PW: Why did you want to write A Fragile Stone, about the apostle Peter?
Michael Card: I really didn't choose him; he chose me. I was teaching the Book of Acts for the first time, and in that context, I felt like I had an encounter with this person that I thought I had known but didn't really know at all. He's always been presented as this simplistic guy with his foot in his mouth, and nothing could be further from the truth. He's a very emotionally complex and courageous person. What draws me to him is that he's a person who was willing to let go of power to be obedient to God.
PW: Peter is an unusual subject for a Protestant writer. Why do you think he has been so ignored?
MC: This is an oversimplification, but in Catholicism, he has almost become an office, and in Protestantism, he's been relegated to being just one of the Twelve. Of course, neither of those is true. The middle-ground case I make doesn't support the idea of Peter's supremacy, but his primacy. This means that followers of Christ find a corporate identity in Peter the way that Jews find a corporate identity in Abraham—the only other person who is referred to in the Bible as a "rock." As followers of Christ, we can look to Peter as a wonderful example of faith and confession—the first person to become a disciple, the first disciple to see Jesus after the resurrection, the first one to confess sins to Jesus.
PW: You say in the book that Peter is a very flawed figure, a fragile stone. What do Christians today stand to learn from his relationship with Jesus?
MC: That our being called or chosen has nothing to do with gifts. I think one of the wrong ideas about Peter is that Peter was called because of his own merits. While Peter was a courageous man with many wonderful qualities, he was fragile in the way we are all fragile. Even when he does the right thing, he sometimes does it for the wrong reasons. He says the wrong things sometimes. We have this misunderstanding in American Christianity that we are our gifts, and that gifts are what are important. But Peter isn't chosen for strength, which is good news. God uses our fragileness.
PW: Many of your books have been published in conjunction with an album on the same topic. Is that the case here?
MC: Yes. I wasn't able to say everything on the record that I wanted to say. When I write an album, I spend a lot of time researching, and I always have more far material than I can use in 10 songs. This book doesn't float the songs. You can have one and not the other. The publisher wanted to put the lyrics in the book, but I didn't want that.
PW: Your songs, like your books, are grounded in intense biblical and language study. Where did you get that background?
MC: I have a master's in biblical studies. It really comes from the man who discipled me, William Lane. The research is my favorite part. If I could be an academic—oh, I would love to have that kind of lifestyle. I don't get to be completely in the music world, or fully in the academic world. I study Greek and Hebrew, and can translate passages if I have a dictionary, but I'm not a linguist. Believe me, I was discipled by a Ph.D. from Harvard who spoke 16 languages, so it's always clear to me that I'm not there. But I love the research. If I didn't have a deadline, I'd still be reading books about Peter.
PW: What's next for you?
MC: Right now, I'm working on an album about lament psalms. I'm trying to use the academic work on lament psalms and make it more accessible. I'm not sure yet if there will be a book to accompany that. But in a year or a year and a half, I'm sure that I'll have piles of notes, and I might want to put them in a book.