The Apostle Peter will appear Sunday at Aboite Baptist Church in Fort Wayne.
No, not Peter himself – Peter in the person of Tom Meyer, a California resident who will portray the right- ;hand man of Jesus in a dramatic recitation of the second of two New Testament books attributed, if arguably, to Peter’s authorship.
Meyer will recite all of 2 Peter – one of "about 20" books of the Bible he says he has committed to memory as part of the Wordsower movement. The Oregon-based Christian ministry uses what its founders call "Scripture telling" to present the Bible to audiences word for word.
In a telephone interview this week, Meyer, 39, said he was inspired to start memorizing the Bible by a pastor and former Fort Wayne resident, the late Peter Greenhow. Greenhow challenged Meyer to memorize Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount before heading off to Bible college.
Meyer honed his memorization skills while studying for two master’s degrees in Jerusalem and now teaches what he said is "the only accredited, higher-education course in Bible memorization" at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School, where he is a part-time associate professor of Bible.
"I make walking, talking books," Meyer said of his calling, saying memorization has become "an anomaly" in an age of print and easy digital information retrieval.
Having children learn Bible verses by heart was common a few decades ago, he said, adding that it’s not so much the case these days.
"People don’t even memorize phone numbers anymore," Meyer said.
But he believes the skill is an asset to believers, citing Psalm 119:11 – "Thy word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee."
"Keeping the Scriptures hidden in your heart provides you with words of comfort and encouragement in times of need," he said. "When you need it, you can think of Scripture, and when you know the words of Jesus, it kind of helps you shape your mind on the mind of Christ."
In 2 Peter, Meyer said, the apostle, nearing the end of his life, admonishes the church to beware of false teachers and keep the faith because Christ was to return soon.
"It’s quite dramatic," he said of the epistle, which he sometimes delivers in costume. However, he won’t be doing that Sunday, he said.
Meyer has performed in Fort Wayne before. With 10 biblical books under his belt, Meyer performed the New Testament book of Revelation in Fort Wayne in the spring of 2012 at Greenhow’s invitation. The upcoming appearance is at the church now led by Greenhow’s son-in-law, pastor Brad McGuire.
Meyer said he uses the King James version of the Bible in his performances, in part because "it’s the only one without a copyright," and he thinks the 17th-century language elevates the message.
"When you hear it, when you hear the ‘thees’ and ‘thous,’ you know it’s Scripture," he said. "It’s like Shakespeare. … It’s just beautiful language."