Is De-conversion Possible?

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Sorry, I had to post again.  WordPress had a bug and it was not displayed

I used to say yes.  I’ve recently said no.  Now I’m thinking . . . maybe.

I’ve been on many sites recently, commenting with others who truly feel they were once “saved” and have chosen to walk away.  It’s raised lots of questions.  I understand the scriptures and know I will never walk away, but is it really possible?

When I first studied II Peter and learned the Greek words for “know”, I began to see how knowing and “really” knowing can be different.  In the Greek there is a difference between gnosis and epignosis.

gnosis – primarily a seeking to know, an enquiry, investigation, denoted in the NT, knowledge, especially of spiritual truth.

epignosis – denotes exact or full knowledge, discernment, recognition, and is a strengthened form of gnosis, expressing a fuller or a full knowledge , a greater participation by the knower in the object known, thus more powerfully influencing him.

In English we have to clarify and that seems to be very offensive to nonbelievers.

To say, “If you truly knew Jesus, you would not have turned away,” seems arrogant.  I can feel the offensiveness as I type.  But isn’t that what Jesus taught when He said His sheep will hear His voice and will follow Him?  He knows His sheep and His sheep know Him.  We are told that nothing will separate us from the love of God.  We have been sealed with the Spirit until Jesus comes again.

John also states in his epistle, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”  I John 2:19

We spread the word, the seed, and it falls everywhere.  Some falls beside the road – those who have heard – but the devil comes along and takes it away – they will not believe and be saved.  Some falls on rocky soil  – those who hear, receive the word, but have no firm root – when temptation comes they fall away.  Some falls among the thorns – they have heard but as they go on their way the worries of the world, riches, and pleasure  choke them – they bring no fruit to maturity.  But some falls on good soil – those who have heard the word, hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverence  (The Parable of the Sower, the Seed, and the Soil from Luke 8:4-15).

So, I’m asking, what does it mean to de-convert?

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47 responses »

  1. Hey, TheNorEaster!

    I had to post again because of a bug on wordpress – I lost your comment in the process.

    As I recall you spoke of those who have been sexually abused by clergy having reasons for walking away from the church. I know there was more to it, I just can’t recall everything clearly. Please comment again, if you would like. I responded but can’t remember well enough what you said, or how I worded my answer.

    Sorry, I was really glad to hear from you. -Michelle

  2. I suppose that if you believe that you are the one responsible for your original conversion to Christianity then it makes sense that you could also deconvert yourself. I’ve read recently on a Southern Baptist site that their doctrinal distinctive is “soul competence” meaning they believe they are in control of their conversion.

  3. I’ve never heard that term – it seems to run contrary to the the understanding that God does the calling – I can’t make sense of it all. Those I’ve run across in cyberspace seem to come from a “works” theology. If we’ve been transformed how do we become untransformed? If “born again” and adopted – how do we lose our Father?

    Thanks for commenting – please join in anytime. Blessings!

  4. I suppose “soul competence” is the reason for the dreaded altar call, a time for people to make their decision for Christ.

  5. “the dreaded altar call”

    I always liked that part of the service – I must have gone forward hundreds of times 🙂

  6. Sorry it took so long for me to get here again. I had actually bookmarked the page, but I must have made a mistake because it wouldn’t come up when I clicked the link. Fortunately, you chose a simple title for your site!

    My previous response was, in part, a slight rebuttal to another comment, which had stated that one simply cannot lose their salvation so the person who had “de-converted” was never really saved to begin with.

    I thought that was a bit an ignorant statement because I’ve known far, far too many people who have been betrayed by church leaders and religious figures because of sexual abuse. Some of those who have survived the abuse forever associate the salvation of Christianity with the horrors they have endured at the hands of pedophiles. From the point of view of Satan (whatever that is), it’s an ingenious way to keep people away from God. The ultimate negative (pedophilia) becomes associated with the ultimate postive (God’s love).

    I recently wrote a…Well, a very difficult post about homosexuality on my site. I never present my opinion on the matter, but instead I simply say that Christians are commanded not to judge because in doing so we condemn ourselves. And so for the same reason, I think it would be hypocritical for us to condemn “de-converts,” especially since–you can easily tell from the site–there is so much about their experiences that we do not understand.

    I will say this, though. That whatever their experiences, whatever horrors or hypocrisy they have endured, I believe that God is fair. And so He will certainly take those experiences into account when…Well, when the time comes for Him to take them into account.

