Here is the fifth installment of our interview with Pete Enns--over and above the call of leisure. I didn't expect him to respond this week! I remain immensely grateful for his willingness to do this.
You can read the earlier ones at the links below:
#1 Who are you?
#2 A Good Calvinist?
#3 How about them Nazarenes?
#4 What'd you think of our review of your book, part 1
Post #5: Your reaction to our review of Inspiration and Incarnation, Part 2.
Here are some of my thoughts concerning the second post you did on chapter 3 of I&I (January 19).
1. As for Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, I can understand how you might have gotten the impression that I treat “Exodus as written by Moses at the time of the Exodus and Deuteronomy as written by Moses some 40 years later before Israel entered Canaan.” But, for a direct treatment of that specific issue, see the introduction to my NIVAC Exodus commentary, written several years before I&I, and my article on W. H. Green and the authorship of the Pentateuch 
At least in those places I am clear that Moses is in no way responsible for the Pentateuch we have. To what degree he may have written, or his influence or personality came to be codified at a later time, or whatever other theory of Pentateuchal composition one may argue for, the Pentateuch we have is not a Mosaic composition.
Regarding my comment in I&I, I do not directly address what Moses did or did not write, but I do adopt the most conservative position in that particular rhetorical moment in order to demonstrate that, even there, we have an issue of “change over time.” Of course, I do not lay out this strategy, lest the rhetorical force be completely lost. I also wanted to bring along as many readers as I could on the specific topic at hand: development and change over time.
In my opinion, the two major shifts in OT scholarship over the last 150 years or so have been the developmental nature of biblical literature (written and oral traditions changing over time) and ancient Near Eastern (ANE) context. Both of these shifts are very important for understanding Scripture, and both have been in serious tension with evangelical theology—hence the problem.
2. You mention here, too, how you don’t understand how I got “fired” for all this. I commented on that in my previous response. Still your incredulity at what happened at Westminster is, I assure you, dwarfed by my own and that of many others.
3. Now, Ken, as for me doing self-therapy in I&I, let’s discuss that, shall we? I probably do need therapy, and, as the old saying goes, anyone who has had parents probably needs therapy, too, but I do not recognize myself in your comment. In I&I I am simply using personal illustrations to make a point. I like using personal illustrations. People listen better. That works in preaching, too. I know some textbooks say never to do this, but I think they are wrong. Personal illustrations break down barriers between speaker/writer and audience/reader.
So, you’ll just have to trust me on this one, I did not write I&I to do “therapy on my past.” I did it to bring some very basic and widely accepted issues into conversation with a theological paradigm in order to help the many, many evangelicals out there who only have a fundamentalist or liberal paradigm to choose from.
Therefore, neither did I write I&I to “fix people” and so do a “frontal assault.” Without question, there are people who desperately need fixing, so to speak, but I chose to be very upfront and deliberate in I&I not to annoy or hack people off, but because being clear and truthful is something I value. Reactions to I&I have born out how many people appreciate this approach. Rather than dancing around things, or making a really, really, good point in a footnote in an otherwise unreadable (for laypeople) publication, I pretty much just went for it.
The people most positively affected by I&I are actually thankful that I did not mince words, because the alternate positions they hear (fundamentalist or liberal) don’t mince words either.
Still, it is a tough call. Do you lead gently by the hand those who are on the precipice of unbelief because over the startling nature of what biblical scholars do—or—do you march right in for the benefit of those who are on the precipice of unbelief because of the absence of plain talk about these same issues by evangelical scholars. Clearly, I chose the latter.
As one conservative OT scholar friend of mine “You have to be careful not to lead people astray with books like I&I.” I responded, “I&I was written to help people who have already been lead astray because you haven’t written books like I&I.” I know that may sound a bit self-congratulatory, but it is how I feel. People move to unbelief because basic issues of biblical scholarship have not been synthesized with an evangelical spirit.
4. As for God presenting himself in the OT as someone who changes his mind, can be persuaded, etc., I think you represented well what I am trying to get across. We are also of the very same mind when you suggest that this can "irk some fundamentalist Calvinists," and it has, for whom Scripture should be read through the Westminster Standards. As I have said on numerous occasions, ironically, this most conservative expression of a Reformed posture is actually least Reformed, and I reject it.
To be Reformed (Wesleyan, whatever) means to be in conversation with a tradition rather than accept past articulations of that tradition without question. This conversational approach is what was modeled to me as an MDiv student at WTS and the ideal I continue to uphold.
5. As for unity in Scripture being Christological, I do suppose I could have fleshed that out more in I&I. In brief, let me say here that I do not use the word “unity” but “coherence” to describe how the Bible “hangs together.”
Coherence is a narratival word, and so not only allows for but accepts starts and stutters in plot, tension, movement, development, etc. In other words, it is a very good model for synthesizing modern biblical scholarship and evangelical theology. It is also a good model to describe the climactic and often surprising way in which Jesus is the end (telos) of Israel’s story (which is why I really like the concept “Christotelic”).
Scripture is not a “unity” in the sense that all parts agree in a “let’s compare verses” sense. Showing the impossibility of such a position was really the point of chapter 3 of I&I. Rather, Scripture coheres as any grand narrative coheres—in how it ends. So, in Christ, Scripture finds its coherence. Scripture’s coherence is a biblical theological, redemptive historical, Christotelic, eschatological coherence. Those four descriptors are not necessarily identical but they are mutually defining.
A truly Christian reading of the OT, therefore, will not feel obligated to “solve Bible difficulties,” but allow the story to be told and unfold as it will. The coherence of the Bible, which is truly but not exhaustively represented by in the NT, is seen in how the NT authors bring the OT into the climax of the grand narrative.
This is, as far as I am concerned, a basic tension between a biblical-theological, narratival reading of Scripture and a systematic theological, abstractionist reading of Scripture. That tension can be a healthy one, as long as both parties realize that they are both in conversation together rather than vying for control. As a former colleague of mine put it once, both are members of the same team, passing the ball back and forth, heading toward the basket, rather than opponents trying to stop the other from scoring. This “team chemistry” is largely lost amid the academic fear that characterizes a fair degree of evangelicalism.
Having advocated such a team approach, however, I would be remiss not to be upfront about something. I am of the opinion that a biblical theological reading of Scripture is one that is most faithful to the nature of Scripture itself and therefore has priority, and systematic theological formulations must be regulated by it. A systematic theology that cannot or does not account for the redemptive historical particularities of biblical utterances is not good systematic theology. (Ironically, I learned this as an MDiv student at WTS.)
With respect to I&I, this can be illustrated by how the “God changing his mind” issue is addressed. To suggest, as has been done to me all too often, that the narratival portrayal of God where he is presented as changing his mind, regretting his actions, or finding things out must be “corrected” or “balanced” by “the more clear teaching of Scripture,” is unconvincing to me. Those types of passages where God changes his mind, etc, are clear. The issue is not clarity but a perceived unacceptable tension with certain theological models that are deemed too finalized to be open to adjustment and correction.
My point is that theological models must bow to Scripture’s behavior. My detractors respond that, no, theological models of Scripture are founded on the clear teaching of Scripture about itself, and we move from there. In a manner of speaking, that is where the evangelical debate over the doctrine of Scripture can be located, and I find the latter position to be far too problematic to warrant intellectual assent because it limits Scripture’s self-witness to a very few alleged foundational passages.
 “William Henry Green and the Authorship of the Pentateuch: Some Historical Considerations,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45/3 (September 2002): 385-403.