Peter & the Fall
I wonder if Simon Peter’s threefold denial of our Lord was more serious than the self-confidence and pride that brought him to that offense. It is not clear to me that “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!” was a more grievous transgression than “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be” (Mark 14:29,71). It is scarcely obvious, that is to say, that Peter’s denial was a worse sin than his boasting.
Indeed, the very opposite appears to be the case: One perceives a sense in which Peter’s open denial of the Lord may be said to have improved his spiritual state, inasmuch as this more manifest sin led him to repentance. He became contrite that he denied, whereas he was not the least bit contrite for boasting, “I will not deny” (14:31). That boasting, in fact, he mistook for virtue; there was no danger of such a mistake in his open denial.
We should make the case, then, that sin without self-deception is an improvement over sin with self-deception. It is a better thing, in other words, to be a sinner and to know it than to be a sinner and not to know it. Thus, when Peter denied the Lord, he was better off, inasmuch as he no longer suffered from self-delusion. He had been very much self-deluded, on the other hand, when he imagined himself incapable of denying the Lord.
THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:
Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more from the online archives
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor