Enns Is Out at Westminster

Dr. Peter Enns and Westminster Theological Seminary have released a joint statement announcing Dr. Enns’ departure from WTS. Here it is.

“The administration and Prof. Peter Enns wish to announce that they have arrived at mutually agreeable terms, and that, as of 31 July, 2008, Prof. Enns will discontinue his service to Westminster Theological Seminary after fourteen years.

“The administration wishes to acknowledge the valued role Prof. Enns has played in the life of the institution, and that his teaching and writings fall within the purview of Evangelical thought. The Seminary wishes Prof. Enns well in his future endeavors to serve the Lord.

“Prof. Enns wishes to acknowledge that the leaders of the Seminary (administration and board) are charged with the responsibility of leading the seminary in ways that are deemed most faithful to the institution’s mission as a confessional Reformed Seminary.

“Prof. Enns expresses his deep and sincere gratitude to the Lord for his education and years of service at Westminster Theological Seminary.”

For those who are interested, here is my review of Enns’ book:

Peter Enns and Evangelical Debates over Genesis

36 Responses to Enns Is Out at Westminster

  1. volfan007 July 23, 2008 at 10:10 am #

    It looks to me like Westminister did what they had to do. May other seminaries and Bible colleges do likewise.

    David

  2. Josh Mayfield July 23, 2008 at 11:29 am #

    another professor targeted for ruffling evangelical feathers. naughty, naughty.

    god help the evangelical community

  3. John July 23, 2008 at 12:37 pm #

    Tragic. I guess that’s what happens when institutions interpret Scripture through 350 year old confessions.

  4. Brian (Another) July 23, 2008 at 2:25 pm #

    While I understand you disagree with their theology, Westminster isn’t reading the scriptures through the confession, they are affirming their beliefs. Which, as I understand it, are at odds with Dr. Enns. Without the benefit of reading the book (Inspiration and Incarnation), I understand that the central argument is that Westminster saw Enns’ view of human mythology essentially blending into the bible is at odds with maintaining divinely inspired scripture (I am probably being a bit of a reductionist (sic) about the argument, of course). This is not a “sweep it under the rug” or hasty dismissal. This has been a long studied (and argued) decision. At least 2 years, I believe (3?).

    If someone believes something at odds with what you believe, would you continue to have them teach? Again, I understand if you disagree with the view, but Westminster, unlike Janet Gollery McKeithen demonstrated their integrity by not capitulating to what it considers a dangerous (wrong) doctrine. Dr. Enns, for his part, I would say, agrees (well, not with the doctrine part, but at least the reasoning and action they took):

    “Prof. Enns wishes to acknowledge that the leaders of the Seminary (administration and board) are charged with the responsibility of leading the seminary in ways that are deemed most faithful to the institution’s mission as a confessional Reformed Seminary.”

  5. GLW Johnson July 24, 2008 at 11:39 am #

    John
    If a professor in a Baptist institution adopted padeo-baptist views would you reprimand them in the same fashion if they took similar action? Or a Methodist seminary discovers that one of its tenured professors has become Presbyterian and feels compelled to teach Reformed theology in his classes.Would you censor them for taking action to releive the professor of his duties? What about the Evangelical Theological Society’s president converting to Roman Catholicism-are they within their rights to dismiss him? Almost endless examples could be cited.

  6. John July 24, 2008 at 12:11 pm #

    GLW,

    I would agree with you, however, Enns has demonstrated through and through that he is most certainly within the bounds of reformed theology. He has offered indisputable evidence, interacted with numerous reviews, and held many debates about this, and the majority of his (now former) colleagues agrees with him. That’s why I say this is tragic, because they’re letting a few board members and their constituents decide their future only because they’re a little scared. Heaven forbid Westminster have an honest scholar who goes where the evidence leads him and doesn’t just have a “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” attitude.

  7. Darius July 24, 2008 at 1:16 pm #

    John,

    As Denny has so astutely pointed out, the evidence does NOT lead to Enns’ position. From what Denny said in his review, I gather that Enns is disengenuous at best in his book. He is a Biblical scholar, yet pretends like the points he raises don’t have valid explanations that don’t require one to question the inerrancy of Scripture.

