Joint Statement by WTS and Professor Enns

Joint Statement by WTS and Professor Enns

July 23, 2008

The following statement is being posted per the instruction of Rev. Charles McGowan, Chairman of the Institutional Personnel Committee.

The administration and Prof. Peter Enns wish to announce that they have arrived at mutually agreeable terms, and that, as of 31 July, 2008, Prof. Enns will discontinue his service to Westminster Theological Seminary after fourteen years.

The administration wishes to acknowledge the valued role Prof. Enns has played in the life of the institution, and that his teaching and writings fall within the purview of Evangelical thought. The Seminary wishes Prof. Enns well in his future endeavors to serve the Lord.

Prof. Enns wishes to acknowledge that the leaders of the Seminary (administration and board) are charged with the responsibility of leading the seminary in ways that are deemed most faithful to the institution’s mission as a confessional Reformed Seminary.

Prof. Enns expresses his deep and sincere gratitude to the Lord for his education and years of service at Westminster Theological Seminary.

Past statements and documents

Statement of the Board – May 23, 2008
Official Theological Documents – April 24, 2008
A Communication to the Westminster Seminary Community – April 10, 2008
Message from the Board of Trustees– March 29, 2008

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37 Comments

  1. jeffhutchinson said,

    July 23, 2008 at 10:20 am

    This is good news for all parties, and God has been glorified. The Prince of Peace loves His Church, and has moved in the hearts of His people, brothers together in the Lord, in excellent and beautiful ways. May He continue to be merciful to all concerned.

  2. Stephen Welch said,

    July 23, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I am grateful for the way the administration handled this situation. They need to be commended for acting as swiftly as they did and for honoring the integrity of Christ and His church. I wish WTS / Philadelphia had the same administration in the days of Norman Shepherd. It would not have taken seven years to dismiss him from the seminary. May the Lord bless WTS/Philadelphia and may she continue to remain faithful to the Lord and His church.

  3. Stephen Welch said,

    July 23, 2008 at 10:34 am

    I am sorry, I forgot to add something to my earlier post. Thank you, Lane for the update and keeping us informed on this situation. Thank you to the administration for being upfront and candid, as much as they are able, about this situation. It certainly aleviates any accusations or rumors that often arise.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    July 23, 2008 at 11:34 am

    You’re welcome, Stephen, except that Jeff posted this, not me!

  5. Stephen Welch said,

    July 23, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Thank you, Jeff.

  6. chaos said,

    July 23, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    2. A very hearty Amen! SW.
    Sad but necessary business for the guardians of the good deposit.

  7. July 23, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    [...] information (but not much) is available at the WTS website. Discussion may insuse over at Green Baggins, where Lane has previously posted on this [...]

  8. ReformedSinner said,

    July 24, 2008 at 2:37 am

    #2,

    I do not want to beat on a horse that seemed to have been beaten a million times already, but once again I have to say Norman Shepherd of WTS is not as far out as the Norman Shepherd of 2008. During the time of the Shepherd Controversy one needs to note that Shepherd virtually receive ALL faculty support when the board asked the faculty for opinion (only 1 expressed deep concern and ultimately voted in disfavor of Shepherd, but the rest voted in favor of Shepherd.)

    Now had Shepherd still be hanging out with Gaffin and others who knows how he will develop as a Biblical Scholar.

  9. Elliott said,

    July 24, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Reformed Sinner,

    Who voted against Shepherd? Thanks.

  10. ReformedSinner said,

    July 24, 2008 at 10:27 am

    #9,

    When I was researching the Shepherd controversy during my student days there was a record saying the faculty voted 13-1 in favor of Shepherd. I never bother to find out who’s the lone one…

  11. GLW Johnson said,

    July 24, 2008 at 10:43 am

    I would refer all interested parties to A. Donald MacLeod’s biography , ‘W.Stanford Reid: An Evangelical Calvinist in the Academy’ ( McGill-Queen’s University Press,2004). Reid was on the faculty of WTS at the time of the Shepherd controvesy and also a trustee as well. The opposition to Shepherd was more than one! In addition to Reid in the church history dept, there was Philip Hughes and Bob Godfrey. Bob Knudsen in Apologetics ; O. Palmer Robertson and Meredith Kline in Old Testament , as well as Bob Strimple in Systematics along with the librarian Arthur Kuschke all strongly opposed Shepherd.

