Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Making the cut


Here’s the familiar scenario. The “best and brightest” students in Evangelical seminaries work hard and are encouraged and aided by their professors to pursue doctoral work. Many wind up going to some of the best research universities in the world.

This is a feather in everyone’s cap, and often they are hired back by their Evangelical school or elsewhere in the Evangelical system.

Sooner or later, these professors find out that their degree may be valued but their education is not.

Either that or they bury their academic and spiritual instincts for fear of losing their jobs.

This is what happens to the “best and brightest” Evangelicals.

In one seminary I know a former student, now professor, felt ill-prepared by his seminary at the initial stages of his doctoral work. He had gotten straight As in seminary and done stellar work in his language classes.

It is, rather, an indication of the inadequacy of the Evangelical system, where the best Evangelical minds trained in the best research institutions have to make believe they don’t know what they know.

Peter Enns is understandably concerned that dogmatic commitment to inerrancy is alienating the best and the brightest. Evangelicalism is losing the crème of the crop.

If we were hemorrhaging the second-best and the less than brightest, that wouldn’t be anything to lament. If we were losing waitresses, valets, janitors, dishwashers, elevator operators, security guards, taxi drivers, 7/11 cashiers, hospital orderlies, short order cooks and so forth, that wouldn’t be anything to weep over. Its not like theyre a feather in anyones cap.

But when you begin to lose the best and the brightest, now that’s a real crisis. It’s time to sit up and take notice.

After all, God chose Israel because Israelites were the best and the brightest, right?

Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people (Deut 9:6).

After all, God chose Christians because we’re the best and the brightest, right?

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor 1:26-29).

Reminds me of a recent story:

“When you have a kid with substantial disabilities [Down Syndrome] you have to think a lot about their future,” his father, Keith Harris, told ABC News. “We were very motivated for Tim to have as normal as life as possible. Our philosophy as a family was to push the envelope as much as we could toward independence, so that one day when my wife and I are no longer in the picture, Tim will be settled and have his own life.”

From the start, it was clear that Tim’s Place was something special. In addition to standard American and Mexican breakfasts and lunches, Harris serves hugs, and lots of them. So far, he’s doled out up to 32,4750, according to a “hug counter” on the eatery’s website.

Giving hugs “is my favorite part of the day,” said Harris, who arrives at work every morning between 7 and 7:30 and leaves around 2 pm every day except Tuesdays, his day off. “I come to work and I have my shirt untucked. I get my breakfast, and when I’m done, I’ll tuck in my shirt and get into work mode.”

Needless to say, Tim Harris isn’t the best and the brightest. He wouldn’t be good enough to make Team Enns. Not even close. 
Reminds me of Henry James Sr., who let his ordinary sons go off to war, while keeping his genius sons (William and Henry) out of the fray.

We should be grateful that Peter Enns has such high standards. We need to maintain strict quality control. We can’t have average (much less below average) Christians rubbing shoulders with Harvard graduates like Peter Enns. Christianity is for a special breed. A class apart from the common rabble. Only the brights need apply. 

1 comment:

  1. I find it funny that the "best and brightest" are being lost. These same "best and brightest" are the same people who do not understand basic issues in the philosophy of science, and simply accept in an uncritical manner all manner of naturalistic hypotheses, then they scratch their head when they cannot cram their naturalism into a Christian worldview. I pointed out that James K.A. Smith critiqued Enns positions on science, and Enn's response was that he had read Smith, but found that Smith's position was obscurantist. It isn't that what Smith said was false, but simply that it would marginalize evangelicals to the broader world. My question is: isn't that how it always has been?