    “De-conversion” is, in my opinion, is an organic backlash against–among other things–the hypocrisy of the church and the legalistic, inhuman rules and regulations of fundamentalism.

    What was cannot be. What is will not be. What will be…Will be.

  7. As you may have seen from the de-C site, I too have experienced childhood abuse. It has deeply affected all areas of my life. I’m not sure if the shame of it will ever go away – but the understanding that God allowed it, knowing it would make me who I am today, knowing He is Love, and knowing He desires only my good, has helped me through the pain.

    I truly do see Him as Love and Justice. Someday all things will be made right. But just as He allows me to have choices – even those who choose evil live among us. Man’s inhumanity to man is the problem – sin does reign in our flesh until we come to an understanding of the transformative power of the Spirit. Even then we still sin, but we know we can have help through his Spirit.

    I don’t condemn anyone. I only reach out in hope of sharing the Help I have come to know (epignosis). Please don’t read this as judgment, it truly is a question. Can one who has been adopted lose h/her Father? I believe only when the Father dies and I know (epignosis) God is not dead (contrary to popular belief).

    Thanks for coming back – your input is always welcome.

  8. I guess I have a few preliminary questions. You see, I was baptized in the Anglican Church of Canada and converted to Catholicism in 2001. According to the Catholic view I was already a baptized Christian but not a full Catholic until I completed the RCIA, at which time I was confirmed for the first time. So here’s a Christian (me) who “converted” from one to another form of Christianity.

    This issue of different types of Christianity, I find interesting. For instance, does my sister or brother in Christ who is an Evangelical have the same kind of interior experience as I do at the Catholic Mass, and in particular, upon receiving the Eucharist? And what of my United, Anglican, Presbyterian, Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist, etc.* brothers and sisters, not to overlook all those who consider themselves Christian but don’t identify with an organized Church?

    I guess what I’m asking is a question concerning the interior experience of mysticism. Could one person’s qualitative experience that is conceptually understood as “Christ” be another person’s qualitative experience that is conceptually understood (by that second person) as “paganism” or “not-Christ?”

    And can we ever answer this question? If not, can we meaningfully speak of Christian conversion or deconversion?

    Just some thoughts… 😉

    —–

    *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations

  9. Is it about our “concept” of Christ or about the Truth of Christ?

    I know it’s not PC, but I do believe in Absolute Truth and that it is contained completely in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If this is real, this “christian belief” we hold, then it must be based upon the Books that have revealed this Truth to us. I am no philosopher, do not understand the rules of logic, and have no ability to support my belief, except through my understanding of the Word I have studied. I believe through study I can better understand this God I serve.

    The scripture tells me Jesus said I can be born again. I can become a new creature, and I can have a Helper (a paraclete) who will abide in me. That He will be one with me, as He and the Father are one. I can have eternal life. I want all of that – I have had “metaphysical” moments with God through the Spirit. Internally I have experienced a mystery, God in me, the hope of glory.

    I don’t understand much about Catholic teaching. I was raised in an evangelical, keep-your-salvation-by-your-own-good-works denomination. I was never sure if I would see Jesus. What if I cursed right before I died and didn’t have a chance to repent? “In Him, Alone” is the post that tells about how I came to understand I was not trusting in Jesus, but in myself. Hebrews puts it boldly, those who trust in themselves have trampled underfoot the blood of Christ. He did it all, on the cross, all I must do is believe. In the Greek that means to understand in your mind and trust in your heart, giving your life to the belief. I believe that is biblical conversion. I believe that is what Jesus taught. So if this is my experience, belief, moment of Truth, and a mystical work was “done” in me, how does that ever go away?

    These are my questions – probably can’t get an answer until I see Him. But I’m not afraid anymore.

  10. Yes, I agree that it’s a very personal issue. What I was really saying was… we can’t exactly know what another person experiences. You know, different people claim that the Holy Spirit urges them to do things. But oftentimes they’re in heated disagreement or worse (e.g. Northern Ireland).

    http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2000/n.ireland/overview.html

    So again, the issue of conversion/deconversion might just be a personal matter between the individual and God.

    We can talk about it with others. But since we’re always talking about personal, internal experiences, IMHO there’s a lot of room for potential misunderstanding, even if other people use the same kind of words as we do to describe their inner experiences.

