Peter Leithart, Peter Enns, and just not getting it.

Jason alerted me to this post from Peter Leithart objecting to Peter Enns‘ recent work on the Evolution of Adam. Jason believes that Leithart is writing against a supposed parallelomania. The problem is, is that Leithart writes,

I’m not sure who Pete is aiming at, since nearly everyone with the thinnest exposure to ANE literature knows that there are lots of overlaps with the OT

As I noted to Jason earlier… his use of the word parallelomania is a red herring… and false because even Leithart holds that the OT fits nicely with ANE even actually noting that their are similarities. The problem, for me, is that Leithart seemingly allows for overlap but then moves that the Hebrew author had a different concept… that he somehow ‘got it right.’ It’s not even that Leithart doesn’t like the comparison between Genesis 1 and Enuma Elish, but that he insists that the concept is different. This is the issue with proving inspiration, and why it is a fallacy to attempt to do so. Working with the presupposition that one must consistently prove inspiration, or worse, inerrancy, removes one’s logic from consistency. Leithart doesn’t seem to be arguing against overlapping or the over emphasis on overlapping, but that somehow, the Hebrews got it ‘right’ whereas their Babylonian cousins didn’t, especially when it comes to cosmogony. (While the cosmogony in Genesis 1 doesn’t involve violence, later Scriptural creation accounts do.)

For instance, the common ploy by YEC who will attempt to show that everyone at the beginning of the world held the same stories, but that for one reason or another, the stories were corrupted, with only the ancient Hebrews having the right one. The first issue with this is, mainly, that it is unprovable, except if you first make the presupposition and then work backwards to prove it. Second, this hypothesis removes Genesis 1 from the context, or concept, of the author(s). Third, and most damning, is Genesis 1 is ANE, and ANE is not Genesis 1 due to the fact that if this was actually the case, then we would except to find similar stories not just in Babylon, but throughout all ancient civilizations, from the Americas to the Far East (Boom, Rodney, boom). Yet, we don’t. We find similar stories, as one should suspect, only in the cultural nexus of the ANE.

Another issue of late. Jason complains about the lack of charity in the debates about origins:

There is truly very little Christian charity involved in the discussion. It is more so an issue of ad hominem attacks which are sadly lacking even in logical coherence

Very well and good and Jason should be commended for calling attention to the fact that Christians on all sides make a habit of lambasting the other… but then, Jason goes on to write…

Unfortunately, many refuse to acknowledge their worldview, and they resort to arbitrariness because of the fact that their worldview is does not come back to God as revealed in His Word as the absolute standard of truth.

Say… how about those ad homs?

Anyway, at that last link, Jason once again tries to defend the wrong notion that Scripture is the ‘Word of God,’ but instead of using Scripture, he uses Warfield and the ISBE. Perhaps, he should use Thayer’s instead, but regardless, you have other verses to consider, in that Scripture gives itself to the hands of the writers, collectors, historians, and the such. And, of course, there are those pericopes which are deemed not of God, even by the authors. His definition is wrong and doesn’t allow Scripture to be what Scripture calls itself – inspired.

When you work backwards, you are bound to trip and fall.

Author: Joel Watts

Joel L. Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. and MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014). his latest, Jesus as Divine Suicide, is forthcoming.

9 thoughts on “Peter Leithart, Peter Enns, and just not getting it.”

  1. I don’t bother reading Leithart that often, he has become intellectually dishonest when it comes to looking at histories of empire, and when criticizing those who criticize empire.

  2. And I contend that you have very little idea of what a red herring is, and certainly practice the ad hominem to perfection.
    You misrepresent my post, you malign me as committing the ad hom fallacy while actually doing it yourself, and then you continue your feeble attempts to prove me wrong about Scripture.
    The reality is that you provide no rational argument regarding Scripture as the Word of God. Furthermore, you know that this is an ongoing series with me, so you should recognize the fact that I’ll be very likely to deal with the idea that somehow or another Paul (or some other biblical writer) is alleged to say that they weren’t giving us God’s Word.
    In the end, Joel, the problem is that you simply cannot deal with someone differing with you regarding Scripture and Creation.
    You refuse to acknowledge your tone and refuse to tone down the rhetoric when asked. You would do well if you did consider that you err in this matter instead of thinking that it all rests with me.

    1. You realize that your first lines were insults, right?

      Alleged?

      I have given you, shoot, Church Tradition, has given you the rational arguments against the recent notion of inerrancy and the myth that Scripture is the ‘Word of God.’

      Tone down the rhetoric? Have you not see what you have posted?

      Let’s see…. when someone doesn’t agree with your view, they aren’t bowing down to the Lordship of Christ or they don’t have a Christian worldview, or the like? I don’t know, Jason – I think that maybe you should reconsider your own rhetoric.

    2. Jason,

      #1

      I find it hilarious that your response is, no no, I am not doing these fallacies, you are guilty of them. I mean, really, that means you are playing a cat and mouse game. Plain and simple.

      #2 on the quote in question:

      “God as revealed in His Word as the absolute standard of truth.”

      My question is, despite us all believing that God is the lone absolute, we can agree on that for starters, what is Scripture’s relationship to Christ in this statement? I just don’t see it. It seems to me that you are saying we can understand revelation apart from the Messiah, when this is false, first of all. Second, I think its impossible to know God without knowing Jesus. Now, you can point to all the scripture you want, but I say, if Jesus is God, and God is Jesus, then the attributes that systematic theologians pick out must come under scrutiny, including plenary inspiration and inerrancy.

      #3,

      Please show us where Joel uses ad hom in this post?

      I don’t think what you read was ad hom, what you read was facts that don’t square with your beloved presuppositions, you know you quoting the word of men to prove that the Bible is the inerrant word of God? That’s the word of man, according to man’s fallible interpretations, which would make inerrancy an abstract doctrine inevitably anyhow.

  3. Joel, you are a Christian, and not a Marcionite one. Surely that in itself implies that you believe that in at least some matters relating to God the ancient Israelites got things right, and the Babylonians and other ANE peoples, when they disagreed with the Israelites, got things wrong. For example, you believe in one God who created the heavens and the earth, don’t you? So did the Israelites, more or less, but the Babylonians didn’t. That means that you agree, at least to some extent, with Leithart’s “somehow, the Hebrews got it ‘right’ whereas their Babylonian cousins didn’t, especially when it comes to cosmogony”. This isn’t just a YEC position, but a general Christian one. So why do you mock Leithart for holding it?

    PS whenever I comment here I get a “Request timed out” message. OK when I copy my message, refresh and paste back in. There is some timeout which is too short to give commenters time to write anything.

    1. Peter, Godaddy is experiencing a strong server attack, so they have implemented a redirect of sorts to prevent any site on the server from going down. This is what you are experiencing.

      Let me affirm that Scripture is inspired. Not Babylonian stories, etc… Scripture. But, I can’t prove that, and I don’t think that it is my job to do so.

      However, I don’t think that the Hebrews and Babylonians were competing for stories of the physical universe, so I can’t say that the Hebrews ‘got it right.’ Their story is inspired, but it is not in competition with the Babylonians.

      Not sure if this clarifies my position or now

      1. Thanks. My quick reply is that neither the Hebrews nor the Babylonians were writing “stories of the physical universe”. So they indeed weren’t competing at that. But I think they were competing in some sense concerning which God or gods they were attributing something to. And in that sense we have to say one was right and the other wrong.

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