  8. Brian (Another) July 24, 2008 at 1:38 pm #

    “…the majority of his (now former) colleagues agree with him.”

    That’s a very bold/brave statement. Then again, I’m not exactly a beat writer on the Westminster campus, so I’m certainly not going to be able to honestly dispute the veracity. You know, we have them in sports, how come there aren’t any theological seminary beat writers?

    I would think even Dr. Enns would not call his research (and book) “indisputable”. He may consider his evidence overwhelming, but not without (intectually honest) dispute. Not to say that some of the foundations of his arguments are without dispute. E.g. Genesis accounts are similar to Babylonian mythology. Can’t dispute that, it’s true. But then to (oversimplifying here) conclude that Genesis lacks historicity and was, therefore, a myth (stories that were made up) is (intellectually honestly) disputable.

    Sorry if I am misrepresenting Dr. Enns, but I believe that is a representation of part of his argument.

  9. John July 24, 2008 at 2:25 pm #

    So the guy has to have an answer for every question he raises in the book? This is a nice, modern way to look at it, but the book does not aim to answer all the questions. The book aims to introduce Evangelicals to these issues and get the ball rolling. Darius, you obviously have not read the book. Enns never states that he doesn’t believe in inerrancy, he never even states we should question inerrancy. Just because he doesn’t offer explanations that meet Denny’s standards does not mean that he is not in line with the Confession and with reformed Christianity. In any case, I have still yet to see an OT scholar review Enns’ book. All I have seen are systematic theologians and NT scholars.

    Brian, the faculty voted to keep Enns 12-8 (most assuredly along party lines, affirming the huge divide between biblical exegesis and systematic theology). Also, though Enns does use the terminology myth, he doesn’t communicate that myth like we think of the word (something made up in order to deceive somebody else, or something like that). Many scholars, even in the conservative reformed world, would agree that Genesis 1 is not a strictly literal historical account, so Enns is not out on a limb here (See Waltke’s commentary on Genesis as an example, Collins agrees with this too I believe).

  10. Brian (Another) July 24, 2008 at 3:37 pm #

    Based on a 12-8 faculty vote, I dare say that “…the majority of his (now former) colleagues agree with him” would be an overstatement. Of course I don’t know the ratios of the beliefs of the faculty and students as well, perhaps, as you do.

    I don’t think Enns is on a limb. I think he is wrong on that aspect. I never said anything about a myth being “made up in order to deceive” (though using a myth as an all-knowing God does lead to that conclusion). I believe Enns describes the Genesis accounts as “made up” (I believe the quote is “…so stories were made up”) and myth at their basis. Myths that lack historicity and modern scientific study. He applies this to the Flood as well if I remember correctly. To me, it seems like he’ll say “stories were made up” but then say something like, well, myth should be taken in a contextual connotation and understood that it is not negative, it’s just the way people could understand things back then (that’s not a quote, just an example). As if the latter is to say I didn’t say what I just said. Of course, it could also be that I don’t hold a PhD and I am just not understanding what, exactly, he means.

    I don’t understand OT review comment. It sounds quite dismissive of Systematic and NT Theologians. This isn’t a question of what does the account say (the words) or what does the account mean (what the account is relaying), but it is more the idea of whether or not the story is concocted (made up) or divinely inspired (at the core, that is). God does not deceive his people (Piper just wrote on that). Which, while the word “myth” may be taken as “purposeful deception” or “just a story”, the crux is (in my view) that Dr. Enns says parts of the bible were “stories [that were] made up” and do not hold to historical accounts which means God ordained a “made up story” (not true) to be given to His people, that the story wasn’t accurate and was actually “borrowed” from other pagan myths. So, I understand if Westminster saw a view of God giving his people inaccurate (false) information as a move toward errant messages. And, while Dr. Enns doesn’t state “I do not believe the bible to be inerrant”, stating that (parts of) the OT are “made up stories” sure isn’t affirming inerrancy. But again, I feel I’m reducing the works of Dr. Enns’ book to a single argument.

    BTW, sorry for the lack of a spell check in that last post. It probably irritates me to read it as much as you (uh….for the spelling that is ;-)).

