Pete Enns and my faith

I have been struggling with faith for several years and I have listened to countless apologists. Many were helpful but I still had deeper questions that no one seemed to deal with. It seemed that most were just trying to prove the reliability of the Bible.

Somehow I ran onto Dr Pete Enns who may or may not still be part of Biologos. He seemed to understand all my questions. I credit him with saving my faith.

I just wondered if others have had a similar experience.



I think Pete used to have an official role in Biologos, and is still a friend of the organization and the people here. I personally found his approach to scripture enlightening and thought provoking. I probably track a bit more on the conservative side than he, but recommend his books and blog on a frequent basis.


He has definitely given a voice to some of my own concerns. Even if I don’t come to the same conclusions as him, I appreciate him providing an alternative to the AIG ideology of “throwing out the entire Bible” if you don’t interpret it in one particular way. I’m also impressed by how he intertwines his professional knowledge with his own personal experiences.


Having read a couple of Enns’ books (“The Bible Tells Me So” … and also “The Sin of Certainty”), I’ll give a yet more full-throated endorsement of his approach. It isn’t that I wouldn’t find things here or there I might approach differently than him - but just more that I appreciate where he’s coming from, and think there is spiritual integrity there and his voice is needed in times like this. Of course as I get older, I find myself being more callous about all the label lobbing and hunkering down. People like Enns may have their own favorite political silos they call home, but they poke their heads up and out into clearer airs to take stock of their surroundings and manages, then, to not take himself quite so seriously.

It’s good to hear that people have found him useful to hold on to their faith at a time when evangelical culture bombards all of us with understandable reasons to follow it to the exit doors and leave the faith pretty much entirely - or in every way except the name, anyway.


I also really enjoy Pete Enns. Several of his books can be found as audiobooks and ebooks on Hoopla Digital for free. His podcast “The Bible for Normal People” is one of my favorite theology ones. Podcasts like his, and Luke Janssen’s “ recovering evangelicalism “ helped me be more open about my beliefs. A member who seems to not be here anymore, Klax, also helped my faith significantly but not so much by saving it as much as just pointing out the shortcomings in using biblical language to discuss things like “creator”. Helped me stop feeling like I needed a safe place for God to reside within my understanding of the natural world.


I like Enns. He has been helpful. I’ve probably read four or five of his books and listened to quite a few episodes of his provocatively titled podcast (Bible for normal people). God’s Word in Human Words by Ken Sparks is also great if you like Enns.

A big take away from Spark’s book is how confusing biblical genres leads to us needing to put out fires of our own making.



I agree–Enns is very honest. I appreciate that.


I ordered both books from the library.

The second was really popular, so I am 12th in line waiting for the book.

…though I very much doubt I will have a similar experience. I am not struggling with my faith because none of mine was accepting things people told me. I was not raised in any religion. So why look at these books of Pete Enns? Well the titles of the books sounded good. The sin of certainty sounds rather similar to something I have said before… that certainty is a delusion. I have no need to believe that my way of thinking is the only way. Imposing our own order on the world is part of the essence of life itself. So I simply make my choices of what I think is worth believing in and see no need to make any apology for them. I will explain my reasons, but have little expectation that other will make the same choices. Though I certainly will not give in to the insistence of others that I must agree with their way of thinking. And to be frank, atheism looks exceedingly preferable to me than what most of them insist must be accepted as fact. I am only a theist because I see no reason to accept their claims as true.


Can i start out by saying…

i will study into Dr Enns writings, i am interested in what he has to say. However, i am deeply worried when i go to his website and find the following spread across the home page…

If his is the only God-Ordained website on the internet, then we are all in deep deep trouble spiritually as we have been lead astray by countless other seemingly God ordained websites…especially those that exist soley for the purposes of publishing online Bibles (such as biblehub).

ok. enough criticism about my first impressions…ill do some reading.

Thanks for the heads-up on this scholar, i do really appreciate your post.

