Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Tremper Longman on Peter Enns & WTS

Got this from Scripture & Theology. Tremper Longman, one of the best OT scholar who belongs to the Reformed tradition comments concerning Westminster Theological Seminary and its decision to suspend Peter Enns:

I cannot speak to all the issues that this web page addresses, but I can speak with some measure of authority concerning biblical studies at WTS. I was a student from 1974-1977, where I was captivated by the teaching of many professors, but most notably Ray Dillard who was my mentor and was soon to be my colleague and close friend. I taught Old Testament at the school from 1981 to 1998 with Ray, Bruce Waltke, and Al Groves. I was involved with these friends in the hiring of Peter Enns (as well as Doug Green). I have continued as Visiting Professor of Old Testament since 1998 till the present. I have recently written an article on E. J. Young for the Dictionary of Biblical Interpreters that has taken me back to the earlier history of the school’s instruction in biblical studies.

I have a great love for the school to say the least. I like to say that there is no institution I love as much as Westminster Seminary. However one of the reasons why I left in 1998 was my perception that the seminary was beginning to change from the deeply Reformed but outward facing institution that it was from the time that I first knew it in the 1970’s to a more inward defensive institution. I remember talking to one colleague, for instance, who told me that if I felt the Bible taught something that the Confession did not that I had to side with the Confession. That’s not the Reformed approach to the study of the Bible that I know and love. However it is a perspective that I think has only grown with time

In any case, I have no desire to cast aspersions on anyone. I think everyone is acting out of a good conscience in this. This, however, I can say with a great measure of confidence. The present Old Testament department represents continuity with the past. I work closely with Peter Enns. We are co-editing two Bible dictionaries together and are on a number of editorial boards. I have served as his editor for his wonderful Exodus commentary and have read his important Incarnation and Inspiration three times. In my own speaking and teaching, I have talked to countless people whose faith has been increased and whose confidence in the Bible has been enhanced by reading this book. His thinking is clearly within the Princeton-Westminster tradition. If WTS loses him or anyone else, I worry who might replace them. Will they continue the WTS tradition while still not “shirking the difficult questions”? I know what I think about the matter and I am confident that my dear departed friend Ray Dillard would agree.

I would encourage my former students and others to express their support for the OT department at WTS. Notice I am asking for shows of support. We can do this without casting aspersions on anyone at the seminary. (emphasis mine)

I think, sometimes, those who submit to the Reformed tradition need to wash their face and wake up to the morning sun. During the early stage of the Reformation, the Reformed was known to be doing 'cutting-edge' bible studies, as exemplified in the works of Luther and Calvin. But in our present day, I seldom see such attitude to bible studies from those who hold to the Reformed tradition anymore. Longman, Waltke, Provan, Carson etc are the few that I know of. But even their works are not widely read by the lay Reformed folks.

Reformed folks should either cry and repent, or laugh and keep believing that you are still in the 16th century.

Website by Westminster-related people who are trying to save their seminary:

No comments: