Continuing the Fox in the Hen House! series of blog posts exposing heresy about Genesis …
This tenth post of the series continues to expose the teachings of the BioLogos Senior Fellow of Biblical Studies Dr. Peter Enns on Genesis that was begun in four previous blog posts (#5, #6, #7, #8). This tenth post reveals Enns’ rejection of the doctrine of the divine inspiration of the Bible.
Enns is associated with the BioLogos Foundation which is committed to the marriage of scientism and Christianity through persuading Christians to accept evolutionism and billions of years for the age of the earth by arguing that Genesis 1-11 is mythical or metaphorical.
Peter Enns’ teaching is fraught with unorthodox, even heretical, positions. To read Enns’ views for yourself, click Peter Enns Articless for links to many articles by Enns on the BioLogos site.
Enns Rejects Inspiration in His Book
The doctrine of the divine inspiration of the Bible is that Scripture is God-breathed and therefore without error on everything about which it speaks. “God-breathed” means that the Spirit of God moved men to write precisely what God willed through using the authors’ personalities, backgrounds, and abilities without violating their wills.
Enns’ 2005 book Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament explains his contrary views in detail. At the time he was a tenured professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary. The book caused his suspension and subsequent firing in July 2008 because he abandoned Biblical inerrancy.
(See Christianity Today‘s article Westminster Theological Suspension, April 1, 2008.)
Enns writes in the book that the first chapters of Genesis are ancient myths. He defines myth on page 40 as “an ancient, pre-modern, pre-scientific way of addressing questions of ultimate origins in the form of stories.”
This directly attacks the factual basis of Genesis. His use of the terms “myth” and “story” depends on their usual connotations to suggest the Genesis account is non-factual, even though his definition of myth technically sidesteps the issue of whether the Genesis events really happened.
It is for this exact reason that I always avoid the term “Bible story.” Instead, I say “Bible account” or “Bible record” or “Bible lesson.” Language is important, and many things not explicitly stated are still subjectively communicated through connotation by one’s choice of words.
Scripture’s claim that Genesis is real history, a reliable record of events that actually happened in space and time is crucial. Enns undermines this vital truth.
Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary and General Editor of the ESV Study Bible, said of Enns:
“He clearly does not hold to the complete truthfulness of Scripture … he in fact denies its internal consistency, its historical reliability, and its moral excellence again and again.” (See Grudem’s Letter to Westminster Seminary, Feb 10, 2008.)
Norman Geisler, one of America’s top evangelical apologists, critically analyzed Peter Enns’ book and identified numerous areas of strong disagreement. The disagreements include the following theses from Enns’ book:
- Myth is the proper way to describe Genesis (p 41, 49).
- It is fallacious to assume the Bible is accurate in all details (p 47).
- Noah’s Flood was not worldwide (p 55).
- Some moral laws of the Old Testament are not binding today (p 67).
Clearly these contentions by Enns assault the literal truth of Scripture. Geisler says Enns’ goal is “to reconcile his view of the Bible with modern Biblical scholarship (p 13).” He criticizes Enns for “trading orthodoxy for academic respectability.”
(See Geisler’s Review of Inspiration and Incarnation, August 2009.)
John Frame served on the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary, was a founding faculty member of Westminster’s California campus, and currently is Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Frame’s critical review of Enns’ book includes these comments:
“I do nevertheless disagree with the book more than I agree with it. … In the end I would not recommend it as a basic text on biblical inspiration to a seminary-level reader (let alone for the less mature). Seminarians need to study Biblical inspiration in a way that motivates both humility and confidence in God’s word. The present volume says much (both legitimately and illegitimately) to motivate humility. It says nothing to promote confidence in the truth of the Biblical text. That, I think, is a serious criticism. … It is curious that in a book entitled Inspiration and Incarnation there is not even a summary treatment of the concept of Biblical inspiration. … One asks again and again through the book, ‘How is this idea compatible with the doctrine of biblical inspiration?’ Enns never deals with this kind of issue.”
(See Frame’s Review of Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation from 2008.)
Professor Gregory Beale, Chair of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College, published an extensive critical review of Enns’ book in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (June 2006). Beale concludes of Enns,
“He affirms that some of the narratives in Genesis (e.g. of Creation and the Flood) are shot through with myth, much of which the Biblical narrator did not know lacked correspondence to actual past reality. Enns appears to assume that since Biblical writers, especially, for example, the Genesis narrator, were not objective in narrating history, then their presuppositions distorted significantly the events that they reported.” (See Myth, History, and Inspiration, JETS, June 2006.)
Dr. William B. Evans is professor of Bible and Religion at Erskine College in South Carolina. Excerpts from his critical review of Enns’ Incarnation and Inspiration follow:
“Enns seems overly preoccupied with what he deems the “problems” in Scripture, and he consistently rejects attempts at harmonization, even when harmonization is arguably the simplest and most reasonable solution. … There are instances where Enns finds “problems” that do not exist. … Enns seems to reject any argument about the character of Scripture that is not substantiated by internal or external evidence, and deductions from the divine origin of Scripture are invariably rejected.”
“Enns at points concedes much, and in my judgment too much, to critical scholarship. For example, his views on the history of the Hebrew language, which are certainly debatable, lead to an implicit denial of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (pp. 51-52). I fear that the incarnational analogy is simply a “fig leaf” for the acceptance of a range of post-Enlightenment critical conclusions regarding Scripture that heretofore have been deemed unacceptable in Evangelical circles. “
“Here we have someone who claims, on some level, to be an evangelical and who teaches at one of the flagship institutions of American evangelicalism, but who is opening the door to highly problematic views of Scripture. Enns uses the language of “Christ-centered” evangelical piety to undermine the evangelical doctrine of Scripture, and I fear that this book will be a stepping stone for some to a neo-liberalism that breathes deeply of the post-modern air.”
(See Evans’ Some Reflections by a Christian College Professor, June 2008)
Clearly, Professor Evans sees major problems with the view of Scripture Enns expressed in his book.
Enns does not accept the historic doctrine of the divine inspiration of the Bible as the church has understood it for thousands of years. His application of his own faulty doctrine to Genesis results in perverted, false teaching about mankind’s origins.
Soli Deo Gloria.
Read the prequels in this Fox in the Hen House! series of blog posts exposing
heresy about Genesis:
1. Fox in the Hen House! – BioLogos Promotes Heresy
2. Fox in the Hen House! – BioLogos Rejects Inerrancy
3. Fox in the Hen House! – Colleges Compromise on Genesis
4. Fox in the Hen House! – BioLogos Founder Rejects Adam
5. Fox in the Hen House! – Enns Rejects Adam
6. Fox in the Hen House! – Enns Rejects Adam #2
7. Fox in the Hen House! – Enns Rejects Adam #3
8. Fox in the Hen House! – Evolution Trumps Bible??
9. Fox in the Hen House! – Ramifications of Rejecting Adam
Read the sequel:
11. Fox in the Hen House! – Enns’ Bible Curriculum
©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3)
Thursday June 30, 2011 A.D.
Read my June 2011 newspaper column:
Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Volcanoes, & Noah’s Flood.
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)