Maybe I’ll Keep Reading The Message Bible By Eugene Peterson… Will You?
So the man who wrote The Message Bible is open to doing same-sex weddings.
Cue the release of the wrath of God all over the earth!
At least, all over every home that has a copy of The Message Bible in it.
In an interview with Jonathan Merritt for Religion News, Eugene Peterson said, “the debate about lesbians and gays might be over.” He also acknowledged that he would perform a same-sex wedding ceremony if he were pastoring today.
Today, he retracted his first statement and said to the Washington Post (among other things), “To clarify, I affirm a biblical view of marriage: one man to one woman. I affirm a biblical view of everything.”
(Highly encourage you to read both interview.)
Some judged him yesterday for affirming same sex marriage. Others, judge him today for going back on what he said. But Jesus says,
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.” Matthew 7 (The Message Bible)
Of course (and I wish I wouldn’t have to start this sentence with “of course”) Christians from different backgrounds and denominations began to dismiss, discredit and devalue the work of Mr. Peterson. Now, this modern Bible paraphrase, loved and read by thousands all across the English-speaking world, is somehow “contaminated.”
Sure, I don’t fully agree with everything pastor-theologian-master-of-the-written-arts Eugene Peterson says, but for goodness gracious, I rarely agree with 23.8% of what I say myself.
Or it is 31.4%?
More than that, I struggle to agree with what my wife is saying half of the time. Seriously, we go over to a friend’s house and she starts talking about life, i.e. current issues, her personal thoughts on church, raising kids and the Kardashians. She rambles beautifully about her dreams, her pains and her plans for tomorrow.
And half of everything she says makes me go “huh?”
Because I am now a wiser man and I have learned my lesson… I smile, I allow my wife to express herself fully and I don’t try to correct her in public with my “superior macho intellect.”
You see, I’m talking about my favorite person in the world. My legitimate best friend. My teacher and confidant. The woman who knows me most intimately.
The fact that she’s a posh British lady and I’m an ADHD Puerto Rican makes for the wildest combination of disagreements and understanding.
But still we love, we listen, and with affection and permission, we keep saying “huh?”
So it is with God.
We all have inconsistencies in our theology. We’re all cherry picking the Bible verses we feel strongly about and the ones we casually ignore. No one (and I mean no one except Jesus) should truly feel secure in their certainties.
Oh wait a minute! According to Scripture, not even Jesus knows the day of his return (Mark 13:32). Proving with humility that certainty is not the ultimate definer.
As Pastor Rich Villodas wrote, “We can disagree with clear theological convictions and not be part of a larger problem (failure to love well) in the process.”
So come on, church. We have to stop this ridiculous battle of trying to prove how much better we are at interpreting Scripture. We need to eliminate the divisions of tribal politics and trivial theology and focus on the greater works of Christ.
Let’s do family… even while being different.
Just ask the disciples of Jesus. You had Matthew the tax collector (who worked for the Roman Empire) and Simon the Zealot (a terrorist who wanted to destroy that empire). You had Peter the stubborn fisherman and Nathaniel the “what good can come out of Nazareth?” xenophobe.
Jesus loved them all, chose them all, and empowered them all.
No doubt, in the love, the choosing and the empowering… Jesus challenged their ungodly ways. He called them to a higher place of grace and mercy. And he turned them into ambassadors of that very message.
Tell them please Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
“By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
So before we try to yank out the speck we assume is in Eugene Peterson’s eye… let’s deal with the log that is blinding us with pride. Instead of talking so much about how we disagree with one another, we should start with acknowledging the level to which our own lives disagree with the Bible we claim to follow.
FYI, every single Bible translation we read has parts that are worthy of being questioned. And because they were 100% human, every single Bible translator/theologian/historian had an agenda in their communication.
That’s why I know the Holy Spirit can still (and will) use The Message Bible to speak to us. Because the message from above was never about southern Christian morality or ultraliberal theology… it was, and always will be, the news of Christ.
And that news is good. So good in fact… that everyone can find themselves in its words.
Cue the release of the love of God all over the earth.
Carlos A. Rodriguez is a pastor at Catch the Fire and the founder of HappySonship. His latest book is “Designed for Inheritance, A Discovery of Sonship”. He travels extensively all around the world and you can find out more at www.HappySonship.com
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