Thursday, February 7, 2008


One of the most erudite contemporary Christian voices to grace our world is Rev. Peter J. Gomes. Rev. Gomes, since 1974, has been at Harvard University, serving as Plummer Professor of Christian Morals, and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church. I have enormously enjoyed all of his books, and I especially recommend "The Good Book: Reading the Bible With Mind and Heart"; "Strength for the Journey"; his most recent book, "The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What's So Good About The Good News?" I urge you to read them all, as I am sure you will greatly benefit from his many and wonderful insights into both the Bible and into the essence of the Christian life.

The following is an interview with Rev. Gomes conducted by Charlie Rose that I think you'll enjoy.
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Justice MH said...

@Jerry: Peter Gomes is a good man and very intelligent for a black gay man. As a Black gay young man, I have his book :"The Good book".

I like it, and it's worth the read.

However, I personally don't like the title: "The Good Book"?

In history and Christian history, the bible has been used to create hell, hate, and oppress on mankind.

Yet, Christians still label it the "good book", or an "inerent book", or infallible book",???

There are NO original copies of it. Scholars have said it contain errors. Some Christian think anything that is read from the bible, God feels, thinks, and agrees everything they quote.

I don't get it, and that's dangerous. Just look at our history!

I have alot of respect for Peter.Gomes, but the title of his book seems should i say ironic?? I don't know. Thanks for the video jerry.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Justice MH: It is "the Good book," and the reason so many people don't realize it is due to the many perversions of that "Good Book" by ignorant and/or mendacious clergy and theologians who miss the message of "grace" and, instead, substitute their own prejudices for God's grace, and seek to impose them on both the Bible and on other human beings.

For example, they may take a verse out of Leviticus and use it to condemn Gay people when, in fact, that book doesn't even address Gay people, and that admonition is directed to the Levitical priests who were in charge of the Temple. That's just one example out of many that shows that so many clergy have made the Good Book into a Bad Book by imposing their ignorance and prejudices upon it.

As Gomes says in "The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart," we have to read the Bible by seeing what it says, what it means, study the text, the subtext, the context, what we bring to the text, and what we take out of the text.

Simple-minded literalism has taken that Good Book and sullied it so that many decent, intelligent, and sensitive people and Christians view it as a book of rules and regulations, rather than see that Christians are free from the assorted Mosaic laws and purity codes that the legalists love to quote in judging and condemning others.

Unknown said...

I wonder about your thoughts on the fact the Gomes blasphemes at 7:57 in this video.

Additionally, you said:
"...rather than see that Christians are free from the assorted Mosaic laws and purity codes that the legalists love to quote..."

I think it's appropriate to at least remind people of what Paul said:
Romans 6:15
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!

Personally, I am a literalist and it's not because I am "Simple-Minded." I would argue that choosing these words echo the sentiments of those you chastise for being homophobic in that they are just that: judgemental.

I completely disagree with Gomes in that it takes much much more to believe in a literal bible than not. Also, I believe that Jesus believed it literally, so why shouldn't we.

I hope that you sincerely read what I've written and not casually throw it away simply because we are in disagreement.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Sterling: First of all, I don't see how Gomes "blasphemed" in that video. I watched that part again and there is not even a hint of such a thing. He just said that there are some people he finds hard to like. So do I and, I suspect, so do you and every other human being.

Second, you just assume that being Gay is a sin. That assumption is no where born out in Scripture. The kind of homosexuality that was condemned was such things as sex as idol worship, cult prostitution, gang rape, and pederasty. No where is same-sex adult love and its sexual consummation condemned. Obviously, sexual activity is best within a marital relationship but biblical literalists and many others prevent Gay couples who want to make a lifetime commitment to each other from enjoying the privileges and responsibilities of marriage so, by definition, the biblical literalists and others who prevent same-sex marriage are condoning fornication.

Jesus did not believe in literally reading the Bible simply because there was no Bible in existence as we know it today. He quoted from the Septuagint (written in stages from the 3rd to the 1st Century BC) and the New Testament wasn't formed until almost 400 years after the Resurrection, in 375 AD.

Moreover, Jesus didn't take the Bible as then existed literally, as seen, for example, in Matthew 5:21-22; 27-2831-3233-36.

If we really took the Bible literally, we wouldn't eat shell fish, we wouldn't wear mixed fibers in our clothes, etc. Clearly, the Christian is freed from the law. That's why the Gospel is called "good news." Jesus set us free! We are under "grace," and not under the "law."

So, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23), and Gay people are no more nor any less sinners than are heterosexuals, and we are all saved by the Blood of Christ if we appropriate His grace (unmerited favor) by having faith in Him. (e.g. Romans 5:1-2)

Moreover, when we read and study the Bible, we have to try to see what was written from the point of view of the writers of that time. That's why Gomes is correct when he says that when we read the Bible, in order to have a high view of Scripture, we must see the text, the context, the subtext, what it says, what it means, what we bring to the text, what we get out of the text.

Biblical literalism usually reflects the personal and cultural biases of the reader and, therefore, does not indicate a high view of Scripture but, rather, uses Scripture in accordance with one's own prejudices thus making an idol of those prejudices.

I strongly urge you, and everyone, to read Peter J. Gomes' book, "The Good Book: Reading the Bible With Mind and Heart."

Among other things, he deals with how the Bible was used to support slavery and segregation and, as time passed, that very same Bible was used to support freedom and integration.

The words in the Bible remained the sam,e but people saw in those words something different than their ancestors saw, and that White Supremacists saw: that the Bible was a book of liberation, that the exodus from the slavery of Egypt to the Promised Land was the African-American's story too.

And it's the LGBT people's story as well!

Unknown said...

Jerry, thank you for the response.

Gomes said "Oh, my G*d" at 7:57. His use of the Lord's name in the context of his statement is, IMO blaspheme.

I must disagree about Jesus taking the "then existing documents" literally. Your examples from Matthew not only show he took them literally and seriously, but he actually made it even harder to follow them. Which, exactly as you said, proves we are all sinners. Trust me, I'm the worst sinner I know. However, that doesn't mean we can go on "living" in our sin. Regardless of what that sin is.

I never said anything about anyone's sexual preferences nor did I comment on whether being Gay is right or wrong. My comments were not intended to even argue any side of being Gay or not. I only mentioned homosexuality to reference the fact that you are judging literalists just like you claim literalists are judging gays.

Everyone has the same facts, and we all must interpret those facts. No one will ever know who was correct until we die and stand before our judge.

I always love well thought out discourse. You seem like a very intelligent and thoughtful person. And I do appreciate that regardless of our differences.

Jerry Maneker said...

Thank you very much, Sterling.