Hans Madueme on Peter Enns’s Hermeneutic and Theology

Hans Madueme was until recently the Managing Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, my former employer.  He is now Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Covenant College.

Hans is one of the sharpest guys I know.  He recently wrote a fantastic essay for Themelios, the online evangelical journal (that’s readable and actually understandable) in which he graciously but thoroughly critiqued the theology and hermeneutic of Pete Enns, Old Testament theologian and former professor at Westminster Theological Seminary.  You may not be up on the conversation on Enns; suffice it to say that he’s 1) quite gifted and 2) the champion of a non-inerrantist scriptural hermeneutic (though he says otherwise) that threatens disaster for the evangelical worldview (he believes that we don’t need a historical Adam contra Romans 5, for example).

Here’s a bit from the essay, which is one of the most helpful overviews of the state of conservative evangelical theology that I’ve read of late:

Enns is worried that evangelicals will self-destruct if we keep denying what mainstream science is telling us. He is worried that our young people are growing up as intellectual schizophrenics, believing one thing in church and another thing in the lab—and suffering under the mental strain. Many are leaving the faith because they see only two choices, affirm Adam or abandon ship. And a number of emerging evangelical scholars are disillusioned and discouraged by the chilly reception their hard-earned views of Scripture have received from Mafioso, muscle-flexing evangelical gatekeepers. His book is an attempt to bring healing and to offer a different way. I understand where Enns is coming from, but his book, I am sorry to say, is a cure far worse than the disease. I have tried to explain some of my reasons for this negative judgment, and I hope they stimulate further conversation (with Enns and others). I recognize the force of the mainstream evolutionary consensus, and I know that it raises tough questions for the viability of a historical Adam and the doctrine of the fall. But I am constrained by Scripture, tradition, and weighty theological considerations. I am a son of Adam. That is why I am a sinner. And it is why I need Christ.

Read the whole thing.  Keep an eye out for the larger work in which this essay will fall.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Hans Madueme on Peter Enns’s Hermeneutic and Theology

  1. It seems to me that a historical Adam is only necessary in a Calvinist reading of Scripture. A non-Calvinist reading can affirm inerrancy (particularly irenic inerrancy, which is the form affirmed by both the Chicago Statement and the Lausanne Statement on Inerreancy) while not necessarily affirming a historical Adam from which all humans are descendant in a direct line (i.e. one human being the father of all people). I’m not necessarily denying historical Adam, but I wonder why you think it a necessary thing?

  2. Owen, thanks for introducing us to Hans! I am excited he will be teaching at Covenant, and look forward to more published writings (keep us posted). db

  3. James Rednour

    Sounds like Madueme punted in the last sentence. Enns is correct. Human evolution is a fact asserted by genetics, the fossil record and embryology. The only people who deny it are those who are ignorant of the overwhelming evidence in favor of it. A historical Adam and Eve as the first two humans is not affirmed by any of the archaeological or biological investigations into human origins. I don’t understand why the hard Reformed crowd chooses this particular hill on which to make their stand. If they continue to do so, they will inevitably die upon it.

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