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TSOCBelow is the mp3 of my recent interview on The Drew Marshall Show, which the website assures us is “Canada’s most listened to spiritual talk show.” And I think they really mean it.

The focus of the interview was my latest book The Sin of Certainty, though, Drew and I, being the renaissance men that we are, effortlessly turned to a broad range of topics including where babies come from and why “sociological” is a great word to use in casual conversation as often as possible.canada

Drew continues to be the most deranged Canadian I know—and I know like . . .  5 Canadians, so that’s a good sample. He’s also a lot of fun to talk to. I hope you can give a listen!

 

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.

28 Comments

  • gingoro says:

    I live in Ottawa which is in Canada last time I checked but have never heard of “The Drew Marshall Show”. Maybe it is a thing in western Canada?

    • Darrin Hunter says:

      Nah, not here in Western Canada. Drew is in the center of the Universe, Toronto, I think.
      And Pete would have to stop using baseball analogies and switch to hockey analogies if he plans to conquer anything more than a beaver up here.

  • gingoro says:

    I live in Ottawa which is in Canada last time I checked but have never heard of “The Drew Marshall Show”. Maybe it is a thing in western Canada?

    • Skeptical Christian says:

      Nah, not here in Western Canada. Drew is in the center of the Universe, Toronto, I think.
      And Pete would have to stop using baseball analogies and switch to hockey analogies if he plans to conquer anything more than a beaver up here.

  • Jeremy says:

    That was lot’s of fun albeit on a serious topic. I like that. Good on you, prof!

  • Jeremy says:

    That was lot’s of fun albeit on a serious topic. I like that. Good on you, prof!

  • gingoro says:

    Pete this was a facebook comment I made while reading The sins of Certainty.

    I am about 60% of the way thru Enns’ book. This statement from the above
    review: “Instead, we must trust God in the face of evidence that doesn’t
    point in the direction of traditional Christian orthodoxy.” does not
    sound strong enough to me. As I try to
    understand Enns his statements about God’s unknowability seems somewhat
    closer to apophatic theology from Orthodoxy. Enns seems very
    pessimistic about knowing/understanding anything about God. His trust in
    God very much seems like trust in something almost totally unknowable
    and a trust in spite of rational evidence otherwise. But be cautious as I
    do not think that I am close to understanding Pete.

    https://www.facebook.com/paul.k.moser/posts/10153604879953947?comment_id=10153604938413947&reply_comment_id=10153605125883947

    Upon completing your book I came to see that you were really not talking to people like me. Today I think there is only a 40% chance that anything about Christianity is more than a tall story. Some days I am more certain, maybe 60%. Some people seem to think Christianity is true in the same way I believe that I am sitting on a real chair writing this comment. Never in my life have I had nearly that level of belief in God. Trust for me is impossible without some very basic belief in the factuality of the gospel story. I perceive you differently as being able to trust against almost all evidence to the contrary ie a leap in the dark.

    • Pete E. says:

      I’m not sure that quite hits where I’m coming from.

      • Tim says:

        Perhaps Pete. But in fairness, many of us have tried really, really hard to try to understand where you are coming from.

        My best guess, right now, is that you have some sort of experience you believe to be spiritual and you are committed to interpreting it within the lens of Christianity. Despite not connecting how that points to Christianity specifically as opposed to some other alternative or broader spirituality. Maybe that is what some people feel faith is. Not sure, but I’ve tried my honest best to understand where you’re coming from and if you ever are inclined to fill in the gaps I would be interested in what you have to say.

        • E-Stu says:

          I think the connection to Christianity is that the Bible has pilgrims who model this same journey, thereby making it an orthodox experience by which to compare other spiritual realities. Perhaps it is the assurance of these qualities of the “who” (God): trust that the character of this God we wrestle with is fair, understanding, and compassionate. That’s an assurance we can rest in at the end of the day, even if commitment is the only remaining option.

          • Tim says:

            E-Stu,

            I hear your point. And in fact Pete has mentioned this on several occasions as well. But consider what sort of support this conveys. And what kind it does not convey. If someone were to accuse one such as Pete for instance of being “unorthodox” in their Christianity, or departing from tradition, or some such thing, they could point to previous Christian contemplatives and mystics who have trod this ground before them. But what this does not then imply is that such a thing in and of itself provides any support at all in connecting belief with reality. It just means they have precedent. That they have a version of the Christian tradition behind them. Any Mormon today can point to a tradition within their faith where they just believe no matter what. That begging the question of the “truth” of their faith, even when every other reason buttressing their beliefs has fallen away, has a long and proud history within Mormonism. Trust in others’ testimony. Trust in the prophet. Trust trust trust. No matter what. And if nothing else works at the end of the day just keep persevering in your belief. A long, proud tradition. So what?