  12. ReformedSinner said,

    July 24, 2008 at 11:21 am

    #11,

    Thanks GLW for your inputs. However, is there a reason why they didn’t vote against Shepherd when they had the chance? The record certainly shows the official faculty vote was 13-1 (or 18-1, I need to dig out my paper from my basement.) I was as shock to find that out as you when I saw that.

    But like Carl Trueman says, a vote on the surface doesn’t really show much without parsing it.

  13. Stephen Welch said,

    July 24, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Thank you Mr. Johnson. There were many that opposed Shepherd and Palmer Robertson wrote an article on the Justification controversy as a result of the Shepherd issue.

    In reference to number 2, the Shepherd of 2008 still denies a covenant of works and the merit of Christ’s obedience to the believer. His book entitled the Call of Grace certainly does not indicate a change in his theology. Why did Shepherd transfer into the CRC, which has denied much of its confessional standards? He certainly is made to feel at home in this denomination.

  14. Barry Waugh said,

    July 24, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Referring to Gary Johnson’s entry, no. 11, Arthur Kuschke, initially, was at the point in the opposition to Shepherd’s views. His persistence influenced several to take a stand and deal with Shepherd’s views. In particular, he helped Dr. Clowney, the seminary president at the time, to see the errors in Shepherd’s views. I believe D. Clair Davis of the Church History Department should also be added to those holding to the historic, Reformed and biblical view of justification as expressed in the Westminster Confession and catechisms. There was also at least one student petition, I believe in 1979, asking the WTS faculty to take a stand on the Shepherd issue. Unlike the present controversy with Dr. Enns, the Shepherd controversy was slow to be resolved and hurt the seminary for several years after Norman Shepherd left the faculty.

  15. cdero said,

    July 24, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Sad indeed here are my thoughts on the matter at http://cdero.wordpress.com/2008/07/23/bitter-sweet-choice-peter-enns-resigns-from-wts/

  16. greenbaggins said,

    July 24, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Cdero, I think your words are quite intemperate, and your characterization of WTS borders on slanderous.

  17. ReformedSinner said,

    July 24, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    #14,

    Barry, I am not doubting your statement but I have talked with Dr. Davis often on the Shepherd issue, and I must say either he’s being very diplomatic with me or he is not as black-n-white against Shepherd as you put it.

  18. Jim Cassidy said,

    July 25, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    According to Cdero, Enns is needed to reconcile conservatives and liberals. Is it just me, or is that telling of Enns’ work? But what is perhaps most scandelous is the idea that we who believe in the inspiration and authority of the Bible need to be reconciled with those who don’t. Something just doesn’t sound right about that.

  19. cdero said,

    July 25, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    No, what doesn’t sound right is a Christian speaking against reconciliation between people with differing doctrinal views. I believe in the inspiration and authority of God’s word but don’t assume that everyone has to understand it as I do.

  20. its.reed said,

    July 25, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Ref. #19:

    Jim, I too had the same reaction. If I might be a little antagonistic, my gut reaction is what does the Church have to do with Belial?

    Of course, this is not to say that all folks in “liberal churches” are unsaved. Yet we need to remember that these denominations are formally pursuing the path to apostasy.

    For me the declaration that the Word of God is nothing more than the word of Man about God (i.e.,, denial of inerrancy) is effectively the gateway to Apostasy.

    In the end I believe Enn’s argument is an accomodation to errancy that ends up on other side of the gate. He’s not half-in, half-out.

    The believer has no need for reconciliation with those on the other side of the gate. Instead, we need to be calling them to the repentance of the gospel.

    I fully suspect that those persuaded of the rightness of Enn’s will disparage such convictions. Sadly, I also believe time will demonstrate the unwiseness of such rashness.

  21. its.reed said,

    July 25, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Ref. 19:

    Cdero, no need to re-hash discussions already held here at Green Baggins (you can past posts if you’re curious), but to simply observe that most of us who post here believe Enn’s doctrine of inspiration does in fact necessarily lead to a position that denies inerrancy, and therefore the Bible’s own doctrine of inspiration.

    It is foolish to argue for reconciliation between two such positions, as it is trying to reconcile how 1+1 =2 and 1+1 = 2.2. It just doesn’t work.

    Accordingly, your chastisement of Jim is unfounded.

    It matters not what is your view or my view of inspiritation. What matters is what the Bible’s view of inspiration – and whether or not our views match up with that.

    To argue for the possibility of fundamentally differing views, and all being consistent with the Bible’s is effectively to bow before the god of post-modernism. It is fundamentally a consistent Christian thing to identify such idols and to call God’s children to flee such idolatry.

    Kudo’s Jim.

  22. greenbaggins said,

    July 25, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Oh, but Reed, 1+1 can actually equal 3, for very large values of 1.

  23. its.reed said,

    July 25, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    thhhppptt :)

  24. ReformedSinner said,

    July 25, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    “Reconciliation”, “Come together”, “Unification”, “Love in unity”: these are so often thrown out to force people, and ironically usually the people in the right, to accept views from the left. Somehow there is something wrong with me for believing in the truth, and I am unloving, dead orthodoxy if somehow I don’t embrace the newest and cutting edge ideas out there. Yet it rarely works the other way around, that the cutting edge ideas could be wrong.

    For every Enns that calls for conservative to accept the “fact” that the Bible could be man’s mistaken worldview, I don’t see any liberals calling their brothers/sisters to accept that fact that the Bible could be in fact the infallible word of God. Somehow it’s always the conservatives that have to appese to the liberals, and it’s always the orthodoxy that have to “open up” and “embrace” the more “broad view” of the Bible.

    Sorry, I don’t buy it.

  25. bret said,

    July 25, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    that his teaching and writings fall within the purview of Evangelical thought.

    LOL…

    Everybody’s teaching and writings falls within the purview of Evangelical thought.

    LOL

  26. creedorchaos said,

    July 25, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    11 and 14: I live with Dr. Peter and Rebecca Jones. Rebecca is Dr. Clowney’s”favorite daughter” according to Peter. She has on several occasions mentioned the Shepherd controversy as one of the most agonizing periods in Dr. Clowney’s life. Apparently they were very close at one time. She said he was up nights for weeks trying to get NS to change his mind and to maintain unity in the faculty.
    ~chaos

  27. Bill Stephens said,

    July 25, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    #24 Reminds me of something I read in First Things:
    Neuhaus’ Law: Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.

  28. cdero said,

    July 25, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    I am not talking about reconciling views but people. Face it, there are people going to heaven that don’t have the same view as you do when it comes to scripture. We can agree to disagree and obey our Lord. For Christians to be against this kind of reconciliation is what does not sound right in light of the teachings of Christ.

  29. its.reed said,

    July 25, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Ref. 28:

    Cdero, your comments do not seem to be addressed at reconciling individuals, but positions.

    Further, if this is what you meant, then your comment to Jim was nothing more than a misguided cheap shot. If he wasn’t talking about what you meant, than a helpful comment would be to explain that, not take him to task for a failing he has not demonstrated.

  30. ReformedSinner said,

    July 25, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    I wish there is some scholarly research done on the Shepherd Controversy at WTS.

  31. July 26, 2008 at 9:58 am

    [...] here), others view this as a great day for Westminster and the cause of orthodoxy in America (see this thread).  I, for one, don’t really buy in to either of these perspectives.  I am not convinced, as [...]

  32. David Petersen said,

    July 26, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I am happy that a mutual decision was reached although saddened by the final result. In my opinion, the line drawn as to being “faithful” or “not faithful” is too restricting. I appreciate people who genuinely look at the problems facing my generation’s perception of Scripture. Though, I don’t entirely agree with Enns, I fear that WTS may be trending towards unnecessarily hardline views that are dominated by certain influential people.

  33. ReformedSinner said,

    July 26, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    #32,

    I disagree. When you have Gaffin (Union with Christ, Centrality of Resurrection), Poythress (Multiperspitival), Trueman, Tipton (WSC grad), Jue, Oliphint (strict Van Tilian) all agree on something it’s not “unnecessarily hardline.”

  34. Barry Waugh said,

    July 26, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Referring back to Reformed Sinner, comment 17, you could be quite right about Dr. Davis. My memory increases in fallibility as the years go by, but as I said, Mr. Kuschke exercised considerable influence on those who were ambivalent or in favor of Mr. Shepherd’s views. If my memory is correct about Dr. Davis, then I think Mr. Kuschke may have influenced his view over time. It is important to remember that the discussions and debate lasted for a few years including the judicatory work of the OPC and the faculty, board and administration involvement at WTS.

  35. Stephen Welch said,

    July 26, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    In response to # 32, those hardline views you state WTS is trending towards is called confessionalism, which is what the seminary should be.

  36. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    July 26, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Amen Stephen.

  37. cdero said,

    July 29, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    its.reed,

    I have to disagree with your “reading between the lines” interpretation of my post. Sorry.


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