Monday, March 29, 2010

A Review of "Longing to Know" by Dr. Esther Meek

Dr. Esther Meek in her book "Longing to Know" has sought to formulate a Christian epistemology devoid of any foundationalist presuppositions. I read this book when trying to figure out exactly how a Christian "knows." How do I explain to an unbeliever why and how I believe? How do I know that I can trust God's word and Christ's death on the cross?

In this book, Dr. Meek argues that knowing God is like knowing one's auto mechanic. One hears of the auto mechanic. One hears that this auto mechanic is reliable. One then brings their car to this auto mechanic and sees that his work is reliable. Whether or not one sees this auto mechanic, he has no reason to doubt this mechanic's existence or his faithfulness to his vocation.

Dr. Meek sees all knowing as relational. To know is to be in a subjective process with the object of knowledge. Knowledge is not "justified belief." One follows a series of "clues" and comes to the conclusion that he can have trust, and confidence in truth. This is like a "magic eye" puzzle wherein one puts the clues together and eventually comes to see the whole picture. This is the same with our knowledge of God. Knowledge is a skill which needs to be practiced. There is however, no certainty. Certainty is not possible, nor should it be sought for. For one to assume that he can be certain is to assume that his knowledge is inerrant. Doubt is good and necessary.

I have several problems with the epistemology Dr. Meek espouses in this volume. While several of the ideas she proposes are relevant to every day knowing, they are inadequate when coming to the subject of God.

Dr. Meek assumes, first of all, that man is an active subject when it comes to the knowledge of God. However, I would argue that man's pure passivity in justification and conversion is applicable to man's knowledge as well. This is why old dogmaticians used the term "illumination" as one of the steps of the ordo salutis. Man does not know God because he has "put the clues together" or had an epistemic experience, but because God, as the active subject, has freely illumined the mind of man, the passive subject.

Dr. Meek seems to have adopted something similar to the I-Thou epistemology of Martin Buber. Knowledge is personal and existential. It comes through an experience between two subjects. This is in opposition to the I-it relationship which has been promoted in modernism wherein man is an active subject who knows an abstract object. While I do affirm that there certainly is a relational aspect to our knowledge of God, it is not the whole picture. There is an objective gospel, objective doctrine which is the object of faith. Perhaps this could be described as an I-it-thou relationship, wherein one has a relational knowledge of God which comes through objective means, namely, the gospel (which includes certain doctrinal propositions) as delivered through word and sacrament.

The problem with the illustration of the auto mechanic is that the analogy does not completely work. Man is not born with a mind with hatred and utter blindness to the truth of the auto mechanic. However, this is his natural state with God.
The main problem with the epistemology espoused by Dr. Meek is its starting point. The subject is ultimately the starting point of his own knowledge of the divine. However, if the word of God is the ultimate source of truth it should be our starting point. The starting assumption should be that God's word is infallible and inerrant truth. Truth, as from a personal being contained in a book, should approach us. We cannot attempt to approach it. We should be that which is acted upon by truth. We cannot try to reach truth through our perceived truthfulness and reliability of God. His truthfulness and reliability should reach us and penetrate our minds and hearts.
If it is an infallible God working knowledge within us, there is no problem in our having certainty. The certainty then does not lie in our own epistemic efforts, but in the truth itself.

Ultimately, the book gives a good explanation of how knowledge of ordinary life works, however, it is inadequate to explain our knowledge of God. It is essentially an epistemology of glory, wherein our knowledge of God depends upon our own experience and perception of truth. We should adapt an epistemology of the cross, wherein we must admit our inadequacy to know at all and become passive receivers of the revelation which is in the person of Christ.

1 Peter and Baptism

"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him." - 1 Peter 3:18-22

This is one of the clearest texts showing that baptism does indeed save men. When dealing with this passage, I have heard several Reformed interpreters tell me that "this passage is just hard to understand" so that we should not base a doctrine off of it. However, the passage is clear to me.

Peter states directly that "baptism now saves you." These words should bear their obvious meaning. To make it even more clear, Peter gives an analogy from the old Testament. Noah was saved from God's wrath on mankind through water. In the same way, the Christian is saved from God's wrath through water. For those who say that baptism simply symbolizes our being saved I ask, did the water which Noah's ark floated on merely symbolize his salvation? No. Clearly, Noah, through the water, was actually saved. If the flood was a type of baptism, then was the type greater than its fulfillment? Was the water of the flood salvation from God's wrath yet baptism a mere symbol? This is not the way typology works. The fulfillment is always greater than the type. The water saved Noah from God's wrath, however, baptism is greater because it saves men from God's eternal eschatological wrath.

