Official Blog of the Bishop of Durham

Peter Enns: ‘Leading Postmodernist’

Posted by NT Wrong on November 27, 2008

kjv1611In the ‘What Planet are Conservative Evangelicals On?’ Category, G.K. Beale has released a book which seeks to reinstate old-fashioned ultra-inerrancy as “a fundamental part of [evangelicalism’s] vibrant future”.

But wait, it gets nuttier…

The book’s blurb, which reflects the substance of Beale’s complaint against Peter Enns in his earlier book review, describes Enns as a “leading postmodernist”!!!

“In The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism, Beale vigorously yet even-handedly meets the challenges presented by leading postmodernist Peter Enns.”

For those who don’t get the joke, Enns is very conservative himself — but hasn’t got quite as big an inerrancy-carrot stuck up his ‘authorized version’ as those ultra-conservative fundie fringers who inhabit the atavistic hovels of darkness called the Westminster Theological Seminary and Wheaton College.

But what gets me is the “postmodern” label. Hasn’t this just become an empty label fundamentalists apply when they realize they have no idea what’s going on? Does anyone believe that Peter Enns is the new Derrida? If Peter Enns were to opine that “there is nothing outside the text”, he would only be affirming sola scriptura, not irresolvable textual indeterminacy.

What’s more, “postmodernism” occurred in the 1980s. It’s over. Well over. Times and ideas have changed. There’s only one source printing books which rant about “postmodernism” these days: conservative evangelical publishers.

Update: Art Boulet at Finitum Non Capax Infiniti provides a review that dares to go beyond the book’s blurb and finds even more nuttiness

13 Responses to “Peter Enns: ‘Leading Postmodernist’”

  1. Mike said

    NT – you’re making me extremely embarrassed of my “very conservative” status.

    I really hope that it was just some fool at Crossway who doesn’t know a postmodernist from a seagull who wrote this blurb…

  2. ntwrong said

    I did distinguish Enns’ opponents as “ultra conservative”. But the ‘postmodernist’ angle appears to be Beale’s own.

  3. Are we judging a book by its cover?

    I prefer “Lost in Transmission” to “Misquoting Jesus”, too. So, apparently, did Norm Perrin. But which actually sound more like an attack title I wonder?

  4. Andrew said

    I noticed that in the blurb for the book too . . . sigh . . . what some people believe postmodernity to be these days is pretty weak. Basically whatever isn’t old-school, fundamentalistic, enlightenment rationalism is somehow post-modern . . . even if the person being critiqued is, in fact, *thoroughly* committed to a modernistic epistemology!

    Thanks for the post!

  5. jimgetz said

    Can’t we really gauge that a philosophical movement is official over when Crossway starts putting out books on it?

  6. Mike said

    Well…then I’m glad you made that distinction…

    I had forgotten that there was a category beyond “very.” Though I just came across blog in that category this afternoon…my good. If I had a knife I would have slit my throat his ramblings were so crazy.

  7. Amen. I laughed when I saw this blurb earlier today.

  8. Yes and no and maybe (answers which prove postmodernism is not dead because modernism just won’t kick the bucket).

    those questions:
    Hasn’t this just become an empty label fundamentalists apply when they realize they have no idea what’s going on?
    Does anyone believe that Peter Enns is the new Derrida?
    It’s over?

  9. What’s also interesting is that postmodernist is a term that people wrongly use to describe people – that includes emergent types. that in itself is very postmodern since it is utterly meaningless.

    Folks like this just confuse “postmodernist” with “not authoritarian” or “questioning” as if doubt is this new postmodern phenomenon. But then again, I would not expect any of them to have read City of God.

    It is, in a word, stupid.

  10. James Crossley said

    Sweet Jesus! I’ve added a couple more examples for you:

  11. ntwrong said

    Drew – right! And so wry that in criticising the ‘postmodern’ they themselves indulge in meaninglessness.

  12. So if we’re post postmodernism, what dominant sensibilities have taken its place? I’m finishing my MA in English at an admittedly small institution, and haven’t been exposed to anything which effectively supplants it. Postcolonialism, as far as I can tell, is a more interdisciplinary form of pomo…

  13. It saddens me more than I can say to have to agree when you do something like call Westminster a hovel of darkness. But it was not always so; it was not always so. It has been taken over, but more subtly than the Southern Baptists seminaries or Concordia Seminary ever were. Old Westminster — the Westminster of Young, Stonehouse, Silva, and Groves — is dead! But there’s no new Westminster to live long after it.

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