Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tenured Professor Leaves Westminster Because Bible has Human Component

I just read this in the Chronicle:

July 24, 2008

Bible Professor Will Leave Seminary Instead of Facing Hearing

A tenured professor at Westminster Theological Seminary who faced a hearing next month to determine if he would be dismissed is leaving on August 1 under what the Pennsylvania seminary called “mutually agreeable terms,” according to a statement on its Web site. The professor, Peter Enns, who taught the Old Testament at the seminary, wrote a book expressing the view that human beings shaped the Bible. The institution’s Board of Trustees suggested that the idea was contrary to the conservative seminary’s faculty oath. —Beckie Supiano

And here is the earlier story:

July 10, 2008

Tenured Professor Faces Dismissal at Theological Seminary

A tenured professor at Westminster Theological Seminary will face a hearing next month to determine if he will be dismissed for his teachings about the Bible, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported this morning.

The professor, Peter Enns, teaches the Old Testament at the conservative Presbyterian seminary in Glenside, Pa.

In 2005, Mr. Enns published a book, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, intended to help Christians and religion students make sense of apparent contradictions in biblical texts. Mr. Enns writes in the introduction that “Christ is both God and human. So is the Bible.”

The seminary’s Board of Trustees, which ordered the hearing, will focus on whether Mr. Enns violated his faculty oath. Professors at the seminary are required to pledge that they will not teach or even suggest anything contrary to Westminster’s confession of faith, which states that the Bible is perfect, infallible, and written by God.

Mr. Enns was suspended in March, after the faculty voted to support him. The four-day hearing is scheduled to begin on August 25. —Beckie Supiano

This is a tricky one. This is one reason why I do not want to teach at an institution where I have to sign a creed or a code of conduct, unless of course it requires me to have ice cream at least once a week if not more (gelato being an acceptable substitution). But, technically, he did not violate the statement of faith. The statement says the Bible is from God. The professor said this too. Just merely adding that it is from humans too. He says it is both. There are many good scholars who would say that the Bible was written fully of ancient people, by ancient people, and for ancient people, and, therefore, is generally irrelevant for people's issues today, something that would violate that statement. He didn't say that.

What is more interesting is that this is a case of the faculty versus the board of trustees. It sounds more political than anything. I would have to side with the faculty position on this one. It seems like the board of trustees is just behind the tide of scholarship on the Bible--and, yes, even conservative scholarship on the Bible.

Follow the threads here and here.

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