Peter Enns & Academics

Over the years we have heard many atheists, unbelievers and scholars caim that the evangelical does not know how to think. They also claim that those believers and academic institutions which hold to traditional views are not educated nor perform to certain academic standards. Of course, these complaints come from those who feel that being educated and offering an education must meet their secular ideas.

They ignore what God has to say on the subject and feel that to be educated one must be secular in nature. According to them, the educated person discards biblical teaching and condemns the Bible or classify it as a human book. Peter Enns is one such scholar and is the example today as we look at education and the Christian. You can read his full article at the following link

We will simply quote a few questions and comments he asked/made and then address those.  His first question comes in the title

#1. are “evangelical” and “academic” oxymorons?

In the eyes of those who do not like the Bible, the answer to that question would be-yes. They think that modern science and other subjects have proven the Bible to be a book full of fairy tales. But to those of us who are both Christian and educated we know that the answer to the question is- no. Evangelicals can be educated and God has even told us how he wants us to be educated

Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and [a]be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly (Deut. 6 NASB)

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as [b]frontals [c]on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deut. 6 NASB

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15 NASB)

In the last verse’s case we prefer the KJV version which reads

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

But what are we to study? We can study most topics for God wants educated people defending the faith, his words and they need to know the truth. God’s people need to be able to distinguish between what is or isn’t true and then teach the truth to their children. This does not mean we do not know what the unbeliever’s know. We need to know the different theories so we can refute them with the truth.

In other words, evangelical education is not going to look like secular education. We do not accept false teaching over God’s word. This result is what makes Mr. Enns ask that question above. Evangelicals and other true believers are not going to be educated the same as unbelievers but that difference does not make them non-academic. It means that they hold to different views than people like Mr. Enns.

#2. The issues that get at the heart of evangelical concerns were are remain: when the Bible was written, by whom, and whether it is historically accurate.

We can never be sure when the Bible was specifically written. That is information that is withheld from us and is not pertinent to any real discussion. Only the unbeliever has trouble with it because the earlier the Bible is written the more it proves their arguments are wrong and misleading. For example, the Books of Moses being written in the 14th or 15th century BC undermines the illiterate argument many archaeologists and scholars hold concerning the ancient world.

We know that the Bible is historically accurate for if it wasn’t, it would make Israel the only nation in the world incapable of writing their own history.  The idea that the Bible isn’t historically accurate is not only an insult to the people of Israel but to God as well. That argument makes him incapable of recording what he saw take place and what he did in history.

#3. Can an institution claim to be fundamentally academic while at the same time centered on defending certain positions that are largely, if not wholly, out of sync with generations of academic discourse outside of evangelical boundaries?

Of course it can. One reason is that the secular world is not in harge of what is or isn’t academic. Another reason is that it is the secular world that is blind and deceived not God or the true Christian academic world. It is not the true Christian academic institution that is out of sync. The reverse is true and the secular academic institutions and academics who are out of sync with God and the truth.

#4. It is common for evangelical institutions to have as part of their statements of faith clear articulations about biblical inerrancy and how that dogmatic starting point (either implicitly or implicitly) dictates interpretive conclusions. The question, simply put, is whether such a posture can be called “academic” by generally agreed upon standards—which are standards that evangelicals would quickly agree to in areas that do not touch evangelical dogma.

Again, of course it can. These institutions are speaking the truth about the Bible and its inerrant status. Giving students the truth is what academics is all and supposed to be about. Mr. Enns may use labels like dogmatic and interpretive conclusions but that is a reflection of his attitude towards the Bible not any academic mis-step by evangelical institutions,

He does not like the truth and has opted to take the secular world’s ideas over the one true God who does not lie. The mistake is his not the evangelical who believes God and stands by his word. The generally agreed upon standards may not disobey God and play no part in determining if inerrancy etc., are or are not academic or educational. We can agree to general terms if they do not violate God’s definitions, rules, instructions or commands.

