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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dr. Enns Offers Me a New Biblical Insight

Posted by jlwile on March 20, 2011

An Overview of the Bible


Now that the Southeast Homeschool Convention is over, I am headed back home. Before I start my trip, however, I want to briefly share a new Biblical insight I received from Dr. Peter Enns. I went to his talk entitled, “What Is the Bible, Anyway (and what do we do with it)?” Dr. Enns started his talk with several different ways that Christians tend to read the Bible. For example, he said that many Christians read the Bible as an “owner’s manual” for life. They look for specific “rules” in the Bible that apply to specific situations in their lives. While there is validity to that view, it tends to concentrate on the details you find in the Bible, missing the Bible’s big picture. He went through several other ways that Christians tend to read the Bible, and while they all have validity, they all suffer from the same weakness – they miss the big picture of the Bible.

I have to admit that I have always concentrated on the details of the Bible. I think it has to do with my scientific training. I tend to focus on the details, as that is where I tend to find the data I need as a scientist. As a result, I never had the big picture of the Bible in mind. Dr. Enns provided it for me.

He said that if you really think about the Bible from beginning to end, it is split into four basic sections, listed in the diagram above. The Bible starts with creation and the curse. God created a magnificent world that was “very good.” It was not perfect, but it was very good. Then the Fall happened, which brought on the curse. The rest of the Old Testament contains the details of the nation of Israel, whose entire purpose was to bring us Jesus, Who would be able to bring us back to God. Most of the New Testament deals with Jesus, His work, and how we are to follow Him. The last two chapters of the New Testament (Revelation 21-22) tell us about the new heaven and new earth, which include a new Eden. In other words, by the end of the story, we are back where we started – we are back in Eden. He said if you think about the Bible this way, you find:

The Bible is God’s grand story, and the main point of that story is to tell us the lengths to which He will go in order to bring us back to him.

What a wonderful way to think about the Bible’s big picture. Thank you, Dr. Enns!

Comments

109 Responses to “Dr. Enns Offers Me a New Biblical Insight”
  1. Janice says:

    Reading the Bible in its plain or normal sense does not mean you read it in a “wooden” literal sense. Any serious student of the Bible can recognize figurative language as compared to historical narrative.

    Again, if you read in the newspaper that a man drove a bus into a building, I am sure you do not say to yourself, “Hmm, I wonder what that means? Was it really a man who drove the bus or is that just a metaphor?” On the other hand, if you hear someone describe someone else as a “bull dog” you immediately recognize this as a figure of speech not to be taken literally.

    That is why, I am sure you are aware, knowing something of the language and customs of the time period that the Bible is written is important to proper interpretation of the Bible. If you are aware of these sayings, you will be more quick to recognize them as figures of speech.

    However, in the case of Jesus saying “cut out your eye” and “cut off your hand,” you can immediately recognize this as figures of speech by the mere fact that harming your body in such a way is contrary to Scripture — our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we are not to mutilate them.

    I would be surprised, Dr. Wile, if you didn’t already know these basic Bible interpretation rules, but for the benefit of others who may have read your posting, I thought I would share these facts.

  2. jlwile says:

    Rm, you haven’t offended me, but I cannot agree with you. Indeed, people are being told not to follow 1 Thessalonions 5:19-21, because they are being told that they should not even listen to Dr. Enns or read any of his work. In addition, you cannot compare the actions of fallible men to those of Jesus. Jesus knew the hearts and minds of the people. As a result, he did not level false charges. While I was not at Mr. Ham’s sessions, his blog clearly levels a false charge at Dr. Enns. Thus, what Mr. Ham did was wrong.

  3. jlwile says:

    Janice, I agree that any serious student of the Bible can recognize figurative language. Dr. Enns (and others such as C. S. Lewis, N.T. Wright, etc.) say that much of Genesis is clearly figurative. They say it is as obviously figurative as the verses I pointed out. This lies at the heart of the intolerance problem among brothers and sisters in Christ. You are willing to reject the plain reading of many verses, because you say they are obviously figurative. But then you say that others cannot do that for other verses, even though they see them as obviously figurative.

  4. Janice says:

    We will have to agree to disagree, Dr. Wile.

    We don’t get to decide which parts of Scripture are literal and which parts are figurative — this is determined by Scripture. Scripture interprets Scripture.

    And Genesis is not “clearly figurative.” It reads like any historical account would read. Furthermore, as previous postings pointed out, there are many references to Adam throughout Scripture to confirm that Adam was a living human being.

    I am sorry that you do not take a firm stand on this issue, Dr. Wile. Quite contrary to what you say, it is not “intolerance” to point out faulty hermeneutics and wrong interpretations of Scripture. Ken Ham has done a good thing bringing this to our attention. He is right … Dr. Enns is compromising Scripture and you apparently are willing to support his doing so.

