This week, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS has featured two different perspectives on the Bible and its relevance to contemporary issues. On Tuesday, Ray Suarez interviewed Dr. Peter Gomes, Minister of the Harvard Memorial Church and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard University, about his new book, The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus.
On Wednesday he presented an interview with me about my new book, Cultureshift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth [due to be released January 15].
The audio versions of the segments are available online, as are full transcripts of the interviews. Dr. Gomes’ book is worthy of a full review, which will appear here in coming days. I appreciate the fact that Ray Suarez and The News Hour dealt with both of us far above the level of soundbites.
In his interview, Dr. Gomes presents this argument:
But I would think that, if Jesus came today, the people he would be most interested in dealing with would be homosexuals, racial minorities, people who would be thought to be less than the most upright and righteous people in the contemporary community. If the New Testament is any model, that’s where he would hang out.
I agree with that statement, in the sense that Jesus did indeed associate with sinners in his earthly ministry, very often scandalizing the self-righteous. Jesus came to save sinners, and He was opposed by those who trusted in their own righteousness.
Where Dr. Gomes and I profoundly differ is about what Jesus would say to these on the margins of society. I believe that Jesus would offer grace and redemption to those associated with any sin — but He would also call for repentance and a turning away from sin. When it comes to an issue like homosexuality, this is where Dr. Gomes and I are in profound disagreement.
It all does come down to what we believe about the Bible. Thanks again to PBS, Ray Suarez, and The News Hour with Jim Lehrer for treating this issue with respect.
Video and audio versions of the interview with Dr. Gomes can be found here, along with a transcript. Video and audio versions of the interview with me, along with a full transcript, can be found here.