Saturday, 4 August 2012

Sanity incompatible with Reformed confessions

Jim West lards on the praise over these comments by Brian Mattson.
Since his dismissal, [Peter] Enns has so quickly evolved in his views that he now denies the historicity of Adam and Eve, denies that the Bible says anything about human origins, embraces theistic evolution, and denies the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture.​ What happened to the "Enns is perfectly Reformed and orthodox" defense? One can still argue (wrongly, in my view) than he was right; one cannot argue that his views are compatible with the Reformed confessions.
Peter Enns, a Reformed academic who has been mentioned here before, is the author of The Evolution of Adam, a book which Mattson slates as "extremely provocative (and theologically poor)".  Those who sympathise with Enns are described as "acolytes".

Mattson, like anyone else, is entitled to a bit of polemical venting; fair enough, I've done a bit of that myself.  But what is pushing his buttons?  The poor guy is apparently herniating over the silly "Chik-Fil-A flap" and his eyes are, one suspects, blood red with holy homophobic indignation.  How he ties that into Peter Enns' views on the Bible is beyond me.

But putting aside that particular red herring, let's just pause for a moment.  Enns is charged with:
  • denying the historicity of Adam and Eve.  
  • denying that the Bible is clued up about the scientific origins of our species.
  • seeing evolution as a process compatible with Christian faith.
  • denying the inerrancy and infallibility of the biblical documents.
And because of this his views are incompatible with the Reformed confessions?

If that's the case, then there is either something horribly wrong with the Reformed confessions, or at least Mattson's wooden approach to them.  To put it plainly, Adam and Eve are mythical characters, the Bible writers lived in a pre-scientific era and were therefore incapable of conveying information about human origins (though that's not to say that some of them didn't have deep insights into human nature), and the idiotic concepts of inerrancy and infallibility are relatively recent theological aberrations.

Facts however can't be allowed to compete with dogma; what Mattson calls "God's transcendent and utterly reliable revelation to us."  Now there's a fine example - it's tempting to say a revelatory example - of Reformed bull-roaring.   

Maybe I'm missing something here, but it seems to me that Mattson has just succeeded in shooting himself in the foot.


  1. Children are indoctrinated with the Stories of Sunday School and the child in the adult will fight tooth and toenail to defend the story no matter the progress made in the facts over time.

  2. It's not like Jim West differs on any of those points. If anything, he's even more of a minimalist.

  3. @ Sabio

    Thanks for the suggestions. Not sure I want to add much to the information on the page you mention, at least at present. The idea of the Reading List is a good one, but I'd prefer - like you - to link to some else's ;)

  4. Well, I believe that God used evolution as the process by which He created our universe. I can't imagine why someone would believe that I was less a Christian for that! I think I may have believed in a 6,000 year old earth in my early teens, right up until I read an article about scientists discovering that a star located several million lightyears away had just gone dark. Every night when you walk out into your backyard and see the stars, you are disproving young earth creationism. We can also determine that the universe is expanding by the Doppler light effects on the stars, making some appear red and others blue.

    The science of textual criticism has also brought to light various errors, mostly minor, and some of these have been corrected in the latest translations. Understanding of ancient languages has improved as well, making more accurate translation of the Bible possible. So, what are we to conclude? That scripture today in the latest translations is more inerrant?


  5. Byker Bob: Are you an Arminian or Calvinist?

    1. I can't totally get behind either set of five points, so I'm afraid the answer would be neither. To me, such classifications fall into the category of "extrabiblical" teachings. Remember, I consider religion to be man made. Arminianism and Calvinism are man made theories, apparently trying to explain how God calls and works with His children.


    2. @ Minimalist,

      I can't speak for Byker Bob, but Gavin would seem to be a Calvinist, judging by his avatar :-)

      Sorry Gavin, I just couldn't resist.

    3. Technically I'm a Calvin & Hobbesist...

    4. I used to buy Calvin & Hobbes books for my kids to read during services at the Feast! (Actually it was just an excuse so could read them too). I've read every one cover-to-cover! Too bad there are no more being written. VERY funny stuff and sometimes very poignant as well.

  6. Gavin would seem to be a Calvinist, judging by his avatar

    Brilliant! Why didn't anyone see this before?