Peter Enns on Original Sin

I’m currently reading Peter Enns’ new book, The Evolution of Adam, and I came across an interesting point that Dr. Enns makes. In discussing how Adam is viewed by the Old Testament versus Paul’s Epistles, Dr. Enns writes the following:

[t]he notion of ‘original sin,’ where Adam’s disobedience is the cause of a universal state of sin, does not find clear – if any – biblical support. (The Evolution of Adam, 138)

Of course, Dr. Enns is hardly the first scholar to dispute the concept of original sin. His point seems to be, though, that the Old Testament does not make Adam’s sin the reason we are all born sinful. He accepts that sin is a universal state for mankind and that it is inescapable. He just doesn’t believe that the Old Testament speaks to why we are all sinful from birth.

In reading this, two thoughts occurred to me. One, Dr. Enns’ view of Scripture (the subject of his Inspiration and Incarnation book) is so impoverished that he loses all sense of it being “God-breathed.” In all of his writings, he speaks again and again of what the author of Genesis was trying to accomplish or what Paul was attempting to communicate, but never does he speak of God as the author and preserver of His own Word. To Dr. Enns, there is no majesty, purity, or internal consistency to Scripture. Paul and the other authors are simply men of their times with their own goals and motivations.

My other thought was that there is always a domino effect when one begins to “reinterpret” Scripture. Dr. Enns does not believe that God created the world and all things in six days. Therefore, Adam cannot be an historical figure who is literally the first man created by God from the dust of the earth. Therefore, Paul must be mistaken. And, therefore, the doctrine of original sin must be “rethought” as well.

As his understanding of Scripture and doctrine continues to unravel, what will Dr. Enns be left with when he’s finished?

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