Those two simple words comprise the most common command in the Bible. Ironically, though, many Christians live in—if not precisely fear—at least a certain uneasiness about scripture. Here are some of the big issues:
- How could God command the genocide of the Canaanites?
- How could God annihilate the entire human race in a flood?
- Why do different passages of scripture take opposing views?
- How can Genesis speak intelligently to the modern world?
- How did Jesus and Paul get away with interpreting scripture so … creatively?
Many Christians repress or explain away these issues, but deep down, the tension remains.
Peter Enns confronts the questions head on. His solution is simple: the Bible isn’t an instruction manual on God, it’s the account of how flawed human beings experienced God.
Reading the Bible responsibly and respectfully today means learning what it meant for ancient Israelites to talk about God the way they did, and not pushing alien expectations onto texts written long ago and far away. (65)
If the Bible is analogous to incarnation (fully God and fully human), Enns swings the pendulum from our longstanding Evangelical Docetism (not fully human) towards the Ebionism (not fully divine) side of the spectrum.
Now, you may not agree with Enns. Many people don’t. (There’s a great joke in the Acknowledgements section about the “Evangelical Witness Protection Program.”) You do have to respect a man who is so transparent with his views that he lost his teaching post at Westminster Theological Seminary. He also handles these issues with a genuine laugh-out-loud sense of humour.
Whether you agree or not, “fear not.” God is more than big enough to handle our questions.
—Peter Enns, The Bible Tells Me So …: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It (New York: HarperOne, 2014).