On July 23 Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS) and Prof. Peter Enns issued a statement announcing his departure from the Seminary (http://www.wts.edu/stayinformed/view.html?id=187). The announcement was a nice politically correct statement as to the mutual affection and gratitude shared by each and so ended the tenure of Prof. Enns. On the surface there doesn’t seem to be anything unusual here, right? Not quite. In May a board was setup to investigate “certain matters” relating to Prof. Enns (http://www.wts.edu/stayinformed/view.html?id=159) and he was scheduled for an August 25th dismissal hearing. Obviously this was a serious matter and the resignation obviates the need for such a “trial”. What were those “certain matters” and what was Prof. Enns’ great crime? He dared to think. In 2005 he published Inspiration and Incarnation (http://www.amazon.com/Inspiration-Incarnation-Evangelicals-Problem-Testament/dp/0801027306/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1217823031&sr=8-1).
In looking at the Old Testament scriptures, he sees it as a mixture of divine and human, much as Christ was supposedly divine and human, hence the incarnation analogy. In trying to come to grips with the problems and contradictions in the Old Testament, he sees a role of the human instead of the traditional, conservative “god-breathed” inerrant scriptures. For instance, the early chapters of Genesis are grounded in ancient myths and that the historical descriptions in the Old Testament are biased. Furthermore, the New Testament writers read into the Old Testament (eisegesis) what they wanted to find in support of Christian “Theology”. To be fair, I believe Prof. Enns still believes himself to be an evangelical Christian and the scriptures to be inerrant, but then he has to play a game with what inerrant means. However, to come to the place where he doesn’t brush aside the contradictions in the Old Testament using standard “should have”, “could have”, and “might have” methods is a major step in the right direction. One can only hope that he takes the next big step and realize the book has no divine authorship at all. It is wholly man-breathed.
What this controversy shows is that true scholarship and exploration of ideas is rarely possible in a conservative seminary. I guess “teach the controversy” has no place in conservative bible “scholarship” if it comes from one of their “own”.
(For those who would like more information about this controversy, see the following reviews of Prof. Enns book, one in which he replies point by point to the reviewer: http://peterennsonline.com/ii/a-response-to-paul-helms-review-of-inspiration-and-incarnation/ , http://www.reformation21.org/featured/some-reflections-by-a-christian-college-professor.php )