    Some philosophers go as far to say that we can’t even be sure if other people exist at all (i.e. ‘solipsism’). But I don’t subscribe to that view, thank God! 🙂

  11. I see your point. The problems in Northern Ireland came home to me when we were living in Manchester, England. I was working downtown, in a Christian bookstore, when one afternoon the supporters of William of Orange came parading down the street. To a young Texas girl who had only thought Christianity was suppose to make you “nice,” I was appalled people could be marching for violence in the name of Christ. It’s much different to read about the abuses of religion than to witness them. My Protestant British friends hung their heads in shame, some told me to just ignore them. It was disconcerting to think people would see me as that type of Protestant.

    Our traditions are so ingrained in us that we have a hard time looking past the label to the heart. I don’t believe we should judge others’ experiences, but when they are not based upon the scripture – the Holy Spirit does not call us to terrorism – is the experience valid?

    I’ve run across some people who believe we’re just a dream – I felt that way as a kid – I was real but my family was not -is this solipsism?

    No, I don’t think we can ever know about anyone else – His spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are His. It is a personal thing.

  12. Yeah solipsism is the belief (or view) that the mind alone is real. Everything else is just… well, I don’t know. I never believed in it. I remember debating this at university. My somewhat humorous argument was “just in case solipsism is false and other people really do exist, we’d better be morally right in our actions towards them!” The professor’s eyes lit up, as if I’d touched on something…

    Anyhow, I didn’t mean to imply that we should necessarily give up trying to understand others, just because spirituality is such a personal thing.

    In my view, we can form hypotheses and check them out, to some extent, through lived experience. The Protestant theologian Paul Tillich talked about this. Myself, I combine dreams, gut feelings, texting, speech, interaction, observation, inner experience–it all comes together (or I try to put it together) into some kind of meaningful whole. It’s not really a “science” (as in building bridges) but it involves observation, reason and experience.

    Often my own thinking is much smaller and more limited than how things really unfold. So I rarely if ever say “I know,” except when it comes to how I feel.

    One of my favorite Biblical verses is Isaiah 55:6-9.

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=isaiah+55:6-9

  13. I love those verses too. Sovereignty was not a word we used when I was young. The whole understanding of how vast God is – was it Job who said he had only glimpsed the corner of God’s robe? I feel that way.

    I have experienced some amazing moments with God. Just last night I was praying about a very difficult, scary event coming up. In my mind an old hymn popped up, one I hadn’t thought about in years, and can’t even remember this morning, but it was exactly what I needed. I went to sleep, straight away.

    If we could understand Him, would He be God?

    Please, keep sharing, your insights challenge me. Blessings – Michelle.

  14. I don’t know if I have any more insights! But I can say that last year I sort of had to do something that I found a bit unsettling. I just let it happen, was sincere (speaking in ways that I thought others would be able to comprehend), and things went well.

    My personal belief here, and I don’t know if it’s one you will share, is that we exist in a ‘communion of saints’ (to use the RCC terminology). For me, that means that God can help us through the intercession of other people and also through souls in heaven. This involves a ‘mystical bond’ of Christ.

    Actually, I believe it’s usually a reciprocal relationship with regard to connections among people still living. Some Protestants, I know, don’t like the idea of saints in heaven helping us through intercession. But I believe it.

    Having said that, I don’t think it really matters if a good Christian doesn’t believe it. We’re all so different and only God can say what’s right for each one of us.

  15. Yes, only God can see the intentions of the heart and know all. So much is mysterious.

    I believe in the communion of saints. I think that’s what happens, as you said, when we make connections among people still living, when we hold one another up in prayer, and after death when we will have ultimate, glorious communion. When I read Revelation I see that there are souls under the altar of God crying out to Him for the persecution to end, “How long, Oh God?” I don’t understand it all – so many mysteries.

    Yet, I do feel we need to base our experiences upon scripture. I spent too many years trying to balance the word, experience, and tradition; when it would have been better if I had known the word clearly to be able to discern invalid experiences and throw out some uninformed tradition.

    David’s words, “I have hidden Thy word in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.” and Paul, “Now we see as in a mirror darkly, then we shall see face to face.”

    Some day it will all be clear. 🙂

  16. Interesting. I think I understand where you’re coming from. Your belief is that God inscribes in the heart the ability to discern truth from untruth? And that this is rooted or reflected in scripture?