  5. jlwile says:

    Janice, I agree that we don’t get to decide which parts of the Bible are figurative and which are historical narrative. The text decides that. You think the text of Genesis is clearly historical narrative, yet you think other parts of the Bible are clearly figurative. Dr. Enns thinks the text tells him that parts of Genesis are clearly figurative while other parts are clearly historical narrative. It think it is quite intolerant to say that his view is wrong and your view is right, given that he seems to be doing exactly the same thing you are doing.

    I am taking a very firm stand. I am saying that Christians have to take Romans 14:1-9 seriously. I am saying that Christians need to take 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 very seriously!

  6. Patty says:

    Dr. Wile, observations of days and which foods to eat can not compare with changing the words of Scripture or assigning different meanings. We are to be Bereans, Acts 17:10-12.

    Ken Ham was correct to point out that Dr. Enns does compromise Scripture. It really saddens me that those like Dr. Enns change the meaning of words and context of the words to fit man’s ideas of the age of earth/universe and origins. He makes God look like a poor communicator and that my friend is putting a bad light on God’s character.

    Janice, I truly believe we are seeing 2 Timothy 4:3-4 fulfilled before our eyes. Keep strong in the Word!!!

  7. jlwile says:

    We are to be Bereans, Patty, which is why we must honestly investigate different views, as 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 commands. Dismissing someone’s theology by claiming that he changes the words of Scripture or assigns different meanings when he does not do those things is definitely not being a Berean. In addition, observation of days and which foods to eat were very, very divisive issues in New Testament times. Thus, they do quite clearly compare to the creation/evolution debate that exists in Christendom today!

    Ken Ham has every right to point out what he thinks is wrong with Dr. Enns’s theology. However, to do so with name-calling and a false charge is not proper, and it is not consistent with Romans 14:1-9.

    Interestingly enough, there are many Christians who would say that you and I are fulfilling 2 Timothy 4:3-4, as they think 24-hour days in Genesis are not sound doctrine. There are theologians throughout the history of Christendom who would agree with them.

  8. Patty says:

    Dr. Wile,

    First, I do want to say again how much we enjoy your curriculum. It does uphold a young earth Biblical position. I’m sure the other homeschoolers who have posted on your blog have felt the same way and are expressing their dissapointment over your support of Dr. Enns’ view of Scripture (Adam a metaphor for Israel, etc.). You probably should have expected that.

    Further, I’m reminded of Apollos, Acts 18:24-28, who was taken aside by Priscilla and Aquila to explain to him the way of God more accurately. It appears that Dr. Enns was also taken aside but instead of receiving correction he continues to teach and actively promote his erroneous views of Scripture. At that point it is correct for Christian leaders to expose his error and to warn others of his teaching. After all, that is exactly what the Apostles did, i.e. John, Peter, Paul.

    I think Dr. Henry Morris said it well in his article:

    http://www.icr.org/article/keep-silent-time-speak/

    Dr. Wile, I’m not going to rehash what we’ve discussed before. You and I are both aware that two contradictory positions can not be true. I do know there is a big difference with supporting someone as a person versus supporting their beliefs. We can do the one without the other. I also believe it is correct to expose erroneous teaching. In the case of Dr. Enns, Ken Ham is not the only one who has called him out for erroneous teaching.

    Yes, Christian homeschoolers (especially the ones I know) care about these things because we have limited resources. Some of us have shoe string budgets. That is why we are careful on what we buy. I think you know that.

    I truly believe you put your heart and soul into developing science curriculum for Christian homeschoolers. We’ve just started using your curriculum from Apologia this year. So far I haven’t seen anything to cause me alarm. I am truly thankful to God for your efforts in writing the science curriculum. I’m sure it took you a lot of time and effort of which I do appreciate.

    I do believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. I do believe that Scripture is authoritative and can be understood in a straightforward plain reading of it. I do support Answers In Genesis. That ministry has been a tremendous help to me and I will continue to support them and Ken Ham. By the way, AIG must have appreciated you because you appear in one of their videos (global warming)they offer.

    I just want to say that I truly believe most of the posters are not out to attack you. I know I haven’t. I just think many of us are disappointed.

    It appears we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  9. jlwile says:

    Patty, I did not expect the reaction I got, mostly because my courses stress critical thinking, and that’s all I am doing here. Also, I assumed that most Christians take Romans 14:1-9 as seriously as I do, but it seems that was an incorrect assumption. However, it really doesn’t matter to me that you or anyone else is disappointed. I am not looking for the approval of people. I am looking for the approval of God. That’s what motivated me to write my curriculum, and it is what motivated me to stand up against Ken Ham’s terrible actions. He has every right to point out what he thinks is wrong with Dr. Enns’s theology, but not with name calling and a false charge. It’s just that simple.

    In addition, I am not supporting Dr. Enns’s views. I have said over and over that I disagree with them. I am simply pointing out the very obvious fact that many theologians in Christendom agree with him and that to claim that he is compromising Scripture is quite simply untrue.

    In Acts 18:24-28, there is no record of name-calling or a false charge. It was also not a public setting. Thus, it doesn’t apply to this situation at all. Romans 14:1-9 applies directly to this situation, and unfortunately, it has been ignored by far too many.

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