G. K. Beale has written a response to Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament entitled The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical Authority.
The blurb reads:
Can an authoritative Bible contain myth or distortions? Can it be inaccurate on questions of science or historical narrative and still be inerrant? Is there a historical truth, a scientific truth that is separate from theological truth?
According to Greg Beale, answers recently proposed to these questions demonstrate a weakening of the traditional view of the truth of Scripture, which is an erosion of the very identity of evangelicalism. When postmodernism preys upon propositional truth, Christians—and Christian scholars—can be tempted to redefine words like “error,” “truth,” and “inspiration.” But if propositions are no longer secure, what exactly does it mean to say that the Bible is true?
In The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism, Beale vigorously yet even-handedly meets the challenges presented by leading postmodernist Peter Enns. The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism exposes the faulty foundation of these postmodern views, draw out their far-reaching theological implications, and offers strong support of biblical authority. Beale presents his own set of challenges to the postmodern suppositions of Enns and others, and he concludes that the doctrine of inerrancy is not merely a part of evangelicalism’s fundamentalist past but is, instead, a fundamental part of its vibrant future.
My interest in this title will give me an excuse to read Enns’ book which I’ve been putting off for far too long. I’m excited to check them both out.
10 thoughts on “New Book of Note”
“leading postmodernist Peter Enns”
Now that’s a description that I’ve never seen applied to Enns before. Enns say some things that would make evangelicals loosen their collars, but in context all of his statements and conclusions are reasonable. I still don’t understand the fuss.
You know I used to be really interested in Beale’s work (starting with his Revelation commentary) but for some reason in the last couple of years I’ve just become less and less interested. I guess I’m starting to associate him with D.A. Carson too much; a good NT scholar who is really committed to a conservative and reformed perspective.
I think Enns book is good but I don’t think it will say anything you haven’t already thought of. None of it was really ground-breaking for me. I think it is a good bridge for those who are really committed to a certain form of inerrancy that doesn’t let the Bible be what it is.
For my money I still think Paul Achetmeier’s book “Inspiration and Authority” is the best book I’ve read on the subject of inerrancy.
Dr Enns has posted responses to some of the critiques leveled at his book on his web site:
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a response to Beale’s book before too long.
Just to echo Mike
“leading postmodernist Peter Enns”
is just horrendous, sounds like the erection of a straw man, Enns book, while dissapointing in its lack of constructive theolgical work is not ‘post-modern’ if anything it is desiring to return us to pre-modern exegesis such as the NT and church fathers demonstrated… This witch hunt against people who ask honest questions about the nature of scripture really needs to stop. :-(
I guess others have beat me to the punch on the amusing description of Peter Enns as a “leading postmodernist.” True postmodernists (whatever those are) would probably chuckle: “He’s one of our leaders?”
I noticed Beale’s book today. I’m interested to see if you review it. I’d like to know how he is “vigorous yet even-handed.”
Mike: I thought it a bit suspect myself, but that’s what actually piqued my interest.
Bryan: I’ve not read his work other than his contributions to the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament which is fantastic. I don’t mind that Carson is conservative so much as I mind that he’s a boring writer. I’m going to have to check out Achetmeier’s book seeing as how you praise it so highly.
Mark: Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll try to give it a read some time soon. I’ll be interested to see his response to Beale if/when he decides to do so.
Paroikos: Yeah, it was a strange description and one I never thought to apply to Enns (or anyone from Westminster) but in Beale’s defense I doubt that he wrote the blurb for the book.
Patrick: You’re right. I can picture them now waiting with open arms to welcome in their newfound leader. I have put in the request for a review copy but I’d like to read Enns’ book first before reviewing this one. I’m probably going to have to shell out the money for that one though. :(
Amen! Stuff like this blurb on the back sometimes ticks me off more than actual heresy, b/c believers should know better than to slander each other, whether it was Beales who wrote it or the publisher. What a joke.
I’m tempted to overreact and not purchase anything from that publisher ever again, but i think that would be thinking of myself as more important than i am :)
Out of the two I prefer Enns :-)
I’m glad you are going to read Enns ipse. My take on the book is that he is trying to bring evangelicals out of a pre-modern understanding of the Bible into a modern, i.e. historical understanding. Or to put it another way, he is trying to deal honestly (in accordance with reality) with historical facts (the existence of texts written on clay tablets–facts in 3 dimensions) that have been known for over 100 years. He is trying to deal with these facts in a way that honors Scripture. He is trying to harmonize truth.
I didn’t find much of the usual post modern jargon in Enn’s books–not many meta- or post-compounds; no post structuralist, post colonial infrarational, subdural hermeneutics of suspicion–just good old fashioned pre-post-modern facts.
Further, I don’t know how Beale knows ahead of time what genres can or cannot be found in Scripture. I think one point Enns tried to make is that we can’t dictate to God ahead of time what type of message he chooses to reveal.
Mark: From all I’ve seen from Enns I wouldn’t consider him postmodern, but then again I haven’t read enough of him to know for sure. Same with Beale. I don’t know how he can claim to know what he knows since I haven’t read much of him either. Time will tell with the both of them…