Just When You Thought You’d Heard Everything …
(Editor’s Note: Please put down your tea and swallow your biscuit before reading.)
Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, has today welcomed the news that his fellow-apostle Peter has taken a new path in his spiritual journey and ministry. In a statement released via Galatian Church News, he said:
I am writing to you today to share the news that the Apostle Peter has been received into the ranks of Holy Order of Judaisers, also known as the circumcision group. Peter does so with the conviction that this is the best way to maintain the fullness of rabbinic, pharisaic and messianic traditions from both the Hebrew Scriptures and the teaching of the Apostles. Peter has always been open to receiving riches from all parts of the Church, from those who teach that we are saved by faith apart from the works of the law, and from those who seek to be justified by the works of the law.
We are deeply grateful for Peter’s ministry since the earliest days of the apostolic movement. He was a platform speaker at the first Gentile Apostolic Futures Council (GAFCOUN) in Jerusalem all those years ago. My own faith has been enriched and encouraged by his witness and teaching, and his new angle on the gospel has been received by the Galatian church as if from an angel out of heaven. I find it quite enchanting, bewitching even.
Peter is a gift to the global Church. How heartening it has been to see him drawing back and separating from Gentiles because he feared those who belonged to the circumcision group. He has shared with me his willingness to continue to assist the Apostles in any way suitable. I certainly shall not be opposing that, the next time we meet face to face.
In the near term, we look forward to continuing our partnership with him where the church is suffering. Here he has contributed much in forcing Gentiles to follow Jewish customs. After all, as he insists, legalism “brings back a sense of belonging to a worldwide church where everyone has to do things in step, rather than everyone doing whatever they want to do.”
I pray that this new step in Peter’s journey, back to weak and miserable principles to be enslaved by them all over again, might draw him ever closer to God in Christ.