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Grand Rapids, MI

Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

"Lining Up" at Westminster

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I've been writing a bit lately about the issues of "who's in" and "who's out" and drawing firm boundary lines within evangelicalism. There are some these days who are tightening up the theological borders, while others are in favor of open borders and new cultural expressons of our faith so long as we maintain our core identity (see posts on The Future of Evangelicalism). In the midst of this has come the controversy surrounding Westminster Theological Seminary and Peter Enn's. Apparently, Enn's published a book (which I have not read) called Inspiration and Incarnation, using an incarnational analogy to describe inspiration and Scripture. He was recently suspended by the board from his position for this book because it apparently went against the Westminster Confession of Faith.  What I'm gathering Enns means by incarnational analogy (again, without having read the book), is that there is a co-mingling (as in Jesus' incarnation... the human and the divine) of humanity and divinity in the project and development of the Scriptures. My hunch is that the rub here is around inerrancy and defining what "God-breathed" means. If there is too much "humanity" and culture in the Scriptures, then that might soften our understanding of it's authority, it's special nature, and inevitably create a slippery slope away from inerrancy. Again... I haven't read it, but if that's what it's about, I can see the issues here. The interesting thing to me just on first blush is that even though Jesus was human, even though Jesus was "enculturated" as a Jewish man in first century Palestine, born into the home of a carpenter - we don't tend to worry that Jesus is somehow tainted or less than perfect, or diminished in his God-hood. So, why would we worry about an incarnational theology of inspiration? Maybe there's a lot more too it.

In any case, what bothered me were a couple of things (you can find this info at Christianity Today in an article entitled "Westminster Theological Suspension." There's also a good deal of discussion on Scot McKnight's blog). 

First, it was interesting how split both the faculty (12 for 8 against) and the board (9 for 18 against) were on their decisions to support Enns or not.  Clearly, this is not a cut and dried issue, and one that took 2 years to get through.  Apparently there were not "personal" issues involved.  I guess this was theological.  And yet it came down to such a split vote in both places within Westminster?  Just ask yourself this question... "What does this tell us about the state of evangelicalism?"  I won't answer that for you.

Second, even though this was supposedly a theological issue, CT said this, "...the board failed to give Enns an opportunity to be heard" and that that boards staement said, "while theological ocncerns were mentioned, there was little board discussion of theological specifics."  Hmmm.   That's a head scratcher.

Well, obviously I don't know enough about the story, but it's disturbing none-the-less.


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