I am not going to be able to solve that riddle or end the debate. Rather, I think to focus on which camp has the right soteriological answer misses the point all together. Instead of isolating these passages and divorcing them from the overall discourse, I think the only way to understand these warning passages is to read it in light of what precedes and proceeds. Trying to read a Reformed or Arminian meaning into the text is anachronistic and will only serve to blur the meaning of Hebrews.
(1) The Warning Passages are: 2.1-4; 3.7-4.13; 5.11-6.12; 10.19-39; 12.14-29.