The Suspension of Peter Enns

Discussions about the recent suspension of Peter Enns from his teaching post at Westminster Theological Seminary have been all over the blogosphere. If somehow you have missed the story, Christianity Today ran a piece yesterday explaining the whole situation. Here’s the heart of it:

‘Westminster Theological Seminary’s board voted to suspend tenured professor Peter Enns last week after a two-year theological debate over his 2005 book, Inspiration and Incarnation. . .

‘The board voted 18-9 to suspend Enns, an Old Testament professor whose book created controversy on how to interpret the Westminster Confession of Faith, a 1646 document that the faculty must affirm.

‘”The essence of the question is, Does the II book fall within the parameters of the orthodox, Reformed understanding of the doctrine of inerrancy?”

‘The seminary’s personnel committee will make a recommendation at the board of trustees’ May meeting to decide whether Enns’ position will be terminated. Enns declined to comment. . .

‘In his book, Enns attempts to confront issues raised by historical-critical Bible scholars that seem to compromise the Bible’s divine inspiration. Enns uses an incarnational analogy, meaning that Scripture is both human and divine, similar to Jesus Christ.

‘The debate lies in whether Enns’s incarnational analogy falls outside of the Westminster Confession, since the confession never directly addresses a human dimension of Scripture. Some question whether it is appropriate to say there’s a human side of Scripture because they worry it opens the door to an attack on its divine authority and authorship.

‘Critics argue that Enns’ method falls outside the Westminster Confession’s statement, “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself.”‘

One thing is clear from this controversy. Those who say that the inerrancy question is no longer important need to reconsider their assessment of evangelical priorities. In North America at least, evangelical believers continue to affirm inerrancy as a key tenet of faith.

That is why the response to Peter Enns Inspiration and Incarnation has been so vehement. Enns appears to be diminishing scripture’s inerrancy by suggesting among other things that parts of the OT should be read as “myth”—that is, as “made up” stories (Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation, p.
41). The implications of such a position are problematic to say the least and pose no little challenge to the inerrancy and authority of scripture.

For an outstanding critique of Enns’ book, see the following:

G. K. Beale, “Myth, History, and Inspiration: A Review Article of Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns” JETS 49 (2006): 287-312.

Enns himself responds to Beale’s criticism in the following:

Peter Enns, “Response to G. K. Beale’s Review Article of Inspiration and IncarnationJETS 49 (2006): 313-26).

Beale’s surrejoinder is here:

G. K. Beale, “A Surrejoinder to Peter Enn’s Response to G. K. Beale’s JETS Review Article of HIs Book, Inspiration and IncarnationSBJT 11 (2007): 16-37.

For Enns’ book, check the following link:

Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005).

42 Responses to The Suspension of Peter Enns

  1. Brett April 2, 2008 at 12:41 am #

    “Inerrancy” is not a key tenet of the faith. Conservative evangelicals think it is in our post-enlightenment, modern, post-reformation, literalistic mindset, but to claim it to be a key tenet of the faith is bordering on the line of absurdity. It may be important to some people, and that’s great, I personally believe in inerrancy while also believing there are many tensions present in the text. Call me a “non-evangelical” if you want, I personally don’t care to bear that title to be honest with you.

    Denny, have you read this book? I haven’t yet, but I placed an order for it a couple of days ago. I only ask b/c you make claims about it like you have read it. And need bring it to your attention, what Enns claims in the book is the absolute standard amongst OT scholars, both conservative and liberal alike. I am at a very conservative institution and the OT professors here say a hearty “amen” to Enns and his work…and teach the same in the classroom.

    Suggesting certain things as “myth” within Scripture does not diminish scripture’s inerrancy. I have no idea how you make that claim. You have a very rigid definition of inerrancy, and depending on how you define it, one can very easily believe what Enns says and still believe in it.

