I have had a number of requests by believers to read material by Peter Enns.  He has published a number of books in which he attacks Biblical inerrancy and inspiration, and does it in the name, supposedly, of a more accurate Christianity.  I have had personal friends read his material, find his ideas credible, and lost their faith in Jesus, in the Bible, in God, in miracles, in the resurrection of Jesus and in everything i believe is important in this life.  I have felt compelled to read some of his material and to respond.

Let me apologize before you even begin to read this “review.” The bottom line is that it really is not a review.  A book review is a well-organized, outlined, carefully reasoned summary and analysis of a literary work.  What is included below is very far from being this.  It is a running commentary, including that I produced as I read the book and responded to it.  There is almost no organization to what I have written.  It comes pretty close to a stream-of-consciousness discussion as a reaction to the book.  The only organization of the comments is that they begin with page one and follow the book from page to page.

I want to tell you before you start that I find what Enns has written to be reprehensible, irresponsible and just plain bad scholarship.  If you want to read an unbiased review of Enns’ work, then I suggest you not read what is below.  I hope I am respectful in what I say, but I get emotional and I do not hold back what I feel.

If you have comments and complaints, do not hesitate to send them to me.  john.oakes@gcccd.edu  The document is both attached and copied-and-pasted.

John Oakes

Response to Enns’ How the Bible Actually Works


Review of “How the Bible Actually Works” by Peter Enns

My first response to this book, after reading only a few pages, is that the book tells us a lot more about Peter Enns, and how he thinks, than it does about the Bible and how it actually works.

I am not even into the text, and I see that he buys into the completely false claim that Daniel was written “sometime around 169-164 BC.”  The reason Daniel is dated so late, despite all the data to the contrary, is a presupposition against the inspiration of the Bible, given its rather obviously correct information in Ch. 8 and Ch 11 about the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes in 167-164 BC.  Those who do so, fail to notice that Daniel also prophesies the persecutions of Domitian in the late 90s AD, the coming of the Messiah to Jerusalem, bringing salvation in AD 30 and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 in Daniel 9 as well as the destruction of the Ptolemies by Rome in 36 BC in Ch 11.  The fact that Daniel was included in the Septuagint translation and is found, accepted as Scripture, in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the historical accuracy of Daniel 5 and many more things prove (I am using prove rather than argue for on purpose) that Daniel was written well before the events of the 160s BC, but the fact that Enns buys this unsubstantial date shows his obvious predilection toward accepting liberal and even atheist influence in his opinions about the Bible.

A second sign of his rather obviously biased and unbalanced perspective is his clear dismissal of the idea that the Bible contains “rules.” On p. 10 he claims that the Bible can justify both slavery and its abolition.  People have used it to do both, but the implication is that one cannot tell from the Bible how God feels about slavery. Really? First of all, the implication is that God himself is confused on this, which is so obviously wrong. Second, the implication is that an honest reader of the Bible cannot tell for sure if God opposes slavery.  This is so obviously false that it almost does not even deserve a response. God hates slavery. Has he accommodated it in the Old Testament? Yes. Has he given Christians room to work within a fallen world in which it is an accepted custom that a tiny minority cannot expunge from their culture? Yes. Is there any doubt about how God feels about slavery? No!  Would God want Christians, if given the political opportunity, the bring an end to slavery? Yes. There is zero ambiguity about this, but Enns implies that there is ambiguity here.

He says that we cannot tell from the Bible whether God wants to keep women subordinate to men or to fully emancipate them. My response to this rather obviously false claim is similar to the one above. He says this about violence against enemies and more.  God’s feelings about these issues are not in the least bit ambiguous, yet Enns says that they are. God uses human beings and he even at times accommodates their faults and weaknesses in a fallen world, but his attitude toward these things is not ambiguous in the least.

Another thing we can tell about Enns is that he is a hard-core postmodernist, and that he reads the Bible through this lens. By the way, I like much about postmodernism as a lens to look at culture, language, history and more, and I find the postmodern perspective to be an improvement on the modernist/rationalist epistemology and world view in many ways. However, looking at Bible teachings, doctrines, and theology through this lens, as Enns does, is a disaster to Christianity. Enns believes that there are many different views of God and that we human beings cannot tell which is the correct ones, and that it is better that we do not know for certain than that we do know for certain. This is a dangerous and unbiblical attitude.

One thing that is crystal clear about Enns is that he hates rules. He gives a diatribe against “rulebook answers” on p. 12 that shows his rather obvious disdain for rules, even biblical ones. He points out, correctly, that one of the things the Bible does is it gives us principles and examples, from which we can glean a kind of wisdom in approaching life’s issues, in dealing with ethical and moral questions, in working with people and more. I can fully buy into this truth. However, he implies that this is virtually all that the Bible is—a source of wisdom, and somewhat ambiguous wisdom at that. I cannot agree.

Enns creates a false dilemma. Either the Bible is a book of rules or it is a book of wisdom. The fact is that the Bible is both. He sets up a false dichotomy between those Christians who believe that there is a set of absolute moral truths in the Scripture (the mean-spirited, right-wing, conservative Pharisaical wing of Christianity) and those more enlightened and well-informed believers who know that the Bible is just a set of principles and general guidelines to life. To Enns “certitude” is dangerous and unchristian. To me, adultery, lying, violence, abuse, drunkenness and arrogance are sins which are certainly not acceptable behaviors. God hates divorce. I am certain about this. He says “rulebook answers are distant an passive.” What does this mean? He pretends that wisdom is always better than clear answers. I say that we need “wisdom” when God has not provided a clear answer, but such “wisdom” is not helpful when God had given clear guidance. I do not need “wisdom” to know whether I can fudge my taxes.

It is almost laughable what he says here: “Rulebook answers are designed to end the journey, but wisdom shapes us so we journey with courage and peace.” What does this even mean? This is mere rhetoric and it will leave people with a false impression that God does not provide certain answers to many (but by no means all) questions.  We are not on a journey about what God feels about the resurrection or about who He is or about whether leadership in the church should be of an overbearing or as a servant, or about whether homosexual activity is a correct use of our sexual desires. There is a journey, no doubt, but God has clear-cut “rules” that define what kind of journey we ought to be on!

He says that “Rulebook answers make us small, but wisdom gives us the space we need to grow.” Again, what does this even mean?

Let me throw in a couple of scriptures at this point, to back up what I am saying. When Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the Law (which included a lot of “rules”) it was not because the Law was bad, but that it was replaced by something better.  Paul said that, although we are not under the (mosaic) law, we are under Christ’s law (1 Cor 9:21).  In Christ’s “law” we are more governed by principles than “rules,” for sure, and Enns rightly points this out, but there are still rules. Jesus gave lots of “rules.” We are not to divorce except for marital unfaithfulness. We are to love our enemies. We must carry our cross and love like he did.  Like David said, “All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.” (Psalm 119:160). These “laws” are not some sort of demeaning “rulebook answers” that spoil the Christian journey! They are moral truths that determine what kind of journey a Christian can legitimately be on.

Enns says, “The Bible is a book of wisdom rather than prescribed answers.” What about the possibility that the Bible is a book, both of prescribed answers and wisdom.  I believe that his “prescribed answers” trump our wisdom.  If our wisdom says that it is OK to not pay our taxes, then God’s “prescribed answer” on this topic, which comes directly from Jesus, trumps our supposed wisdom. Again, this is a false dichotomy and a dangerous one at that.

Here is a typical Ennsian falsity (p. 12-13): “Wisdom shows us something of the nature of God, so much so that, for some ancient Jews, to speak of one is to speak of the other. And early Christians fused wisdom together with Jesus—to look on one is to look on the other.”  The first half of this statement is true. It is also true that the Bible supports this statement, for example in Proverbs, where “Wisdom” is personified.  However, where in the world does Enns get the second half of this statement?  He certainly does not find it in the Bible, and, as far as I know, no faithful Christian in the first two or three centuries said anything even remotely like this. He is just making this up out of his head. Is there any scholarship behind this statement? I do not think so and I believe that his borders on heresy!

On p. 14 we gain the important wisdom that “God is not a helicopter parent.” Actually, I can buy this to a certain extent. God treats us as “adults.” He gives us vast realms of Christian freedom within which to operate. He does not specify a ton of things, but provides us with principles rather than rules for most of the decisions we make in life. All so true.  However, the helicopter parent analogy breaks down at some point.  When we are adults, we are morally free agents with regard to our parents. The goal of good parenting is that the child becomes fully independent of the parents, although that a strong emotional, relational bond remains. This is not what our relationship with God is like—not at all!!!  As Christians, our relationship with our Father in heaven is not like that with our father on earth. Our Father in heaven has authority over us if we are disciples of Jesus. We are to be in submission to him, but not to our fathers. We are to follow God’s rules. If God says to jump, we say “how high?” When we say to God, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) God does not say, “Use wisdom to decide.” He answers to question by telling us what to do. Then we can decide if we will obey or not obey the “rule.” To imply that if God speaks to us authoritatively about morality or doctrinal things is for God to be a “helicopter parent” is really a rather shallow and, dare I say, silly analogy. Can we take this seriously? I cannot!

On p. 15 we see that banal statement, “God is not a stressed-out helicopter parent, living through his or her children, nervously and fretfully hovering over us in the form of the Bible to make sure we stick to the script, so it all works out.” OK. I can buy this to some extent, but I certainly cannot buy it fully. God stresses big time over whether or not we obey him! “The Lord say how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made mankind on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. But Noah obeyed God and he found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:5-6)  Jesus said, “O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings and you were not willing.” Jesus expected the Jews to obey the call to obey him and to become his disciples. He was pretty “stressed out” over their lack of obedience. And he had a “script.” Was it all worked out in every detail, so that human wisdom plays no part? Of course not, but to imply that God has no rules at all (which is what Enns is doing here), or that he is not fretting over us is to play falsely with the Bible.

Are there people out there who have moved too far in the direction opposite of that Enns takes? Sure. Are there people who have taken certain statements in the Bible in an overly-literal way or who have seen the Bible as more of a rule-book than it actually is? Yes! Do some believers need to find a more nuanced understanding of biblical infallibility? For sure! Should we swing the pendulum as far as Enns does in the opposite direction? No. Enns makes a straw man out of the fundamentalist Christian. He uses this as an excuse to reject some very important truths of the Bible. At the same time, he unnecessarily undermines our belief in the reliability of the Bible as a source of truth, both morally and historically.  This is a severe error.

Here is another false dichotomy/straw man argument: “Seeing the Bible as a source of [only] godly wisdom to be explored, pondered, deliberated and put into action will free us from a common burden so many Christians have unwittingly carried, namely, that watching over us is God, an unstable parent, who is right off the bat harsh, vindictive, at best begrudgingly merciful and mainly interested in whether we’ve read and understood fine print; if not, God has no recourse but to punish us.” Here I have inserted the word “only” as I feel this is the essence of what Enns is saying. The implication is that those of us who believe that the Bible is a source of eternal truths on certain topics also believe and teach that God is an unstable parent, harsh, vindictive and so forth. Really? This is a rather blatant example of creating a straw man and then attacking that caricature.

To Enns, a good parent is one who has no rules! (p. 17) Is that the definition of good parenting?

By the way, I agree with Enns that a healthy Christian has a “wisdom mentality rather than a rulebook mentality.” (p 17) Paul agrees totally with this, as in Colossians 2:16-23, where he tells us that human-generated rules have no value in restraining sensual indulgence. I am with Enns on this, but the question is where is he taking us with this?

On p. 19 we hear that the Bible does not have rules engraved in stone. Oh… If I am not mistaken, there are actually rules engraved in stone in the Bible—literally! Now, we are not under that particular covenant, but to proclaim that rules engraved in stone are not God’s thing is to speak falsely!

He makes his agenda clear on p. 19. We will focus principally, if not fully on the wisdom literature. I am guessing that we will be avoiding Leviticus entirely, and whole sections of the gospels will also be assiduously avoided as well.

On p. 25 he sarcastically mocks the Bible when in Proverbs we are admonished to discipline our children while there is hope. The audacity of a person to mock the Bible and its amazing wisdom is shocking to me. He makes the hermeneutical error of assuming that a poetical proverb is giving a doctrinal statement on the biblical meaning of hope. This is advice, not doctrine, but he implies the Bible makes an error because he appears not to understand the hermeneutical principle of interpreting the genre of proverb. Like a true unbeliever, he says, “Reading the book of Proverbs on child rearing is like paying good money for financial advice and being told after ten sessions, ‘Here’s what I’ve come up with. Invest your money wisely, and you will be set for retirement.”  Again, if he thinks he is being funny by mocking the Bible, I am personally no amused. He then accuses the Bible of making death threats to children in Ephesians 6:3. This is such blatant abuse of the Bible I am having trouble responding. If the Bible were a person, Enns could be sued for libel and defamation.  He appears to not know the difference between a command and a principle. He implies that the average reader of the Bible will not be able to realize that this is a principle, not a command (in this he is somewhat correct!) He then pulls a doctrinal statement from the Law of Moses and implies that Christians believe that this applies to us today, which it does not. Apparently, he is assuming that his readers will not notice the hermeneutical error.  I am afraid that most will not, which is another reason this book is truly dangerous.

Then he plays a dishonest game with Proverbs 26:4-5.  He points out that these two verses prove that Proverbs is not a source of rules, but of principles.  Of course, this is absolutely true. He correctly points out that if these two verses were rules, then the Bible would contradict itself.  Who would disagree with this?  Then he extrapolates without justification to say that the hermeneutics of Proverbs is the proper hermeneutics of the entire Bible. No Bible scholar—even atheistic theologians—would agree with this blatant error! The command in Leviticus 1 concerning the burnt offering is not a principle. It is a command to be followed to the letter. Yet Enns suggests that the Bible has no rules.

Then on p. 30 he advises the reader to use a mental expletive. A Christian would not do this as, despite what Enns says, the Bible has commands about using unwholesome talk, like in Ephesians 5:4. Ephesians 5:4 is not wisdom. It is a command from the God who made the universe.

BTW I agree with him (p. 35) that the book of Proverbs is diverse and ambiguous. This is the nature of biblical principles. But this does not mean that the Bible as a whole is diverse and ambiguous. This is the logical fallacy of arguing by analogy.

Next he makes a huge error (p. 40), as he claims that wisdom is the solution to the problem of (spiritual) death. Wisdom is the thing that gives us salvation. As a concept, not taken too seriously, there is a tiny grain of truth here, but as a doctrinal statement it is blasphemous. Like is said in Hebrews, without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). This is not a principle. It is a doctrinal and theological statement which is not to be ignored.  He is claiming here that our salvation is brought about by wise behavior, not by the blood of Jesus. This is problematic, to say the least. But Enns is serious here. He then makes a Buddhist-sounding pantheistic interpretation of wisdom. “When we seek to live our lives by ‘wisdom.’ We are participating in the ‘life force’ by which God created the universe.” This is pantheism. This is not Christianity. Enns ought, in my opinion, stop claiming to be Christian and he ought to turn to scriptures, such as Buddhist writings, which actually teach what he appears to believe.

