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!
109 thoughts on “Dr. Enns Offers Me a New Biblical Insight”
There is one big problem with this diagram: It implies that come the apocalypse and return of Christ, we’ll be lined up for a second fall and another run of the cycle. The quadrant 3 arrow shouldn’t be there.
I agree that the diagram appears to produce a neverending circle. However, if you lose the last arrow, you lose the idea that Revelation 21-22 gets us back to Eden. Perhaps the diagram should say “one complete cycle only” or something like that.
While I see the point of the comments above I think Enns has a wonderful take on how we should view the Bible. As a ministry student, and someone who has been taught to look at “the details”, this is valuable information. Thanks for sharing it! I’ll be looking at the details a bit differently now.
I am glad you appreciate it, Angela!
You might really enjoy “According to Plan” by Graeme Goldsworthy. It was extremely helpful to me in getting a panoramic view of Scripture. The opening chapters are a bit tedious, but he really hits his stride by chapter 9.
Thanks for the suggestion, James. I will add that to my reading list!
“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”
— Matthew 7:13-14
Dr. Wile, I am a soon-to-be, home educated graduate, who has always enjoyed learning about God’s creation; I learned much from the way you taught through your Apologia curriculum, but I must say that I am very disappointed by what I have read on your blog.
I understand you believe the Bible is God’s word, written by men inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16), and I am made to wonder, what do you say to the Scripture above? Please understand, my words are not meant in a mean spirit, merely in a curious, and somewhat confused manner. In your previous comments, on one of your last posts, you said people have made the Scriptures narrow, a “great disservice to Scripture,” you claimed; but God leaves no room for compromise or broad ways. There is only one way of right thinking and living — and that is God’s way.
I am very confused and wary about your comments saying you did not agree with Dr. Enns’ thinking on some subjects, but you felt it was wrong to proclaim them “unbiblical.” If you do not think it is right to say they are unbiblical, then surely you must agree with them! As I stated before, God’s way is the only right way, and He has given, rather, granted us His own word in the form of the Bible. Logically, if you disagree with something that you will not admit is “unbiblical”, then you disagree with that which is, supposedly, Biblical. Again, I do not wish this to come across as demeaning, I am simply attempting to follow your thinking to its ultimate end.
I have noticed the word “compromise” popping up rather frequently. Would you not agree? In my thinking, your approach to Dr. Enns’ ideas is sort of like the “all roads lead to the same place” stance. Many “compromising Christians” have taken this position when it comes to relating to people of other religions for fear of offending, but Jesus was always blunt and to the point when it came to correcting the blantantly wrong. As we know, the only way to God and His gift of eternal life is Jesus Christ (John 14:6), and these compromising Christians are thus in the wrong. Likewise, I believe the only way to live life, interpret evidence, examine creation, read the Word, and address issues all about us is through the way God tells us to. Does this seem narrow minded? It should. “For the gate is small, and the path narrow that leads to life.” There is no room for compromise.
Julia, the Scripture you quote is quite clear. It tells us that few will get into heaven. I agree that there is only one way of right thinking and right living. However, I do not believe that I (or anyone else) is the sole arbiter of what that right way of thinking and living are.
The problem with saying that anything you don’t believe is unBiblical means that you think you know exactly what the Bible says on every issue. Do you? I most certainly don’t. I am an Arminianist, for example, but that doesn’t mean I think the Calvinists are unBiblical. I think they are wrong in their interpretation, but I am not willing to say that I am the final arbiter on that issue. I think your logic is quite flawed. There are many issues in Christianity that I cannot say for sure what the unBiblical position is. I try to follow what I think the Bible says on the issue, but that doesn’t mean I think someone with a different view is absolutely wrong. To call something unBiblical, you must know it is absolutely wrong.
My approach to Dr. Enns is certainly NOT an “all roads lead to the same place” idea. It is simply admitting that there are MANY views within orthodox Christianity, and the Bible clearly tells us we are to respect those views (Romans 1:1-9). I am certainly not trying to widen the gate. I am simply trying to get Christians to respect each others’ views when they fall in the range of orthodoxy.
Although I appreciate your encouragement to respect others’ views and your call to think critically about this issue, it also seems like you may be sidestepping sharing your well thought out opinion. Do you share Ken Hamm or Dr. Enns’ viewpoint? Just curious. Thank you for a reply.
Marci, I have made it clear in several posts on this blog that I share Ken Ham’s viewpoint. I am a young-earth creationist, and I think the Genesis days were 24-hour days.
I am very disappointed that you have been deceived in such a way. I pray that you and others that have been deceived will again seek what God says in His word rather that what a man believes it to say. We have been using your curriculum which we find very Biblical but if this shows where things from you are heading we will be finding something else. It is sad Satan is getting such a big foothold!
Sue, I am sorry that you feel that way. It is sad that many Christians cannot treat their brothers and sisters in Christ with respect.
Dr. Wile, Your response to Julia demonstrates to me that you are of the Emergent persuasion. One can treat others with respect at the same time holding fast to the absolute truths of scripture. Tolerance to the “many views” is designed to water down the gospel message and promote Man’s plans over God’s plans. Finding common ground while ignoring the “differences” IS the gate that is wide and leads to destruction. Julia is right, there is NO room for compromise on scripture. That’s not narrow minded, unloving, or disrepectful. I’m sorry you disagree.
Tina, I am sorry you feel that way. For a person to think that he has the one “correct” view of Scripture when the entire history of Christianity is filled with incredibly devout, very serious theologians who could not come up with it is the definition of narrow-minded.
I am not sure what the “Emergent” persuasion is, but if it means following Romans 14:1-9, count me in!
I read your comments to “Sue” above. She disagrees with you. She may, after having read your blog, alter her buying patterns and find another curriculum. How is she being disrespectful? She is simply making a buyer’s choice and exercising the power of the purse strings. Your response to this sincere lady is simply heavy-handed.
Jon, Sue is not being disrespectful in any way by choosing another curriculum. That is her choice and her right. She is being disrespectful to me and other Christians when say says, “…you have been deceived in such a way. I pray that you and others that have been deceived will again seek what God says in His word rather that what a man believes it to say.”
So because I might disagree with her, I have been deceived. Because I might disagree with her, I am believing what a man says over what God says in His Word. That’s the disrespect, and it goes counter to how Scripture says we should treat brothers and sisters in Christ!
Regarding your comment to Tina above, the Bible and not men is our final authority. One could make the same argument for Arianism or universalism from church history as you do for the exegesis and interpretation of Gen. 1-2. Arguments from church history carry only so much weight.
I would recommend the book, Coming to Grips with Genesis. Chapters 1&2, in particular are helpful. Your sweeping statement about church history is simply not consisitent with the facts. Only since the advent of long ages and evolution has there been any substantive attempt to re-interpret the Bible in light of the so-called “facts of science”. Go to the Reasons to Believe website and look at the testimonies of all the theologians who are old-earth creationists. Their high opinion of the findings of modern science compel them to interpret Gen. 1-11 in such a way that it does not conflict with these findings. They have exalted science above the Bible. They are devout men, but they are wrong. This error is eroding the theological soul of the Church.
