You haven’t heard from me in a few days, as I’ve been hanging out in Atlanta with 12,000 or so of my closest biblical scholar friends. Lots of bow ties. Lots of non-ironic beards and shoulder patches on the under-30 set. (You haven’t had enough angst in your life to wear out the elbows on your jacket, btw)
Which brings me to today’s post: you should meet Pete Enns.
One reason is because his sense of humour is positively spot-on. Especially if you enjoy nerdy, edgy humour directed at some of the absurdities of biblical scholar nerds:
(His Twitter, https://twitter.com/peteenns, is worth a quick look)
More significantly, perhaps, he has become somewhat of a lightning rod in recent years regarding his views on Biblical inspiration and inerrancy. He published a book in 2005 entitled, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, the fallout of which caused his loss of his teaching post at Westminster Theological Seminary (you can read about the controversy here, though I do not necessarily endorse or align with the blog poster’s opinions regarding Enns’ positions). His more recent 2015 offering is entitled The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It.
Despite the angst in the Evangelical community over his conception of Biblical authority, he continues to have a center place at the table of scholarship. This is due to his incredibly honest presentation of the difficult issues in biblical interpretation which many other scholars/teachers frankly avoid or sidestep. He has (I believe) a genuine care for students of God’s word, whether they are in the classroom, the Sunday congregation, or absent from a faith community entirely but continuing to doubt, question, and seek.
Though his blog is one which I read regularly (http://www.peteenns.com/), I had not, until today, had the opportunity to hear him in person. In a packed-out morning session, Pete gave an incredibly thought-provoking and honest talk on “Not Knowing When Knowing is All You Know”. He tackled the insecurities which so many students (that includes all of us, by the way) face during their journey:
“When will I know enough to study the Bible?”
“Everyone else is so much smarter/more intuitive than I am. If I open my mouth or write these words, eventually everyone is going to figure out I’m just a fraud.” (aka Impostor Syndrome)
He spoke honestly about his dismissal from Westminster Theological, and the paradox of freedom, hurt, and lack of clarity which such a radical situation left him reeling with.
Anyhow, in four years of attending these national conferences, I don’t know that I have ever seen the academic Biblical community so engaged with a session speaker. His authentic care for students of the Word came through clearly; his passion for wrestling with the tension of difficult theological questions is unmistakable.
I’ve given you several links to Enns’ works above – this doesn’t mean that I agree completely with his views on inerrancy and like, nor am I familiar enough with the nuances of his arguments at this point to give an honest and informed critique point-by-point. But you should meet him, through his words on the page (and his snark on Twitter). While I tend to weigh the inspired authority of God’s Word differently from Enns in some cases, I have nevertheless found his voice to be thoughtful and challenging and worth a look.
And, if his words inspire specific questions in you – he’s very approachable. Drop him a line. Or, drop me a line (I’m also approachable, or at least I try to be) and perhaps we can explore the tension together which Enns so graciously offers us.