Wayne Grudem’s 2008 Letter Regarding Pete Enns

Letter to Dr. Peter Lillback, President of Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, regarding Dr. Peter Enns:


Feb. 10, 2008


Dear Dr. Lillback,


I am writing, as a Westminster Seminary alumnus, to express deep concern about Dr. Peter Enns.


During my senior year as an undergraduate at Harvard (1970), I struggled to decide between doing an M.Div. at  Westminster or at Fuller.  After visiting both campuses I chose Fuller and attended for a year. But I found compromises on biblical inerrancy in class after class, and therefore, in order to learn more about a sound view of Scripture, I simultaneously read E. J. Young’s book Thy Word is Truth along with other books by WTS faculty. At the end of that academic year I left Fuller, disappointed with their departure from belief in inerrancy, and transferred to Westminster (1971).


At Westminster I received an incredibly rich grounding in Scripture and theology, and my years there as an M.Div. student (1971–1973) were more influential in forming my lifetime theological commitments than any other years of my life. I went on to get a Ph.D. in New Testament from Cambridge, but it was my Westminster training, more than anything else, that prepared me for the teaching and writing that the Lord has enabled me to do for the last 30 years.


Now I am writing to you because I have just finished reading the book by Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation (Baker, 2005). I find the book to be deeply troubling, for the following reasons:


Enns repeatedly delights in presenting interpretations of the Bible that make it appear more problematic and more filled with unresolved and irresolvable problems than it really is (pp. 72, 79, 92, etc.). He insists on translation options that make Scripture internally contradictory with itself (pp. 92-93), or simply false (pp. 54, 98).  He repeats the same kind of anti-inerrancy rhetoric that I heard at Fuller in the 1970s, characterizing belief in the Bible’s complete truthfulness as “defensive” or as coming close to “intellectual dishonesty” or as simply “preconceived notions” (pp. 14, 107, 108), but speaking of views that take the Bible as contradictory as “creative,” “refreshing,” and “listening to how the Bible itself behaves” (pp. 15, 66; see also 73, 108). He frequently represents conservative evangelical scholarship as unreliable and untrustworthy (at least pre-Enns), but, remarkably, he impugns conservative scholarship not by documented quotations but by using undocumented, straw-man arguments (pp. 47, 49, etc.). The overall result of this approach will be to lead readers to distrust both the Bible and much evangelical Old Testament scholarship.


He implies that he thinks there is no difference in the truthfulness we should ascribe to the Bible and to ancient Akkadian stories: “How can we say logically that the biblical stories are true and the Akkadian stories are false when they both look so very much alike?” (p. 40). It apparently does not occur to him that believing the Bible to be the Word of God (as I thought Westminster faculty we expected to do) is a very good reason for saying that the Bible is true, and the Akkadian flood stories are unreliable. He fails even to consider the possibility of God’s special revelation to Moses, and of his providential guidance and protection of the truthfulness of the records, so that the Bible’s stories of creation and the flood are absolutely truthful, historical and reliable. He gives no indication here that he thinks God was any more involved in the biblical accounts than in the Akkadian myths.


He says that “what makes Genesis different from its Ancient Near Eastern counterparts is that it begins to make the point to Abraham and his seed that the God they are bound to . . . is different from the gods around them” (p. 53). But this is in the context of discussing the category of “myth” (which he opposes to “historical,” p. 49), and so the implication seems to be that truthfulness or historical accuracy of the account is not something that makes Genesis different from other Ancient Near Eastern creation myths.


He says that “Genesis – as other stories of the ancient world – thus portrays the world as a flat disk with a dome above” (p. 54). But what is a reader to do with this? We know today that that view is false: the world is not a flat disk. But I do not see how readers then can avoid the implication that they should not believe what Genesis tells them about the world. Genesis according to Enns is simply untrue.


He claims that Hebrew (or an earlier version of written Hebrew) may not have even existed at “the end of the second millennium B.C.” (p. 51), and thus implies a chronology that makes it impossible for Moses (died 1400 or perhaps 1180 B.C.) to have written the Hebrew words of Genesis – Deuteronomy (p. 52).


Though the Bible directly quotes words that Nathan said to David, but with slightly differing accounts in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles, Enns says, “What did Nathan actually say? . . . . I don’t know, and neither does anyone else” (p. 66). The implication (from his following sentence) is that the Bible is not written to give us this kind of historical information, and that doesn’t matter. I take this to mean that accuracy in historical details does not matter. And that to me is the same as saying that biblical inerrancy doesn’t matter. (I don’t understand him here to be getting into a discussion of ipsissima verba vs. ipsissisima vox, but to say that even ipsissima vox cannot be known, and it does not matter. If his meaning was other than this, he did not make that evident).


He questions the uniqueness of the moral commands of Scripture (pp. 57-58) without considering the possibility that God’s moral laws not only resemble but also correct, supplement, and differ with the moral standards of surrounding cultures, because they are the words of God himself.


He implies that the Bible affirms a false idea, the existence of multiple gods: “We may not believe that multiple gods ever existed, but ancient Near Eastern people did. This is the religious world within which God called Israel to be his people . . . . We should not be surprised, therefore, when we see the Old Testament describe God as greater than the gods of the surrounding nations” (p. 98; he then quotes from several Psalms that talk about other “gods”). But he says the Bible does this in the same way parents might tell their children, “Don’t be afraid of the dark. God is greater than the Boogey Man” (which the parents know does not exist, p. 99). In other words, the Bible affirms the existence of other gods but this affirmation is in fact false. It apparently does not occur to Enns that these “other gods” are demons (Deut. 32:17) that did exist, but they were not true Gods like the one true God.


He says that attempts to reconcile the apparent differences between Bible texts, which has been the task undertaken by some of the greatest professors in the history of Westminster Seminary, and by many of the greatest evangelical scholars in the world at least since the time of Augustine, is “close to intellectual dishonesty” (p. 107).


He says, “It is a distortion of the highest order to argue that Jesus must have cleansed the temple twice” (p. 65). What troubles me here is not that he holds to only one cleansing of the temple (which I think is possible but unlikely, because of internal evidence in John), but that he so condescendingly dismisses what is by far the dominant evangelical position in NT scholarship for centuries (Luther, Calvin, Westcott, Leon Morris, D. A. Carson, Hendricksen, Tasker, and Köstenberger, for example). Are all the evangelical world’s greatest Johannine scholars guilty of “distortion of the highest order”? Such a sentence indicates to me a man who is embarrassed by conservative evangelical scholarship and looks for opportunities to disparage it. That is not a healthy thing for an evangelical seminary.


The result of a book like this is to undermine the reader’s confidence in the truthfulness and moral excellence of Scripture again and again. No matter what subsequent explanations or “spin” Dr. Enns may want to put on these words and others like them, the inevitable effect of this book on its readers will be to undermine their belief in the truthfulness of Scripture. I do not think that should be the goal or the result of any book published by a Westminster Seminary professor.


Even if Dr. Enns were to disavow or reinterpret the specific sentences that I quote, the overall impression I have of him from this book is that of a man whose deepest attitude toward Scripture is not  reverence and submission and awe at God’s Word (Isa. 66:2), but rather delight in using his technical skills to baffle students and lay readers with problems that they cannot solve, all with the result of eroding their trust in Scripture. That is deeply disappointing. Such an underlying tone and attitude are not appropriate for a Westminster faculty member, nor for any elder in Christ’s church.


I have been recommending Westminster Seminary to prospective students for over 30 years. But now I have decided, with regret, that I can no longer recommend Westminster. The reason is that any seminary that continues to tolerate a faculty member with Enns’s views does not, in my understanding, uphold the strong commitment to inerrancy that persuaded me to transfer to Westminster in 1971, and that Westminster previously upheld throughout its history. In fact, beginning next week, I intend to incorporate a critique of Enns’s book into my lectures on inerrancy for first-year seminary students, along with examples from the writings of Fuller Seminary professors.


Nor do I find Enns’ views consistent with the position of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (I was at the first ICBI conference and one of the original signers). Nor does it hold to the view of inerrancy expected of members of the Evangelical Theological Society, in my judgment (I am a past president of ETS).


I have probably participated in around 100 interviews of prospective faculty members in my four years at Bethel College, St. Paul, my twenty years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and now six years at Phoenix Seminary. I have always asked candidates about their views of inerrancy. If someone with Dr. Enns’s views had come to interview at any of these institutions, I would have strongly opposed him both in committee and (if it got that far) on the floor of faculty, on the grounds that he clearly does not hold to the complete truthfulness of Scripture. My sense of the faculty at TEDS and here at Phoenix Seminary is that any motion to hire Enns would lose by nearly unanimous vote. Under the guise of treating the Scripture “honestly,” and “as it actually is,” he in fact denies its internal consistency, its historical reliability, and its moral excellence again and again.


I am sorry to have to write this letter. I have loved Westminster Seminary and all it represents for many years. I hope that you will take the appropriate steps to dismiss Dr. Enns and once again make clear to the evangelical world that Westminster Seminary remains a stalwart defender of “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).


Sincerely yours,


Wayne Grudem, Ph.D.

(Westminster M.Div. 1973)

Research Professor of Bible and Theology, Phoenix Seminary

General Editor, ESV Study Bible



  1. jeffhutchinson said,

    April 27, 2009 at 9:44 am

    This letter from 2008 expresses the same sorts of concerns that Bruce Waltke expresses in the current WTJ article(s), and so I thought it would be helpful (since Dr. Walke’s articles are not available online) to post this letter here (available online).

  2. greenbaggins said,

    April 27, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Thanks for posting this, Jeff.

    Of course, lest anyone read this who does not have the latest information, it should be noted that Enns is no longer teaching at WTS, and that extensive discussions and investigations were going on even at the time of this letter’s writing.

  3. April 27, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Does Waltke hold to similar views as those expressed by Grudem here?

  4. pduggie said,

    April 27, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    ” But he says the Bible does this in the same way parents might tell their children, “Don’t be afraid of the dark. God is greater than the Boogey Man” (which the parents know does not exist, p. 99). In other words, the Bible affirms the existence of other gods but this affirmation is in fact false.”

    I think that is specious.

    If I say that to my kids, my kids are NOT warranted to say “Aha, so there is a boogey man! Dad tacitly admitted it”

    They should be more careful interpreters, and not such wooden literalists.

  5. Reed Here said,

    April 27, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    But we’re not talking about kids Paul, nor naive peoples with little intellectual acumen. In fact, aren’t we, at least according to ANE studies, talking about the “cradle of civilization?”

  6. pduggie said,

    April 27, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I don’t see that that undermines what I’m saying: then there is even less excuse for thinking “God is bigger than the boogie-man” is an (false) affirmation of the existence of such an entity.

    Grudem is wrong to, and shouldn’t, read Enns to be claiming that the Bible is affirming the existence of something known to be false as if the “affirmation” that the Bible gives to it is a lie, deception, is ill-meant, or unworthy of a loving, truthful God.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    April 27, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I think they would overlap to a significant extent. Certainly Waltke’s journal article in the Spring ’09 WTJ has some overlap with these concerns, although Waltke’s tack is more exegetical than Grudem’s ST concerns.

  8. Reed Here said,

    April 27, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Old territory here Paul. I think Grudem has (more or less) accurately represented Enns, and therefore the problems with his position.

    In that you (and others) think Grudem (and others such as myself) are wrongly understanding Enns, I’d argue that we’re dealing with post-modern influenced definitions (on Enns’ part), something more squiggly than jello.

    But, I’ll not persuade you, so let’s drop it.

  9. April 27, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    […] jeffhutchinson created an interesting post today on Wayne Grudem's 2008 Letter Regarding Pete Enns « Green BagginsHere’s a short outlineWe should not be surprised, therefore, when we see the Old Testament describe God as greater than the gods of the surrounding nations” (p. 98; he then quotes from several Psalms that talk about other “gods”). … He says that attempts to reconcile the apparent differences between Bible texts, which has been the task undertaken by some of the greatest professors in the history of Westminster Seminary, and by many of the greatest evangelical scholars in the world at least … […]

  10. pduggie said,

    April 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Grudem could probably make a more well-formed version of the same argument: I’m claiming the quoted words he used in his letter don’t go the distance.

    Sloppy arguments about people who are wrong (like Enns) don’t help much. I’m looking forward to reading Waltke on this; and particularly surprised to find Waltke a strong opponent of Enns. I recall Waltke getting hit by conservatives from Journey magazine for stuff that sounded rather similar to the criticisms of Enns.

  11. April 27, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I haven’t seen the new WTJ yet, does Waltke address the fact that he wrote a positive blurb for Enns’ book?

  12. April 27, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Indeed, this action clearly consigns him to at least 15 years in purgatory.

  13. April 27, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Are you saying that indeed he addresses it and says he has changed his mind?

  14. April 27, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Links on a Hot April Monday…

    Michael Brown at Pilgrim People has begun posting a series on worship and the liturgy that looks quite promising. It is a great introduction to how a Reformed Lord’s Day Services begins and why it is done the way it is. Take a look!
    Also, Green B…

  15. Jared said,

    April 27, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    What happened with Enns was a shame. I think there may be fault on both sides in the matter with a reactionary approach to Enns and Enns using purposefully challenging and inflamatory language. For its faults, Inspiration and Incarnation has some really great concepts (such as Christotelic reading of Scripture, etc). I think a pile on occured where cooler heads could have pervailed to ask Enns to clarify and perhaps retract some things rather than just fire him. I believe in inerrancy and think some of Enns statements were troubling, but the whole situation should be mourned and not celebrated in my humble opinion.

  16. April 27, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    I have not read anything he wrote about the blurb. We’ll put it this way, the WTS bookstore no longer has Waltke’s blurb on its website as it used to…

  17. Manlius said,

    April 27, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    It should be noted in that in their parting of the ways, WTS affirmed Pete Enns as an evangelical. I wonder if that also upset Grudem.

  18. tim prussic said,

    April 27, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Your kids would indeed be wrong to accuse you of tacitly admitting it, for your admission would not have bee tacit, but implicit. :)

  19. Vern Crisler said,

    April 27, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    What is disturbing is not so much Enns and his subpar views — which any seminary student should be able to see through — but rather that many Reformed scholars hold to the same conclusions, if not the same premises.

    How many Reformed scholars deny YE and global Flood? Enns appears to via a silly textual equivalence theory of ancient literature. Some Reformed scholars have their own premises, but still end up denying the truthfulness of Genesis.

    What is the real difference between Enns and these Reformed scholars when the hermeneutical margin calls come in?


  20. jeffhutchinson said,

    April 28, 2009 at 7:34 am


    Good question. Waltke does address that. Here is how he begins his article, “Revisiting _Inspiration and Incarnation_” (in fact, even the title of his review article speaks to how he changed his mind):

    “Professor Enns invites evangelicals to interact with his provocative ideas for sharpening theological discussion about the nature of Scripture. Upon my first reading I was struck with his commendable, unflinching honesty. Not allowing dogma to overwhelm data, he attempts pastorally to assist students who think the Reformed doctrine of Scripture is not viable. Enns holds with conviction the concept that both the Word of God as Scripture, and the Word of God as Jesus Christ, become incarnate: fully divine and fully human, as Warfield propounded in his concursive theory of inspiration.

    “Upon my second reading and more reflection, however, I questioned whether Enn’s answer helped doubters to keep the faith. This forced me to reflect more deeply upon the theologically disturbing cache of texts that Enns so helpfully collected, categorized, and then sought to resolve by his ‘incarnation’ model of thinking about Scripture. A model, however, that represents the Mosaic law as flexible, the inspired religion of Israel in its early stage as somewhat doctrinally misleading, the Chronicler’s harmonization as incredible, NT teachings as based on questionable historical data, and an apologetic for Jesus of Nazareth’s Messianic claim as arbitrary, would not be helpful to me in my theological eduction.”

    But, as Lane said, read the whole thing! Buy the issue; it is “hugely important.”