The argument most commonly used against the seemingly obvious meaning of the passage says that because Peter qualifies his statement by saying, "not the removal of dirt from the body", he must not refer to water baptism since water baptism does indeed remove dirt from the body. However, this is to miss the point of Peter's argument. The reason he uses the flood as an example is because water is what saved Noah. Would Peter be saying "God saved Noah through water which symbolizes your salvation through baptism, but not water baptism, baptism by the Spirit." This ruins the analogy. The point Peter is making here is that what saves us in our baptism is not the cleansing of the body, but the fact that through it our conscience is cleansed and we are united to the resurrection of Christ.

To say that what Peter means here is that though Noah was saved through water, we are saved by the resurrection of Christ which is symbolized by baptism destroys the argument.

If we are going to stick to the clear text of scripture it must be admitted that baptism does actually save the believer.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Christ's command to baptize infants

The most common argument against paedo-baptism is rather simple. The Bible does not directly command it. An explicit command to baptize infants is certainly not necessary to affirm the doctrine, as I think it is a clear implication of all of the statements about baptism in the New Testament when read together. However, I do see an explicit command in the New Testament to baptize infants. This comes from the famous story of Christ blessing children. Many have declined to use this in defense of infant baptism because they see it as a general principle about children or being childlike, and not a direct reference to the sacrament. Even Edmund Schlink denies that this passage should be used. However, I believe there are many implications in these texts of baptism.

"Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." And he laid his hands on them and went away." - Matthew 19:13-15

" And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them." - Mark 10:13-15

"Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." - Luke 18:15-17

In the Matthew and Mark accounts, the word Paidia is used. This can refer to either infants or small children. However, Luke makes it clear by his use of the word Brefe That infants are in mind. The children being "brought" in Matthew 19 may also point to this. This story is important enough for all three synoptic gospels to include it. Thus, it should not be passed over lightly. But what does this story mean?

Option 1: It shows that all Christians should have child-like faith
This is a common interpretation of this story. Jesus is using this as an illustration. He is using infants to show us that we should have the same humble and trusting attitude in our relationship with God. While this is certainly in the text, the words of Jesus using this as an illustration are not even used in Matthew's account. Thus, this cannot be the primary purpose of this story.

Option 2: It teaches that all children will be saved
This has been a common defense for the idea that God will save all infants. Because he states that the kingdom of God belongs to them, Jesus is showing that all who die in infancy will inherit the kingdom of God. Whether or not this is true, it is clearly not the point of this passage. This text speaks of children being brought to Jesus, something which could be hindered. This clearly has nothing to do with the death of infants unless Jesus is saying "do not hinder the infants from dying. Let them die so that they can come to me." This is simply nonsensical.

Option 3: It teaches that children can be brought to Jesus and enter the kingdom
I see this as the most plausible option. Here is why:

In the beginning of the gospels lies the story of John the Baptist. John was appointed by God to preach the kingdom of God which was approaching. How does one prepare to enter this coming kingdom? Through baptism and repentance. The first time in the New Testament the kingdom of God is mentioned is in Matthew 3 in the context of John baptizing. Why would one assume that Matthew was not referring to baptism when referencing entrance into the kingdom of God in chapter 18 if entrance into the kingdom in chapter 3 is referring to the sacrament? Kingdom and baptism are linked.

There are two other references to baptismal terminology in this story as well.

1. the language of "not hindering"
Early baptismal liturgies often contained the question to the believer, "is there anything hindering you from being baptized?" This may point to the fact that these accounts are using language from baptismal liturgy. The question of course is, did this baptismal liturgy exist yet when the gospels were written? I believe it did. View this statement from the book of Acts:

"And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?" - Acts 8:36

The same word koluo is used as in the synoptic accounts. The similarity of the language leads me to believe that this was most likely already a part of the churches liturgy.

2. the laying on of hands
More importantly, Jesus lays his hands on the children to bless them. In the early church, laying on of hands and baptism were connected.
"On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them" - Acts 19:5-6
The author of Hebrews even associates the laying on of hands with one of the elementary doctrines of the faith. "Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment" - Hebrews 6:1-2 Most likely, washings and the laying on of hands are referring to baptismal practices.

We must remember that the gospels were written to the developing church. They were not mere biographies of Jesus. This church was growing rapidly and baptisms were being performed every day. Many of the readers would have been newly baptized. Hearing this story of Jesus blessing children, laying his hands on them, telling parents not to hinder there children from coming to him, would certainly bring baptism to mind.

If this passage does not refer to baptism, what is it talking about? How can parents "bring their infants to Jesus" if not by baptism? How else can one be embraced by Christ himself and enter into the kingdom of heaven? Is this merely a narrative about how Jesus liked kids?

