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Peter Enns – His Departure from WTS

23rd July 2008

It saddens, yet doesn’t surprise me, that Prof. Peter Enns will be leaving Westminster Theological Cemetary Seminary as of August 1, 2008. You can check out Enns’s own site for the announcement as well as the WTS webpage. The statement is short and to the point. Basically, while WTS affirms Enns’s “teaching and writing fall within the purview of Evangelical thought,” it is apparently not consistent with WTS’s notion of a “confessional Reformed Seminary.”

I had posted previously on my support for Dr. Enns as well as the support of my colleague, Dr. Jerry Shepherd (WTS grad and friend of Dr. Enns). I have found Enns’s work to be refreshing and engaging (particularly his recent work, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament [Baker Academic, 2005; Buy from or]) and wish him all the best as he moves on. I know he will have no problem finding an excellent faculty position where he can pursue his teaching and research.

Posted in Bible, Criticism, Doctrine of Scripture, Old Testament | 1 Comment »

More Support for Dr. Peter Enns

4th April 2008

My Old Testament colleague at Taylor Seminary, Dr. Jerry Shepherd, wrote the following post for the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association email list. It is reproduced here with his permission.

I want to comment just a bit on the Peter Enns situation. There was a thread on the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association email list a few months ago with regard to the Enns situation where I made a couple of contributions, but here are some more thoughts in light of Enns’s suspension. Keep in mind that I am writing this as both a Westminster Theolgical Seminary (WTS) alum and one who was very much involved in the OT department when I was there. I was Al Groves’s TA for a number of years, taught a few courses myself, and was involved with the Westminster Hebrew Computer Project. I took numerous courses both at the Masters and PhD levels from Al Groves, Ray Dillard, Tremper Longman, and Bruce Waltke. Doug Green, Peter Enns, and Mike Kelly were my classmates.

While there are some things in Enns’s Inspiration & Incarnation that I might disagree with, and some things I might have worded differently, I believe the book is entirely within both Evangelical orthodoxy more broadly, and Reformed orthodoxy more narrowly. WTS is a confessional school, and I understand the need to continue to uphold the school’s commitment to the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). But there is also needed the continuing commitment to the idea of “Reformed, yet reforming.” To make the WCF the major evaluative tool by which exegetical statements are to judged orthodox or not, especially when the WCF itself needs to be exegeted through a particular set of lenses to arrive at this judgment, is, in my opinion, very much misguided.

There is nothing in Enns’s book that is not in a trajectory with the teaching I received from the OT department at Westminster in the 80s and early 90s, and I mean the entire department: Dillard, Longman, Waltke, and Groves. For the Board to make this kind of decision with regard to Enns is also at the same time, in my opinion, a judgment on the entirety of the current OT dept., as well as a retroactive judgment on nearly three decades of OT instruction at WTS, especially since two of the endorsers on the back cover of the book are Longman and Waltke. Additionally, the decision appears to be one that is being made by persons who are simply unaware of the complexities involved in the faithful critical discipline of OT studies in the context of the ancient Near East.

As far as the faculty who are opposed to Enns, I am grieved because, apparently, at least a couple of the professors in that camp are ones for whom I have great admiration, respect, and gratitude for what they taught me (there are others with whom I am not personally acquainted).

One last comment. For my OT intro class last Fall, I had my students read I&I and write a reaction paper to it. With only a couple of exceptions (in a class of about 25), the students found the book to be very helpful. To my knowledge, none of these students have lost their faith. To the contrary, a couple of the students who work with university and college students on secular campuses have found the book to be a valuable resource for them in their work with these students.

I hope and pray that more informed thinking will prevail.



Dr. Jerry E. Shepherd
Associate Professor of Old Testament
Acting Academic Vice President
Taylor Seminary, Edmonton, Canada

Posted in Doctrine of Scripture, News | 8 Comments »

In Support of Dr. Peter Enns

1st April 2008


As many of my readers may have already heard, Dr. Peter Enns, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), has been suspended by the Board of Trustees effective 23 May 2008, pending review “to consider whether Professor Enns should be terminated from his employment at the Seminary” (Between Two Worlds). The suspension is due to controversy surrounding his evocative, refreshing, and insightful recent book, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament (Baker Academic, 2005; Buy from or

I trust it is clear by my choice of adjectives that I quite liked Enns’s work and am saddened by the controversy it has evoked among conservative evangelicals. I am saddened because, while I don’t agree with everything in Inspiration and Incarnation (what academic ever could!), I felt Enns was on the right track. Evangelicals have had an uneasy relationship with critical scholarship and I felt that Enns was attempting to address some of the issues with both theological sensitivity and some academic rigor. In fact, I was in contact with Dr. Enns last year to have him speak at Taylor’s Faith & Culture Conference (as it turns out he was unavailable; instead we brought in Dr. Kenton Sparks, author of a similarly engaging work on evangelicals and biblical scholarship that is hot off the press, God’s Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship [Baker Academic, 2008; Buy from or]. This is another book I would highly recommend).

At any rate, this is not the place for a full review and engagement with Inspiration and Incarnation, but I would encourage you to purchase it and then read it carefully — especially if you feel the need to criticize it.

I will refrain from commenting on issues internal to Westminster Theological Seminary, its administration, faculty, students, and constituency, since I have no basis for comment. It is clear that Westminster has some hard times ahead with the disunity this controversy is raising and the institution needs our prayers. Perhaps even more than this, Dr. Enns needs our prayers. I can’t imagine what it would be like to go through this sort of investigation.

If you want to follow the controversy, I encourage you to keep tabs on Brandon Withrow‘s blog. In addition, Christianity Today also has a blog post and an article on the events. Peter Enns also has a website, though I imagine he will not be posting anything relating to this controversy in the near future.

The sad irony of this whole controversy is found in Dr. Enns’s words from the preface to Inspiration and Incarnation:

I am thankful for being part of such a solidly faithful group [the Westminster faculty] that does not shy away from some difficult yet basic questions and with whom I am able to have frank and open discussions. This does not happen at every institution, and I do not take that privilege for granted” (p. 9).

Sadly, it seems “frank and open discussions” don’t occur at Westminster after all.

Posted in Bible, Criticism, Doctrine of Scripture, News, Old Testament | 6 Comments »