Dr. Marcus Mininger
When we study Scripture, we find very clear topics that the church has well understood for some time, and also more difficult topics that continue to puzzle us all. Both topics need continued attention, the former to preserve proper understanding against subsequent challenges and the latter to shed new light for the first time. In recent years, I have been working on a book, now nearing completion, that addresses topics of both sorts in Hebrews.
On the one hand, most people have long believed that Hebrews was written to Christians tempted to return to the old covenant. But this belief has been vigorously challenged in recent years by those who do not want to see Christianity in opposition to Judaism. In response, my book seeks to provide new evidence for the traditional view, underscoring that, though the old covenant was a gracious provision of God, its sacrifices could never cleanse the conscience; they only functioned to point forward to the greater ministry of Christ. As a result, returning to the old covenant as an alternative to Christ brings certain destruction.
On the other hand, most people have long been puzzled by Hebrews’ strong warnings against apostasy and its insistence that those who have “once been enlightened” and have “tasted the heavenly gift” but have fallen away cannot be “restored again to repentance” (6:4-6). In response, my book sets forth a new interpretation, showing that, in this particular context, being “restored to repentance” means being restored to right-standing under the old covenant. As a result, Hebrews 6 is not saying that those who fall away from Christ cannot return to him to be forgiven. It is saying that those who fall away from Christ cannot return in repentance to the old covenant since that would be rejecting the ministry of the one whom the old covenant was always preparing for all along.
Whether defending what is already clear or shedding new light on what is not, the work of biblical studies is never done. Please pray that the Lord would preserve and enhance right understanding of His Word in His church and that He might even use this forthcoming book as a small contribution toward that end.