So, here is my first book recommendation from seminary…
Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns.
I just did a little bit of reading on Peter Enns (thanks to this cool new thing called Wikipedia that all the kids are talking about) and found that it stirred up a lot of controversy for him while he was a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary. After a lengthy review process, Enns stepped down from his post at Westminster because it was determined that the teachings of this book were not in line with the Westminster Confession of Faith.
Here’s the tricky thing about this book…
It engages with the questions of the Old Testament’s historicity, seeming contradictions, and incompatibility with modern science. Rather than asserting that the Bible is historically inaccurate and, therefore, untrue, he shows us a way of thinking about and engaging with The Holy Word of God that can be very faith-affirming. Enns shows us how the Old Testament can still be true, in spite of the fact that it doesn’t make logical sense all of the time to our modern minds.
He does this by reading the Bible “incarnationally”. In the same way that we affirm that Jesus did come in the flesh and did become fully human, we should also affirm that the Word of God is both fully God and fully human. Therefore, we should not be troubled by questions about the linguistic history of the Hebrew language or whether or not the entire earth literally flooded. When the traditions of the Jewish faith were being recorded these weren’t important questions. About this Enns says:
The Question is not the degree to which Genesis conforms to what we would think is a proper description of origins. It is a fundamental misunderstanding of Genesis to expect it to answer questions generated by a modern worldview, such as whether the days were literal or figurative, or whether the days of creation can be lined up with modern science, or whether the flood was local or universal. The question that Genesis is prepared to answer is whether Yahweh, the God of Israel, is worthy of worship. (55)
This is a challenging book. I can definitely see how someone could ask serious questions about their faith because of the first few sections. However, as the story developed I found it to be very faith affirming, not challenging. If you hold the difficult questions about the Bible in one hand and a serious faith in Christ in the other, this book can be a very helpful way for you to interact with Scripture and resolve some of your inner turmoil. Honestly, I came away from this book with an even greater belief in God’s sovereignty and and even more reverent view of the Scriptures.
If you believe that every detail of the Bible is completely scientifically and historically literal (we’ll call it a “conservative” view) and that your entire faith in God hinges on that fact, this book with either make you angry or make you question your faith. I don’t want that. Please don’t read this book. I would rather you get mad at me for suggesting a heretical book than have your faith challenged or your anger kindled.
This book was a way for me to reconcile some serious questions I had about Scripture and draw me deeper in commitment and excitement about the Gospel of Jesus. That is what I want for you, nothing else.
I just want everyone to remember one thing… We cannot force the Living Word of God to be something that it isn’t. We can’t simply force it into our agendas, conservative or liberal. We must step back and watch as the beauty of God’s love unfolds on the pages we read… because this whole thing is a lot bigger than us…