  21. greenbaggins said,

    April 28, 2009 at 8:20 am

    Jared, you are perhaps not aware of the two solid years of careful discussion and incisive debate that happened among the faculty before they fired him. Statements like yours seem to assume that the faculty didn’t even give Enns a chance. You need to talk to Trueman and Jue before you make statements like this.

  22. Jared said,

    April 28, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Indeed, the faculty did give him a chance and voted to keep him on staff. Do you mean the Board? I’m not siding with Enns, I think he was in the wrong on certain matters, but I did not think that the Board members denouncing him in public before he was let go was right either. I am not at WTS, though I respect it deeply, so others should know that outsiders indeed do not have all the information that comforts insiders, only seeing a silent Enns and a vocal Board. From the outside, that did not look good.

    Enns certainly was not a holy martyr, so from the outside, it just looks like a shame.

    Viva WTS

  23. dgh said,

    April 29, 2009 at 5:12 am

    Vern, is it possible for you to distinguish between Reformed scholars who maintain that the Bible teaches a system of doctrine while having reservations about a Young Earth, and scholars who do not believe he Bible teaches a system of doctrine and who do not hold to a Young Earth? Believe it or not, the age of the earth is not decisive to this difference.

  24. Steven Carr said,

    April 29, 2009 at 3:27 pm


    There is nothing shameful about a seminary board taking a stand for the truth. They did the right thing.

  25. Jared said,

    April 29, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    The end result very well may have been the right thing.

    Theology: WTS-good, Enns-bad

    Handling the controversy: Enns-good, WTS (Board)-bad.

    That’s all I’m saying. Many had reported the Board members denouncing Enns in public and in churches as a heretic, while Enns was silent through the process.

    But anytime something like this happens, we should not be proud in celebrating that we shot one of our own. A tragic necessity perhaps, but tragic nonetheless. Posting a letter from Grudem after the fact just seemed too happy about the event to me. Love your stuff normally though…I’ll shut up now…

  26. Bob S said,

    April 29, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    My estimation of Grudem went up immensely. Thanks for putting this up. One gets tired of all the prima donna critics of scripture and their defenders who are the only ones who have no axe to grind in the debate – as if they are blind to their own prejudices all the while they decry those of the orthodox.

    If you don’t believe what Scripture says about itself and prefer the ANE texts, fine. Go right ahead and teach it somewhere else than inside the church.

    But, but . . . .that’s discrimination.
    Yep, that’s what it is. As if those who discriminate against Scripture aren’t already guilty.

  27. jeffhutchinson said,

    April 30, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Hi Jared,

    You are right that there was nothing happy about the decisions that had to be made with regard to Pete Enns, but there has been (in my perception anyway), a growing clarity on the part of the Reformed community that his views of Scripture are unsound in some important respects. That was why I posted this letter. Hope that helps.

    (Also, I tried to keep pretty up-to-date on the actions of the Board, and haven’t seen any wrongdoing on their part. But that is not a topic for this thread so I think we are all agreeing to “shut up now” about the process and procedure questions! Thanks.)

    Kind regards.

  28. Vern Crisler said,

    April 30, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    dgh said: “Vern, is it possible for you to distinguish between Reformed scholars who maintain that the Bible teaches a system of doctrine while having reservations about a Young Earth, and scholars who do not believe he Bible teaches a system of doctrine and who do not hold to a Young Earth? Believe it or not, the age of the earth is not decisive to this difference.”

    Are you saying that Enns does not believe the Bible teaches a system of doctrine? Does he deny orthodoxy?


  29. John Paulling said,

    April 30, 2009 at 10:38 pm


    Thanks for the answer. That is helpful, and I will pick up a copy for myself.

  30. Ron Henzel said,

    May 1, 2009 at 4:44 am


    What’s the point of deflecting dgh’s question with your own? Are you trying to imply that he’s waffling on whether Enns’ doctrine of Scripture is consistent with Westminster? I think his question deserves an answer.

  31. pete myers said,

    May 1, 2009 at 7:24 am

    I was just reading through the wtj articles, and was pretty surprised by this whole thing. So thought i’d come on here and get some “live” views (with intrepidation, since I don’t think the internet is an amazingly helpful place for my godliness).

    Anyway… can someone please tell me where enns’ ideas appeared from? I mean, is a bit of a maverick, or, is he part of a trend at westminster, but perhaps just got a little too enthusiastic?

    Oh, and, I’m amazingly excited to be possibly training under carl trueman from september, who will be coming over here to the uk on loan from westminster, I believe. Waiting for the final call from my bishop this week to tell me if I’m in or out. Anyway… am I to understand that trueman had to get very involved in this whole peter enns thing?

  32. Richard said,

    May 1, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Hi Pete, are you at Oak Hill? Enns is doing some pretty good work, his commentary on Exodus is brilliant even if I do prefer Brevard Childs’.

    That aside, Enns’ position is similar to that of Bavinck’s and Kuyper’s but is really a development of them where he is asking, “What is Scripture?” His answer is certainly not a maverick one, and whilst I do disagree with him on some of what he says I do think that overall his approach is far better than the more ‘fundamentalist’ approach. Recently a minister said that to listen to ANE material in our interpretation of Scripture denies Sola Scriptura…quite worrying IMO.

  33. pete myers said,

    May 1, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Hi richard,

    I’m not at college yet, as I only had my anglican selection conference this week. I may be at oak hill in september, depending. Obviously I’m being encouraged to consider other uk colleges too, and it’s not prudent to make a formal decision to go to oak hill before I’ve received recommendation for training.

    I’ve only been reading the wtj articles on this… I have no other experience of enn’s work. Neither am I a natural witch-hunter. I usually like to try and enter into viewpoints and learn from them… which seems to usually make me the hunted. Lots of what enns had to say seemed to be pretty clever, and thought-provoking, and his basic argument that waltke – like all of us – is making exegetical decisions based on a priori assumptions feels compelling.

    That said… whenever I read any kind of theological journal the words of thielicke tend to circle around in my head like a mountain rescue helicopter on full search: “not everything that is intellectually stimulating is true or helpful” (to paraphrase). Enns also makes a few remarks that – despite his explicit desire to the contrary – complicate the issue slightly. For example the footnote at the bottom of p106 where enns puts forward the case for child sacrifice possibly having been an accepted practice in israel in the context of yahweh worship.

    Realising that there will be floods of ink to spill on the verse, it just feels hyperbolic, and, makes me wonder if enns needs to just rein himself in slightly, no matter how intellectually stimulating the consideration of a certain possibility would be.

    Which makes me wonder if enns basically represents one particular end of a spectrum of thought at westminster, and therfore, it would be interesting to read a slightly more moderate attempt to construct a thesis such as his… or whether the faculty was a little more polarised, and, I’ll just have to try and pick enns’ position apart for myself for the bits that I think are edifying personally.

    I apologise if the term “maverick” was emotive.

  34. Vern Crisler said,

    May 1, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Recall that I was comparing Enns to those Reformed scholars who deny the truthfulness of Genesis on creation and Flood. They reach the same conclusion even if they have different premises. It appears that dgh was attempting to make a difference between Enns and these Reformed scholars on the basis of orthodoxy (system of doctrine). He implies that Enns is somehow less than orthodox, but if Enns is still orthodox, then the distinction dgh makes is irrelevant to my own point.


  35. Richard said,

    May 1, 2009 at 1:02 pm


    Good luck with college selections, I understand that there is too much ecclesiastical politics to consider when applying…but that’s probably not for an ‘open’ forum. I hope it goes well! I hope to start the North West Ministry Training Course soon.

    With regards to child sacrifice; which book are you referring to? My copy of I&I doesn’t reference this on pp. 106.

  36. Todd Pruitt said,

    May 1, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Greg Beale lectured at WTS this afternoon. I was fortunate to be in attendance. Dr. Beale’s topic was Scripture’s self attestation of inerrancy in John’s Apocalypse.

    I commend WTS on their renewed commitment to be a confessional seminary.

    The role of integrity cannot be overlooked in this debate. It seems unreasonable to me to say that Pete Enns’ understanding of Scripture conforms to Westminster Standards. There are plenty of universities and seminaries that do not insist upon conformity to Westminster Standards. But this is fundamental to WTS. Any professor who finds that his beliefs no longer conform to WCF has the obligation to step down.

  37. Richard said,

    May 2, 2009 at 2:43 am

    Todd, How was Beale defining inerrancy?

  38. GLW Johnson said,

    May 2, 2009 at 6:16 am

    Well put. A whole lot of trouble and grief could have been avoided if ,once he discovered that he was out of harmony with the WFC, Enns would have notified his colleagues on the faculty and immediately resigned. Instead he tried to enlist both Warfield and Bavinck for support, claiming that he was standing in the Old Princeton/ Westminster tradition whle seeking to advance it. Both Bruce Waltke and James Scott’s recent articles in the WTJ are among a growing list of refutations of Enns’s claims.

  39. Manlius said,

    May 2, 2009 at 6:23 am

    Todd, it may seem unreasonable to you to say that Pete Enns’s understanding of Scripture conforms to the Westminster Standards, but did seem reasonable to the majority of WTS faculty (read HFC report). What gives?

  40. Ron Henzel said,

    May 2, 2009 at 6:47 am


    You wrote: “What gives?” It sounds to me like what gave out was the spinal fortitude of the faculty members who sided with Enns.

  41. dgh said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Todd, can you explain why WTS would approve an article in the Westminster Journal defending justification by works? Sure, the piece says that justification by works is subordinate to justification by faith (IN CALVIN NO LESS!!!). But it is another example of an OT scholar (not at WTS) playing word games with Reformed orthodoxy. If WTS were as confessional as you say, I’m not sure why that article would appear under its imprimature.

  42. pete myers said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:20 am


    good to be speaking to another conservative evan from the uk.

    i’ve only read the wtj articles on enns, and my reference to p106 was to the latest edition. from my limited standpoint, i like some of the questions enns raises (it would be useful to get a better idea of what does and doesn’t constitute inerrancy, and to have a more precise definition of the relationship between scripture and extra-biblical material). however, i’m not persuaded by enns answer to these questions

    my parents live on the wirral, btw, so drop me an email and next time we’re up in the nw we could catch a coffee.

  43. Manlius said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:24 am

    Ron, you and I disagree. I think the majority of the faculty actually agreed with Enns; it was not that they lacked the courage to oppose him.

  44. Ron Henzel said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:27 am


    You wrote:

    Recall that I was comparing Enns to those Reformed scholars who deny the truthfulness of Genesis on creation and Flood. They reach the same conclusion even if they have different premises.

    Precisely (although I have a major problem with your formulation, “Reformed scholars who deny the truthfulness of Genesis on creation and Flood,” which seems to me to be an exercise in petitio principii). But let’s also recall that you explicitly indicated that you find the denial of a young Earth and a global flood even more disturbing than Enns’ compromising of inerrancy. You wrote:

    What is disturbing is not so much Enns and his subpar views…but rather that many Reformed scholars hold to the same conclusions [viz., a old earth and a non-global flood], if not the same premises.

    [Emphasis mine.]

    And then you went on to equate those who have reservations about a young earth and global flood as “denying the truthfulness of Genesis,” instead of conceding the possibility of arriving at an old earth and non-global flood as the result of different hermeneutical approaches while vigorously maintaining the truthfulness and inerrancy of Genesis. I believe that’s what dgh was responding to, and I believe it was the point of his question which you deflected with your own.

    Is this really what you meant to communicate? Are the theological premises upon which we build our views really less important than the views we build on those premises? Are the only people who affirm the truthfulness of Genesis the Young Earthers, and are those who are not in the YE camp while upholding its inerrancy (and not merely in some formal but watered-down sense) really “more disturbing” than those who deny YE by means of sabotaging inerrancy?

  45. Manlius said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:29 am

    And if you want to speak of courage, what about the faculty that disagreed with Enns? What Enns wrote in I&I was no different than what he had been teaching since the mid-90s. I took OTI from him. I compared my class notes with the I&I book and there wan’t any difference. Why did Enns’s opponents wait for a book to published before they spoke out against him?

  46. Ron Henzel said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:30 am


    You wrote:

    I think the majority of the faculty actually agreed with Enns; it was not that they lacked the courage to oppose him.

    Which, of course, is far worse. Not to mention exponentially scarier.

  47. Ron Henzel said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:32 am


    You wrote:

    Why did Enns’s opponents wait for a book to published before they spoke out against him?

    I believe that point has been covered somewhere here. I’ll leave it to those who’ve been tracking the discussion more closely than I have to point out where.

  48. Manlius said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Ron, you’re right that it’s been covered – ad nauseum. But when on this very thread Todd gives the impression (and GLWJ agrees) that Pete Enns was some kind of lone crusader against WTS reformed orthdoxy, apparently this ground needs to be covered again. Sigh.

  49. Ron Henzel said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:44 am


    When did Todd or Gary use the word “lone”? I don’t recall anyone denying that the erosion of Reformed theology at WTS has been bigger than Enns.

  50. Richard said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Pete, It seems I was looking in the wrong place. Ok, I see what you are refering to; I certainly think Enns was unwise to raise that nugget where he did but I am not convinced he is wrong in what he said, it is conceivable that in the early stages of the worship of ‘el that, under Caananite influence, child sacrifice was practiced. That said, I am also not convinced of Enns argument on this. Whilst I agree with Enns’ direction I don’t agree with all of his conclusions, another example would be his take on the differences between the 4th Commandment in Ex. & Dtr.

    Let me know when you are up in the NW and sure, we could meet.

  51. Manlius said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:57 am

    True, they didn’t use the word “lone”. However, they gave the impression that it should have been completely self-evident to Enns that he was out of accord with Westminster Seminary and its interpretation of the Westminster Standards.

    From this faulty premise Todd questioned Enns’s integrity. (Todd: “The role of integrity cannot be overlooked in this debate…Any professor who finds that his beliefs no longer conform to WCF has the obligation to step down.”) Gary implied that the WTS faculty was unaware of Enns’s views, saying that Enns should have notified them. (Gary: “A whole lot of trouble and grief could have been avoided if, once he discovered that he was out of harmony with the WFC, Enns would have notified his colleagues on the faculty and immediately resigned.”)

    To me that all sounds like the issue was Enns and Enns alone, and seems to be “denying that the erosion of Reformed theology at WTS has been bigger than Enns”, as you put it. (Of course, I view Enns differently than you do.)

    My point is that it would not have been so clear to Enns since the majority of faculty sided with him. To question Enns’s integrity and the ignorance of the WTS faculty is just plain wrong.

  52. rfwhite said,

    May 2, 2009 at 9:44 am

    I am no fan of Enns’s thesis, but I expect we all agree that it’s a waste of time, if not worse, to attack or defend Enns or his colleagues based merely on agreement or disagreement with the man’s position. So I have a question: where do we find the evidence for the claims being made here, positive and negative, about the relations between Enns and his colleagues? I’m looking for sources, documents, preferably publicly available. Thanks for the help.

  53. Todd Pruitt said,

    May 2, 2009 at 11:44 am


    The erosion of inerrancy at WTS by no means belongs solely to Pete Enns. Like most drifts away from confessional orthodoxy it took time. Usually all it requires is neglect.


    I have not read the issue to which you refer. I promise however that I will. I am arguing that WTS is a confessional seminary but has unfortunately been drifting in recent years. That is no secret. It is why they have found themselves in this current controversy. However, it appears to me that they are correcting the situation. If Dr. Beale joins the faculty, it will certainly send a clear signal that WTS is going to practice what the Standards preach.

  54. Richard said,

    May 2, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Todd, but how are we defining inerrancy? Of the original autographs? If so check out this quote and borrow the book it comes from. :-)

  55. dgh said,

    May 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Todd, I have great respect for Beale. But Presbyterian is not the first word that comes to mind when I think of him. I do know that he has worked with confessional Presbyterians like T. David Gordon. So I wonder what you mean by confessional. Is that a confessing evangelical, or a confessional Presbyterian. There is a difference, like the one between Donald Grey Barnhouse and J. Gresham Machen.

  56. Todd Pruitt said,

    May 2, 2009 at 12:41 pm


    My understanding of inerrancy is in line with Warfield, Machen, and the CSI.

    Dr. Hart,

    I must plead ignorance on the full extent of Dr. Beale’s Presbyterianism. Since WTS requires their faculty to be members of a Reformed or Presbyterian denomination (ordination preferred) and to subcribe to the Westminster Standards I assumed that Dr. Beale met those requirements.

    Of course it appears that all of the faculty have not upheld the Westminster Standards in regard to inerrancy and interpretation of Scripture. Everything I know of Dr. Beale however tells me that he does indeed hold to what WCF affirms about Scripture.

  57. Manlius said,

    May 2, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Todd, is WTS thinking of hiring Beale?

    Last I knew, Beale was affiliated with the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference. I didn’t know Westminster could officially have a Congregationalist on its faculty. Would he be hired as a Visiting Professor (like the Anglican Philip Hughes back in the day)?

  58. Todd Pruitt said,

    May 2, 2009 at 12:52 pm


    It was announced at the lecture that WTS was interviewing Dr. Beale in regard to a full time faculty position in New Testament.

    WTS states that professors must be members of a reformed or Presbyterian denomination. That is a bit broad. However it is also stated that they must affirm the Westminster Standards. So you raise a good question.

  59. Manlius said,

    May 2, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Where have I been? I just did a little research and found that WTS announced the hiring of Beale about two months ago. Indeed, he is being hired as Visiting Professor of NT. I’m assuming, then, that he’s keeping his ordination with the CCCC. Incidentally, does anyone know his view on baptism? Ministers in the 4C’s can be either paedo- or credo-.


  60. dgh said,

    May 2, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Since George Washington was orthodox, can Anglicans at WTS be far off?

  61. Todd Pruitt said,

    May 2, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    I’m not familiar with George Washington’s theological writings so I cannot comment on his orthodoxy. So far I haven’t seen any Anglicans on the faculty at WTS. Of course I haven’t yet seen any Lutherans on the faculty at Westminster California.

  62. Vern Crisler said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Ron, many more will be misled by Reformed scholars who deny the truthfulness of Genesis than they would by Enns oeuvre. They can easily see that Enns is a big fake when it comes to believing in the Bible, whereas Reformed scholars are generally trusted.

    The same Bible that tells us of the history of Jesus, including his resurrection, tells us of shallow time creation, and global transgressive Flood, and world-shaking Exodus from Egypt. If these latter are denied by way of interpretive gymnastics, how long before the former is denied in the same way?


  63. dgh said,

    May 2, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Todd, the Lutherans are all the ones with Anglo-Saxon names.

  64. Richard said,

    May 3, 2009 at 3:51 am

    Todd, if there were never any ‘original autographs’ (a position which seems increasingly likely thanks to the work by F. M. Cross, E. Tov and E. Ulrich and others on the DSS) then the CSI falls to pieces.

    Further, it is increasingly evident that article 10 was simply wrong in saying “the autographic text of Scripture…can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy”, E. Tov says that (1) it is doubtful that an original autograph existed and (2) even if one did it is impossible to reconstruct it.

    Not only that, by saying “it is necessary to affirm that only the autographic text of the original documents was inspired” it leaves me wondering that, in the light of the fact that we don’t have the originals (if the ever existed in the first place), is this really a helpful doctrine?

    Ultimately we are left saying: “The MSS we have today is not inspired nor is it inerrant and the translations we have are also uninspired and errant, however the autographic text was inspired and inerrant but it may never have existed and even if it did we will never know what it looked like.” Isn’t clarity great!

  65. Richard said,

    May 3, 2009 at 3:52 am

    [Obviously, the first paragraphy should read: Todd, if there were never any ‘original autographs’ (a position which seems increasingly UNlikely thanks to the work by F. M. Cross, E. Tov and E. Ulrich and others on the DSS) then the CSI falls to pieces.]

  66. Richard said,

    May 3, 2009 at 4:00 am

    Scrap that, I was right first time…

  67. Ron Henzel said,

    May 3, 2009 at 4:26 am


    Regarding your comment #62: as one who has worked in a liberal seminary that nevertheless considered itself “evangelical,” I cannot disagree with you more strongly. I have seen, close-up and first-hand, the results of the denial of inerrancy—within the very generation in which it began to be denied, in this particular case. I firmly believe that more people will be misled into the same kind of deep, multiple, and abiding errors that are the inevitable fruit of denying inerrancy than by going along with the literary framework hypothesis of Genesis 1.

    If you look at the history of the spread of the biblical errancy position, it takes about a generation or less to infiltrate a denomination, it always takes down at least one other confessional tenet with it (e.g., penal substitution, reprobation, etc.)—indeed, that other confessional tenet is often the actual target, rather than inerrancy itself—and it inevitably results in a wholesale theological avalanche sometime in the second generation. We’ve seen nothing coming anywhere near this kind of doctrinal tobagganing since the introduction of the framework hypothesis more than a generation ago.

    I see you’re now tacking on the exodus to your list of things you fear are being compromised. Who exactly do you have in mind with this ever-expanding list? I’m not aware that Kline, for example, denied either the global flood or the exodus.

  68. Ron Henzel said,

    May 3, 2009 at 4:43 am


    You wrote:

    Further, it is increasingly evident that article 10 was simply wrong in saying “the autographic text of Scripture…can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy”, E. Tov says that (1) it is doubtful that an original autograph existed and (2) even if one did it is impossible to reconstruct it.

    This is but yet another classic example of confusing opinion for evidence by allowing a conclusion to stand in the place of an actual argument.

    Tov wrote: “…it is doubtful that an original autograph existed.” Translation: despite his use of the divine passive here, all Tov is really saying is that he doubts that an original autograph exists.

    Again, Tov wrote: “…even if one did it is impossible to reconstruct it.’ Translation: it is impossible for Tov to reconstruct it, because he presupposes that it never existed.

    So, ultimately what we are left saying here is that Richard can’t distinguish between prejudice and scholarly analysis.

  69. Richard said,

    May 3, 2009 at 5:04 am

    Ron, I am using Tov in this instance because his is cited continually by conservative evangelicals (e.g. Waltke) and is a highly respected specialist in this field. Hence if Tov believes that based upon all the textual evidence we have today, whilst the goal of TC is to reconstruct the Urtext he doubts he can then we should take heed, especially when this same concern is echoed by the scholarly community including F. M. Cross and E. Ulrich both specialists in the DSS. Ulrich asks in his The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible:

    …because the text of each book was produced organically, in multiple layers, determining “the original text” is a difficult, complex task; and arguably, it may not even be the correct goal. Historically, was there ever such a thing? Theologically, how do we decide which to select of the many layers that could claim to be the “original reading”?

    E. Tov has demonstrated that a number of biblical texts had multiple final forms, e.g. the vast differences between MT and LXX Jeremiah. He argues that this difference arose owing to multiple versions of the final form of the text being preserved. So LXX Jeremiah was written and circulated, then some time later it was revised, expanded, and recirculated. These second final forms did not always trump or erase the first final form therefore we have multiple, divergent traditions (summarised from John Anderson). So is LXX Jeremiah the original autograph? What about MT? What about Qumran?

    What are we going to do about two versions of Exodus (MT vs. 4QpaleoExod[m])? E. Ulrich discusses this in “Double Literary Editions of Biblical Narratives and Reflections on Determining the Form to be Translated”.

    I would also point out Exploring the Origins of the Bible: Canon Formation in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective edited by Craig A. Evans and Emanuel Tov.

  70. Manlius said,

    May 3, 2009 at 5:08 am

    Daryl, I hear they’re looking to fill the newly endowed chair of George Washington Professor of Wartime Providence Studies. The ideal candidate does not have to be Anglican, but he should be a Mason.

    You’d be perfect for this chair, Daryl. :)

  71. dgh said,

    May 3, 2009 at 6:49 am

    Manlius, I’m still holding out for the Machen Chair of Warrior Children Dogmatics.

  72. GLW Johnson said,

    May 3, 2009 at 7:28 am

    While we are on the subject, Robert Yarbrough has written a piece in the most recent issue of THEMELIOS, ” The Embattled Bible: Four More Books” which contains a good critical analysis of Kent Sparks’s ‘God’s Word In Human Words’. Enns gave Sparks the Good House keeping seal of approval ( and ,as Yarbrough mentions , a M.A.R. student who hopes to graduate), which is most revealing.

  73. Richard said,

    May 3, 2009 at 7:38 am

    There is also “How Far Beyond Chicago? Assessing Recent Attempts to Reframe the Inerrancy Debate” by Jason S. Sexton.

    Robert Yarbrough’s article is in the left hand column as well.

  74. GLW Johnson said,

    May 3, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Since it appears that you are up to speed on this debate ( I went over and read some of the items on your blog) do you personally feel that Enns’ s view on the doctrine of Scripture are compatible with the Westminster Standards? It is extremely difficult for me to see that that is the case and all the more difficult to reconcile Enns’s positive assessment of Sparks, who makes no claim to be the lest bit sympathetic to the Westminster Standards. Given that Sparks is not at a confessional institution this is not all that troubling, but in the case of Enns, he was at just such an institution

  75. Richard said,

    May 3, 2009 at 8:32 am


    Personally I find Enns’ view on the doctrine of Scripture is compatible with the Westminster Standards. I can certainly see why WTS took the action it did and I certainly agree that the trajectory of Enns’ thoughs may lead him to a position where he is unable to agree with a strict subscription to the WS, I would be thinking particularly about the extent of the canon in this regard. That said, I certainly think that Enns could work within the confines of the WS and I am not convinced he has stepped over that particular boundary yet…even if some of his statements leave me uncomfortable.

    As regards Enns’ positive assessment of Sparks, I think all Enns is saying is that Sparks is helpful in that he seeks to listen to historical-critical scholars and interract with them honestly. I don’t get the impression that Enns himself agrees with everything Sparks says, I know I certainly don’t. I would pretty much agree with Andrew’s assessment at Reformed Reader.

    In my assessment you have men such as Enns who see the great potential that the historical-critical has in enriching Reformed theology, and others such as Grudem who simply reject that historical-critical has anything good to offer. Waltke is a strange one, on the one hand he is conversant with historical-critical writers and makes use of them yet he stays within conservative bounds almost artificially, so in his OTT he treats Gen. 1-3 as a story but has Adam as historical. Indeed, in his article in WTJ his treatment of the fourth commandment was IMO more reminicent to the historical-critical method than Enns approach.

    Hope that is in some way helpful, even if you disagree.

  76. GLW Johnson said,

    May 3, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Most helpful – unlike some of Enns’s defenders who go foaming at the mouth mad if anyone dares to suggest that Enns is anything less than infallible. But, I must disagree. Enns, in my opinion has moved decidedly outside the WFC and as just away from the Old Princeton/Westminster tradition. The whole notion of unhistorical ‘myths’ that are nonetheless ‘inspired of God’ and therefore ‘inerrant’ would have horrified the Westminster divines and cannot be harmonized with Warfield and Machen’s emphatic emphasis on the historicity of Scriptural record.

  77. Richard said,

    May 3, 2009 at 10:01 am


    You touch upon some big issues here; (1) the Old Princeton/Westminster tradition, (2) unhistorical ‘myths’, and (3) the Westminster divines.

    1. Whilst I am not exceptionally widely read in the Princeton tradition (I’ve read some of E. J. Young and B. B. Warfield but by no means extensively) I have read more in the Dutch Reformed tradition and I certainly see a basis for Enns’ “incarnational model” in their organic conception of Scripture as found in Bavinck and Kuyper, i.e. IMO Enns is working within the trajectory of Bavinck and Kuyper,cf. this.

    2. Whenever the term “myth” is used it functions as a red rag to a bull for some evangelicals and Reformed so Enns defined it in a very specific way as “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?” As I have noted elsewhere this seems to me to be more a definition of an aetiological saga rather than of myth. But surely you would agree that, ignoring the term “myth” Genesis 1-3 functions as an ancient, premodern, prescientific way of addressing the question of ultimate origin in the form of a story? I am not sure what problem you would have in describing the story of creation in such a way. One of the problems I do have with some evangelicals is there equation of truth with history, i.e. unless something is historical it cannot be true. Such an approach would lead to odd conclusions unless of course we should believe that the history of Israel took place via chiasm. Even in the prose of Chronicles we recognise that the story being told is being told in such a way that the narrative isn’t strictly historical even if real events stand behind the narrative.

    3. In terms of the divines, yes they probably would be shocked at Enns’ arguments but would they if they had access to the same data we have access to now? In volume 2 of his PRRD Muller narrates the huge debates over vowel pointing where Owen was adamant that it was original. We know better, granted so did Calvin. Muller noted:

    The theological problem faced by late orthodoxy, including those late orthodox writers who accepted many of the results of textual criticism, was that the path from exegesis to doctrine had taken a methodological turn that removed many of the traditional dicta probantia from the realm of legitimate use….In addition, given the increasingly rationalistic approach not only to the text and its problems, but also – as evidenced by J. A. Turretin’s concept of accommodation – to the question of religious truth, the identification of multiple sources of biblical books, of unnamed authors and redactors, an exercise not at all theologically problematic to Poole, Henry, and other orthodox exegetes, became increasingly difficult to reconcile with an orthodox approach to doctrine. [pp. 145]

    In my search for a Post-Critical Reformed Dogmatics I have found Enns to be helpful, he has been asking the correct questions but not necessarily providing the correct answers.

  78. GLW Johnson said,

    May 3, 2009 at 11:14 am

    I don’t think the issues surrounding Owen’s insistance on the Hebrew vowels points is in the same catagory as labelling Gen.1-3 as consisting of ANE type non-historical myths-or as you prefer ‘saga’ ( a position that Barth is identified with). Question for you-is this understanding of Gen.1-3 ( that what is described in the creation account and the Fall, did not happen in time ,space history i.e. like the events of 9/11) – is this the way that Jesus and the apostles would have understood these chapters?

  79. Todd Pruitt said,

    May 3, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Dr. Hart & Manlius,

    You all made me laugh out loud in 63, 70, & 71 and I’m exhausted after having preached three times this morning. I like the idea of making masonic credentials mandatory. A Machen Chair for Warrior Children would be outstanding. The chair holder ought to be well armed.

  80. Ron Henzel said,

    May 3, 2009 at 12:05 pm


    You wrote:

    Ron, I am using Tov in this instance because his is cited continually by conservative evangelicals (e.g. Waltke)…

    This may be true, but it still does not address my point, which now seems further complicated by the question of what precisely is meant by the term “original autographs.” You and your sources seem to mean one thing by it, while inerrantist evangelical and Reformed theologians mean something else. For example, you cite Ulrich as follows:

    …because the text of each book was produced organically, in multiple layers, determining “the original text” is a difficult, complex task; and arguably, it may not even be the correct goal.

    But when the Chicago Statement refers to “the autographic text of Scripture,” “the original,” “the autographic text of the original documents,” “the autographa,” and so on, it is specifically referring to the Scriptures in their canonical form as recognized by the Protestant churches. As it reads in its “Exposition” section under the heading, “Authority: Christ and the Bible,” “Canonical Scripture is the divinely inspired and therefore normative witness to Christ” (emphasis mine).

    Now, if you begin with the assumption that the canonical form we now possess is the invention of later editors and redactors who have somehow managed to foist it upon us (which liberal scholars seem to think is the case with most of the 39 books of the OT—an amazing feat!), then you will tend to see every textual variant as evidence of that presupposition, but you will have yet to have lifted a single finger toward demonstrating it.