    In all honesty, I never really fully understand what people mean by ‘the word.’ Is it Jesus? Is it God’s Plan? Is it every word in the Bible? All of these things?

    I have read the entire Catholic Bible cover to cover. And I’m glad I have. But my feeling is that it’s also important to stay up on recent scientific theories, remembering, of course, that they’re just theories… 😉

  17. My belief is that the word is “all of these things.” Jesus spoke of the Law and the Prophets (the OT) and taught his disciples, after the resurrection, from them to show it had been prophesied that He would come and fulfill the requirements of the Law.

    “Your belief is that God inscribes in the heart the ability to discern truth from untruth? And that this is rooted or reflected in scripture? ”

    Yes, I believe this is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I find this teaching in the Old and New Testaments. But let me share some of Jesus’ words on the matter:

    If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Paracletos – one called alongside to help, or Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor) that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides in you and will be in you…..If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with Him.
    John14:15-17, 23.

    The Spirit of truth abides in me and leads me into truth. Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” Paul explained to the Ephesians, “…Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water
    with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (I gave a bit of commentary on this in the post “Change Your Clothes!”)

    Anyway, that’s where I’m coming from – I believe He abides in me and He will lead me to discern truth from untruth.

    …be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

    I am fascinated by Science but so much of the terminology is beyond me – I rely upon our resident scientist, my son, who is working toward a degree in Bio-chemistry (is that a field?), to explain to me what’s going on (when I can understand him!).

    Is the Catholic Bible that much different than my New American Standard version? I know it has a few extra books, but isn’t the translation the same?

    I’ll quit now, the lengthiness of this comment might cause you to want to move on 🙂

  18. Thanks, that’s a great exposition. It’s funny how one can read the Bible but forget certain passages and remember others. Good to be reminded of its fullness.

    Actually, after posting my last comment I remembered that I read the Protestant King James Bible first from cover to cover while living in India. Then after returning home a friend gave me a Catholic New American Bible. I hadn’t gone through the Catholic rite yet but realized that this Bible contained a few extra books. So I read them.

    And then, if I remember right I started reading the entire Catholic Bible from the start. Did I finish reading the Catholic Bible? In all honesty I can’t remember because I started to get different translations (NRSV, NIV, etc.) and always wanted to start from the beginning again.

    But I know I’ve read the entire book but not necessarily in a straight line, which is okay by me because scholars say it wasn’t written in a straight line and I more or less abide by that assessment.

    Geez, this is a long thread. Very interesting! But please don’t feel obliged to respond if by chance it’s getting in the way of your duties at home or elsewhere. I’m going to check out “Change Your Clothes!” when I have a minute.

    Thanks again. 🙂

  19. I’ve loved it! Duties at home? If only I could do them, I have a chronic illness that keeps me resting most of the time. I feel no obligation – it’s been fun! Comment anytime 🙂 Take care…

  20. Just popping by. Followed your link from …. that other site…. Noticed this post/query.

    Hebrews 6 is quite clear about falling away. When you read it, it’s pretty clear that real converts are being talked about.

    Then there are the Ancient Fathers. If you read the Ignatius, Clement, Iraneus, The Apostolic Constitutions, The Didache, and so on and on and on, you’ll find that the earliest Church had no doubt that believers could de-convert.

    The question of “un-de-converting” was a bit more problematic, but it was definitely acknowledged as possible.

    Just food for your thought. I won’t hang around. I’ll be at …….. that other place….. if you have anything to say/ask.

  21. LeoPardus (if you happen to pop back over):

    “Hebrews 6 is quite clear about falling away. When you read it, it’s pretty clear that real converts are being talked about.”

    I don’t see the clarity. Without digging into the greek meanings and tenses, and looking at the whole of Hebrews, I believe a “quick” read from an english
    translation could bring about a wrong conclusion.

    Because the response would require more “wallpaper” than I can hang at the moment, I will respond with one point:

    In Hebrews 6 the writer lists “those” who could fall away and not be renewed to repentance as “partakers of the Holy Spirit.” Interesting, and quite controversial when compared to a similar phrase in 2 Peter, “partakers of the divine nature.”

    In Hebrews the word “partakers” means a partner or associate. In 2 Peter the word means one who is a companion or in fellowship. I believe this points to a difference in the relationship. Once you have become a companion of Jesus through the Holy Spirit and have fellowship with Him, you are in covenant – The New Covenant.

