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PREAMBLE
Really? Another public here-I-stand “statement” that claims to set the record straight once and for all on a sensitive and complex issue our planet is dealing with? What is it with American Evangelicals and Fundamentalists?

ARTICLE 1
WE AFFIRM
that God, having given us minds, rejoices when we use them.

WE DENY that God intended Scripture to relieve us of this responsibility.

ARTICLE 2
WE AFFIRM
that Scripture, by God’s wisdom, was written by actual people in actual historical contexts for actual contextual reasons, and that such contexts are central to proper biblical understanding and application.

WE DENY that Scripture, which reflects the wisdom of the Creator, is simply sitting there waiting to be used irrespective of its various contexts.

ARTICLE 3
WE AFFIRM
that humans, who are created in God’s image, who are endowed with powers of reason, analysis, and an irrepressible curiosity, have thereby made enormous strides in understanding the cosmos, the nature of humanity, and the wonders of the world around us, and that many who have contributed to these strides are fellow believers in Jesus.

WE DENY that Scripture when handled in willful isolation from or dismissal of such strides is “faithful” or pleasing to the Creator.

ARTICLE 4
WE AFFIRM that the Christian faith, though a broadly unified and distinct tradition, is both historically and globally not monolithic in its expression, and that therefore true Godly wisdom is found in humility and dialogue among the manifold voices of the Christian faith.

WE DENY that (though it’s a free country) a small number of largely white males living in one moment of the human drama are in a place to make statements that claim abiding normativity for all Christians for all time.

ARTICLE 5
WE AFFIRM
that all our theological utterances, because we are not God but mere humans, are contextually generated and bounded.

WE DENY that any of our theological utterances can claim “plain fact” neutrality, and therefore reflect unfiltered the Divine mind.

ARTICLE 6
WE AFFIRM
 that human experience is rich and complex, presents us with numerous ambiguities, and therefore defies simple categorization.

WE DENY that the Creator has assigned to us the task of sorting out and simplifying the richness and complexities of the human drama.

ARTICLE 7
WE AFFIRM
 that the binaries of Genesis 1 (which includes animals restricted to living on land, in the sea, or in the air) reflect—by the will and wisdom of God—ancient, ideal conceptions of cosmic order.

WE DENY that the binaries of Genesis 1 “teach” that amphibians, mammals that fly, live in the ocean, or lay eggs, or any other creatures of God’s creation that do not fit the Genesis 1 binary, are outside of God’s wise design.

ARTICLE 8
WE AFFIRM
that God is the infinite and inscrutable Creator, which is itself affirmed in Scripture, and therefore we should be careful to claim to be speaking for God as if nothing could be more obvious.

WE DENY that God’s voice is easily replicated in our own.

ARTICLE 9
WE AFFIRM that public statements are largely written for the already convinced, are therefore belligerent by design, too often passive-aggressive in tone, and therefore are a colossal waste of time, not to mention make it that much more difficult for others to bear witness to Jesus.

WE DENY that Jesus is rooting for us to write more statements.

Signed,

Pete Enns, Lansdale, PA (white male)

My dogs, Gizmo, Miley, and Stassi

My cats, Snowy, Marmalade, and Baron

My rabbit, Thumper

I’m sure a lot of other people.

Please consider supporting the work of The Bible for Normal People by joining our online community. Visit us at Patreon

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.

92 Comments

  • Pete, I am ready to sign the Lansdale Statement–right next to Thumper.

  • Jordan Dueck says:

    Written in the true spirit of the apostolic, catholic creeds of the church. This should be considered authoritative for all Christians. LOL!

  • EDDIE RAMIREZ says:

    Nothing about the Yankees or Tim McCarver, I think this statement failed to lay anything important other than Article 9.

  • Tom Corcoran says:

    Wow. Just wow. This was great. I’m thinking of getting a tattoo of Article 1 on my forearm so I can just hold it up when Bible studies I am in spin into endless theological arguments on issues that I am convinced Jesus couldn’t care less about.

  • Iryssa says:

    “[Statement:] We deny that Jesus is rooting for us to write more statements.” ?

    Well-said with this, Pete.

  • Marla Taviano says:

    CO-SIGNED!!

  • Kathy Verbiest Baldock says:

    Thank you for the laugh and the truth.

  • MM says:

    Chuckling. My dog Boomer says “roof” (yes!).

  • DonaldByronJohnson says:

    I endorse this product.

  • Marshall Sutton says:

    A lot of other people for sure. This one, for instance.