    The points you bring up from Tov’s essay on the LXX of Jeremiah and Baruch seem moot to me, since, as Dillard and Longman have pointed out:

    Tov (1981, 154) dismisses the skepticism that would deny attributing any of the additional material in the MT to Jeremiah; for example, he argues that the burden of proof is on those who deny 33:14-26 (absent in the LXX) to the prophet in whose name it has been transmitted.

    [Raymond B. Dillard and Tremper Longman III, An Introduction to the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994, 293.]

  81. Richard said,

    May 3, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Gary: My point re Owen was that his understanding of inerrancy and inspiration meant he felt he had to defend a position that in reality was wrong.

    Regarding saga, yes Barth called Gen 1-3 a saga, but as Childs notes, “Barth is certainly closer to the biblical text when he takes seriously these chapters as a form of historical narration through the special literary genre of saga.” He then quotes Barth as saying, “The special instance of biblical saga is that in which intuition and imagination are used but in order to give prophetic witness to what has taken place by virtue of the Word of God in the (historical or pre-historical) sphere where there can be no historical proof.” That is, there is an historical reality behind the story but not exactly as it is presented in the biblical witness.

    I am sure Jesus and the apostles would have understood these chapters in the light of the Second Temple Judaism in which they lived, the obvious question is “Does the belief system of St. Paul determine historical reality?” If so can you not see the irony? ;-)

    Ron: You say: when the Chicago Statement refers to “the autographic text of Scripture,” “the original,” “the autographic text of the original documents,” “the autographa,” and so on, it is specifically referring to the Scriptures in their canonical form as recognized by the Protestant churches.

    I reply: I don’t think this clears up very much, but may be I misunderstand; (1) are you using the term “canonical form” as a synonym for “final form”? (2) are you saying that there is only one final form? (3) If you answer yes to both 1. and 2. how do you deal with double literary editions such as 4QpaleoExod[m]? There does seem to be textual evidence of a plurality of final forms, keep in mind that the MT and LXX version of Exodus preceeds and differs from 4QpaleoExod[m] which the SP follows.

    Article XVI of Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics states that “It is proper to use critical techniques in order to discover the true text of Scripture, that is, the one which represents the original one given by the biblical authors.” There is here the assumption, which does not seem to be born out by the evidence, that there is only one original text, i.e. one final form.

    The CSI states “We affirm that canonical Scripture should always be interpreted on the basis that it is infallible and inerrant.” By “canonical Scripture” it means what? How does that relate to the MT and LXX, or, if you want a NT example, the Critical Text, Majority Text and Received Text?

    Oh, Dillard and Longman should probably check Tov’s work post 1981. His Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible was revised in 2001.

  82. GLW Johnson said,

    May 3, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Really? Does that mean they misunderstood Gen. 1-3? You know, Sparks contends that the apostle Paul mistakenly thought that Gen. 1-3 were to be taken as historically factual-as did Jesus- and if you don’t think that Jesus could be theologically mistaken then you have lapsed into docetism! Again, were Adam ,Eve and the serpent actually historical figures?

  83. Ron Henzel said,

    May 3, 2009 at 4:49 pm


    You wrote:

    I reply: I don’t think this clears up very much, but may be I misunderstand; (1) are you using the term “canonical form” as a synonym for “final form”? (2) are you saying that there is only one final form?

    To this I would answer (1) Yes, and (2) Yes.

    You wrote:

    (3) If you answer yes to both 1. and 2. how do you deal with double literary editions such as 4QpaleoExod[m]?

    I would deal with it pretty much the same way Tov deals with it:

    Little can be said with certainty on the supposed relation between the various pre-Samaritan texts. Their agreement in important and idiosyncratic features would indicate that one common text which was subsequently developed in various ways in the different manuscripts. An alternative model would necessitate the assumption that there was no common pre-Samaritan text, and that various scribes independently produced copies of the biblical text reflecting certain editorial-scribal tendencies. The large degree of agreement between the various pre-Samaritan texts, however, does not support an assumption.

    [Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, (Brill, 2005), 100.]

    What Tov calls the “one common text which was subsequently developed in various ways in the different manuscripts,” I would call the “final form.” In other words, the final form of the original autographs were not themselves subject to “double literary editions,” but were later altered in subsequent revised editions, and thus it seems to me that Tov would not go along with such statements as:

    There does seem to be textual evidence of a plurality of final forms, keep in mind that the MT and LXX version of Exodus preceeds and differs from 4QpaleoExod[m] which the SP follows.

    Do you really mean to say here that both the MT and LXX precede 4QpaleoExod[m] here? That seems to contradict your sources.

    But again, your conclusions and your presuppositions here are one and the same, apparently because Ulrich’s conclusions and presuppositions are largely the same. Not only is there no real analysis of evidence, there is no attempt at such, so your remarks about the Chicago Statement’s assumption of one original text not being borne out by the evidence is ironic in my view. As I see it, you have only spewed forth the conjectures of Ulrich here, who posits the MT as a later, secondary, longer, and rearranged version of the text (an “expanded-edition Jewish” reading, as he calls it), argues for more than one edition of the Pentateuch, and even extends his speculations to consider that 4QRP may be a third edition of the Pentateuch (see Eugene C. Ulrich, “The Qumran Biblical Scrolls—The Scriptures of Late Second Temple Judaism,” in Timothy H. Lim., ed., The Dead Sea Scrolls In Their Historical Context, (T&T Clark, 2004), 76-76). And for some reason, he thinks there’s no reason to believe that the Samaritan form of the text was in any way sectarian, which doesn’t strike me as very likely.

    Oh, and Dillard and Longman’s 1994 work, which I cited earlier, refers to Tov’s work through 1986.

  84. dgh said,

    May 3, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Todd, you earned a good laugh. I just hope it was holy in keeping with the sanctity of the day.

  85. Todd Pruitt said,

    May 3, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Dr. Hart

    I think it was it was sanctified humor.

    btw – I enjoyed very much “Defending the Faith” and was helped by “Deconstructing Evangelicalism”.

  86. Richard said,

    May 4, 2009 at 4:45 am

    Gary: It means that they understood Gen. 1-3 in a way conditioned by their own culture, just look at the history of exegesis on these verses both Jewish and Christian.

    As regards Docetism; I will have to trust you that this is the correct heresy. I thought Docetism was the teaching that Jesus did not have a real or natural body during his life on earth but only an apparent or phantom one. Not sure how what I am saying fits that … But on a serious note, I am not sure how we could determine what Jesus believed, however orthodox theology as found in St. Athanasius teaches that, as man, there are certain things Jesus did not know.

    Now for the question “were Adam ,Eve and the serpent actually historical figures”; I don’t know, but the literary genre is saga not historical narrative so that should help our determining an answer.

  87. Richard said,

    May 4, 2009 at 5:14 am

    Ron: I would refer you to pp. 169-180 and pp. 313-319 of Tov’s TCHB.

  88. Ron Henzel said,

    May 4, 2009 at 7:14 am


    I need you to be more specific. Why don’t you provide an actual citation that you think challenges my point, instead of simply referring me to 20 pages of additional text without explanation?

  89. Ron Henzel said,

    May 4, 2009 at 7:21 am


    Regarding your remarks on Docetism in comment #86, which were in response to Gary’s reference to it in comment #82, I think you misunderstand what he was trying to say, which was not that he was accusing you of Docetism, but that Sparks claims that anyone who doesn’t believe that Jesus was theologically fallible must be a Docetist. In other words, an occasional tactic of anti-inerrantists is to attempt to turn the tables on those who would accuse them of heresy by trying to associate the inerrancy position with a major, ecumenically-recognized heresy.

  90. GLW Johnson said,

    May 4, 2009 at 7:30 am

    It is Sparks that contends that Jesus and the apostles were conditioned by their Jewish context and thus could, and did in fact make not only historical but theological mistakes,i.e. they understood Gen. 1-3 to be historically factual just as they did Abraham, the Exodus and the rest of the events recorded in the OT. As Todd Pruitt can verify, Sparks charges that if you don’t believe that Jesus in his limited human capacity could misinterpret the OT and make theological blunders ,well then you are a docetist. If is indeed the case,what does the Holy Spirit actually do in inspiration ? ‘Inspire’ errors?And, mind you these are not minor ones either but enormous ones. Like when Paul says sin entered through one man (Rom.5:12) he got it all wrong if the apostle thought Adam was a real human being -or are we to believe that he is not referring to flesh and bone real ‘man’ but to a ‘Paul Bunyan’ type character who actually never existed? If Adam never did exist then he never actually sinned ( mythical figures are not actually accountable for their non-existent acts) then there can’t be any real imputation of Adam’s sin . The intended parallel between the first (non-existent )Adam and the last Adam, Christ breaks down completely-but this is no big deal, right? I mean it might matter to those grobians in the systematic and historical theology dept. but who are they? All that matters is the pure science of Biblical theology and the cold hard facts of presuppostionaless driven exegesis done with with the rigous paradigm of historical-criticism.

  91. Richard said,

    May 4, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Ron: Apologies, the first section is Tov’s discussion about the existence of originals and his nuanced support of an original and the second section is his discussion over multiple final forms which he accepts. I didn’t find your paragraph after your quoting pp. 100 of Tov to be that clear.

    In his book, Ulrich delineates eight different meanings of “original text”, I will type them up and then we can see whether we are using the term in the same way.

  92. Richard said,

    May 4, 2009 at 8:41 am

    1. The “original text” of the source incorporated by an early author or tradent (e.g., the Canaanite or Aramean stories incorporated by J)
    2. The “original text” of the work produced by an early author or tradent (J, Dtr, P).
    3. The “original text” of the complete book, recognizable as a form of our biblical book, as it left the hand of the last major author or redactor (e.g., the book of Exodus or Jeremiah).
    4. The “original text” as it was (in development form) at the stage of development when a community accepted it as an authoritative book.
    5. The “original text” as the consonantal text of the Rabbinic Bible (the consonantal text that was later used by the Masoretes).
    6. The “original text” as the original or superior form of the MT as interpreted, vocalized, and punctuated by the Masoretes.
    7. The “original text” as fully attested in exant tmanuscript witnesses.
    8. The “original text” as reconstructed from the exant testimony insofar as possible but with the most plausable conjectural emendations when it is generally agreed that no exant witness preserves a sound reading.

    Ulrich, E. (1999) The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Origins of the Bible Eerdmans. pp. 13

  93. GLW Johnson said,

    May 4, 2009 at 8:44 am

    Are you playing ‘dodge the hard questions’?

  94. Ron Henzel said,

    May 4, 2009 at 9:02 am


    I’m not familiar with the distinction between definitions 5 and 6 of “original text” in the list you supplied from Ulrich, but I can say this: although biblical scholars (including textual specialists) frequently (very frequently) attempt to do exegesis in a theological vacuum, the theologians who composed the Chicago Statement did not do their theology textual scholarship vaccum. They were fully aware of all the discussions that serve as background to Ulrich’s definitions, and were able to work with all of them depending on the context of the discussion.

    As far as what constitutes the inerrant text of Scripture, I think that, depending on the portion of the text in question (for some portions have transmission issues) they could accept definitions 3 through 8, with important qualifications (not the least of which being a rejection of the Documentary Hypothesis and its theoretical variants and relatives). In short, the MT gives us essentially the correct text of the autographa, with minor corrections available via other manuscripts.

  95. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 4, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Ron: #6 includes the vowels; #5 does not. #6 might also include the ketib qere (“thus it is written; thus it is read”) corrections of the Masoretes, while #4 certainly would not.

    These are legitimate, though minor, distinctions. So for example: I would feel occasionally justified in ignoring the vowel pointings of the Masoretic text. Many of the “alternate readings” that one sees at the bottom of the NIV come from considering different vowel pointings (or perhaps “one-off” consonants).

    I think you’re right to point out that the fault line occurs between #2 and #3. If we accept 3 – 8, the notion of “inerrant original” makes sense, with squidgy edges if we ask about things like vowels.

    But if we accept #2, then inerrancy gets more complicated. Perhaps not impossible — after all, Psalms and Proverbs consist of multiple sources, redacted — but much more complicated.

    Richard, what is your view of the Torah? “Essentially Mosaic”? “Essentially JEPD”? Something else?

    Jeff Cagle

  96. Ron Henzel said,

    May 4, 2009 at 9:29 am


    My brain doesn’t always function too well before I’ve finished my first pot of coffee, especially while trying to squeeze blog comments in between urgent tasks on a Monday morning. I should have caught the distinction between 5 and 6, but for some reason in my decaffeinated dyslexia I was reading the word “consonantal” as a reference to vowel pointings.


  97. Richard said,

    May 4, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Gary: I noted before that I don’t agree with Sparks’ arguments in total, in terms of charging his opponents of being docetist, well I think it’s daft. For myself, I certainly agree that it is plausable to have an historic truth behind the story of Adam. But I do think that you are painting a false dichotomy between either St. Paul is right and Adam existed and everything happened as per Gen 1-3 or there is no need for Jesus and there is no Gospel etc. Have you read much Brevard Childs? Try this and this.

    Jeff: I would see the Torah as essentially JEPD whilst allowing for some Mosaic content.

    Ron: It may be early where you are but my stomach is a rumblin’ for some dinner, I’ll think about #94 and get back to you ASAP.

  98. GLW Johnson said,

    May 4, 2009 at 10:24 am

    I am but a lowly pastor with a little advance training in the toplofty field of historical theology, but I have read Childs ( as well as a sizeable chunk of Barth’s CD) and I am of the opinion that it does matter whether or nor Adam was a real-life historical figure who actually did fall in a place called the Garden of Eden along side of a woman called Eve who was tempted by the serpent ( appears that the Apostle Paul did as well ,cf. 2 Cor.11:2; 1Tim. 2:13,14). No Adam, no Fall ,no original sin and no imputation of sin and Paul’s argument in Rom. 5 falls apart.This what happens if you deny the historicity of Gen. 1-3.

  99. GLW Johnson said,

    May 4, 2009 at 10:41 am

    P.s. Richard, do you agree with Sparks that Jesus and the apostles could-and did- misinterpret the OT and make theological blunders?

  100. Richard said,

    May 4, 2009 at 12:28 pm


    In my eyes to be “a lowly pastor” is the highest vocation there is. Historical theology is also a fascinating enterprise, Muller’s volumes are great!

    Give me Childs over Barth any day of the week! I’ve recently finished H. U. von Balthasar’s volume on Barth and have just started his Theo-Logic. I was listening to the Reformed Forum discussion with Kelly last night, very good stuff…I’ll certainly be looking out for his work. But I digress…

    May be it’s because I am an Anglican but I really do believe there is a via media between the two choices you seem to hold, either ‘fundamentalism’ or unbelief.

    Is it not possible to teach truth through fiction? I am thinking of Aesop’s fables in this regards. Not that the Bible is a fable, but hopefully to demonstrate that it is quite possible for St. Paul to use the story of the creation to teach the truth about male headship.

    As a general rule I would say that Jesus and the apostles didn’t misinterpret the OT and make theological blunders. If you have some “test cases” you wish to run pass me then feel free.

  101. GLW Johnson said,

    May 4, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    To accept the Genesis account of creation and the Fall as historical constitutes ‘fundamentalism’? Ok, then all the Church fathers, the great medieval theologians like Anselm and Thomas as well as the everyone associated with the Reformation-including the English Reformers, the Westminster divines and practically every significant Christian thinker down through the ages falls into that column.Richard, you on the other hand ,are perched out on a very slender branch with some very odd birds like Charles Briggs and other characters of his type.

  102. Richard said,

    May 4, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    I didn’t want to use the term ‘fundamentalism’ but couldn’t think of a better one.

    Assuming your claim is correct what we do notice is that all those on your side of the fence are pre-critical, so I would expect nothing less.

