It caught my eye yesterday when I read that Peter Enns thinks Kurt Eichenwald’s Newsweek article attacking the Bible is “basically right.” Eichenwald’s article has been widely panned by evangelicals from across the spectrum. Even critics well-known for their own attacks on biblical Christianity have leveled criticism against Eichenwald’s piece. Nevertheless, Enns concludes that Eichenwald’s point is “basically right.” What gives here?
Enns claims that Eichenwald was trying to make a political point, not a religious one. Because Eichenwald’s targets are the likes of Sarah Palin and Rick Perry, Christians need not get all bent out of shape by Eichenwald’s attack on the truthfulness and the authority of the Bible.
I am not convinced that this is the ultimate motivation for Eichenwald’s attack on the Bible. But let’s assume for the sake of argument that it is. Does Enns’s defense really hold up? I don’t think it does. Let’s see how this logic might work in some other scenarios:
(1) If a thief runs you over in his getaway car, are you any less harmed if his ultimate aim was merely to get away from the police pursuing him? Would it help if he visited your hospital room and said, “Sorry, dude. You’re missing the point if you think I was trying to hurt you. I was just trying to shake these pigs off my tail.”
(2) If a teacher begins harassing your child at school, is your child any less harmed if the teacher is motivated by a grudge he has against you? “Hey, kid. Don’t worry about my unfairly failing you on this test. I’m just trying to punish your Dad.”
(3) If a guy shoots you in the stomach and takes all your money, are your any less wounded if the thief plans to give the money to charity? “Sorry about putting a whole in your belly. It was for the greater good.”
The point is that a person can perpetrate real harm and disdain against a bystander on his way to some other end. But everyone knows that the end does not justify the means if the means are themselves wicked. No matter what Eichenwald’s ultimate aim was, he has leveled a real attack against scripture and against the faith once for all delivered to the saints. A faithful Christian response will include contending against such error (Jude 3).
That is why it is deeply irresponsible for a Christian leader—even on Enns’s logic—to look at Eichenwald’s piece and conclude, “Nothing to see here. Move along.” No, there is something to see here, and Christians are right to offer a defense for that hope that is within them (1 Pet. 3:15). The teachers of Christ’s church have a special obligation to refute those who contradict sound doctrine (Titus 1:9). It is pastoral malpractice to suggest otherwise.