Thoughts on Inspiration and Incarnation

I wanted to comment on Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation.  I’m still reading and it’s taking longer for me to get through it than I originally anticipated.  I’m finding myself reading and re-reading certain sections to try to really get a handle on what point he’s trying to make.  I understand that he is addressing some scriptural issues in the Old Testament that he calls “problems,” but I’m finding it difficult to follow him sometimes.

I liked how he began the book in chapter one by simply explaining his goals to try to better examine and explain some of the issues in the Old Testament that he feels have not been handled well in the past.  In particular on page 17, I agree with him when he says: “as Christ is both God and human, so is the Bible.”  I would agree with Enns on this point, the Word of God is just that- God’s Word.  However, it was written by men of God, who were inspired to write as God lead them.  And that Word has since been translated and retranslated to be read and understood by people of different language, ethnicities, and cultures.

I guess one dilemma I have with the book so far(and it’s just a small one J), and this is only my opinion, is that I become somewhat frustrated when people use the word “problem” to address something in scripture.  Because what he and others may view as “problems”, I see not as problems, but as misunderstandings on our part.  But I am finding this to be a very good read and am interested to finish it.

I would applaud Dr. Enns for having the boldness and concern to write this book to try to answer questions and ease the concerns of some Christians or borderline-Christians who have some serious questions and concerns about different “misunderstandings” J that occur in the Old Testament.  I wanted to get a little background on the author, and in the course of my investigating I found that he has taken a lot of criticism for writing this book, and in fact has been suspended from teaching at Westminster Theological Seminary, pending a hearing on August 25, because it is thought that the teaching in his book contradicts the oath that he took to teach at Westminster to not “inculcate, teach or insinuate anything” that goes against the Westminster Confession of Faith, which states that the Bible is “entire perfection” and “infallible truth.” (

In fact, Dr. Enns himself discusses the whole ordeal in great detail on his website:  if you’re interested in reading his explanations.  I found it very insightful and helpful to me as I read the book to understand what he is trying to impress upon his readers.

I mention the above because I think that it is very important to understand that Enns had to have known he would face such opposition from the Presbyterian denomination and the Westminster Seminary, and yet he wrote this anyway because he believes it will help people come to know Christ.  And I think that is admirable.  And I really like how he puts it at the end of chapter 3 pages 110-111: “Christ is supreme, and it is in Him, the embodied Word, that the written Word ultimately finds its unity.  …if, as Christians say, Christ is the focus of Scripture, we should allow that focus to come into play in how we understand Scripture.  Christ is the ultimate example of how God enters the messiness of history to save His people.  He did not keep His distance, but became one of us.  This is true of Christ, the embodied word.  It is also true of the Bible, the written word.”

Amen.  Thanks for reading.


3 Responses

  1. Hey Brandon:
    I’m doing my best to make up for a slow start and I too am reading this book very slowly which is a problem because I’m a slow reader to begin with. I’m only about half through the book but it has my attention. I feel myself being pulled oh so close to sacrilege as I read Dr. Enns’ suggestions, but then am afraid for my religious life that I might actually agree with him. To think that the Genesis account may be just Moses’ theory? In the end, it isn’t changing a lot for me. So what if Genesis isn’t a scientific explanation of our existence. The thing is that, try as they may, the scientists still haven’t explained God away. The more important thing is that all of these ancient writings support the belief that there was a creation. sociologists suggest that ancient man claimed everything that was not understood must have been an act of a god but as man became wiser the gods have been explained away. In the example of these ancient writings, the Genesis account is the furthest away from the events mentioned in each and yet god or God becomes more obvious. I’m anxious to finish this read. I’m sure we’ll have some good discussion in a few weeks.

  2. Brandon, thanks for posting these thoughts. I was beginning to wander if anyone else was out there. I have read the book through a couple of times (not to brag, but as I mentioned, my kids are grown up and sort of gone!), and I must say that I have enjoyed the book very much. It did challenge my thinking, but that’s what an education does. A one-sided view is not education; it’s indoctrination. I won’t say that I didn’t find anything I didn’t disagree with, but there is a whole lot more I agree with than disagree with. Also, I don’t really have a problem with the word “problem” when it comes to the OT (or NT for that matter). I think by “problem” he simply means that there are some issues that have to be dealt with. Legitimate questions do come up. For those who want to blindly believe the Bible without any investigation there is the opposite view: those who would discredit the Bible simply because they don’t want to believe it. The evidence (as opposed to proof) is substantial enough that anyone can see it and come to the “logical” conclusion. I appreciate Dr. Enns’ introduction to the “problems” of the OT, written in way that an old guy like me can easily understand (“old” and “easily” being relative terms). I hope you get through the book and I agree with Tim Cooper that we’ll have some lively discussions.

  3. Ok I am right there with you guys. I have finished Enns’ book, but to sum it up as a challenge to me would be an understatement. I didn’t particurlary have issue with the word “problem” but rather with those “problems” he brought up. As I read I kept thinking, “If these issues he brings up are true, then what does that do with my core beliefs about the Bible, espcially the OT.” I especially was concerned over the creation story. I just finished teaching that with the kids here at church. We did an entire rotation on it for a whole month. Time and again we discussed how this was “Non-FIction.” The Bible is not just a story, but it actually happened.

    So how are you guys going about writing the paper on Enns’ book? Is there a certain type of reaction paper we need to write. I may have just missed the info on this.

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