Why have we no great men? We have no great men chiefly because we are always looking for them. We are connoisseurs of greatness, and connoisseurs can never be great…When anybody goes about on his hands and knees looking for a great man to worship, he is making sure that one man at any rate shall not be great. GK Chesterton
Enns is one of the few biblical scholar that makes me laugh out loud. The man has wit!! In spades!! I really do want to like his stuff on the Bible. Whatever he writes I will read. I just can’t go down his path.
Andrew Wilson explains why in his CT article “The Bible Is More Than ‘Mystery'”. As he puts it, “Peter Enns makes the case that Scripture doesn’t tell us everything. So does it tell us anything?” His conclusion is that Enns would think not so much.
I have always thought that Enns posture and attitude is more revealed in his ubiquitous interviews. His books don’t so clearly speak of the problem that he really thinks the Bible is. It reminds me of President Jimmy Carter telling us how hard it was to handle all the challenges he was facing as President. And then President Reagan came along and made it look easy. Carter made things worst than they had to be and spent a lot of time extinguishing hope.
Enns seems to make the Bible harder than it has to be, as Wilson makes clear. Enns could have easily brought to the table reasonable solutions to many of the supposed Bible problems. Why doesn’t he? Does he want me to believe things are that confused with the biblical stories? And why doesn’t he spend sufficient time telling me how confused Jesus was, since he seemed to take passages quite literally from the pages of the OT and spoke about jots and tittles being fulfilled, not a word passing away, etc. Make no mistake about it. To believe what Enns wants me to believe directly affects what I think about Jesus. This is mission critical, I would think, but Enns does not come at this directly. He should.
I need a more sensitive and theologically sophisticated manner to help me with this “Jesus thing.” Enns seems to write as if this is not a big thing. It is. The biggest.
I will read The Bible Tells Me So. I downloaded a sample on my Kindle and the book reads well. It’s personal, entertaining and perhaps directly more than any other book deals with the audience.
I do wish Enns kept more in touch with Evangelicals who are not in his camp. Maybe they have just voted him off the island so he can’t. But if he wants to be taken seriously by Evangelicals, he needs more cred than he gets by being interviewed by Brian Mclaren, Rob Bell, etc. I know that sounds judgmental but if those who are connecting with him and being viewed as the supportive community are those who affirm same sex marriage, deny the eternality of hell, etc, Enns has given his message not even half a chance of getting through. After all, Bell, Mclaren and company don’t need Enns book to be where they are. They are already farther down that road than Enns has been (so far). Apparently Enns is trying to reach back into his old community and do some wake up calls. This doesn’t help.
Childlikeness is lost in life and recovered in holiness. Alexander Yelchaninov (1881-1934)
I am beginning to find Dr. Carson’s style attractive. At first I thought he was a bit too slow out of the gate, but he is working his way toward the issues in a thoughtful way. I think his prediction of possible anarchy in the USA is credible. The social unrest in our country is immense and the carelessness of our government growing. We are all on a collision course unless there is wisdom. People can feel the incredible anger amongst us, and good people are finding themselves exasperated at levels that surprise them.
Here is the interview.
Here they are, presented by Brian Stanley.
It is amazing how some myths endure. Christianity was the world’s first global religion and continues to be. Christ takes on the flesh of each people group across the earth. He is the Man for all seasons.
Gratitude to God makes even a temporal blessing a taste of heaven. William Romaine
When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. GK Chesterton
Let’s let Ben Witherington say it.
The history of Christianity would have been far happier if we all had remembered one rule of intelligence — not to believe a thing more strongly at the end of a bitter argument than at the beginning, not to believe it with the energy of the opposition rather than one’s own. Charles Williams
I am very much a centrist in all things Evangelical. While my opinions are often strong, my heart is to embrace brothers and sisters from all corners of the Evangelical spectrum and Roman Catholics who trust Jesus to save them from their sins. I do admit I am a bit more suspicious of those who adhere strongly to the mainline denominations, which at every fork in the road turn left and leave traditional orthodoxy and morality only as a tolerable option, and that barely.
I love the creeds, weekly communion, the Book of Common Prayer, praying the Divine Hours, and Taize music. My friends often wonder how I could be a Baptist.
But a Baptist I am. While my tradition does not admit many of the things I admire and practice into their communion, I don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There’s too much good to leave it behind and exchange that good for whatever is being offered to me on the other side.
It is for these reasons:
1. It’s emphasis on a spiritual democracy. Baptists are not clergy driven and seek to practice, not just in theory, the priesthood of all believers. Clericalism is a disease that takes the church from “pew guy,” who is more often than not the only thing standing between the Bible and denominational drift. A Baptist with a well-read Bible in his hand is an awesome thing to behold. Of course, all bets are off when it comes to the American Baptists, the most liberal of the mainline denominations. But at only 1.2 million or so, they thankfully are not a significant influence on Evangelicalism
2. Preaching. Baptists believe in preaching like no one else believes in preaching. What Baptists produce are preachers. If a Pastor can’t preach, he can’t make it in a Baptist church. Requirement #1. The Pastor is not a dispenser of sacraments but a trumpeter of God’s Word. For sure other traditions have great preachers, and quite frankly most of my theological reading is not authored by Baptists. But preaching they do. I am still thrilled by a man in the pulpit with a Bible in his hand saying “let’s turn to” and then gives book, chapter and verse. Baptists are people of the book.
3. Baptists are “born againers.” They do not waffle on regeneration but preach the new birth. People do not ooze into the kingdom but by conscious faith and repentance seek to enter into the Kingdom of God. I don’t do altar calls, but I am not afraid of them either. Baptists have a history of pointedly calling people to the moment of decision, a la Billy Graham.
4. Baptists are evangelists. For most people, this is the hallmark of Baptists. Evangelism is always on the map. No growing the church through covenant children for Baptists. If you step into a Baptist church, you are going to see some kind of evangelistic outreach and evangelistic training.
5. Baptists practice believers baptism. I believe that infant baptist is a scourge of the church. Giving to children the sign of salvation brings into the church confusion and compromise. This is why Presbyterians have to be evangelized every third generation or so. Their churches fill up with baptized members who have no witness to new birth through Christ.
6. Baptists practice sane patriotism. They by and large do not believe that being citizens of heaven means diminishment of one’s loyalty to their country. They are not pacifists. I am not a pacifist. Most of your mainline denominations are pacifistic. Many of the mainstream Evangelical groups toy with pacifism. We all allow for it, to be sure. A man or woman must abide by their conscience. But historically Baptists do not pit patriotism against Christianity.
7. Baptists are bold. They are not shy in the things of God, John the Baptist like. Some of this surely has to do with the socio-economic roots of the Baptist movement. For generations we have not been over educated at liberal Eastern universities. Baptists (and Methodists) got on their horses and church planted on the edges of the America’s frontiers. This legacy is in our DNA, unlike what has happened to the Methodists.
And there are more reasons still. This is sufficient for now. Surely there are some things about Baptists that shake my tree a bit. They can tend toward fundamentalism that rejects sophistication of argument and maturity of intellect. They can be legalistic. They seem to always prefer Christ against culture rather than Christ in culture. They are often fractious and spawn many churches through church splits. Their Pastors are often unaccountable to a broader group of peers who can check their wild swings and bring a settled wisdom to their judgments. When Baptists go liberal, they can be the worst kind of liberals, swearing off, as they do, creeds and traditions in the name of individual conscience. Their “no creed but the Bible” stance can lead to such individualism that community is broken and orthodoxy compromised.