Are you using the Bible the way it was intended? Most would answer, “Of course! I find truth there about God, salvation, ethics, and the future on every page!” Dr. Peter Enns is not so sure our answer will stand deeper scrutiny, however. Enns is professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University in Pennsylvania, a world-renowned Old Testament scholar. He asserts that we are expecting something of the Bible that is out-of-line with how the central figures of the Bible used their sacred Scriptures. The majority of believers hold the “mistaken belief that the Bible is something like a divine instruction manual, a rulebook, so to speak…. When we come to the Bible expecting it to be an instruction manual intended by God to give us unwavering, cement-hard certainty about our faith… the Bible wasn’t designed to meet that expectation” (p. 4).
Enns seeks to prove his point by showing the divergence and ambiguity in Scripture. He also details how the great leaders like Isaiah, Jesus, and Paul built brought out startling new insights that were very much different than earlier teachings. For example, Paul reinterprets the promised Kingdom to include all persons, no matter what their ethnic heritage. His world and God’s work demanded a reimagining for a new era. This process is the way of Wisdom in which we join in the work of exploring and applying the God-encounters of the past to the world of today. “the Bible hold out for us an invitation to join and ancient, well-traveled, and sacred quest to know Go, the world we live in, and our place in it…. Wisdom is about the lifelong process of being formed into mature disciples, who wander well along the unscripted pilgrimage of faith, in tune to the all-surrounding thick presence of the Spirit of God in us and in the creation around us” (p 12).
Having been trained in the traditional manner of interpreting Scripture which sought to uncover the true, congruent, culturally universal, and unchanging teaching of all verses, Enns work led me to a better insight of how these sacred Scriptures remain alive today. I’ve found great power in seeking this Wisdom approach in a post-modern culture. I think Enns has answered the title of his book, How the Bible Actually Works.”
How the Bible Actually Works, Peter Enns. (New York: HarperOne, 2019).
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