The Sin of Certainty, Peter Enns, wonders if our obsession with an intellectual-based faith isn't blocking us from progressing as a Church and as individuals. The evangelical scholar believes our frantic quest for intellectual correctness has led us far too deep into wrong roads, resulting in wrong priorities and divisions within the church. He writes:
When holding to correct thinking becomes the center, we have shrunk faith in God to an intellectual exercise, a human enterprise, where differences need to be settled through debate first before faith can get off the ground.Peter Enns talks about over-investment in intellectual engagement and the ineffectual nature of the arguments in spiritual matters. He says that debates over petty doctrines have a poor record of changing people's mind. He writes:
Few if any truly come to faith in God by the sheer force of an argument. We come to faith for all sorts of reasons that aren’t really “reasons” at all in the conventional sense. Our “reasons” are intuitive more than rational, emotional more than logical, mysterious more than known. I would say that coming to faith involves sensing God’s presence, which may transcend or even defy our ability to rationally process the encounter.The bible stories we read has stories of people like us, but who chose to invest their times in relationships with God as well as other beings around them. Their stories do not feature just moments of strengths but weaknesses as well. It is also worth noting that though a lot of these biblical characters were disappointed by God's actions in the world, they still chose to trust and continue their relationship with Him. Peter Enns illuminates this point, writing:
People in biblical times, after all, simply didn’t have the same preoccupation with what to believe as modern people do. For us, any religion, including Christianity, faces intellectual challenges that weren’t on anyone’s radar screens a few millennia ago.Trusting God and building up a relationship with Him remains our top priority, regardless of our head knowledge. When things get hard and uncertainty covers our world like a fog, it is our relationship with God, not head knowledge, that will see us through. Peter Enns echoes this by writing:
Believe in the original Hebrew is ‘aman (ah-MAHN), which has made its way into English, and we all know it as amen—only, it’s not a social cue that we’re done praying, and it’s okay to open our eyes and dig in. Amen as the final word of a prayer is a declaration of trust: “We’re done talking now, Lord. We’ve said our peace and put this matter into your hands. Now we trust you with it.”
Trusting God with all our hearts is a complete surrender, a life decision to be all in all the time rather than relying on our own “insight,” our ability to understand, to fathom, to solve, to figure out. Trust remains when our reason betrays us, when we don’t understand the mysteries of God and faith, when we don’t see what God is up to—including when God for all intents and purposes is not faithful or trustworthy.The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns is an honest attempt to make sense of the way forward for Christians in the modern world. It is a book that tries to rediscover what chasing after God is all about in these days of non-belief. The book tries to nudge us away from extreme intellectual reaction-ism to the world around us. Most importantly, its tones encourage us to go back to what being a Christian is all about - a follower of Christ.
Many thanks to HarperOne for review copy.