    I’m involved in a study of Hebrews at this time and we have just reached Hebrews 6 (Live in Unity?). Hopefully, I’ll learn more as I complete my homework – which I must do now or will be woefully behind by tomorrow morning!

    I’m glad you popped over, please do anytime 😉

  22. I have been sexually abused by a preacher. It lasted from 1976 to 1982. God finally gave me the courage to leave the church and the area. A family that use to attend the same church, where the abuse took place, tried to help me when I came back to the area. The authorities were called in, and because the abuse had happened while I was adult, no criminal charges were available. In their investigation they found 12+ women. None of which wanted to reopen a very painful period in their life. This church I attended would be considered a cult.

    The pain I went through, I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Because of the trauma, I now have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had to relearn Scripture, review what I believed the Bible taught. I asked God for spiritual healing and while it has taken me years to heal, I’m thankful to God for giving me the desire to know Him better.

    People do not understand how easily and vulnerable victims are. This preacher told me “God would show him if I ever left.” They grabbed my arms when I tried to leave, but God gave me Christian friends from the Christian School my daughter attended and they made sure I got out.

    I thought about blogging the experience but I’m not sure if what I went through could help someone else. Today I go to the scripture and study and ask God to help me. I’m experiencing problems with dementia. My prayer is that I will never forget God. For God and God alone brought me out of that mess and gave me a whole new life.

    I had panic attacks when I attended chuch for a while during counselling. I finally have come to the place where I am stronger spiritually. I don’t use the King James because that is the version that this so called preacher used.

    After I left, I found out that this preacher also molested my daughter. It has effected (or is affected) my daughter. I understand her pain as so much happened to her as well.

    Again thank you for finding my blog so I could read yours.

    Once a Wounded Lilly now a Desert Rose

  23. Oh, I’m so sorry to hear of your sufferings. I wish I could hug you – I pray God will envelope you in His Love.

    Thank the Lord for those people God sent to get you out of that place…as you write, it sounds like He has brought deliverance to you. I will pray for His continuing work in your life.

    It took years for me to understand the abuse I incurred as a child. I have found it difficult to share because too many people are not safe and have unintentionally added to the pain.

    I have found relief in God’s word and His character. I run to Him for help, “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into Him and are safe.” He has led me to loving, Christian counselors who have helped me to overcome the shame.

    Most people don’t understand the damage abuse does to one’s value – I have found much grace through His servants who are trained to come alongside with godly counsel.

    I’m glad we found one another, Desert Rose.

    I will say with you, “God, and God alone!” Praise His Name, Michelle.

  24. Had a short break at work and popped in for a minute. Saw this post and although I only had time for a quick scan of the comments, I didn’t see the following verses from the Gospel of John mentioned in reference to the ‘de-conversion’ question. Sc ripture must have the final say in the matter. The strongest verses in the Bible that speak of believers’ assurance are in John 10.

    27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

    Once we are in His hands, we can be assured we will not be lost, or de-converted. Such is the saving and keeping power of God. ‘No one’ means ‘no one.’ Any verses that might indicate that someone can use their salvation. must be interpreted in light of the above verses, including those problematic verses in Hebrews that talk of someone who has once tasted the goodness of God. . . etc. A person can taste of the goodness of God and not be saved. There is an element of grace that is common to all. The seed falling on different kinds of ground is a good example. Some seed falls on shallow ground and actually might sprout but end up dying.

    There are places in John specifically that speak of the believer’s assurance, but these are the strongest. If I am redundant to other comments, my apologies.

  25. Thanks for those verses, Dan. Some were touched upon but nothing worded as strongly. Have you ever been to the de-Conversion site? The contributors are respectful of the Christians who comment, no extreme name calling. Many times I cannot keep up with the logical arguments, and most of the time they aren’t interested in hearing the scriptural references, considering most believe it’s just another myth. I’m not sure what my draw is – I love good discourse, and I find the discussion a challenge.

    But I’m with you on this, I believe if our basis for belief is not backed up with scripture then it’s not solid ground. How else can we know what our Creator God has said, if we don’t rely upon His word for knowledge – I do believe the scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching.