    As for the majority determining biblical truth, “Excuse me Mr. Luther sir, umm..yes well you know your ideas about justification…your exegesis disagrees with the Church Fathers as well as the great medieval theologians like Anselm and Thomas so I am afraid you can’t possibly be right…” ;-)

  103. GLW Johnson said,

    May 4, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Come, come Richard, unless you buy into Sparks’s snide assessment that contemporary OT Evangelical scholars like E.J. Young and my former OT professor at T.E.D.S. the late Gleason Archer ( who, by the way did his PhD at Harvard )are a bunch of ostrichs with their proverbial heads stuck in the sand, there are plenty of dissenting voices in the field of OT studies who do not share your views. Recently, the entire OT dept at T.E.D.S concluded that Sparks book was not ‘Evangelical’. So please, drop the hubristic notion that ‘real’ scholars know better than those premodern types like Augustine and Calvin.

  104. GLW Johnson said,

    May 4, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Oh, one more thing. You are begging the question in your concluding reference to Luther and his doctrine of justification by faith alone. There is significant evidence that Luther was not the Lone Ranger the Roman Catholic church tries to make him out to be.

  105. Richard said,

    May 4, 2009 at 2:22 pm


    1. Yes there have been a few good evangelical OT scholars but they have been few and far between.
    2. My impression is that some do act like the proverbial ostrich and others simply defend the party line rather than dealing with the evidence to hand.
    3. There are a few dissenting voices in the field of OT studies who do not share my views but I would hesitate to use the term “plenty”.
    4. I am not arguing that ‘real’ scholars know better than those premodern types like Augustine and Calvin but rather we now have more data with which to interact and whilst St. Augustine and Calvin are responsible for how they used the evidence at their disposal so we, who live with more data, are responsible for how we make use of it. If Augustine and Calvin knew then what we know now would they still have advanced the teaching they did? A rhetorical question of course.
    5. I know re Luther, but at least you got the point I was trying to make.

    Today has been a bank holiday here in the UK so I’ve been a little more active online than I would otherwise be….off to the day job on the morrow.

    God bless!

  106. GLW Johnson said,

    May 4, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    You have been a cordial fellow but when someone tells me that ‘ generally’ Jesus and the apostles are not prone to misinterpret the OT and make theological blunders-implying that sometimes they have-then pardon me but I think you have jumped off a cliff. I have placarded in my study James 3:1 ” Brethren not many of you should be teachers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly”. To have the audacity to suggest that our Lord and His apostles were ‘in the dark’ about the latest insights of contemporary OT scholarship calls to mind the image of a millstone strapped around someone’s neck.

  107. rfwhite said,

    May 4, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Interesting adjective, ‘good.’ What is a “good” evangelical OT scholar anyway?

  108. Ron Henzel said,

    May 5, 2009 at 4:22 am

    Dr. White,

    According to former Bultmann disciple Eta Linnemann, nowadays a “good” OT scholar is one who lays claim to the “scientific” investigation of the text while in fact only presenting intuited presuppositions. Using the word “science” in the sense of the alleged scientific approach to the biblical text, she wrote:

    Science as such is a bewitching system of self-realization and reciprocal confirmation. This state of affairs is clearly demonstrated by Samuel R. Külling in his German work, which may be translated, On the Dating of the ‘P’ Source in Genesis.

    The late-dating of the so-called priestly writing is, in the words of the theory’s mastermind, E. Reuss (1804-91), “the product of intuition.” Reuss passes this intuition on immediately to his students in the easily remembered statement: “The prophets are earlier than the law, and the Psalms more recent than both.”

    Before there was even an attempt to furnish proof, a student of Reuss named K.H. Graf (1815-69) internalizes this formula, which from then on determines his view of the history of Israel. That occurs, by no means, through an arcane detail of scientific work, but through a revolutionary overturning of formerly-held view points. At stake here was the question, in Reuss’ own words, “whether we ought to view the history of Israel as standing on its feet or on its head.” Warned in advance by his teacher of the magnitude of this “finding,” the student Graf at first places it on the back burner. Nevertheless, without being expressly propagated, its effects are perceptible as a background assumption in the books he authors.

    Although there had not even been an attempt at furnishing scientific proof—and even Reuss, the teacher, was content to make vague suggestions to avoid difficulties—the student Graf writes to Reuss, “I am totally convinced that the entire middle portion of the Pentateuch is post-exilic….” Being “totally convinced” is quite common in the area of “scientific” work and requires no proof. It draws from entirely different sources.

    This is clearly seen in Graf’s case: a review and an article which attempt to question his position serve only to confirm him all the more in his views. This confirmation comes, not through objective disputation in which he weighs opposing arguments, but through a decision.

    The finding that was passed from teacher to student is then interwoven with views of colleagues and thereby gains a broader basis. Various methodological starting points are employed, and the basic idea takes shape in varying clusters of questions. A process of reciprocal corroboration sets in, and a coalition forms composed of those who support the basic idea with their own thoughts. Even criticism no longer succeeds in hindering the process that is now in motion.

    What is striking in this process is the absence of proof. Külling states, “In the history we have sketched of the exilic/post-exilic dating of the ‘P’ source in Genesis, we seek in vain for arguments supporting its late dating. In 1869, the ‘P’ portions were assigned to the exilic/post-exilic era with one fell swoop based on literary-analytical grounds.”

    Not until later are arguments brought out to undergird the thesis, and then they do not deserve to be called “arguments,” for they consist entirely of unproven assersions and judgments based on personal taste.

    [Historical Criticism of the Bible: Methodology or Ideology? (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), 130-131. Linnemann goes on to discuss Wellhausen, and essentially repeats what she wrote here in Is There a Synoptic Problem? Robert W. Yarbrough, trans., (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), 21-23.]

  109. rfwhite said,

    May 5, 2009 at 8:24 am

    8 Ron Henzel, thanks for the citation from Linneman. As others have said and written, the scholarly community depends for its identity and unity on constellations of group commitments, on networks of shared assumptions, methods, standards, sources, and (yes, even) sanctions. With only the rarest of exceptions, no one is a scholar, much less a good scholar, who subscribes to inerrancy. Even ascribing authority to the text makes one liable to “excommunication” from the scholarly community or at least from certain discussions of that community. It seems to me that the “good scholar” label needs to be further qualified, as in “good for what?” At least, then, the term has more utility.

  110. David Gadbois said,

    May 6, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Re 108 – Ron, great quote. That style of argumentation reminded me of Foolish Tar Heel.

  111. Ron Henzel said,

    May 7, 2009 at 4:40 am

    Careful, David! I hear if his name is mentioned three times in a row he shows up to leave a blog comment.

  112. ReformedSinner said,

    May 7, 2009 at 5:38 am

    The question I really wanted someone to answer (if possible) is that did Peter Enns become who he is because of Harvard, or has WTS OT department set him off in the wrong trajectory that caused him to embrace historical criticism?

    I’ve learned under the late Al Groves and he doesn’t strike me to have such tendencies as Enns. Dillard/Longman?

  113. ReformedSinner said,

    May 7, 2009 at 6:11 am

    The real issue with Peter Enns is that I don’t think Peter Enns defines incarnation the way the Bible defines it. When the Bible highlights Jesus’ incarnation, it is to highlight that despite the fact Jesus is genuinely human, but His incarnation also means Jesus is perfect, sinless, and yes, inerrant/infallible in His Words and Deeds. The Incarnation model revealed by the Bible is not to highlight the “messiness” of Jesus. Unfortunately, I think Peter Enns has went to the direction of Ebionite Christology rather than the one formulated by Chalcedon.

  114. GLW Johnson said,

    May 7, 2009 at 6:27 am

    While I was a student at WTS none of the kind of stuff Enns has been promoting was espoused by anyone in the Biblical studies dept.-and that included Dillard , Longman and Walkte. Nobody was using the incarnation as a way to accent the human ( fallible) element in explaining the doctrine of inspiration.

  115. Todd Pruitt said,

    May 7, 2009 at 7:37 am

    The incarnational analogy, as used by Enns and Sparks, is hopelessly flawed. For one thing, the incarnation was a unique event. It was not repeated outside of Jesus’ advent. Also, as has already been mentioned, the incarnation meant that God’s perfections were found in human flesh. When Jesus spoke He spoke with all the authority and perfection of God. His words were God’s words. In Christ all God’s fullness dwealt in bodily form.

    But this is exactly what Enns, Sparks, etc deny about Scripture. They use the incarnational anaology to support the idea that Scripture errs. Kent Sparks goes so far as to say that Jesus erred and made mistakes. At least the man’s consistent.

  116. Richard said,

    May 7, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Gary: I nuanced my statement with the “generally” because I was talking about a general principle; as for specific examples, I am not sure I could find any errors of St. Paul or Jesus, Paul seems to interpret the OT in the light of the great Christ-event. Ratzinger in his God’s Word: Scripture, Tradition, Office notes quite perceptively:

    a. There is an Old Testament theology of the Old Testament, which the historian ascertains within the Old Testament and which has of course already developed a number of overlapping layers even there, in which old texts are reread and reinterpreted in the light of new events. The phenomenon of texts growing and developing in new situations, of revelation developing through a new interpretation of the old, quite substantially shapes the inner structure of the Old Testament itself.

    b. There is a New Testament theology of the Old Testament, which does not coincide with the Old Testament’s own inner theology of the Old Testament, though it is certainly linked to it in the unity of the analogia fidei. We could perhaps on this basis even say in a new way what the analogia fidei between the testaments means. As we said, the New Testament theology of the Old Testament is not in fact identical with the Old Testament’s own inner theology of the Old Testament, as it can be historically discerned; rather, it is a new interpretation, in the light of the Christ-event, which is not produced by mere historical reflection on the Old Testament alone. By effecting such a change in interpretation, it is not however doing anything completely foreign to the nature of the Old Testament, approaching it only from the outside; rather, it is continuing the inner structure of the Old Testament, which itself lives and grows through such reinterpretations.

    Tod: Like all analogies Enns’ breaks down when pushed too far but I think you are misrepresenting his position here. I certainly would accept that at times Enns’ could have been clearer but his point does not seem to differ from Bavinck’s who notes in Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena that “The revelation of God is not abstractly supernatural but has entered into the human fabric, into persons and states of beings, into forms and usages, into history and life. It does not fly high about us but descends into our situation; it has become flesh and blood, like us in all things except sin.” He goes on, “The human has become an instrument of the divine; the natural has become a revelation of the supernatural”.

    Enns’ strength is his noting that we study the Bible “not to determine whether the Bible is God’s word, but to see more clearly how it is God’s word”. By recognising that the Scripture is human (as well as divine) and functions a la Chalcedon we are able to approach the text from a different position and this gets us some way past the old conservative-liberal dichotomy which were both guilty of asking the wrong questions.

    I have found Hans Frei’s Eclipse of Biblical Narrative incredibly insightful in this regard.

  117. Elder Hoss said,

    May 7, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Richard – Whatever value one may glean from Hans Frei, or other of his Yale colleagues such as Childs or Lindbeck, does it not disturb you rather profoundly that most of these very same voices wind up either explaining away or dismissing central tenets of the Christian faith – THE VERY TENETS AFFIFRMED AT A NICEA or CHALCEDON, the assertions of which are being now cited as a justification for Enns is “incarnational” view of Scripture.

    For example, did Frei or Childs, or did (then) Cardinal Ratzinger affirm the exclusivity of Christ as the sole way to the Father, or the ethical imperatives of the pastoral epistles as something other than, say, relativistic Grecian codes. Where were they on women’s ordination as well?

    Trajectory arguments doubtless have problems, but consider the trajectory of Fuller Seminary, perhaps the most prominent of formerly Conservative seminaries who have jettisoned what would be considered by probably most here as a high/inerrantist view of Scripture. Now at Fuller, one can take courses which speak not of the exclusivity of Jesus as the sole hope of men’s salvation, but rather, of “Christian-Muslim Dialogue”.

    Exclusivity of Christ as the sole Way to the Father, final judgment of righteous and wicked, binding character of apostolic moral exhortations, ordination to the pastorate – just take a gander at recent church history..Vague notions of Scriptural Inspiration “domino” or “ripple” in some or all of these areas. Just witness the formerly conservative seminaries of the late 1800’s which later became the bastions for the Social Gospel, Liberation Theology, Sodomite and “Womanyst” Theology, and on it goes.

    Enns to his credit probably recoils from such implications, but I would suggest this is a blessed inconsistency on his part.

    Sure a Conservative/Liberal divide has existed. Part of this can be accounted for the fact of apostasy in/from the Kingdom of God. Of course, if people want to see fit to build upon the Hegelian presuppositions of a Wellhausen, or F.C. Bauer or other such heretics, they may have at it. But let’s not call such attempts “Reformed” even in the more broad sense. It is to be feared that such efforts are more often a reflection of syncretism, and – sadly – of scholars who appear more eager to curry favor with this or that guild than they are with the Master Himself.

    Surely though, we are better off offending men than risking the divine displeasure in the last Day when the Head of the Church will examine our earthly labors ministrations with eyes as a flame of fire.

  118. Ron Henzel said,

    May 7, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Good words, Elder Hoss! I hope they have the impact they deserve.

  119. May 7, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    I agree Hoss. The irony is that we have the entirety of the 19th and 20th centuries to exhibit where this mediating bibliology leads. These proposals appear new only because they new to a generation of youthful seminarians unacquainted with their bitter fruits.

    Francis Schaffer’s 1984 critique of prospective evangelicalism looks more brilliant by the year. The young evangelicals — including some of the Reformed — have made a prophet out of him.

  120. Ron Henzel said,

    May 7, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    I think I feel a chorus of “Kumbaya” coming on.

  121. Todd Pruitt said,

    May 7, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    I am missing your point with Bavinck. You cannot possibly mean to imply that Bavinck’s affirming what all orthodox believers affirm about Scripture is in any way the same as Enns’ use of the incarnational analogy. Bavinck did not conclude that the human dimension of Scripture consisted of myth (error).

    Also, we do not study Scripture to see how it is God’s Word. We study Scripture because it is God’s speech to us. By His Word we know Him. By means of His Word we come to faith and are sanctified.

    Elder Hoss,
    You beat me to the punch! When Richard uses Frei, etc. as his examples he is proving the point.

  122. GLW Johnson said,

    May 8, 2009 at 7:16 am

    Me and Elder Hoss are school yard buddies now.

  123. dgh said,

    May 8, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Gary, didn’t you mean bullies? (Can’t let the feelings of being warm and filled linger too long.)

  124. Todd Pruitt said,

    May 8, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Dr. Hart,

    You should always wait at least 10 seconds before hitting the “submit comment button.” Would you like a mulligan?

  125. greenbaggins said,

    May 8, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Wow, a thread that has not devolved into name-calling, but has considerate, polite argumentation as the basis! I’m sincerely amazed (happily so).

  126. greenbaggins said,

    May 8, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Todd, DGH is being facetious, as he often is.

  127. Todd Pruitt said,

    May 8, 2009 at 8:45 am

    I am just a lowly pastor who has enjoyed some of Dr. Hart’s books. I am just wondering why he so often seems so, I don’t know…grouchy.

  128. GLW Johnson said,

    May 8, 2009 at 9:07 am

    DGH grouchy? No, he is just a Phillie fan who is none to please with what just happened in NY.

  129. Richard said,

    May 8, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Elder Hoss: One of the great benefits of Ratzinger’s book God’s Word: Scripture, Tradition, Office is his essay on the historical-critical method, it really echoes Fitzmyer’s point (possible the other way around as I can’t remember which was published first) that the historical-critical method can be helpful or harmful depending upon the underlying presuppositions one begins with, i.e. the tool is neutral but the practitioner isn’t. So of course when Wellhausen used the method with his Hegellian presuppositions (whatever that is, philosophy wasn’t my major) he will arrive at different conclusions than someone like Enns who starts out with different presuppositions. I hope this answers your “a blessed inconsistency” point.

    Tod: I’ll respond on the morrow, its been a long day.

