What does Peter Enns mean by comparing the Bible to a compost pile?

January 2, 2013

What metaphor describes the Bible better—compost pile or cookbook?
Drawing upon the work of theologian Walter Brueggemann, Peter Enns, an Old Testament scholar and author, contrasts the cookbook and compost metaphors that can describe approaches to the Bible. Emphasizing spiritual growth, Enns writes: “The compost pile analogy reminds me that focusing our gaze on the Bible is like looking expectantly at the compost pile rather than the fragrant rose or luscious watermelon that is waiting to grow up out of the ground. But nothing grows when our days are spent guarding the compost pile, defending it, covering it up with a tarp of manicured sod to make it look more civil.” He wrote this article for his Peter Enns: Rethinking Biblical Christianity blog on Patheos.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni is an independent scholar, writer, and editor. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992).

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