Pete Enns vs Tim Mackie

First, I am being totally lazy here and I admit this.

I know quite a bit of what Pete Enns believes and teaches as well as The Bible for Normal People. I am a huge fan of Pete Enns.

However, someone told me that I should be checking out Tim Mackie and The Bible Project. I have done some high level looks at this but not quite sure where he and his organization stand.

Can someone give their thoughts on these two theologians?



My personal take is that Pete Enns is thoughtful and spot on about 95% of the time, perhaps more liberal in his theology than me 5% of the time, but one of my favorite authors. Mackie I know less about other than through some of his Bible Project videos, but they are great. What I have seen has been consistent with good scholarship, and as I recall, the Bible Project Genesis video uses good interpretation without being in your face and offensive to those with different views. Of course, both are dissed by a lot of fundamentalist type social media people as expected.

Also I see he has been here on a podcast, going to look at it now as I missed it:


Having consumed BibleProject content for a long time, I think Tim Mackie generally doesn’t like to speak about his specific theological positions, or controversial topics. In the BibleProject podcast, he will frequently list multiple interpretations of an idea, and sometimes say which one is most compelling to him.

He has said that he thinks a lot of different theological stances are generally trying to address the same problems, and can end up being different ways of describing a similar thing (I believe he was addressing varying Christian views of atonement when he said this). He has also said that part of his goal is to explain the Bible in a way that allows both a Calvinist and an Armenian to walk away knowing more about the Bible, and continuing to believe in their personal/denominational theological convictions (He was speaking broadly about any opposing theological camps, not exclusively meaning to single out Calvinists and Armenians).

He is not YEC (source: BibleProject’s “Cosmology” Series), and he believes women should be able to speak in church

I’ve always felt like a lot of what he does at BibleProject is packaging ideas from Biblical scholarship and making them more accessible, without dumbing them down too much. He frequently recommends books by Biblical scholars, and references their work in his podcast.

Great interview with “Almost Heretical” if you’re looking for a less formal overview of what he believes: Almost Heretical Podcast Interview

In-depth dive into BibleProject’s way of looking at the Bible, and their mission: BibleProject’s “Paradigm” podcast series

He has a separate podcast of his old sermons from before he left his pastoral role at his church: Exploring My Strange Bible Podcast


I would have never thought about putting these guys in a vs battle. They serve different roles for me. I just use the Bible Project to review what is written on the pages of Scripture. Sometimes it’s hard to just jump into a random section of the OT. The Bible project gives me context without reading the whole book. I never thought of it as critical scholarship though. It really isn’t. For example, he does not point out all the historical difficulties in believing Daniel was written by Daniel or during the actual time of this alleged Daniel as opposed to it being written several centuries later during the Maccabean revolt. This latter view is extremely widely held (virtually all critical scholars today?).

But beyond the Bible Project, I am unfamiliar with Mackie’s work. Enns is very much in tune with the findings of critical scholarship on many issues which is why his views are important to me.



In the Biologos podcast, Mackie states that the Bible Project is intentionally middle of the road, striving to make the overall story of the Bible accessible and understandable to a broad range of viewers, something that they have succeeded at doing very well.


They probably mostly agree. As others have mentioned…. Normally they have the same fan base. I’ve not met anyone who is a long term fan of Mackie who does not like Enns. Everyone I know likes them both. Enns podcast seems to me more focused on how to apply the Bible to modern social interactions and issues and Mackie is more focused on biblical commentary that highlights accommodation issues and making it all point towards Christ .both are fantastic.

It’s not like it’s a choice between them. You can listen to both.

For a fact I always recommend these too along with Language of God as set to people I think are open to it.


Tim Mackie does solid stuff.


Tim Mackie is very well read and an excellent teacher.

Bible Project is an amazing resource. I personally highly recommend the videos. I’ve used some of his small group studies too with my family. We use the Spanish videos in minority language Bible translation training I’m involved in and we built some of the BioLogos Integrate curriculum around some of the English videos on Genesis.

I think comparing the two, Tim Mackie is going to try to stay more palatable to Evangelicals and avoid picking battles on things that will cause friction. He sees his ministry as ecumenical and aimed at the middle of global church. Pete Enns is done with Evangelicals and does not care if they buy his books. He likes the battles and will pick one every time. He sees his ministry to people who are on the fringes of or outside the church.


The videos are solid and accessible, but not particularly deep (which is why they’re accessible). He goes way deeper in his podcast.


I really like your comparison. I love Pete since he doesn’t mind getting to the core of the question.

For example and this is just an example, Pete is clear that Noah’s ark is mythology and that is what I am mostly interested in.

On the same topic, Tim seems to focus on the theology of the story and not the historical accuracy.

Would you agree?



Yes, I think he is approaching the texts as literature and trying to understand them in their cultural context and in terms of how they fit with the concepts and themes and intertexutal elements of the Bible as a whole. He kind of grants as a given that we are dealing with sacred texts, inspired by God, that reveal truth. He’s not going to get into textual critical questions about authorship and dates and historicity or nitty-gritty inerrancy arguments. And like someone else said, he often presents a sort of audio-visual commentary on different themes or texts that summarize scholarship and possible interpretations that represent consensus views, he isn’t usually trying to argue for his own personal favorite interpretations or advocating for interpretations that are only held by a minority of Bible scholars.


I read the other comments before sharing my own, which stops because I follow Pete, Tim, and Jim. BTW, there’s someone on Tom’s FB declaring that none of it matters because we’ve broken the 4th commandment and no longer honor Sabbath Saturdays. We’re all going to hell, whatever that means.


How could he be certain it is totally mythological? As I look at the text I see a mixture of literary and historical elements.


While I see the story as an epic myth, I admit it could well have historical elements based on a huge local flood


I’ve seen someone else saying that, but can’t remember if it was here, or on a different Facebook page (maybe comments on a TGC article).

Yes, I totally agree on this part…there was a catastrophic flood. Mythological Historicity.

When I say mythology, I mean the part where God was blamed and intentionally killed virtually all of creation. This is the only part of the story I care about. If God was truly the cause and He was trying to wipe out evil…He failed and He seems like a monster.

So, I assume it was just a flood story stolen from Atra Hasis and modified over time. I don’t doubt that Atra Hasis was based on a great flood, but I just see this as ancient people blaming God like was common.

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Does it even matter if there was a specific flood in mind if the details of the account are fictional?


Not to me as I don’t see that as the main issue in the story. I see people talking about regional vs global and timing. All I care about is did God get pissed off and cause the flood.


I think that is basically right, but with a little more nuance. Ancient people looked at everything as God’s providence and as such did not really have an alternative explanation as we do in looking to physical causes. But, rather that “telling the story of a flood” the writers used the story of the flood to tell a story about God, and his attributes and how that relates to us. Two very different things.


I totally agree. That is why I like what Richard Rohr said…

God did not send Jesus to change His view of us but rather He sent Jesus to change how we view God.

That may not be exactly his exact quote but something like that.