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Herbert Bateman: Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews


Herbert W. Bateman IV, ed., Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007), 480 pages, ISBN 9780825421327.

Probably every Christian has read one of the warning passages in Hebrews and wondered whether they have rejected God’s grace to the point of no return. The confusion that results partly explains the wide variety of views held by theologians on these Scriptures.

In response to the dual concerns of theological and pastoral praxis, the authors wrote this volume. The preface explains its formal origin, “This book is a collection of papers initially presented to the Hebrews Study Group during the fifty-sixth annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (November 17-19, 2004).” Each of the four authors is a recognized scholar on the Book of Hebrews. Two are Arminians and two are Calvinists.

This work is another in a spate of books on a range of subjects looked at from three to four different points of views. Various publishers have ventured into this area of publishing.1 Of course, these books are all co-authored by respected scholars in their fields. For the average reader who is theologically untrained, however, they may be left in a state of confusion. Even for scholars, it is sometimes difficult to reach a conclusion on these matters. One difference in this book, as a friend pointed out to me, is its narrow focus. Most of the books that constitute this genre address major subjects like predestination, the Lord’s Supper, or the relationship of the Old Testament law to the New Testament believer, etc. This manuscript specifically examines a few debated passages from the Book of Hebrews.

Herbert W. Bateman IV, the general editor, opens with a lengthy introduction to these warning passages. In his essay, he claims that all the presenters in the book believe those warned in Hebrews were genuine Christians.2 To this reviewer, his chapter seems superfluous. For example while filled with information including copious footnotes, it contains little the actual authors do not cover themselves in their respective chapters.

Grant R. Osborne (representing the classical Arminian view) believes the warning passages teach that apostasy can occur and when it does it is unpardonable.3 Calvinists view the threatened discipline as the loss of rewards (or loss of fellowship with God according to others of their camp), but not in any case the loss of salvation. While Arminians view the threatened discipline as the lost of salvation, most of them believe Christians who backslide can still repent in this life and renew their salvation by the grace of God. Other Arminians believe Christians cannot only backslide but apostatize to the point of not being able (or desirous) ever to repent. Osborne adopts this latter position. He does not believe one can repent if he or she commits apostasy.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 2010

About the Author: Steve D. Eutsler, D.Min. (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary), M.Div. (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary), M.A. Biblical Literature (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary), B.A. Bible (Central Bible College), is professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Global University in Springfield, Missouri. He has extensive experience as a pastor, evangelist, and educator and is the author of numerous articles and books. Email

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