The Contours of a Reprobate Mind

Peter Enns is a controversial man.  He was first embroiled in controversy in 2005 after publishing Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament while a professor of Old Testament and Biblical Hermeneutic at Westminster Theological Seminary.  In 2008 the WTS Board of Trustees voted to suspend him from teaching because of issues raised in that book.  Yet, in spite of this the WTS faculty voted 12–8 proclaiming Enns’ views fall within “the parameters of the Westminster Confession of Faith.”  Big surprise.  So instead of being given the boot up the rear this man so rightly deserves, Enns along with the faculty and administration at Westminster decided instead to simply part ways.  As one commentator wrote:

One good thing to come out of this unedifying episode was some clarification of how the term “evangelical” is commonly used by scholars and seminary administrators today. In a joint statement issued by the WTS administration and Enns, announcing his departure in July 2008, we find that with regards to Enns “the administration wishes to acknowledge … that his teaching and writings fall within the purview of Evangelical thought.” If now the word “Evangelical” (with a capital “E”) has become so debased that it must be applied even to such things as this, then the usefulness of the word has come to an end.

Needless to say, the handling of the Enns controversy at Westminster follows in the tradition of their handling of another former controversial figure on their payroll; Norman Shepherd.  I suppose the fact that it only took three years to get rid of Enns is a major improvement over the seven years it took to finally get rid of Shepherd (who ended up leaving both WTS and the OPC as a “pastor in good standing”).

Now that Enns is free from the “ridged” and “conservative” confines of WTS (yes, that’s a joke), this former Senior Fellow at the “theistic evolutionary” BioLogos Foundation (“theistic evolution” is an oxymoron if there ever was one) is now even freer to reveal his true colors and his disdain for the Scriptures as the inerrant and infallible word of God.

To that end Rachel Miller has provided an excellent review of Enns latest attack on the Christian faith; The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins .  I say it’s an excellent review because Miller simply lets Enns own words speak for themselves.  She offers no critique and very little commentary, but instead simply allows Enns to provide the rope to hang himself.

Here are some gems from Enns:

“. . . sin and death are universal realities, the Christian tradition has generally attributed the cause to Adam. But evolution removes that cause as Paul understood it . . . death is not the unnatural state introduced by a disobedient couple in a primordial garden.”

The arrogance of this man is impressive.  Would any Christian in his right mind place his own thinking above the infallible and inspired thoughts of the Apostle Paul?  That certainly didn’t stop Enns.

I was also impressed by this statement from Enns:

“We are fully warranted in concluding that Paul shared with his contemporaries certain assumptions about the nature of physical reality, assumptions that we now know are no longer accurate (110).”

Really? How does Enns know this? Has he arrived at some epistemic framework where science has somehow overcome the underlying fallacies that riddle its methods; fallacies identified and explicated by philosophers of science such as Karl Popper and Bertrand Russell, not to mention Christian philosophers like Gordon Clark? Like other unbelievers, Enns simply begs the question.

Finally, I was floored by this from Enns:

Jesus seems to attribute authorship of the Pentateuch to Moses (e.g. John 5:46-47). … I do not think that Jesus’s status as the incarnate Son of God requires that statements such as John 5:46-47 be understood as binding historical judgments of authorship. Rather, Jesus here reflects the tradition that he himself inherited as a first-century Jew and that his hearers assumed to be the case (168-169).”

According Enns, not only were we wrong to believe Moses was the author of Genesis and that Paul was telling the truth when it comes to the historicity of Adam and the fall, but Jesus too is a liar who was merely advancing myths (i.e., fanciful stories) he had inherited  “as a first-century Jew.”

You can read Miller’s entire summary of Enns’ views here.

See also Wayne Grudem’s 2008 letter regarding Enns here.

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21 Comments on “The Contours of a Reprobate Mind”

  1. Steve M Says:

    Sean

    Apparently your understanding of the Westminster Confession has not “evolved” as much as that of the Board of Trustees at Westminster Seminary or as much as Dr. Enns’ understanding of Adam.