  130. Elder Hoss said,

    May 8, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Richard – I would certainly not discount the utility of those voices within biblical criticism who nonetheless hold to (even woefully) defective views of Scriptural authority (Eichrodt, one of Childs’ mentors, is an OT theologian par excellans). The spoils of Egypt are “spoils” all the same. How about the giant Raymond Brown on John, or Gordon Fee on “Jesus and the People of God”?

    The difference here though, is that we just shouldn’t condone their being professors/adjuncts at Reformed-Confessional seminaries who hold to a “crucifixional” view of Scripture (did you like that moniker? It’s my rejoinder to the silly Emergent talk about being “missional”, or to Enns’ “Incarnational” terminology – A “crucifixional” view of Scriptural Authority is one which assumes that the most offensive view, the one most likely to engender skandalon, ala the scandal of the cross, is the correct one).

    Oscar Cullmann was a genius (a devastating critic of the heretic Bultmann, for one). So was Jeremias. However, Cullmann or Jeremias really did not belong at Westminster East, or say, Concordia (Concordia did a fine job in the early 70’s clearing out the defective brushwood texts which argued for the Fuller-esque view of Scripture – a LCMS brother shared this with me in graduate school and believed the seminary/denominated arrested it’s impending trainwreck through such a mid-course correction).

    My bone in part is that Enns’ ideas have consequences. These consequences might be received with open arms at Pontifical University, or other such institutions. They ought not be by the confessional Reformed, even when we understood that category in the broadest sense.

    GLW – “Schoolyard buddies” because we share an Inerrantist view of Scripture? I would have thought that our shared participation in the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord would have placed us in even more blessed position than that of “schoolyard buddies” – “brothers” to be precise, no? The gospel is alot bigger than our dogmatic assertions, even ones about the precise understanding of II Tim. 3:16.

    Andrew – Schaeffer was prophetic in his call on Evangelicalism. I can only wish the Reformed listened to him about STATISM as well. Public schools are a greater threat to my covenant offspring than the “Evangelical” heretics prancing around on TBN.

    Ron – You had one of the greatest lines ever at RefCath re “envisioning Elder Hoss residing at Pebble Beach”. This trumps your other missives, by far. May the Lord bless you and yours!

  131. GLW Johnson said,

    May 9, 2009 at 6:00 am

    Somebody get me a hanky. I am getting all teary-eyed- I think I know who Elder Hoss really is. Don’t worry EH, your true identity is safe with me.

  132. Richard said,

    May 9, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Tod: My point regarding Bavinck is that his organic view of inspiration is very helpful and a welcome antidote to most pre-critical views of how inspiration and inerrancy work, indeed he argued

    Consequently, and in the first place, the different in language and style, in character and individuality, that can be discerned in the books of the Bible has become perfectly explicable. In the past, when a deeper understanding was lacking, this difference was explained in terms of the will of the Holy Spirit. Given the organic view, however, this difference is perfectly natural. Similarly, the use of sources, the authors’ familiarity with earlier writings, their own inquiries, memory, reflection, and life experience are all included, not excluded, by the organic view.

    I am arguing that Bavinck’s position is the trajectory in which Enns is working, I have read books by conservative evangelicals of the past, and some even now, who reject outright that one can find different sources in the Bible. “Ha” they cry, “those old liberals are completely wrong”. This is not how Bavinck or Kuyper interacted with biblical criticism, both said “Actually the ‘liberals’ have noted something correct, i.e. the use of sources, where they err is that they think this disproves inspiration etc.” Nowadays most conservative evangelicals will allow for sources in the Bible even if in ages past they would have been denounced by denounced by that same group.

    We in the Reformed tradition today ought follow the example of Bavinck and Kuyper in how they interracted with the evidence and allowed the biblical evidence to shape their theology.

    Even if Bavinck did not conclude that the human dimension of Scripture allowed for error we need to first treat the Bible for what it is. Until we know how the Bible is God’s word we will be unable to hear it correctly.

    The Word of God is a mediated word, the word did not drop from the sky but has come to us through God’s dealings with his covenant people. We learn that God delivers his people through his act of the exodus but to argue that the Exodus narrative is simply an historical narration of the bare facts of the exodus is an attempt at saying “This is what the Bible should be”. Such is the great genius of Childs’ project, he has opened up to me the importance of reading the Bible on its own terms.

    Gary: I know you worry that in jettisoning the historicity of Gen. 2-3 one denies the Gospel, to support my claim to the contrary I would commend to you Campbell and O’Brien’s explanation of Noth’s understanding of J:

    The Yahwist’s purpose in assembling this rich and varied material was to proclaim that Israel was the LORD’s chosen mediator to bring salvation and blessing to the troubled humanity described in Genesis 2-11. Genesis 12:1-3, in which this divine purpose is first proclaimed as blessing for Abraham and for “all the families of the earth,” is a pivotal text in the Yahwist narrative. It looks forward to the story of Israel as the blessed nation and source of blessing. At the same time, it looks back to the story of humanity in need of blessing.

  133. ReformedSinner said,

    May 9, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Dear Richard, you cannot have both the carrot and the cake. On the one hand you think Enns is following Bavinck, and yet you think Bavinck doesn’t go far enough. Yet Bavinck’s position is clear: the Bible at the end of the day cannot err because it’s Inspired by God, the being that doesn’t err. Unless you want to argue Bavinck is inconsistent or himself have erred, then you cannot conclude Enns is following Kuyper and Bavinck.

    Also, you seem to confused the organic view of Scripture with Enns view. Organic view do take into the account of human writers backgrounds as you noted, however, the end product is still God’s perfect word. At least that’s what Bavinck argues, Bavinck never objectively denies the perfection of Inspired Scripture, to him it’s not just a matter of subjective faith, but objectively defensible. Enns argues completely in the opposite direction: becasue we can see “evidence” that the Bible is “messy” and sometimes clearly in the wrong, we just have to fess up and recognize the Bible is messy and contradictory. But that’s ok, no biggie, we still “believe” it’s God’s Word so therefore it is God’s Word.

    At the end of the day Enns “trajectory” is too extreme in the sense that not only does he want readers to appreciate “messiness” and “contradictions”, but he actively looks for messiness and contradictions and use this as paradigm to judge all of Scripture. Any explanation that looks like “harmony” or coherence for be blasted by him as evangelical dishonesty and not “reading the Bible right” – at the end of the day contrary to many Enns fans that claim his book liberates and brings dialogue, but for me and many others his book sounds very arrogant and seeks to pick a fight with the Evangelical scholarship.

  134. Ron Henzel said,

    May 9, 2009 at 7:00 pm


    You wrote:

    Until we know how the Bible is God’s word we will be unable to hear it correctly.

    So until we understand the process, we can’t understand the product? Is this intended as an exercise in hermeneutical absurdity, or epistemological non sequitir, or both?

  135. Richard said,

    May 10, 2009 at 10:04 am

    ReformedSinner: I am not saying that Enns is following Bavinck and Kuyper but rather he is well within their trajectory of thought.

    In his Evangelical Theology A. A. Hodge wrote:

    We freely admit that many errors have crept into the sacred text as it exists at present; although none of these errors, nor all of them together, obscure one Christian doctrine or important fact. In order to make good the objection of the critics, it is necessary that they show that the discrepancy exists when the clearly ascertained original text of Scripture is in question.

    Hodge’s argument seems to be that there are errors in the texts we have available today which is all I would say. He then simply dismisses the critic’s view by implying that no such errors will be found in the original text, but of course we don’t actually have it and we can’t get back to it so Hodge’s argument is hardly based upon any actual evidence. Ok, so I’ve had my rant at Hodge…i.e. any ‘error’ can simply be dismissed as a copyist error rather than an ‘original error’ but no evidence can ever be forthcoming as we don’t possess the originals, bit of a catch 22.

    Ron: Do you believe that the history of Israel took place in a chiastically and which the Chronicler simply recorded or is chiasm a literary device used by the Chronicler? Of course the latter, the recording of Israel’s history is not a strict narrative giving the objective facts but rather it’s a theological treatise with a central point and the point is clearly different in the accounts given by the Deuteronomist and the Chronicler. But then of course we have the greater question of what constitutes history writing in the ANE, if we find recorded in 2 Kings that x number of horses went off are we to understand that as a fact? How did the writer learn about these numbers? Did the Deuteronomist use sources? If so were they inerrant? If so who wrote them?

    Far better is Barr:

    We have seen that scripture emerged from the tradition of the people of God. Now there is no reason why we should say that scripture, i.e. the final written product, is inspired byGod but the stages which led up to it, in which the important decisions were take, the stages of oral tradition and the like, were not inspired by God. So inspiration would have to be understood in the sense that God in his Spirit was in and with his people in the formation, transmission, writing down and completion of their tradition and its completion and fixation as scripture. In this process the final stage, the final fixation, was the least important rather than the most important. Now this helps us with another question: is the authority really the authority of the books as books, or is it the authority of the persons who wrote the book and the persons about whom they are written? Do we believe Romans because, being scripture, it is authoritative, or do we believe it because it was by St Paul who as a person was authoritative? In the way I have put the matter, it is not necessary to make the choice an absolute one. Authority resides in the people of God, or perhaps more correctly in the central leadership of the people of God; but it also resides in the scripture which they formed and passed on to later generations as their own communication, as the voice which they wanted to be heard as their voice. The grounding of scripture is in the history of tradition within Israel and the earliest church.


    Scripture arose out of the traditions of the community. Certainly it contained various speeches made to the community by representatives of God, such as the prophets, who formed ina way the paradigm case for the idea of a Word of God addressed to the hearing people, and indeed in narrative passages it cited speeches literally made by God himself, or so depicted. But much of it, equally, was the community’s address to God. It was Israel who sang the Psalms to God, not God who addressed them to Israel. God did not tell Israel how many kings there had been in the land of Edom (Gen. 36), nor did he have to intervene to tell that Jehoshaphat began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel (I Kings 22.41); they knew this already, things of this kind were normal human information. And, more important, scripture was not created by a totally special act of God through a very small number of inspired writers: it came to be through the crystallization of the tradition of the people of God.

    And finally,

    As we have seen, the communication and formation of what we now know as the Bible must extend over an enormous number of people, most of them anonymous. It must mean the inspiration not of writers of books, but of the tradition of the believing community, out of which scripture was eventually formed.

  136. May 10, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Richard, your post fairly bristles with difficulties, but I have time to highlight only one just now.

    Bibliology is shaped by a careful balance between deductive (explication) and inductive (the “phenomena”). We cannot answer how the Bible is until we answer what it is. Hodge arrived at his view of infallibility by a deductive reading of the texts. He was more than willing to allow those texts to supply what that infallible Word looked like, but he was not willing to allow an induction to overturn his understanding of the explication of its infallibility. The question is not whether we should stay alert to what current studies of the ANE may teach us about the OT (of course we should). The question is whether we allow those studies to impinge on the Bible’s self-attestation.

    More striking still is the telling fact that when the NT speakers/writers wished to characterize the OT (no matter what we may surmise about their specific hermeneutical proclivities), they had almost nothing to say or imply about its “incarnational” character. This is most surprising, for the Bible does confront us as human language — but the NT speakers/writers simply did not depict it that way. They saw it as simple oracular revelation. As much as we may deplore the dreaded “mechanical dictation” theory, their bibliology resembled that view more than the 19th and 20th (and now 21st) centuries’ trendy “incarnational” view. They recognized no parallel — none — between the human character of the historic Jesus and the human character of the OT. It is a nice theological device, but the NT speakers/writers knew nothing of it.

    This is simply to assert — no matter how jarring it may sound — that “incarnational” bibliologies, while theologically persuasive, simply have NO deductive exegetical support.

  137. May 10, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    Sorry to have muddled the closing bold tag in the previous post.

  138. GLW Johnson said,

    May 11, 2009 at 6:11 am

    Could you address the particulars of Andy’s comment without resorting to throwing up some lengthly quote from an authority? Oh, but if you do have to quote someone make sure that the quote actually touches on the subject? The Old Princeton men held to the doctrine of inerrancy for one very simple reason-it was the view of Christ and His apostles. If we are going to follow them on every other subject then we should surely follow them in their doctrine of Scripture. Unless you follow Kenton Sparks, who plainly says that Christ and the apostle were as culturally bound as everyone else of the time and made many ‘mistakes’ that simply reflected their first century limitations.

  139. Reed Here said,

    May 11, 2009 at 9:08 am


    No disrespect intended in my comments here, but I must write and express my exasperation with your comments.

    I recognize the sincerity with which you are offering your comments. I also recognize that Lane intends this blog to be a little more high-brow than others. From this standard, your comments certainly do fit the “high-brow.”

    However, while I’m not a slouch (I can do my homework), I am a rather ordinary pastor. As I read your responses, and try to follow where you are going with what you are saying, I cannot help but walk away concluding that you affirm inspiration-inerrancy-infallibility – but you affirm a form of these that is so befuddled with details that they are practically meaningless.

    Using your position (whatever it is) I cannot imagine how a pastor could minister to his congregation with any sense of biblical authority backing up his “thus says the Lord” feeding of the sheep.

    I remember once talking with an uncle who was pursuing Christianity late in life. His most recent reading was Pierre Tielhard de Chardin. At his excited urging, I read one of Chardin’s seminal works. I walked away saying to myself, “this guy is some kind of genius, but his thoughts are not worth anything because they are so far removed from ordinary life.” Brother/Father, as much as it pains me to say it, I find reading what you’ve said in the same way.

    Now it may be just me. Again, I’m rather average. Yet it is my average-ness that leads me to observe that most likely most other Christians are served the same way by your comments.

    I’m not quite sure exactlly what you believe about the Bible. I am fairly comfortable in saying that it is not what the Bible tells me I should believe about it.

  140. Richard said,

    May 11, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Gary: I assume your point is that I address P. Andrew Sandlin whom you refer to as Andy? More directly, my goal is not to follow anyone unquestioningly, yes the Old Princetonians said some good things and yet even they are culturally embedded…better, culturally situated. They held to a doctrine of inerrancy that had at its foundations certain presuppositions about the Bible and how it was composed, hence my quote from Barr above but more on that below.

    Andrew: When you say that “We cannot answer how the Bible is until we answer what it is” I heartily concur. Here is my attempt; God reveals himself to his people through his acts, these acts are then captured by Israel in its oral traditions, these are retold often in a cultic setting (cf. Ex. 1-15), at somepoint they are put into writing and they are edited into a creative masterpiece to meet the needs of the community of faith. May I quote Ulrich?

    In sum, the various books of the Bible were produced through a complicated series of editorial stages by a process that included two major thrusts: the faithful repetition or retelling of important traditions, and the creative reshaping of those traditions in new theological directions often as a response to the pastoral needs of the people of Israel as perceived by major editors or tradents whom we call the biblical authors. The composition of the Scriptures was dynamic, organic. It was in a sense evolutionary, insofar as the traditions remained static for a period and then in a burst of creativity leaped to a new form, a new literary edition, due to the creative adaption effected by some religious leaders, usually in response to a new situation.

    So rather than the ‘old’ view of

    God -> revelation -> scripture

    I would affirm

    God -> church -> tradition -> scripture

    As far as I see it, the Bible is very much a document of the community of faith at a particular time and in a specific place giving voice to the Spirit of God working in and through them. The Bible did not drop from heaven ready made (immediate) but the Holy Ghost spoke through the community of faith (mediate). Whilst the Bible is culturally embedded it is nevertheless viva vox dei and it is also authoritative precisely because it is the witness of God’s spirit speaking in history, hence Barr

    Authority resides in the people of God, or perhaps more correctly in the central leadership of the people of God; but it also resides in the scripture which they formed and passed on to later generations as their own communication, as the voice which they wanted to be heard as their voice.

