Sunday, January 31, 2016

HOW THEISTIC EVOLUTIONIST PETER ENNS UNDERSTANDS THE BIBLE




The Bible is both a human and a Divine set of documents. While it often reflects the vocabulary, situations, and interests of its individual authors, the Bible uniformly insists that it is also fully God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) so that even the slightest markings are of God and, therefore, must all be fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-19).

However, many scholars, even Evangelical scholars, only interpret the Bible from a human perspective - from the perspective of the “culture context” of the author and his audience, as if God played no part in Scripture’s authorship.

Theistic evolutionist and former Professor at the Westminster Theological Seminary, Peter Enns, does this very thing to discredit the historical content of the first several chapters of Genesis:

·       Is it not likely that God would have allowed his word to come to the ancient Israelites according to the standards they understood, or are modern standards of truth and error so universal that we should expect premodern cultures to have understood them? The former position [of understanding the Bible in terms of their cultural setting] is, I feel, better suited for solving the problem. The latter is often an implicit assumption of modern thinkingers, both conservative and liberal Christians, but it is somewhat myopic and should be called into question. What the Bible is must be understood in light of the culture context in which it was given." (Enns, Peter. Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005. 41)

Enns is correct in trying to understand the Bible in terms of how the original readers would have understood it. However, Enns assumes that it is myopic to disregard the cultural context, and that, since the Bible’s creation account was based on the faulty cosmological understanding of the Ancient Near East (ANE), it is not historically accurate.

However, since the Bible is more than a collection of human documents, it must also be understood as the Word of God, which transcended the understanding of the original audience. Peter warned us of this reality:

·       Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12)

Even angels didn’t entirely get it! Peter claimed that it was revealed to the Prophets that they were not always writing for their original audience but to those who would hear the Gospel hundreds of years later. Besides, the Prophets were not writing a message that always had been adapted to the culture. Instead, God is the primary Author of Scripture. Therefore, their prophecies represented a timeless message from God Himself (2 Peter 1:19-21; Daniel 9:24; 12:9, 13).

This is damning to Enns’ assumption that God’s Word came “to the ancient Israelites according to the standards [concepts] they understood,” embedded in the unscientific ANE cosmology. Sometimes, it didn’t!

Why does he make such a mistake? Enns limits his understanding of the Bible to the assumption that it is just the word of man and can be understood solely from this limited perspective.

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