Peter said, “‘But the word of the Lord endures forever.’ And this is the word which was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:25).
Presented as an argument for a conservative approach to Scripture, this is not exactly a compelling argument.
First and foremost: Peter said. Not God said. Suddenly we are in the territory of men’s interpretation of words which may or may not be divine — words which were written, secondly, in a certain context, the context of their times, and thirdly, words which are not all given the same weight, even in those men’s interpretations.
Take today at Mass. For some reason, I couldn’t get lost in the ritual today. Maybe it was the liveliness of the Sunday service; I’m used to Saturday evening, what I have fondly nicknamed the “alter kocker” Mass; two of the mainstays are these elderly gentlemen who are always doing what my mother and I do, making little comments. I can never hear what from my seat in the very back. Eh, I doubt I’m meant to hear. — Anyway. Today we heard Acts 15: 1-2, 22-29. In the first place, that is some terrible editing. Acts 15 discusses what the Pharisees are saying about the old laws, and then Peter pops up (15:11) with this: “We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” They’re concerned as to how the Gentiles are going to cope with conversion.
So why does the reading jump straight from “Oy, circumcision, what are we going to do?” to “Yeah, here are some laws for you” with none of this explanation intact? It’s as if they want us to fear any step we might take out of line, when if I’m reading this right, mainly what God wants is faith that there is love in the universe. Also, Christians seem to have quit caring about how their meat was killed, but sexual immorality is the most important topic going. Why does it cease to matter how we butcher our animals, yet we’re so quick to judge one another by what we do in bed? I am confounded.
I don’t ignore the context. If anything, I make myself aware of it. So much was so much more relevant to the people of the time of the writing. Humanity has changed. Why should this be seen as contrary to divinity? Why should this not be the very work of the Divine?
I’ll be chewing on this one for a while, I think.