March 18, 2010

Can we question Peter? Please?

Paul questioned Peter in Antioch. I've questioned Peter in Corinth. Everyone questions Peter in the Gospels. But very few Christian observers seem willing to strongly question Peter in Acts. Commonly, at least, it's like there's this bubble around Peter's behavior that baptizes all his activities in Acts. That trend has long reminded me of a Rich Mullins line, about Jacob & Laban:
Well it's right there in the Bible
So it must not be a sin
But it sure does seem like an awful dirty trick
Okay, so maybe we all wonder about Ananias & Sapphira, but quite honestly they're far beyond the very least of my concerns. Whatever that was, it seems to have been a isolated incident. Personally, I'm much more concerned about things that appear to form patterns.

I'm wondering about Peter's actions with the Seven, and in Samaria, and in Caesarea.

I'm wondering why Peter didn't seem prepared at all for what God was about to instigate, through Stephen.

I'm wondering what that means about events leading up to Stephen's death.

And I'm wondering if we're missing some important details about our own heritage by constantly giving Apostles the benefit of the doubt.

Let's be square. Peter wasn't a bad guy. He had a good heart, and he did a lot for the Kingdom. But Peter made such a mess in Antioch that even Barnabas was led astray. Peter most likely did go to Corinth and he might have caused even more problems there than Apollos did! And this shouldn't be surprising, since we all know how much Peter struggled when following Jesus around.

We know all this. So why does Peter get such a free pass for the early church in Jerusalem? How come we see him as perfect for a few chapters in Acts?

No disrespect towards the historical Peter, or to anyone's traditions, but I really don't think his record deserves such an overly favorable treatment, and I'm going to start sharing my reasons for saying so... beginning tomorrow.


Ben Byerly said...

Peter's role in Acts is to provide credibility for Paul for people who already respect Peter--and James--i.e. Judaizers. He's a prop. :-0

Bill Heroman said...

I agree with that, Ben, primarily because of the way Peter vanishes from the narrative after vouching for Paul at the council. I'm also impressed with how quickly he comes around about Cornelius. What I'm trying to examine more closely is what Peter did and said before the spirit fell that day in Caesarea.

Btw, thanks for saying 'prop'. I'll try not to assume you meant 'tool'. ;-)

mike fox said...


i agree with that take on peter, but i think there's even more. i think acts shows us the centripetal spread of the gospel, starting with jerusalem and working out (the traditional view that 1:8 is a loose roadmap). peter is a prop for paul, sure, but he's also an essential part of the "still in jerusalem" section.

just some thoughts; i think this is a good and fruitful conversation to have.

Bill Heroman said...

That's a good point, Mike.

He's a somewhat vestigal prop.


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