Jon, I certainly agree that the Bible is our final authority. However, there have been orthodox theologians since the beginning of Christendom who have questioned what you call the “literal” interpretation of Genesis. Thus, it is clear that what the Bible actually means regarding Genesis is debatable.
You are wrong when you say that people who do not believe what you believe about creation are exalting science over the Bible. That may be true of some, but certainly not all. Clement of Alexandria (105-211), Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 293 -373 AD), Basil of Caesarea (c. 330-379 AD), Augustine (354-330), and Hilary of Poitiers (c. 300 – 368 AD) all disagreed with the idea that the days of Genesis were 24-hour days. They had no “science” to exalt over the Bible. They were simply going by the text. It is unfortunate that you want to subscribe motives to your fellow Christians rather than actually listen to their Biblical arguments.
I have read Coming to Grips with Genesis. I thought McCabe’s critique of the framework hypothesis was excellent. However, much of the book is filled with poor logic and even poorer Biblical arguments. For example, Mayhue claims that because nature is NOT the 67th book of the Bible (and I agree), the progressive creationist view is unBiblical. However, a progressive creationist view does not, in any way, require one to believe that nature is the 67th book of the Bible. This kind of poor thinking is prevalent in the book.
I have read several young-earth theology books, and while many bring up very good arguments, they are unable to refute the Biblical arguments of the other camps. This is why it is clear to me that you cannot use this issue to judge how a person looks at Scripture.
You said about Sue:
“So because I might disagree with her, I have been deceived. Because I might disagree with her, I am believing what a man says over what God says in His Word. That’s the disrespect, and it goes counter to how Scripture says we should treat brothers and sisters in Christ!”
Dr.Wiles, with all due respect, this make no sense whatsoever. How you can get “disrespect” out of what Sue said boggles my mind.
Jon, by saying I have been deceived, she is clearly disrespecting me. How you cannot see that boggles my mind!
In regard to your response to Josiah’s comment, where scripturally do you find the concept of “returning to Eden/ Eden Restored”?
I’m certainly no scholar, but I love God’s Word. I have never seen any scriptures that suggest a cyclical plan for man. On the contrary, I see more scriptures that indicate a linear plan than anything else. I may be wrong, but what I see is Christ going to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house. Furthermore (from what I can see) we will live in the Kingdom of God and also, the New Jerusalem.
I offer this for prayerful consideration; Paul refers to us as new creatures through Christ, not fixed Adams. I think the indwelling of the Holy Spirit changes everything. Adam lived in the Garden. He never went to visit God, but rather, it was God who came to Adam…there in the Garden. Now, because of what Christ did on the cross for us, we can enter the very throne room of God the Father.
Another point I’d like clarification on is whether or not evolution is still considered a theory. In one of his seminars, Dr. Enns gives the strong impression of trying to conform the scripture to an evolutionary beginning. (Now, I don’t believe we are to attempt to conform the Word to our understanding, period, but we are to conform our understanding to the Word.) My opinion aside, if evolution still is a theory, then how can anyone entertain the idea of conforming scripture to accept a concept that has disproved itself more often than not?
Finally, in your response to Julia, you end with, “I am simply trying to get Christians to respect each others’ views when they fall in the range of orthodoxy.” I don’t see evolution falling within the range of orthodoxy – do you? And, I guess I’m having a difficult time trying to see the disrespect that you are crediting to Dr. Enns. Surely those who disagree with him have the opportunity to voice with what and why they disagree with him.
I hope you don’t in any way read any disrespect in what I’ve posted. I’m genuinely concerned for the Body of Christ as a whole and each of us as individuals to love and cooperate with one another, but also being discerning and protective of the Word. May the Lord bless and keep us all.
Christi, I am no Bible scholar, either. However, like you, I love the Word. Look at Revelation 21-22. Revelation 21 talks about a new heaven and a new earth. Thus, that’s like a recreation. In Revelation 22, we read about a river and a tree of life. That seems a lot like Eden. I certainly agree that we are not fixed Adams. We are new creations. We will live with God. I didn’t mean to imply that EVERYTHING will be like Eden. But creation started with Eden, which was a kind of paradise, and it will end with a true paradise. I see that as circular.
Whether or not evolution is a theory depends on who you speak with. Many say it is a fact. I say it is an unconfirmed hypothesis. I suppose there are some people who want to conform the Word to evolution, but I don’t know anyone like that. Certain, Dr. Enns is not like that. He is simply trying to understand what the Bible says.
I don’t think evolution has anything to do with orthodoxy. A theistic evolutionist, in my mind, can be very orthodox. In fact, many great orthodox theologians and philosophers were (and are) evolutionists. I don’t have any problem with that. The disrespect I am referring to is people leveling false charges at Dr. Enns. Mr. Ham, for example, says his view of inspiration is not Biblical. That is simply false. Others have claimed all sorts of terrible things about him which aren’t true. That is simply wrong, and there is no way around that.
I certainly didn’t take any of your comment as disrespectful. You did not call me names, level false charges at me, or question the fact that I am a follower of Christ. Unfortunately, all of those things have been done to Dr. Enns.
Dear Dr. Wile, I am so, so sad to read this! As a homeschooling mom, I was able to hear you speak at a conf. in MN and your books have been an encouragment to me.
I have seen the “fruit” of believing evolution. Popular evolutionist Richard Dawkins says that his belief in evolution has turned him toward atheism. Then attending college, I saw it with my own eyes that unprepared Christian kids had no rebuttal against evolution and I saw them turn away from their faith!
As a Christian mom, I don’t want that for my kids which is why I homeschool and why your books were so helpful. I felt like you went out of your way to explain to us why evolution is scientifically incorrect. I felt like you understood the danger of Christian kids not being equipped to answer back the claims of evolution.
So why, dear Dr. Wile, are you ‘excited’ about Peter Enns, a man that is for evolution? Knowing this has been so upsetting. I am so very sad.
Becky, I am very sad to read your comment. What about the fruit of C.S. Lewis? He believed in evolution, and he brought thousands to Christ. Evolution is not the problem. I do go out of my way to explain how evolution is not scientifically correct. However, that doesn’t mean it is incompatible with Christianity. That seems to be the thing many Christians don’t understand.
I am excited about Dr. Enns because it is great to listen to those who have a completely different take on Scripture. I don’t believe everything he teaches, but that doesn’t discount the excellent things he does teach. Indeed, I don’t agree with everything Ken Ham teaches. However, that doesn’t discount the excellent things he does teach!
Love you, Jay. I appreciate who you are and what you do. God bless.
