Friday, April 4, 2008


'And the Eternal Word was meatified and lived with us...' John 1:14a (the unauthorized Jamie translation).

I made up the word meatified a while back but have never actually used it before. I might not be the only person to ever think of this word, but I've never heard it before. I use because I think it sounds neat.

How did I come up with the word meatified? Mirriam-Webster defines incarnation as:
invested with bodily and especially human nature and form
b: made manifest or comprehensible
Synonym: embodied

And at some point I was thinking about the word incarnate and it made me think of the Spanish phrase 'chili con carne': chili with meat. So here is where I leapt from incarnate to meatified: the Eternal Word became flesh and bone.

Why am I blabbing on about this? It’s connected to something my supervisor told me about the other day. Tenured professor Peter Enns, a professor at Westminster Seminary here in the Philly area, was recently suspended for a book he wrote a couple of years ago. The book is called, "Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament". says this: In his book, Enns attempts to confront issues raised by historical-critical Bible scholars that seem to compromise the Bible's divine inspiration. Enns uses an incarnational analogy, meaning that Scripture is both human and divine, similar to Jesus Christ.

The specific connection with the word meatified and the suspension of this professor has to do with his incarnation analogy in his book. I haven't (and probably won't) read it, but the controversy interests me. Why? Because it highlights important issues - the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. I don't dispute these doctrines, but I do have a problem with this: idolizing the Bible and theology. Yes the Bible is God's special revelation to the world. It is the testimony of God's saving actions towards humanity. German theologians call it Heilsgeschicte - the history of salvation. But why does Westminster take issue with Enns? Is it because he's undermining the Holy Scriptures?

Another issue at stake is tradition. The reason they give for suspending him was that his book, "was outside the bounds of the standards of Westminster Seminary, namely the Westminster Confession of Faith," (chairman of the board John White quoted in Christianity Today). White goes on to say, "The essence of the question is, ‘Does the book fall within the parameters of the orthodox, Reformed understanding of the doctrine of inerrancy?’"

It seems that professor Enns said some things that couldn't be reconciled with Reformed tradition and theology. I love Reformed thinking and theology; my formative years as a young believer were in this tradition. What bothers me about all this is that tradition and theology seem to be the basis of the judgment. Is the tradition being defended? Is that the real reason for Enns suspension? The CT article makes it seem that way.

Maybe his book is undermining Scripture, I don't know. But even if he was attacking the Bible itself should that frighten us? Yes. I care when the Bible is put down. And I care even more when Jesus Himself is attacked. But, we shouldn’t be moved too much by mockers and attackers. “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked” (Galatians 6:7). The Bible and Jesus Himself are always under attack and have been attacked for ages. One handicap the church has developed is not seeing God’s power and His willingness to still speak today. The word of God, both oral and written, is powerful and strong.

Here's a great thought from Leonard Ravenhill which he said about Spurgeon:
"Somebody once asked Mr. Spurgeon if he would join a society for the defense of the Bible. He said, ‘You don’t usually walk before a lion with a sword.’ Why do you need to defend the Bible?"

Spurgeon says we don’t need to defend the Bible. It can withstand scrutiny, criticism, and attack. So if Spurgeon has this view of the Scriptures, where does that leave Westminster in its defense of Reformed tradition? Should they defend it so staunchly? Is the ruling on professor Enns justified? Who knows? To me though, it doesn’t seem justified. But I don’t know the whole story, and probably never will.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you need to read the book. Westminster Seminary does not idolize the Bible, but they do take its inspiration and inerrancy/infallibility seriously. They are also a confessional seminary, bound to the Westminster Confession and catechisms. They define the Reformed orthodoxy which they are using to measure Peter Enns' book.