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Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ (Eugene Peterson's Five "Conversations" in Spiritual Theology) Paperback – February 8, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Christian maturity and character formation isn't about finding a strategy, or setting goals, or measuring congregational growth by market analysis, argues the writer in a chapter-by-chapter analysis of the New Testament book of Ephesians. Professor emeritus at Vancouver's Regent College and author of more than 34 books, including the popular Message paraphrase of the Bible, Peterson practices what he calls theological aesthetics, giving new vitality to such common words in the Christian vocabulary as saint, gift, and church. Christians are called to live out the resurrected life that was incarnate first in Jesus and then in us, the author asserts. It's no insult to the veteran writer to say that his tone is sometimes imperative and occasionally even a little cranky. After all, the message isn't new—but the commentary is, as usual, thought provoking and helpful for readers who want a different, sometimes contrarian, perspective on Christian discipleship. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
-- author of Reaching Out without Dumbing Down
"This is the perfect culmination to Eugene Peterson's fivefold Conversations in Spiritual Theology. How much the church would be transfigured if we could all more fully live as one with Christ in His Resurrection! You will delight in the way Peterson takes portions of Ephesians and displays the results of 'rocket' verbs and other word choices, of disciplines toward maturity, and of movements 'upward, inward, Godward.' This is a life-transforming book for us all!"
"Peterson practices what he calls 'theological aesthetics,' giving new vitality to such common words in the Christian vocabulary as 'saint,' 'gift,' and 'church.'. . . The message isn't new -- but the commentary is, as usual, thought-provoking and helpful for readers who want a different, sometimes contrarian, perspective on Christian discipleship."
"This is the fifth and culminating contribution to Peterson's series of books on spiritual theology. . . . Peterson builds bridge after bridge from the biblical text to our contemporary context. . . . In both the goals of the book and the quality of the writing, Peterson has provided an extraordinary example of pastoral scholarship."
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Top customer reviews
Peterson goes for the jugular of Christian `hypocrisy'. Of course there's hypocrisy. Of course it's not Christian. But there is no church in the NT legacy and none today that can avoid the reality of communal imperfection. Yet, perfection is what is demanded and towards that perfection, Peterson cheers us on.
I've thoroughly enjoyed Peterson's books and recommend and gift them to my more mature-in-Christ brothers and sisters. I considered providing a copy of Resurrection to a pastor friend ... but if he read it, he might be troubled by the message that comes with the gift. It's clearly thinking like mine here that is the crux of Peterson's writing ... so I'll think on it. Peterson's Resurrection is different from his previous fare. Peterson writes with `in your face' verve to force the reader to visualize the image of the demands of communal worship as gleaned from the instructions to the Ephesians. The Holy Spirit is a change-up master that relentlessly pulls us individually and confederately forward into unknown territory. We that choose to follow would do well to be equipped with Peterson's wisdom.
The way in which Peterson writes reminds me of the pleasure of a slow stroll with a learned man. As we walk, he stops to point out things that he sees and those things may remind him of something else, which enriches the experience. His knowledge is broad and his insights welcome.
There is so much to commend about this book, though I would leave with just a few short words from the author himself.
"In fifty years of being a pastor, my most difficult assignment continues to be the task of developing a sense among the people I serve of the soul-transforming implications of grace--a comprehensive, foundational reorientation from living anxiously by my wits and muscle to living effortlessly in the world of God's active presence. The prevailing North American culture (not much different from the Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian, Greek, and Roman cultures in which our biblical ancestors lived) is, to all intents and purposes, a context of persistent denial of grace" (p. 96).
"'Be subject to one another.' Maturity is not analogous to a body-building regimen in which we lift weights to build our muscles to the max, and then periodically stand before a mirror to examine our progress. Maturity is not a solitary state; it is relational. Maturity does not come about by making the most of ourselves; it is making the most of personal relationships. We don't do that by becoming stronger than the other, overpowering him or her, dominating either emotionally or physically. We don't impose ourselves. We enter into another person's life sharing both weakness and strength. We enter the life of another, but we don't force the entrance. Mutuality is always involved in 'be subject.'" (p. 234)
"There is more to church than sermons and sacraments, theology and liturgy, Bible studies and prayer meetings, committee minutes and mission statements. There are names, meals, small talk, births, deaths. There is us. Conversation is the form that language takes when the persons of the Trinity and the persons of the congregation are in the same room. The 'everything' that Tychicus will have to say to the Ephesians is no insignificant part of what it means to be the church. And you and I are Tychicus" (p. 271).
If you have the time and are willing to put in some thought work, I would strongly recommend this excellent series of books. Practice Resurrection, however, is a great capstone on the series. A book by one of my favorite authors about my favorite book of the Bible is a welcome addition to my library and one I will no doubt reference often in the future.
I had a lot of bad assumptions about Peterson. Initially, I thought THE MESSAGE was just another paraphrase intent on dumbing down the gospel, watering the Word, and trying to be "seeker-friendly" at the expense of becoming God-less. I carried those false assumptions into my reading of PRACTICE RESURRECTION. I was wrong. This was the first Peterson book I have read. I cannot tell you how many times I found myself practically shouting, "Amen," "Praise the Lord," "right on," etc. I even went out and bought a copy of the CONVERSATIONS version of THE MESSAGE. I have come to accept it as one more tool in increasing my personal understanding of God's Word, improving the quality of my walk with Christ, and in motivating me to BE more, DO more, LOVE more, not to grieve the Holy Spirit, and just be a better member of the body of Christ. JESUS IS LORD. And, Eugene Peterson knows that, teaches, that and blesses as he shares his very keen spiritual insights.
Did I say I was wrong before? Well, count me a fan now.
Buy this book, read it, share it and buy yourself a second copy to highlight, write notes in, and put all those little post-it flags in to mark your favorite passages. Unfortunately for me, the WHOLE book is a favorite passage.