Thanks for your kind comments in response to some of the comments above. I am a young earth, 24 hour day creationist, a friend of John Whitcomb, and Pastor a great Church where we teach Genesis 1-3 consistent with how you view it. Pete Enns does not view Genesis 1-3 the same way that you and I, or any of the above commenters do. However, we must realize that Pete Enns is not a “classic evolutionist”, for evolution by definition is atheistic. Pete is just wrong on his view of creation, yet his reading of Genesis 1-3 not only falls within the framework of orthodoxy, but was the view of many theologians of the past who loved Jesus deeply, you mentioned some of them, you didn’t mention Charles Hodge and BB Warfield (important names to my son who is in graduate school at Princeton). The works of these men, who viewed Genesis 1-3 much like Pete does, in no way weakened the Church of Christ but rather strengthened them. Must we be reminded that Orthodoxy is measured on ones view of the Gospel? (read “The Fundamentals”, published in the early 20th century)
I appreciate that you can learn from those you disagree with like Pete. I am Baptist and Pete is Presbyterian, and we disagree on many things, but I love the guy (OK, I will show my hand, we are friends and he has had an incredible impact on my son while he was a student of Petes at Westminster Seminary. BTW, Petes big sin is that he is a Yankee fan)
Many young people are junking the faith because they see how we who are “mature” treat are brothers in the faith and want no part of it. The great apologetic for our faith according to Jesus is seen in John 13:35, and you are displaying that love here, THANKS!
Bill, thank you so much for your kind words. They are not only insightful, but they are encouraging to me!
Dr. Wile, Above you state : “It is sad that many Christians cannot treat their brothers and sisters in Christ with respect” but what I’ve read by you about Dr. Ken Hamm is in no way respectful. I am so glad that I’m now finding out about you before my kids started using your Apologia science books for junior high. They’ve been using Jeannie Fulbrights books and hopefully she doesn’t have the same viewpoints that you do. We will instead be using curriculum by AIG. And, you really need to do some research and learn what “emergent” is before stating “count me in”. Rob Bell, anyone.
Kelli, I am sorry you feel that way. I am not disrespectful to Mr. Ham. I am attacking his actions. They were wrong, and I am making that clear.
You should certainly use what curriculum you think is the best for you. I have always said that. If you do not like the Biblical worldview in my books, you should look elsewhere.
Where is the Scripture that says the original creation was ‘not perfect” but very good?
Thanks for your question, Eva. In the creation narrative, we read several times that “God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:10, Genesis 1:12, etc.) In verse 31, we read, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” In each case, the Hebrew word used is tob. This word means “good.” There is another Hebrew word for “perfect.” That word is shalom. It is used in other parts of Scripture (1 Kings 8:61, for example), but not here. Thus, this tells us that creation was not perfect before the Fall. It was very good, but if it had been perfect, the proper word would have been used.
I listened to a wonderful theologian have a simular description of what your post was about but his take was that it was more of a bookcase with creation being one bookend and Revelation being the ending bookend with God’s story of remdemption inbetween. Beautiful picture. I wouldnt say that it is revolving but it clearly ends as it began.
Thank you for your comment, Tammie. I agree that it is a beautiful picture!
Dr. Wile, I don’t share your views regarding a young earth. That said, I am incrediably impressed with the respect and courtesy you have demonstrated to Dr. Enns, and others who are finding fault with your decisions. May we all as Christians work to find the common ground we can, and leave God to judge His own servants.
It is possible to disagree and respect someone all at the same time.
Richelle, thank you so much for your kind comment. I wish many of these commenters understood that it is possible to disagree with and respect someone all at the same time!
Dear sir, I am a concerned christian and new home schooler parent to two children. My wife is attending a home school convention coming up next week.I found out what has transpired in resent events.So I did a little research.I watched a video of peter enns lecture at westmount college on febuary 9 2011 he is clearly taking things out of context or over sterching things a bit. Heres a couple of examples. One, in the Bible adam is clearly said to be the first man gen.8-25 hes trying to refer to it as a metaphor. Second he talks about cain and his wife and makes a comment that its gross and against bibiclal law but he fails to realize that there was no law imputed until given to moses. romans 5:12-14 covers this.He said the conflict is that paul believes adam was the first man and what science has discovered.Made a mention about the greeks and the earth being round and that paul may have thought it was flat.The Bible mentions it is round in Isaiah 40:22. And another angle he is prposing is that Adam and Eve were ingorant children.”So God created man in his own image and gave them dominion over everything.” I dont see this suggesting ignorant children. Any one can sit there and view things at different angles when they sit there long enough.Thats why we have so many denominations.We are accountable for what we say and do.If you start abstracting everything in the bible I do not see a solid foundation to stand on then what? The concern is covered in 1 corinthians 1:10 where paul pleads to brethern to be of same mind and in same judgement.Do you think that leaves room to be abstract I dont believe so.Thank you for your time God Speed.
Bill, I also have a concern that 1 Corinthians 1:10 is not being followed. As the next few verses say:
“For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
So the problem is that people are TAKING SIDES, following PEOPLE, not CHRIST. That is a real problem today, and you can see that by those who are willing to condemn someone just for treating his brother in Christ in accordance with Romans 14:1-9.
I stand firm with Dr. Ken Ham that we must expose the lies infiltrating the church today. I thank Dr. Ham for his warning, and unfortunately if you are swayed by emergent teachings, like those of Rob Bell, I will can longer purchase your curriculum.
Sandra, that is certainly your right. However, I would remind you that you are to judge a tree by its fruits. I would also remind you of Romans 14:1-9.
My concerns with Dr. Enns teaching is not as much his old earth view, but that he doesn’t believe in a literal Adam. Such a view would greatly harm one’s understanding of the gospel. How are we to believe in original sin without a literal Adam? Read Romans 5:18. “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” The doctrine of imputation of sin from Adam is very important in understanding the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Jesus is called the second Adam. The scripture is quite clear that there was a literal Adam, or there wouldn’t have been genealogies written that include him. Dr. Enns must not have a very high view of the authority and inerrancy of scripture in order to come to such a position.
Andrea, I appreciate your comment, but I see no problem reading Romans 5:18 without a literal Adam. The point of Romans 5:18 is that sin entered the world of men. Whether it did so through one man or several, it doesn’t matter. Sin came to all men, and Christ’s precious blood redeems us from that sin. The power of Christ’s blood is strong enough to conquer sin regardless of the details as to how it entered the world.
Here’s an article at Desiring God on why this is so important.
My wife and I home schooled our three kids for eighteen years and were involved with the Illinois Christian Home Educators for most of that time. The convention that disinvited Ken Ham should have been more careful in choosing their speakers. To mix a conservative and a more liberally minded speaker was just looking for trouble. I have a feeling that the convention organizers did not know of Dr. Enn’s views of Genesis. I’m sure the prophet Jeremiah would not have been welcomed to the convention either.
I’ve heard Ken Ham speak many times and have always walked away with a greater appreciation for the authority of God’s Word. It might have been to Ken’s advantage to wait and hear what Enn’s presented first and then correct any error found afterwards. But, to warn of possible theological error before hand was to put parents on alert as to what might be coming.
I would just bother me to invite a speaker that would try to convince my children to believe something different that what our Lord and Savior believed. I’d have to side with Ken on this one.
