Those familiar with this discussion know that much ink has been spilled on Peter Enns’s book Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. I won’t rehearse that here, but I did want to share one theologian’s assessment of Enns’s work in his new systematics text. I’m referring to Robert Letham‘s new Systematic Theology, released in November of 2019.
One note about Letham: His scholarly credentials are well-established. He is thoroughly versed in the Trinitarian debates of the Partistic era as well as steeped in the writings of the Reformation, Post-Reformation, and contemporary theologians. Prior to the publication of his systematic theology, his books on the doctrine of the Trinity and union with Christ (among numerous other articles and monographs) established him as a household name among professional theologians and students of theology. Conclusion? Letham has earned the right to speak into this controversy.
Letham’s remarks on Enns’s proposal centers on his incarnational analogy of Scripture. On page 29 of his Inspiration and Incarnation, Enns writes, “as Christ is both God and human, so is the Bible.” Then on the next page he asserts, “The human dimension of Scripture is, therefore, part of what makes Scripture Scripture.”
Here’s Letham’s rebuttal in full:
“Unfortunately, Enns is not aware of the church’s developed Christology. The dogma of enhypostasia does not enter the picture. He cites [The Definition of] Chalcedon but does not understand its context–something he insists should be done with the historical background of the Old Testament. [Paragraph break] The church came to the considered conclusion that the two natures of Christ were not equal entities that came together. When we ask who Jesus of Nazareth is, the church’s answer is that he is the eternal Son of God. Regarding the further question of what he consists of, the answer is that he took into indivisible and permanent personal union a human nature conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Christ is fully human, but it is the person of the Son who takes into union a human nature. Christ is not a composite; the incarnation is asymmetrical. The humanity of Christ is the humanity of the eternal Son of the Father. It has no independent existence. With the incarnational analogy applied to Scripture the movement is from the side of God. So Scripture is fully human, produced in particular historical contexts, but what makes it Scripture is its origination and outbreathing by the Spirit, constituting it canon for the church” (p. 217).