Posts Tagged ‘Presbytery’

Back in 2009 I was a spectator in a Presbytery debate about a pastor wanting to transfer into said Presbytery. The concerning symptoms were doubting the historicity of Job and Jonah as well as uncertainty about the number of authors for his favorite book of the Bible, Isaiah. There were some men from Westminster who were very concerned about the influence of Peter Enns on this young man though he didn’t go to Westminster. They were trying to get to the root cause of these symptoms, the erosion of inerrancy. Peter Enns, thanks to his books, has become something of a poster child for the erosion of inerrancy. If there was a wanted poster in a conservative church office, his face would be on it.

G.K. Beale’s The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism (ebook) does not exist apart from Peter Enns. The first four chapters, over 120 pages and over half the books, are taken up in “dialogue” with Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation.

I have not read Enns’ books though I probably will at some point thanks to the lessons I learned from Dr. Roger Nicole. I know people who love Peter Enns as they react to perceived “fundamentalism” or rigidity with respect to perceived problems with regard to the Old Testament and inerrancy. Beale quotes extensively from Enns, usually giving the context, not just a sentence that can be taken out of context to put him in an unnecessarily bad light. Beale’s argument is that there are better ways to understand those passages that do not compromise the historicity of the text and therefore the inerrancy of the Scriptures. The point being that once you are able to discredit the historicity of the Scriptures you begin to lose the foundation for the theology of the Scriptures. Enns, and others, seem to think the theology remains even if the historicity is suspect our flat out absent (note the recent debates about the historicity of Adam). At some point I may come back and blog in a deeper fashion about these chapters. It was my intention to do so but life only allows so much time and energy.

I suspect that the other half of the book also has Enns in view, but no direct appeal is given to him. The questions addressed there are the authorship of Isaiah and the phenomenological language used with regard to creation (this is basically a summary of Beale’s Temple and the Church’s Mission). He provides more than sufficient arguments, to my mind, for believing there was only one author behind Isaiah (this does allow for an editor to arrange material or add a historical statement like we see in Deuteronomy about Moses’ death). He also provides a compelling, to me, case for seeing much of the phenomenological language in light of creation as a cosmic temple. While there may be overlap with other ANE traditions (due to the remnant of the imago dei and therefore knowledge of God) there are marked differences that show Israel was not just copying them.

This is not easy reading and comes across as far more “academic” than Enns’ more popular style (which he seems to use to excuse failing to provide other legitimate understandings of passages or genres that preserve inerrancy). I do think this is important reading for pastors and others involved in church leadership (oversight of the ordination process in particular). If one likes Enns this will provide food for thought, the other side of the argument so to speak that Enns doesn’t normally offer. If you aren’t a fan of Enns this should validate your concerns that he gives too much away. In fact his more recent book seems to go farther down the road than the one Beale discusses here.

Chronologically, this was written before Enns was removed from Westminster Theological Seminary and therefore before Beale ended up replacing him. On the basis of this book, and his commentary on Revelation, I’d say that was a good choice to bring academic rigor and a high view of inerrancy to the post.

This book is well worth the investment of time and mental energy. This is an important topic and one that won’t go away. It is best to be prepared for those moments when that nice guy being examined begins to say things that ultimately undermine the faith of the sheep, even if they won’t recognize it.

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My new Presbytery covers quite the geographical range.  It covers Arizona, New Mexico and part of Texas.  I had just driven through El Paso on our trip to AZ, but found myself having to go back for my first State Presbytery meeting.  Thankfully we now only have one car so I was forced to ride with one of the elders.  Usually I’m not the best passenger (I get really bored and restless), but it was good to spend time with this elder and talk about a variety of issues regarding church and life.

When we came through eastern NM the week before I did not notice how much the stockyards stunk from the cattle.  It was clearly evident this time around, however.  What do you expect from so many cows in one place?

We checked into the hotel.  It was a “no frills” hotel.  I’ve been staying in “fancy” hotels, apparently.  I was surprised at some of the things they considered “frills”.

  • An exercise room.  Yes, an extra but it would have been nice to spend some time on a treadmill after riding for 4-5 hours.  The wind outside was kicking up plenty of dust, which can’t be great for your lungs.
  • A continental breakfast.  Thankfully the host church provided a very nice breakfast for all the Presbyters.
  • An iron.  When your clothes are still wrinkled from the cross country move, you really need an iron.
  • A bottle of shampoo.  It was very hard to tear an opening in the top of the shampoo packet in that shower.

The pastor of the host church used to be in my former Presbytery.  He had a difficult call there.  I was glad to see he ended up in a very good situation with some great lay leadership.  Though the dress was casual, they were liturgical.  Though in a rented facility, they invested lots of work to make it beautiful.  There were very nice wooden pews, a wooden arch, paintings from an elder adorning the walls…  The worship team included a pianist, violinist, keyboardist and bassist.  Most of the music was traditional, but they did Chris Tomlin’s I Will Rise as an ensemble piece.  It was a very encouraging worship service to begin our meeting.

The meeting itself was fairly uneventful.  We examined one man for ordination so he can labor with RUF (the PCA’s college ministry), another transferred into the Presbytery, and we examined another for licensure.   We heard from some military chaplains about some of the possible implications of the end of the “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” in the military.  They are afraid they may be forced to do things contrary to their faith.

The most remarkable thing, for those who know me, is that I basically kept my mouth shut the whole time.  Okay, not completely true.  But I did not speak before Presbytery aside for expressing appreciation for the called meeting that brought me there when I was introduced.  I updated them with the fact that we are in town, house sold, house bought and moved across country under budget.  Yes, that’s it.

Much thanks to the host church for lunch.  They had a guy making tacos for us.  Delicious!  I was (thankfully) able to go back for seconds.  So I’m thankful that God gave us taste buds and put so many delicious things in this world for us to enjoy with thanksgiving.

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I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to post in the next week or so.  Yesterday I went to Presbytery.  Between where I am cicumstance-wise and some decisions made, I’m pretty discouraged.  I’m not excited abou the direction our Presbytery seems to be moving.  I’ll leave it at that.

On the way home I dropped the laptop off for the Geek Squad to try and fix the problem with the screen, again.  It intermitently goes blank, like there is a short.  We need to fix this before the extended warrentee goes the way of all flesh.  But this means I can’t go on-line at home.  Office time is a bit infrequent right now as family responsibilities take up some time.

Today CavWife brings the boy to the surgeon’s office for his post-op check-up.  His stitches will be removed.  We are concerned that there seems to be a “valley” on one side of his palate.  I will stay home with the girl, listening to her pound on the wall as she rocks instead of naps.  I may try to watch The Simpsons Movie again before returning it to its rightful owner.  Or I may sit outside and prepare for the Family Study as we wrap up 1 Peter 2.

I am excited about how well the Red Sox are playing right now.  This despite the missed starts by Beckett and Papi slump (which is over thankfully), Lowell’s injury and shaky starts by Lester and Buchholz.  Ellsbury and Papi are helping the cause of dominating my fantasy baseball league. 

Congrats to KG for getting some of the recognition he deserves for making the Celtics one of the best defensive teams, which transformed them into a winning team.  To watch them in the playoffs, expecting them to win, is a feeling I have not had since the late 80’s.  And I’m loving it!

The Bruins at least made a series out of it with Montreal.  I expected the Canadians to sweep them.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The downfall of Game 7 was losing their aggressiveness.  They seemed more reactive than proactive so the Canadians just walked away with the game.  Or perhaps skated away.

The girl is currently getting her first experience of Rossini here in the office.  She seems to enjoy it despite the fact it has no lyrics (on this CD).  I have to bring her home now.

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