  11. Scott July 24, 2008 at 5:15 pm #

    Brian,

    I’m not sure it’s entirely charitable to comment negatively on a book you have not read.

    Viewing portions of the OT as “myth” relates primarily to the polemical idea of situating a creation account within the context of other pagan creation accounts in the ancient near east. Can God accommodate his message to his people? We do not talk to one another in “perfect” communication. Should we expect Scripture to be perfect when Christ himself assumed humanity?

  12. John July 24, 2008 at 5:50 pm #

    Here’s an example Brian,

    Psalm 74:12-17 (a creation Psalm)

    “Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the earth. 13 You divided the sea by your might; you broke the heads of the dragons in the waters. 14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan; you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. 15 You cut openings for springs and torrents; you dried up ever-flowing streams. 16 Yours is the day, yours also the night; you established the luminaries and the sun. 17 You have fixed all the bounds of the earth; you made summer and winter.”

    Now, do you think that God, in the process of creation, broke dragon’s heads and crushed Leviathan’s head (whoever that is) and fed them to the creatures of the earth? Or is it possible that another Ancient Near Eastern culture (possibly the Canaanites or Hittites) had a story that went something like this, but instead of referring to the one true God (Yahweh), they substituted “El” or “Baal” or “Chemosh” or “Dagon.” Could it be possible that instead of describing a strictly, literal, historical account, this is a polemic against other circulating stories in the ancient near east, with the purpose of declaring that it is Yahweh, not Baal, who is the one, true, creator God?

    This is what Enns is trying to communicate when he says “myth” (as Scott correctly describes above).

    As to inerrancy, you have a very rigid definition. One could affirm the story above from Psalm 74 and say it is “inerrant” and not believe it is strictly scientific and historical. On top of that, that’s fine if you choose to define inerrancy in such a rigid way, but do not impose your demands and accusations on others who just may define it a little more broadly than you (which is probably much of the evangelical academic world). Just because a story didn’t literally happen doesn’t mean it’s in error, and it doesn’t mean it’s not true. What you are doing is imposing your modern standards of what you expect the Bible to look like and how you expect it to behave on the text, as opposed to letting the text itself define how it behaves. You think it should be 100% accurate in historical and scientific matters, and it is not concerned with such matters.

  13. Ferg July 24, 2008 at 6:05 pm #

    john,
    read Greg Boyd’s ‘God at War’ for a fantastic view on what Leviathan represents.

  14. Francis Beckwith July 25, 2008 at 1:04 am #

    “What about the Evangelical Theological Society’s president converting to Roman Catholicism-are they within their rights to dismiss him?”

    Hey, wait a minute, there. 🙂

    Seriously, I resigned; I was not dismissed. (Read the book: http://returntorome.com)

  15. Brian (Another) July 25, 2008 at 9:51 am #

    Scott:

    First, I’ve read enough of the book to understand the arguments. It’s not exactly easy reading to me (but I try). Additionally, defending against an argument contrary to one’s position is hardly uncharitable. Unless I misquote or (the dreaded phrase) take him out of context (I don’t think I’ve done either). I think that inspiration is at the heart of part of this discussion. Yes, scripture should be perfect if from a perfect God. God was the divine author. I believe the statement is something like we believe the scriptures to be perfect in their original writings. Perhaps we disagree on that point (I would say that we do given your question.).

    John:

    I don’t agree with the polemic idea. Did God really crush the heads of dragons? Why not? Simply because I find it difficult to believe given our great scientific knowledge doesn’t mean I should find a way to make it different than what it says. Now, with that in mind, Psalms are Hebrew poetry, Genesis is not. But I think we’re straying from the topic (and for more, check out here, here and here).

    I have defended my beliefs and stated what I believe them as well as how I find (in this case) Dr. Enns to be contrary to that belief. I don’t see how my defense or statements impose (or accuse per se, but I can see the conjecture) upon anyone. Actually, given that I am no king, it’s impossible for me to impose upon anyone (even my dogs don’t listen). I suppose I should state that this is what I believe. And just leave it at that.

