Thinking about the title to of my last piece on Peter Enns, “The Contours of a Reprobate Mind,” I thought I would clarify a couple of things since I’m sure some people reading that piece will conclude that I think Enns is a reprobate, although I have no doubt that he may be. But, do I know that he is? Of course not, although he does write like an unbeliever (sorry to all you Carpenter Ants and those of his ilk). For example, Enns makes it clear that he does not believe Paul was telling the truth when spoke of Adam as the historically real first man who disobeyed God and by his actions plunged all men into sin and death. He even rejects the overwhelming biblical evidence that Moses was the primary human author of the Pentateuch (even despite the Lord’s claim that he was). He believes Genesis, in particular, was written during the Babylonian captivity and was adapted from surrounding pagan ANE (Ancient Near East) myths dealing with creation and the flood. He even rejects the biblical account of Israel’s Egyptian captivity instead arguing:
There is no positive, direct evidence for Israelite presence in Egypt or a massive departure of 600,000 men. … It stretches the imagination to think that a group that large, which then spent forty years wandering around the wilderness, would leave Egypt without a trace in either Egyptian literature or the archaeological record (174).
Reading Enns reminds me of an observation Gordon Clark made years ago concerning the assumptions made by liberal scholars during the late nineteenth century who rejected the historicity of the first five books of the bible for similar reasons including the long held belief by liberals that the Hittites never existed. Clark writes:
In the latter quarter of the nineteenth century two men, who may be designated by their initials G and W, made a violent attack on the Bible. They assumed that what the Bible says must be false unless other evidence proved it true. By this principle they concluded that the Hittite nation never existed. For years the students of G and W kept asserting that there never were any Hittites, and that the Bible was myth and fairy tale. They also said that Moses did not write the Pentateuch, that Abraham did not fight the battle of Genesis 14, and that seven-stemmed lamps were never made until late Persian times. Today the disciples of G and W do not dare make such statements. They still attack the Bible; they still deny its truth; they still twist Hebrew history out of shape. But they do not dare deny the existence of the Hittites; and seven-stemmed lamps are known to have been made long before Moses mentioned them in the book of Exodus. – An Introduction to the Bible. See also Fifty Years of Infidelity
Further, it is clear from just the handful of quotes I provided from Enns that he rejects any notion that the Bible has anything close to a monopoly on truth, but rather science, specifically “evolutionary” science, is not only a competing source of truth, but in fact trumps Scripture at almost every turn. For Enns science, even the most speculative kind, is cognitive and a source of knowledge about the world that can and should challenge any notions we may have that the Scriptures are inerrant specifically when making historic claims that some (secular or otherwise) scientist might reject. This is why given Enns exceeding low view of Scripture his arguments mirror those reprobates have made consistently against God’s authority and His word since the creation of, well, Adam. And, as the saying goes, if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. But, thankfully, even for a man as hostile to the Christian faith as Enns, the form of a conclusion of any inductive argument, including the classic argument about ducks, is not the same as its premises. So even though Enns might look like a Mallard, he might not be a duck even though we find him swimming in the same pond.
However, even more damning besides looking, swimming, and quaking like a duck, Enns, as the Miller piece demonstrates, has not only adopted a new perspective on Genesis and the Pentateuch, but he also holds to the neo-liberal New Perspective on Paul which rejects the idea that what separates first century Jews from their Christian Gentile contemporaries is the idea of salvation by works, or even works done by faith, as opposed to salvation by faith alone. As Miller explains:
Dr. Enns goes on to add that the historic Reformed understanding of the theology of Romans (i.e., saved by works versus saved by grace) ought to be rethought. He gives an explanation of the New Perspective on Paul which sees Romans as a treatise on how Jew and Gentile can live together as the people of God. In other words, how could Gentiles be included in Israel? (140). This reworked view of Paul’s theology in Romans fits with Dr. Enns’ view of Paul’s purpose in his use of the Adam story:
“Paul’s goal is to show that what binds these two utterly distinct groups together is their equal participation in a universal humanity marked by sin and death and their shared need of the same universally offered redemption. Paul’s Adam serves that goal (141).”
Of course, even if one were willing, if only as a matter of charity, to question Enns’ duckiness, that does nothing to bolster or strengthen any of Enns’ arguments. As Phillip Climer argued over a decade ago in the pages of The Standard Bearer and in a piece that was later reprinted in Trinity Review:
Scientifically, we do not know if the Bible is true, and we never will. That, of course, does not derogate from the truth or authority of Scripture, for two reasons: Scripture is self-authenticating; and science cannot prove anything true.
… David had to battle the enemies of Israel militarily. Our war with the enemies of Christ is spiritual and intellectual in nature, but it is just as real, and even more deadly. As Christians our posture should be one of righteous indignation against the giant of skeptical archaeology that slurs the truth of the Word of Almighty God. Who are these archaeologists who think they can disprove Scripture with a piece of broken pottery dug out of the mud? Who are the “moderate majority” who dare tell us what parts of the Bible are “reasonable” to believe? Let us be as eager to confront the giant of archeology as David was to confront the Philistine champion. In the struggle between the eternal Word of God and secular theories, we know by revelation that God will crush all anti-Christian arguments and imaginations under our feet. “Is not my word like fire?” says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? – Archeology and The Bible.