My thoughts on Enns and Westminster

I’ve listened to the special chapel discussion that took place at Westminster today. Here are my impressions and thoughts on the chapel itself and the broader issues taking place at Westminster:

1. I thought that the students did an excellent job of being respectful and yet asking very pertinent, at at times pointed, questions.
2. The administration representatives did as all such representatives do, they dodged. That isn’t to say they didn’t answer questions, they did. But they were quick to hedge their comments with cautions.
3. At least one of the questioners asked if Dr. Enns had been formally charged with anything. This was perhaps the most interesting question posed in the entire 36 minute chapel. The answer included a double helping of hedging but it eventually came out that, no he had not been formally charged, though there were allegations that were brought. The way I see it, the Board of Westminster has gotten themselves into a pickle. They decided to ignore the faculty vote on his orthodoxy, and go ahead and suspend Dr. Enns. As a result they appear to be suspending him for the nebulous “disunity” on campus. Which of course, leads back to his book which is the reason for the disunity. But, if Dr. Enns is still in agreement with the WCF, which a majority of faculty say he is, then there is no cause for disunity surrounding the book.
4. I think that the very fact that there are some who are questioning Enns’ conservatism shows a tendency among conservative evangelicals to go on witch hunts. This concerns me greatly. The fact that Westminster is getting all bent out of shape because Dr. Enns said Christians don’t need to be afraid of critical scholarship is simply astounding.
5. All of this leads me to the question of whether or not true scholarship can take place at confessional schools. Scholarship naturally involves questioning. When someone is stopped from questioning, that’s a bad thing. Of course, one could make the argument that any Christian school that attempted to hold to any kind of creed (even something as basic as the Apostles’ Creed) would eventually stop people from questioning things. I understand and agree with the sentiment. But the Apostles’ Creed, for instance, would allow much more room for questions than something like the WCF.

So, with all of this the question remains for me, how can scholarship take place in conservative evangelical circles when it would appear that if one acknowledges some of the findings of scholarship over the past hundred years they are immediately labeled “liberal.” Such labels are unhelpful at best and dehumanizing at worst. Relatedly, I find Michael’s questions quite interesting.


5 thoughts on “My thoughts on Enns and Westminster

  1. My only quibble is that WTS is not nor has it ever claimed to be evangelical. I grant you the conservative witch hunt reference, but let’s remember that you have to hold to the WCF (conservatively interpreted) not the Nicean Creed to go to the school.

    BTW: the analogy between the dual nature of Christ and that of Scripture that is at the root of the problem at WTS has been taught at Fuller since (at least) the mid ’90’s. IOW, this isn’t necessarily a problem in evangelical circles, only in Evangelicalismâ„¢.

  2. Jim – You may be right that WTS has never claimed to be an evangelical school. In my mind it has always fallen within the evangelical camp, albeit the conservative evangelical camp. They have been involved with ETS, students I have spoken with have termed the school evangelical, though not broadly so. I was going on that evidence. Either way, I agree that WTS is first a confessional school, regardless of where else it may fall on the spectrum.

    I didn’t imagine that I&I was completely original to Enns, but it was original enough in the circles I walked until recently that it was extremely helpful to me.

  3. I agree… i just hope that it’s possible to ask questions and remain confessional… i guess so long as it’s new questions and new answers, not just new answers.

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