Eps 107: Pete Enns says the Bible is for Normal People

Welcome to Spark My Muse!

(Audio is released each Wednesday)

• Scroll down to the AUDIO PLAYER and hear the latest episode!

• This production comes to you FREE each week, however it takes many hours to make.
If you enjoy this work, please help with a gift (of any amount) using PayPal (credit cards are accepted too).

THANK YOU so much.


Peter Enns (Ph.D. Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University (St. Davids, PA). He has taught undergraduate, seminary, and doctoral courses at numerous other schools, including Princeton Theological Seminary, Harvard Divinity School, and Temple University.  Enns speaks and writes regularly to diverse audiences about the intersection of the ancient setting of Bible and contemporary Christian faith. He is a frequent contributor to journals and encyclopedias, and has written, edited, and contributed to nearly 20 books, including The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, and The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins, winner of the 2012 ForeWord Review Book of the Year Award in Religion (adult nonfiction).  Enns resides in suburban Philadelphia with his wife Susan.


Click for MORE episode INFO, links and details, click HERE!


Listen now using the Audio Player:

Listen to recent episodes:

Pick an option that works best for you:

If you like the show, please share it with one other person TODAY, OR write a review on iTunes so more people will find it.

Don’t know how to write a review on iTunes, exactly?
Here’s a short how-to video:

What did you like about this episode? I’d love to hear from YOU!

Eps 76: The Sin of Certainty and Misunderstanding the Bible: Guest Peter Enns

Welcome to Spark My Muse!

Spark My Muse is heard in 174 countries!
 Help out by giving a gift, now and then.
Thank you for ANY amount,
 even $5 or $10, you can give today.

OR find more goodies as a Patreon Supporter


The power of sharing an audio clip from this episode is in your grasp! Just click on the handy Clammr icon below.

Peter Enns’s website (with a new podcast as of MARCH 2017)

Pete on TwitterPeterEnns

Hear other recent episodes:


SHOW NOTES to Eps 76:

MIN 1:00 Who is Peter Enns?

MIN 2:00

What was the path that led to writing “The Sin of Certainty”

Pete’s BLOG link

Pete’s controversy? Wait. What?

MIN 4:30

On uncomfortable things.

Suggestion alternate ways of thinking that are compelling that alone can be too uncomfortable and resisted sometimes.

Centrist background and when went to Westminster Seminary and taught there.

Inspiration and Incarnation (book link)  The problem on the OT.

MIN 8:30

Adam – BioLogos

The Evolution of Adam

Genesis and Science speak two different languages.

Medieval Jewish readings of the Genesis story Adam reflects and parallel the story of Israel and paradise land.

Adam as a symbol, theme, or pattern. Be aware of literary structure.

Bible written as thoughtful theology not history (or science). Written as the story of Israel that show their ideology. (and identity)

MIN 13

[ictt-tweet-inline via=””]Literalism is a modernist reading strategy [of the Bible].[/ictt-tweet-inline]

(To share this nifty quote above on TWITTER, it takes 4 seconds. Just click the blue bird icon. And keep your eyeballs open for other easy-to-tweet quotes throughout these show notes.)

Different books of the people (in different eras) adjust and revise other parts of scripture.

[ictt-tweet-inline via=””]I find that the most conservative way of reading the Bible is the most unbiblical.[/ictt-tweet-inline]

MIN 15

Pete, what do you mean by “GOD”? (and how he encounters that in his newest book.)

Using the word “God” is almost lazy.

MIN 19:30

[ictt-tweet-inline via=””]There is no one portrayal of God in the Bible.[/ictt-tweet-inline]

It changes depending on the culture, theology, time, circumstances, and author or authors writing the book. The New Testament comes from the Old Testament trajectory.

MIN 22:00

[In Paul’s letters] Paul [is] trying to make sense of Jesus when it’s a radical departure from Jewish thought.

[The bible is] [T]he development of how humans think about God. The tribal God is warlike [is one example].

[ictt-tweet-inline via=””]The “biblical God” is the God we see through our own lens.[/ictt-tweet-inline]

MIN 25:00

God in our image.

[ictt-tweet-inline via=””]“It’s not just that we use psychology, we ARE psychology.”[/ictt-tweet-inline]

[ictt-tweet-inline via=””]“All theology is psychology and sociology, [because] we are people who live in communities and people with histories.”[/ictt-tweet-inline]

[ictt-tweet-inline via=””]“God allows [God’s] children to tell [God’s] story from where they are from their perspective.”[/ictt-tweet-inline]

Hold with an open fist.