That this passage refers to baptism is clear when all the options are considered. This text is not necessary for a belief in infant baptism, but it is the only Biblical command which most likely refers directly to infant baptism.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hebrews and limited atonement

The book of Hebrews has been posed the most difficulty when dealing with the "L" and "P" in TULIP. The several warning passages, in Hebrews 6 and other places, have seemed to indicate that a true Christian can fall away. When examining the book of Hebrews, I have found that these passages, read in context, do teach that a believer can fall away. I also believe that they teach that Christ is the propitiation and mediator for all men without distinction. I will explain why I think Hebrews teaches both of these points.

First, view all of the falling away passages within the book:

"Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:1-3)

"Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end." (Hebrews 3:12-14)

"Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it." (Hebrews 4:1)

"Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience." (Hebrews 4:11)

"For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned." (Hebrews 6:4-8)

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:23-31)

"See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears." (Hebrews 12:16-17)

These passages are scattered through out the book. In fact, the book is structured around this concept. The author is warning these believers not to fall away. These are most likely Jews considering reverting to Judaism to escape persecution. To counter this, the author seeks to explain, in detail, how the New Covenant is superior to the old. How the reformed have typically dealt with these passages is to say that those who "fall away" are not truly believers. They are external members of the church. They were never regenerated, justified, saved, and Christ never died for these people.
However, to say that Christ was never the advocate for those who fall away is to destroy the argument of the book. He is urging them to remain within the faith precisely because Christ is their mediator. The argument essentially is "Christ is a better sacrifice than those of the old covenant; He is a better priest than those of the old covenant." The premise of the argument assumes that Christ is their mediator. How can they relapse into a worse mediator/priest/sacrifice if they never had a better one in the first place? It makes no sense.

Observe the following passages:

"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16)
The author is assuming, without qualification, that Christ is the high priest of himself and all of his readers. He argues that because Christ is our high priest, let us not fall away from Him.

"We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews 6:19-20)

"For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens." (Hebrews 7:26)

"Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven" (Hebrews 8:1)

"For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf." (Hebrews 9:24)

"And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:10)

Observe the following section of Hebrews chapter 10:

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:19-25)

This section is important for my thesis because it is part of a larger argument. He first reminds these believers of the confidence they can have with Christ as their mediator. He then tells these people to continue encouraging each other and not stop meeting together for worship. He then explains why they should do this:

"For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth,there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again,"The Lord will judge his people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." " (Hebrews 10:26-31)

These two statements are directed toward the same group of people, the "we". He speaks of judgement for those who have been sanctified by the blood of Christ, have Christ as their high priest, are members of the new covenant, and had the Spirit of grace. The parallel the author makes is clear: those who were members of the old covenant who disobeyed were punished, therefore those who are members of the new covenant who disobey will be punished more. This is clearly not an "external membership" as some Presbyterians argue. It is clear that Christ Himself is the advocate, sacrifice, and mediator of these people. How can one "profane the blood" which was never given for him in the first place?

"and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven." (Hebrews 12:24-15)

The author states that it is possible to reject "him who is speaking." Who is speaking? He states that it is "Jesus...and...the sprinkled blood". One can reject the sprinkled blood of Christ which was indeed given for him.

The book of Hebrews in its structure and argument is clear: the blood of Christ was given for all, and those whom he died for will perish without Spirit given and sustained faith in the gospel.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Baptismal regeneration and reformed theology

I have been very frustrated trying to find Reformed arguments against the Lutheran view of baptismal regeneration. This is one of the reasons I joined Lutheranism; the arguments for baptismal regeneration were very convincing and I could find no Reformed argument against them. I just recently picked up John Murray's book on baptism which I have been told is the best book from a reformed perspective on the subject. John Murray is certainly a competent scholar, and I learned much from his Redemption Accomplished and Applied, as well as his Romans commentary. However, when he addresses the issue of the efficacy of baptism in the last chapter of his book, he has a footnote stating that he will not address the issue of baptismal regeneration. He points the reader to Charles Hodge's systematic theology Volume III.
I read Hodge on this issue a couple years ago, and recently read it again. Hodge gives a very brief overview of the Lutheran view. He then refutes baptismal regeneration. However, when reading this section, I found that I agree with most of what he says. He only argues against the ex opera operato view of the Roman Catholic church. He does not even address the Lutheran view in his opposing arguments. I suppose that one could attribute this to mere ignorance of the Lutheran position, however, he clearly acknowledges its existence earlier in the volume.
So what is it? Why can the Reformed not even address the Lutheran view? It is as if our theological opinions are not even given a second glance. For the Calvinist, one is either a Calvinist or Arminian, believes in a Roman Catholic view of baptism or a symbolic one, holds to transubstantiation or denies the presence of Christ's human nature. This is why after 500 years leading Reformed theologians claim that Lutherans believe in consubstantiation, the local presence of the human nature of Christ in all places, the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation, synergism, etc. I have found that even in Reformed treatments of the Theology of Paul, the statements in his epistles on baptism are not even addressed. If they are addressed, the issue of baptismal regeneration is not.

