Quick Hits (4/4/08)

Here are some miscellaneous items that may make you laugh, think, or go “Wha…?“:


If you’ve wondered what’s behind Peter Enns’ suspension from Westminster Theological Seminary, D. A. Carson’s review of Enns’ book (from back in 2006) will clear up the theological portion of the controversy for you. Carson’s article isn’t short or light, but it’s very helpful. It’s the second of the 3 reviews.


John Piper honors the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death by posting on MLK’s meeting God. If what he describes is intended to be a record of MLK’s conversion (and it may not be, though it is entitled “When MLK First Met God”), it’s very, well, sinless. And Christless.


Ben Wright resurrects the iconoclasm controversy with this post.


We’ll end on a light note. These guys are something else:

(HT: S King)


14 Responses

  1. Surely Piper did not consider this a conversion experience by King. He had to have meant something else by titling it “When MLK first met God.” Good heavens.

  2. “Quick hits” indeed. More like quick hit job. How is it helpful to post only one side of the “Enns controversy.” For those who aren’t interested in judging before you know all the facts…

    1) Read the book

    2) Read Dr. Enns own responses to his critics. He may do a full response to Carson some day, but the journal in which Carson published does not allow rejoinders, and understandably Dr. Enns has been a bit tied up with other concerns lately.

  3. Easy, Mark. All I did was point to a critique by a respected scholar. I said that reading that review “will help clear up the theological portion of the controversy” for readers. I stand by that statement. You’re free to disagree with me, and readers may very well choose to disagree with Carson, but linking to a scholarly review by a respected theologian is hardly a “hit job.”

  4. FWIW, I sent a note to DG asking for a clarification on the MLK post. We’ll see if they’re able to answer.

  5. Worse than the MLK post is a paragraph in Let the Nations be Glad that lifts up Francis Xavier, founder of the Jesuit missionary movement, as as one whose sufferings for Christ increased his faith in God. I wrote Piper a letter about this back in 2001 but never received a response. I greatly appreciated the overall thrust of his book but this particular item really bothered me.

  6. Hi,

    OK, first some typical white guy talk. Our school has 90 students with about 35 black. Our church has red and yellow, black and white. We have five black families who drive in most weeks and sometimes more. We celebrate Booker T. Washington, but not Martin Luther King.

    Martin Luther King was by his own testimony NOT saved. I don’t have a reason to say that except that I read a whole lot of his complete works, which they have in print and in the library over at Golden Gate Seminary in Marin County here in several volumes. He made a profession and was baptized in his father’s church, but he later said that he went forward just to follow his sister and renounced that profession.

    He was a devout liberation theologian. Liberation theology believes we are bringing in the kingdom through socio-economic policies. It is like a left-wing reconstructionism. He denied the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, and the bodily resurrection. I have these things straight from his own works, and these books are supposed to be a positive look at him. He has spawned the Jesse Jacksons and the Jeremiah Wrights of this world. he carries the torch more for W.E.B. Dubois than the Booker T. Washington approach. He has done more damage than good, considering what we believe about the gospel, and the influence of the black church on black people.

    A black lady in our church, a dedicated Christian, who heard him speak as a child, absolutely believes what I am saying here. I don’t go out of my way to go after MLK, because, for the most part, it would be misunderstood. I have relationships with lots of black people. Our church is in an urban area. However, I do believe it is good to clear up untruths. We can put MLK in historical perspective as a political figure, a southern black man exposing civil rights issues.

    What John Piper here is misrepresenting MLK as a saved man by quoting this book. It seems to me that he is just pandering. That doesn’t help black people.

  7. FWIW, it wasn’t my intention to start a discussion on MLK or race issues, much less on John Piper’s motivation for what he said (which we really can’t know anyway). Instead, I’m simply questioning whether the experience recorded is being interpreted by Piper as a conversion experience (or proof of one), particularly because it lacks anything remotely tied to the gospel.

    I’d have the same question if the experience were attributed to someone other than MLK. In other words, my interest is in the nature of the experience, not the person or the race of the person who had it.

    (I do, however, understand that MLK’s doctrinal positions are germane to a discussion of such an experience.)

  8. Chris,

    I understand all of the disclaimers, especially after I gave all my ethnic credentials. It’s too bad we have to feel the need to give them. I know from experience that they usually don’t mean anything.

    When it comes to motives. It’s true we can’t for sure know them, but motives do get judged every day in court without knowing what are the inner most thoughts of people. Scripture doesn’t forbid it, that I know of. Pandering is not usually something that anyone can know for sure, but I think it is appropriate to say that it “seems” like pandering when it seems like it.

    The reason race comes up in a theological discussion about MLK is that one often is accused of judging MLK more harshly because he was black and a civil rights leader. Can anyone judge that the reason why his theology doesn’t get picked over as closely as others is because of race, or that he gets a free pass on theology because of race, or that he is just moved over into the saved column because of race? Is it is just sloppy research? Is Piper a universalist? Piper is clearly saying that MLK was genuinely converted. How does that help anybody, but especially blacks?

