Tuesday, September 20, 2016


For many years, I had struggled with painful doubts about the Bible and even my salvation. Painful? These doubts were devastating! Fortunately, there were no local churches to assure me that certainty is “impossible.” Fortunately for me, there was no one available to flatter me that my doubts were the result of being a deep and thoughtful person. If so, I might have given up my quest for assurances.

However, today there are many churches and theologians available to teach against any expectation of certainty and confidence in the Gospel. Just recently, Peter Enns, theistic evolutionist and a former professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, came out with a new book: “The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust Not Our Correct Beliefs.”

Certainty has now become a sin, at least for some modern theologians, but is it designated as a sin in the Bible? If so, Luke was a sinner and his Gospel was sinful:

·       Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have CERTAINTY concerning the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)

In a glowing review, John Seel, “a millennial thought leader, cultural renewal change agent, speaker, author, and consultant,” writes:

·       Children of evangelical parents are at risk. Raised with the belief that the truth can be cornered, they live in a world that suggests quite the opposite. As cultural pressures increase, parents and pastors double down. The kids feel torn and are left without meaningful onramps to a more open and humane framing of faith.

Oddly, Seel also believes that “truth can be cornered” or acquired, since he has a lot to say about his own brand of truth. Seel praises Enns for his “humane framing of faith,” intended to enable the young Christian to fit into a world of growing “cultural pressures.” What about Enns’ “The Sin of Certainty?” Seel continues:

·       The tripping point for them [the children] is the dogmatic religious certainty of their parents and childhood churches. For these young people, as for most millennials today, faith is a fusion of belief and doubt, coupled with skepticism that any one person or group has it all figured out.

This is a typical strawman argument – misrepresent the opponents’ position to make it look ridiculous in order to easily blow it over. No Christian is saying that he “has it all figured out.” However, far from being a sin, Paul prayed that believers would be filled with a confident understanding of the Gospel:

·       That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may KNOW what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. (Ephesians 1:17-18)

·       That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2-3)

Admittedly, Paul’s prayers were an acknowledgement that many Christians had yet to acquire the “riches of full assurance of understanding.” However, his prayers demonstrated that a robust confidence in the faith represented “treasures” and not sin. Even more, this “full assurance of understanding” is essential to living a robust Christian life:

·       And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:11-12)

Without this “full assurance of hope,” it is difficult to conceive how we would not become “sluggish” and eventually fall to the side.

In contrast, Enns preaches a form of Biblical sluggishness. How? By downplaying the Bible’s teachings in favor of a substance-less, belief-less, amorphous trust!

·       “We have misunderstood faith as a what [doctrine] word rather than a who [God] word—as primarily beliefs about rather than as trust in.”

However, this distinction is foreign to the Bible, where we find that belief and trust are inseparable. In contrast with Enns, if we trust in God, we believe His teachings and do what He tells us to do. As Jesus taught, we cannot separate trusting God from His Word and commands:

  •  “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him...If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” (John 14:21, 23-24)

In order to follow these commands, we need some degree of certainty about what He is commanding us to do – the very thing that Enns claims to be sinful.

In fact, living the Christian life is impossible without some degree of certainly about what Scripture teaches. Exhorting, correcting, disciplining and even loving require some degree of certainty or confidence about what the Bible is teaching us to do. Without confidence in the Bible’s teachings, evangelism certainly becomes impossible.

Besides, in order to trust someone, we have to know something about him! Likewise, to trust in God, we have to know Who it is we are trusting. Consequently, trust in God is inseparable from the Gospel of God.

To trust God, we need to know what He has promised us? How am I not hate Him unless I am convinced that He forgives my sins (1 John 1:9), loves me (Ephesians 3:17-20), and will never let me go (Romans 8:38-39)? How can I trust Him if I fear that He might grow tired of me?

In contrast to Enns’ uncertainty theology, Paul confidently asserted:

·       …our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I KNOW whom I have believed, and I am CONVINCED that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (2 Timothy 1:10-12)

We too must “know whom [we] have believed” and be “convinced that he is able to guard…[us].” To not be convinced of these things, is to live in fear and timidity and to default into acquiescence to the prevailing culture and its temptations.

We are not free to trust in God in a way that merely feels right to us. It has to be according to His Word. King Saul had decided to serve God in a way that felt right to him, but in God’s sight, this was rebellion:

  • “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim. Because thou hast rejected the word of Jehovah, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:23 ASV)

Consequently, if we are to honor God, we must honor His Word, His truth:

  • “I will worship toward thy holy temple, And give thanks unto thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” (Psalms 138:2)

Instead, Enns doesn’t seem to believe that we can trust in God’s Word:

·       “Here is the temptation,” Enns explains, “we can forget that we are human and delude ourselves into thinking that we can transcend our tiny place in the human drama and see from on high, as God sees.”

Instead, God has given us His Gospel so that we can know:

·       He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we KNOW that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may KNOW that we are in him. (1 John 2:2-5)

However, Enns disparages any “correct thinking,” even thinking based upon Scripture:

·       “Life’s challenges mock and then destroy a faith that rests on correct thinking and the preoccupation with defending it. And that is a good thing. Life’s challenges clear the clutter so we can see more clearly that faith calls for trust instead.”

For many of us, “Life’s challenges’ have actually validated the Bible and its teachings. We are not saying that we need not labor to reconcile the Bible with our experiences and to defend it. Admittedly, society contradicts our faith in many ways. This is why we are required to meditate on His Word “both day and night.” However, the Bible consistently teaches us that it is defendable and that we are required to make a defense for our hope:

·       But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, ALWAYS being prepared to make a DEFENSE to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Instead, Enns has renounced his responsibility to defend the Biblical faith. Meanwhile, he has written much in defense of his own faith:

·       “Maybe my purpose on earth isn’t to be the thought police first and love others after all their ideas line up as they should. Maybe my first order of business is to risk my own sense of certainty about God and love others where and how they are no matter how they do on my theology exam.”

However, sometimes love requires us to correct. We must correct our children, our dogs, and those who wish to hurt others. Love requires us to correct our neighbor who intends to join ISIS or even the neighbor who disturbs the entire neighborhood with his blaring boom-box.

Besides, love requires Biblical wisdom. We need to have some sense of moral and Biblical certainty about how to love. Not everyone requires the same thing. We would need to understand how loving Hitler would be different from loving a 15 year-old who is ready to jump off a building because her boyfriend had just jilted her.

In their dogmatic defense of uncertainty, Seel and Enns have narrowed their lives to the point that life becomes unmanageable. What has led them to take such a myopic and needlessly constraining stance?

This seems to be the stance that just about all theistic evolutionists have adopted. Why? When they embraced Darwin, they had to take a “humble” and uncertain stance in terms of biblical revelation and interpretation. Why? Ultimately, the two – Jesus and Darwin – cannot be successfully and coherently married. There always exists tension between their many discordant elements.

It is like trying to button your shirt after starting with the wrong button. Every subsequent button will be out-of-place. This is the inevitable result of the unholy marriage between Darwin and Jesus. This is why theistic evolutionists consistently tell me, “We have to be humble about our interpretation of Scripture.” If only they were so humble about Darwin!

Enns is wearing a shirt that will not properly button together. Therefore, he flees from trying to justify it. Such a shirt will ultimately prove costly.

And what about my own excruciating doubts? My pain forced me to plunge on, as King David who written:

·       It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. (Psalm 119:71-72)

No comments:

Post a Comment