If you are Reformed and reading this blog; there are other theological stances. Being a monergist does not mean you must be a five point Calvinist. Believing in Sola Fide does not mean that the sacraments are not efficacious.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

1 Timothy 2:4

One of the clearest expressions of the universal grace of God comes from the book if 1 Timothy.

"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men (pantas anthropous) to be saved (sothenai)and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all (panton) men—the testimony given in its proper time" (1 Timothy 2:3-6)

The controversy is over what the term "all men" means in this passage. Many interpreters see this as a statement that God wants every single person to be saved, and that Christ was given as a ransom for every single person.
The Calvinistic interpreters however, have interpreted this to mean simply "all kinds of men". The Calvinistic interpretation has some supporting from the previous verse which states, "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." This shows that he is referring to all kinds of men including regular citizens as well as those in authority.
While this interpretation is understandable, it would seem to necessitate that prayers should only be made for the elect. The "everyone" whom we should pray for, is linked to the "all men" whom God desires to be saved. Thus if the "all men" are only the elect among differing kinds of men, then the "everyone" for whom we must pray are only the elect among all kinds of men.
The meaning of this passage seems to be that because Christ died for every man, including those in authority, we should pray for every man, including those in authority.

There is much more evidence to support this view when one observes the rest of the epistle to Timothy. How does Timothy use the term "all" (pas) through out his epistle? There is another passage very similar in the book of Timothy which should be taken into careful consideration.
"This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance(and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. " (I Timothy 4:9-10)
Paul, once again, uses the concept of salvation (the word used is soter)with the concept of "all men" (panton anthropon).
Clearly in 4:10, the "all men" are distinct from those who are believers. Believers are merely one section of the group "all men". This has often troubled interpreters because it has sounded universalistic. Does this verse mean that every individual will be saved? Well, to explain what Paul means by Christ being the savior of all men we must go to a point within the same writing where the same idea is being discussed. This brings us back to chapter 2:4-6. Here we see that Christ is the savior of "all men" in that he 1. desires them to be saved, and 2. gives Himself as a ransom for them.
To be a consistent exegete, it must be admitted that "all men" in I Timothy 2:4-6 cannot simply refer to "all kinds of men". Unless there is sufficient reason to think otherwise, we must assume that Paul uses the same word in the same way when it appears in a short epistle within the same context (the context being salvation, both instances using words with a sozo root).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Are there non-regenerate believers?

The reformed when debating a Lutheran view of apostasy argue that the "falling away" passages refer to those who only had the appearance of being regenerate. They were never true Christians in the first place. Examine the characteristics of these false Christians.

They can:

be enlightened (Hebrews 6:4)
taste the heavenly gift (Hebrews 6:4)
share the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 6:4)
taste the goodness of God's word (Hebrews 6:5)
receive eschatological blessings (Hebrews 6:5)
repent (Hebrews 6:6)
understand the truth (James 5:9)
receive grace (Galatians 5:4)
be in fellowship with Christ (Galatians 5:4)
receive the gospel (Matthew 13:20)
have joy in the truth (Matthew 13:20)
have been bought by the Lord (2 Peter 2:1)
escape the evils of the world (2 Peter 2:20)
know Jesus Christ (2 Peter 2:20)

Compare this with what is said in scripture about unbelievers:

they have darkened hearts (Romans 1:21)
their thinking is futile (Romans 1:21)
they have no understanding (Romans 3:11)
they do not seek God (Romans 3:11)
they do no good (Romans 3:12)
they are hostile to God (Romans 8:7)
they cannot submit to God's law (Romans 8:7)
they cannot please God (Romans 8:8)
their minds are defiled (Titus 1:16)
they are slaves to sin (Romans 6:6)
they hate the light (John 3:20)
they are alienated from Christ (Colossians 1:21)
they cannot understand the gospel (I Corinthians 2:14)
they are blinded from seeing Christ (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
they cannot receive the Spirit (John 14:16)
they are unable to come to Christ (John 6:44)

Is it possible that these descriptions can all apply to the same group of people? Can these blessings of the first list be applied to those in the second? This would mean that men can receive the word with joy but be unable to understand the word, share in the Spirit but not be able to receive the Spirit, have no understanding and blinded minds but understand the truth, taste the goodness of God's word yet be unable to understand His word, be alienated from Christ yet be in fellowship with him, be enlightened but have no understanding, be in slavery to sin yet repent and escape the evils of the world, receive grace but not salvation, and know Christ but are unable to come to Him.
The conclusion is unavoidable; these verses cannot be referring to the same group of people. Those who fall away have truly been saved and have been severed from Christ.