    Bringing this all back, I think that is exactly what Westminster did. They are defending their beliefs, which happen to be written clearly in a statement. They upheld their beliefs (which, they believe are at odds with Dr. Enns). Some disagree with those beliefs. I think both sides have demonstrated great integrity. The school for taking action (standing behind their beliefs) and Dr. Enns for having the grace to agree to release a joint statement. I know plenty of men and women who hold more closely to the “scorched earth” policy.

  16. volfan007 July 27, 2008 at 3:42 pm #

    John,

    If you believe that the Bible is not accurate when it deals with science and history, then you dont believe in inerrancy. To believe that the Bible contains errors is the very definition of someone who does not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. Thus, you either believe that the Bible is true…with no errors, or else you believe that the Bible is just a book of fairy tales, myths, and legends. You either believe that the Bible is God’s Word, or else it’s just another book full of the religious beliefs of man with myths and legends added in, or taken from other cultures.

    I believe it’s God’s Word. It contains no errors. Thus, I can trust it when I read what it says about salvation and Heaven.

    David

  17. Denny Burk July 27, 2008 at 7:06 pm #

    Dear Dr. Beckwith (#14),

    Thanks for the comment. I look forward to reading your book!

    Sincerely,
    Denny Burk

  18. Denny Burk July 27, 2008 at 7:13 pm #

    John (#9),

    You wrote: “I have still yet to see an OT scholar review Enns’ book. All I have seen are systematic theologians and NT scholars.”

    Enns’ book has an interdisciplinary focus. Yes, the book deals extensively with historical issues and the interpretation of the OT. But it also deals with hermeneutical questions and the nature of inerrancy (issues well within the domain of systematic theology) and with the use of the OT in the NT (a perennial hot topic in NT studies). Moreover, the book doesn’t really constitute any contribution to OT scholarship–a fact which Enns freely admits. Reading Genesis 1-2 as a reconfigured Babylonian myth is at least a hundred year old idea. Enns says that he is taking the historical critical conclusion of 150 years of OT scholarship and pressing their implications for the doctrine of inerrancy. For these reasons, it’s the systematicians and the NT guys that MOST need to scrutinize this book.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  19. John July 27, 2008 at 11:50 pm #

    Volfan,

    There are many evangelical scholars that do not define inerrancy the way you do. I personally know many that say they believe in inerrancy but do not believe the Bible is a science book (Do you think the sun stood still in Joshua or the earth stopped rotating?). This is the problem with the doctrine of inerrancy…people giving definitions like the Bible is some sort of magic textbook that is mysteriously accurate in terms of science which the ancients had no clue about and was not in their conceptual worldview, yet in the 20th century we find the truth and find the Bible matches up with it! Also, people see the OT as some sort of completely objective history textbook where every single little thing happened EXACTLY as the text says. Come on man, you need to broaden that definition a bit if you want to be honest with the text.

    Brian,

    Now now, don’t pull the “poetry” card. He either did or he didn’t, and the text says he did. So be consistent with your “literal” hermeneutic. In your teaching on Genesis 1 why not tell your people that God was crushing dragons’ heads while he was creating the earth. It’s not in Genesis 1, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen…because Psalm 74 says it did. You see Brian, The OT authors would not have been interested in telling the EXACT literal creation account, but rather conveying the message that it was Yahweh, not ANY other gods, that was the one true creator God. Just because they use some story already in existence or made one up doesn’t discredit inerrancy, because being scientifically or historically accurate was not the author’s intention. The OT is full of polemics, so to say that you don’t believe in the polemic idea is to completely undermine much of the OT.

    That being said, many western Christians just seem more comfortable saying things like this since that’s the way they expect the text to behave, so I don’t fault you for believing this way. I just fault you when you infer that others aren’t Christians or don’t believe in the Bible when they think about some of these things and view them a little differently than you do. If you want to put your fingers in your ears and yell “Blah blah blah” and still believe the Bible is 100% scientifically accurate and completely objective historically, that’s fine with me. Just don’t act like I’m not a brother since I don’t.

    Denny,

    You still never answered my question though. Enns is an OT scholar, therefore, one most suited to review such a book and one that would be aware and familiar with the scholarship in Enns’ circles would be an OT scholar. Could the reason that none are reviewing it be because most agree with it? Because it is standard stuff in OT scholarship?

