JD WALTERS SAID:
“This is a profoundly uncharitable reading of Enns' post.”
Because I don’t play the patsy for Enns? Sorry, but I don’t think gullibility is either an ethical or theological imperative.
“I hope you're not implying that it's wrong everywhere, always and for everyone to instill doubts on any issue.”
Well, that’s ironic coming on the heels of your accusation about uncharitable interpretations.
What’s the context of my statement? The way in which Enns denies or undermines inerrancy to make room for whatever he can’t believe in the Bible.
“But if Biologos is right about the strength of the evidence for evolution, instilling doubt about the accuracy of the YEC is morally praiseworthy.”
The question at issue is not the accuracy of YEC, but the accuracy of Scripture. Enns openly denies the inerrancy of Scripture. For instance, he admits that Paul taught the historicity of Adam, which Enns regards as false.
“I hope you realize that this is a hopelessly vague, question-begging statement. It's vague because you don't specify what exactly it means to doubt God's word.”
That’s because Enns has a track-record at BioLogos. And not only him. BioLogos is a collaborative effort. Sparks is another contributor who explicitly denies the inerrancy of Scripture.
“Enns deals with Christians who are finding it very hard to reconcile their trust in God's word with the findings of natural science. He is not making them doubt God's Word, he is allowing them to hold onto their trust in it by showing that one can affirm both the scientific account of origins and the authority of the Bible.”
Well, that’s one explanation. Here’s an alternative explanation: What we see here is an exercise in self-justification. Enns wants to rationalize his infidelity, and part of that process involves enlisting others to second his infidelity.
“I'd say he's doing the Church a service.”
Which explains why you are so defensive. It would, however, behoove you to redirect your zeal from defending those who attack the Bible, and attacking those who defend the Bible, to defending the Bible against those who attack it.
“If I was convinced that the only legitimate model of origins for a Christian was the YEC model I would have abandoned my faith a long time ago, because my study of the relevant science forces me to take the evolutionary history of the cosmos seriously.”
i) Once again, the question at issue is not YEC, but inerrancy. It’s not as if the primary contributors to BioLogos are any more sympathetic to OEC, or even ID theory (which is neutral on these permutations). Try to pay attention to the actual state of play over at BioLogos.
ii) You’re the one, not me, who’s hyping the issue of YEC. I didn’t bring that up in my post. Try to use my post as a window, not a mirror. It will do wonders for your vision.
iii) If you’d cast off your Christian faith due to apparent conflicts between Scripture and science, then your faith was pretty cheap to begin with. You undervalue the Gospel, and overvalue science.
Let’s hope your statement is a reflection of youthful impetuosity rather than settled judgment.
“You're not exactly doubtful about your own convictions re: Calvinism, anti-realism in science and the like.”
A non sequitur since I’m not the one who was commending the value of doubt, Enns was. I’m merely responding to him on his own terms. That’s not difficult to grasp, JD. If you weren’t emoting so much, you could see that.
“Why should Enns attempt to cultivate doubts about macroevolution if there's good evidence for it, or at least what he thinks is good evidence?”
i) Why is it better to cultivate doubts about Scripture than to doubts about macroevolution?
ii) And his post affects this pose of mock humility when, in fact, he’s nothing of the kind.
“For Enns the new default is the facticity of macro-evolution, so until he is presented with convincing evidence to the contrary his theological project is to reconcile macroevolution with his understanding of Scripture.”
i) To begin with, I don’t see BioLogos ever make an honest attempt to deal with the other side of the argument. But maybe I missed something.
ii) And what about taking certain things on faith? Is that too much for God to ask of us? Or should we murmur in the wilderness?
“That Enns is trying to deconvert people is ridiculous.”
It’s ridiculous to you because you want to keep your options open.
“He's trying to allow people to hold onto their faith in the face of the challenge of evolution.”
He destroys the village to save the village. Helps them to “hold onto their faith” by undercutting their faith in Scripture.
“Unless of course you think YEC is the only legitimate origins model for Christians, in that case yes he is attempting to deconvert people, and he should.”
Once more, you’re the one who’s obsessing over YEC, not me. That was no part of my post. And that’s hardly the only target over at BioLogos.
“Again, we are obligated to pursue the truth, and I find YEC highly unlikely to be the truth about our origins.”
i) If you assume that pursuing the truth takes you away from Scripture.
ii) And as far as that goes, I don’t think we have an unconditional obligation to pursue the truth. If atheism were true, then we’d have no obligation to pursue the true, for in that event, we’d have no obligations whatsoever. We only have an obligation to pursue the truth on condition that we have obligations. Once you deny the Christian faith, then duty and morality are the first casualties.