John, I appreciate your point, but I actually think it is very commendable of GHC to invite speakers from a wide range of views within Christendom. Not only does that allow the convention to minister to MANY Christians, it allows Christians the opportunity for some great critical thinking, as my post discusses.
It is sad to EXPECT trouble when Christians of different persuasions get together. Unfortunately, there was, and unfortunately, it came from my camp. That’s part of what upset me so much. Dr. Enns was fine sharing a venue with a brother who disagreed with him. Mr. Ham wasn’t. Why couldn’t Mr. Ham accept him as a brother and at least get along as well a lawyer gets along with his opposing counsel? That’s the really sad thing. Secular groups often show more love and respect to one another than Christian groups, and as far as I am concerned, that harms the cause of Christ.
I agree that Ken Ham should have alerted people to the theological errors in Dr. Enns’s work. The problem is that he did so by using an unwarranted name and leveling a false charge. That is not only wrong, it produces the wrong spirit for a CHRISTIAN convention. GHC has invited Dr. Jonathan Sarfati (author of Refuting Compromise) to take Mr. Ham’s place, and he has graciously agreed. If he discusses the errors in Dr. Enns’s THEOLOGY, I will have no problem with that. Indeed, commenters have already linked two excellent reviews of Dr. Enns’s main book that show how Christians should deal with brothers they think are in error. If Dr. Sarfati calls Dr. Enns unwarranted names and levels a false charge at him, however, it will be just as sad as when Ken Ham did it.
The problem is that the text says sin entered by ONE man. One has to disregard that text to not believe in a literal Adam. The whole chapter talks about it, so obviously Paul thinks it is important to know how sin entered the world.
Andrea, you don’t have to DISREGARD the text of Romans 5:12-21 to not believe in a literal Adam. If Adam is a symbol, he is ONE symbol. The text teaches exactly the same truth whether Adam is a real man or just a symbol for how sin entered the world. This is why some seriously good theologians don’t believe in a literal Adam.
And like I mentioned earlier, Adam is listed in the genealogy of Christ.
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I know that this has been difficult for you and has cost you dearly. I, too, am deeply frustrated by the harshness and name calling in the homeschooling world. When Ken Ham’s blog came into my inbox, and I read that he was calling Pete Enns a “Compromiser,” I knew that trouble was coming. By calling Dr. Enns names, they are also calling me and my family names, and creating a very harsh and narrow climate in which to raise my children. Why is there such an unwillingness to see the other side? Very few people will actually read and try to understand what Pete Enns is saying – they will watch video clips and read selected parts of posts that have been excerpted, but not read what he has to say long enough or well enough to understand. They have to live in a narrow slice of “now,” rather than take an honest view of history and Church Fathers! This is all very discouraging.
I’m thrilled that Dr. Enns has written a curriculum. Indeed, I WILL purchase it, and hope that he writes more! 🙂 I hope that it becomes very successful. Homeschoolers like to think they can control a curriculum market (and likely, they do some extent,) but they are not considering private and church use. There is a need for what he has written. Not everyone is Calvinist.
I, for one, fully support you and appreciate you and the stance you have taken and am so sorry for the slander you have suffered. You have been strong, but kind.
God bless you –
Holly, thank you for your kind and thoughtful post. We all have a sinful nature, which is what causes these problems. I find it discouraging as well.
Dr. Wile, You said in the comments above that there is a Hebrew word for “good” and a different Hebrew word for “perfect”. I have some questions relating both to that and the discussion of a flawed creation. My first question is: How do we know for sure that the word “perfect” is, in fact, the correct definition of what is without flaws or faults? What if God’s definition of what is without flaws or faults is the word “good”? We automatically assume that good is on a lower level than perfect, how did that viewpoint come to be? My last question is this: If you believe in a flawed creation, doesn’t that compromise both the awful significance of Adam and Eve’s original sin, and God’s unflawed nature?
Nathaniel, thanks for your comment. If God’s definition of what is without flaws is “good,” why did He use the word “perfect” in other parts of the Old Testament to indicate something without flaws? Generally, the reason a language has different words is to convey different meanings. If “good” really meant “without flaws,” then God would use it consistently to mean that. However, He uses “shalom” to mean “without flaws” in other parts of the Old Testament. Thus, it is reasonable to think that if creation was without flaws, he would use that same word in Genesis.
A non-perfect creation doesn’t have any effect on the significance of Adam and Eve’s original sin. Sin brought human death into the world. It brought the Curse. That’s its awful significance. Whether or not creation was perfect before doesn’t affect that one bit. Also, there is no reason to think that an unflawed being would create a perfect creation. After all, what if He WANTED to make a non-perfect creation? He would be flawed if it ended up being perfect! God could create ANY kind of creation He wanted. Based on the language in Genesis, he wanted a non-perfect one.
You never answered the question of genealogies. Why would a symbolic figure(Adam) be mentioned in the genealogy of Christ?
Andrea, I actually did answer that. I said I don’t know and that I would ask Dr. Enns (or one of the other theologians who does not believe in a historic Adam) if I got the chance. I also said that I expect their answer would be something along the lines that referencing Adam and his kin in a genealogy is a way of saying that the genealogy goes back to the very beginning. I also noted that I think the fact that he is in a genealogy is great evidence for the fact that he did really exist.
Ok, I didn’t see that response. Sorry. Thank you for trying to answer in a polite manner. I think you are trying to be loving toward Dr. Enns, but I question whether tolerating bad doctrine is the most loving thing to do for him and anyone who may potentially be influenced by his teachings.
I just finished watching Dr. Enns presentation; that is alavaible on his blog. After watching him I must say that he presented it in a confusing way; often questioning in a condescending manner if the word of God is indeed the Word of God or man’s account. What do you feel concerning the word of God: Is it the inspired word of God, God breathed, with out flaw, unchanging? I would love to hear your point of view.
Thank you for your time,
Cristina, I believe that the Bible is the inspired (God-breathed) Word of God and that it has no errors in its original autographs. It is definitely unchanging. Despite the impression you might have gotten from the video, Dr. Enns has a very similar view. He believes that the Bible is the inspired (God-breathed) Word of God. He believes that while it contains minor errors, it is infallible. Thus, everything it teaches is true. This view is similar to many other Christian theologians.
Dear Dr. Wile,
I am a pediatrician and a homeschool mom. We have used your curriculum for about 10 years now and absolutely love it. I have really appreciated your strong stance on creation. We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. Also, I attended the HS conference in Greenville and heard your talk on prophecy and appreciated what you had to say. I would like to encourage you to listen to this audio sermon by Dr.James White at a conference in March 2010 at Greenville Presbyterian Seminary in Greenville, SC. Dr. White is an apologist and is speaking about the infallibility and inspiration of Scripture and Dr. Enns’ book “Inspiration and Incarnation”. http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=312101816560 Dr. White is very level headed and has the credentials to address this topic. I care about you as a brother in Christ and would love to hear that you have considered, as a good scientist :), all the evidence.
