Theology & Origins

Justin Taylor has helpfully linked to two book reviews of Pete Enns's new book, The Evolution of Adam. The reviews, one by Jack Collins and the other by James K. A. Smith, are simply excellent and I commend them to you.

I have written about Enns before, particularly calling into question the legitimacy of his scholarship. Unlike honest-to-goodness scholars in the academy, I find that he is unusually immune to criticism. Even though he has written a lot of material of a controversial nature, he has, to my knowledge, never acknowledged a single area, single point, single argument where his opponents have caused him to reconsider. As a purely statistical matter this is strange. It leads me to believe that he is not so much a scholar as he is a propagandist. Ironic, I know, because the very axe Pete is grinding is that evangelicals and "fundamentalists" are propagandists.

Collins and Smith fairly decisively put the lie to that meme.

With respect to his latest thesis, I'll simply say this.

1) If he is right, then the Bible says absolutely nothing about human origins and the origin of sin. Simply put: this is a ludicrous suggestion. It speaks of a certain laziness that Albrecht Ritschl, who held similar views (p.327ff), at least felt the need to explain at almost unbearable length the origins of sin and yet Pete doesn't even bother. It is much easier to have respect for the older liberalism than the new. At least they put some blood, sweat, and tears into it. For that matter, so did the evangelicals of an earlier era. You can see Bavinck's lengthy evaluation of Ritschl in his Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3, p.44ff. If nothing else, you will see clearly that Enns is advocating nothing new.

2) If sin and dysfunction is inherent in the nature of existence, it cannot be overcome. There is no Christianity. This is an ancient Christian observation, going back to Augustine against Manichaenism and, even earlier, Irenaeus and Tertullian against the Valentinians. And, of course, Paul (e.g., sin "entered the world"). If evil is of the essence of things, then things cannot be separated from evil. Does Pete have some new insight as to why this is wrong? Once again, he just cannot be bothered.

And when it comes to whatever he dreams up next, I simply cannot be bothered.

Brian Mattson