In addition to How the Bible Works (2019), Peter Enns previously wrote The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It (2014). I actually cited The Bible Tells Me So in OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation, though only briefly.
In The Bible Tells Me So, Enns similarly tackles the biblical tradition in a thoughtful, irreverent, and self-deprecating manner. He shares about the collapse of his childhood understanding of the Bible and how facing up to the challenge of the Bible and allow it to change how he experiences God and tradition.
I would let go of a well-behaved Bible and try to trust God without a safety net. … I needed to learn (apparently the hard way) that trusting God is not the same thing as trusting the Bible–let alone my own ideas about the Bible. … I gained a Bible–and a God–I was free to converse with, complain to, talk back to, interrogate, and disagree with, not as an act of rebellion, but as an act of faith and trust, rather than needing to tiptoe around lest a grumpy God lash out with plague, famine, and sword if I get the Bible wrong–like an abusive, drunken father you don’t want to wake from his nap.
Mx Chris Paige, OtherWise Christian, Page 20-21
Each of Enns’ chapters is broken up into small sub-sections, which helps to make it an easy read. Enns basically covers the nature of God and Jesus as told through the Bible.
Enns reflects on the Jesus story as a “surprise ending” (chapter 6). That’s the piece that I referenced in OtherWise Christian. One of the sections in that chapter is titled, “Good News! Our Leader Was Executed by the Romans! Come Join Us!”
There is something about Christendom being built as a success story that obscures that surprise. Living in a Christian supremacist society leaves Christians with warped expectations and it becomes easy to gloss over the complications of the Jesus story. We are often actually encouraged to gloss over the crucifixion, except as a guilt trip or pressure point to force our compliance.
Anyhow, Enns does a good job of pulling back these layers in a fun and engaging way. The Bible Tells Me So is a good read, and one I was glad to include in both my bibliography and Appendix B (Reading the Bible Again).
Compiled by Mx. Chris Paige on August 6, 2019.
Note: This blog is intended to be an on-going work in progress. Please contact us if you have corrections or are able to contribute further context or reflections.