Thank you for the link, Sarah. I will, indeed, listen to the talk when I get a chance. Note that I have read two excellent critiques of Dr. Enns’s theological book:
They both point out several problems with his theology, but they do it in the proper way, and they do not call him unwarranted names or level false charges.
At least some are unafraid to stand for the truth with Ken Ham
Dr. Wile, To the best of my ability to understand Scripture, I have no choice but to conclude that there are HUGE irreconcilable differences between the apostle Paul’s explanation of the Gospel message and Dr. Enns’s understanding of the Gospel message. In spite of claims to the contrary, I cannot find any logical way that both men could be right. If Ken Ham sincerely believes that the message presented by Dr. Enns has the dangerous potential to undermine a true understanding of the Gospel, then it seems to me that even if you believe that Ken Ham is mistaken in that assessment, you would have to grant that perhaps Ham’s motivation for his use of the word “compromiser” was more in line with the spirit of Galatians 1:9 than it was in line with the spirit of his deliberately being “unkind” or “nasty” or “proud” as you have accused him of being.
Elizabeth, I respect your opinion on Dr. Enns’s views. However, I did not say Mr. Ham was nasty because of the name-calling. I said that was unwarranted, and it clearly was. However, I said Mr. Ham was nasty because of the false charge that Dr. Enns’s view of inspiration is not Biblical.
Dr. Wile, in all due respect, I am confused as to why you would consider it “nasty” for Mr. Ham to make the charge that Dr. Enns’s view of inspiration is not Biblical. As I understand it, Dr. Enns believes that much of the early narrative of the Old Testament is literary fiction that contains spiritual and theological truth. I assume that when Mr. Ham states that such a view of inspiration is not Biblical, he means that such a view is not Biblically accurate. In other words, I assume Mr. Ham believes that the Bible makes claims for itself that it is historically accurate. Dr. Enns apparently believes that Mr. Ham’s views on inspiration are not Biblical (i.e., he apparently believes that the Bible makes no such claims for itself.) To say that someone else’s beliefs are not Biblical (or Biblically accurate) is not the same thing as saying that person is not a Christian, and such a statement does not necessarily impugn the character or the motives of the other person. As an analogy, I am not a Calvinist, and I consider Calvinist doctrine to be unbiblical (i.e., a misunderstanding of what Scripture is teaching). I in no way intend that statement to be a personal attack on anyone, nor do I question the salvation or motives of those who disagree with me on that issue. I do say that I consider their beliefs on that subject to be a serious and potentially spiritually dangerous error (just as I am sure they would consider my rejection of Calvinism to be serious unbiblical error). Hopefully, neither I nor a Calvinist would consider the other to be “nasty,” however.
Elizabeth Bush, the reason it is nasty to call Dr. Enns’s view of inspiration unBiblical is that is clearly is not. 2 Timothy 3:16 is the standard for inspiration, and BOTH Mr. Ham’s and Dr. Enns’s view are compatible with it. Thus, they are BOTH Biblical.
I would seriously doubt that Dr. Enns would call Mr. Ham’s view unBiblical. He would call it wrong, but that is quite different. The term “unBiblical” means “not consistent with the Bible.” I would suggest that you rethink how you use that term. I agree with you that Calvinists misinterpret the Bible. However, as long as they can DEFEND their position based on the Bible (without Scripture-twisting, etc.), then their view is not unBiblical. It is simply incompatible with your view. It is not incompatible with the Bible.
Dr. Wile, Your defense of your comments on Ken Ham have left me curious. I had never heard your name until I attended the Greenville convention. Being a personal friend of Ken Ham, having personally witnessed his impeccable integrity in defending the most precious Word, and hearing his grave concern for families who might hear false teaching, I find your feeble attempt to defend Dr. Enns questionable. It appears to be a case of one “academic club” member defending another. Over and over you say you disagree with his positions yet you defend him from someone (Ham) whom you apparently agree with. What do you hope to gain by defending Enns? You mentioned in your blog of how excited you were to get to have a conversation with Enns at the convention (whom you disagree with) because the conversation will be so stimulating. Is this all for entertainment? Is this a big game?
I seriously doubt Ken gives much thought to who agrees with him and who doesn’t. Perhaps, his straightforwardness in his defense of the Word might not be delicate enough for some academics who are not used to being challenged. I find that very appealing because I want the truth in whatever form it must take. Our homeschooling wouldn’t be worth much to our children if we only listened to or read the polite, middle of the road types.
In my opinion, Ken Ham exemplifies God’s purpose for elders in the church. They were charged with teaching the flock and guarding the flock from false doctrine. They were NOT charged with worshiping at the feet of academics in the world of intellectual learning. Guarding the flock means they must expose false teaching, not for their benefit or self promotion, but for protection of “the least of these” who may not have the training to defend their faith. (That was me up until a few years ago.)
As time moves on, I believe the Remnant who seek the truth will grow in respect for ministries like Answers in Genesis and they will continue to grow. Others will diminish as Christians discover that if we can’t believe God’s Word about creation, how can we believe the rest?
In fairness, I had never heard of Dr. Enns nor his position on the Bible. I have been exposed to him and you now, thanks to Ken. I see real danger in Enns’ positions and see no reason to pursue his teaching any further. You, on the other hand, don’t seem to take a real stand. Your website provides a lot of information about different views but you don’t seem to take a firm stand other than to say your don’t agree with some of it.
If you’re given the opportunity, I encourage you to spend some time with Dr. Ham and any of the other brilliant people on his staff. They have all helped to revolutionize our family’s interest in the Word. I hear my young children defend their faith in a bold way now. They have answers.
In closing, I am grateful for Ken Ham’s willingness to expose what I and many others, evidently, is dangerous, questionable teaching within the church. I would encourage you to stop simply disagreeing with those you hold in high esteem and state your defense. All of this excitement has generated a lot of wasted time because of a so-called, “unkind” statement. Time to give it a rest.
Rick, this has nothing to do with an “academic club.” It has to do with Christians treating their brothers and sisters in Christ properly. What I hope to gain is exactly that – Christians honestly disagreeing with each other but doing so the way the Scriptures tell us to do so (Romans 14:1-9). This is neither a game nor entertainment. I honestly believe that other people can teach me things. I further believe that God helps us understand things by bringing to us brothers and sisters in Christ who can teach us. Just because I disagree with a brother doesn’t mean he can’t teach me things.
As I have said countless times before, I have no problem with Mr. Ham pointing out his doctrinal disagreement with anyone, including Dr. Enns. However, there is a PROPER way to do that. Other Christians (like Dr. Geisler and John Frame) have done it that way – without name-calling and false charges.
I have spent time with members of the AiG staff, and I have listened to Mr. Ham speak in several venues. I have also read many of AiG’s books. However, I have also listened to other men of God, like Hugh Ross and Dr. Enns. As a result, while I disgree with both Dr. Ross and Dr. Enns, I have learned that neither is a danger to the Gospel. In fact, they are helping to spread it.
