On his blog, Peter Enns has been sharing portions of a paper he delivered to the faculty at Westminster Theological Seminary in response to his book, Incarnation and Inspiration that got him into trouble and now into suspension. In a recent post on the authority and cultural expressions of Scripture, first speaks of the mixing of Jesus divinity and humanity in his person. Enns says that these are "essential" to who Jesus is, and that the combination is important. I would be wrong to try to pit the humanity against the divinity or to raise one above the other. Interesting, I was just relistening to a podcast recently by Seattle's Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Seattle entitled "The Supremacy of Christ and the Church in a Postmodern World." Driscoll was making a similar argument, accusing the Emergents of raising the immanence and incarnation of Jesus too high and accusing the New Reformers of raising the transcendence and exalted Jesus too much. In any case, Enns argues that the authority of Scripture comes from its divine origin, in other words - in God's words, but that it is encased unescapably in humanity, or cultural expression. Here is a short passage from his post:
What I argue in I&I is that Scripture works in an analogous (not identical) way. Scripture is God’s word because it is of divine origin. That is the locus of authority, and no discussion of its humanity in any way compromises that authority. What a study of Scripture’s humanity does do is help us see the manner in which the divine author speaks authoritatively into particular ancient cultures. How this authoritative Scripture translates to different times and places, in both its timeless affirmations and contextualized particularity is (I trust this is not too reductionistic) the task of theological study. It is my firm experience, however, that evangelical lay readers, those to whom the book is addressed, are not accustomed to understanding the nature of Scripture this way.
This is one of the issues that I find so fascinating about how we understand Scripture, and one that I've mentioned in various ways here on my blog. One of the ways it has been raised among some like myself is how much we can "purge" the human side, the cultural side, and get to pure propositional truths. Again, don't read what I'm not saying, and from what I'm reading of Enns, he's not saying either but being accused of. I'm not saying there isn't truth, or objective truth for that matter or that God's truth isn't propositional in any way. What I am saying is that our access too it is always enculturated, always incarnated, always spoken through word and cultural and interpretation from God into human cultures and persons. God communicates, he doesn't philosophize. God relates, speaks, and loves rather than providing pure platonic visions of himself. God is God, "I am who I am" and not philosophical categories and platonic idealism or Kantian pure reason. God is interactional and in his divine goodness has chosen to speak, act, and even come incarnationally.
God is still who he is. He is still the King and the authority. What he says goes. What he wants, will be. There is no other name under haven by which we can be saved. But let us be careful not to turn scripture - or God for that matter - into pure philosophical Kantian metaphysics. We need to find a way to accept the way God has communicated with us - not through theological treatise, but through narrative of his relationship with his people - and then figure out how it speaks to us today, and what God really intends and who he is. That's much harder work than black and white propositions, I know, but that's the work. Driscoll is right (although I don't like saying that) that we need to balance the transcendent and immanent God as he is.
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