  9. chris,

    it’s saddening to see such a critical spirit in a man who has been in pastoral ministry for several years.

    as for michael english, your comment seemed slightly disingenuous; just as mercy triumphs over judgment, sincerity trumps sarcasm. one can only question your evaluation of another man’s servant (rom 14.4)?”

    i grew up in circles that tended more toward critical speech than critical thinking; in fact, my parents went to your alma mater. i am very familiar with the sub-culture that is fundamentalism, but would just encourage you not to lose sight of the fact that you do not see as God sees (1 Sam 16.7); you look at outward appearances, while God looks at the heart.

    the gospel compels us to live lives governed by humility and grace; i pray that this will be the overarching testimony of your ministry in God’s church.

  10. I agree with Mark.

    Carson does not clarify the theological issues.

    The theological issues that are related to Enns’ suspension have to do with the Westminster Confession of Faith…not with questions that a Baptist scholar has with Enns’ work.

  11. Smlogan,

    1. I’m unsure what I said that earned the label “critical.” If it has to do with Michael English, I didn’t say anything about it other than quoting him and posting his video. If you question my sincerity (and I admit that I think there is a striking disconnect between the words of the song and the video) it must be because you sense a disconnect, too.

    2. Though sarcasm is indeed a dangerous thing, it’s not automatically sinful. Indeed, it is utilized in both testaments. And whereas James 2:13 does say that mercy triumphs over judgment, the rest of your statement isn’t a biblical quotation.

    3. One could argue that your post demonstrates the weaknesses for which you chastise me, including a critical spirit (of me, fundamentalism, my alma mater) and evaluating another man’s servant.

    4. I don’t believe that humility necessitates overlooking error. The notion that humility doesn’t disagree with anything is bogus.

    5. That said, I too pray that I’ll be noted for humility and grace, and I acknowledge that I am lacking in both.

  12. aboulet,

    Among other things, Carson in his review explains why using the incarnation as an analogy for inspiration is problematic. This lines up with what you cite as a central part of the controversy over Enns in the latest post on your blog:

    “[T]he premise of Enns’ incarnational analogy is something that causes them great concern. This is one of the areas in which they believe Enns is outside of the Westminster Confession of Faith (hereafter, WCF).”

    Of course Carson’s review clarifies the theological issue. Even if you disagree, the read sheds light on the controversy. You can’t just dismiss it because you don’t agree with it.

  13. It has little to do with whether or not I agree with it and more to do with the actual situation at hand.

    The issues surrounding Enns’ suspension are issues concerning Enns’ work and the Westminster Confession of Faith.

    Citing a Baptist scholar who is critiquing the book from a non-Confessional viewpoint for a non-Confessional audience on non-Confessional grounds brings little, if any, clarification to, as you wrote, “what’s behind Peter Enns’ suspension from Westminster Theological Seminary.”

    “What’s behind” his suspension concerns the WCF, which Carson does not deal with. Therefore, it doe snot bring clarification to the theological issues that are behind Enns’ suspension.

  14. Chris,
    You know I had to say something! :) My question is, “Could you please elaborate on the disconnect between the words of the song and the video and could you please explain the error of the performance.” For discussions we have had in the past, I believe I could name your personal disagreements. But I am interested in the error.
    I will be honest and say that my first reaction to your lead line was one of dismay. I did read it as sarcasm – and not biblical sarcasm. But I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt. I’m learning not to judge motives (hint, hint). The only thing we have to go on is what you wrote. We can assume that you were actually providing what you believe to be proof of Michael English’s heart when he performs. Or we can assume you were being sarcastic and judging his motives and ultimately calling him a hypocrite. For the sake of discussion and based on past conversations, I will go with the second option. So here are some points:
    1. My personal experience with clapping in a worship setting has been two-fold. You and I both sat under an environment that did not clap in order to make sure man was not being praised. I now live in an environment where we clap to give physical and audible affirmation to what is being communicated about God, Christ, etc. (Psalm 47)
    2. Regarding applause at the conclusion of songs, it could be argued that it is solely for showing appreciation for the messengers efforts and/or abilities. This is obviously not always directed toward God and could possibly be argued that it is wrong. But I would call that a weak argument at best.
    3. You have to, in the least, admit that what you posted was a declaration of condemnation of Michael English’s motives. I did not see anything in his performance or message that was ‘proof’ of his desire for man’s applause or for that being his motivation for singing. Yes, the audience applauded, but what did he do that compelled you to question his motives? Again, I understand that your personal preferences were not upheld in his performance, but I would be curious to know what it was that you deemed erroneous.
    I will admit that I have made some assumptions about why you posted. But I tried to make them based on some amount of fact. And I tried to be humbly critical in dealing with what I see as error – questioning someone’s motives when there doesn’t seem to be any grounds for it.
    With all that, thanks for the work you do in providing great topics for discussion.
    I look forward to understanding your position better.

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