Is It A Duck?

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.

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13 Comments on “Is It A Duck?”

  1. Hugh McCann Says:

    “Carpenter Ants” ~ Flippin’ brilliant.

    But here’s the link: http://www.picosearch.com/cgi-bin/ts.pl

  2. Kushisaac Says:

    This is why church discipline is so important, had he been excommunicated being unrepentant in his views, it would be safe to consider him an outsider, an unbeliever, and this conjecture would not be necessary.


  3. lol @ “Carpenter Ants”

  4. Julie Kellam Says:

    Thank you, Phillip Climer from “Archeology & the Bible”. The Bible indeed authenticates itself! God has spoken! Let God be true and every man a liar!

  5. Scott Says:

    He “might” be a reprobate?
    If rejecting the divine inspiration of the scriptures, the framework behind original sing, and justification by faith alone does not make one a reprobate, I do not know what does.

  6. Sean Gerety Says:

    That’s right Scott, “might.” He certainly appears to be a non-Christian, but not necessarily because he questions the historicity of Adam, believes the Scriptures, in particular the first 11 chapters of Genesis, are a Jewish adaptation of pagan myths, but primarily because he seems to also embrace the false and anti-Christian soteriology of the New Perspectives. It certainly seems his New Perspective on Genesis lends itself to embracing the so-called New Perspective on Paul. It’s on that basis I would say he’s not a Christian, but simply questioning the historicity of Scripture to accommodate the scientism and myth of evolution would not, in and of itself, warrant that conclusion. After all, how many churches have a hard time even adhering to 2 Tim 2:12 much less believe it or instead argue that Paul’s command here is “cultural”? Does that make those elders and churches reprobate or as the WCF states, “synagogues of Satan”? I don’t see how? Regardless, Enns is still a dangerous man and his heresies are such that he should have been fired by WTS and strongly disciplined by whatever church he is supposed to belong to. Notwithstanding, JBFA has a unique place in the Christian system.

    That said, reprobation is an eternal decree and who knows if God might use even some of the harshest criticism of his views to humble him and cause him to come to repentance? If he is the reprobate he certainly appears to be, he will never repent.

  7. Gus gianello Says:

    It doesn’t matter whether he is reprobate or not. What matters is that he can lead people astray. The point of excommunicatio major is that he is pronounced unrepentant, for the sake of the visible church do that he is not received nor bidden Godspeed. He is declared to have an incredible profession of faith. When that happens he is treated as a heathen and publican–not that he is one, but bec of his refusal to repent he is treated as one; he is treated as outside the pale of the covenant. The curse of Enns is not that he exists–there will always be Judases–but that the visible church failed to give him the “mark of Cain”.

    Gus

  8. Gus gianello Says:

    As a follow up–it is the failure to guard scripture that is so damning about the modern North American Evangelical church. To paraphrase F Schaeffer the two highest values of Christians today are security and Prosperity. WE WILL pay for that. Obama is the down payment. Judgement has come.

  9. pht Says:

    The christian who denies much if not all that the bible teaches …

    Right up there with the modern idea of “carnal christians.”

    Not saying that’ there’s almost always a bit of doubt, one way or another, but it seems we’ve gone off the deep end in accepting everyone, regardless of how they act.

  10. Cam Porter Says:

    “If rejecting the divine inspiration of the scriptures, the framework behind original sing, and justification by faith alone does not make one a reprobate, I do not know what does.”

    Scott, reprobate does not equal unregenerate, if you are employing the term with the meaning: “preordained to condemnation” (the opposite of elect). Rejection of divine inspiration, original sin, and justification by faith *is true of the elect also*, prior to their effectual calling and regeneration. If you were employing the term in a more broad sense, so as to carry the meaning of “depraved mind”, then, sure.


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