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Enns Explains

The professor offers his response to the criticisms that got him suspended from Westminster Theological Seminary.

Now that Peter Enns's suspension from Westminster Theological Seminary on account of his 2005 book, Inspiration and Incarnation, has gone into effect, the tenured professor has begun to post "thoughts, musings, interactions, responses?about or inspired by the book" on his blog.

At the request of Westminster, he submitted a 38-page paper responding to his critics:

My original intention was simply to leave the matter where it was, in the hands of the faculty and board, so as not to draw undo [sic] attention to seminary matters (even though I felt that this paper would have proved helpful to numerous readers). As it stands now, the attention drawn to this issue is quite pervasive, comes from various sources, and without any aid from me.

In light of these developments, reproducing certain portions of that paper makes a degree of sense.

What he is posting now are discussions with (and responses to) his critics and an abridged and appended version of the parts of his paper that he feels best relate to the theological discussion.

Here's Enns on the authority of Scripture:

That an emphasis, etc., on the humanity of Scripture somehow compromises biblical authority is not only wrong, it also fails to capture the intention or content of I&I. To put it directly, neither I nor I&I deny, implicitly, functionally, or any other way, biblical authority. To put it even more directly, biblical authority is not the topic of I&I.

On the Westminster Confession:

To expect [the Westminster Confession of Faith] to give the final word on, say, Genesis and [Ancient Near East] literature or the [New Testament] and Second Temple literature (to name just two general issues), even in principle, strains credulity and places a greater burden on this tremendous document than it can bear, and may in fact come very close to making it, rather than Scripture, the final court of appeal.

On inerrancy:

If I may offer a thumbnail definition, the Bible as it is is without error because the Bible as it is is God's Word.

And on his intended audience:

I&I is aimed at lay readers for whom a commitment to Scripture as God's Word is deep and non-negotiable, but for whom things like the historical context of Scripture have been posed to them as a threat to inspiration, and therefore to the Bible as being God's word. This is a very real, and we feel often neglected, population of evangelicalism.

The board will decide whether to terminate Enns' employment by December 2008.

Previous articles from Christianity Today and Books & Culture about Enns include:

Westminster Theological Suspension | Peter Enns's book Inspiration and Incarnation created a two-year theological battle that resulted in his suspension. (April 1, 2008)

Two Testaments, One Story | Top evangelical scholars team up for landmark commentary on New Testament use of Old Testament. (February 8, 2008)

Messy Revelation | Why Paul would have flunked hermeneutics. (Books & Culture's review of Inspiration and Incarnation)

Related Topics:Doctrine; Higher Education
Posted:June 9, 2008 at 11:59AM
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Enns Explains