“Doubt, according to Enns, is not a gift of God only when it makes a conservative believer question his faith. Rather, it is a gift when it makes any believer question their unreflective faith, whatever that may be.”
Don’t be duped. It’s not a virtue. Enns is consistently and completely one-sided in his criterion of doubt.
Sure, for PR purposes he may like to sound as if this is open-ended, but that’s just a ploy. Transparently so. Compare that with his paper trail.
“Enns is referring to anyone who believes anything about God here.”
He says that for public consumption, to foster the illusion of even-handedness. But in practice he’s quite single-minded.
JD WALTERS SAID:
“No, because you attribute to him base motives that he does not hold.”
i) Both of us are imputing motives to Enns. It’s not as if you (JD) have direct access to his true motives.
ii) Enns is an easily recognizable type. (For the record, so am I.) In every generation we have people like Enns. The players may change, but the play remains the same. In the past, someone like Charles Augustus Briggs played the same role.
iii) I’m also justified in my imputation of motives because the Bible has a fair amount to say about what motivates a man to question God’s word. I apply biblical psychology to the case of Enns.
“He is not trying to get people to abandon their faith, he is trying to get them to nuance it precisely so they may hold onto it. Even if you think his version of faith is untenable and unorthodox, at least acknowledge that his intention is not to destroy faith but to save it. Charity does not mean thinking that people are right, but it does mean rightly construing their intentions.”
You have a rather naïve view of what it takes to make somebody an enemy of the faith. But there’s more than one type. There’s the outsider. The open opponent. Bertrand Russell. Richard Dawkins. Christopher Hitchens. Bart Ehrman. Antony Flew.
But then you have insiders like Bultmann, Schleiermacher, Spong, Fosdick, Cupitt, and D. Z. Phillips. They don’t see themselves as opponents of the faith. To the contrary, they cast themselves as saviors of the faith. They’re trying to “rescue” the Bible from the fundies. Make Christianity palatable to modern man.
Insiders can do more damage than outsiders because, in their self-deluded mission, they actually imagine that they are doing the Christian faith a favor.
“How? Sometimes it may be legitimate to cast doubts on someone's intentions and character despite the appearances. But in light of Enns' long career as a biblical scholar struggling to be true both to his faith and his critical scruples, I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt.”
Trust is earned, and he has earned my distrust.
“He is not trying to destroy faith, he is not even trying to liberalize it in 19th Century fashion.”
He may wear a chammy overcoat, but the pointy snout and the protruding fangs are a dead giveaway.
“Anyone familiar with his work would realize that.”
Since I’m familiar with his work, that’s a rather conceited statement on your part. Try to use persuasion rather than assertion.
“To say that he denies inerrancy is to assume a particular definition of a contested term.”
Back to my example. On the one hand he admits that Paul thought and taught that Adam was a real person. The first man. The first human being.
On the other hand he believes that this can’t be true. Given what we “know” about the “true” origins of man (a la evolution), that’s not possible.
So something has to give. Guess what?
If you want to say the Bible is “inerrant” even though it inculcates factual falsehoods, then that’s a Pickwickian definition of terms. Who are we fooling?
“But I think it's clear that Enns is not so much interested in having a choir to sing to as he is in creating space for Christian faith to thrive in a world where science has considerable authority (and rightly so, in my opinion, again based on my own study of science).”
And I think it’s clear that he’s trying to create space for his own latitudinarian faith.
“Again, I think it's ridiculous to claim that Enns is attacking the Bible. Dawkins and Hitchens attack the Bible. Ingersoll and Paine attacked the Bible. Enns is not attacking the Bible. But again, your characterization is very vague. What does it mean to attack the Bible?”
Once again you expose your naïveté. For instance, Mary Baker Eddy didn’t consciously intend to attack the Bible or the Christian faith. But her idealistic filter is just as destructive as Porphyry’s frontal attack. You can destroy the Christian faith from within by redefining key terms and concepts, a la Swedenborg.
“I greatly admire the work you, Jason Engwer, Paul Manata and others do in defense of the reliability of the Gospels, etc”
The respect is mutual. But defending Enns is unworthy of your talents.
“And anyone who has read my voluminous posts on Christian CADRE knows how zealous I am in defense of the Bible.”