  • Matt Huett says:

    The best! Thank you.

  • sanctusivo says:

    Hey! I’ll sign!

  • Tony March says:

    Amen and Amen!

  • Thank you. This is a statement I can agree with. Especially Article 9.

  • Ron McPherson says:

    Oh this is beautiful!!

  • Barb says:

    My cat, Dirty Harry, and I want to add our signatures.

  • Cameron Shaffer says:

    How would Article 4 fit into things the early church councils (often overly represented by one region) or Reformed confessions?

  • Amelia Batt says:

    Further signed by
    Amelia Batt (white female)
    My dog, Sheila.
    My cat, Olivia.
    My rabbits Jack and Bell
    My chickens Winnifred, Ruby, Phoebe, Molly, Peaches La’tour, Henny Penny, Headie La’more, and Cream.

  • Tom says:

    Wait, is the author a white man?

  • Dangitbobby says:

    This is hilarious…and I say this as an atheist ex-christian. Good job! 😀

  • Brock Beesley says:

    Awesome!!

  • MD Mag says:

    I co-signed in my head. Can you come over for coffee sometimes? You’re good stuff.

  • BT says:

    I’d sign that. If I signed such things. Which I don’t. Or didn’t.

  • BT says:

    I’d sign that. If I signed such things. Which I don’t. Or didn’t.

  • wakingdreaming says:

    I actually find this statement somewhat weak, as it fails to clearly affirm that people’s varying expressions of sexual orientation and gender identity are loved by God and that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, agender, etc., are all valid identities which do not constitute sin. I hope you’ll update this to actually affirm LGBTQIA people without reservation.

  • toddh says:

    My cats, Keeley and Ezra, and I, add our signatures.

  • Marie says:

    Lansdale isn’t known for much. Maybe this statement will change that.

  • Timothy Swanson says:

    Ready to sign as well. So tired of being expected to check my brain and my conscience at the door…

  • Allison Renee Hankins says:

    THIS IS FANTASTIC.

  • Jerry Avise-Rouse says:

    Why, in Article 4, is wisdom limited only to Christianity? Excellent otherwise.

  • Sheila Warner says:

    This is why I, an atheist, continue to love Pete Enns!

  • Like it but don’t love it because of all the questions concerning what is or is not “God’s voice.” Tell us what that is exactly, and whether you think God needs to speak up because He is talking too softly for most people to hear, or maybe God is speaking unclearly, mumbling might be an apt metaphor for the way the Bible contains such rambling stories, thoughts and teachings. Does God care when devout people claim to speak for Him? Claim to hear God’s voice? People of all religions. How about when interpreters pray for guidance and develop different rival theological views concerning major questions? Why indeed did God allow Islam to arise in the first place if Christianity is the one true religion? God seem to care when Islam arises, or a thousand different Christian sects arise, all claiming revelation/interpretations that are God inspired.

    The Christian Bible is so scattered in its stories, imagery, ideas, that one Victorian gentleman found locomotives in Ezekiel!

    • I don’t know why but your post reminded me of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. 11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
      12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
      13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

      What doest thou here Babinski!?

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3996026dbe323bdd650de966ca2ca62e621be9f9bf07479ecf162f3fd723d828.jpg

    • I don’t know why but your post reminded me of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. 11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
      12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
      13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

      What doest thou here Babinski!?

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3996026dbe323bdd650de966ca2ca62e621be9f9bf07479ecf162f3fd723d828.jpg

  • “God is the infinite and inscrutable Creator” per your view. How apt:

    in·scru·ta·ble adjective
    impossible to understand or interpret.
    “Guy looked blankly inscrutable”
    synonyms: enigmatic, mysterious, unreadable, inexplicable, unexplainable, incomprehensible, impenetrable, unfathomable, unknowable;

  • Robert Rife says:

    Reading this is like undoing the top button on our bibles and letting our theologies hang out. “Can you say ‘relief?’ There, I knew you could.”

  • Deborah Priest Brown says:

    May I be a signer???? ?

  • Susan says:

    Where do I sign?

  • Awesome! Signed in triplicate, with a few hovering angels watching on. (They were a little nervous I was not orthodox enough, but once my holy sigil was etched onto the foot of this document they could sleep for the first time in 22 years)

  • Beau Quilter says:

    Shouldn’t you wait until the next crippling hurricane to release this statement? Cause, you know, timing is everything.

  • iron snowflake says:

    gosh thanks for the laugh, I needed that !

  • brian says:

    This is from my gut, other than when I first became a “Christian” when I foolishly believed God would love someone like myself and became an evangelical. Over the next decades I learned just how much God hates most people, me included. It became clear God only loves a very very very small group of people and that reluctantly. It would be great if God was just indifferent to most of us/myself. I could live with that. But knowing He hates me and mine was always very hard to deal with. I would be very happy if He just ignored us.

    • June McDonald says:

      Brian, I know that sometimes life generates the response that you have but it is not true. God does love you. What is hard to understand is that God also gave us Free Will. He can not and will not force us or anyone else to act or not act in any certain way. He loves us enough to offer a path to an eternal life with Him. Jesus died on a cross so that you would have that. The unfortunate thing that we all deal with is that people, all people, are sinners. That includes me and it includes you. Some people are horrible to other people because they believe there are no consequences to their actions. Some people are better because they believe they should respond to people in love. I pray and will continue to pray for you that you find God in your life and that you recognize He has been there all along protecting you and loving you.

    • Douglas E says:

      Brian – cannot disagree with your sentiment. I have a cousin who freely uses the phrase “the God of the Bible” which is the evangelical code for “believe as I do, or it’s the lake of fire.” Such folks pick and choose, just like virtually everyone does when it comes to stratifying scripture re significance and importance. They love judgement, defining who is in and who is out, yet seem to be oblivious to the only time Jesus is said to have talked of judgement – Matthew 25 – you will be judged by how you treat others.

    • Douglas E says:

      Brian – cannot disagree with your sentiment. I have a cousin who freely uses the phrase “the God of the Bible” which is the evangelical code for “believe as I do, or it’s the lake of fire.” Such folks pick and choose, just like virtually everyone does when it comes to stratifying scripture re significance and importance. They love judgement, defining who is in and who is out, yet seem to be oblivious to the only time Jesus is said to have talked of judgement – Matthew 25 – you will be judged by how you treat others.

  • Michael Brown says:

    Here’s a version of Article 4 which is less rhetorically forceful in the present situation, perhaps, but more universal:

    ARTICLE 4′
    WE AFFIRM that the Christian faith, though a broadly unified and distinct tradition, is both historically and globally not monolithic in its expression, and that therefore true Godly wisdom is found in humility and dialogue among the manifold voices of all expressions of faith.

    WE DENY that a small number people living in one moment of the human drama are in a place to make statements that claim abiding normativity for all Christians for all time.

  • Paul D. says:

    I approve of fundamentalists writing no more and no less than Jesus did.

  • Bryan Martin Paul says:

    THIS – especially the articles 1, 3, 6 and 8!

    P.S.
    Sign me up!

  • Mt Vernon UCC says:

    ME TOO!, ME TOO!!

  • Les Mayer says:

    Brilliant.

  • Les Mayer says:

    Brilliant.

  • Jill says:

    Nicely said.

  • Miriam says:

    Fred my dog and I say ???!

  • Todd Wilhelm says:

    Until such time as you can get several Christian celebrity conference speakers who continue to support their fellow conference speaker, a man who has blackmailed the co-founder of his denomination and conspired to cover-up the sexual abuse of children in his denomination, to sign your statement I will not consider it to be relevant.

  • Ken says:

    Where do I sign??

  • Konrad Schimmel says:

    So this is a statement against another statement and this statement is against people making general statements for Christianity but it itself is a statement that makes a statement that makes general statements for Christianity in an overtly passive aggressive Way. Sounds pretty contradictory to me.

  • pastordt says:

    Oh, please! Where can I sign this?

  • Dani Patrick says:

    Article 9 for the win! Love your insight on this Pete!

  • George G says:

    I think this just about has it right on the Nashville statement!

    http://babylonbee.com/news/bee-explains-nashville-statement/

  • John D says:

    I am struggling. Do we believe anything in the Bible? If not, why do we identify as Christians? Why not just be humanists? I have left fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism, but I have not yet arrived at a destination. Seems like we are moving toward a philosophy of believing whatever we think is intellectually comforting, which may or may not be good. I have this sense that I know what I am against but I am not yet sure what I a for.

  • Aaron S says:

    I love the Who-the-f*-do-you-think-you-are tone of the whole thing. Gave me a much-needed lightheartedness to the whole issue.
    …Also Article 7 blew my mind. I’ve never thought about that before.

  • disqus_4lzKvbjFpD says:

    Question: what has Peter Enns just lost? Answer: credibility.

  • Pete E. says:

    if it were only that easy, Andrew. The Bible has to be interpreted, and that happens by people in culture. That includes you, right?

    • Andrew Farmer says:

      The meaning in the words are static. In other words,
      what the words meant and what the author intended when they were written remains
      the same even if they were written 2,000 years ago. They must be interpreted within
      the context of the culture in which they were written. To do otherwise is to
      create chaos.

      • Pete E. says:

        But how can we determine what an author intended? And “static” meanings of words?

        • Andrew Farmer says:

          The same way you interpret what I write and I interpret what you write,
          context. Peter, you are a well-educated scholar and you know very well that authors
          when they write are using words that have certain meanings to express ideas. If
          we decide that we cannot know what an author intended to say then the truth is
          none can know what you intended to say in your Lansdale Statement. So, why
          should anyone bother to read it if no one can know what you intended to say?

          • Pete E. says:

            I thought that too–until I went to seminary and learned Greek and Hebrew, and the complexities of ancient contexts, and the fact that words don’t have static meaning but that ranges of meaning , and the fact that biblical literature is notoriously ambiguous, and then did doctoral work and all that I learned in seminary increased 10 fold, and that biblical books are largely anonymous and of unclear provenance and date, and most aren’t so much authored but edited.

          • Andrew Farmer says:

            Obviously, words have a range of meaning depending on the context in which they are used whether we are discussing Hebrew & Greek or Spanish & English, the meaning of a word is “static” within the context it is used in. To say that we cannot know the meaning that the author intended based upon the context in which the words were used is just not a tenable position. As I stated before if our interpretation of someone’s words (written or spoken for that matter) is to be correct it must be based upon the “context”, which includes things like the culture, subject being written about, who is being written to etc… not upon our reading 21st century culture back into the text.

            You said:
            “I thought that too–until I went to seminary and learned Greek and Hebrew, and the complexities of ancient contexts, and the fact that words don’t have static meaning but that ranges of meaning , and the fact that biblical literature is notoriously ambiguous, and then did doctoral work and all that I learned in seminary increased 10 fold, and that biblical books are largely anonymous and of unclear provenance and date, and most aren’t so much authored but edited.”

            These are old tired arguments that have been set forth and answered. I think the truth is that you and I are going to have to agree to disagree. I appreciate your willingness to dialogue with me in such a kind and friendly fashion.

          • Pete E. says:

            That strikes me as simplistic, given the history of Christian (not to mention Jewish) interpretation, which is a history of recontextualization.

          • myklc says:

            Hi Andrew. What you say regarding context and meaning of words seems to make sense. Then I look at an article such as the link following, and I find myself agreeing with how Pete presents it.
            http://thetorah.com/what-does-deuteronomy-say-about-homosexuality

        • Rena Guerin says:

          “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean…..neither more nor less.” Humpty Dumpty to Alice (in Wonderland).

      • ken says:

        Does that mean you believe that gays (and children that disobey their parents as well as a host of others) should be put to death?

        That rapists should be forced to marry their victims?

  • FTW3742 says:

    Lol..Brilliantly said. My 22 cats, Moozie, Oscar, Chubby, C.C., Jimi, Iggy, Milla, Misty, Zappa, Scruffy, Pearl, Fidget, Clapton, Teddy, Sophie, Phoebe, Linus, Norman, Chunk, Hobo, Smoky, and Mick, would also like to sign your statement. I’ve been banned from the CBMW page twice already, for spreading some Biblical truth on them (12 years of Catholic and Jesuit education gave me a pretty good understanding of the Good Book). A waste on Evangelicals, I know, but you never can tell:D

  • Ross says:

    Gosh, can I sign it too, twice actually. You’re probably not aware of it but this seems similar to something called the Chicago Statement of Biblical ****wittery. Which is one of the most divisive sub-intelligent pieces of childish nonsense ever written. Unfortunately that barely known piece of illiterature was written by the sort of Americans who think irony is something you flatten your vesty, panty and shirty with!

  • This is great. I love it!

    One setback. I’m from Allentown and went to college at Gwynedd Mercy. Please go to Yum Yum Donuts and have one for me. Back in ’86, my favorite there was the Boston Creme Donut they made. And have a cheesesteak, too. I’m stuck in Florida. (Safe and sound, though, and I even have power.)

    BTW: I grew up attending Assemblies of God. Not RCC. Just wanted to be a good nurse.

  • Michael Lawrence Felton Jr. says:

    This is really refreshing…and i believe helpful to many who have been hurt by the arrogance fostered by the bulldozer type mindset that this piece rightfully rejects

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