MIN 28:30

The mystery of the Incarnation and how we see the world.

[ictt-tweet-inline via=””]“Jesus is the model and Savior and messy and a 1st century Jewish man.”[/ictt-tweet-inline]

What’s the divine part of Christology?

MIN 32:00

How has Pete’s personal concepts of God have evolved?

My experience of God is not irrelevant and not relegated to just the academic and the life of the modernist mind.

(Eastern) Orthodox “God as Being” (rather than a Being)

When you think of God what do you think of?

God is in you and without God there is nothing. And God is all around you. (New ideas for Pete).

MIN 37:00

What’s around the corner for Pete Enns.

Pick the best option for you below:

REPLAY of the LIVE class (on Periscope)! with notes!

I was a sweaty, nervous wreck on my first periscope.

It’s comical…did anyone ever see Broadcast News (the movie)?
I needed two tissues for my sympathetic nervous system.

(Some technical difficulties threw me just before broadcast and I talked SO VERY fast.)

If you didn’t get to see it here you go!
(Twitter pulled the plug on this feature – sorry everyone)




THE #1 Myth about the SOUL…

is that we have one.

But first….we should get on the same page…


(what are we talking about?)

This is how I’m describing it:


In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for soul is nephesh. We might use it this way, “1,517 souls were lost in the Titanic disaster.”

SOUL ≠ dead BUGS BUNNY …like a floating ghost and that sort of stuff.

Not a faint rendering of bugs bunny leaving his body to play a harp on a cloud with Porky Pig. Not something that is ghosty and haunting a house or helping Demi Moore on a Pottery Wheel. (Patrick Swayze-style..google it, young people.)


Ancients thought of the mind and heart differently (the will and the emotions)…

Maybe these verses come to mind…but you’ve been thinking about them in your own context instead of the ancient context from which they were written.


Remember this one?

The heart is deceitful and wicked above all things JER 17:9

(Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life)

or Proverbs 4:23 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

….The writers of these scriptures were not talking about emotions and feelings when they said “heart” (like we associate the heart today…they were talking about the HEART as one’s will and control center of a person…(the thing we now associate with the mind.)

For them, the emotions (the heart for us in our context) were associated, instead, with the bowels. Perhaps a bit gross..but there is some

MEDICAL TRUTH/correlation : anxiety and stress are closely associated with disease and problem that happen in the intestines…like….ulcerated colon, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (bloating, constipation, gas, and other fun things), digestion issues, food sensitivities and problems in that part of the body. These are extremely related to one’s emotions and levels of stress.

The GEM MODEL of the Soul (my version)


Think of the SOUL as a gem and the facets are ways to see the soul.

You can go as far as saying other things beyond these are facets:

family of origin, social economic situation, skin color (if that has been a defining factor in your life)

education, the country you live in,

Even Christianity is a facet. A worldview is a facet that we can gain a kind of look at who we are.

Grace is central to Christianity, for instance. We can look at our soul through the facet of grace.

When light is added to a stone you can see its flaws and imperfections and you can see its quality (color, cut, clarity, caret)

UGLY soul? Is that possible? what do you think?

In his book Care of Souls, David Benner writes, “We can define soul care as the support and restoration of the well-being of persons in their depth and totality, with particular concern for their inner life. Soul care is done in the context of community.”

The vantage point of Soul Care views struggle or failings not as fatal flaws or illness to be “cured”. Not therapy or self-help. 

It’s a sustaining endeavor for our interior lives and our relationships, like water and food is for the body. Incidentally, caring for the body falls within the bounds of Soul Care.

Ten Signs that You Need the Renewal of Soul Care 

1. Fruitlessness. Are there observable deficits in the enacted your Fruit of the Spirit? That means, is there any lack or slack in the


areas of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control? (If not, I think E.T. went home without you. Phone again. You might want to text, and retweet as well.)

2. You find yourself perceiving things others say as personally offensive, or as direct attacks. 

3. You are “venting” more in person or online.
4. You feel unloved.
5.You feel increased frustration, restlessness, or desolation.

6.Your fears and anxiety are more prevalent.

7.You have increased tension in relationships.

8. You struggle with one or more of the “seven deadly 

sins”: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. 