    I am personally thrilled that Enns would write such a book for the lay level. We need old and young adults to be aware of scholarship. That way, when little Johnny goes off to college his faith won’t be wrecked b/c his conservative church has “protected” him from the “evil” scholarship going on in academia. That way, when Bobby finds out about other views Christians hold to, his faith won’t come crashing down b/c we have taught him to hold to a domino view of doctrine and he realized Genesis 1 & 2 are 2 separate creation accounts and they weren’t written to combat evolution.

    Westminster is making a huge mistake, and they just went from a decent institution to below average or average at best. I hope Enns comes to my school, for I would sit at his feet and listen to him all day long. If I were a student at Westminster, I would be out the door with him, and I’m sure that’s the approach many students are taking. They think they’re doing the “right” thing, but this could and probably will (and probably already has) create more disunity and problems than already exist. Oh well, what do you expect of an institution who is static in their thought and interprets Scripture through a 350 years old confession that is deterministic and fatalistic and causes people to have such rigid theology and a rigid hermeneutic that they can never be honest with the text? This is exactly why I will never, ever teach at a conservative institution.

  2. GLW Johnson April 2, 2008 at 7:09 am #

    Brett
    Are you a graduate of WTS?
    No. You havn’t even read Enns’ book. You are therefore in no position to critizes Wetminster. I am an alum of WTS and furthermore I wrote a chapter in the book I edited for P&R last year entitled ‘BB Warfield : Essays in His Life and Thought ‘ that carried an introduction by Mark Noll and a preface by David Calhoun- that sought to saw how badly out step Enns views were with those of Old Princeton. Enns book has also been critized by the likes of D.A.Carson. Paul Helm and Greg Beale.

  3. Lucas Knisely April 2, 2008 at 7:29 am #

    This is exactly why I will never, ever teach at a conservative institution.

    Truer words were never spoken.

  4. Wonders for Oyarsa April 2, 2008 at 7:55 am #

    Hi Denny,

    Are a young-Earth creationist? As a Calvinist, do you interpret the passages in Genesis and Exodus of God changing his mind as exceptions to divine impassibility? If not, then you are using a hermeneutic that some would consider violating inerrancy. You would be saying, as most Calvinists, that God is using “human language” to lead us into truth. So why are you so eager to join the auto da Fe over Enns, as if the issue is totally black-and-white?

  5. Brad April 2, 2008 at 8:55 am #

    “The board voted 18-9 to suspend Enns, an Old Testament professor whose book created controversy on how to interpret the Westminster Confession of Faith, a 1646 document that the faculty must affirm.”

    I haven’t read Enns’ book, so I am unware of the details of his argument. That said, I wonder if Enns, in HIS opinion, is still able to affirm the Westminster Confession, an apparant condition of his employment at WTS? If he still can, then it seems that the Tustees have violated principles of academic freedom. I may not agree with Enns’ position, but as a fellow academic I pay attention when institutions suspend/terminate tenured faculty over issues of academic freedom.

  6. Denny Burk April 2, 2008 at 9:36 am #

    Wonders and all,

    Go read Beale’s review that I linked above. It’s devastating, and it brings to light the difficulties with Enns’ proposal.

    I’m not going to repeat Beale’s material here. Just go look at it, and you’ll see.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  7. TM April 2, 2008 at 9:36 am #

    “Enns book has also been critized by the likes of D.A.Carson. Paul Helm and Greg Beale.”

    Who gives a rat’s what they say about Enns. Their criticisms are coming from within a particular form of modern Christianity that is, whether you like it or not, on its way out. See the new book by Kenton Sparks and God help us if he gets suspended too.

  8. Todd Pruitt April 2, 2008 at 9:48 am #

    Brett,

    Thanks for your pledge. Conservative institutions everywhere just breathed a huge sigh of relief.

  9. Bryan L April 2, 2008 at 9:58 am #

    Denny is there a pdf of the Beals’ review (and Enns response)? It’s kind of long and I hate constantly switching through pages. Plus I’d like to be able to see the footnotes at the bottom of each page.

