Starting With Our Weakness: Peter

By Peter Walker
(Co-op Blog Post Part 2)

I have a lot of weaknesses. It’s amazing how “okay” you can think you are, until the relationships in your lives (like little mirrors) reveal the truth. I had no idea how selfish, impatient, emotionally needy, insecure and quick-to-react I was until I got married. For my friends who tried to tell me beforehand: sorry I wasn’t listening.

As Adele and I approach the subject of being transparent about our weaknesses, there are a lot (I mean a lot) of ways we could go and angles we could approach from. We’re human; there’s a lot to own up to!

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Peter Rollins said:
“…What I really want to do is to enter into dialogs where I can talk about the weakest part of my argument and you can talk about the weakest part of your argument. and I can accept and celebrate the strongest part of your arguments and visa-versa.”

- from a Nick and Josh Podcast interview

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An anonymous blog visitor recently commented:

You want to cherry pick what you want to believe and then mandate we trust our gut feelings for authority. And you really can't see the inconsistent notions you put forth in the midst of all this. But, I guess in a postmodern worldview you don't really have to worry about those little contradictions.”

Good timing Anonymous, because that’s just the sort of thing I want to own up to. For example, 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” but I’m not sure I believe that… unless “useful for teaching” can mean showing some Scriptures as bad and even wrong examples of what God isn’t, and of what isn’t true – perhaps of how wrong well-intentioned, God-fearing people can be. But objectively true and correctly interpreted by the biblical writers? I don’t buy Paul’s assertion in 1 Timothy 2:15, that “Women will be saved through childbearing,” or that God would randomly strike folks dead for deceit, as in the Acts 5 story of Ananias and Sapphira. Just as I’m often accused of picking and choosing “convenient” Scriptures to make my point (oft-lamented proof-testing!) it seems a terrible abuse of Scripture to suggest that God really strikes people dead at random, for the sorts of sins all of us are guilty of, regularly. Shouldn’t we all be covering our heads and ducking low, every day? Yeah, probably…

So I don’t really believe a coherent, consistent narrative of God can be easily constructed utilizing the entirety of Scripture. To really do so, we have to extract what resonates as true, and sort of ignore or gloss over the inconvenient texts that don’t fit our theses. Proof-texting. I don’t like it. Neither should you. And we’re all guilty of it. To avoid proof-texting to validate our beliefs, we have to go to a different core/foundational source from the Bible. I would argue, we have to go to a superior source: the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the helper sent from God, through Christ, who is God, who is Christ – each equal and co-existent in the Trinity. The weakness of this belief, is that we cannot prove the truth or validity of the Spirit’s work in us. I cannot convince you of what the Spirit has told me. And if I’m really honest, I can’t entirely convince myself. There will always be that spec of doubt. This is where faith is a necessity that carries me beyond certainty. This sort of ambiguity is terrifying for folks who are used to concrete answers. And I am ideologically and theologically weak, because I am ill equipped to answer many of the questions and protests from those who see such ambiguity and relativism in themselves as weakness, heresy, immaturity, rebelliousness, or foolishness.

I am weak because I have begun to open my hands from the fists they were clenched in. Those fists were clenched to certainty and “Evangelical orthodoxy.” By following what I believe to be the Holy Spirit, I am in danger of simply following my heart. And my heart may be wrong. And I understand the risk…

As I said before, I am selfish, impatient, emotionally needy, insecure and quick-to-react. I am also arrogant and sometimes angry. When people disagree with me, my first gut-response is anger: “How dare you question my opinions!” Then it’s insecurity: “What if people think I’m a fool?” Then it’s insolence: “I’ll SHOW them!” Then, hopefully, Christ breaks through all of the ego, and I can say: “I am sorry. I am weak.”

I want to grow. I want to be more like Jesus Christ. I’m less interested in thinking correctly. I want to be. I want my very instincts to be conformed to the selfless goodness, love, peace and faithfulness of Christ. I have to start this process by telling you all that I am weak. If I had a better argument, if I had a quicker wit, if I had a PhD, I might be able to convince you otherwise. Thank God I cannot. I am weak. Adele, I am weak.


Dan Wright said...

Good stuff Pete, I think you're right about letting the spirit help us discern the parts of the Bible that are important (mostly the stuff Jesus said), and the parts that are aimed at the zeitgeist or culture of the day. If you're living in the spirit, the really important stuff will shine through.

Peter said...

Awesome, thanks dude!

Joe said...

The more I read, the further I discover I am from the demands of the gospel. The Yoder-esque call for a different understanding of the kingdom seems to me to be persuasive, yet the bubble in which I live means it is almost impossible to do.

Yes there are bits of the bible which I don't understand. Unfortunately it is overwhelmingly the bits I do understand that I have a problem with.

Peter said...

Joe, I'm intrigued. If you would, tell us more about the particular frustrations and problems you have.

I assume from "the bubble" you live in, that you mean it's almost culturally impossible to break from the dominant religious paradigm?

Existential Punk said...

Allowing the spirit to move amongst a group of people with the common goal of discerning G-d's intentions is a good thing.

Peter said...

There are a lot of great comments to this post at Adele's site,!

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