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Tell it Slant: comments
on November 11, 2008
While Christian writers like Eugene Peterson, and Dallas Willard, and Richard Foster, and others are teaching us compehensively about what Jesus taught, along with how he lived, died, rose, and ascended, there are still many Christians who think the only important thing is to know what He did on the Cross, which gets us to heaven. I think all Christians will appreciate Peterson's book, Tell It Slant. The question is whether the reader has ears to hear. Jesus' purpose was not to get people into heaven. It was to get them into the Kingdom of God. And the difference between those two ideas is huge. The first is non-transformative and ego-serving. The second is radically life-altering, unto eternity. Eugene Peterson is an author who reliably guides us into understanding what it means to Repent -- change how you think -- and live in the present and eternal Kingdom. His use of Jesus' own words in stories and prayer guide us to an accurate understanding of the Kingdom and what it means to be a citizen of that Kingdom. In other words, what it means to be a disciple of Jesus (not just a convert who has the password to heaven's gates). If you're familiar with Willard, Foster, et al., why read this book? Preconceptions affect perceptions. The clearer your preconceptions are about the Kingdom of God, the more easily you will recognize it when you run into it. The less you know about the Kingdom, the less you will live according to its order and reality, and the less your life will truly work. Read Peterson to prepare yourself for the daily, moment to moment encounter with God and His Kingdom.
As an aside, I would disagree very slightly with Peterson's portrayal of these words of Jesus as just common talk. His words should certainly form the way we must commonly think about the Kingdom and life. But, as Kenneth Bailey points out in his books, Jesus words reflect intentional poetic genius when understood in His cultural context. So, I would highly recommend Bailey as a supplement to Peterson.