    I’m not condemning ST or NT scholars reviewing the book, because some of the content in the book is pertinent to both fields, I just don’t think it’s a coincidence that an OT scholar has not reviewed it.

    “Pressing their implications for the doctrine of inerrancy”? How is he doing this? You think to be an official “inerrantist” you have to be a young-earth guy? I’m sure there are some out there, but I don’t know of any OT scholars that would believe this way.

    So Enns, an OT scholar, is not contributing anything to OT scholarship? Why is most of the book about OT studies with OT examples?

    Also, you say it’s the systematicians and NT guys that MOST need to scrutinize this book, and I say it’s the systematicians and NT guys that MOST need to LISTEN to this book. Systematicians and NT guys do one thing…start with Paul (however a misunderstood version of him for reasons I will explain below) and end with Paul. A proper systematic theology and understanding of the NT is not possible without the OT, and anything less distorts meaning. The NT and ST guys should listen to OT guys more than ever, because their theology and interpretations hang on their area of expertise. You say “scrutinize,” I say “embrace” and “listen to.” Toeing the party line ain’t always the right thing to do, brother.

  20. Brian (Another) July 28, 2008 at 7:52 am #

    John:

    I challenge you to find any assumption or inference that Dr. Enns (Or anyone who, perhaps, does not believe in a literal 7 day creation) is not a Christian. I believe that to subscribe to his reasoning is to subscribe to inerrancy. But the gift of salvation is for all who call upon the name of Christ as Lord and savior. I know that may be a conjecture you base upon interactions with others, but please don’t extrapolate that idea onto me. I have a thought about the other, but I only have a moment right now.

  21. Brian (Another) July 28, 2008 at 9:21 am #

    John:

    The first thing I said about the serpent was that there’s no reason to doubt that God literally crushed the head of the dragon, etc. (I also never stated I disagreed, though I didn’t outright state the fact that, in the absence of further study, I would agree that God crushed the head of the leviathan). God spoke to us through his word, not through scientific discoveries. And it’s not “pulling a poetry card” any more than me saying that Christ’s parables aren’t to be taken as true stories. That would be hyper-literalism. There is symbolism and the use of other poetic tools in the bible. The point is that Genesis is not in poetic form. It’s in historical (narrative) form (if not conforming to modern scientific historicity format). Psalms are in poetic (hyperbole, comparative, etc.) form, though they can be spoken in a narrative manner (which, I would say, Psalm 74 seems to be).

    And yes, if God breathed the words that He created the earth in that manner but didn’t, then he would be purposely deceiving. God does not deceive His people. I believe that to say “Just because they use some story already in existence or made one up doesn’t discredit inerrancy, because being scientifically or historically accurate was not the author’s intention” is to undermine the authority of scripture. That puts the authorship solely in the hands of mankind. God spoke (breathed, choose your verb) the words through the prophets.

    I also didn’t say that the OT isn’t a polemic. I would say the entire bible is a polemic as it is the total opposite of what the world would have us believe (ever had a discussion with an atheist?). I believe this subject discussion could be categorized as such (though I wouldn’t say we’re particularly heated). I was referring specifically to Dr. Enns’ argument about how Genesis, creation and the Flood essentially became a polemic. His assertion is that Genesis used a story from the surrounding cultures and in essence substituted “God” for [insert god], thus creating the controversy (the argument against the doctrine of the day). Genesis is a polemic because it holds to a singular God to whom we are all accountable. The creation (in my view) is a polemic because Science doesn’t agree with a seven day creation (ID evolutionists are another story for another day).

    To say the bible is inaccurate (or not 100% scientifically accurate and completely objective historically) is just a polite way of saying the bible contains errors. Believing in inerrancy should mean holding to the bible lacking errors. And contrary to sticking my fingers in my ears and yelling “blah blah blah”, I have attempted to support my beliefs. I have tried very hard not to extrapolate beyond that about which we are conversing. I.e.…….

    Didn’t say you weren’t a brother. Don’t know who you are, so couldn’t say, but I wouldn’t deny you were assuming you profess it (I assume you do). But I’ve already stated that in the post earlier. What I do believe is that holding to Genesis being a made up story (hey, or borrowed) undermines inerrancy (if not outright denies it, depending on to whom you speak) and the authority of the scriptures.

