Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Message of Eugene H. Peterson

Eugene Peterson's best known and most popular contribution to the world is his paraphrase of the Bible, The Message. I love to read paraphrases of Bible texts, so I was delighted to receive a copy of The Message as a gift last October.

However Peterson has a substantial back catalogue of books on the nature of pastoral theology. I've decided to read a few of these for a pastoral theology paper I need to write. Although I am pretty close to being set in my ministry ways, Peterson may yet become one of those writers that I read totally and completely. He is currently working on a five volume series of books on spiritual theology. I have yet to read the first three volumes, so I might wait until the series is complete and read the whole series over a year or so.

Peterson is probably not in the same camp, and his emphasis is pastoral and 'spiritual' theology rather than systematic or dogmatic theology, but I think his work is comparable to that of David Wells (who did his Ph.D. at Manchester University!)

Here are two Peterson quotes.

'A sense of hurry in pastoral work disqualifies one for the work of conversation and prayer that develops relationships that meet pastoral needs. There are heavy demands put upon pastoral work, true; there is difficult work to be engaged in, yes. But the pastor must not be 'busy.'
p.61, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, Eerdmans, 1992 edition.

'Despite the unsurpassed academic training that American pastors receive, it looks very much as if no generation of pastors that we know about historically has been so embarrassingly ill-trained in the contemplation of Scripture.'
p109, Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Theology, Eerdmans, 1993 edition.

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