  26. Dan:

    The English language has no future tense, but, after reading Hebrews, I realized that Jesus was probably talking about the future of His followers–those who have died and gone to Heaven. Those are the ones, I’d say, who “cannot be snatched out of my hand” because they have already been “given eternal life.” We die here. On Earth. That is not eternal life. We get that when God decides it’s our time to die and He gives it to us (or not, as the case may be). But, in this life, just as we still make a choice to believe, we can make a choice NOT to believe–which is where and when those verses in Hebrews become applicable.

  27. “But, in this life, just as we still make a choice to believe, we can make a choice NOT to believe–which is where and when those verses in Hebrews become applicable.”

    that goes to the whol “How free is free will?” question (probably a whole diffrent blog 🙂 ). John 6:44 and John 6:65 tell me that although I made a decision for Christ I needed help, a divine nudge, if you will.

    Concerning Hebrews 6: 1-8, I actually found a commentary that discusses all four interpretations! The preponderence of the linguistic type evidence is that these verses probably refer to believers who have fallen away, however not to a state of losing their salvation, since it is a gift and the NT verses that point to our eternal life beginning when we believe and God keeping us by His power are pretty convincing, especially:

    “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you. Through faith you are shielded by God’s power until the coming of salvation…” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

    When I teach assurance of salvation I focus on being able to know that we know that we know we are His children and try to stay away from the whole can/cannot lose our salvation debate. Personally, I believe we can lose our inner assurance but nor our adoption into the family of God through His Son.

    I’m going to have to check out the de-conversion site to see exactly what the term means. I know we can make a decision for Christ out of our human intellect and change our minds, but that’s quite diffrent from a real inner work of the Holy Spirit.

    I ran my mouth long enough – later, my friends!

  28. Thanks Dan and NorEaster for commenting further on this touchy issue. Great scholars have debated over this teaching for centuries. I am glad to know that our loving God, Who sees all, is the One Who will, in the end, be Judge over all.

    I did want to add the four basic views of how Hebrews 6:4-8 is to be interpreted:

    1. This passage describes saved people, people who are truly regenerated, but who then lose their salvation through deliberate apostasy.

    2. This passage describes people who have professed to know Christ, but who have never truly been saved. They have shown some evidence of apparent conversion, but then they have turned away.

    Dr. John A. Sproule describes this view as follows:

    This view believes that the type person being described in Hebrews 6:4-6 is an unsaved person who (1) clearly sees where the truth lies, (2) who experiences its power to a degree [a Judas-type, Matt. 10:1-8; rocky soil people of Luke 8:13], (3) who, for a time, conforms to the truth, but then (4) for one reason or another, usually because of persecution as in Luke 8:13, they utterly and completely renounce the faith! They are apostates –unregenerated people who fall away to perdition: Luke 8:13, Hebrews 3:12, Hebrews 10:39, John 17:12 (Judas–“the son of perdition”).

    3. This passage describes saved persons who have backslidden. In this view, “falling away” is treated as a falling into sin so that they are at the point of divine chastisement.

    4. This passage describes a hypothetical case to illustrate the folly of apostasy.

    Proponents of this view hold that the author has described a supposed case, assuming for the moment the presuppositions of some of his confused and wavering readers. To those who would suggest that they are truly regenerated but could still go back to Judaism (this turning from an exclusive allegiance to Jesus), he warns by this description what the frightening end would be. If a person were truly enlightened and would experience everything provided in regeneration, and then would turn away in repudiation, it would be no light thing, for he would be without hope of recovery. He would have abandoned the only means of life-changing repentance. True believers would be warned by this statement to remain firm (and from the human standpoint the warnings of Scripture are a means to ensure the perseverance of the saints); for to turn form Christ would show either that they had never become true “sharers” of Christ (3:14), or else leave them with no further hope of salvation (6:6). The warning was directed to those who claimed to be saved, and took them at their own estimate of themselves to show the folly of their viewpoint. (Any readers whose faith was mere profession would also be sobered by the warning of the fearful consequences of apostasy.)

    Precept Upon Precept, Hebrews Part 2, Lesson 5, Chapter 6, pgs. 39-40; 2001 Precept Ministries International.

    As I’ve stated previously, I am currently studying Hebrews and thought this passage from the workbook might be beneficial. Kay Arthur went on to explain in her lecture that we cannot forget the verses right after which are used to help illustrate the passage.

    “For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned. But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

    I believe assurance of salvation is in the perseverence of the saints. The difference to be known is in the individual – but they “sound” like Christians – are they “posess”ors, or merely “profess”ors? We have our ups and downs, we are human, but will we persevere to the end? I believe the answer is “yes” because He is the One who keeps us in Him – He is the One with the power to save.