Dr. Wile, I apologize for continuing to post so many comments; I will make this the last one (at least on this subject). I sincerely mean no disrespect to any other Christian, and I sincerely am NOT questioning the salvation, the intelligence, the scholarship, or the motivation of anyone else—including Dr. Enns, Mr. Ham, or you. You say that if someone can DEFEND their position based on the Bible (without Scripture-twisting) then their view is not unBiblical; you further define “unBiblical” to mean “not consistent with the Bible.” The problem I have with that definition is that intelligent Christians may strongly disagree on what constitutes “Scripture-twisting.” I personally cannot understand how anyone can read Romans 5:12-19 without admitting that this passage of Scripture clearly and unequivocally teaches that Adam was the literal historical ancestor of the entire human race. To deny that seems to me to either be twisting the words of that passage or else to be saying the Apostle Paul was just plain wrong. If Paul was just plain wrong, then that particular passage of Scripture is doctrinally misleading, contrary to 2 Timothy 3:16. Someone may deny the historicity of Adam and still be saved, still love the Lord passionately,and still be an intelligent scholar, but if such a person claims to believe in the inspiration of Scripture, his definition of “inspiration” is quite different from what I believe Jesus and Paul meant when they talked about the authority of Scripture. I use the term “unBiblical” to mean “anything that in doctrine or practice is contrary to what the authors of Scripture intended to be saying.” By that definition, every single one of us perhaps has some beliefs and definitely some personal practices in our life that are unBiblical; we haven’t “arrived” at a state of either “fullness of knowledge” or a state of sinless perfection. That is why it is so important for us as Christians to correct one another and to exhort one another, always in a courteous and kind manner. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree about what the definition of “unBiblical” should be and about what constitutes “Scripture-twisting.”
Elizabeth, Christians do, indeed, disagree on what Scripture-twisting is. I think that’s the whole point of Romans 14:1-9. Because God knew His people will disagree on what the Bible means on specific issues, He urged them to treat each other with respect. Calling someone’s views “unBiblical” is not respect. It makes it sound like that person is ignoring the Bible.
The problem is that Dr. Enns’s view is wholly consistent with 2 Timothy 3:16. Whether or not Adam was a literal man, the Scriptures are still “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” That’s the measure of a Biblical view of inspiration, and Dr. Enns has that.
Good evening Dr. Wile. While I do appreciate the simplicity and the big pciture view that Dr. Enns presented, it does seem to contradict his own views. From a lecture I saw the was presneted by Dr. Enns, he was clearly making the case that Adam could very well be a figurative person and not an actual man that represent the nation of Israel. This is heresey and does contradict what he presented above. I am surprised that you are making pains to support him….
Lee, a figurative view of Adam does not contradict this picture. While Dr. Enns does not believe there was a literal Adam, he believes that the TEACHING contained in the creation account is true. Thus, there is no contradiction here. God’s story of Adam tells of how we sinned against him, regardless of whether the story itself is literal or poetic. Thus, it forms the basis of 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.
This is why I caution people to actually UNDERSTAND someone’s views before condemning them. To think that Dr. Enns is contradicting his own theology is not very reasonable.
Could someone please clarify the “name-calling and false charges”. I have yet to find an exact quote of what Ken Ham said about Dr. Enns.
Lisa, they are in my previous post. Mr. Ham calls Dr. Enns a “compromiser,” and he says Dr. Enns doesn’t have the Biblical view of inspiration, despite the fact that Dr. Enns’s view is perfectly consistent with 2 Timothy 3:16.
Specifically how do you think it would have been “PROPER” for Ken Ham to have handled this issue?
Mona, Mr. Ham could have pointed out the errors he sees in Dr. Enns’s views without calling him a name and without leveling a false charge. Had he titled the piece something like, “Here’s a homeschool speaker I just can’t agree with” and had he just said, “He does not have the same view of inspiration as I do” rather than going on to claim his view of inspiration is not Biblical, I wouldn’t have had nearly as much problem with what he posted.
Dr. Wile, you said, “Lisa, they are in my previous post. Mr. Ham calls Dr. Enns a “compromiser,” and he says Dr. Enns doesn’t have the Biblical view of inspiration, despite the fact that Dr. Enns’s view is perfectly consistent with 2 Timothy 3:16.”
However, your quote of Ken Ham is, “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.”
I see NO name calling in this. There is a statement saying that “what Enns teaches about Genesis is not just compromising Genesis with evolution……”
My question to you is, how can anyone disagree with another without first judging the others statements to be different, opposite, contrary, or any other similar words? By definition, compromise means a willingness to concede differences for the sake of agreement. Even you disagree with Enns’ view that Adam was not a literal person. From your point of view, then, you consider Dr. Enns’ viewpoint compromising. I interpret Ken Ham’s statement to assert that what Enns teaches is that evolution explains the historical account of Genesis and that that is different from what the Bible literally says. Ken Ham is simply saying that he is not willing to concede that difference of opinion and therefore there cannot be any agreement on that on the part of Ken Ham. In fact, you apparently are unwilling to compromise on that as well, it seems.
If Ken called Enns a “compromiser”, I have not found it in any of your blogs.
Rick, I see that you noticed where Mr. Ham calls Dr. Enns a compromiser. I have no problem with one Christian judging another Christian’s STATEMENTS, as long as they are judged fairly. Indeed, that’s what I think I have done. I think I judged Mr. Ham’s STATEMENTS, not him. In fact, I specifically said that people should go to Mr. Ham’s talks. Thus, I was not condemning Mr. Ham, I was condemning what he said.
From my point of view, Dr. Enns is NOT compromising. He is using a different hermeneutic. There is a BIG difference between those two statements. Compromising implies taking something from Scripture. Dr. Enns does not do that. He claims that Scripture is not meant to be interpreted as I think it should be interpreted. Thus, he is using all of Scripture and not compromising it. He is simply interpreting it differently than I interpret it. That is not compromise.
Dr. Wile, I stand corrected. I did see it in Ken’s blog. Please disregard my last sentence in my most recent post.
It seems to me that if there wheren’t so many “differant” versions of the Bible then there wouldn’t be so many “differant” views of the Bible.
I am not sure about that, Christy. Even theologians who read the Bible in its original languages come up with different views of it.
There are many applications to Scripture, but there is only one correct interpretation.
Where more than one interpretation is suggested for any one passage of Scripture the problem is faulty hermeneutics, not Scripture itself. In such cases, the desire should be to search to find the correct interpretation. To simply accept all interpretations as of equal validity so as not to “offend” someone is, I’m afraid, definitely compromising — compromising the truth of Scripture.
Janice, I absolutely agree that there is only one correct interpretation. I also agree that if more than one interpretation is suggested, the problem is a faulty hermeneutic. This is why it is so important to investigate multiple hermeneutics – so you can test to see whether or not yours is the false one. That’s not accepting all hermeneutics as equally valid. It is comparing your hermeneutic to those of other brothers and sisters in Christ so as to continue to test its validity.
