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Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Blogging towards Easter 5 - friendship, forgiveness and resurrection

Samuel Wells fifth character in Power and Passion is Peter.

This is a rich exploration of the characterisation of Peter in the gospels which relates his failures at the end of the Gospel to the his confession of Jesus as messiah in the middle of the story.

Wells comments on Peter's confession is relevant to consideration of the church's current difficulties over its covering up of abuse of power in matters of sexual abuse.

The church is still Peter. That is the church is a fragile people inspired by God to speak the truth about Jesus. Peter spoke the truth about Jesus; so does the church. But Peter was not infallible. Neither is the church.  ... Peter was sometimes stupid, selfish, scared, and just plain wrong; so is the church. But Jesus chose Peter. And Jesus still chooses the church. Who are we to differ?
... so long as it continues to live as a fragile people inspired by God to speak (live?) the truth about Jesus the church will never be extinguished by evil or death. (p.139)
Peter according to Wells demonstrates that passion is not enough as his bravado at the last supper demonstrates. This form of passion is often driven by the tendencies that are illustrated in Peter's behaviour in the Gospels,  an assumption that one is superior to others, a profoundly misplaced confidence in our own dependability and a sense that one knows better than Jesus.

Three things more are needed:
  • Forgiveness driven by a logic that has no foundation other than resurrection. "Resurrection knows the power of death, yet loves with the force of life. This is the only logic that truly sustains forgiveness". (p153)
  • Friendship which survives through the hard times and earths and disciplines the passions and is grounded in the sharing of bread, sitting down to a meal together.
  • Resurrection: tied to friendship it becomes a matter of the transformation of real people over time, in joy and sorrow.
Wells concludes: The most powerful force in human experience, the heart of politics, is not, it seems, the might of Rome and the merciless will of the governor; it is Jesus' cross and resurrection and the friendship and forgiveness they make possible. (p.156)

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