Which I appreciate. But at the moment you’re taking away with one hand what you give with another.
“But I cannot go against my intellectual honesty in defending an understanding of the Bible and its authority that I regard as untenable.”
I don’t know what that means. Does tenability take the self-understanding of Scripture as its point of reference, or an extraneous reference point like the scientific establishment?
We can only defend the Bible on its own terms. We can’t honestly defend the Bible in a way that runs counter to the self-understanding of Scripture.
“My point in bringing up YEC is that for many Christians it has been a sticking point for their faith, because of their assumption that inerrancy entails YEC, which is in conflict with well established science.”
Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. BioLogos never engages the more astute representatives of YEC (e.g. Byl, Snelling, Sarfati, Wise).
“On the contrary, I think it's a cheap faith that settles into a particular understanding of things and from there on is impervious to development.”
i) Now you’re changing the subject. You initially cast the issue in terms of choosing between Christian faith and apostasy. Now you’ve recast the issue in terms of a choice between a monolithic understanding of the faith and a historically progressive understanding of the faith. We could debate the pros and cons of that, but it’s a different issue.
ii) The Bible means whatever it means. We can’t begin with what we’re prepared to believe, then dictate that what the Bible means can only fall within the preset parameters of what we’re prepared to believe. That’s not how we interpret Homer or Dante or Bradbury.
“It is taking it seriously, which you seem reluctant to do, even though you are typing these posts using a computer made possible as a result of advances in physical science.”
That’s philosophically jejune. Technology is quite compatible with varieties of scientific antirealism.
“Again, I suspect you already 'know' what it means to doubt Scripture and wouldn't be open to my urging that Enns only doubts what he regards as an untenable understanding of Scripture.”
i) That’s demonstrably false. It’s a useful ruse for Enns to pretend that this is just a hermeneutical issue. And that’s a nice softening up exercise. But he’s gone beyond that. He takes the position that on the correct understanding of Scripture (i.e. his own understanding), Scripture is simply wrong on issues like the historicity of Adam as the father of the human race.
ii) Unless by “understanding Scripture, you mean, not understanding what Scripture teaches, but understanding the nature of Scripture itself. Yet the two issues are intertwined. To understand what Scripture teaches will include an understanding of what it teaches about itself. By imputing error to the teaching of Scripture, Enns also rejects the self-referential teaching of Scripture as the word of God.
Christianity is a revealed religion. You can’t “nuance” away the revelatory foundation, and still have Christianity. Either God has spoken or he hasn’t.
“Which argument are you referring to? Over Scripture or over macroevolution?”
Their one-sided treatment of comparative mythology. Their habitual caricaturing of ID theory. The fact that they dismiss YEC out of hand rather than debate the most sophisticated exponents of that position. The fact that they simply ignore OEC.
“If the former, Enns has written lots of material on understanding the authority of the Bible on an 'incarnational' model.”
Which D. A. Carson dismantled in an early review.
“I would agree that on certain materialistic views the existence of obligations is absurd, but I don't trinitarian Christian faith is the only possible ground of duty and morality. It may be the most plausible, but not the only possible one.”
Well, that poses a striking dilemma. I value truth because I’m a Christian. Were I not a Christian, I wouldn’t care. In a godless world, who was right and who was wrong doesn’t make a bit of difference in the long run. In that event, you and I are slabs of meat in the morgue.
I don’t have a fallback option. I’m not hedging my bets. I got all my chips on the Christian jackpot. For me it’s Christianity or bust. All in or all out. There’s nothing in-between.
"But are you also saying that it's 'inerrancy or bust'?"
Always nice to hear from you, Layman. You, JD, and BK, are the troika that put the CADRE in the top-tier of Christian apologetic blogs.
i) Since I don't think there's viable alternative to Christianity, there's a sense in which your hypothetical (inerrancy or else) is moot.
I admittedly have a presuppositional commitment to inerrancy:
ii) That dovetails with the self-witness of Scripture regarding verbal inspiration, which entails inerrancy (if you also factor in the Biblical view of God).
iii) As a saved sinner, I have a duty to put my trust in the truthfulness of God's word.
iv) Without the intersubjectival standard and external check of divine revelation, I think there's very little that we can know about the sensible world. So I regard divine revelation is a necessary precondition of human knowledge. As such, empirical evidence can never disprove the Bible.
(Of course, we need a separate argument to address rival revelatory claimants.)