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Peter Enns Writes on Inspiration and Incarnation

Earlier this year I commented twice on Dr. Peter Enns and the actions by WTS regarding his theology and writings. Now he has posted some additional information on his views and some responses to prior reviews of his work. (HT: An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution, though I should note that this does not have to do with evolution.) I think it’s appropriate for me to provide a link to this newer material as well.

You can find a collection of links to material he has posted at I&I – Inspiration & Incarnation. This material was extremely important for me in clarifying his views, since I have not yet managed to read his book, though I very much intend to. I found this response to a review particularly helpful, after reading all of the five essays he presents on I&I.

I do want to respond to part of his statement on inerrancy, since I have written some on that subject myself (see my book When People Speak for God). He says:

I affirm that I am committed to the Bible’s inerrancy as a function of its divine origin. 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.

To get directly to the point, if this is inerrancy, then what is there to argue about? I do not affirm the doctrine of inerrancy, yet I could say pretty much the same thing. I usually phrase it as “the Bible is precisely what God intended it to be.” Perhaps some of my readers could tell me if I’m missing something here, after reading all of Dr. Enns’ referenced essay, of course. (For more of my view without having to pay for it, see Inspiration, Biblical Authority, and Inerrancy.) Looking at it from clearly outside the inerrancy camp, that doesn’t look to me like what most people who espouse Biblical inerrancy are saying, however.

As an example, I say that God speaks into the cultural matrix of the people who are addressed. He will work with what they believe on everything other than the truth he is trying to add. For a simple example, if one or both of the genealogies of Luke and Matthew are in error, one explanation could be simply that the communities involved would believe those particular genealogies and get the point–Jesus as human son of David and Adam. If one ancestor were wrong, for example, it would be harder to add something like, “Well, your genealogical records are incorrect, and the Holy Spirit is telling me to correct them.” That would uproot the teaching from history in the minds of the readers/hearers.

Now please note that this is not something I am attributing to Dr. Enns–this is something I am saying. I’m simply not seeing where it would contradict his statement of inerrancy, yet I’m pretty sure that most who espouse the doctrine of inerrancy would find my explanation unacceptable.

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