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Pete Enns & The Bible for Normal People

my top 10 New Testament passages (and the 4th one will shock you!)

top 10

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.

top 10A couple of days ago I posted my top 10 list of Old Testament passages, and here are my top 10 New Testament passages.

And let me repeat from my last post my distain for the shameless clickbait which is “top 10” lists and especially for dragging God into them.

But if we know anything from the Bible itself, God seems willing to be accommodated to culturally conditioned ways of thinking. After all, if God can let slide being described as an ancient tribal warrior deity who drowns his enemies (see Exodus 15), I’m sure he can handle a top 10 list—even though, as I said, I really don’t like them.

So here they are. Each of these means a lot to me, I go back to them often, and they have come to shape how I think about God and the life of faith. Feel free to add some of your own passages in the comments section!

(And if you’re thinking, “Gee, what’s Enns’s problem? I don’t find #4 shocking at all!” please step back from your computer and examine the path your life has taken thus far.)

1. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his suffering by becoming like him in his death… (Phil 3:10). Both suffering and resurrection—times of great difficulty and times of triumph—are expected and normal parts of the Christian life.

2. …unless you change and become like children… (Matt 18:3). As children trust their parents with no thought of an alternative, Christians are called to trust God—which is both comforting and challenging.

3. …do not worry about your life…look at the birds…consider the lilies… (Matt 7:25-34). Worry should be as impossible for followers of Christ as it is for birds and plants, which by definition are incapable of worry.

4. …the truth will make you free… (John 8:32). The truth—knowing Christ—will make you free, namely free from yourself to be free toward God.

5. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us… (1 John 4:12). The difficult and often counterintuitive act of loving one another is the closest we get to seeing God.

6. But while he was still far off, the father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran… (Luke 15:20). The parable of the lost (or, mistakenly, “prodigal”) son. The father has no thought of judgment toward the son, only welcome…and he can’t wait to get started.

7. …your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3). Intimacy (union) with God is the present reality and hoped for goal of the Christian life.

8. …there is no longer Jew or Gentile…slave or free…male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28). What humans use to divide between each other for power and control—ethnicity, economy, gender—mean nothing to God.

9. Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? (John 8:10). Whereas our tendency is to punish and exact holy retribution, Jesus shows us that God’s default mode is to forgive and encourage us to move on and begin anew.

10. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…on either side of the river is the tree of life… Rev 21:1; 22:2). The entire biblical story is summed up. The Bible ends where it begins; creation is restored. Everything else in between, God’s story as a whole from Abraham to Christ, is about how God makes that happen.

***The original version of this post appeared in December 2014 and was posted at OnFaith later that month. If you want to read more on how I look at the Bible, here are two of my books that God told me you need to read: The Bible Tells Me So (HarperOne, 2014),  The Sin of Certainty (HarperOne, 2016).***

[I moderate comments so it may take me a few hours, or even a day, to get to them. Thanks for your patience.]

 

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