Dear Dr. Wile,
We would first like to say that we really appreciate your text book “Exploring Creation with Biology”. We are doing it this year and we must say that it is well written.:)
We have a question for you about the implications of Adam not being a literal person. If he is not a literal person, and evolution is “at best an unconfirmed hypothesis”, than how did mankind get here? If one does not believe in this “unconfirmed hypothesis”, then why would they wish to doubt the “literalness” of Adam?
Also, if Adam is not a literal person in the genealogies, then where do the people start being literal? Do they start being literal at Seth, Abraham, David, or Joseph? How do we know from the Bible that the “Last Adam” – Jesus is literal?
Anna & Nathanael
Anna & Nathanael, thanks for your comment and your kind words regarding my biology course. I personally believe in a literal Adam and that evolution is an unconfirmed hypothesis. For those who do not accept a literal Adam, evolution is ONE possible explanation for how Adam got here. Remember, an unconfirmed hypothesis still might be correct – just not confirmed to be correct. Also, there are many who do not think evolution is an unconfirmed hypothesis.
It is also unfair to suggest that the only reason many theologians do not believe in a literal Adam is because of evolution. Some read the text of the early chapters of Genesis and decide it is meant to be metaphor, independent of any origins hypothesis.
If I did not believe in a literal Adam, I would say that the first literal person in the genealogies would be the one who is mentioned in a part of the Bible that is meant to be taken as historical narrative. All the rest simply represent the phenomenon of going into the distant past. Thus, there is no doubt cast on the literal nature of Jesus, since long before Him, there are people mentioned in parts of the Bible that even though who do not believe in a literal Adam agree are meant to be taken as historical narrative.
I’m sorry but this whole matter of Dr. Wile defending Dr. Enns and not Dr. Hamm on Biblical truth makes me never want to purchase any of Dr. Wiles curriculum again. If Dr. Wile can be so easily deceived, then our children are in spiritual danger.
Janet, you can do whatever you want. However, my views have not changed one bit since writing my books, and my books have been ministering to students for a long time. Not surprisingly, AiG completely supports the publisher of my books, because they recognize the solid theology in those books. It is sad to think that because I ask Christians to follow the Scriptures when it comes to dealing with those whom they disagree that this would make you call me “deceived.”
Thank you for responding to my comment, Dr. Wile.
I am glad to hear that you do believe there is only one correct interpretation of Scripture and that we should search the Scriptures to be sure that our interpretation is correct. This means, of course, that when we listen to someone teaching the Bible we are to be Bereans and match what they are teaching against Scripture. To my understanding, that is all that Ken Ham was doing — he was pointing out a teaching that does not match Scripture.
With regard to the issue of whether Adam was a real man or not, Ken Ham and Dr. Enns have two completely different interpretations. Both cannot be correct. So what is a Christian to do? Are we to be like the world — politically correct — and say each man can believe as he wishes? Or are we to search the Scriptures and test what each man is saying to see which is correct?
I believe we are to search the Scriptures to see which interpretation is correct.
With regard to Adam — his name is mentioned 30 times throughout Scripture. He is said to have lived 930 years (Gen 5:5) and is referred to as “the first man” (1 Cor 15:45). If he was not really a man, why would Scripture indicate that he was? And how could a “non” man live 930 years?
I am sure when you sit down to read the daily newspaper, if you read that a “man” drove a bus into a building, you have no problem interpreting that sentence to mean that a real, live, human being drove that bus. Why, then, would anyone question whether “man” in the Bible really means a literal man?
It seems to me that Dr. Enns has made quite an impression on you in that he is a humble, kind brother in Christ. And that’s all good, but it is not wrong to point out where his teaching does not match Scripture. In fact, it is the loving thing to do.
Janice, we are most certainly to be like Bereans. However, Mr. Ham’s advice doesn’t encourage that. He doesn’t want you to listen to Dr. Enns or read his book. If you don’t do that, how are you to test Dr. Enns’s ideas?
I am not even remotely suggesting that we should say it is okay for both men to believe what he wants to believe. What I am saying is that while any Christian has every right to criticize a brother’s beliefs, he or she should not do so by leveling a false charge and calling your brother names. That is not what Scripture tells us to do.
I agree with you that the Scriptures talk of a real, literal Adam. However, there are many orthodox theologians who do not agree, and their belief does not indicate an unBiblical view of inspiration. They question it because according to their reading of the text, it reads like a metaphor, not historical narrative. I know many fictional stories that tell lots of details about their characters, including things like their ages. However, that doesn’t mean those stories are talking about real people. If a theologian reads the text and decides that the text itself is telling a fictional story to communicate truth, it is hard to say that the theologian has an unBiblical view of inspiration. After all, we read Jesus’s parables and understand that those characters are fictional.
I agree that we should point out where a person’s view doesn’t match Scripture. However, we are not to do so with name calling and false charges.
I have a mother-in-law that used to be very involved in church and Bible studies. She was then introduced to a Bible teacher that she was very impressed with. This “Bible teacher” taught parts of the Bible that she reported as not true. My mother-in-law did not question these Biblical accusations, but through a long slow process is now involved in the new age movement and Buddism. She wants nothing to do with the Bible. We have prayed fervently for her and taken every opportunity to re-establish her trust in the truth and authenticity of the Bible. She was with us at the homeschool conference and we were so thankful that someone made us aware of Peter Enns teachings before we ended up in one of his seminars. It would have unraveled all that we have been working for, trying to regain her trust in God’s word being completely true and trustworthy. I don’t feel that you have a respectful fear of this type of teaching, especially by someone in such an infuential role. We have personally experienced having our loved one being drawn away. She would not have been drawn away by a Buddist, Muslim, Hindu, or any other obvious false teacher when she was in the church. It was someone who was religious, intelligent, well respected, and a good person.
Rm, since you don’t know what Dr. Enns said in his talks, you have no idea what affect they would have had on your mother-in-law. Certainly, Dr. Enns doesn’t call any part of the bible not true. Thus, he is definitely not like the Sunday School teacher you describe!
I actually have watched him speak on his website and I did have an opportunity to hear him refer to Paul as wrong in thinking that Adam was actually a real person because he was an ancient man and did not have the information that we have today. He also spoke about the Bible as being very hard to understand. He said that we have to deliberately synthesize evolution and the Bible. There were many other comments of great concern in the one seminar that I watched. It was shocking that Dr. Enns felt that we could have a greater understanding of scripture than Paul who was an inspired writer of so much of the new testament, was an old testament scholar, and lived so much closer to the time of Jesus than he.
Your blog post was a breath of fresh air. Thank you for having the boldness to stand up for a brother in Christ, who takes a minority position. I disagree with condemning others who interpret scripture differently than I do, or who take a different view of age of earth! The age of earth question seems to have risen to the status of an essential of the Christian faith to some! It is NOT an essential, and AiG does not have the corner on interpretation of Scripture. The logic seems to go something like this: AiG’s intrepretation of Scipture is Biblical and God-honoring. Person B does not agree with AiG. Therefore Person B cannot be Biblical or God-honoring in their theology. That is a false dichotomy. When they poison the well a bit by selective interpretation and reinterpretaion of Mr Enns’ theology, the result is that Dr Enn’s materials are condemned before anyone bothers to take a look at them.
