Making Visible The Kingdom Through Convergence

Eugene Peterson On The Scandal of Grace

As a seminarian I read several of Eugene Peterson’s books like Working the Angles,  Under the Unpredictable Plant, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, and The Message (me and a few million others).  His thoughts are deep waters and his synthesis of theology and praxis is a safe harbor for those of us trying to work out what it means to be in ministry.  I came across a recent interview with Peterson, thanks to a post on Facebook by my good friend Nithin Thompson.  I was refreshed and encouraged by Peterson’s statements on Grace, Community, and Rob Bell whose most recent book, Love Wins, has caused a great deal of ranting in the blogosphere.  Bell has a penchant for attracting the slings and arrows of his brothers and sisters in the Kingdom, who don’t always seem to agree whether or not he is altogether part of the same Kingdom…

I agree with Peterson that there is far too much “polarization in the evangelical church that it’s a true scandal.  We’ve got to learn how to talk to each other and listen to each other in a civil way.”  There are over 33,000 denominations all of which claim to be Christian.  We’ve never stopped finding reasons to protest and affirm our identity as Protestants.  Often we focus upon differences; rather than commonalties.  We tend to grip firmly those issues that are closed-hand issues and focus on our differences, when we could find unity in focusing on the few closed handed issues that we have in common.

Peterson’s closing remarks were a reminder to be generous with Grace, “Luther said that we should read the entire Bible in terms of what drives toward Christ.  Everything has to be interpreted through Christ.  Well, if you do that, you’re going to end up with this religion of grace and forgiveness.  The only people Jesus threatens are the Pharisees.  But everybody else gets pretty generous treatment.  There’s very little Christ, very little Jesus, in these people who are fighting Rob Bell.”  Read the complete interview at Love and Judgement.

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