A Critique of Dr. Peter Enns’ Book The Bible Tells Me So

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Revmitchell, Mar 1, 2015.

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  1. Revmitchell

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    Abstract
    What we know of Jesus Christ’s love and grace comes to us through the reliable testimony of God’s Word. That simple and beautiful biblical truth, summed up in the familiar phrase “The Bible tells me so” from the hymn “Jesus Loves Me,” introduces many children to the love of Jesus. This sweet refrain also reminds adults that God’s revelation to us in His Word is the foundation for faith and the ultimate source of truth. A new book capitalizing on the familiar song—The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It by Dr. Peter Enns—is a collection of compromises, written for the layman. The book wastes a great deal of ink claiming that the Bible is simply not to be trusted or taken seriously. In it Dr. Enns continues his destructive influence on the Christian faith and biblical understanding through his relentless assault on God’s Word.

    Introduction
    “The Bible tells me so” is a familiar phrase. It comes right after “Jesus loves me! This I know” and right before “Little ones to Him belong; they are weak but He is strong.” The familiar hymn, written in 1860 to comfort a dying child, has brought assurance to countless children and adults through its reminder that what we know of Jesus’ never-failing love and grace comes to us through the reliable testimony of God’s Word. That biblical truth is under attack in a book by Dr. Peter Enns that effectively mocks it in its title: The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It. As a Bible teacher at Eastern University and a producer of homeschool Bible curriculum, Dr. Enns through this book continues his destructive influence on the faith and biblical understanding of countless children and adults. He does this by sharing, in a conversational, lighthearted style, why he believes right-thinking people should simply discard the history presented in the Bible by relegating it to the status of Israel’s national myth.

    Creeping Compromises
    As I read The Bible Tells Me So and thought of how to review it fairly and honestly, I knew I would receive some letters from fellow Christians exhorting me to be less critical of our brother in Christ. After all, Dr. Enns does let us know in his book that he believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God come in the flesh, that Jesus died for us on the Cross, and that He rose from the dead. Like many others who profess faith in Christ while compromising God’s Word, Dr. Enns indicates he hopes his work will “help others meet God,”1 or at least be happier Christians, through his convenient method of denying that any parts of the Bible that seem troubling or that disagree with millions-of-years evolutionary thought are actually historically factual, divinely inspired truth. In essence, Dr. Enns grants us the freedom to take the parts of the Bible that he does not like—including some of Christ’s own words2—and to say, in effect, that God didn’t really mean us to take those parts seriously, as they didn’t really come from Him anyway. However, I still believe the Bible is God’s infallible Word (2 Timothy 3:16–17), and I cannot accept the idea that the Savior who died for my sins would be unable or unwilling to honestly (John 17:17) communicate with us through the written Word of God. Therefore, I must follow the exhortation of Jude 3 and “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints,” the revelation of God that He communicated to all of us through the writers of the Old and New Testaments that He chose for the work (2 Peter 1:20–21).

    https://answersingenesis.org/review...thebibletellsmeso-19763&utm_campaign=20150301
     
  2. Deacon

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    The article should have been added to the previous post in the BOOK FORUM -
    The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns [LINK]


    I've put the book among my classic's - one of my best books of the year!

    This is just another reason threads posting articles from Answers in Genesis should only be posted in the Humor Forum.

    Rob
     
  3. Revmitchell

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    His book is an example of why liberalism is so dangerous.
     
  4. HAMel

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    Deacon..., with all do respect, if some find peace and comfort from Answers in Genesis, or any other publication for that matter why should it be considered humor and/or relegated to a humor file..., so saith me..., or you? I certainly wouldn't put any stock in this guys work but some do. In the end the Lord will sort it all out for us.
     
    #4 HAMel, Mar 1, 2015
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  5. Van

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    Like the ever-helpful copiests, it appears yet another liberal is going to "fix" the bible by ignoring some of it, and adding man-made doctrine to it.

