Re: [asa] Re: Peter Enns and the future direction of WTS

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Sat Mar 29 2008 - 17:14:38 EDT

I agree that Enns is on the right track. This is the consequence of
decades of being forced step by grudging step from my original position.
But I recognize a couple of questions that need to be answered honestly.
Are denominations and other groups allowed to set standards for
membership, and especially for leadership positions, even if mistaken?
Are they to be required to maintain an individual's position when that
person's viewpoint has changed? The first must be answered affirmatively;
the second, negatively. Failure to set and maintain standards has
repeatedly led to schism, and seems to be leading to further breaks.

I believe that denominations must have narrower requirements for
membership than organizations like ASA. But ASA does have requirements,
though it allows participation of nonmembers. Some of us are convinced
that some others are wrong, a view reciprocated. Where we face
contradictions and contraries, some of us have to be wrong. But "Why
don't you agree with me, because I'm right?" does not prove anything
relevant. It is a popular, though tacit, approach.

Having noted these matters, I suggest that the trustees should
demonstrate the truth of Leviticus 11:5f; Deuteronomy 14:7.
Dave (ASA)

On Sat, 29 Mar 2008 13:54:37 -0400 "David Opderbeck"
<> writes:
I appreciate everything you've said here, Denis. My heart breaks over
this also, particularly for Pete Enns personally. And I agree that we
(the Church, and we evangelicals), need to have more open and honest
conversations about our doctrine of scripture and our hermeneutics.
Personally, I found Pete's book extremely helpful in this regard. To the
extent the WTS situation merely reflects disagreement over what Pete said
in his book, that has to be deeply distressing to all of us who want to
see this conversation continue in healthy ways.

But let me note two things. First is that it's extremely difficult to
judge something like this from the outside. WTS has to define its own
institutional identity. A friend of mine at WTS tells me the situation
was terribly complex and difficult because of these issues of
institutional identity and the various constituencies involved. This
isn't specifically to defend WTS' decision (seeing it from the outside,
it seems awfully difficult to defend); it's just to note my own
conflicted feelings as one who isn't institutionally connected to WTS on
the "inside."

Second is that we shouldn't despair. The conversation is happening in
many circles. I mentioned a week or so ago Kenton Sparks' book "God's
Word in Human Words." There is also John Goldingay's "Models for
Scripture," Telford Work's "Living and Active," and acticles such as
Daniel Harlow's in the 2008 Christian Scholar's Review. Roger Olson's
book "Reformed and Always Reforming" describes a hopeful "progressive
evangelicalism" in which the old categories are a little more flexible.
Many of our evangelical liberal arts colleges (e.g., Messiah, Gordon,
Westmont), some evangelical seminaries (e.g., Fuller, Regent, North
Park), and some influential publications (Books & Culture) and blogs
(e.g., Jesus Creed) are venues in which these issues can be discussed
with greater degrees of freedom.

There also are movements in hermeneutics that suggest a growing middle
way between isolationist evangelical traditions and ungrounded
liberalism, represented in people such as Anthony Thistleton ("New
Horizons in Hermeneutics"), the New Horizons and Brazos Theological
commentary series, Joel Green ("Seized by Truth"; Green, BTW, is a Fuller
prof. who was on the ed. board of Science & Christian Belief), and I.
Howard Marshall ("Beyond the Bible)". (I confess that these books by
Thistleton, Green and Marshall are still on my "to read" pile but I have
a sense of where they're going).

Of course, not all of the foregoing will agree completely with every
concern someone might have with regard to faith and science; they won't
even all agree with each other. And of course, significant portions of
the evangelical academy, and even bigger portions at the popular level,
resist strongly any effort to reform these categories. But there are
many resources available for those of us who hope to participate in an
intellectually honest and spiritually robust evangelical tradition.

On Sat, Mar 29, 2008 at 1:08 PM, Denis O. Lamoureux
<> wrote:

Hello everyone,
Steve, thanks very much for this post. I will forward it to all
my Sci-Rel students.

This is a sad day for the Church.

My heart jumped when I saw the message below because
I am just finishing a book with a very similar hermeneutic
as that of Peter Enns, which I call an "Incarnational approach
to inerrancy and infallibility." But I push the argument a little
further than Enns in that I explicitly reject the historicity of Adam.