    BTW I read Enns when it came out and although I liked what he had to say I still thought he was a bit too conservative and I think he was a bit reductionistic in his view of the NT use of the OT (but well within the standard scholarly view of how the NT uses the OT). I wouldn’t be surprised if Beale spends quite a bit of time going after him on this as this seems to be his specialty and he also has a Masters in OT.

    Bryan

  10. Wonders for Oyarsa April 2, 2008 at 10:03 am #

    Yes Denny, there seems to me to be parts where Beals’ writing and Enns are not distinguished in any way – not be italics or pullquotes – and thus it makes it very hard to read.

  11. Ben R April 2, 2008 at 10:38 am #

    If you click on the “print” link at the top of Beals’ article, it goes into a much easier to read, single page format.

  12. Tim B April 2, 2008 at 11:43 am #

    Brad,
    You asked “I wonder if Enns, in HIS opinion, is still able to affirm the Westminster Confession”

    I sat under Enns as a student several years ago, and yes he does. In fact, he consistently pointed to Warfield on inerrancy and affirmed it. He also pointed to several OT professors at Old Princeton (before it went liberal). He also pointed to EJ Young (from WTS). In the Reformed tradition he was seeking to stand on the backs of Warfield, Bavinck and Kuyper.

    He fully affirmed the inspiration of Scripture and the divine element. His main point was always that the liberals point to the ANE and say “see the Bible fits into an ancient cultural context therefore it can’t be divine”. His point was always to affirm what Warfield called the doctrine of concursus. He always said that showing the Bible fitting into the ANE in no way disproves inerrancy.

    In fact, like Calvin and the WCF he would argue that God condescends when God speaks so we shouldn’t be surprised to find the Bible fitting into the ANE context.

  13. Brett April 2, 2008 at 11:52 am #

    GLW,

    What does that matter? I have legitimate OT scholars who have spoke to me about the book and other students here that have interacted with me about it as well. They are all dumbfounded at this situation. I am familiar with Enns and his views, which does put me in a situation to criticize the seminary.

    Does Denny go to Mars Hill? Then he has no right to criticize Rob Bell.

    Are you part of an emerging church or have you gone to one in the past? Then you have no right to criticize it.

    This line of thinking is used for no other reason than to make someone look like they don’t know what they’re talking about. You’re probably not even familiar with OT scholarship and I could frankly care less about B.B. Warfield and your contribution to his book.

    Also, D.A. Carson criticizes everybody, and Paul Helm, as demonstrated by Enns’ response to Helm’s review, has absolutely no right reviewing this book b/c he is not familiar with OT scholarship and is a philosopher. The only reason Beale criticizes him so harshly is b/c they differ in the use of the OT in the NT and Beale just came out with a big co-edited commentary on the subject. Naming three reformed ultra-conservative scholars does not prove your point one bit.

    Todd, conservative institutions are not worth any legit scholar’s time. In fact, the best contributions to scholarship in the 20th century were done by liberal scholars, and this fact is agreed upon by many conservatives. Conservative vs. liberal means nothing to me anymore. I think Jesus was the most flaming liberal in his day, and the Pharisees were the conservatives. Likewise, I see nothing but Pharisaic tendencies in much of conservative scholarship.

    Brad, Enns vehemently affirms that he is still able to affirm the WCF, and the majority of the faculty at WTS agree with him. Therefore the board is certainly violating academic freedom. It’s funny how many people critical of Enns on here are disagreeing with the majority of Westminster’s faculty, faculty which they are on the same page with theologically.

    Denny, can you please answer my question and tell us if you have read the book. It’s easy to just throw a review up by another guy, but if you have not read it then you have no right to be dogmatic about your disagreement with Enns.

  14. Tim B April 2, 2008 at 12:20 pm #

    Brett,

    You obviously don’t understand the issues for Westminster. For a school committed to Reformed confessionalism, Warfield is part of the issue.

    Not only that but “academic freedom” the god of the secular university is not the driving force at WTS. This academic freedom in the secular university is freedom to say anything against god but never affirming in any way shape or form because that is ‘biased’. Indeed, for Westminster the driving force is submission to the Lordship of Christ that matters more, for WTS that involves subscription to the confession as faithfully representing what is found in Scripture alone.

    “conservative institutions are not worth any legit scholar’s time”, there are some obvious presuppositions that need to be addressed here, particular this idea that these scholars are more objective, neutral, and academically “free” and so they have produced better results.

    “the best contributions to scholarship in the 20th century were done by liberal scholars” –funny since a lot of the ideas are being dismissed– just look at Pentateuchal theories (JDEP) or NT form criticism. Most scholars (especially the liberals) are looking at the OT books as literary units now, to the point that they almost mock those who follow such outmoded oddities, and in the NT huge inroads are being made to talk about eyewitness and the 4 gospels written for the whole church not reconstructed communities.

    Ironically you seem so sure of the motives of everyone else, particularly the ‘evil’ or ‘misguided’ motives of those horrible conservatives. Yet you seem quite content to do the very thing you despise in others.

  15. Brett April 2, 2008 at 12:30 pm #

    Tim,

    You have extrapolated my comments and are making me look guilty of things I never said. I was speaking about conservative scholarship in general particularly at rigid confessional institutions like WTS, not ALL conservative scholars. There are some conservative scholars that I like very much. I could understand how this can be drawn from my statements, but I did not mean to communicate this. Also, subscription to the confession is not equated with subscription to what is found in Scripture alone. WTS elevates the confession above Scripture, therefore, when Scripture goes against the confession, you better go with the confession unless you want to lose your job.

    Also, my opinion about the best contributions to scholarship in the 20th century being from the liberals comes mainly from conservative OT and NT scholars. Don’t argue with me, argue with them.

  16. Denny Burk April 2, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    TM,

    Do I know you?

    Thanks,
    Denny

  17. Wonders for Oyarsa April 2, 2008 at 1:57 pm #

    Hi Denny,

    The article you linked to is illegible for all practical purposes, even in the “print” version, as there is no typographical distinction between Enns words and Beale’s.

    Would you like to summarize what to you is the crux of the matter?

  18. Aaron April 2, 2008 at 2:11 pm #

    Wonders,

    The articles linked to above are by the individual authors (Beale and Enns, respectively), therefore there need be no typographical distinction. I agree that the default format isn’t as nice as a book, so I just printed them out, easy-peasy. The standard print format is just as easy to read as any book.

    I would really recommend reading them for yourself and coming to your own conclusions about the matter than asking Denny to regurgitate the arguments. And I say that as a general principle, reading the original rather than relying on others opinions anyway- usually helps to avoid misrepresentation among many other benefits.

    Blessings,

    Aaron

  19. Brad April 2, 2008 at 2:14 pm #

    Tim,

    I recognize that you were responding to Brett, but I resist your assertions about academic freedom. Academic freedom exists at and is important to non-secular universities and colleges as well (including my own). Granted, the form and limits of academic freedom may differ between secular and non-secular institutions. Nonetheless, challenging academic freedom is dangerous if only because academic freedom allows debate. One could argue that academic freedom signfificantly contributed to the Reformation itself — Luther was excommunicated by the RC Church, but to my knowledge he never lost his professorship at the University of Wittenberg.

  20. Wonders for Oyarsa April 2, 2008 at 2:52 pm #

    “The articles linked to above are by the individual authors (Beale and Enns, respectively), therefore there need be no typographical distinction.”

    Except that nearly half of Beale’s article is quotations of Enns.

  21. Tim B April 2, 2008 at 5:37 pm #

    Brad,
    You are right that not all academic freedom is bad. I probably implied that. It’s just when a confessional school tries to act based upon its confession that all mutually subscribe to, I’m not sure that playing the ‘academic freedom’ card really understands the issues. So far as I know Enns and his supporters aren’t playing the academic freedom card, but trying to argue that he is not inconsistent with the confession–this is where the debate arises. All parties agree that to be at Westminster entails subscribing to the WCF.

    I would just say that I’m not trying to speak against the type of academic freedom that can exist within confessional bounds or within the doctrinal statement of an institution. However, if I may borrow from Calvinist/Arminian debates, I don’t think we should see academic freedom within Christian institutions as libertarian but as compatibilist freedom.

    I don’t think academic freedom in a Christian institution should mean “anything goes”. But I would also agree that professors seeking to work within non-secular universities should not constantly feel threatened. There should a measure of good faith and grace as they seek to carry out their work in faithfulness to Christ and within mutually shared doctrinal beliefs. Beyond that I can’t speak to the issues of the Board’s decision vs. the faculty vote, Enns’ tenure, etc. etc.

    I’m not sure about the Luther example, but I thought there were some instances during the Puritan era where Puritans and Congregationalists were kept from teaching at Cambridge and Oxford or they lost their professorship. I could be wrong about the example, I didn’t have time to double check.

  22. Ferg April 2, 2008 at 6:47 pm #

    i’m always interested as to why the questions put forward in post #4 are rarely answered or even acknowledged around here.

  23. Bryan L April 2, 2008 at 8:02 pm #

    Ferg, it’s because people on this blog aren’t really interested in discussion or dialog but instead arguing, shouting and breaking off into factions.

    Bryan

  24. Brett April 2, 2008 at 8:15 pm #

    …And Denny has still yet to answer my question about if he’s read the book or not.

  25. Denny Burk April 2, 2008 at 8:21 pm #

    Regarding #4:

    1. In Genesis 1 and 2, I think Moses intended to say that God created the world in six days.

    2. 1 Samuel 15:29 shows that when God naham‘s it is not like when a human naham‘s. I don’t see anything hermeneutically inconsistent about that.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  26. Denny Burk April 2, 2008 at 8:28 pm #

    Brett,

    I read part of it a year or so ago. I was consulting it for an article that I was writing.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  27. Wonders for Oyarsa April 2, 2008 at 10:26 pm #

    1 Samuel 15:29 shows that when God naham’s it is not like when a human naham’s. I don’t see anything hermeneutically inconsistent about that.

    Then, quite frankly Denny, I can’t see how you can be engaging the text. Read Genesis one more time:

    The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

    And read Numbers 14 again:

    And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”

    But Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for you brought up this people in your might from among them, and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, O Lord, are in the midst of this people. For you, O Lord, are seen face to face, and your cloud stands over them and you go before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if you kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard your fame will say, ‘It is because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to give to them that he has killed them in the wilderness.’ And now, please let the power of the Lord be great as you have promised, saying, ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.”

    Then the Lord said, “I have pardoned, according to your word.

    It’s just no good to pretend that this isn’t a rather different picture then the more philosophical one of divine impassibility, or indeed of one of God not having regret. The way John Calvin reconciled the two was that God was accommodating human ways of understanding in scripture. This is a very incarnational notion. But for you to glibly say that you see no conflict at all…well…that’s wonderful Denny, that for you such passages are a seamless tapestry of consistent unity. But you need to realize that, for some people, gaining a robust faith requires actually wrestling with what scripture says, and not just assuming we know what it says. And, if not for Biblical scholars like Enns (or Calvin) to point a way forward, with only a bunker anti-intellectual dogmatism offered in the face of serious questions, we might lose faith altogether.

  28. Brett April 2, 2008 at 10:32 pm #

    So the 2 texts that say God does not change his mind trump the dozen texts that says he does? Come on Denny, no honest exegete would draw those conclusions

  29. Denny Burk April 2, 2008 at 11:03 pm #

    Brett,

    When I was in seminary, I had an old testament professor who tried to convince us students of open theist readings of the old testament. At that time, the work of Greg Boyd, John Sanders, and Clark Pinnock was becoming very popular among other students on campus. As a result, I really had to wrestle with the biblical and theological arguments that the open theists were making.

    One book that I found very helpful and compelling was Bruce Ware’s God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism (or read it here). This book helped me to close the book on the viability of open theist readings of the Bible. The arguments that you are making are addressed in this book. At the end of the day, I find Ware’s proposal much more convincing than that of the open theists.

    Thanks so much for reading and for taking time to comment.

    Denny Burk

  30. Chris Stevens April 2, 2008 at 11:44 pm #

    Disclaimer: I have not read the book and am only newly acquainted with the Enns controversy.
    That said, and risking a rebuke for not understanding the situation, I submit the following.
    I was introduced to this idea in Hebrew class about 5 years ago and it has occupied some of my time (informally) since then. To put the position in my own words, some of the OT must be dumped out (not interpreted) because it is context not content. I was troubled over the idea that the content of the OT must be dumped out because it is just context. Where do you draw the line? You could boil the content down to a paragraph.
    I am still not sure how to handle the problem but I prefer to say that revelation is revolutionary and forms context more than it is required to fit context – the Bible is context forming not context fitting. For example: a creation story qua creation story is a context forming story rather than a context fitting story. Creation stories in any culture are designed to form context. When considering the Bible the context forming intent of the Author should be given wide berth because it is from a holy God to sinful man. Why would we expect (or force) a story to fit a context when it is designed to create context instead(think, “Be ye holy for I am holy”). And isn’t the entire Bible a context creating story rather than a context fitting story? Yes, it is written to be understood by a people in a culture but context forming stories are revolutionary and counter cultural and we should not force them to be something else.

    Your thoughts and solutions appreciated.

  31. Bryan L April 3, 2008 at 7:46 am #

    Actually I never see any Open Theist opponent address the argument about language about God repenting or changing his mind or even being surprised, at least not satisfactorily (I think). Usually the response to that issue boils down to 2 approaches:

    1. hermeneutical – usually this amounts to saying ‘Look at all the verses that say God doesn’t change his mind. There should be given hermeneutical priority.” In a sense this is basically dismissing what the verses say by disqualification because other verses say something else. Now I’m not saying this is a move that can not be made, however it is surprising to see conservative innerantists do it since they usually believe every single verse is inspired and should equally get a hearing in formulating theology (this is why the 1 Tim 2ff passage is so central to a complementarian view).

    2. Anthropomorphism – this approach is to say that the verse is using human language to communicate something about God in the same way it talks about him smelling or walking or his arm, etc. The problem with this view is that anthropomorphisms communicate something about God though the use of human imagery. What does it communicate about God to say that he changes his mind, he repents or that he is surprised if it doesn’t mean just that? Usually an answer is not given. If God is not changing his mind or repenting of something then what is he doing and why was God content to have that in the Bible and let us see him that way?

    Bryan

  32. Wonders for Oyarsa April 3, 2008 at 8:41 am #

    Bryan,

    I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as an open theist. I would probably lean toward your second category – anthropomorphism, but with a great deal more caution, and even then in a more incarnational sense. After all, the incarnation and the imago dei should caution us against dismissing the human as insufficient as a vehicle of revelation.

    What I would say is that God, in revealing to us his story and ours, wants us to start off seeing his wrath against human evil as such that the entire creation is forfeit. He wants us to shudder with terror as the land that was brought forth out of the sea is again swallowed up again. He wants us to grieve that man, who is intrinsically the very good image of the creator God, now has come to the point where the intentions of the heart are inclined only to the evil. He wants us to agonize over the tragedy of the unmaking of all that was glorious and beautiful. And he then wants us to hold our breath, as we see him look upon Noah, and see a righteousness that makes the creation worth saving in his eyes. Finally, he wants us to see him putting the rainbow as a sign for himself, to remind him that he is committed to redeeming his creation and restoring man from his evil state.

    The same with Moses. The Lord wants us to see his utter exasperation at the rebellion of his people – so much so that he wants to kill them off and make a nation out of Moses. He wants our hearts to plead with Moses for the forgiveness of them, and sigh in relief when the forgiveness is granted. He wants us to see the righteous leader of the people stand before God and say that if he rejects his people he might as well reject him as well.

    And then he finally wants us to see the man upon the cross – bearing the sins of the people, and yet having a righteousness and obedience which can make the entire work salvageable and the entire creation new. He wants us to see such a man bearing the curse of God, and succumbing to the unmaking of the waters and the death with which he threatened the people in the wilderness. And then he wants us to see this man who seemed cursed by God now triumph over death upon the first day of the week, and have us know that in this man our salvation lies.

    And then he wants us to slowly grow to realize that this man is somehow the creator God himself, and that the redemption was planned before the foundation of the world. He wants our timidness to turn to boldness as we realize that a human being now sits enthroned in Heaven, and God is with us. And he wants us to marvel at the richness and goodness of God, and every knee bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Was there ever a god who loves mankind like the Lord? Was there ever a god so lofty, so good, and so glorious, and yet so near to us that he draws our humanity into his divine majesty?

    This is the story of the scriptures, and it is masterfully told. I think it correct to say that the opening parts are certainly insufficient in their understanding of God (as is all without the revelation of the Son of God). And we see that even the parts that seemed the most vulgar and human were written by the hand of God himself – advancing his story and drawing us into it in Christ. As such, myth is truer than the historical facts we are so zealous to see; diversity is more united than the logical consistency that we think we must have at all costs.

  33. Bryan L April 3, 2008 at 9:48 am #

    Wonders,
    It is a nice telling of the narrative of scripture (although leaving out some key parts like the kings and exile and return to the land, etc.).

    I am not sure what you are trying to say though. When you say myth is truer than historical facts, ok, but what is considered myth and what is considered historical facts? And how is it truer? And since the bulk of the story you laid out has to do with the historical account (and it’s theological interpretation) what does that mean then to say myth is truer than historical fact. Is there a myth within scripture that is truer than the historical account you just laid out?

    And the question still remains where do passages about God repenting, changing his mind and being surprised fit into all of this?

    And although you are not an open theist (which I’ve known) I am and so I decided to jump in when Denny mentioned it.

    BTW, nice to see you around again.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  34. Wonders for Oyarsa April 3, 2008 at 10:53 am #

    Hi Bryan L.,

    It is a nice telling of the narrative of scripture (although leaving out some key parts like the kings and exile and return to the land, etc.).

    Naturally, naturally – I was telling it through the lens of those two Old Testament passages we were discussing.

    I am not sure what you are trying to say though. When you say myth is truer than historical facts, ok, but what is considered myth and what is considered historical facts? And how is it truer? And since the bulk of the story you laid out has to do with the historical account (and it’s theological interpretation) what does that mean then to say myth is truer than historical fact. Is there a myth within scripture that is truer than the historical account you just laid out?

    The account I laid out was largely that of myth (at least in the two OT stories – the latter one far less “mythological” than the first). Myths are not allegories, nor are they necessarily unhistorical, but they are a way of understanding ourselves and our history and the work of God in terms of arch-typical stories. They are different from both blow by blow historical accounts (the history isn’t “in focus” – as C. S. Lewis would say) and allegories/fiction/etc (in that the story therein is meant to be understood as having happened in some sense). The truth of myth lies in the integrity of the story and the characters, rather than the technical precision of the details.

    And the question still remains where do passages about God repenting, changing his mind and being surprised fit into all of this?

    They set the stage. They show us the precariousness of our position and the weight of our sins; the wrath of God mixed with his perseverance and kindness; and the central and monumental role that man plays in bringing forth the redemptive love of God. They help us enter into the central paradoxes of the faith.

  35. Ferg April 3, 2008 at 7:47 pm #

    I have Ware’s book, God’s lesser Glory and I find it slightly disturbing and thoroughly unconvincing. I, like Denny have wrestled with the two views and upon reading Boyd, Sanders, Pinnock, and Ware, Piper and countless other reformed heads, I find myself an open theist as i find it is most consistent with scripture and dare i say it, my own personal relationship with Jesus. I’m very very slow to say that, as last time I mentioned that I was annihilated because my relationship with Jesus isn’t in scripture and apparently thats the only place we can learn about him.
    wonders, anthropomorphisms always strike me as being disingenuous. God saying that he grieves over Saul when he didnt do exactly what God had foreordained him to do, when actually he didn’t. As Ware following Calvin would say “God is not sorrowful or sad”
    but “remains for ever like himself in his celestial and happy repose”
    Calvin, Ware and the others hermeneutic presupposes that sovereignty means domination, and so biblical texts that go against this understanding are read differently. God he says uses anthropomorphisms because “we cannot comprehend him as he is”. God graciously accommodates himself by “lisping” to us as does a nursemaid to a young child.
    Calvin himself admits that his theological decree of election is “terrifying”, but says it nonetheless comes from the “abyss” in God, which ought to be reverenced.
    The tension with all this though arises when the very same people talk about prayer in a very very different language.
    It is as though God does, in fact, respond to our prayers, is receptive and enters into reciprocal relationships with his creatures, Calvin speaks of the fatherhood of God in our lives, however it is not a father to whom our concerns, joys and sorrows make a difference. if they did, then God would be affected by us, which implies some degree of conditionality in God.
    I could go on but i fear the post getting too long. they are a few of my musings in relation to ware etc.

  36. Brett April 3, 2008 at 11:47 pm #

    Ferg,

    People here officially think you’re not a Christian anymore and are adding you to their prayer lists!

    In regards to the open theists, I actually love Pinnock and Boyd because they do theology from the heart and not from the head. A genuine love for people drive many of their beliefs, and I hope we can all appreciate that. I’m not saying we ignore the Bible, but I am saying we shouldn’t be strict, rigid Bible interpreters who hold to a Pharisaic hermeneutic (which many, many, many do). Pinnock is an inclusivist b/c he loves people, and I appreciate that. He can’t stand the thought of people spending eternity in a place called hell, and none of us should rejoice in the reality and eternality of hell, but rather grieve for people if we think they are on that path. Bottom line, I think God is much more pleased with Boyd and Pinnock than many strict conservative reformed evangelicals (now I’m not a Christian anymore Ferg!)

  37. Daniel Davis April 4, 2008 at 11:09 am #

    by being an inclusivist, is pinnock denying that Jesus is the only way of salvation?

    just because he “loves” people, does that mean he would rather diminish the truth about the wide-open gate that leads to hell?

    love without truth; truth without love – both are wrong.

    theology from the heart vs theology from the head? one without the other is misguided. ultimately, truth theology is from God. where do we get such truth and love? from the Holy Spirit and the Word.

  38. Darius April 4, 2008 at 11:26 am #

    On that count, I applaud Denny for avoiding unhelpful retorts even when people throw ad hominems in his direction. If only I had that forbearing restraint.

  39. Darius April 4, 2008 at 11:27 am #

    #39 should be ahead of #38, not sure why they got switched.

  40. Ferg April 4, 2008 at 2:10 pm #

    Thanks for acknowledging me Brett. I’ve mentioned my thoughts a couple of times in various posts on this site and no-one seems to respond. All they do is pick out something like Pinnock being an inclusivist, something which i too appreciate but don’t necessarily agree with. I never mentioned anything to do with that but yet they will not refer to anything else in my post. i genuinely think i’m slightly invisible here. perhaps it’s because i’m not straight up arguementative!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Denny Burk » Peter Enns and Evangelical Debates over Genesis - April 14, 2008

    […] few weeks about the suspension of Peter Enns from the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary (see my previous post). So my ears perked up on Tuesday when the President of my college announced in chapel that there […]

  2. Denny Burk » Peter Enns and Evangelical Debates over Genesis - April 14, 2008

    […] with talk about the suspension of Peter Enns from the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary (see my previous post). So my ears perked up on Tuesday when the President of my college announced in chapel that there […]

Comment here. Please use FIRST and LAST name.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes