Letter From a Friend On What Is Truly ‘Petrine’

“I wonder whether there is sometimes a confusion about the ‘the world’ in Christian tradition, an ambiguity between the world as fundamentally good and the Satanic forces that try to pull it down. The world is holy and has been redeemed by Jesus Christ but we must wrestle with these forces that often seem to be in control of the world while we await the new creation.

As someone brought up in Roman Catholicism who left it in adulthood to join the Eastern Orthodox tradition, I also relate strongly to your interest in the figure of Peter and what he stands for in Christian belief and action. By coincidence I have been reading an interesting book [‘Peter: the Myth, the Man, and the Writings’, 2003, F. Lapham] which tries to distil what is central to ‘Petrine’ teaching from a review of the whole body of work associated with his name, including apocryphal writings. Clearly his understanding of Christ did lose out in the early Church. It is indeed strange that Peter should come to be associated with papal authority. Nothing is more opposed to the ethos of the Roman Catholic Church than this man whom you describe as ‘passionate.’

Yes, I think it would be worth your while reading the book on the ‘real’ Peter, as distinct from the Roman Catholic appropriation and distortion. It does support much of what you have already been led to, especially the emphasis on the Jewish roots of Christianity, and taking up the Cross. Christians both East and West use the Cross as their principal symbol, but I agree that they don’t interpret this sufficiently as the need to wrestle with the world..”

Christ to Peter on the travels round the Lake of Gennesareth= “Launch out into the deep.”

Neither West nor East have yet to make this launching out that Peter struggled with..

The West developed a too intellectual and busy temper; the East developed a too contemplative and quiet temper.

Neither is Peter, only proved through troubles.

The route that comes to and follows the Cross is wave tossed and fire scorched.

This route is through living out, not containing, the heart.

This route is nothing to do with ‘infallible authority’ because human flaws and failings are the daily bread which reveals the heart.

This route is through turbulent times, without and within, because it comes to the point where love can betray who, and what, it loves. The difference between Judas and Peter is razor thin. Both knew regret, remorse, despair, acidly chewing the bowels and guts of the heart= both wept.

Judas wept for his failure; Peter wept for who, and what, he had failed.

William Blake= “We are to abstain from fleshy [preoccupations] so that we may lose no time from the work of God.. All the tortures of repentance are tortures of self-reproach on account of our leaving the Divine Harvest to the enemy.” [‘Jerusalem’]