Pete Enns critiques John Piper’s recent remarks about the Jewish conquest of Canaan in the Old Testament. Piper argues that God’s judgments are just and shouldn’t be questioned. Enns objects and argues that the biblical accounts are historically inaccurate and at odds with Jesus’ ethic in the New Testament. In other words, Enns response presumes that the Bible has mistakes in it. Enns questions whether or not the conquest even happened. He writes:
Piper would need to take seriously the conclusion drawn overwhelmingly by archaeologists that the systematic slaughter of the population of Canaan around 1200 BC did not happen. As with many issues surrounding archaeology, there is further discussion to be had, and I am guessing that Piper will not be swayed but what archaeologists say.
No matter what the archeologists say, the Bible says that the conquest happened. Moreover, the Bible sets forth the conquest of Canaan as proof that God is faithful to His promises to His people. Here’s how Joshua 21:43-45 describes the matter:
So the LORD gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. And the LORD gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.
Not only does Enns place archeological data over the plain statements of scripture, he also invokes “diversity” within the canon to show that the biblical accounts of conquest disagree with Jesus’ love ethic and indeed with other voices within the Old Testament.
Enns wants to pitch this dispute as if Piper has a deficient view of God’s sovereignty over the world. But that is not at all what this argument is about. This is about the inerrancy and authority of scripture, which Enns seems to call into question at every turn.
If your view of scripture is deficient, then it’s no surprise that your view of God’s sovereignty might be deficient as well. Enns falls short on both counts.