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Pete Enns & The Bible for Normal People

A Very Brief Thought for Today on How the Bible Works, Which Will Change Your Life

Church diversity is the key to the Bible

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.

As some of you know, I’ve gotten some mileage out of the years by thinking of the Bible as analogous to Christ. As Christ is in some mysterious sense “human and divine” the Bible is, like Jesus, thoroughly human, while also “of God.” In both cases, the “divinity” can only be accepted by faith.

I laid our this “incarnational model” of Scripture in Inspiration and Incarnation and in a bunch of blog posts.

With that in mind, I want to be clear that I do not think that an incarnational model is the only, or even best, way to talk about the Bible. But is is A way to talk about the very thing that has bothered and continues to bother those with conservative leanings: why the Bible looks so at home in the wild and whacky ancient world. To which the book gives the response:

If you accept the full humanity of Jesus, the Word (which for theological reasons we HAVE to), why would you hesitate to think less of the Bible, the word.

If this idea is new to you and you want to fight back, that’s fine, but read the book first and especially the postscript to the 10th anniversary edition, where I address some recurring criticisms.

OK, so much for that.

My point here is to offer another model of Scripture that I’ve picked up from who-knows-where but I’m sure I got this from someone and I really like it. And that model is an ecclesiastical model.

The Bible works the way the church does—meaning, any individual church.

The church is made up of all sorts of people with different personalities, different histories, and different perspectives but they all belong together. Even when (not “if” but “when”) those individuals don’t get along and really, really disagree with each other—maybe even blow up at each other—they still belong together.

Likewise, the Bible is made up of writings written by different people, at different times and places, with their own personal histories and perspectives. But they all belong together.

Sometimes those perspectives collide or just give very different takes one an issue, but they all belong together.

The diversity makes both the church and the Bible stronger, more real, and presents us with more to connect with.

Just as we are drawn to certain personalities we commune with in church, and which may very well change over time, so too we can be drawn to different voices in the Bible at different times and circumstances in our lives.

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