There are times when I wonder if we are making an impact. I know that many around the world are hearing the Free Grace message and trusting in Jesus for eternal life. Praise the Lord. But I sometimes wonder if our Reform Theology friends ever hear our views and feel compelled to adjust some of their thinking.
I am teaching the Book of Hebrews and was looking at a new commentary from a stalwart of the Reformed position to see what if anything was new in the commentary literature. To my surprise Dr. Thomas Schreiner says, while commenting on Hebrews 6 of all places, the following: “The central dispute is whether those addressed are described as Christians or as those who are almost Christians. I will argue here that the language used points to Christians.” (“Biblical Theology For Christian Proclamation: A commentary on Hebrews” B&H Pub. p. 185)
He restates his thesis and just to make it as clear as he can, he says that Dr. Wayne Grudem, another Reformed Theologian of world redound, believes that these people being addressed are “Almost Christians.” Schreiner declares that, “here Grudem’s reading fails to convince.” He continues, “The writer specifically addresses believers in the warning. The terms he used don’t suggest inadequate or partial belief. Instead he uses expressions that designate Christian believers in the fullest sense of the word.” (P 186)
For those who are familiar with Dr. Schreiner’s views you know that he is not an Arminian holding that these actual Christians lose their eternal life. It is also clear that he does not favor the rewards view as he makes clear in his book. He has advanced a view which understands that the warnings are the means by which the Lord makes sure Christians will obey. This in a sense is a modification of the view of Thomas Hewitt, that the warnings are hypothetical in terms of the negative outcome since it will never come about. Dr. Schreiner understands that the consequences will not occur in that the warnings will always have their intended impact, and the errant believer will and must obey in the end. This view is articulated in detail in The Race Set Before Us (IVP 2001. He also articulates this point of view in his chapter “Warning and Assurance”, in The Perfect Savior: Key Themes in Hebrews, IVP 2012, p 89)
It is encouraging to see that even some “strong Calvinists” of the 5 point stripe (as if there is any other kind) when confronted with the text realize that the audience being addressed in Hebrews 6 “are believers in the fullest sense of the word.”
Serving Him with you until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, PhD
Managing Editor, Grace Theology Press