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I guess you can’t tell tongue-in-cheek facetiousness when it smacks you in the face. But now that I think about it, it sounds like something you might say seriously. :grin:


Oh, he’s totally tongue in cheek. He’s being silly, and making fun of himself. He’s recognizing that he’s not the end all, be all (thank goodness). . He really does have some good discussion, but I would not dive into “The Bible Tells Me So” right away. I think that the book that has a broad appeal, accepted by many conservatives, is “Inspiration and Incarnation.” I think it was well done. I would love to hear what you think, Adam.
Blessings–have a good night.


ok so i went through the website wondering where i should start reading…and hit upon the following article Briefly, 3 Edgy Things About How the Old Testament Works - The Bible For Normal People

Please accept that my critique of individuals who do not align with my own beliefs is going to be to focus on highlighting the negatives…and i hope that you guys can recognise that is our nature…we are looking for the error in other peoples views.

Dr enns makes the following claims…

  1. The Old Testament contains diverse theologies and perspectives that reflect the personalities, purposes, and changing times of the biblical writers. Without accepting that, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Jonah and Nahum, and the contradictory law codes of the Pentateuch will forever be a problem.

My response to this is that according to my own denominations understanding, there are no contradictory law codes of the Pentateuch! If Dr ennes seems to think so, then i would immediately question his religious denomination and especially what day of the week he worships on. Believe it or not, one of the biggest stumbling blocks the law has on Christians is those who worship on Sunday…and i belive that is because they have attempted to reconcile Sunday worship by claiming the Mosaic law is old and outdated and Christ brought in a new one (the new convenant).

The flaw in the old vs new covenant theology and sunday worship is this…the bible tells us clearly that even Abraham was saved by faith (not by the sacrifices of sheeps and goats). The new covenant is very clearly no different to the old one. It is simply a more concise definition…a catalogue of the 10 commandments ie first few commandments are about loving God and the latter, about loving your neighbour…they are joined by our creators ministry and keeping the Sabbath.

  1. The Old Testament as a collection of books took shape in response to the crisis of the Babylonian exile 586-539 BCE .

hmm i take issue with this…jewish history dates back long before the Babylonian empire. Are we honestly going to make the claim that all of those writings were so accurately compiled across vast distances in the region without a written record? Sorry but that is a difficult claim for the modern scientific approach to make.

Oh and there is also this… Professor Gershon Galil of the department of biblical studies at the University of Haifa has deciphered an inscription dating from the 10th century BCE (the period of King David’s reign), and has shown that this is a Hebrew inscription. The discovery makes this the earliest known Hebrew writing. Most ancient Hebrew biblical inscription deciphered.

  1. The writings of the Old Testament are more windows onto the times in which they were written than they are historical accounts of the events they describe.

I do not think this even needs a proper response…it is clearly obvious given the dates, times, places, and witnesses to the writings of the Old Testament that Dr Ennes claim here is absolutely false. If he wishes to turn the old testament into fairytales…

it becomes nothing more than writings that at best are comparible to Socratean morality lessons. As such, I wold have to immediately challenge any Christian with the following dilemma:

if biblical writings are simply philosophical morality lessons, who needs Christ and who needs salvation? According to Socrates, we can simply fix it all ourselves!

  1. Dr Ennes finalises the above article with the statement willingness to accept how Scripture comes to us is a mark of faith and trust in God, not an act of disloyalty to God.

see i have a big problem with such a claim…even Dr Ennes should know that the prophet Samuel (a real man of God he knew king david personally and not just a mythical character), said to king Saul “to obey is better than to sacrifice”. God is not interested in our version of morality, our version of explaining our lack of obedience, our lack of belief…God has simply told us to obey! The bible is quite specific about its history…these are not allegorical stories from which to draw Socratean morality arguments.