    1) He seems to apply man's viewpoint, i.e. everyone has an equal right to life, to God's action to destroy life that He created. God, it seems, cannot choose a people (believing descendants of Abraham) over and against all other peoples.

    2) Evolving treatment of people over time also seems to escape the author. Jesus would fulfill the promise of blessing nations, but that blessing would come more than a thousand years after the promise. If God did not treat all nations always as He does now, somehow that is wrong and we should not accept God's sovereignty.

    3) Basically the pattern of liberalism is one again on display, the Bible does not mean what it says, if it says what men disagree with. Sound familiar?
     
  6. Baptist Believer

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    Van:

    You have presented good insights/refutations of some of the basic flaws of the book - as described in the review. Have you actually read the book? I wonder if the reviews are a fair treatment of the book.

    I am now interested in reading it if it is gaining traction in Christian circles.
     
    #6 Baptist Believer, Mar 1, 2015
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  7. go2church

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    The idea that Enns is ignoring or adding to the Bible is inaccurate. Throughout the book he calls for Christians to allow the Bible to speak for itself, without doing the mental and theological gymnastics that everything has to match or by making it completely harmonize. It's a great book.
     
  8. Deacon

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    I know, I know...
    I let my irritation with the site jade by post, please pardon me.

    But in a parody of the great hymn, some people I know...

    Their faith is built on nothing less than Answers in Genesis.

    Rob
     
  9. Van

    Van
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    No, I read an online article on the book, and addressed the books positions as presented in the article. Here is the link:
    http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-bible-tells-me-so
     
  10. Revmitchell

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    Peter Enns. The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2014. 288 pp. $25.99.

    I confess that I do judge books by their covers. Or at least by the back cover. I read (and review) a lot of books and am always careful to read the endorsements on the back and the description on the inside flap. Although endorsements aren’t everything (and are sometimes even misleading), they can reveal quite a bit about where a book is headed. That’s their purpose anyway. In this case of Peter Enns’s new volume, The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It, the endorsements (and endorsers) reveal quite a bit. One will find blurbs by Rob Bell, Rachel Held Evans, and Brian McLaren, among others. Interestingly, Tony Campolo also offers one but with the caveat that, “As an old-fashioned evangelical, I have some problems with what he has written.” Given that Campolo is by no means a conservative fundamentalist, his statement does an admirable job preparing the reader for what’s coming.

    But perhaps most illuminating was the inside flap, where the publisher describes the book’s purpose: “In The Bible Tells Me So, Enns wants to do for the Bible what Rob Bell did for hell in Love Wins.”

    Not until after I read the book in its entirety did I realize how accurate this comparison actually is. Of course, Bell’s book (also published by HarperOne) challenged a core historical tenet of the Christian faith, namely the belief that hell is real and people actually will go there. Christianity has just been wrong, Bell argues, and we finally need to be set free from the fear and oppression such a belief causes. Bell positions himself as the liberator of countless Christians who have suffered far too long under such a barbaric belief system.

    Likewise, Enns is pushing back against another core historical tenet of the Christian faith: our belief about Scripture—what it is and what it does. The Bible isn’t doing what we think it’s doing, he argues. It doesn’t provide basically reliable historical accounts (instead, it’s often filled with myth and rewritten stories). It doesn’t provide consistent theological instruction (about, say, the character of God). And it doesn’t provide clear teaching about how to live (ethics, morality, Christian living). Although Christians have generally always believed these things about Scripture, Enns contends that scholars now know they simply aren’t true. And when Christians try to hold onto such beliefs, it only leads to fear, stress, anxiety, and infighting. Like Bell, Enns is positioned as a liberator able to set believers free from a Bible that just doesn’t work the way they want it to.