  29. Michelle:

    I’ve been through #3. So, ultimately, I’d agree with your statement, “I believe assurance of salvation is in the perseverence of the saints” because God is the one who empowers us to persevere, even when we are wandering the woods like The Prodigal Son or King Nebuchandezzer…And I never could spell that name correctly!

    But before you start poking me for galavanting around again, I’m going! I’m going! Heh.

    Take care.

  30. Michelle, Those are much like the four intrepretations I plugged into. I was thinking about conversion/de-conversion last night and a thought struck me. People can be converted to/from religion(s) but not to/from Christ the Messiah. Confrontation with Jesus is about meeting the God, not a religion. Looking at some comments on a couple of sites about ‘de-conversion/ex-christian’ I saw prople leaving a religious system. Just a thought.

  31. Dan:

    I came to that conclusion several times after reading several posts at d-C, but I’m not so sure I would go along with your idea that one cannot be converted to/from Christ based on the idea that confrontation (or did you mean “conversion”?) is about “meeting God, not a religion.” Some of the most religious Christians I’ve ever known have claimed that they don’t have a religion, but a relationship. That whole idea of having a “personal relationship” with God never sat well with me simply because I worship Him; I do not worship my family or my friends so, obviously, it would be idolatrous for me to try to put God in that same category. Granted, Jesus did call His disciples “friends” toward the end of His ministry, but I think it would be extraordinairily arrogant of me to act like I have some sort of “personal relationship” with The Almighty. However, if God wants to call me His friend, His child, or His servant, I’m certainly going to be grateful. There is just a…such a monumental difference between what God can do and what we can do. At times, I’ve lost sight of that simple fact by thinking I had some sort of “personal relationship” with The Most High God. (The thought alone makes me shudder…albeit in a good way!)

  32. It was just a thought. I can’t remember hearing of ‘conversion’ to a person. I have always heard the term ‘conversion’ combined with the name of the religion. Also, a person can embrace/adhere to Christianity as a religious system but never really meet the savior. Might just be my perception of the words.

    I also have difficulty with the ‘personal relationship’ thing and agree that it seems to ‘bring God down to our level’ in some cases when used. I think the terms/idea is an invention of evangelicalism. The idea is valid but maybe gives ‘us’ too much credit. We do have have to ‘personally’ receive Him for who He is, He does call us His friends, but he is Lord of all, the righteous judge, and drank the cup of his own Father’s wrath against sin. God is HOLY – separate from His creation, high and lifted up, in a class by Himself.

    I bounced over to your site for a quick peek last night and think I saw a mention of Martin Luther. 🙂

    I would like for God to cast the tiniest tip of His shadow into any church in America and see what happens to the general attitude toward God and posture before him.

    Ditto on the ‘shudder’. Remember when Abraham was bargaining with God for Sodom? Remember these words? “I who am but dust and ashes have spoken with GOD.” (Might be a little paraphrase there.)

    Have a great day!

  33. Actually, the reference was to Martin Luther King, Jr. So if you get a chance, bounce back over. Heh.

  34. I wonder if the feminization of religion has ruined the idea of a “personal” relationship with God. A post over at de-Conversion, and then reposted at the Seminarian blog (I’ll get that link in a moment) brought to my attention what some of the rhetoric about our relationship with God has done to men. It’s easy for me to see Jesus as my heavenly bridegroom, but that quite possibly is an alien concept to men (although it was two men – Jesus and Paul – who brought up the topic – and, of course, God with Israel in the OT).

    By “personal” I think the point is individual vs. corporate. We must come to Him individually for salvation and not rely upon our “church membership” to lead us to heaven. I do have a personal relationship. I am not “buddy-buddy” for He is Holy Other than me, but I do take every need, anxiety, and praise to Him on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. I am closer to Him than any other human for He knows and understands me inside and out.

    Here is the link: http://seminarianblog.com/2008/02/25/my-homoerotic-relationship-with-jesus/

  35. While we certainly have been reconciled to God through Christ, the language of ‘personal relationship’ is not found scripture. Paul never talks about developing or nurturing a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus. Some say that the language of, and intense focus on, ‘personal relationship’ is more of a secular psychological concept than biblical one. We are predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son, not just have a relationship. Just random thoughts.

