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Peter Enns Suspended from WTS

March 27, 2008

Daniel Kirk has the details on the suspension of Peter Enns from Westminster Theological Seminary. His suspension stems stems from faculty disunity over his book Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament.

This problem has been brooding for some time and makes me wonder whether Biblical Seminary will soon find itself with another Westminster ex-patriot (they already picked up Steve Taylor earlier this year).

Update 1 (3/28): Ted Olson has a note on Enns’ suspension, and Daniel Kirk has a bit more of the skinny on the board meeting. No official statement on WTS’s website as of yet. Stay tuned….

Update 2 (4/1): There was a special Q&A Chapel at WTS today concerning Enns’ suspension. Audio can be found here. CT now has a longer, more detailed piece here. Daniel Kirk has the minority report from the board meeting here. Arthur Boulet has more on the skinny from his perspective here. So much fun….

  1. March 27, 2008 3:52 pm

    I also posted the full letter.

    It is truly regrettable.

  2. March 27, 2008 4:23 pm

    Unfortunately, regrettable but not unexpected.

  3. March 27, 2008 7:41 pm

    I purchased the book through their on-line bookstore today…just because.

  4. March 27, 2008 7:52 pm

    The book is actually quite interesting, at least worth a read.

  5. hughvic permalink
    March 27, 2008 10:08 pm

    Ah, nuts. Prayers of encouragement for Dr. Enns, but also what a chill for the rest of us! If they can’t handle his “incarnational” historicism, how’re they ever going to hear my Girardians?

  6. March 28, 2008 11:03 am

    hughvic, as someone who did some time at WTS before they kind of ran me out of town, I’m pretty sure they would never be into a Giradian view of the atonement. If it’s not in the Westminster Confession it’s not in Scripture.

  7. hughvic permalink
    March 28, 2008 12:58 pm

    Is Princeton too pantywaist to play the pick-up with Enns and thumb its nose at the Westminsterians?

  8. March 28, 2008 4:24 pm

    I’m not sure pantywaist would be the right term. They’ve got some amazing scholars in Hebrew Bible: Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, Choon-Leong Seow, F.W. “Chip” Dobbs-Allsopp. These are top-notch folks. I don’t think they’re in the market for anyone else at the moment.

  9. hughvic permalink
    March 28, 2008 6:20 pm

    I didn’t mean to impugn their scholarly firepower, just thor administrative politesse, their institutional caution, their tendency to demur from the prophetic. Not genus Scholasticus; genus Administratopithecus.

  10. March 29, 2008 1:46 am

    I’m ashamed of WTS (MAR, 97).

    This kind of thing is exactly why they don’t have tenure. They can (and will) ax anyone. They have many times in the past. I wouldn’t teach there if mythical hell froze over.

    Let’s face it: This kind of thing is endemic to confessionalist-type schools. We’ve all heard of it before. But what makes me really sick, besides the fact that a man’s job, service, loyalty, and integrity are being questioned, is that all who voice protest will probably merely add to the Board’s certainty of their “prayerful” decision. They will play the martyr, suffering for the sake of Christ, under the banner of truth . . . and further delude themselves that god is on their side.

    Can you tell I’m outraged?

  11. hughvic permalink
    March 29, 2008 9:48 am

    No, not really, A.L. Sounds descriptive to me. Wonder what WTS would have done with the masters of Edinburgh, had they not been tenured at the University. The poetic Jas. S. Stewart, for example. OUT!

  12. March 30, 2008 1:03 am

    I’ve expressed my anger a little bit more here.

  13. hughvic permalink
    March 30, 2008 2:19 am

    So I see. It’s going to be a hot one.

  14. cdero permalink
    March 30, 2008 3:47 am

    despicable of them to suspend him over facts. My thoughts on the matter

  15. March 30, 2008 10:18 am

    Alan: nice to see you working through your anger in creative ways. I found the letter from Satan quite humorous and would love to talk faith with you over a beer at the next SBL.

    hughvic: the confessional nature of WTS has always made the place a bit odd. I did a year there back in ’97 and wound up leaving for Fuller because the place convinced me that I wasn’t reformed (what I, as a Mennonite) was doing there is still beyond me.

    cdero: thanks for stopping by!

  16. hughvic permalink
    March 30, 2008 12:44 pm

    A Mennonite, Jim! Wonderful! But damned if I can figure what you were doing there either. I trust you fared better at Fuller. I spent two weeks there, years ago, studying Kingdom theology, and came to respect the rigor of the place. I’m trained, as an historical anthropologist, to shed institutional assumptions, and other cultural artifacts & artifices, as it were exchanging a crown for a cross. It sounds as though WTS is stuck inside its crown, which rightly belongs alongside Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s, at the feet of the King of Kings. Anyway, I appreciated the way in which Fuller was accustomed to meeting The New eyeball-to-eyeball, and giving it a thorough going-over to see where it lay it juxtaposition to Fuller’s framework. I pray that Dr. Enns will find such a place. Or better yet, that such a place will find him.

    Incidentally, I’d be a Moravian if I could be. None of them about, where I am. To bad; fits me like an old shoe. And here I am a petty factotum of PCUSA!

    It occurs to me that the 12th Century Scholastics, two generations of Christian men who spent their lives pondering academic purpose and curricular taxonomy, finally reached the conclusion that the University was to admit all thought from all sources save one: Paganism. It wasn’t the idolatry that they wished to exclude, or the antithetical cosmology. The exclusion was owing to their belief that Paganism was a specific toxin that would open the body of scholars to a rash of relativism, thereby destroying the University. Even the greatest latitudinarians of all time had their limits, but exegetical historicism certainly was not outside their bounds.

    When all this is over, the un-exegesis taught by WTS will melt away in the legacies, and possibly even in the minds, of its graduates. The WTS approach simply will become, in the intellectual agora, an Edsel on eBay. But the exegesis of Enns won’t have that fate.

    If only they’d have the decency to do what the Board of Ambassador did. “It’s over. We were wrong. Let’s go.”

  17. neil permalink
    April 2, 2008 9:46 am

    I find the comments on this page absolutely delightful, if a bit over done, but most others are more drammatic than myslef. I am currently attending Westminster, not as a Moravian or a Mennonite, but perhaps worse, as a Pentecostal (not full blown, it takes a lot to explain). I have seen some interesting things in my four years here, but this just takes the cake. It has truly made me fear taking any job with a Christian Institution, especially if this is how we treat loyalty, and act in brotherly love. Many will say it is “tough love” and that we young ones make love so sappy. Well, Peter and Paul seemed to get along after their scrap, and they decided to do something different. I just can’t understand how I am supposed to look up to men who are all reported to be Christians, and yet cannot fellowship and work together for the Kingdom. It is very depressing to me. I have shared this thought before, and have been told that this is the history of the church. A seemingly meaningless answer, to say that the history of the church is rife with sin, so we should expect and accept sin and not attempt to purge it from our midst. All in all, a depressing end to four years of fire and brimstone. May God grant me mercy in whatever I do next!

  18. April 2, 2008 12:30 pm


    Thanks for stopping by. I have known many a Pentecostal at WTS over the years (I believe Alan came to WTS from Springfield). My personal parting of the ways with WTS was partially due to their cessation positions (as well as a number of others!). I eventually fled to Fuller largely because I sought fellowship with the wider Body of Christ. I’ve been there and deeply sympathize. God’s grace in whatever vocation you are called!


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