3 Reasons Why Peter Enns Is the Crazy Uncle No One Wants to Talk About

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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Well, now you get a sense of Christothelic interpretation and why he was removed from Westminster. For Enns, "context" is limited to the human author's understanding. Hosea couldn't have understood it that way and so Paul (through the Spirit) can't provide an interpretation. What I find "crazy" is that they let Peter Enns (and others) teach this kind of excrement for two decades at Westminster Seminary but I'm glad they've kicked this kind of teaching to the curb.

Vos writes:
In the fourth place the Reformed theology has with greater earnestness than any other type of Christian doctrine upheld the principles of the absoluteness and unchanging identity of truth. It is the most anti-pragmatic of all forms of Christian teaching. And this is all the more remarkable since it has from the beginning shown itself possessed of a true historic sense in the apprehension of the progressive character of the deliverance of truth. Its doctrine of the covenants on its historical side represents the first attempt at constructing a history of revelation and may justly be considered the precursor of what is at present called biblical theology. But the Reformed have always insisted upon it that at no point shall a recognition of the historical delivery and apprehension of truth be permitted to degenerate into a relativity of truth. The history remains a history of revelation. Its total product agrees absolutely in every respect with the sum of truth as it lies in the eternal mind and purpose of God. If already the religion of the Old and New Testament church was identical, while the process of supernatural revelation was still going on, how much more must the church, since God has spoken for the last time in His Son, uphold the ideal absoluteness of her faith as guaranteed by its agreement with the Word of God that abideth forever. It is an unchristian and an unbiblical procedure to make development superior to revelation instead of revelation superior to development, to accept belief and tendencies as true because they represent the spirit of the time and in a superficial optimism may be regarded as making for progress. Christian cognition is not an evolution of truth, but a fallible apprehension of truth which must at each point be tested by an accessible absolute norm of truth. To take one’s stand upon the infallibility of the Scriptures is an eminently religious act; it honors the supremacy of God in the sphere of truth in the same way as the author of Hebrews does by insisting upon it, notwithstanding all progress, that the Old and the New Testament are the same authoritative speech of God. In these four vital respects we may truthfully say that the covenant theology has the high credentials of being in agreement with the lines along which the covenant idea is worked out in Hebrews. And, insofar as this is the case, it is not an unimportant variation, but a reversion to type, in which the conception of the Christian life comes nearest to one, and that not the least attractive, of the forms in which it is portrayed in the New Testament.

Vos, G. (2001). Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos. (R. B. Gaffin Jr., Ed.) (pp. 232–234). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

I recommend Chapter VI of this work entitled: Hebrews, the Epistle of the Diatheke

It's a great exposition of the principle of Covenant that permeates the Scriptures. Unlike Enns and some modern scholars, Vos' Biblical theology rose out of his Reformed dogmatics. He didn't choose one or the other. As Vos demonstrates in this Chapter, there is a historical process of redemption but the heavenly tabernacle or the terminating point is always shadowed. it is when Christ comes and further Revelation reveals to us that everything that Moses and the prophets did was, if you like, a projection or a copy of the real heavenly tabernacle. What Moses was instructed to built was a copy of the heavenlies.

"Context" then is what is in the heavens. Enns, for all his scholarship, is a HORRIBLE Covenant theologian. His specialization has left him blind to the purposes of God. Where vos notes that the Scriptures testify of "God speaking" in times past to the point that the prophets sort of fade into the background, Enns wants to thrust the prophets, as men, forward and say: "Forget about what God is saying, what is the context of what these men as men understood." It's horrific Systematic and Biblical theology and those who are deceived by it are not learning how to exegete the Scriptures properlly but are only learning a faulty hermeneutic on the grounds of a superficial and anemic Biblical and Systematic theology. It is not Reformed in any way.


Puritanboard Commissioner
Is Enns still a member of a PCA congregation? (If I'm not mistaken, that was his affiliation. Was or is he a TE?)


Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Is Enns still a member of a PCA congregation? (If I'm not mistaken, that was his affiliation. Was or is he a TE?)

From what I have read even back when he published the book and subsequently outed, he was operating outside the PCA, but I do not know whether or not he is still a member.


Puritan Board Junior
If Enns' article is a fair representation of the "Christotelic approach," than it would seem that the advocates of approach have not put together a solid Biblical let alone systematic theology in that they appear not to have realized that the necessary consequence of 1 Peter 1:10-12 is that, unlike the NT writers, whose meanings must be read in context, the OT writers knew that they didn't know all that the Holy Spirit was using them to teach Israel. Which is why it was right for Paul to read those writers through the lens of Christ, and why we who are not Apostles may not push such an approach beyond the boundaries Paul and the other NT writers lay out for us.


Puritanboard Amanuensis
It is usually the Gospel of Matthew which is the focus of this kind of attention, but ultimately it goes back to what the Master Himself taught the disciples concerning the way the Old Testament relates to Him. Paul was simply being obedient to the heavenly vision of his Master. The "telic" view has its place because Christ is the end of the law in certain respects. But in every respect Christ is the heart and soul of the law and of the whole Old Testament. Without Him there would be no "Testament," old or new. Hence the centric approach must be first and foremost, and the telic approach must be governed by it.


Puritan Board Freshman
I watched a lecture he did online last year sometime on Adam, sin, and Jesus, and how Paul puts it all together. It was astounding how strong his bias toward evolutionary science came through. The whole lecture was about reconciling the Genesis narrative with Paul's writings regarding Adams fall and Christ's redemption in light of modern science. Apparently it takes a lot of thinking and scholarly effort to do that, and even then it can only be done if you call the Genesis account 'narrative' and read some extra stuff into Paul.

The 'problems' he tries to solve between Genesis and Pauline references to Adam and Christ are illusions. They don't exist; Paul's uses of Adam in the New Testament in contrast to Christ are brilliant and beautiful, straightforward and clear. They go away the minute you drop the glasses of modern science.

But then there'd be no tough problems to think about or theological quandaries to solve. There'd be nothing to do! Can't have that now.


Puritanboard Amanuensis
There'd be nothing to do! Can't have that now.

Well detected! It is a little like making prisoners pull down a wall of rocks to carry them to another location to build a wall of rocks.

There are quite a few problems which never would have arisen if special revelation were regarded as sufficient.


Puritan Board Graduate
My niece goes to Eastern. She was assigned Pete Enns as her advisor. I don't know how so called Christians in that administration can sleep at night.

The Bible Tells Me So | TGC | The Gospel Coalition

As might be expected, however, Enns goes much further than just correcting modernistic expectations about history. He argues that many of the historical accounts are just “invented” (76), “contradict each other” (76), and engage in “creative writing” (80) and even “myth” (119). The Gospel stories conflict all over the place—from Christ’s birth to his resurrection. Matthew made up the story of the star over the manger (83). He also made up Herod’s massacre of children (84). Luke may have invented the story of the angelic choir at Jesus’s birth (85). The virgin birth may have resulted from Matthew and Luke being “innovators” (82). Matthew “created” the story that Roman soldiers were asked to guard the tomb (87). Samuel/Kings contradicts Chronicles regarding Israel’s monarchy; they “tell two irreconcilably different stories of Israel’s founding kings” (96). The Exodus event never happened; it was probably just a “few hundred” slaves who left Egypt and made their way to Canaan (118). The ten plagues never happened either, but were crafted as a story to challenge Egyptian gods. The flood is a myth, too, as is the creation account itself. Sure, they’re probably rooted in some real events, but the stories as we have them are all reworked to tell Israel’s story. Thus, Enns concludes, “‘Storytelling’ is a better way of understanding what the Bible is doing with the past than ‘history writing’” (128).
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