At the beginning of his book Misquoting Jesus, Bart Ehrman tells the story of his conversion to conservative Christianity as a young man. And then he relays how, over the next several years, his faith in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible was gradually taken apart as he confronted the full range of human qualities in the Bible. Countless conservative Christians like the young Bart Ehrman have been sold a set of theological claims about the Bible as if they were gospel truth. But if and when those claims are challenged, can the faith survive? Perhaps it is high time that we start to re-examine some of those assumptions.
And there is no better guide in the process of re-examination than Peter Enns, Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University. Beginning with the publication of his book Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament (Baker, 2005) Professor Enns has emerged as a leading progressive evangelical voice, challenging conservative Christians everywhere to rethink what they’ve been taught about the Bible. Young Bart Ehrman seems to have begun with an overwhelmingly divine conception of the Bible, only to have that conception dissolve into one that is merely human. But the brilliance of Professor Enns is that he challenges us to think beyond this simplistic dichotomy as we explore the concept of biblical inspiration in the terms of incarnation: and the words became flesh and dwelt among us. But don’t constrain that incarnation with prior assumptions as to how it must be. Instead, look and see.