Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Hebrews as a Missionary Tool?

Does anybody out there really enjoy the book of Hebrews as an occasional missionary tool? There are so many interesting passages that can lead to interesting discussions of LDS views, or even give some sincere critics pause. The first few chapters seem especially rich. In chapter 1, verses 1-4 speak of Christ in ways that strongly suggest He is a separate Being, the Son and Heir of God, by Whom God made the worlds, who looks just like the Father - being His "express image" - and who sits on the right hand of the Father. Doesn't sound like Paul was thinking of the Godhead as one substance without body or parts or an image of any kind.

Chapter 2 starts off with a warning that we Christians can slip, and that we need to give earnest heed to the teachings of the Gospel (gasp - could this imply obedience??). Paul isn't just talking about fallen pagans: "How shall WE escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" (v. 3). Yes, it's possible for Christians who chose Christ once to later choose something else and neglect the salvation He offers us. In other words, we can slip and fall from grace.

Verse 7 of chapter 2 is loaded with significance. Referring to Christ, Paul quotes Psalm 8:5, which states that God has made man a little lower than the angels. Actually, the Hebrew text says a little lower than "the gods." Christ, like man, was made in this state, yet obviously is God, crowned with honor and glory, set by the Father to be "over the work of [the Father's] hands" (v. 7). Paul seems to be saying that Christ progressed from the state, becoming "perfect through suffering" (v. 10), offering us Atonement, in which he did "taste death for every man" (v. 9) that we might be sanctified and become one with Him (v. 11), making us "brethren" to Jesus (v. 11). Some of you might wish to add Paul to your list of heinous non-Christian impostors. (Perhaps Paul and other New Testament writers actually worshipped a different Jesus?)

Chapter 3 again has Paul making the oft-repeated call to Christians to be careful, to endure to the end, and avoid falling into sin lest we lose the blessings Christ offers us (vs. 6, 12-14).

Chapter 4 urges Christians to labor to enter into the rest of God (v. 11), and chapter 5 touches again upon the progress of Christ in learning obedience through suffering and becoming perfect (vs. 8-9), becoming "the author of eternal salvation unto all them that _____ him." Can you guess what the missing word or phrase is? Perhaps "pray to"? "Confess"? "Love"? "Admire"? (Hint: the word is similar in appearance and sound to "ebay".)

The challenge, of course, is understanding what these passages mean, and helping others to see that there is another paradigm that might make a lot more sense than the one they have inherited.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

By express image-----do you mean identical----or looking alike?

Walker said...

Here is Strong's definition of "express image" ("karakter" in Greek).

1) the instrument used for engraving or carving

2) the mark stamped upon that instrument or wrought out on it

a) a mark or figure burned in (Lev. 13:28) or stamped on, an impression

b) the exact expression (the image) of any person or thing, marked likeness, precise reproduction in every respect, i.e facsimile

Mormanity said...

Given the use of the related term in the Old Testament, it's reasonable that Paul was thinking of a Christ who looks just like the Father.