Note from CM: We ran this a couple of years ago, when it was suddenly all the rage for Christians to publish “statements” taking stands on various issues. Noting that the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) recently committed to one of those statements in good Presbyterian dogmatic fashion, I thought we might revisit Pete Enns’s counter-statement to such statements.
Then you can have a chance to make a statement about the statement and counter-statement. And perhaps then I will come out with a further statement to clarify why I like this counter-statement and have my doubts about the original statement. Followed by your statements in response. And so on…
World without end. Amen. Amen.
• • •
Another Look: The Lansdale Statement (Peter Enns, 2017)
THE LANSDALE STATEMENT
By Peter Enns
Really? Another public here-I-stand “statement” that claims to set the record straight once and for all on a sensitive and complex issue our planet is dealing with? What is it with American Evangelicals and Fundamentalists?
We affirm that God, having given us minds, rejoices when we use them.
We deny that God intended Scripture to relieve us of this responsibility.
WE affirm that Scripture, by God’s wisdom, was written by actual people in actual historical contexts for actual contextual reasons, and that such contexts are central to proper biblical understanding and application.
We deny that Scripture, which reflects the wisdom of the Creator, is simply sitting there waiting to be used irrespective of its various contexts.
We affirm that humans, who are created in God’s image, who are endowed with powers of reason, analysis, and an irrepressible curiosity, have thereby made enormous strides in understanding the cosmos, the nature of humanity, and the wonders of the world around us, and that many who have contributed to these strides are fellow believers in Jesus.
We deny that Scripture when handled in willful isolation from or dismissal of such strides is “faithful” or pleasing to the Creator.
We affirm that the Christian faith, though a broadly unified and distinct tradition, is both historically and globally not monolithic in its expression, and that therefore true Godly wisdom is found in humility and dialogue among the manifold voices of the Christian faith.
We deny that (though it’s a free country) a small number of largely white males living in one moment of the human drama are in a place to make statements that claim abiding normativity for all Christians for all time.
We affirm that all our theological utterances, because we are not God but mere humans, are contextually generated and bounded.
We deny that any of our theological utterances can claim “plain fact” neutrality, and therefore reflect unfiltered the Divine mind.
We affirm that human experience is rich and complex, presents us with numerous ambiguities, and therefore defies simple categorization.
We deny that the Creator has assigned to us the task of sorting out and simplifying the richness and complexities of the human drama.
We affirm that the binaries of Genesis 1 (which includes animals restricted to living on land, in the sea, or in the air) reflect—by the will and wisdom of God—ancient, ideal conceptions of cosmic order.
We deny that the binaries of Genesis 1 “teach” that amphibians, mammals that fly, live in the ocean, or lay eggs, or any other creatures of God’s creation that do not fit the Genesis 1 binary, are outside of God’s wise design.
We affirm that God is the infinite and inscrutable Creator, which is itself affirmed in Scripture, and therefore we should be careful to claim to be speaking for God as if nothing could be more obvious.
We deny that God’s voice is easily replicated in our own.
We affirm that public statements are largely written for the already convinced, are therefore belligerent by design, too often passive-aggressive in tone, and therefore are a colossal waste of time, not to mention make it that much more difficult for others to bear witness to Jesus.
We deny that Jesus is rooting for us to write more statements.
Pete Enns, Lansdale, PA (white male)
My dogs, Gizmo, Miley, and Stassi
My cats, Snowy, Marmalade, and Baron
My rabbit, Thumper
I’m sure a lot of other people.