In my own struggles to balance faith and tradition with scholarship, I find it useful to see how others have done so, particularly when I see close structural parallels between the two traditions. Peter Enns speaks from a Protestant perspective but Protestants aren’t the sole source of useful insight. I’ve enjoyed Jewish perspectives more, explored in fictional narratives like The Chosen and The Promise. The tensions between traditional views and scholarship that Enns highlights among Protestants (and Evangelicals in particular) are also found in Mormonism, and I highly recommend his book. The topics that bring these tensions to the surface appear mostly in the Old Testament: the age of the earth, creation, the genre or nature of the creation stories, historicity of Job and Jonah, etc. Further down the rabbit hole, one must deal with source criticism (or, Did Moses Write Genesis-Deuteronomy?), multiple authors of Isaiah, and other issues.
In the last year, I’ve become a big fan of Enns, a Harvard-trained Evangelical Old Testament scholar who has generated some controversy. Enns writes for laypeople, has his own blog, and participates at the fascinating Biologos site. Enns recently participated in a panel asking, can the Bible be read critically and religiously? (His very readable paper is available from that that link.) The three participants were Enns, Marc Brettler (Judaism; also a big fan) and Dan Harrington (Catholicism; I’m unfamiliar with him.) Noting that he can only speak for a certain type of Protestant, Enns
“focus[es] on the reasons why Protestants have the particular problem they do with higher criticism, and then offer[s] some brief suggestions about how to move beyond the impasse. I attribute the Protestant dis-ease to three factors: (1) the Reformation concept of sola Scriptura, (2)Protestant identity coming out of the 19th century, and (3) the very nature of the Christian Bible.”
Let me summarize each of his points and the LDS parallel. [Read more...]