V 1 is a fundie favorite –
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen…”
Er, no. That’s the definition of optimism (“hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something”.) Faith, on the other hand, is “Strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof”. (Definitions are from the Oxford Dictionary.)
The NLT subtitles this chapter ‘Great Examples of Faith’ and it runs through a bunch of OT stories. I’m not gonna rehash them – I spent months reading the OT and I’m done with it. But I will point out a few inconsistencies.
V 4 – faith had nothing to do with why god liked Abel’s offering more than he liked Cain’s. One was a farmer, the other a hunter. How were they to know which Yahweh preferred? What a bunch of BS.
V 6 God doesn’t care how good a person you are; you cannot please him unless you worship him. So good people, if they belong to another religion, or no religion, will go to hell.
V 17 – How messed up is that? We’re supposed to revere Abraham for it? Count me out!
V 25-26 – we’re back to the glorification of suffering again. And Moses did NOT suffer for the sake of Christ. He never heard of Christ! O for pity’s sake!
V 27 – Moses “kept his eyes on the one who is invisible”. Wow, that’s quite a feat! How did he manage it?
V 32 – The SAB puts it so well: “It would hard to find a more monstrous group than these guys”. Admirable? NOT!
V 35 “… others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.” That’s supposed to be encouraging? First, it glorifies suffering again. And then it tells people to spurn their current and only lives in favor of future pie-in-the-sky. Again.
V 36-38 – this puts the icing on the cake. A what’s what of torture devices.
And the stunning conclusion to this disgusting chapter is that if you don’t get what you think you deserve, then god probably has something else in mind for you, and you should just put up and shut up. Christian still believe this – in fact they post memes about it.
V 1-4 are motivational Christianese, again glorifying suffering. V 5-11 tell the followers that they should respect and love god when he disciplines them, because it’s for their own good and means that he loves them. What exactly does that mean? How does god show discipline? How would anyone know? What is the author referring to here? And he quotes a dreadful passage from proverbs 3:11-12, about how the lord chastens and scourges his children out of love. Modern translations smooth these words over by changing ‘scourge’ to ‘punish’, but in case you haven’t looked scourge up in the dictionary lately, it means to punish using a whip – synonyms flog, lash, strap, cane, flagellate… you get the idea.
The rest of the chapter is just more motivational Christianese based on tales of faith and heroism from the OT. Blah blah blah.
V 1-6 mostly contain good advice; but I almost missed the reference in v 2 to Genesis 19. That would be where two strangers (who turned out to be angels) showed up at Lot’s door. If you don’t know the rest of the story, look it up now.
Obviously, from its inclusion here, the author of Hebrews was fine with it. And many of today’s Christians are, too; they create posters from it. WTF? And v 5 is a little sketchy as well. It’s great to be satisfied with what you have, if what you have is adequate. But god, who supposedly will never fail nor abandon you (see Deut 31:6-8), will not put a roof over your head nor food in your stomach.
V 8 is of course a fundie favorite; plastered everywhere in memes, posters, stitching samplers, and the like. But look at the next verse – Don’t be attracted by strange new ideas. Again, a warning about listening to or reading about anything that contradicts what you’ve been taught.
V 10-14 – more blood and guts, and more anticipation of the after-life. V 17 – very dangerous advice here. This type of instruction to children has allowed generations of kids to be abused by clergy. And then the author closes with some more blah blah blah platitudes, and a line about Timothy, perhaps intended to make the reader think that the letter was written by Paul. Even I can tell that there’s no way this letter could have been written by Paul – it’s written in a completely different style and level of sophistication from all the previous letters.
Brahms used v 14 in the 6th movement of his Requiem. But like Handel, he also just put random bible verses together out of context to create lyrics that he thought sounded nice. So although this movement begins with Hebrews 13:14, the rest of the lyrics are from 1 Corinthians 15 and then Revelation 4:11. Oh well, at least the music’s nice – I’ve sung it.