9. You have problems sleeping or bad dreams.

10. You’re in a creative slump. 


THE #1 myth about the soul is that…. you have one. You don’t have a soul you are a Soul. You have a body. George MacDonald, in 1892 (C.S. Lewis quotes him and the quote is mistakenly attributed to him sometimes)

Think of the Soul as “the real you” the essence of you. contained in a body, yes, but made up of everything about you in a pure sense.

Some might say the soul gets extinguished or goes to paradise or gets absorbed into the great Life Force (God) …but in terms of what you need…you always need Soul Care, because you are a soul and that include both the visible and the invisible.

All this more and much more is available in my book. Shame-filled plug.

Follow Mosaic Laws? (continuing the tribute to Dr David A. Dorsey)

dorseyAs I promised I am doing a few posts in tribute to Dave Dorsey my former graduate school professor who recently passed away. He was a dear man who I loved and admired.

Here is my first post. Read that first.

Today, I have a treat. I came across a PDF of his online on a topic that many Christians struggle with and ask: “Are we (as Christians) responsible for keeping ancient Old Testament Laws?”

or sometimes, “How do we navigate the 613 laws today?”

Oh! Before you think 613 laws is a lot, remember that our country passes far more than that in a typical week.

But these Old Testament laws are a code for a whole people group that comprise national, both cultural and religious. They include even dietary and clothing restricts and other particulars too.

Don’t eat shellfish?

Don’t wear two types of cloth?

Don’t marry foreigners?

What about the 10 Commandments? Those seem good to keep. Not murdering people is a brilliant one.

Plus, in the new Testament, great care is taken to underscore the importance of the Mosaic Law for Christians; so how do we navigate it?

Dorsey tackles all that and more in this paper with this tantalizing title:

The Mosaic Law and the Christian: A Compromise

Be warned, it is a short paper from a scholar. Is it practical? Yes, very. Is it hard to read? That depends on what you’re used to reading. Give it the old college try!

In this short paper you can glimpse the brilliance of Dave (as he preferred to be called) who taught so many profound things to us. It’s amazingly researched and full of intellectual honesty, and most of all, helpful.

Enjoy it here.

Faith = a Basket of Eggs: In Tribute to David A. Dorsey



So, a dear man died one week ago. Dave, to his students (because he preferred this), and Dr David Dorsey, PhD officially. On Tuesday the chapel was packed for his funeral as hundreds resolutely braved sub zero wind chill to pay respects, support his family, share memories and express their sadness at the loss. For us who remain in this world and knew him the hole of his absence hurts. It actually feels painful.




If I tried to tell you all the things that I loved about my former Old Testament Professor, or the countless benefits to me, or the simple and genuine ways he loved on me and others, I would be typing for days. Suffice it to say just about everyone on Tuesday was in tears and everyone felt the weight of the loss as we remembered his light in this world.

In the next few weeks I hope to share some of the insights I gleaned from this amazing scholar and human being.

For now, I’ll share with you something Dave taught us about faith. Granted, I won’t do it justice; and if you read this and heard differently from him, please add your own amend in the comments section.

So, here goes…
He said the faith of the patriarchs of Israel might not be the kind of faith we suppose it is. Hebrews 11 gives us a “Hall of Fame” of the faithful. We may think that these people trusted and relied on God. They did. But we get the pedigree of it all wrong. The practice of faith is much richer than we might suppose, especially at first glance reading the list of the faithful.

Instead, it’s something like this:

Faith is not about being hopeful about what lies beyond the bend in the future. It not really about a “blind” ascension to trust either. Those are good and important in their ways, but when we speak of the life of faith in terms of the Old Testament faithful, like Abraham leaving everything he knew for the wilderness for instance, we are really talking about a concept much like “putting all your eggs in one basket.”

That’s how Dave put it. The word picture stuck and it stuck good.

With the Life of Faith…
You are deeming God good, trustworthy, and loving and then you put it all on the line.

(So, it’s rarer than you think!)

You stop hedging your bets. You stop saving a little security for yourself. You stop holding something back that gives you a sense of control. You bet the whole thing. You leave nothing back. You. go. in. wholly.

Sometimes, I find eggs in my pockets, or around the house, or in places that I didn’t know they were, like a weird easter egg hunt. Not chicken eggs, of course, but the eggs of my worries. I may have thought I handed the basket over, and perhaps I really did, but life can make you lay a few eggs. Sometimes people throw them at you too.



Faith, Hope, Love. Those are what remain, yes?