Sorry guys, despite the academic achievements of Dr Ennes, even a lowly Bachelor degree holder such as myself is easily finding serious biblical challenges to the fundamental claims in this article…and i have done this all off the top of my head without even researching! (ok so i did google “oldest Jewish writings” and posted the top rank response i got in google, however i knew that his 6th century claim wasnt accurate)

So first article i have read…is a huge fail. And since this is the foundation from which i imagine he intends to read into biblical writings such that he can force harmony with whatever his actual world view is…its not a good start. I hope he isnt ID or YEC…if he is, im shooting myself in the foot because i cannot agree with his statements above.

Adam, thank you for reading! I think that the area where Enns resonates with me, and many of us, is that he not only wrestles with apparent problems of faith, but keeps on loving God as Lord and Savior.

I am concerned that main points here seem, if I understand the rebuttals, a contradiction rather than addressing the concerns.

If you get a chance to read his discussion, it may help. Can you read the points where he observes discrepancies in the code? If you go to “The Bible Tells Me So,” or others, these are well known ones to scholars, though not to me initially. It is worth researching why there are differences. You can read some rebuttals to these concerns in Geislers “When Critics Ask,” or I think also in Josh McDowell. They boil down to some differences in how the law applied. He does not say that God contradicted Himself, but that they were in different times. He asks why, and puts the explanation in context. He’s not really talking about the general covenant, per se.

Regarding the second point, he is referring to how the large part of history prior to the captivity was oral, as I recall. He’s not saying it’s made up. All he is saying is that, as with the Gospels, which differ in the ways in which they were written to explain portions better for their hearers, those who were in captivity needed to hear different portions more emphatically. It’s not a claim that the Bible is not true. That’s the same for the third portion.

He’s writing for context. As my pastor says, there are 3 rules for reading the Bible–“context, context, and context.”

Don’t misunderstand me–he really struggles with parts of the Bible (as do I), and you would not agree with him there. But, I think that the points above don’t have to do so much with inspiration as with interpretation. If you read his explanation, it helps. He really is brilliant, and his training came in large part from Jewish scholars who helped with the original intent of the OT to understand it better.

Thanks. Have a good Sunday; prayers for your family’s health.


I feel that the source hypothesis does a good job at showing how different texts were seamed together, even within the same book. For example how did David first meet Saul? Is it the story in 1 Samuel 16 or the story in 17? They can’t both be true though.


I actually agree with all four of Enn’s points. It’s hard to discuss them all at once. But at the end of the day the OT consists of multiple sources put together. I can list many dozens of examples and have done so here but here are a few:

The Story of Joseph Betrays the Hand of Different Authors

How about the Flood Narrative?

Some form of the documentary hypothesis is most certainly correct. These quotes are form a larger work on how Christians misunderstand the Pentateuch. It also has a section on the Law Codes.

And of course here is Enn’s on how law codes differ on the issue of slavery

Sorry for the lengthy post but Enn’s four points are essentially correct. Literalists and inerrancy advocates completely misread the text. This is all basic Biblical criticism 101 (outside of insulated conservative seminaries where things like the Chicago Statement on Biblical inerrancy guide everything).



Hello Adam

Can you elaborate on your comments about ID or YEC?


@adamjedgar is pretty much the definition of YECism, taking Genesis 1 “literally”, a 6 x 24 hour creation week is the “plain reading” and the way it happened, the existence of physical light precedes the sun and stars in the creation order and nothing is figurative and the universe is ca. 6-10ka old. ID is pretty much included in the same YEC basket, so he doesn’t want to be too critical of Enns in case Enns is YEC/ID. (He doesn’t need to worry.)

  • In the interest of efficiency, one could save time and effort and just go straight to Answers in Genesis:.
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What a thought. :grimacing: :slightly_smiling_face:

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That’s true, and the inscription is proto-Hebrew, not classical Hebrew. You need to seriously consider the implications of this for your view of Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch. If Hebrew writing didn’t appear until the monarchy, was the earlier history of Israel passed down orally for 1000 years (going back just to Abraham) before being written down? If “Moses” was the author of the first books of the Hebrew Bible, was he writing it in Egyptian cuneiform, since Hebrew wasn’t a written language for at least another 500 years?

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