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Pete Enns & The Bible for Normal People

Creating the Bible in Our Image of God (Or Vice-Versa?)

image of god

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.

I suppose that title is a bit confusing. What I mean is this: what we think of God can be seen in what we expect of the Bible as God’s Word.

Here is one example.

If your vision of God is primarily (not exclusively) of a sovereign king, enthroned above, who communicates to his subjects through written decrees mediated to inspired men borne along by God’s spirit to ensure the accuracy of the divine oracles, you will likely describe the Bible as necessarily: historically accurate, logically consistent, self-evidently divine, inerrant, fully and absolutely authoritative in all it teaches.

Yes, certainly, people who tend toward this view also use other descriptors for God and the Bible, but the view above exhibits functional priority–especially when doctrinal disagreements arise.

Data (either biblical or extra-biblical) that seem to challenge this description tend to be interpreted in such a way as to support the description, regardless. After all, since God is what he is, his word will be consistent with that description. Contrary “data” are contrary only because humans perceive them through their sinful minds and rebellious hearts.

Hence, disparate historical accounts and divergent theologies are only alleged to be so, and so are harmonized. More compliant passages of Scripture are given priority and assigned prescriptive value for determining the “nature of Scripture.” Other passages, such as 2 Tim 3:16, are elevated as a super-authoritative standard that trumps any alleged “evidence” to the contrary.

Particularly difficult challenges are either tabled until such a time as adequate counterarguments can be mustered or marginalized by means of rhetoric. The primary task in such cases is to defend the biblical doctrine of Scripture.

Having said all this, my suspicion–and this is only my suspicion–is that it is not the view of God that yields the expectation of Scripture. Rather, it is the theological need for a certain type of Scripture that produces a particular view of God.

I want to think about that a bit more, so in the meantime, I will simply say that our view of God and our view of the Bible go hand in hand–paying attention to the one will always tell you something about the other.

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How to Read the Bible Like Adults with Pete Enns and Jared Byas