  22. volfan007 July 29, 2008 at 9:00 am #

    John,

    I believe that the Sun stood still, or that the Earth stopped rotating…yes. I also believe that God created a big fish of some sort to swallow Jonah. I alos believe that God parted the Red Sea when Moses gave the word, and the people of Israel crossed over on dry land.

    If God can create the universe by speaking the word, then He can certainly stop the Earth from rotating. If God can raise the dead to life, then why would I have a problem believing the miracles of the Bible. And, my friend, if you dont believe that the Bible is accurate in the things it talks about, like science, history, geography, etc., then you, nor the scholars you know, believe in the inerrancy of the the Bible. You believe in errors, thus you believe that the Bible is an untrustworthy document full of the stories and thoughts of mere, mortal men.

    David

  23. John July 29, 2008 at 1:42 pm #

    Volfan,

    You missed my question. Do you think the sun stood still, or the earth stopped rotating? It’s an either/or question. The text says the sun stood still, but a scientifically accurate answer is that the earth stopped rotating.

    You’ve got the wrong picture of my view and the Bible. I believe a big fish swallowed Jonah, Moses parted the Red Sea, and Jesus raised the dead to life. It’s not that I think the Bible’s not accurate, it’s that I think we give it the wrong definition of accuracy. We impose our standards of how we think it should look, so we think it’s 100% accurate in every single little minute detail, and this is simply not the case, and that’s fine. The Bible was not written to post-enlightenment Christians but to ancients. And to ancients, being 100% scientifically and historically accurate in every little tiny detail would have been of no concern. You can’t neglect the human element of scripture when forming a bibliology. You’ve taken inerrancy to an extreme, which is the danger with the doctrine. It sounds nice and pious, it just ain’t true…sorry. It may get “amens” in a Southern Baptist pulpit, but it won’t hold up under the evidence.

  24. Brian (Another) July 29, 2008 at 3:46 pm #

    To exasperate the move point, who is to say that the earth is not stationary and all other points move? If I remember, that is part of Einstein’s theory, so it would be a scientifically accurate statement. That is a matter of perspective, not scientific evidence (our frame determines that). The fact that with reference to one another the sun stood still is not in question. I can understand if you want to say the description of what happened is contextual to a point, though. To say you believe in inerrancy and then say the bible contains errors sounds odd. And, I might add, to say it won’t hold up under the evidence seems to put an awful lot of faith in man’s study of science (which recalculates everything as it goes. See ice core samples and evolutionary theory).

    Again, for me, inerrancy is the word being breathed out by God. To be errant is not to be breathed out by God. Don’t see how it’s a “dangerous” doctrine. The bible either is or isn’t true. If it is flawed/errored (a polite way to say it, perhaps is it is not 100% accurate), then inerrancy goes out the window. How does Jonah, Moses parting the Red Sea, Christ’s miracles, et al, not go out the window with it? It seems very limiting to say this must not be true because my science says it can’t be true.

    Further, it seems that if God (the divine author of the bible) intended it for the ancients, then how would it be applicable to us today? We are so much smarter and advanced than those civilizations anyway. But I think this has progressed far beyond the original thread. Which is that Westminster holds to the doctrine of inerrancy and Dr. Enns, in a very polite, nice sounding way, challenges that. Westminster declined to further that errant doctrine.

  25. volfan007 July 29, 2008 at 4:03 pm #

    John,

    For Moses or Joshua or anyone else in the OT to say that the Sun stood still would not be an inaccurate statement…no more than you saying that the Sun sets at 8:05 tonight would be inaccurate. It was the language of the day, just as we would say the same thing today. I mean, does the Sun set? Is it moving? And, with the scientific facts that we have today, we’d say no, the Earth is moving. But, to use a common phrase of the day to describe something happening like the Sun standing still in the sky does not mean that it’s a scientifically inaccurate statement. It’s just the way they described the phenomena that was occuring.

    Again, John, when the Bible speaks to science, or history, or geography, then the Bible is true. Amen? To deny this is to deny the trustworthiness of the Bible. It’s the same as calling God a liar.