Christians need to be very careful before smearing a brother like this. Our Fathers house is a large one, and there is room for diversity and differences of opinion. However, I get sad when people are condenmed for taking a minority position that is well within orthodoxy. I have seen some very ungodly, ugly things written about Dr Enns, such as comments that he will be judged by fire, is a false teacher, and have noticed that the well is now so poisoned that the curriculum he wrote isn’t even being evaluated. He has been defamed to the point that many Christians won’t bother listening to his point.
I am very blessed that you are standing, Mr Wile! I am even more pleased to use the high school texts you authored than before reading your blog!
Prov 26:2 “Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, a curse without cause shall not alight.”
May the Lord strengthen you and bless you with His dear presence in the midst of any turmoil. Do not grow weary, as God’s grace will continue to wash over you in the days ahead.
Tami, I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for your comment. You are also a breath of fresh air!
I am equally as sad at Christians smearing other Christians, however the irony is that in an attempt to defend someone being smeared others are being smeared. I do wish that we lived in a time that we could discuss differences without so much emotion being evoked. Ken Hamm spoke his opinion without being ugly and he has been defamed and now censured by canceling his apeaking engagements. If what he said was “nasty” we must walk on eggshells when speaking our opinion today. I read a very derogatory remark on Enn’s website about “Kenny being kicked out of class” and yet I don’t hear anyone coming to his defense.
Rm, as the conference clearly says, it was not Ken Ham speaking out that caused the problem. It was his spirit. We need not “walk on eggshells,” but as Christians, we should not unfairly attack our brothers and sisters.
It is gracious of you, Dr. Wile, to respond to my postings, but I must say that I find your responses to make very little sense.
On one hand, you acknowledge that only one interpretation can be correct, but on the other hand you say it’s okay for theologians to have differing interpretations.
You also acknowledge the importance of proper hermeneutics, but then you find nothing wrong with treating a parable the same as historical narrative.
You say you agree with Ken Ham, but then you go out of your way to support someone with whom you supposedly disagree … to the point of praising what he is teaching and even posting it on your website.
You acknowledge that it is right to correct a brother in Christ when his teaching is unscriptural, but rather than correct Dr. Enns you praise him and encourage others to listen to his teaching.
Being a Berean does not mean we must listen to someone who has proven to be wrong in his understanding of Scripture. Paul often warned believers in the early church to avoid certain teachers because of their teaching … he did not encourage them to listen to those teachers for themselves.
Tami’s remarks may have been a breath of fresh air, but where in the Bible does it state that God’s house has room for diversity and many different opinions?
Instead of praying that you remain steadfast in your defense of Dr. Enns, my prayer is that you remain steadfast in what you say you believe.
Janice, I think my responses don’t make sense to you because you want me to claim that I am the sole arbiter of truth. In fact, there are many ways to interpret certain parts of Scripture, and to think that my way is the only correct way is simply wrong. The fact is that when we all get to heaven, we will all find parts of or theology that was wrong. Thus, rather than claiming that I have the answers to all theological questions, I want to listen to other brothers and sisters in Christ to see if they can shed any light on the Scriptures.
I have no idea why you think I am “going out of my way to support” Peter Enns. I simply defended him from a false charge and then reported on two of his talks. If you take a moment to peruse this blog, you will find that I write about many people with whom I disagree. I have posts about atheists, I have posts about Dr. Alvin Plantiga (who has similar views to Dr. Enns), etc. In addition, I have links to ID proponents, old-earth creationists, and even an atheist. I don’t agree with them, either. However, since I try to follow Scripture, I try to examine everything and then hold on to what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21)
Thank you for your prayers. I will pray that you take 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 to heart.
I realize that none of us can claim to be the sole arbiter of truth, but that does not mean that we cannot discern (through the help of the Holy Spirit) when a teaching is in contradiction to the whole of Scripture.
The problem with a hermeneutic which reads Scripture allegorically is that the interpreter basically becomes the arbiter of truth … he is basically in the driver’s seat, so to speak. He decides what is fact and what is fiction. It’s a very dangerous place to be because then God’s Word becomes putty in the hand of the interpreter to be molded and shaped to fit his or her theology.
It appears that this is the approach Dr. Enns takes to Scripture, for he denies the plain, normal reading of the text when he does not accept Adam as a real man. Where, then, does reality begin? Where does the allegory end?
Such a faulty hermeneutic can only lead to faulty interpretations of Scripture and any wise, discerning Christian would not sit under the teaching of such men. Such men are “in the dark” as far as I am concerned and until they recognize it they have no “light” to shed on Scripture.
Janice, the problem is that you ignore the plain reading of Scripture as well. Do you cut out your eye or cut off your hand? Jesus told you to (Matthew 5:29-30). Do you think the end times happened roughly 40 years after Jesus ministered? He said they would (Matthew 24:34). In each of those cases, you ignore the plain reading of Scripture. Why? Because your hermeneutic says to. Yet you get upset with someone else’s hermeneutic that causes him to ignore the plain reading of Scripture in other places.
You may believe that Dr. Enns is in the dark, and you have every right to believe so. I believe he is wrong, but that doesn’t mean he has nothing to teach me. As a result, I will do the Christian thing and listen to my brother with respect. I will happily point out where I think he is wrong, but not by calling him names or leveling false charges.
Dr. Wile, I was in Ken Hamm’s seminars and have read his website. If what he said was considered a bad spirit, then I don’t have any idea how he could have spoken his opinion any other way. It seems much more apparent that the issue itself holds a powerful tie to the emotions of some. Which is so surprising because I would think most Christians would find it exciting to see that the Bible can be believed as literally true and that there is a vast amount of evidence to support that.
In Matthew 16:6-12 Jesus is warning his disciples to “beware” of the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. These were very well respected, intelligent, religious people of the time. I can’t imagine that their teaching was a whole lot worse than some of the teachings of Enns ( Paul was wrong in his teaching that Adam was a real person, sin didn’t enter the world through Adam, etc. )Since Enns teaches that Paul’s writings were not completely accurate since he was an ancient man and did not have the understanding that we have today, where do we stop with questioning Paul’s writings. When you mentioned 1 Thessalonions 5:19-21 that is exactly what everyone is doing. They are examining everything carefully and trying to hold to what is good and you are criticizing them for it. My mother-in-law did not examine everything carefully, but only was drawn to what tickled her ears. It was exactly this type of teachig (Enns, Ross). The teaching that certain things in the Bible are not exactly as they appear. That begins a questioning process, that for some can lead to a complete rejection of God’s Word. I hope that I have not offended you in all of my writings. I am truly concerned that others will have the same experience that my family has. It is my opinion, to err on the side of caution when it comes to Biblical teaching is always the best path, especially when sharing information to a diverse audience. Eternal souls are at stake.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!!!
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.
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:
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.
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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