#5. Can evangelical institutions maintain a credible academic reputation when they officially promulgate positions that are only held among a small group of “sister” institutions of similar ideology and not the academic discipline of biblical scholarship in general?

Again the answer to the question is yes. The problem comes in when people like Mr. Enns disagree with what constitutes education in the evangelical context. His appeal to the general world of biblical scholarship is misleading as most of the information disseminated in that world is done by unbelieving scholars. Even some Christian scholars get it wrong.

The general biblical scholarship argument does not work because the truth is often left out or attacked by the very scholars Mr. Enns is appealing to. He assumes they are on the right track and ignores other biblical teachings which warn the believer about false teaching. The biblical scholarship world is not the bastion for truth.

Then, the evangelical academic institution does not have to maintain a credible academic reputation according to the secular world’s standards That is not its purpose or objective. Those must teach the truth, so God’s people know what is right and wrong and make the correct choice to follow what is right. Being academically hailed is not what true Christians strive for. They need to find the truth, accept it, change to it and then teach it correctly to their students.

The Christian academic institution takes its marching orders from God, not the secular academic world. If this means giving up accreditation then so be it.

#6.Adam as the first man; the essential historical reliability (rather than mythic content) of the creation stories, the Patriarchs, the exodus, and conquest; the fundamentally early authorship of the Pentateuch, Isaiah, and Daniel. These are well-known issues that evangelicalism has tended to defend along traditional lines.

By contrast, these issues are either largely settled or at least engaged along very different lines in academic contexts outside of conservative Christian circles.

This is an issue of faith and belief not academics. Secular academics has a hard enough time trying to prove the existence of many historical figures, pointing a finger at the biblical figures is not helping their academic standing but shows their hypocrisy. We believers do not give up the truth just to have an academic reputation.

#7. In response, it is often claimed that the “guild” of biblical scholarship is too blinded by its own presuppositions to handle the word of God well, or there is some conspiracy afoot, or the better scholars reside in the evangelical camp.

So true christians cannot read their own holy words correctly and only unbelievers can do it? That is some attitude that Mr. Enns possesses. It goes back to the Israel failure to write their own history mentioned earlier. He and other unbelievers have a lot of arrogance especially since they cannot have the spirit of truth guiding them.

The true Christian is not the one who is blind.

#8. At what point does the reasoned exposition of an evangelical theological tradition cross over to an unreasonable, idiosyncratic—unacademic—rejection of positions that are essentially non-controversial outside of those boundaries?

Never. Christians are to stick with the truth regardless of what the secular academic world says. Most of the secular academic work on biblical matters originates with their unbelief and doubt. It does not come from God. The evangelical and other true Christians reject the lies of the secular world and in so doing do not damage their academic or educated standing. We are allowed to disagree with the unbelieving world.

#9. Should such institutions publicly acknowledge that they are centers of theological apologetics and therefore not places of academic training? Should they even be allowed to grant academic degrees?

No because education and academics is not limited to the secular world’s ideas on what constitutes either. This question is merely the result of the thinking that says- if you do not do it my way then you can’t do it? Mr. Enns needs to ask why should evangelical schools follow his way or the way of the secular world when they are followers of God and are to teach God’s way following his instructions?

He is like the kid who is spoiled or who thinks he owns the ball and will take it home if no one does what he says. Mr. Enns is just one of many unbelievers who hold this attitude. The reason they do is because they are tools of evil and have been deceived. While they will not acknowledge that point it is a fact none-the-less. They are attacking those organizations and people who have the truth in hope of keeping the truth away. Their reasons may vary but one of them is clear- they do not want to hear the truth themselves and see that they are on the road to destruction.

This is a battle that will not go away and true Christians need to be prepared to continue waging it as evil wants the truth to be hidden and Christians and their academic institutions destroyed.

If evangelical schools do academics and education correclty, then they are academic and educational. Only what God thinks matters. Christians and their schools are not to please the secular world.