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”â€”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:
Enns himself responds to Beale’s criticism in the following:
Beale’s surrejoinder is here:
For Enns’ book, check the following link: