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2000 Issue 5

The author of Hebrews now arrives at the famous portion of his letter in which he vividly illustrates the active, persevering faith he has been encouraging his readers to retain. The point of the entire chapter is self-evident: true faith does not turn back from following Christ in the hour of testing; it perseveres unto the saving of the soul. The history of the Church is filled with men and women who have endured afflictions and trials for the cause of Christ, and the true character of their faith has been vindicated by their steadfastness. Our author joins examples from the previous 4,000 years in order to prove his point. From the very beginning of the world, God's Word has called for and produced faith in the lives of those whom he has graciously drawn unto himself through the gospel. Through this chapter, our author encourages these Hebrew Christians to bear up under their current trials,and to realize that their present sufferings for Christ's sake do not give them reason to leave the battlefield. Like those who have gone before, they are now called upon to endure courageously the afflictions of evil men. It is important to note that chapter 11 is not an extended discourse on the nature of justifying faith. It is an inspired account of how faith works (what faith produces) in those who are justified from their sins through Christ's righteousness and blood. As the Lutheran commentator Lenski wrote, "It is more exact to say that we have the essence of true religious faith, the heart of what the Scriptures call saving faith."

With a recent flurry of books and conferences, the preterist perspective is beginning to make its presence felt in current prophecy discussions. Unfortunately, dispensational eschatology, which arose in the 1830s and is built op the futurist system, thoroughly dominates evangelical preaching, education, publishing, and broadcasting today. Consequently, evangelical Christians are largely unfamiliar with preterism, making it seem to be the "new kid on the block." Preterism, however, is as hoary with age as is futurism. And despite its overshadowing in this century, it has been well represented by leading Bible-believing scholars through the centuries into our current day.

One of the best known and most accessible of the ancient preterists is Eusebius (A.D. 260.340), the "father of church history." In his classic Ecclesiastical History he details Jerusalem's woes in A.D. 70. After a lengthy citation from Josephus's Wars of the Jews, Eusebius writes that "it is fitting to add to his accounts the true prediction of our Saviour in which he foretold these very events" (3:7:-1:2.) He then refers to the Olivet Discourse, citing Matthew 24:19-21 as his lead-in reference and later Luke 21:20; 23, 24. He concludes: "If anyone compares the words of our Saviour with the other accounts of the historian concerning the whole war, how can one fail to wonder, and to admit, that the foreknowledge and the prophecy of our Saviour were truly divine and marvelously strange" (3:7:7).

We understand and.interact with ideas based on the words used to present them. Words are tools. Some are effective; others are not. Just as a skilled craftsman chooses the correct tool for each job, we must use the correct word if we wish to communicate without confusion.

Within Christianity, wisdom is not the ultimate attainment. Love is far more important. In fact, if we had all knowledge it would be considered worthless without love (1 Cor. 13:2). But one key to growing spiritually is to increase in wisdom. In the very same Epistle, Paul tells us "However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature...we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory... These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual (2:6, 7, 13). In the next chapter he connects their carnality with their inability to receive solid food. They stunted their spiritual growth by continuing to feed only on milk when they should have been growing in wisdom. Spiritual growth and knowledge of the Word are supposed to go together. Without love, knowledge merely puffs up (1 Cor. 8:1), and without knowledge, love is mere sentimentality. Therefore, we must study God's Word and make the effort to make it plain.

It is written of Abel, the son of Adam, that though he is dead, he still speaks, Hebrews 11:4. By his example of faith and righteousness Abel still speaks to us today, although he has been dead for almost six millennia. "The spectacle of his trustful integrity, even in the face of violence, should inspire us to persevere and to overcome. by the same means." The purpose of my paper is to be a mouthpiece for Robert L. Dabney, so that he who is in the grave can still speak to us and inspire us to persevere and to overcome by our trustful integrity, even in the face of a violent, anti-Christian culture.

Another reason for letting Dabney speak for himself is not only so you can see the kind of men and viewpoint that was dominant in the Old South, but also so you can see that Dabney's character and viewpoint, although on a scholarly level, represented the character and worldview of the rank and file Southerner from all levels of society.