I praise the Lord for leading me to a Roman Catholic college in
a major university. As an evangelical theologian, I would never
have been given the intellectual freedom to think outside the box
if I had gone to a place like WTS. Actually, my denomination
college wouldn't touch me when I got out of school in 97. Seems that
loving Jesus just ain't enough. If one has a PhD in evolutionary biology,

it condemns them to being hermeneutically "unclean" and out of
employment, despite being called by the Lord to be a Teacher.

24 years ago I felt called to open God's Two Books. Any yes, like many,
I started the voyage as a young earth creationist. But along the way
there were a few surprises--Gen 1-11 is not a historical record, and
biological evolution is a FACT. But through the process the Lord Jesus
was right there, front and centre. Sadly, I had to leave my tradition to
find a job.

Now, I can certainly appreciate what the Board of WTS is doing.
Board members are wonderfully committed Christians who share
their terrific professional skills in shaping the direction of a
However, they are not skilled to determine the academic competency
or theological orthodoxy of someone like Dr Enns. Too many times,
the Board (and the Constituency) usurps the Holy Spirit inspired office
of the Teacher (1 Cor 12). This has to change. Our calling as Teachers
is to instruct the Board on theology, not for the Board to tell us how
do theology. Teachers cannot simply be "parrots" of the Board.


Denis O. Lamoureux DDS PhD PhD
Assistant Professor of Science & Religion
St. Joseph's College, University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta Canada T6G 2J5
Tel: 780 492 7681 ext.246
Fax: 780 492 8145

----- Original Message -----
From: Steve Martin
Sent: Thursday, March 27, 2008 2:35 PM
Subject: [asa] Re: Peter Enns and the future direction of WTS

At the WTS board meeting yesterday, it was decided that Enns would be
suspended at the end of this school year. Here is the letter from the
chairman of the board Jack White .

March 27, 2008

Thank you very much for your prayers for the special meeting of the Board
of Trustees that was held on March 26 to address the disunity of the
faculty regarding the theological issues related to Dr. Peter Enns' book,
Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old
Testament. After a full day of deliberation, the Board of Trustees took
the following action by decisive vote:
"That for the good of the Seminary (Faculty Manual II.4.C.4) Professor
Peter Enns be suspended at the close of this school year, that is May 23,
2008 (Constitution Article III, Section 15), and that the Institutional
Personnel Committee (IPC) recommend the appropriate process for the Board
to consider whether Professor Enns should be terminated from his
employment at the Seminary. Further that the IPC present their
recommendations to the Board at its meeting in May 2008."

In order to provide the entire Westminster community with a more complete
understanding of the Board's decision and to offer an opportunity for
questions and dialogue, the Chairman and Secretary of the Board will join
the President on campus for a special chapel on Tuesday, April 1 at 10:30
am. Students and staff are encouraged to attend and participate.
Following that special chapel, they will hold a separate meeting with the
Our concern is to honor the Lord Jesus Christ and assure a faithful
witness for Westminster for years to come. To that end, please pray for
everyone involved during the next two months.

Jack White
Chairman of the Board
On Tue, Mar 25, 2008 at 1:39 PM, Steve Martin
<> wrote:

As many are probably aware, Peter Enns' book Inspiration and Incarnation
has caused quite the heated dialogue in the reformed community over the
last couple of years. I personally found I&I to be extremely helpful,
and the more I read of & about Enns', the more respect I have for him.

Now things might be coming to a head for Enns at WTS. I've been
following the story on the net the last few weeks but, being the net, I
didn't want to jump to any conclusions or really say anything (I
certainly can't add much personally). It appears that today there will
be an important board meeting where the "Enns issue" will be on the
agenda. Again, it is unclear to me what exactly is being discussed and
what the possible outcome will be, but I'm sure this is a very difficult
time for Enns, his family, WTS faculty and students, and all the extended
WTS community.

For some brief background on the situation, check out
and the two links to articles on competing visions for WTS – the one from
former WTS Prof Davis is VERY long but definitely worth the read. For
some interesting links on current & former students that are supporting
Enns see:,
html, and

I'd be interested in comments / reactions from those in the reformed
tradition (particularly Presbyterians) who are aware of the situation
and/or the historical context of WTS & past church divisions back to the
20's. I'd also be interested in hearing from those that lived through
similar controversies (Kline / Van Til etc.).

Steve Martin (CSCA) 
Steve Martin (CSCA) 
David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology 
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Received on Sat Mar 29 17:26:28 2008

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