The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns

The Sin of Certainty by Peter EnnsThe Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our "Correct" Beliefs by Peter Enns
Published by HarperOne on April 5, 2016
Pages: 240
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss for review consideration.
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The controversial evangelical Bible scholar and author of The Bible Tells Me So explains how Christians mistake “certainty” and “correct belief” for faith when what God really desires is trust and intimacy.
With compelling and often humorous stories from his own life, Bible scholar Peter Enns offers a fresh look at how Christian life truly works, answering questions that cannot be addressed by the idealized traditional doctrine of “once for all delivered to the saints.”
Enns offers a model of vibrant faith that views skepticism not as a loss of belief, but as an opportunity to deepen religious conviction with courage and confidence. This is not just an intellectual conviction, he contends, but a more profound kind of knowing that only true faith can provide.
Combining Enns’ reflections of his own spiritual journey with an examination of Scripture, The Sin of Certainty models an acceptance of mystery and paradox that all believers can follow and why God prefers this path because it is only this way by which we can become mature disciples who truly trust God. It gives Christians who have known only the demand for certainty permission to view faith on their own flawed, uncertain, yet heartfelt, terms.


The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns caught my interest as soon as I read the title. I know too many evangelicals who border on fundamentalism, who tend to be very certain (and vocal!) about what they believe “the Bible clearly says.” So I couldn’t pass up the chance to read this and hear an evangelical talk about the problems with this kind of certainty.

I agreed with the book’s overall message, but it did get pretty repetitive. I also craved a certain level of cohesion that I didn’t get. However, large portions of the book read more like a memoir, and I enjoyed hearing about Enns’s personal experiences. He also has a great sense of humor! He’s snarky, but still good-natured. I didn’t agree with him on every point (probably because I’m not an evangelical), but I could appreciate the different viewpoint because his reasoning was so well-thought-out.

Enns points out that “us vs. them” thinking is “absurd” in this day and age. Thanks to the internet, we can easily connect with so many different people with different viewpoints. “Holding on to correct thinking about God and the world becomes stressful.” But I kind of felt like Enns was preaching to the choir. Will people who disagree with the book’s title be inclined to pick up the book in the first place? Regardless, it’s nice to have some camaraderie. It can be pretty lonely being the Christian who is always suspicious of others’ “certainty.”

  • Jennine G.

    Interesting. I may pick this one up, seems like there may be something to it. Reminded me of many Bible quotes and stories where trust and obedience are the lessons to learn. And the Pharisees who were always following the correctness of the law and being admonished.

  • Well this struck a chord with me. *sigh* Maybe I’ll shove it at some people I know ….