  2. Sean Gerety Says:

    At least the Board voted to send him packing. It was the administration and the WTS faculty that were so evidently impressed with his erudite anti-Christian blather that they didn’t want to fire him. After all, he got his Ph.D. from Harvard you know.

    I think JR had it right when he called it the church effeminate. 😉

  3. Steve M Says:

    Oops

    I didn’t read it as closely as I should have, but I am flabbergasted that anyone could consider Enns’ views “fall within the parameters of the Westminster Confession of Faith.”

    Utterly preposterous!

  4. Pht Says:

    Sad to see that people’s effective god is still mankind and their idea of the revelation of truth is that it comes from their own five senses.

    Now if only we could get scientists to turn their back to their classes while the incense pot swings… they already wear white “robes” and speak in latin.

    Nah. I don’t think people would even realize it if they did that…

  5. Denson Dube Says:

    Poor Enns thinks he is a monkey! Well, perhaps he is, but then that reduces his comments about the scriptures to no more than monkey noises; not worth anyone’s serious attention. Evolution is hopelessly contradictory.

  6. Denson Dube Says:

    ” ..self-contradictory”

  7. Kushisaac Says:

    How does ““We are fully warranted in concluding that Paul shared with his contemporaries certain assumptions about the nature of physical reality, assumptions that we now know are no longer accurate” find any compatibility with “therefore 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 against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the holy Scripture to be most necessary;” and “The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.” They are at odds, shame on WTS for losing their testicles on this one.

  8. Steve M Says:

    Kushisaac

    Bingo!

  9. Hugh McCann Says:

    Isn’t this the same institution of divinity that had trouble letting go of Norman Shepherd?

    Qua, qua, qua, qua, flippin’ qua, qua.

    The duck pic is cute, but this one is a hoot!

  10. Nate Smith Says:

    Do you model the gospel well with your sarcasm and childish bantering? Can you all think of a Christian way of voicing disagreements like this, or are you eager to show your viscousness at the drop of hat? SInce you are so committed to the inerrant word, remember to read some Proverbs, James, and Paul about guarding your tongue. You also shouldn’t presume to know the real details of the WTS situation with Enns. Remember: those in power control the spin.

  11. Sean Gerety Says:

    It seems those in power at WTS didn’t spin it very well once again, but thanks for commenting.

  12. Julie Kellam Says:

    Actually, Enns’ views leaves me at a loss for words, but here’s one – ……………..No, actually, I am really at a loss for words!!

  13. Steve M Says:

    Julie

    Well put!

  14. Steve M Says:

    Nate

    Prior to you vicious (or should I say viscous) comment, I didn’t realize how childish my bantering was. I want to thank you for pointing it out in such a Christian way remembering to guard your tongue and all.


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  16. eajohnston Says:

    I am thrilled to hear someone tell it like it is about Enns! Thank you.

  17. Sean Gerety Says:

    @eajohnston. Thanks. I’m guessing you’re one of the unfortunate souls that had to suffer under this man?

  18. eajohnston Says:

    @ Sean, I am studying theology as an undergrad at Columbia Evangelical Seminary. I have studied Enns’s work in a couple of my courses. Thankfully, I have Warfield, et al to clear the air. I am also active (as E. A. Long) on Theologica.ning.com. Enns comes up there often. Your blog was cited over, and that is how I found your blog. BTW–love your blog.

  19. eajohnston Says:

    It just occurred to me that I should add a clarification. CES did not require that I study Enns. It is an online seminary; I choose my own course work, which was then approved by the school. I read Enns and followed his blog in an attempt to understand those who believe the opposite of what I hold dear.

  20. Hugh Says:

    These by J.N. Darby on John Henry Cardinal Newman are apropos for those who pope, but even more so for those who apostatize from any semblance of Christianity:

    The secret of the course of Dr. Newman’s mind is this — it is sensuous; and so is Romanism.

    He never possessed the truth, nor, in the process he describes, sought it: he had never found rest or peace in his own soul, nor sought it where it is to be found, according to the holiness of God.

    He sank into that system where the mind often finds quiet from restless search after repose, when wearied in judging for itself, but never peace with God.


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