the green fields beyond


Location: Charles City, Virginia, United States

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Update: Board decision announced at WTS

The following announcement was released today, via email to the WTS community. I'll just quote it in full:

March 27, 2008

Thank you very much for your prayers for the special meeting of the Board of Trustees that was held on March 26 to address the disunity of the faculty regarding the theological issues related to Dr. Peter Enns’ book, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. After a full day of deliberation, the Board of Trustees took the following action by decisive vote:

    “That for the good of the Seminary (Faculty Manual II.4.C.4) Professor Peter Enns be suspended at the close of this school year, that is May 23, 2008 (Constitution Article III, Section 15), and that the Institutional Personnel Committee (IPC) recommend the appropriate process for the Board to consider whether Professor Enns should be terminated from his employment at the Seminary. Further that the IPC present their recommendations to the Board at its meeting in May 2008.”

In order to provide the entire Westminster community with a more complete understanding of the Board’s decision and to offer an opportunity for questions and dialogue, the Chairman and Secretary of the Board will join the President on campus for a special chapel on Tuesday, April 1 at 10:30 am. Students and staff are encouraged to attend and participate. Following that special chapel, they will hold a separate meeting with the faculty.

Our concern is to honor the Lord Jesus Christ and assure a faithful witness for Westminster for years to come. To that end, please pray for everyone involved during the next two months.

Jack White

Chairman of the Board

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Please Pray

For those who have been following the current events at Westminster Seminary: today is an important meeting of the seminary's Board. The Board will be hearing about, and working through, some tough issues in this meeting and in their May meeting. These people have a great responsibility, and we should all be praying that they'll have all the wisdom, patience, and charity that they need in these hard times.
I know it's easy to say "I'll pray," and then forget to do it, so please take a minute now or soon and pray for the seminary community and for the Board meeting.

Thank you.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Upcoming Student-Led Demonstration at WTS

I recently heard about an event that's been called for next Tuesday, the 25th, on the WTS campus. I can't be there, but I believe that it's something worth supporting. I'll reprint the announcement here, so the organizers can tell you about it in their own well-chosen words. Be sure to read their purpose statement and their guidelines.

The Orthodoxy of Dr. Peter Enns: A Public Student Demonstration Recognizing the 12-8 Majority Faculty Vote in Favor of the Orthodoxy of Dr. Enns’ Teaching and of His Book, Inspiration and Incarnation.

Date: Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
Location: The Campus of Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia
Time: 10am
Invited: All Students, Alumni and Friends of Westminster who agree with the 12-8 faculty vote in favor of Dr. Peter Enns’ orthodoxy and can participate in a show of solidarity for this decision.

The Event: A Public Presence and Proclamation of Dr. Enns’ Recognized Orthodoxy
The Purpose: To inform any students or others not aware of this faculty decision of its existence and attest to its importance by means of a personal, public testimony.

Background, Call and Responsible Parties:
Drew Matter and Allen Drew are fourth year MDiv students at Westminster Theological Seminary. The following call that we are issuing has not been solicited by any member of the faculty, staff, or board of Westminster. It is being pursued after months of deliberation, prayer, and seeking the wisdom of our elders in the faith. Behind us stand an unknown number of students and alumni, and it is with them and for them, and the classes of students who will follow us, that we make this statement.