Enns correctly points out (p 40-43) that in Proverbs 8-10 “Wisdom” is personified. This is true. But given that Proverbs is a book of proverbs/wisdom, we should be very cautious to use this passage to make doctrinal statements. It is ironic that Enns, who supposedly rejects the idea of doctrine altogether, uses a poetic/wisdom book, the last kind of book one would ever use to find doctrine, to justify his “doctrine” of wisdom!!!  The amazing thing is that he does not see this irony! To prove his point, he quotes from Wisdom of Solomon—an apocryphal book.

He calls the Holy Spirit “energy.” He calls the Holy Spirit the “divine creative force.” He and the Jehovah Witnesses….

He says that “the life of faith is the pursuit of wisdom. This is nice philosophy, but it is certainly not biblical philosophy!  Faith is belief in things not seen. Faith is obedience (Hebrews 3:18). Faith is a lot of things, but one thing it is not, biblically, is “the pursuit of wisdom.” This is making Christianity all about self—a completely individualistic thing. Where is the Church in this? Indirectly, on p. 46 he defines faith as “know thyself.” OK. I guess so…

More bitter sarcasm and disrespect of God and his spoken word on p. 51. It is bad enough that I will not quote it!

He uses the fact that some believers teach the false doctrine that Christians must observe a Sabbath as proof that the Bible is ambiguous (p 56).  Let us accept for the sake of argument that this is ambiguous (defined as reasonable people might interpret the relevant passages differently). The fact is that God is not ambiguous about this. Either he does or he does not expect Christians to observe a Sabbath. The fact that there is more than one interpretation does NOT mean that God does not care about this doctrinal point. There is TRUTH on this question, but Enns implies it is up to us. We get to decide.  If it seems wise to us, we should do it, but if it does not, we should not.  This is not how the Bible works, and just because he says it is, does not make it true. This is classic postmodern thinking.

About the OT laws, he tells us that these laws all teach concepts/principles.  This is true, but they were laws, to be kept quite literally. He tells us that the application of these laws was “ambiguous.” In other words, not all applications were straightforward. True, but they were still laws. Again, he is setting up a false dilemma. They cannot be actual “rules” if they are governed by wisdom and common sense.

Then he moves to the apocryphal Wisdom, which equates Wisdom with Law—Law was there from the beginning (p. 61-62). To Enns, this unbiblical statement “signals for us a central point of this book: Changing times require adjustments to thinking about God and faith.”  There are massive problems here. First, he is using an uninspired book to make his point. Second, the point is not logical at all. Sorry, but I do not get it. How does the fact that Ben Sirach equates Law with Wisdom mean that changing times require adjustments to thinking about God and faith? Sorry, but this makes absolutely no sense. Never mind, that it is not true. This is the central premise of his book—that what God told Christians in the New Testament no longer applies today.

He then says that “Obedience is a wisdom exercise. Law without wisdom is incomplete.” (p. 62) I agree with this. He then claims that Exodus 21:1-11 contradicts Deuteronomy 15:14 (p. 66). They do not contradict. He then claims that Deuteronomy 16:9 contradicts Exodus 12:3-4 (p. 67&. They do not contradict.

He then states that Chronicles was written in the 300s BC, accepting the liberal opinion, again, without providing any evidence for this almost certainly false claim. (p. 68)

Based on these false claims, he then concludes, “The Bible’s very design gives us (ie Enns) full permission to work out how to bridge the horizons of then and now for ourselves.” (p. 69 stress added) In other words, people like Peter Enns get to decide for themselves to use their own wisdom to decide whether God was serious about a particular command or not. Hey, baptism was important in the first century, but in our more modern times, we pray Jesus into our hearts. We need to “bridge the horizon” on how one is saved. You can see how dangerous this bald-face statement can be. I can agree that there are some biblical principles given in the New Testament that need to be understood in light of the culture to which they were given. For example, the command about head coverings, but Enns wants to make homosexual behavior OK. He wants to make divorce acceptable in the “modern” church. Is the command to not commit adultery or to have premarital sex one of these laws where we need to “bridge the horizon?”

Enns reveals his worldview on p. 76. “We can tap into the life force of cosmos and learn to live wisely amid the unexpected twists and turns of life.” Is he Hindu? He is clearly pantheist, not Christian.

He says “Different voices coexist in the Bible, because the Bible records how writers I their day and their own way dealt with the antiquity and ambiguity of their sacred religion. I can agree (sort of) with this, but the fact that behind all the voices is one voice which determines the content and that voice is of God. The problem is that Enns does not believe in the Christian God, so he rules out this uniting voice. He says, “The Bible isn’t a book that reflects one point of view.” (p. 77). To this I will strongly disagree. He calls anything which claims there is a single voice—God—behind the Bible “propaganda.” (p. 80) Those are strong words.

He uses the fact that there was light editorial work on Deuteronomy centuries after its main content was written to “prove” that Deuteronomy was written about 700 years later than the main content was written.  Of course, this claim is nothing new.  What is far more likely is that a verson of Deuteronomy existed during the time of the Judges or at the latest the early king period, but that it was lightly edited several hundred years later and put in its final form.

Enns claims that Exodus 20:4-6 irretrievable contradicts Ezekiel 18. Ezekiel 18 says that he son does not share the guilt of the father and the father does not share the guilt of the son, but Exodus 20:4-6 says that the son received the penalty for the sin of his father down to the fourth generation.  This is NOT a contradiction, because Exodus is discussing the effect IN THIS LIFE, of sin and Ezekiel is discussing eternal consequences. Our eternal destiny is determined only by what we do, as Ezekiel 18 tells us, but the consequences in this world of our sin is that our children and our children’s children suffer for our sins.  Both of these are true, and they certainly do not contradict.  You would think that a Bible scholar would be able to see the obvious difference here and not proclaim a contradiction.  Enns says, falsely, “God clearly said one thing to Moses…. And then God clearly says something different through Ezekiel at the end.” I can buy this, but there is no contradiction because a simple look at the context tells you that they are discussing something very different.

To give us a sense of his moral character, Enns uses a four letter word that starts with the sixth letter of the alphabet on p. 98.  Great example to non-believers and our children.

Enns claims that the story of Jonah happens “at the height of [the Assyrian’s] destructive power.  Apparently Enns did not do his homework here because there was a great but not terribly long period during the eighth century BC when Assyria for a while went through an extended period in which they lost much of their power.  It is at this time that one does not hear about Assyria interfering in Israel and other historical sources agree that during the first half of the eighth century Assyria went through a significant down period in which it lost significant territory.  This period (the first half of the eighth century BC) is the time period that most scholars assign to Jonah.  Instead, the author says that Jonah was written after the exile (but of course he provides absolutely zero evidence for that rather obviously false claim).  He simple states that it was written after the exile, not bothering to provide any evidence. He calls it a “clearly fictional account” (p. 106), but provides no evidence to support the claim that it is “clearly” fictional.  Clearly to whom?  Not to me!

Enns says that Nahum’s God hates the Ninevites.  This is totally false.  Nahum does not say this at all (of course he has no scripture quotes to back this up).  It is true that Nahum describes God’s judgement on Nineveh for their lack of repentance.  This is completely in accord with Jonah who preached the same exact thing, except that the Ninevites repented on his preaching so the destruction did not come on them at this time. Then he says “I favor one story over the other.”  In other words, according to his opinion, God is actually more like Jonah’s God than he is like Nahum’s God.  Why?  Because Enns prefers Jonah, as if his opinion would affect the truth.

On p. 110 Enns says that the event in 2 Chronicles 33 in which Menasseh was taken by Assyria did not happen.  In other words he claims that this is an historical error.  His evidence for this? He has none.  So, why simply state this as fact, but provide absolutely no evidence for this?  You will have to ask Enns.  Maybe it is just me, but I think that Jews writing about themselves in the fifth century BC (the approximate date the Chronicles was written) would be more likely to know if this story is true than Peter Enns, writing almost two thousand five hundred years later.  Enns says that this story is “a symbolic retelling of Judah’s exile and return after the captives had learned his lesson.” Are you surprised to know that Enns provides literally zero evidence for this utter speculation?  He says that this fact is “undeniable.” (p. 111), but again offers no evidence.  Claiming a thing is undeniable when one has absolutely no evidence for it is…. Well, what can I say.

On p. 121 Enns claims about God that “swift physical retribution seems to be this God’s (ie. the God of the Old Testament) go-to means of conflict resolution.  This is the diametric opposite of the truth. In the Old Testament times God was so fantastically patient with his people and so slow to judge that one finds oneself thinking, “When will God judge these people.”  This claim runs absolutely counter to the truth, but Enns says it anyway.  Jonah’s statement in Jonah 4:2 is far closer to the truth. “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Jonah gets God a lot better than Enns does if one reads the Bible.

On p. 122 Enns describes God in Genesis as the following: “… Is a God like that really going to melt down in Genesis 6 like a frazzled ill-equipped parent of a toddler?” He describes God “erasing humanity like someone “hosing grass clippings off the driveway.” This is so disrespectful and so wrong that I tremble to read this gross mischaracterization, both of God and of Genesis 6.  If you read Genesis 6 God is in deepest wrenching agony over the sin of those he created.  How can Enns get the nerve to say this?

Repeatedly, Enns tells us that there are two radically different God’s in the Bible—one who is angry, immature, selfish and violent, and the other who is loving, caring and compassionate.  Never mind that this is a complete mischaracterization, but he repeatedly says he believes in the second, not the first one.  My question is this: How do you know this is the real actual one?  Does your opinion—does your preference determine what is true?  This may work in postmodernism, but it does not work as a rational view of the Bible.  If Enns is right, then the Bible is a bunch of nonsense and NEITHER view of God is true in the sense that the Bible is a source of truth.  The decider of truth to Enns is Mr. Enns himself.

On p. 124 Enns says that “Who is God” is a wisdom question.  This is nonsense.  Who is God is a theology question, or a reality question or a worldview question.  One thing it CERTAINLY is not is a wisdom question.  This is sheer nonsense.  This is postmodernism dressing itself up as religion.  Enns tells us that it is our job to reimagine God.  In other words, it is our job to invent God (in our own image?). It is hard to respond to this.  On p. 127 he says that “There is no God-talk in the Bible that isn’t already filtered through human experience.”  In other words, he is telling us that there is not a single absolutely true statement about God anywhere in the Bible. Again, this is postmodern talk, plain and simple.  As usual, this tells us a lot more about Enns than it does about the Bible.  He tells us that the ancient Israelites believed that there were many gods and that Yaweh was just one of them.  OK, but this is the absolute opposite of what the Bible says. “Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  This statement, known as the Shema, is the most commonly used phrase among ancient Jews.  Were there some Jews who believed in more than one god?  Yes, certainly, but to say that this is what the Bible teaches or that this was the general assumption of good faithful Jews is a contravention of the truth, and a rather blatant one.

On p. 135 he says, “The story told in 2 Kings 3 may sound as interesting as watching plaque form on your teeth, and for the most part it is.”  This is so disrespectful I do not know how to respond.  If a Christian were to say something this disrespectful about the Qur’an or the Baghavadh Gita I bet Enns would scream bloody murder and condemn that person as a Muslim hater or a Hindu-hater.

What Enns says about the Bible’s depiction of Mesha is so upsetting, I cannot even reproduce it here.  God to p. 137 if you can stand to read this description.

At this point I have reached p. 150 of 277 pages.  I am feeling almost physically sick from having to read these terrible false calumnies by Peter Enns against God and against his inspired Word that I simply cannot force myself to continue reading this material. I am so uncomfortable that I cannot go on, so I am afraid I will leave it there.  If you have any questions, please contact me at john.oakes@gcccd.edu or 858-344-5323

John Oakes



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