Faith = a Basket of Eggs.

It’s a shocking level of vulnerability: the life of faith.

You can tell when you do it too. You get a mixture of feelings. Great relief that your job is over, your poor skills are not needed any longer, and someone more capable is now responsible and in charge. Whew! Then, you may get a twinge of terror at the power you gave up, but probably never really had anyway. You become all at once very hopeful and very dependent. It’s precarious.

There’s a rare beauty to it.

Sometimes we give up our baskets and sometimes they sort of get pried out of our hands.

Dave was gravely ill for over 3 decades. His was a life of faith. It had to be. And he handed over eggs.

It was a wrestle match, he would tell you. He didn’t always feel faithful. He made mistakes. His candor was humbling. But, through his honesty he became faithful all the more.

There’s something about growing to trust God for each breath, and believing that God revealed himself as a thoroughly good and gracious and generous Creator and Sustainer in the passages of the Old Testament that transformed this brilliant man into a true saint. Not sappy, but real. All at once very strong and stable and yet achingly weak.

Dave was not self-righteous but gracious. Not arrogant in any discernible manner, but loving and open to others. Concerned with others and their lives and largely uncomplaining. Free with his humor and goodwill.

Hear this: You don’t get the privilege to meet people like this very often. You don’t get to be a person like this often. It’s takes an amazing about of formation, re-formation, and transformation. It doesn’t happen by accident or by genetics.

A life of faith means that you hold nothing back. See the difference?

It’s not using power to feel better. It’s giving it over to be fully won over.


In a life of faith you love whole-heartedly. Not because it’s safe. It never is. But, because it is good. A life of faith means that you have a sharp, ongoing sense of your own weaknesses and dependence, and that goes overflowing into compassion for yourself and others.

A few days after Dave’s death I was praying in the car out loud as I do sometimes. (I take more comfort in doing this now. People talk on the phone hands-free all the time in their cars and look like they are talking to nobody. Now, I just look like I’m having an important conversation. In fact, I am, especially when I shut up.)

So, I was in the car and I was warring as I too often do with things in the distance. Shadows, possibilities, next steps. I was planning, wondering, and worrying–like I was holding a bunch of eggs and walking on a lake of ice.

And then I said, “No, this just won’t work. I see I’m holding too tightly. I think I have to go all in. I have to have faith. I have to put all my eggs in one basket. Your basket.”

And a song sung by Ella Fitzgerald came to mind. I’ve embedded the audio so you can hear it after you finish.

Then I simply burst into tears, because that’s what a godly and good legacy looks like. Literally, one leaves words to live by. Dave’s words of life and hope and faith were ringing true in my mind in everyday life, even after he’s gone. And I thought, “That’s an amazing man and I was given an amazing gift to know him.” I kept having to wipe away tears for awhile.



Spirit, you know, is “breath of life”. (The Hebrew and Greek words for breath carry this meaning.) God is Spirit. When you see goodness, when you see sacrificial love, when you see wrongs being made right, you see God. You see the Spirit of the unseen God. Those describers are just part of what and who is impossible to confine or describe fully.

God isn’t just Life Force, but God is that too. And I don’t think Dave lost his own spirit or the Spirit. I think God became greater. The Spirit got so great that it filled him, and his body of water and carbon gave out, finally. It birthed something new and better and unseen and lasting.

And this Spirit and the part of Dave that is Dave (his truest self–his soul) joined up in union with the Great Spirit, somewhere and everywhere, the One, True, Living God who defies reason, explanation, and the limits of us, and even of the universe.

But, Dave didn’t completely leave us. But, my does the sting smart, right now! From my experience I know it dulls in time; but the pain is, at first, ultimate.

Yet, the fragrance of his spirit remains. And it is sweet.

It’s around us when we remember him. The Spirit remains, and Dave’s flavor fused with that true Spirit carries on with us. We miss the more familiar everyday interaction with him so dearly, and always will, until the same happens to us and we are joined somehow together again.

To those who grieve him: his family and friends, I join you in your deep and powerful sorrow. I join you in your joy–that is bitter and sweet–that realizes the gift he was–having known him, been enriched by him, and been intimately connected to him. Your loss is not small.

May you feel the comfort, presence, shalom, and holy goodness of the Spirit of God.




Here is a brief local obituary posting of David A. Dorsey.


With these links you can enjoy two of his most well-known books:


(egg photo is a Creative Commons image.)