    David

  26. John July 29, 2008 at 4:15 pm #

    Volfan,

    So you admit, then, that the statement is not technically “scientifically accurate”? You admit to a degree of accomodation and contextualization, no? You admit that in their conceptual worldview, they would have no idea about the earth rotating, no? And Yahweh was contextualizing himself and meeting the people where they were at, not correcting them in the technically correct science behind the statements and not really caring to do so.

    This is the point I’m trying to get across. Your statement that when the Bible speaks to science, it is true, is “technically” not correct. That’s the danger of the doctrine, b/c many would say that it is technically correct on everything. But it’s not in this case, even if it were just “the language of the day” (which is the main point I’m trying to communicate to you). God contextualizes to the situation and works with the people where they are at, and he is not concerned with informing them of the technicalities about the science behind it. This doesn’t deny inerrancy, it simply recognizes contextualization and accomodation, and understands that in the progress of revelation it’s not “technically correct.”

    Agreed?

  27. volfan007 July 29, 2008 at 6:30 pm #

    John,

    When the Bible says that God created the Earth in 7 days….it means 7 days.

    When the Bible says that the Sun stood still, the Sun didnt move in the sky.

    When the Bible said that the Earth was a sphere, or a ball shape, in one of the Psalms, then it was found to be accurate.

    When the Bible says that the city of Ai exists, then we need to believe it.

    And, someone who would deny the clear understanding of the Bible, when they say that there are myths in Genesis 1-11, or that there are contradictions in the Bible, then that person has crossed the line into error, and they should not be teaching others.

    The question is, are you defending this kind of teaching? Are you saying that someone can believe that there’s contradictions in Ezekiel, and still be true to God? Are you saying that we, men, can pick and choose which parts of the Bible that we’re gonna believe to be true, and which we’re not?

    David

  28. John July 29, 2008 at 10:55 pm #

    When the Bible says to cut off your hand or gouge out your eye, does it mean that? When the Bible says to hate your mother and father, does it mean that? When the Bible says to sell all you have, does it mean that? When the Bible says not to shave the hair off of your temples, does it mean that?

    I hope you’re understanding my point here volfan. We can’t just have a “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” attitude (which you seem to have, judging by your last comments). It’s a little more complicated than that. When the Bible says the sun stood still, you’re right to say that the sun didn’t move in the sky. However, the science behind that is off, because technically, the earth stopped rotating. So lets allow room in our heremeneutics and view of inerrancy for such accomodation and figurative language. Lets not only do that, but lets qualify our statements about the Bible being 100% scientifically accurate and has 0 contradictions as well (there are obvious contradictions is things like between the Gospels or Chronicles/Kings, but read the book of Ecclesiastes and you will find contradictions within the very book. However, none of this is a problem to me because I take into account authorial intent and the literary genre each writer espouses, and you should do the same). In doing so, we will not look like uneducated fundamentalists who are clearly not viewing the evidence. My problem is with the rhetoric behind the whole “inerrancy” thing, and the funny thing is, the Bible itself never claims to be “inerrant.” It’s basically a post-enlightenment belief formulated to counter-react against liberal theology. Quit acting like it’s the difference between saved/not saved (to say somebody who doesn’t believe in inerrancy should not be teaching is ludicrous…can you even give me scriptural warrant for such a claim?)

  29. volfan007 July 30, 2008 at 8:26 am #

    John,

    Only an idiot, or someone with an anti-Bible, anti-God agenda would say that the things you mention prove that there are contradictions and errors in the Bible. Of course, Jesus used hyberbole in a rhetorical sense, like with the pluck your eye out thing. He was trying to get them to understand the seriousness of their sin. And, the hate your mother thing was simply a degree of comparison, and the context shows that. Everything that you and some others have brought up has some very simple explanations when you take it in context. And, of course, the Bible has parables and poetry in it. God uses all of that. And, all of your so called contradictions can be explained with just a little study. They’re not contradictions at all. But, when the Bible speaks of science, then it’s true. When the Bible makes historical statements, then they are true. And, if someone denies that they are true, then that person is a liberal. They have a low view of Scripture. They are walking a very dangerous line, and they need to check out their spiritual condition to see if they’re really saved, or not.

    Listen, John, if we cant believe that the Sun stood still in the sky…however you want to phrase that…then how can we believe that Jesus died for our sins? If we cant believe that God created the universe by speaking it into existence, then how can we believe what the Bible teaches about Heaven?

    I’ll go a step farther. If all the Bible has errors, then we need to close the Churches; throw away our Bibles; grab a beer and light up a joint; live in sinful pleasure; and just wait to die a hopeless, miserable death.

    David

  30. volfan007 July 30, 2008 at 8:33 am #

    John,

    2 John 9-11

    2 Peter 2

    the entire book of Jude

    Rev. 2:2

    There are many more passages about not allowing false teachers to influence the Church.

    David

  31. volfan007 July 30, 2008 at 9:25 am #

    1 Timothy 6:3-5

  32. John July 30, 2008 at 10:31 am #

    ???

    I never said the passage in Joshua wasn’t true. Are you even reading what I’m writing, or are you just reading what you want me to be writing? You have already written me off as some type of liberal who is possibly not saved and are reading your presuppositions into every claim that I make. You’re not understanding any of my points, and instead you just come back with 5 proof-texts and a question about my salvation.

    Fundamentalists are impossible to converse with. We’ll just leave it at that volfan, thanks for talking to me.

  33. volfan007 July 30, 2008 at 11:01 am #

    John,

    I believe that I understand very clearly what you’re saying, but if I’m wrong, please enlighten me.

    Fundamentalists???? Really? If you mean by that that I believe in the fundamentals of the faith, then I welcome that label. It’s a compliment. But, if you mean the Sword of the Lord, Bob Jones type of Believer, then you’ve mischaracterized me greatly.

    David

  34. Brian (Another) July 30, 2008 at 11:28 am #

    Just to note, John, post 29 was the first mention of re-evaluating salvation by David (I never did say anything about it, yet you projected the same on me). Prior to that, it was you who mentioned it.

    And, to answer your question (“can you even give me scriptural warrant for such a claim”):

    Psalm 12
    Proverbs 30
    Matthew 4

    Assuming 2 Tim 2 (as above) is taken, then the scriptures must be inerrant or flawed. Speaking in hyperbole versus historical is the delineation between your examples (gouge out an eye, etc.). The style of Genesis is historical narrative.

    God used men with different styles to convey his message to men. He did not, however, use deceptive means of men. Or so the belief I hold.

    If David or I or Westminster believe in inerrancy in that the bible is inerrant (does not contain errors), then we are upholding our beliefs by saying that someone who believes the bible to be flawed and authored (originated) by humans shouldn’t teach at our institution. It would lack integrity to allow someone to teach a contradictory belief. That was the start of all of this.

    David extrapolated, though, to say that false doctrine should not be taught. Or I assume that is what he meant.

    Lastly, I think that the reason it is (easily) seen (by, uh, fundamentalists, I suppose, but that seems to lack breadth) as so black and white is where does the line get drawn? It seems to be a digital answer. Either the bible is true and error free (since it was authored by God, recorded by men) or it is not. And if it isn’t error free, what is off-limits for the “this is not 100% scientifically accurate” statement? The Flood? The Walls of Jericoh? The Virgin birth? Christ’s resurrection? But I suppose we will have to disagree on that.

    Have a great, fundamentalist-free day.

    Brian

  35. Brittany August 2, 2008 at 12:33 pm #

    The argument about the sun “standing still” in the book of Joshua is pertinent; either (since y’all seem to be so fond of either/ors) God’s inspiration was contextual and accommodating to the Jews’ understanding of the cosmos, or it was not (and should be understood literally, and we should return to a geocentric model of the universe). I don’t understand why we want to make such exception for this one comment (’cause we discovered the truth about that several hundred years ago, and we don’t want to look like morons?) and not for other scriptures. Arguing that God’s (infallible, inerrant, literal) description of the earth stood still is a “cultural conception” of the way Jews interpreted the universe is already a few steps down the slippery slope of relativism.

  36. Douglas J. Bender July 19, 2009 at 9:23 pm #

    There are ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing. And there are sheep who come bearing diseased tics. Both are dangerous to the flock.

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