  36. Sorry I am late joining here. But what do we mean by conversion?. I’ve seen plenty of kids respond to altar calls, only to later walk away from the faith when they discover that ‘nothing has really changed’.

    I meet many atheists on the internet who used to call themselves Christian. In my own unofficial survey it seems that many of these de-converted had been born into and raised in the faith, been very active, even ministers and that most of them hail from either conservative Evangelical denomination or Roman Catholicism. I met very few atheist who left more progressive or ‘liberal’ faith traditions.

    Which leads me to think that perhaps they never really ‘knew’ Jesus but instead knew only of a system – a religion. Religiously dotting eyes and crossing tees never can substitute for trusting in Christ. So when the religion failed them, they assumed God failed them as well. Not only could they not see the Emperors new clothes, they failed to see the Emperor.

  37. I agree, Christian. I’m not sure many understand the transforming power of a relationship with Jesus.

    I was raised thinking you could lose your salvation by unconfessed sin or the unforgivable, fist raised against the Almighty. It took many years for me to understand that my salvation is secure – nothing to fear.

    But recently I’ve come across many who feel they were ‘saved’ or ‘born again’ and have decided they were duped, it was all a sham. What do you say to that kind of thinking? They reason they are right and we have fallen for a figment of our imaginations.

    I know He is real. He has transformed me and works daily to make me what He desires.

    If we are talking about walking away from a tradition or system – ok – I get how that is possible. But can one truly walk away from saving grace? The scripture teaches that if one does, they were not really saved…it’s a tightrope I’m not sure how to balance upon.

    I like Sproul’s explanation posted under “Authentic Conversion.”

    Hey, I’m glad to see you here – you always give me something to think about. That whole iron sharpening iron thing. 😉

  38. Yeah, I don’t know how someone could or would willingly walk away from Christ after having known him. So my gut feeling is that they never really did know him. That they did not get a chance to encounter the authentic Christ but instead encountered those forms that religion takes. It is sad, but I believe that many, if not most people, say all the creeds, recite all the prayers and claim to accept al the doctrines because it is expected of them.

    Those youth that I mentioned earlier? We did nothing to support them in their conversion experience. We looked upon these events as in some way ‘magical’ – say the prayer, accept him into your heart and the Holy Spirit will do the rest. But if that Spirit is the spirit of Christ, then aren’t we supposed to be doing more of that work? Conversion is a life long journey, not a one day realization. How many people stop moving forward when they first become ‘born again’ ?

  39. Michelle, did you notice that you are also in my blogroll? Probably not, it’s a bit crowded in there – time to do a little house cleaning.

    Thanks NorEaster. You’re too kind. (Well, not really 😉 )

  40. Thank you – I wasn’t asking or meaning to suggest – but thank you, I consider it a very high compliment. 🙂

    Have a wonderful Lord’s day!

  41. Should perhaps not comment as i have not done the other commenters the courtesy of reading all their respoonses yet nor of your own considerations of same.

    But (lwbut) 🙂

    In my understanding de-conversion of one who has ‘fully’ accepted Jesus into their Heart and has worked on their mind to eliminate ‘the devil’s outposts’. is not possible.

    De-conversion (losing one’s faith or swapping it over to another religious branch/doctrine) would only be possible in the event that insufficient work had been performed on our selves to rid us of the cancerous (growing from teeny ‘tumors’/seeds) defect of our own ego.

    Those who believe in their ego-centred pride that they are saved by ‘knowing’ Jesus may find they are susceptible to the detrimental effects our ego can have on our ‘faith’ – such as it may be within us.

    There have been countless examples of so-called Christians who have demonstrated their imperfect following of Him whilst declaring themselves to be ‘true’ to Him for us all to see this has more than a grain of truth in it.

    Our minds contain many areas that most of us never venture into and we may succumb to the doubt and insecurity contained within them that mere ‘blind’ faith is not always sufficient to fully excise.

    Jesus watches over His Flock – but he warns in many ways throughout the Gospels that those who are mere ‘lazy sheep’ and do not continually strive (work) to improve themselves will be left behind. ( one example is the parable of the three servants, one with one talent, one with Five and one with ten – to Him who has more shall be added…)

    love <B

  42. I’ve recently studied that the “perseverence of the saints” – holding fast to the end – is our assurance of salvation. We do see this warning throughout the Scriptures.

    Thanks, Love.

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