Ending Well or Ending Poorly: The Scary Public Ending of Eugene Peterson

How will your public ministry end? (image courtesy of pixabay.com)

How will your public ministry end? (image courtesy of pixabay.com)

I am uncertain whether you heard the “firebomb” that blew up the evangelical world last week, but the very popular evangelical author and pastor Eugene Peterson came out to make some comments that clearly supported the LGBTQ movement, but then he later retracted his statements (the interview was done by Jonathan Merritt of the Religion News Service (RNS).  I have personally benefited from some of Peterson’s writings and I quote him here and here in some of my earlier blog posts positively. Peterson’s strength, from my view, is his critique of the “Church Growth Movement” as well as his critique of the modern-day view of the pastor as purely the CEO of an organization. I think that some of Peterson’s writings can be immensely helpful and can be freeing to many pastors who are struggling with the idea of “success” in the church being primarily that of “growing the church numerically,” but feel like they are failing in this endeavor. Peterson is an encouragement in those matters. However, Peterson’s comments recently with the RNS has caused many to question his commitment to the biblical stance on homosexuality and the clear biblical teaching that marriage is to be solely that between a man and a woman.  Albert Mohler has written an excellent article on Peterson’s fumble, and I want to reflect on one part of his article below. Mohler writes towards the end of his own article in reflecting on Peterson’s comments:
“But Eugene Peterson is also 84 years old. The interview with RNS was actually a valedictory event, of a sort. He announced that he would not be doing any more public speaking or teaching. Peterson had every reason to expect that he would conclude his public ministry without having to answer these questions.

Until that final interview…
Most of his generational colleagues are either dead or safely retired. Peterson’s longevity is a testament to his continued literary production and power. He almost made it home without answering the question, but then it happened.”
Christian Books and Bibles

What is scary to me about this public ending of Peterson, with this supposedly being his last interview, is that he has, in essence, severely tainted his reputation as an evangelical leader with one interview, in fact, what could be his final interview. After many decades of writing and preaching and work in the evangelical world, and doing some Kingdom good I believe, has, with what are possibly his final public words, smeared himself with words of confusion, lack of clarity, and compromise of the biblical text. May God help us, with our final interview, to be more faithful, more consistent, and more biblical with our last words lest we do the same.  May God help us, with our final interview, to be more faithful, more consistent, and more biblical with our last words lest we do the same Click To Tweet Let me be clear: I am not invalidating all that Peterson has done and I am not saying that he is “broken beyond repair.” What I am saying, in the least, is that he has hurt his evangelical reputation by stuttering on the biblical text about homosexuality and the entire LGBTQ movement. Grace is, and should be, available to all, and for every sort of sin and “mistake,” but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be practical consequences to our actions with our forgiveness in hand. While it is quite clear that we are all broken and will fail in many ways, it is my prayer that God would keep us faithful to whatever public ministry or public influence we may have, and that we would steward well that which He has graciously given to us. May God help us to finish well & to finish strong in our work for Him & by speaking clearly for Him, without hesitation, when He has spoken clearly.

YOUR TURN (I’d love to hear your comments in the “Leave a Reply” section below)
1. What type of legacy do you want to leave for your family and for God’s Kingdom?
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