Yesterday morning I found out that F. Scott Petersen, pastor of Fairfield (NJ) Reformed Church, Chicago Invitation signatory, and my friend for more than twenty years, died on August 4.
My mind is awash in thoughts and emotions. So it is not easy for me to make this post, as I don’t want it to be a public exercise in my own griefwork. So let me keep it fairly short (in contrast to Scott’s intellectual stature), and as relevant as I can to the work of CI.
Scott was a brilliant pastoral theologian, who in seminary grew to see his calling as one to the pulpit rather than to the lectern. He always understood that his ministry must be focused on the Word: its exposition, its authority. He was suspicious of any approach to ministry, any program or activity, that would suggest that the work of the pastor was somehow not to be focused on the Word but on something else. He resisted all attempts by others to redefine for him the purpose of ministry he believed he had been given.
I believe it was this characteristic of Scott that made him open to Daniel Meeter’s foundational paper and to the Chicago Invitation, so that he quickly added his name to the list of signatories.
Scott was very conservative, as are some other signatories. I am not. That difference at times made for interesting conversations between us, and at times for frustrating conversations. Sadly, it led to silence, which time and fear robbed me of overcoming.
However, I think such “difference” as I experienced with Scott highlights an important aspect of this group, the Chicago Invitation. We exist not as a voice for the left or the right. We exist to promote an alternative (although historic) vision of the nature of the church, its ministry, and our polity. And that reason for being is one that appeals to office bearers across the ideological spectrum.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine; et lux perpetua luceat eis.