    So much for the mechanics, how then does this or should this relate to interpretation? Well, in this regard I love H. U. von Balthasar’s explanation. As I understand it the historical-critical method will get us to the literal meaning but we delude ourselves into thinking that such is the end of the story, so did the Hebrew reading “us” in Gen. 1 see the trinity? No, but re-reading that text in the light of the Christ-event we find its true meaning. so,

    This concept illustrates how the much discussed relationship between the literal and spiritual senses of scripture is a christological problem, one soluable only on the basis that the two senses are to each other what the two natures of Christ are to each other. The human nature we come into contact with first; it is the medium covering yet revealing the divine element, becoming transparent in the resurrection, but never, in all eternity, to be disregarded or disparaged. The spiritual sense is never to be sought “behind” the letter but within it, just as the Father is not to be found behind the Son but in and through him. And to stick to the literal sense while spurning the spiritual would be to view the Son as man and nothing more.

    In terms of saying the “incarnational analogy” is a nice theological device about which the NT speakers/writers knew nothing one could make the same case for what we now call Reformed theology; I am sceptical about arguments that say our theology is limited by the epistemological framework within which the NT writers operated, i.e. a form of reader-response criticism. For example Gary’s argument that “Adam must have existed because St. Paul would have believed he did.” What is interesting is Bavinck’s concession to the critics in noting that “Scripture, both in the Old and the New Testament, relatively rarely harks back to the story of the fall”, indeed (if my memory is correct) in the OT outside of Gen. 1-3 we hear of Adam once (exclusing geneologies) and which the Reformed use as a proof of the Covenant of Works, but I have probably digressed too much.

    Reed: Thank you for your input, as far as I am concerned a pastor would minister to his congregation in one instance by preventing them from being sidelined by the quest for the “real message of Paul” or the “quest for the real Jesus”, so taking the former as an example and 1 Cor. 14:34-35. Taking the stereotypical argument, the liberal argues “Those verses are not authoritative because they are not written by Paul”. The conservative argues “Those verses are written by Paul and are therefore authoritative”. I would jump in and say “The authority of God resides in that voice of the Spirit of God as he works in the community of faith which produced the final form of the text which includes 1 Cor. 14:34-35 hence these verses are authoritative not because they were written by Paul but because they are apart of the tradition of the people of God.”

  141. Richard said,

    May 11, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Apologies for the formatting, I must have caught Andrew’s bug.

  142. Richard said,

    May 11, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I probably won’t be back until Wednesday but I woud certainly commend William M. Schniedewind’s How the Bible Became a Book: The Textualization of Ancient Israel and F. M. Cross’ From Epic to Canon: History and Literature in Ancient Israel, if only for Cross’ essay on covenant!

  143. Reed Here said,

    May 11, 2009 at 7:46 pm


    Let me stress I am truly grateful for your gentlemanliness and humble demeanor in your responses. Any degree to which my words sound unduly harsh is my own failure.

    I follow your response. I disagree. Instead I say, the Bible is authoritative because God says so. Of course, it is a little more detailed than that, but this is it in a nutshell. Authority resides not in Paul, a tradition, or the community. It resides in God.

  144. May 12, 2009 at 12:28 am

    Richard, the paradigm you articulate is not what the Bible itself implies. No NT writer/speaker situates truth in the community, invaluable and indispensable though the community may be. The circuitous and tortuous process by which the Scripture emerged and was assimilated in human history may invite careful attention, but the NT writers/speakers seem almost entirely oblivious to this development, certainly as it relates to oracular authority.

    I would not wish to surrender all the gains of 19th century (and subsequent) historical-textual investigation (Barr, Cross et al. are simply on later stages of this trajectory), and I profit from that investigation; but the vast majority of its practitioners did not agree with the NT writers’/speakers’ estimate of the OT (and, by implication, the NT as well), and from 20/20 hindsight we know the bitter fruits of the erosion of Biblical authority their “neutral” view of the Bible created. It is not harmless ivory-tower rumination but has momentous negative implications for the church.

    We today have virtual 20/20 foresight as to what that same paradigm will likely engender in Reformed and evangelical circles, and it is not a pretty sight.

    To repeat: the “incarnational” bibliological model may be theologically and historically tenable; but it is NOT exegetically defensible, and I challenge anyone anywhere to defend solely from Biblical teaching.

    The reason no one ever has is because no one can.

  145. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 12, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Wow Andrew, you were echoing my thoughts in a much more erudite fashion.

    Richard, here was my thought as I read your post. What does Peter mean when he says,

    We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

    And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

    How would you preach this passage?

    Jeff Cagle

  146. GLW Johnson said,

    May 12, 2009 at 7:36 am

    When you return, kindly address the issue I raised: The Old Princeton theologians took their position on the doctrine of Scripture i.e. inerrancy because they were convinced that this is what Christ and the apostles taught. If you disagree , then kindly show evidence to the contrary,i.e. Christ and the apostles taught that the Scriptures are not inerrant but are fallible due to the agency of human involvement. This really has nothing to do with Old Princeton supposed committment to Scottish common sense realism-rather it boils down to this : What do the Scriptures teach about the subject ?

  147. ReformedSinner said,

    May 12, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Just returned from China on a brutal mission trip. Anyway, first thing I did was open my WTJ and read Walke-Enns-Walke discussion. Frankly, I am once again humbled by Walke’s exegesis and sadden by Enns response. Not just because I disagree with Enns answer, but his answer demonstrates the same arrogance that the entire academic scholarship has against Evangelical scholarship. Namely: Evangelical scholars are hopeless frogs contained in a well that are bound by their a priori theology, on the other hand, academic scholars like Enns are open to evaluate the Scripture freely and not be bound by anything but their own honesty, and therefore, without even an argument, academic side is always right because they are honest scholars dealing with the text as presented, while Evangelical scholars like Walke are hopelessly bound by their faith and a priori theology and therefore their exegetical work are sadly, as brilliant as they might be, just a tool for their theological commitment.

    Enns answering Walke is to first simply dismissed Walke’s answer as a priori to Evangelical theology, and therefore even in Enns line by line response it sounds more like lecturing an inferior student rather than dialogue with a colleague. While Walke challenges Enns with plausible alternatives, Enns simply dismissed that as Walke’s sad precommitment to a preset theological systems, and once again simply re-sing his tune about why I&I is a superior work.

    The only challenge I would call back to Enns is if his claim that everyone has a priori is true, then would Enns please spell out what is his a priori theological system that motivates his exegesis? If so then Enns cannot say with a proud face his book is a result of his careful exegetical study of the text, but rather he was pre-informed, just like Walke, by a priori commitment to a system that denies Reformed (and really Evangelical) understanding of Inerrancy and Infallibility. If that is the case, I don’t see how he can claim he’s following Old Princeton trajectory or Warfieldian concursive theory on inspiration.

  148. Richard said,

    May 12, 2009 at 1:21 pm


    Just a quick question; one of my interests is the decalogue, a fascinating topic is the reason for the difference between the reasons given for the fourth commandment in Exodus and Deuteronomy. I was wondering what you thought of Waltke’s argument on this (pp. 86-87):

    Regarding the Sabbath commandment: “Deuteronomy presents Moses as someone who, forty years after the fact, recounts God’s words differently than were given in Exodus. . . .God seems to be perfectly willing to allow his law to be adjusted over time.” (p. 87)

    But another possible interpretation, which only came to me recently, distinguishes God’s single, unchanging commandment to keep the Sabbath and Moses’ differing rationales for keeping it as presented in Exodus and Deuteronomy. In other words, I suggest the situation is similar to narrative. The commandment to keep the Sabbath is like the ostensive story in narrative, and the rationale for keeping it is like the narrator’s creative plot. Exodus 20 and Deut 5 both refer to God’s original command at Sinai to keep Sabbath. Probably Moses, however, in Exod 20 adds to the command its rationale: ‘‘for . . . the Lord . . . rested on the seventh day . . .’’ In Deuteronomy Moses clearly interrupts the Lord’s giving of the Ten Commandments: ‘‘Observe the Sabbath day to sanctify it as the LORD your God commanded you.’’ In keeping with the theology of his addresses in the book of Deuteronomy, probably Moses, not God, explains: ‘‘Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there . . .’’ Moses does not change the commandment but adds a second rationale for keeping it. In short, the Lord’s commandment is not adjusted over time, but Moses expands his rationales to include motives consistent with the theology of the so-called Tetrateuch and his Book of the Law.

    I was actually quite taken aback at Waltke’s argument I must confess.

    Enns’ comments are quite good,

    I am very uncomfortable making such a distinction between the actual command concerning the Sabbath, as coming from God, and the rationale for the commandment as coming from Moses, interrupting the command, no less, and coming from a merely human source that can, therefore, be adjusted over time…Waltke’s solution poses potentially a far greater theological problem in making a distinction between the words of man and the words of God in Scripture

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this particular instance.

  149. Richard said,

    May 12, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Reed: I agree that authority resides in God, I noted above:

    the Bible is very much a document of the community of faith at a particular time and in a specific place giving voice to the Spirit of God working in and through them. The Bible did not drop from heaven ready made (immediate) but the Holy Ghost spoke through the community of faith (mediate). Whilst the Bible is culturally embedded it is nevertheless viva vox dei and it is also authoritative precisely because it is the witness of God’s spirit speaking in history

    Gary, Andrew & Jeff: I will respond tomorrow.

  150. Richard said,

    May 12, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Jeff: Could you be a little more specific? I would want to show how Jesus is the revelation par excellence, “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son”, and link it to WCF 1.1 “it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church…to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.”

    If you are getting at something deeper then I apologise for being dense, you will have to spell it out.

  151. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 12, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Sorry to have been oblique there. What I meant was that Peter affirms that the words of prophecy were not words of man, but rather directly of the Spirit.

    How does this fit in with your rejection of

    God –> revelation –> scripture

    and acceptance of

    God –> church –> tradition –> scripture

    Jeff Cagle

  152. ReformedSinner said,

    May 12, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Dear Richard #148,

    I believe Walke meant this: the Law, given at Exodus, is direct teaching by God. The Law, recounted by Moses, added Moses own (but still divinely inspired) reason why the people should keep the Sabbath. In Exodus, the reason was Creation Mandate, and in Exodus, another reason (not contrary) to keep the Sabbath is because of Exodus experience – you were once slaves and now you are blessed with freedom, so share this blessings with your slaves during Sabbath. Contrary to contradiction of teachings on Sabbath but Moses, under divine inspiration, help the people of God have a wider rationale for keeping the Sabbath (and probably addressing a pastoral issue that Hebrews are not letting their slaves keeping the Sabbath but only themselves) – it’s not “either/or” but “both/and”, that is what Walke is trying to argue. An apparent conflict does not force interpreter to have to choose “either/or” option or he’s not being honest with the text, grammatical-historical exegesis can also yield a “both/and” option.

    A good example I can think of elsewhere in Scripture that mirrors what Walke is saying is Paul’s quote in 1st Corinthians: “this is not what the LORD says but what I say” – many liberals have had a hay day with this verse as well. Conservatives have affirmed Paul is not saying what he says is less inspired then what LORD Jesus have taught, but merely pointing out he’s teaching something that the LORD hasn’t address directly, and with wider implications on the topic, but it doesn’t mean it’s less inspired truth of God.

  153. Richard said,

    May 13, 2009 at 3:16 am

    Jeff: Thanks for the clarification. I don’t see a contradiction with what I argue for and what St. Peter writes under divine inspiration.

    The basic formula of God –> church –> tradition –> scripture would be advanced by substituting “Israel” for “church” and expanding the relationships so,

    God -> revelation -> prophet -> Israel -> tradition -> scripture

    The issue is that I would see this as painting the false impression that revelation took place only at one point in time but if we want to speak strictly about the prophets then I would have no major problem with that formula I would just want to nuance it somewhat. Perhaps better,

    God -> revelation -> prophet -> Israel -> tradition (oral and written) -> reworked by tradents -> scripture

    Just think about Jeremiah, from the biblical witness we know that Jeremiah didn’t write down his own words and this was in the later period when writing was fairly developed. We also know from textual witnesses that the book of Jeremiah went under editorial changes, so Ulrich:

    For the book of Jeremiah, 4QJer^b provides in Hebrew an exemplar of the shorter text tradition of which the LXX is a faithful translation, while 4QJer^a and 4QJer^c present Hebrew texts that agree with the secondary edition found in the MT.

    In Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible Emanuel Tov works through this in more detail. The point being we know that the texts of Jeremiah changed from “Edition I” (LXX) to “Edition II” (MT) so a basic understanding of
    God –> revelation –> scripture simply will not suffice if we understand this as meaning God spoke to Jeremiah who wrote down that prophecy and the words of which have never altered since Jeremiah’s death.

    On the prophets do check out Prophecy and Hermeneutics by Christopher Seitz. Phil Sumpter has been working through it on his blog here.

    I hope that’s helpful.

  154. Richard said,

    May 13, 2009 at 3:25 am

    ReformedSinner: When God spoke to Moses giving him the decalogue do you think he gave a reason for the fourth commandment.

    On this issue I would disagree with Enns, I don’t think that this demonstrates that God changes his law, I would prefer to trace the tradition history of the law and see an ‘original’ decalogue which was used at the covenant renewal ceremonies, something like:

    You shall have no other gods before me.
    You shall not make for yourself a carved image.
    You shall not bow down to them or serve them.
    You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
    Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    Honour your father and your mother.
    You shall not murder.
    You shall not commit adultery.
    You shall not steal.
    You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
    You shall not covet”

    Which underwent ‘midrashic’ expansion in accordance with changing circumstances in Israel. A good discussion is in Koch’s The Growth of the Biblical Tradition.

  155. Richard said,

    May 13, 2009 at 3:49 am

    Andrew: You talk about 20/20 hindsight and foresight, I certainly concur regarding hindsight but I am under no illusion that historical-critics have operated from a neutral position. As I say time and time again, if one uses the historical-critical method assuming miracles can’t happen then you will arrive at a fundamentally different place than someone using the same method but saying miracles are possible hence the issue is not so much with Bultman’s method but rather his assumptions or presuppositions.

    With regards to foresight, we should recognise that the historical-critical method has the potential to offer insights for Reformed evangelical exegesis and acknowledging that “It is not harmless ivory-tower rumination but has momentous negative implications for the church” we should pro-actively offer the results from a historical-critical method practice upon the presuppositions of an orthodox faith and challenge the false assumptions upon which many practitioners work and have worked. This, in my estimation, will strengthen the Church rather than weaken it.

    In terms of the “incarnational” bibliological model is exegetically defensible; the Bible is God’s witness to his people and as such is both human and divine. Now no-one I know will deny that, not even you. The incarnational analogy is exactly that, a means of explaining how the Bible can be both fully human and fully divine and the incarnation provides a simple and useful paradigm or teaching aid/analogy. Jesus is the Word of God who is both fully human and fully divine, the Bible is the word of God which is both fully human and fully divine.

    Ultimately I think we need to be willing to rethink our categories, so narrative. We are so accustomed to see narrative as a basic narration of facts but there is potential for it to be much more. Why do we have the story of Abraham? Is it to simply tell us about him or is it more eschatological? Once seen in this light the whole idea of errancy falls into the background for does it matter if in the days of Ahab Hiel rebuilt the city of Jericho (1 Kngs. 16:34) or not? If however the purpose of narratives are to “provide pictures of the promises of God which will come to pass in the future” then what we once thought were key issues are no longer.

    Have a listen to Revd Compton’s Current Trends in Old Testament Studies.

  156. Richard said,

    May 13, 2009 at 4:09 am

    Gary: I accept that the Bible is inerrant I just disagree with the CSI formulation of how that works. In terms of the Old Princetonians, I don’t see the strength of their arguments, Hodge’s commentary on the WCF rests upon an historical model that is questionable. On the issue of infalibility he notes that the Bible is infalliable in “conveying with absolute accuracy and divine authority all that God meant them to convey” and here is the crux, what is it that God wanted the Bible to convey?

    Where does Scripture teach that Christ and the apostles taught that the Scriptures are inerrant? Not that they are errant but I doubt that we can establish this doctrine from the biblical text itself, moreover establishing what the doctrine implies or means.