    Of course, Enns, professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, isn’t the first to make such arguments. In addition to following Bell’s modus operandi (and much of his writing style), Enns relies on standard arguments from Christianity’s critics over the years. There’s little new here, academically speaking. In many ways, portions of the book sound like Richard Dawkins (especially part one) and even Bart Ehrman (especially part two). But here’s what makes Enns different. When it comes to the death and resurrection of Jesus, Enns doesn’t follow either. He affirms the resurrection of Christ and, in a broad sense, affirms that Jesus gave his life on the cross as “a sacrifice for sins” (217).

    Enns’s case for why we should change our view of Scripture is divided into three parts: (1) the Old Testament (OT) God is portrayed as a genocidal tribal deity; (2) the Bible’s historical accounts aren’t, well, historical; and (3) its ethical commands are confused and contradictory. I’ll touch on each of these three claims below.

    http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-bible-tells-me-so
     
    #10 Revmitchell, Mar 1, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2015
  11. Baptist Believer

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    I'm just pointing out that reviews of the book - especially from people who don't agree with the writer - are sometimes quite different than the book.

    I find it interesting that the only one in this thread who has read the book liked it.
     
  12. HAMel

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    I know, I know...
    I let my irritation with the site jade by post, please pardon me.

    But in a parody of the great hymn, some people I know...

    Their faith is built on nothing less than Answers in Genesis.

    Rob


    No Deacon..., your irritation is justified. I'm the that missed second base on the way around. Since, I've read up on Enns and now have a better insight into his position(s). :thumbsup:
     
  13. quantumfaith

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    Rob, I am with you particularly with respect to answersingenesis. I have not read this particular book by Dr. Enns. I often read many of his blogs and have read one of his books. I do not always see eye to eye with him, but I do appreciate his approach and his willingness to ask questions that make me think deeper than the surface of something.
     
  14. Reformed

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    Enns' is a personal friend of the best man in my wedding. Enns' garbage was one of the contributing reasons for my best man going off the rails in regards to his faith. It hurts a great deal to see this in real life. Thank you, Mitchell, for calling attention to the great harm Enns has done in the name of God.
     
  15. Deacon

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    That's a sad story. And I think one many can relate to.
    There's got to be more to the story than you've told.

    I've met Dr. Enns and find him quite engaging and friendly. He is not out to get Christians, rather he is attempting to reach those, like your friend, that feel that Christianity doesn't relate to what they see in the real world.

    I've personally experienced rejection from Christians who believe that Answers-in-Genesis is the only biblically sound way to interpret the bible. Whole book studies are devoted to spouting the mantra of young earth creationism and its foundational importance in biblical studies.

    I had to leave the class. And although it wasn't preached from the pulpit it was supported by the leadership. I believed it was not the intent of the biblical authors and a false teaching. After years of patiently (and sometimes impatiently) enduring it, I eventually left the church.

    Dr. Enns attempts to reach out to those disenchanted with the ridged nonscientific doctrinal indoctrination some churches hold to: it's a battle of worldviews where unfortunately there are some casualties, some are unwilling to strive for understanding, change, and adapt.

    I'd encourage you to keep in touch, show him basic Christian love and acceptance. Softly and with great gentleness, discuss with him the issues he has encountered and lead him back to a church that fosters generous acceptance within a body of believers.

    Rob
     
  16. quantumfaith

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    I think the suggestion of Deacon is quite wise. I can say, I occasionally dialogue a bit with Dr. Enns through Facebook and his blogs on Patheos.
     
  17. Revmitchell

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    Unfortunately that is what liberalism does. It is a shame.
     
  18. Revmitchell

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    I am so sick of hearing that excuse ,and that is what that is an excuse.
     
  19. quantumfaith

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    Well "Rev" not everyone in this world is gifted with such insight, wisdom, confidence as YOU. I do hope you feel better soon though. (from being "sick")
     
  20. Deacon

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    Perhaps,that's why God gave us men like Dr. Enns; to minister to those that you find unworthy of even listening to.

    Rob
     
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