Eugene Peterson and My View
Romans 2:3 – Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?
Recently, Eugene Peterson, a respected person in evangelical circles and the author of The Message translation of the Bible, was interviewed by Jonathon Merritt of the Religion News Service. Peterson said some things that are very controversial and possibly leading to Christian retailers pulling not just his books but The Message as well.
When asked about his view on homosexuality and the church Merritt said, “I wouldn’t have said this 20 years ago, but now I know a lot of people who are gay and lesbian and they seem to have as good a spiritual life as I do”
He shared a story about hiring a worship pastor for his church who was gay. He went on to say “I don’t think it’s something that you can parade, but it’s not a right or wrong thing as far as I’m concerned.” He even said that he would officiate a gay wedding.
Peterson is no stranger to controversial views, although many think he has avoided them. He has come out against megachurches and doesn’t even believe they are churches. He believes they sell church to people and neglect the relationships that church is built to have.
When asked after the interview, Eugene back tracked. He reaffirmed his view of marriage being between one man and one woman. He then went on to say that he would like to retract what he said about officiating a gay wedding. And with regard to the statement about gay people having a spiritual life seemingly as good as other Christians, he said during the follow up interview that the “goodness of a spiritual life is irrelevant” and that we are “only saved by faith through grace irrelevant of our behavior.”
I am going to go out on a limb here.
The relationship is of premier importance to Eugene Peterson, possibly even at the risk of biblical truth. His belief that megachurches aren’t churches because of the lack of relational impact and the decision to leave biblical viewpoints in preference of the bridges built with the gay community shows that his focus is on the relationship.
So, Fred, what do you think?
First, I think this is going to have long-lasting repercussions in the evangelical church. The Message is a pretty popular translation and if churches see Peterson’s views as heretical, it could mean that the Message has a limited life span left in the church.
Romans 1:27 – In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Next, I think there are a couple of pieces that need to be addressed here. Some are pretty simple for me to write about and others will be controversial in their own right.
- My view of homosexuality.
I have a LOT of friends and acquaintances and business relationships who are LGBTQ. I would never hold back someone from a friendship or a business promotion because of their sexual orientation. But I do believe it is a sin. And, because of that and the clear expectation of the Bible on church leaders living above reproach, someone who is actively LGBTQ cannot lead in a Bible-believing church. It also means that a Bible-believing church cannot marry an LGBTQ couple. To go along with that, if a church decides to change the Bible to fit a different standard, then that church, in my eyes, is not a true church.
Again, I need to make sure you understand, being gay does not preclude you from getting a business promotion or having a friendship with me or living in my neighborhood or even having me make a cake for a gay couple’s government-allowed wedding. But it is impossible for a Bible-believing church to stay true to their Bible and marry a gay couple or ordain a gay pastor. Please note, I did not say that they cannot attend the church. But leading in a Bible-believing church and marrying in it would stand against the Bible.
And to go along with that, if a gay couple or gay person who wants to be ordained were to push the issue in a Bible-believing church, then the person who is pushing the matter would expect others to turn against their beliefs for their own advantage, which, in itself, is a sin which would preclude that person from leadership or being married in the church.
If you are offended by what I just typed, then I am going to ask you to reread it. And if you are still offended, I would be happy to discuss with you over email at email@example.com.
- Peterson has an issue.
I believe that he is lying to make sure that people don’t turn against him. He already shared that he ordained a gay minister. Then he back tracked and said that he was retracting what he said. If his actions did not counter what he said, then I would believe that he is honest in his retraction. But the fact that he shared examples of his going against Biblical views, then it shows a shallowness to his retraction.
I know those are strong words. But Jesus primarily focused on pointing out the issue with the religious leaders, not with those He was meeting and sharing the Kingdom of God with.
So, Eugene Peterson, I am going to ask you to post more than a retraction. I think your past examples show that you need to ask forgiveness for having an issue of the heart.
Please note that I am not coming out and calling you a heretic. Nor am I calling you unsaved.
I am simply saying that you need to search your heart and determine if you need to go further than a retraction. I believe you do. If you would like to discuss this, Eugene, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Psalm 101:7 – No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.
- Relationship versus Jesus
It is no secret that God created us for relationship. But it is possible to idolize the relationship over the one who created the concept of relationships. It is similar to choosing your family over Christ. If the focus of the church is relationship only, then the church cannot be a true church. The focus of church is to simply worship and glorify God. Relationship is an aspect of doing church, but it is not the primary motivator for church.
Based on Peterson’s views, I believe he is idolizing the relationship of people over the relationship of Christ.
So where do we go from here?
I think Peterson needs to reflect on what he truly believes and start living by it. Then, if he chooses to go back to a Biblical viewpoint of homosexuality, he needs to ask forgiveness.
At no point am I saying that he needs to change his relationships with people, he simply needs to choose whether he will follow a Biblical view or not.
In the meantime, because of the fact that he is not truly sure of his beliefs, I would challenge that The Message is not a viable Bible translation.
I’m curious to hear everyone’s thoughts and verses supporting their thoughts. If you are simply going to comment, I will discount that. But if you comment with a strong Biblical argument as to your view, I will take it with strong credence.