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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Inspiration & Incarnation by Peter Enns

After reading about "Peter Enns" being laid off" from his job at Westminister Theological Seminary, and after about the uproar from various forums and blogs.......I decided to buy the book myself to see what was so bad about it.

The central focus of the book seems to be his paradigm of the Bible being 100% Divine as well as 100% human.......Just like Jesus Christ was.

He uses this premise to better explain modern findings in "Ancient Near Eastern Literature.", the problem of theological diversity in the Old Testament", and "the old Testament and it's interpretation in the New Testament".

He calls this "the incarnational analogy"

"I do not want to suggest that difficult problems have simple solutions.
What I want to offer, instead, is a proper starting point for discussing these
problems, one that, if allowed to run its course, will reorient us to see these
problem in a better light. This starting point can be traced back to the early
centuries of the church and can be applied to modern issues with
considerable profit. The starting point for our discussion is the following: as
Christ is both God and human, so is the Bible. In other words, we are to think
of the Bible in the same way that Christians think about Jesus. Christians
confess that Jesus is both god and human at the same time. He is not half-God
and half0human. He is not sometimes one and the other. rather, one of the
central doctrines of the Christian faith, worked out as far back as the council
of Chalcedon in AD 451, is that Jesus is 100 percent God and 100 percent human-
at the sametime."

page 17 by Peter Enns, in the book "Inspiration & Incarnation:
Evangelicals and the problem of the Old Testament". copyright 2005 by Peter
Enns, published by Baker Academic

Whats wrong with the idea of the Bible being 100% Divine & 100% human? This is what I believe.

This is no different than what Orthodox christians say:

"Two centuries after Saint Tikhon, at the Moscow Conference held in 1976 between
the Orthodox and the Anglicans, the true attitude towards Scripture was
expressed in different but equally valid terms. This joint statement, signed by
the delegates of both traditions, forms an excellent summary of the Orthodox
view: "The scriptures constitute a coherent whole. They are at once divinely
inspired and humanly expressed. they bear authoritative witness to God's
revelation of himself in creation, inthe Incarnation of the Word, and in the
whole history of salvation, and as such express the Word of God in human
language. We know, receive, and interpret Scripture through the Church and in
the Church. Our approach to the Bible is one of obedience."

page 1757
from the OSB

skipped two paragraphs

"Since it is
Divinely Inspired, the Bible possesses a fundamental unity, a total coherence,
for it is the same Spirit that speaks on every page. We do not refer to it as
"the books" in plural, ta biblia, but we call it "the Bible," "the book," in the
singular. It is one book, one Holy Scripture, with the same message
throughout-one composite and yet single story, from Genesis to Revelation.

At the same time, however, the Bible is also humanly expressed. It is an
entire Library of distinct writings, composed at varying times, by different
persons in widely diverse situations. We find God speaking here "in many and
various ways" (Heb 1:1). Each work in the Bible reflects the outlook of the age
in which it was written and the particular viewpoint of the author. For God does
not abolish our created personhood but enhances it. Divine grace co-operates
with human freedom: we are "fellow-workers," "co-operators" with God (1co 3:9).
In the words of the second century letter to Diognetus, "God persuades, He does
not compel; for violence is foreign to the Divine nature." So it is precisely in
the writing of inspired Scripture. The author of each book was not just a
passive instrument, a flute played by the Spirit, a dictation machine recording
a message. Every writer of Scripture contributes his or her particular human
gifts. Alongside the divine aspect, there is also a human element in Scripture,
and we are to value both."

page 1758 from the OSB

By the Right
Reverend Kallistos, Bishop of Diokleia. In thearticle "How to read the Bible".

So we pretty much are saying something similar to Peter Enns. I think one of the things that got Dr. Enns in trouble was using the word myth. But anyone that read the book would know that his ussage of the word was different than how Liberals, and Atheists use the word.
As seen on page 40 when he says:

"It is important to understand , however, that not all historians of the
Ancient Near East use the word myth simplt as shorthand for "untrue," made-up,"
storybook." It may include these ideas for some, but many who use the term are
trying to get at something deeper. A more generous way of defining myth is that
it is an ancient, premodern, prescientific way of addressing questions of
ultimate origins and meaning in the form of stories: Who are we? Where do we
come from? Ancient peoples were not concerned to describe the Universe in
scientific terms. In fact, to put the matter more strongly: scientific
investigation was not at the disposal of ancient Near Eastern peoples. Imagine
yourself as a Mesopotamian, living perhaps one thousand to two thousand years
before Abraham...............The scientific world in which we live and that we
take so much for granted was inconceivable to ancient Mesopotamians."

and on page 50

"But one might ask why it is that God can't use the category we call "myth"
to speak to ancient Israelites. We seem to think of myth as something ancient
people thought up because they didn't want to listen to what God said, and so at
the outset of the discussion the Bible is already set up in full contrast to the
ancient Near Eastern Literature. I don't don't think this is the case. If some
consensus could be reached for an alternative term, it would seem profitable to
abandon the word myth altogether, since the term has such a long history of
meanings attached to it, which prejudices the discussion from the outset. There
is no consensus for another word, so before we proceed, allow me to repeat how I
use the word myth in the discussion below: myth is an ancient, premodern,
pre-scientific way of addressing questions of ultimate origins and meaning in
the form of stories: Who are we? Where do we come from?"

He says there isn't a consensus, but a consensus never stopped him from coming up with a different term in regards to "christotelic" on page 154. He prefers this term over "christological & christocentric"

He says:

"The term I prefer to use to describe this eschatological hermeneutic is
christotelic. I prefer this over christological or christocentric since these
are susceptible to a point of view I am not advocating here, namely needing to
"see christ" in every, or nearly every, Old Testament passage. Telos is
the Greek word for "end" or "completion." To read the Old Testament
"christotelically" is to read it already knowing that christ is somehow the end
to which the Old testament stroy is holding."

I'm sure he could of came up with a different term for what he was trying to say in regards to the word "myth". If one can get passed his ussage of the word myth then this book should be an enjoyable read.

I personally think Westmenister Theological Seminary made a mistake in getting rid of this man. I read about 70% of this book and I enjoyed it so far. It really is an enjoyable and insightful academic read.



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