It is our conviction that on both sides of the current debate at Westminster Theological Seminary stand godly men who, despite their differences, deeply desire to honor both the Lord Jesus and the students for whom they have taken vows to train for service in his church. These men are our beloved professors, and from our experience in their classes we know that they hold their convictions with great depth of study and much prayer.
They are men who do not ultimately desire division at Westminster, but whose convictions at the moment run deeper than their desire for unity. As students, we acknowledge that those tensions run deeper than we understand, but they have had a tangible effect on us as students. By gathering together, we do not desire to further conflict between faculty, nor between them and us as students.
The administration and faculty of Westminster have assured students with great patience and understanding that there is no desire to silence students, nor to keep us uninformed concerning this division. This we must trust. Nonetheless, students are at times inhibited for many reasons from knowing what would actually be helpful for us as developing pastors, counselors, and academics. It is our conviction that the fact that the teaching and writings of Dr. Enns was approved of in December 2007 by a 12-8 majority of our faculty is crucial to our theological development. For by this vote, the faculty, as a whole, have affirmed that the current tensions at our seminary are not simply the result of his teaching.
Our fellow students, we need to know this and we need to make this known, both for ourselves and for all who consider the future of our seminary. We are therefore gathering on Tuesday, March 25th at 10am on Westminster’s campus to hear this motion read and to recognize it. This gathering will be surrounded by scripture and prayer.
We are fully aware of the limited knowledge of students at the seminary, as well as the tendency to ungodly speculation and emotionalism that threatens any onlookers who attempt to make sense of the current divisions. Speculations and personal preferences have only distorted our convictions and forced us to inappropriately dissociate what should be a melding of theological concepts. Practically, such guess work has led only to the working out of wisdom that James 3:15 tells us is “earthly, unspiritual, demonic (ESV).”
Therefore, the following are required of anyone desiring to participate in this demonstration:
1/. There will be no statements made concerning information that has not been made public by the seminary.
2/. There will be no statements made that could be easily construed as slanderous or retributive toward any person.
3/. There will be no actions taken on seminary grounds that could be easily construed as outside of the bounds of a normal, civic presence conducted coram deo.
4/. The statements to be made will concern the 12-8 vote of the faculty (with moderator abstaining) on the “Edgar/Kelly motion” which affirmed that Dr. Enns’ book Inspiration & Incarnation is consistent with the Confessional stance of the seminary, that it is in line with the historical trajectory of the seminary, and that an “incarnational analogy” is one that has been used by a long line of orthodox, Reformed scholars to describe the essence of Scripture.
5/. Anyone desiring specifics concerning the “Edgar/Kelly motion” should not rely on hearsay but request this public document from any member of the Westminster faculty either by email or in person. The faculty have been authorized to provide this document to anyone who requests it, and we encourage you to read it.
If you can subscribe to these stipulations, we eagerly urge you, whether student, alumnus, or friend of Westminster, to join us for this presence. Many of us are aware and ashamed of ungodly caricatures that have defiled Westminster’s name recently. If you cannot refrain from such expression, we ask—and will ask—you not to join us. We will be gathering to speak in the middle of Westminster’s campus, for all to see; may they witness a gathering conducted in a manner worthy of our Lord.

It was Geerhardus Vos’ conviction that "…the ultimate is in a very important sense the normative, that to which every preceding stage will have to conform itself to prove the genuineness of its Christian character” (The Pauline Eschatology, 42). We agree with Vos here to our very core. Accordingly, this demonstration is out of the desire to conform the difficulties of Westminster in this broken, sinful age to the completeness of the Kingdom of God that has come, and is coming. Our cautious hope is that our Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward Westminster as He alone sees fit.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

An Update on the Situation at WTS

Update, March 13th, 2008

I know that some of my readers have felt that was based on rumors or exaggerated fears. Well, it turns out that my fears were actually UNDERestimating the urgency of the situation at WTS. Some new developments have now been made public (these can be confirmed by inquiring with the faculty, who are now at liberty to speak to inquiring parties about this particular event/issue). Read on, for all the depressing details:

This past weekend, President Lillback of Westminster Theological Seminary sent a 200-page message to faculty at WTS. This is coming just before a board meeting in which Lillback will attempt to persuade the board to ignore what the faculty have already voted on (read on for more information on that) and to fire Pete Enns. This document includes only negative reviews of Enns’ book (positive reviews from respected scholars such as Tremper Longman III, M. Daniel Carroll Rodas, Joel Garver, Christopher Heard and John Armstrong [the list goes on] were noticeably absent), as well as a journal article by Lillback himself in which he attempts to prove that Enns’ book is outside of the bounds of the Westminster Confession of Faith and that Enns is the source of disunity at WTS. President Lillback presented this motion after the faculty voted last year 12-8 that Pete’s book was inside his confessional vows. (One faculty member abstained from voting, because he was the faculty moderator.)

In other words, this disagreement had already been settled in faculty votes, with the majority of faculty concluding that Pete is orthodox and his book is not outside the bounds of WCF. But Dr. Lillback is continuing to pursue this issue and attempting to push Pete Enns out.

Please consider signing the petition or writing the board to express your concern at these events. the petition will be mailed to the board before the Mar 26th board meeting. Please forward this to anyone you know who would not like to see Pete Enns kicked out of WTS, or who doesn’t want WTS to lose its long-held status as a faculty-led seminary by bowing to the pressure of one man (or at best a small minority).

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