Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Response to Peter Enns

Peter Enns' post “If They Only Knew What I Thought”: The Sad Cycle of Evangelical Biblical Scholarship, is a great article that has given voice to a serious issue within conservative Christian schools.

I whole heartily agree that Evangelical schools need to turn down the witch hunts and choose their battles more wisely. But how loose is advisable?
The flaws inherent in the model of the critical schools are apparent to all Evangelicals which darken their doors. I'm not sure that the goal should be giving Evangelical professors "complete" academic freedom. Freedom to question? Yes. Freedom to research? Yes. Freedom to argue for change in and refinement of believes? Yes. But freedom to espouse positions which undercut the legitimacy of faith itself? Here I take issue with the so called "critical" school. As messy and elusive as a discussion which defines essential Christianity would be, for scholarship to make an impact on faith it needs credibility with the community of faith. This credibility does not come from patronizing confessions. It comes through service that is truly helpful and admirable.  

None of us wants to be judged by the schools at which we teach. But neither is it fair to our students to hash out our doubts about the school's "position" pre-maturely in front of them. I don't know where the line should be drawn, especially in areas where research has attained a greater level of specificity (and debate!) faster than our creeds can hope to accommodate. But this I believe, biblical scholarship which gratifies only our own curiosity is selfish. Apart from the body of Christ, biblical scholarship starves and kills the church it was meant to feed.

Just a thought... is not the reason so much of the gospels are devoted to Jesus arguing with the Pharisees most logically that he was one? Son of a carpenter... who frequently dines with members of his own party? Is not Jesus an example of one who struggles to redefine his own institution, who engages their legal debates, who does not hesitate to critique prejudice and hypocrisy, but who also keeps his own "messianic secret" because his eschatology was so unacceptable, even to his own? This is not a new battle.

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