Enns to Leave WTS/PA

Info here.

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  1. “The administration wishes to acknowledge the valued role Prof. Enns has played in the life of the institution, and that his teaching and writings fall within the purview of Evangelical thought. ”

    What in the world is that statement supposed to mean in the context of what just took place? Are they trying to say that his views are orthodox if one is in the larger Evangelical camp, but that they are not seen as such from within the “narrower” Reformed camp? Isn’t that a bit of a postmodern redefining of orthodoxy for the Church (your faith community has your standards, and we have our own)? If his views are really orthodox enough to fall within “the purview of Evangelical thought” taken in the classical sense of that term, then why is he being removed from the faculty?


    Is this just the politics of the academy, whereby they are sending him off with a publicly announced “nice guy” statement with the intent of not cutting off all future prospects of teaching in the broader Christian world of academia (where he will still ample opportunity to corrupt some young, future pastor’s estimation of Scripture, albeit in somebody else’s circle)?

  2. Wow, AJM, that’s a bit harsh. I think their statement made sense. As an example, wouldn’t you say someone like John Piper is a good evangelical preacher? But I don’t believe he would be able to be a professor at WTS either, because of his Baptist understanding of baptism. Lee Irons, likewise, was unable to continue being in the OPC due to his view of the Sabbath and the decalogue, but I think most of would consider him a good evangelical. I certainly don’t agree with the WCF 100%, but I still consider myself an evangelical.

    I can see that you simply don’t think Enns is an evangelical, but some of us would think differently.

  3. Pat,

    Some of us might see Irons in a different light, he certainly was a bad fit for the so cal presbytery.

  4. I’m sure I’m channeling Darryl Hart here, but some might say that the problem is that Pete is an evangelical, in the contemporary sense of the Word, as distinct from Reformed confessionalism.

  5. Who says channeling is off limits to Xians? It seems to befit you, Scott. Or is that something only certain saints may do with other ones?

  6. AJM,
    As an attorney, I think the statement has the smell of a settlement agreement; hence the mollifying language.

  7. Hello Pat,

    I think it a bit humorous whenever counter-conversations on the web begin with the statement “Wow…that’s a bit harsh”, as if that alone should be enough to discredit any observations the former poster had made – classic “emo”, “pomo”, or whatever you want to call it. I’ll have to guess that I fall outside of the opinions of your generation on these sorts of matters. That’s fine.

    However, in place of statements such as that which you gave above, statements that display that a value judgment has been made based upon whether or not an assertion has the potential to make a negative emotional impact upon some person or community of persons, I would love to see more people begin with the really important question of “But is it TRUE?”

    Scripture seems to place a much greater value upon whether or not something is true, rather than whether or not it conforms to the expectations of polite society. If we had to excise harsh statements from the canon of Scripture then we would be absent some of the finest truths given us by the Apostle Paul, a good many words of Christ himself, several prophetic books taken as a whole, and some of my favorite one-liners – e.g. “You speak as one of the foolish women speak! Shall we receive good from God, and not receive evil?”.

    I think that Dr. Clark addressed your final question perfectly with his reference to the confessions. Why should there be individuals saying “He may not be an Evangelical to you, but he is to me”? That type of thinking should be a source of real theological and cognitive tension to those who would make it. Is it possible for there to be more than one definition of an Evangelical on views of Scripture? I think not. This is really important to me, because w/o the clarity and truthfulness of fully inspired and inerrant Scriptures we could not be certain of the very thing that lies at the root of the term “Evangelical”, namely – the Gospel! I think that before I would change my mind on what I said above that you would have to convince me 1) that your definition of an Evangelical had anything to do with historic Evangelical Protestantism, and 2) that Pete Enns’ work actually fell within that definition. There can be no “Evangelical for you, Evangelical for me” in the life of the Church, otherwise we have just fallen back into the days of the Judges where, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes”.

    Btw, I think that there are a lot of good things to be said about John Piper, but I sort of left him behind after viewing a live sermon where he “prayed” aloud his entire final message on the book of Romans as part of a public worship service. That is too much showmanship for any minister to be putting out there for public consumption.

  8. AJM,
    I agree with what you are saying, it’s truth that matters. My argument was that it’s possible to be evangelical without holding 100% to the WCF. If you disagree with that, we clearly have different understandings of what the term evangelical means, so any further discussion would be confusing at best.

    One thing I find strange about the debate is that I’ve never heard Pete Enn’s actually deny the inerrancy of scripture. Although I’m just now finishing up “Inspiration and Incarnation”, so I might have missed out on it. But so far I have yet to see him actually deny it. Perhaps you and others believe that he is in essence denying it, even if he doesn’t admit it. That’s possible.

    But that brings up another point, is inerrancy part of the definition of evangelical? I hold to it, but there are some well respected evangelical theologians who are known not to, especially from Britain. Alister McGrath, for instance, has been known not to hold to it, and if I recall right, even argues that Calvin doesn’t as well. Now I don’t really agree with that, but I think we’d probably still agree with that McGrath is an evangelical, right?

    Here’s a quote from McGrath:
    “I fully appreciate that many evangelicals will prefer to remain with the approach adopted by Hodge and Warfield [on inerrancy]. I respect that position, although I have misgivings about certain very specific aspects of it. My approach is simply to go back to an older evangelical position, which is just as evangelical and just as worthy of respect.” (from here: http://www.e-n.org.uk/453-A-rejoinder-to-Paul-Gardner.htm)

    Now, I don’t know if I’d agree with McGrath’s view on inerrancy. But it’s an example of someone who’s well respected by Reformed evangelicals, and generally thought of as an evangelical, who self identifies himself with evangelicals, and yet does not wholly subscribe to the concept of inerrancy (at least not in the Hodge and Warfield vein).

    Clearly, McGrath would not be allowed to teach at WTS, but wouldn’t we agree that he is an evangelical and a valuable theologian? Is this really any different from what WTS said about Enns? And, unlike McGrath, Enns never actually says he denies inerrancy, or states that he wants to really break away from the tradition of Warfield (that I can tell). In fact, he actually uses Warfield’s notion of concursus as part of his argument of scripture (see chap 1 of I&I).

    If you agree that WTS could in good faith say McGrath is a valuable evangelical theologian, I don’t see why we have to think that their words about Enns are as weasley as people seem to be suggesting.

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