          • E-Stu says:

            That’s a great point, my friend. My point is in the direction of orthodoxy, but how do I have proof of how it actually accords to reality? I don’t know. There is certainly an element of mystery (I don’t mean to use that as a cop out). And, frankly, I think people of all faiths have to answer that question. I think the key point is that our minds can only take us so far, and one simply has to acknowledge this sort of ambiguity and the holes in one’s own worldview and sort through what makes believing in a certain worldview plausible and trustworthy.

        • Gary says:

          If I may ask, how does anyone really do anything different? Was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?

          • Tim says:

            Gary,

            Well, I think a lot of people do something different. Take the growth of “nones” for instance. Most of these people don’t leave spirituality behind entirely. Many still affirm some sort of higher power. But they don’t see the need to connect that experience with a religion arbitrarily. Just because it happens to be the faith in which they were raised. Or at one point identified with when they thought they had better cause for doing so. If your experience supports only a very “unknowable” kind of God, then believe in such a God. I personally see no reason to connect it to another faith just out of sheer wanting to. That is the very definition of wishful thinking.

      • gingoro says:

        Part of my message is the point that I don’t really know anymore where you are coming from. Is anything essentially Christian in your thought or is the Christian environment you assume just because of an accident of your birth location. Thus if you were born in India might you assume a Hindu or Islamic framework and would there be no essential difference in what you write?

  • gingoro says:

    Pete this was a facebook comment I made while reading The sins of Certainty.

    I am about 60% of the way thru Enns’ book. This statement from the above
    review: “Instead, we must trust God in the face of evidence that doesn’t
    point in the direction of traditional Christian orthodoxy.” does not
    sound strong enough to me. As I try to
    understand Enns his statements about God’s unknowability seems somewhat
    closer to apophatic theology from Orthodoxy. Enns seems very
    pessimistic about knowing/understanding anything about God. His trust in
    God very much seems like trust in something almost totally unknowable
    and a trust in spite of rational evidence otherwise. But be cautious as I
    do not think that I am close to understanding Pete.

    https://www.facebook.com/paul.k.moser/posts/10153604879953947?comment_id=10153604938413947&reply_comment_id=10153605125883947

    Upon completing your book I came to see that you were really not talking to people like me. Today I think there is only a 40% chance that anything about Christianity is more than a tall story. Some days I am more certain, maybe 60%. Some people seem to think Christianity is true in the same way I believe that I am sitting on a real chair writing this comment. Never in my life have I had nearly that level of belief in God. Trust for me is impossible without some very basic belief in the factuality of the gospel story. I perceive you differently as being able to trust against almost all evidence to the contrary ie a leap in the dark.

  • Pete E. says:

    Yes, this is getting interesting, isn’t it 🙂

  • E-Stu says:

    I think the connection to Christianity is that the Bible has pilgrims who model this same journey, thereby making it an orthodox experience by which to compare other spiritual realities. Perhaps it is the assurance of these qualities of the “who” (God): trust that the character of this God we wrestle with is fair, understanding, and compassionate. That’s an assurance we can rest in at the end of the day, even if commitment is the only remaining option.

    • Tim says:

      E-Stu,

      I hear your point. And in fact Pete has mentioned this on several occasions as well. But consider what sort of support this conveys. And what kind it does not convey. If someone were to accuse one such as Pete for instance of being “unorthodox” in their Christianity, or departing from tradition, or some such thing, they could point to previous Christian contemplatives and mystics who have trod this ground before them. But what this does not then imply is that such a thing in and of itself provides any support at all in connecting belief with reality. It just means they have precedent. That they have a version of the Christian tradition behind them. Any Mormon today can point to a tradition within their faith where they just believe no matter what. That begging the question of the “truth” of their faith, even when every other reason buttressing their beliefs has fallen away, has a long and proud history within Mormonism. Trust in others’ testimony. Trust in the prophet. Trust trust trust. No matter what. And if nothing else works at the end of the day just keep persevering in your belief. A long, proud tradition. So what?

      • E-Stu says:

        That’s a great point, my friend. My point is in the direction of orthodoxy, but how do I have proof of how it actually accords to reality? I don’t know. There is certainly an element of mystery (I don’t mean to use that as a cop out). And, frankly, I think people of all faiths have to answer that question. I think the key point is that our minds can only take us so far, and one simply has to acknowledge this sort of ambiguity and the holes in one’s own worldview and sort through what makes believing in a certain worldview plausible and trustworthy.

  • Gary says:

    If I may ask, how does anyone really do anything different? Was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?

    • Tim says:

      Gary,

      Well, I think a lot of people do something different. Take the growth of “nones” for instance. Most of these people don’t leave spirituality behind entirely. Many still affirm some sort of higher power. But they don’t see the need to connect that experience with a religion arbitrarily. Just because it happens to be the faith in which they were raised. Or at one point identified with when they thought they had better cause for doing so. If your experience supports only a very “unknowable” kind of God, then believe in such a God. There is no reason to connect it to another faith just out of sheer wanting to. That is the very definition of wishful thinking.

