An Opportunity for Critical Thinking!

The Southeast Homeschool Convention begins tomorrow, and I have six talks to give. I am excited to go, because the convention is organized by the same group that did the Midsouth Homeschool Convention two weeks ago, and it was a great success. My excitement partially gave way to disappointment, however, when I read Ken Ham’s blog entry from yesterday. Mr. Ham is a speaker at the same convention, but he is obviously upset at the fact that someone who disagrees with him will be speaking at the same venue.

He starts off his blog this way:

Sadly, one of the speakers also listed to give presentations does not believe in a historical Adam or historical Fall (he will also be promoting his “Bible” curriculum for homeschoolers). In fact, what he teaches about Genesis is not just compromising Genesis with evolution, it is outright liberal theology that totally undermines the authority of the Word of God. It is an attack on the Word—on Christ.

Then he gets really nasty. He claims that the speaker, Dr. Peter Enns, doesn’t have a Biblical view of the inspiration of Scripture and that his approach to Genesis and Romans will shock people.

Since Mr. Ham has decided to rip into a well-educated scholar with a publication list that includes such important journals as the Westminster Theological Journal and the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, I thought it only right for another young-earth creationist (yours truly) to offer a different view.

First and foremost, I do not agree with Dr. Enns’s view of the first few chapters of Genesis. For example, unlike Dr. Enns, I think the creation account is best taken as historical narrative. However, I recognize that the Christian church has never been unanimous in that assessment. As the post I just linked demonstrates, even Jewish theologians that lived during the time of Christ did not unanimously agree that the creation account should be taken as historical narrative! Thus, while I disagree with Dr. Enns when it comes to the creation account, I hesitate to call him a “compromiser.” I don’t think Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – 215 AD), Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 293 -373 AD), Augustine (354-330), or Hilary of Poitiers (c. 300 – 368 AD) were compromisers, and they didn’t view the creation account as historical narrative, either.

Second, Ken Ham is simply dead wrong when he claims that Dr. Enns doesn’t have a Biblical view of the inspiration of Scripture. Dr. Enns doesn’t have Ken Ham’s view of the inspiration of Scripture. However, he clearly has a Biblical view – one that just happens to be different from that of Ken Ham. All one has to do to see this is to read Dr. Enns’s seminal work, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. In this book, Enns lays out an “incarnational” view of Biblical inspiration. He thinks that God entered the world of the Biblical authors and spoke to them directly, using stories and symbols to which they could relate. This is perfectly consistent with 2Timothy 3:16 and is therefore a Biblical view of the inspiration of Scripture.

Now please understand that I do not agree with this view, but to say it is unBiblical is just plain wrong. In fact, when I read Enns’s book, I could not help but think how similar his view of Scripture is to that of John Calvin, who said that God lisps to us when He speaks through Scripture. I disagree with Calvin’s view as well, but I am not about to say that it is unBiblical!

So, unlike Mr. Ham, I don’t think it is sad that Dr. Enns is speaking at the Southeast Homeschool Convention. In fact, I am thrilled to be able to share a venue with such a well-known Evangelical scholar, and I hope to be able to speak with him at length during the convention. I disagree with a great deal of what Dr. Enns says, but that’s what will make the conversation interesting!

More importantly, however, listening to serious scholars who disagree with you is an important part of the process of critical thinking. The only way I can properly evaluate my positions is to listen to those who disagree with them. That way, I can root out any lack of discernment, poor scholarship, or misunderstandings that can lead to bad theology. As a result, I plan to attend all his talks except the one that conflicts with one of mine. In the name of serious critical thinking, I strongly encourage everyone at the convention to do the same! I also strongly encourage you to listen to Ken Ham’s talks. You can come to my talks as well, if you don’t have anything better to do…

One of the reasons I am so excited to be a part of the four Great Homeschool Conventions this year is because of their diverse list of speakers. I don’t know of any other homeschool convention where you can hear such a broad range of Christian views. In my opinion, that alone is worth the price of admission!