I received my copy of Pete Enns’s new book today, and next week we will begin blogging through it in more detail.
As I’ve said in our recent posts on The Bible and the Believer, one of my tasks this year will be to work on answering two questions that Pete raises regularly in his writings and podcasts:
- What is the Bible?
- What is the Bible for?
Whereas his earlier books focused on the first question, this one moves to the second. This is an important move, one which I as a pastor appreciate.
It may be all good ivory-tower fun to discuss the nature of the Bible, to examine various critical theories that help us understand who wrote it and why and what kinds of literature they used, and how it all fits together and became “the Bible.”
It is another thing altogether to ask how this sacred book, as it is actually constructed, speaks God’s message to people of faith and helps us know God and live as God’s people in the world.
Pete Enns begins by describing the Bible we actually hold in our hands, using three terms (not usually emphasized in my evangelical background) to describe it:
We’ll come back to these characteristics next time, but for now, here’s the money quote about where this is all leading:
I believe that God knows best what sort of sacred writing we need. And these three characteristic ways the Bible behaves, rather than posing problems to be overcome, are telling us something about how the Bible actually works and therefore what the Bible’s true purpose is—and the need to align our expectations with it. (p. 9)