  • danieltb says:

    Would it be correct to say that what you’re wanting people to have is a *balance* between “insight” (i.e., truth-based certainty) and trust (certainty, based on what God has said, in the face of seeming contradiction–sometimes issuing from none other than God–to what God has said)? For example, after he is born, Abraham possesses a certainty Isaac will be his heir, yet Abraham is (in what seems to be an absolute contradiction to the truth-based certainty God’s Word had previously demanded of him) to sacrifice the very same son?

    I ask because I think without possessing some sort of “insight” (truth) we would not even have the ability to trust–we wouldn’t have any material to work with–and because I think it is unfair that some would say that I qualified as a “doubter” when I feel I haven’t even qualified as a “hearer”!
    Sometimes, because of technical difficulties, I can’t hear things others are saying over a phone call. I would think that it would be wrong for me to claim to possess trust in those things I could not even hear during those times of technical difficulties. I haven’t “heard” so how could I respond with either “doubt” or “trust”?

    Romans 10
    14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

    What if the Gospel were preached in an unintelligible language? In such a case, (barring a miracle of interpretation whereby hearers are caused to understand what is being preached) the hearers ought not to be expected to put their trust in the (already fabulous) message because they haven’t even qualified as “hearing”. Have words been spoken? Yes. Have those sounds fallen onto ears? Yes. Have ideas been comprehended? No.
    Now, what if this same Gospel were preached in an intelligible language but it was still incomprehensible? To some degree, I think this is actually what is true of us today: the message *really doesn’t* make complete sense. I’m not saying it doesn’t make *any* sense but that it doesn’t make *complete* sense. I’m, of course, talking about justification as taught in places like Ro 2:14 and Ja 2:21 versus justification as taught in places like Ro 3:19-4:8, 5:1, 10:3-10 (no, I don’t buy the New Pauline Perspective’s definition of “works of the Law”, since it ought clearly to be defined as “moral requirements of the good Law whereby we become aware of what sin is–e.g., the injunction against coveting” [Ro 3:19, 20, 7:7, 12]). I would think that in such a case (the one I think we find ourselves in) we could, at best (since we cannot claim to trust a message we haven’t even “heard”–“comprehended”), say that–while we look forward to God clarifying things as we study and pray–we have but an imperfect/incomplete faith.

  • username_daniel says:

    Would it be correct to say that what you’re wanting people to have is a *balance* between “insight” (i.e., truth-based certainty) and trust (certainty, based on what God has said, in the face of seeming contradiction–sometimes issuing from none other than God–to what God has said)? For example, after he is born, Abraham possesses a certainty Isaac will be his heir, yet Abraham is (in what seems to be an absolute contradiction to the truth-based certainty God’s Word had previously demanded of him) to sacrifice the very same son?

    I ask because I think without possessing some sort of “insight” (truth) we would not even have the ability to trust–we wouldn’t have any material to work with–and because I think it is unfair that some would say that I qualified as a “doubter” when I feel I haven’t even qualified as a “hearer”!
    Sometimes, because of technical difficulties, I can’t hear things others are saying over a phone call. I would think that it would be wrong for me to claim to possess trust in those things I could not even hear during those times of technical difficulties. I haven’t “heard” so how could I respond with either “doubt” or “trust”?

    Romans 10
    14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

    What if the Gospel were preached in an unintelligible language? In such a case, (barring a miracle of interpretation whereby hearers are caused to understand what is being preached) the hearers ought not to be expected to put their trust in the (already fabulous) message because they haven’t even qualified as “hearing”. Have words been spoken? Yes. Have those sounds fallen onto ears? Yes. Have ideas been comprehended? No.
    Now, what if this same Gospel were preached in an intelligible language but it was still incomprehensible? To some degree, I think this is actually what is true of us today: the message *really doesn’t* make complete sense. I’m not saying it doesn’t make *any* sense but that it doesn’t make *complete* sense. I’m, of course, talking about justification as taught in places like Ro 2:14 and Ja 2:21 versus justification as taught in places like Ro 3:19-4:8, 5:1, 10:3-10 (no, I don’t buy the New Pauline Perspective’s definition of “works of the Law”, since it ought clearly to be defined as “moral requirements of the good Law whereby we become aware of what sin is–e.g., the injunction against coveting” [Ro 3:19, 20, 7:7, 12]). I would think that in such a case (the one I think we find ourselves in) we could, at best (since we cannot claim to trust a message we haven’t even “heard”–“comprehended”), say that–while we look forward to God clarifying things as we study and pray–we have but an imperfect/incomplete faith.

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