  157. GLW Johnson said,

    May 13, 2009 at 6:04 am

    Have you read any of Warfield ‘s work on this subject? He covers the issue I raised with you in vol.1 of his works, ‘Revelation and Inspiration’, ch. V,’ “Scripture”, “The Scriptures,” In The New Testament’. I am getting an Excedrin headache no.9 trying to figure out your Zen-like final paragraph. It’s like trying to comprehend how much noise would you make if you only clapped with one hand. Christ and the apostles didn’t teach that the Scriptures are inerrant but they also didn’t teach that they were errant either? Huh? Abbott and Castello famous routine ‘Who’s on first?’ makes more sense than this.

  158. Richard said,

    May 13, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Gary, the final paragraph is simply asking where in the NT Jesus or the apostles teach inerrancy.

  159. GLW Johnson said,

    May 13, 2009 at 7:16 am

    I pointed you to Warfield and asked once again: How can you affirm both inerrancy and errancy in the same breath? The position that Sparks and others like him want to affirm- ‘Well ,inerrancy is restricted to the Divine part of Scripture while errancy applies to the human element’ is nonsense. Who are the ‘experts’ that tells us the difference? Guys like you and Sparks? If so then we shall have a new authority that will serve in the same capacity as the Pope.

  160. May 13, 2009 at 8:58 am


    Thanks for your answer, and I could respond point by point (including the possibility of an “orthodox” historical-critical method; have you read Gerhard Maier on this topic?); but I wish to press again what I deem the central issue and the soft underbelly of the “incarnational” model.

    The fact that I do not deny (as the writers/speakers, not being theological rubes, would not deny, but rather implicitly affirmed) the human element in the emergence of the OT has no bearing on my central assertion, which it seems you have not yet addressed: why is the there no deductive exegetical support for an “incarnational” model in the recorded comments of the writers/speakers?

    None. Nada.

    I am suggesting that it will not suffice to examine the “phenomena” and arrive at inductive conclusions about the nature of Scripture without taking into account the “phenomenon” of the writers/speakers explicit approach to the relation between in the divine/human in the OT.

    Does your position imply that arriving at the “incarnational” model is possible only by skirting this vital evidence? If not, then can you provide some, or point me to someone who have ever provided some?

  161. May 13, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Errata in my post #160:

    Delete “the” in para. 2, line 4

    possessive after “writers/speakers” in para. 4, line 3.

    Apologies to all!

  162. Richard said,

    May 14, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Gary: Some actual argumentation would be good, whilst I know I’ve refered to others I have tried to articulate my argument and resisted the “Oh just go and read NN and all your questions will be answered”. I will certainly track down Warfield’s volume but a summary of how the argument flows would be appreciated.

    I can affirm that the Bible is inerrant and yet contain historical errors because the functon of the text is not to be a history textbook.

    You want to construct a biblical argument for Jesus and the apostles adhering to inerancy yet you need Warfield to do it for you….is he now your Pope? And yes, that is some dry British wit (at least in my book!). :-)

    Andrew: You ask “why is the there no deductive exegetical support for an “incarnational” model in the recorded comments of the writers/speakers?” Could you unpack this question and rephrase at a more basic level for me? If I understand you correctly, you are placing upon me the burden of proving the incarnational analogy from the biblical text? Perhaps in your response you could explain why this is necessary? I have a feeling that this may take us into yet another lengthy, yet fruitful, discussion.

  163. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 14, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Richard, your response to Gary raises two questions:

    (1) What *would* constitute an error that would falsify the proposition that “the Bible is inerrant”? (i.e., what does “inerrant” mean?)

    (2) What is the “function of the text”, and how does one know this? For example, would you affirm that the Exodus and the Conquest occurred, even though the current state of archaeology does not agree?

    Jeff Cagle

  164. GLW Johnson said,

    May 14, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Ah yes, a dry British twit.

  165. Reed Here said,

    May 14, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Gary – stop, my sides hurt. :)

    Richard, sorry brother, but visions of the Bureau of Silly Walks keep running through my head.

  166. Richard said,

    May 14, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Jeff: If I may start with the second of the two questions you raise; the function of the text is determined by the text itself. For example what is the function of the Deuteronomistic history? Well a close analysis of the text(s) reveals a number of layers, the individual units, one redactional layer (DtrH1) where the focus seems to be one of pro-Davidic monarchy, a second later redactional layer (DtrH2) where the focus is upon the failure of Israel. As Richard Nelson notes in his “The Double Redaction of the Deuteronomistic History: The Case is Still Compelling”

    This article argues that the Deuteronomistic History (DH) was first composed during the reign of Josiah and then revised by the addition of limited amounts of more pessimistic material in the early exile. The argument of intense thematic dissonance is supported by a number of confirmatory observations. The interests of DH are pre-exilic and culminate in the reforms of Josiah. Many signals indicate a change of authorship near the end of 2 Kings. Recognizing the fact of double redaction leads to a proper understanding of the purpose and theology of DH.

    He concludes saying,

    In its pre-exilic context, DH’s language of condition and legal demand was motivational, and the figure of Josiah could combine both divine promise and human obedience in order to challenge readers to respond with their own obedience. In contrast, readers (and redactors) in the exilic context would have heard this Deuteronomic conditionality in a completely different way—as an explanation for national catastrophe and as a theodicy that defended Yahweh’s power and justice by laying the blame on a disobedient king and people.

    Hopefully this illustrates that the thought process of the “deuteronomistic historian” is not, ‘Now I must make sure that in noting Absalom provided himself with fifty men to run before him (2 Samuel 15:1) that the number is absolutely accurate’ (would he even have thought in such a manner?) rather the focus is on the narrative and theology not the exact details.

    In terms of the Exodus and the Conquest, the question to ask is not “Do you believe that the Exodus and the Conquest occurred?” but rather “Do you believe that it is essential that an Exodus and the Conquest occurred exactly as recounted in the Old Testament?” I prefer Childs’ take:

    Israel shaped its historical experience of the law within a frequently non-historical, theological pattern in order to bear testimony to its understanding of its life in relation to the divine will. In turn, this theological rendering became normative for all subsequent generations of Israel. [Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments]

    You may find Rev. Andrew Compton’s lectures interesting

    Shane Lems has also quoted Sarna as writing,

    It must always be remembered that the biblical narrative is a theological exposition – a document of faith, not a historiographical record

    Brevard Childs’ discussion in his Commentary on Exodus is well worth a read at some time.

    So what of inerrancy? I think I noted at the beginning that whilst I agree that the Bible is without error, when understood in acordance with its function, I do find the whole inerrancy debate to be somewhat misguided. That is probably not much clearer but it’s probably the best I can come up with currently.

    God bless!

  167. Richard said,

    May 14, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Reed: No worries, have you seen this?

  168. Reed Here said,

    May 14, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Richard: well done!

  169. May 15, 2009 at 12:39 pm


    My rationale for the question of the burden of proof is simple. I have suggested that the NT speakers/writers did not invoke an “incarnational” analogy when exhibiting what we today term a hermeneutical method, when asserting how the OT is authoritative, or in implying how the OT should function in the church. I am happy to offer 10 examples (there are scores more) of this assertion. I suspect you are aware of this fact.

    I am arguing that the burden of proof rests on you precisely because you have invoked an operational model that lacks any deductive NT support of any kind anywhere.

    I am operating on the assumption that the NT speakers/writers bear a degree of authority to which we should look in shaping our own understanding of how to view the OT.

    Or do you believe that we should NOT have recourse to the view of the NT speakers/writers when formulating our view of the OT?

    That’s my rationale for asking for proof.

  170. GLW Johnson said,

    May 15, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Kenton Sparks contends that the NT writers often labor under the influence of the culture that they where a part of in understanding the OT, i.e. the historicity of the Genesis account of creation-as such they mistakenly assumed that Adam, Eve, the serpent and the Fall actually happened. Richard, while admitting that he does not share all of Sparks’s views, nonetheless follows him in accerpting that the literary genre should be read in such a fashion as to preclude any concept of historicity. It is what they like to refer to as a ‘teaching model’. The lesson, much like that of Aesop’s fables ,in which a story that has no historical basis in fact is fabricated in order to convey a truth that has gained popular currency and over time takes on a life of its own as factual ( I recall Richard actually using Aesop to illustrate this very point This hermeneutical lense in fact serves as the determining factor in reading the text. I find it very revealing that this salient , but rigid paradigm ends up as the governing presupposition that lurks in the background in practically every level of exegesis.

  171. Richard said,

    May 15, 2009 at 1:23 pm


    Thanks for that. As ever I feel clarity is key especially as we have moved from what Enns hold and to what I personally hold. My understanding of the “incarnational analogy” is simply as a ‘sermon illustration’ to show how the written word of God can be both fully human and fully divine. Hence I feel no duty to demonstrate that the NT writers taught this, it’s a simple pedagogical tool, period.

    When asserting how the OT is authoritative or in implying how the OT should function in the church I look at how the text functioned within the community of faith. The NT writers are complex and I agree that they bear a degree of authority to which we should look in shaping our own understanding of how to view the OT. In my reading of the NT, the writers re-read the OT in the light of the Christ-event so they possessed a christocentric hermeneutic, but more, they were shaped by the Jewish hopes and expectations that arose historically in the consciousness of early Judaism. In short, they do not seem to have possessed an historical-gramatical hermeneutic but equally they did not hold to an historical-critical hermenutic.

    You may guess that I am a fan of Barr, well I hope this is of some help:

    Certain modern currents, in these times in which hermeneutics have been so fashionable, have tended to suggest that the New Testament stands in an essentially hermeneutic relation to the Old: the Old is already there, and the New Testament interprets it. I think this is an error. Of course the New Testament does provide interpretations of Old Testament materials; but its essence is not that it provides interpretations of the Old Testament, its essence is that there is a new substance there, the substance of the coming of Jesus, his teaching, his life, his death and resurrection, his meaning. It is this new substance – though linked to the Old Testament with chains of meaning, nevertheless a new substance – that is the theme of the New Testament.

    And of course Ratzinger hits the nail on the head saying,

    …the New Testament theology of the Old Testament is not in fact identical with the Old Testament’s own inner theology of the Old Testament, as it can be historically discerned; rather, it is a new interpretation, in the light of the Christ-event, which is not produced by mere historical reflection on the Old Testament alone. By effecting such a change in interpretation, it is not however doing anything completely foreign to the nature of the Old Testament, approaching it only from the outside; rather, it is continuing the inner structure of the Old Testament, which itself lives and grows through such reinterpretations.

    You offered some examples, feel free to provide some.

  172. Richard said,

    May 15, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Gary & Andrew,

    1. My use of Aesop’s fables was to demonstrate that one can teach truth using fiction, so the truth that we should not cry wolf does not demand that such a fable be historically accurate nor even historical.

    2. I certainly accept an historical fall, even if I don’t believe it happened exactly as it’s recounted in Gen. 2-3.

  173. GLW Johnson said,

    May 15, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    So you differ with the apostle Paul on this? What about Christ’s take on the matter? You think He was mistaken too? That is a very bad position to be in at the Bema seat.

  174. Richard said,

    May 15, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Gary, I find no indication within the NT that either Jesus nor St. Paul held that the fall happened exactly as it’s recounted in Gen. 2-3.

    Are you honestly arguing that I shall be judged accrding to whether I believe in a literal account of Gen. 2-3 or not? If so, please substantiate such a claim.

    I prefer Jags.

  175. GLW Johnson said,

    May 15, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Really? You think that Our Lord and Paul taught that Adam was not a ‘real’ historical person? At least Sparks is candid enough to admit otherwise.

  176. Richard said,

    May 15, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I am not arguing they taught Adam was not a ‘real’ historical person, I am arguing nowhere did they teach he was a ‘real’ historical person.

  177. GLW Johnson said,

    May 15, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    So, when Luke gives us his genealogy of Jesus( Luke 3:37) and alludes to Adam as one of His progenitors he really didn’t mean to imply that Adam was a ‘real’ historical person who actually begot anyone? I mean, after all, how could a non-historical figure actually have any historical offspring? Luke could just as well put down Hercules or Paul Bunyan if that is the case.

  178. Elder Hoss said,

    May 15, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    It is a gnostic construction of the Bible and the Christian faith which argues that historicity is inconsequential, and that what matters is THE IDEA BEHIND such events as, for example, the Fall. For a writer (Childs did this, what about Enns?) to seek to abstract himself from apriori theological commitments so as to offer an untainted, impassible view should be shown for the canard it really is.

    And, the supposed “via media” or third category like “Myth” which seek to stake out some kind of assumed middle ground between historicity and the land of the fairy tale, such as we find in the work of Childs, Seitz, and others, is a reflection of this soft gnosticism.

    It is to be rejected, at least insofar as it would seek to lay claim to being anything resembling an orthodox bibliogy.

    Richard, observe the fruit. Observe the seminaries which have embraced this and ask what has become of the denominations connected with them. Observe the countless Milquetoastian Mainline Liberal Apostates who have completed their MDiv (lacking as they were, in many cases, the industry and diligence to pursue a career in Law or Medicine!) and the havoc they have brought upon their congregations.

    Talk about Scriptural authority being resident within the community of faith! How about the subversion of Scriptural authority occurring within the community of unbelief?

    I have seen too many once-promising disciples dashed upon the rocks of this soft gnosticism, the gnosticism which argues for the primacy of ideas as over against historical facts.

    To be sure, it is scandalous for the natural man to be told that a historical personage’s sin has been imputed to oir account, infecting the entirety of our being, scandalous to believe a large fish swalled a rebellious prophet, scandalous to believe that two paths await all men everywhere, a baptism of the Spirit, and a baptism of unquenchable fire in hell, scandalous to believe that God visited His covenant people in unmitigated wrath in AD 70, etc. Hence, my prior suggestion that we consider a “Skandalon” bibliology, or a “Crucifixional” bibliology, for which (I trust Andrew would agree) substantial deductive support exists in the Scriptures.

  179. GLW Johnson said,

    May 16, 2009 at 5:48 am

    Well put EH.

  180. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    May 21, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Elder Hoss: “And, the supposed “via media” or third category like “Myth” which seek to stake out some kind of assumed middle ground between historicity and the land of the fairy tale, such as we find in the work of Childs, Seitz, and others, is a reflection of this soft gnosticism.”

    Dear Elder Hoss,

    Do you have any linked resources that critique the works of Professor Chrisopher Seitz or Professor Brevard Childs as leading down the path towards soft gnosticism?

  181. February 15, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    […] also Wayne Grudem’s 2008 letter regarding Enns here. Share this:ShareTwitterStumbleUponPrintFacebookRedditEmailDiggLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  182. February 16, 2012 at 10:13 am

    It looks like Bruce Waltke has gone over to the theistic evolutionist camp. Unfortunately, he’s now teaching at Knox Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

  183. February 16, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Back in my Wesleyan Arminian/Pentecostal days I encountered this same sort of attack against biblical inerrancy at Asbury Theological Seminary. The OT professor pushed what can only be called a neo-orthodox view of the pentateuch. Von Rad and Eichrodt are required reading at Asbury. Uncritically reading, unfortunately…


  184. April 25, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    I was taught the same junk at SEBTS back in the 70s, but that has changed in the past 20 years. Sad to think that I taught a seminary extension course using as a text book one of Enns’ earlier works.

  185. October 6, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    […] just came across this statement on a blog I was reading. It refers to a book written by Dr. Peter Enns, former professor at Westminster […]

  186. September 7, 2015 at 12:13 am

    […] its historical reliability, and its moral excellence again and again.” (See Grudem’s Letter to Westminster Seminary, Feb 10, […]

  187. June 17, 2016 at 11:26 pm

    […] did to Peter Enns, it begs the question. Better yet consider how Wayne Grudem called for Peter Enns to be let go for un-Biblical theology. Why hasn’t Phoenix Seminary taken any action and let Wayne Grudem […]

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