Eugene H. Peterson (1932–2018) was a pastor, scholar, author, and poet. He wrote more than thirty books, including his widely acclaimed paraphrase of the Bible, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, his memoir, The Pastor, and numerous works of biblical spiritual formation, including Run with the Horses. This collection features thirteen resources exploring spirituality, ministry, and biblical interpretation.
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Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places reunites spirituality and theology in a cultural context where these two vital facets of Christian faith have been rent asunder. Lamenting the vacuous, often pagan nature of contemporary American spirituality, Eugene Peterson here firmly grounds spirituality once more in Trinitarian theology and offers a clear, practical statement of what it means to actually live out the Christian life.
Writing in the conversational style that he is well known for, Peterson boldly sweeps out the misunderstandings that clutter conversations on spiritual theology and refurnishes the subject only with what is essential. As Peterson shows, spiritual theology, in order to be at once biblical and meaningful, must remain sensitive to ordinary life, present the Christian gospel, follow the narrative of Scripture, and be rooted in the “fear of the Lord”—in short, spiritual theology must be about God and not about us.
The foundational book in a five-volume series on spiritual theology emerging from Peterson’s pen, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places provides the conceptual and directional help we all need to live the Christian gospel well and maturely in the conditions that prevail in the church and world today.
A tour de force in spiritual theology, combining incisive cultural analysis and biblical exposition with a sweeping and engaging vision of the Christian life.
Eugene Peterson is convinced that the way we read the Bible is as important as that we read it. Do we read the Bible for information about God and salvation, for principles and “truths” that we can use to live better? Or do we read it in order to listen to God and respond in prayer and obedience?
The second part of Peterson’s momentous five-volume work on spiritual theology, Eat This Book challenges us to read the Scriptures on their own terms, as God’s revelation, and to live them as we read them. With warmth and wisdom Peterson offers greatly needed, down-to-earth counsel on spiritual reading. In these pages he draws readers into a fascinating conversation on the nature of language, the ancient practice of lectio divina, and the role of Scripture translations; included here is the “inside story” behind Peterson’s own popular Bible translation, The Message.
Countering the widespread practice of using the Bible for self-serving purposes, Peterson here serves readers a nourishing entree into the formative, life-changing art of spiritual reading.
Deep, stirring, luminous, even profound—if you are going to read one book about reading Scripture, it should be this one.
—Lauren F. Winner
Whereas much of the current literature on pastoring stresses up-to-date training and new techniques stemming from the behavioral sciences, Eugene Peterson here calls for returning to an “old” resource—the Bible—as the basis for all of pastoral ministry.
Originally published in 1980 and now being reprinted to meet continuing demand, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work shows how five Old Testament books provide a solid foundation for much of what a pastor does:
Prayer-Directing: Song of Songs
Pointing to the relevance of ancient wisdom, adapting Jewish religious tradition to contemporary pastoral practice, and affirming a significant link between pastoral work and the act of worship, this book opens up to pastors a wealth of valuable practical-theological insights.
Robust poetry from one of contemporary Christianity’s greatest wordsmiths.
Throughout his many years of pastoral ministry, almost everything Eugene Peterson has done—preaching, teaching, praying, counseling, writing—has involved words. To keep himself attuned to the power of words and to help himself use language with precision and imagination, Peterson both reads and writes poetry.
Holy Luck presents, in one luminous volume, seventy poems by Peterson, most of them not previously published. Speaking to various aspects of “Kingdom of God” living, these poems are arranged in three sets:
Holy Luck — poems arising out of the Beatitudes
The Rustling Grass—poems opening up invisible Kingdom realities through particular created things
Smooth Stones—occasional poems about discovering significance in every detail encountered while following Jesus
Echoing the language of Peterson’s popular Bible translation, The Message, the poems in Holy Luck are well suited for devotional purposes. An ideal gift item, this volume is one that readers will look to again and again.
The poems are a slow-read treasure, a meditative moment, and a place to return. . . . This is a book to pick up and ponder again and again.
—Sharing the Practice
“Adolescence is a gift,” writes author Eugene Peterson. “God’s gift, to the parent in middle-age. This ’gift’ dimension of adolescence is my subject. For adolescence is not only the process designed by the Creator to bring children to adulthood, it is also designed by the Creator to provide something essential for parents during correspondingly critical years in their lives. Christian parents are most advantageously placed to recognize, appreciate, and receive this gift God so wisely provides.”
In Like Dew Your Youth Peterson shows how adolescence is a time for parents to enjoy a deeper, richer relationship with their children and for both parents and children to grow in their relationships with Jesus Christ. In addition to its wealth of positive, effective ways to deal with many of the problems and pains of growing up, this insightful book offers an understanding of parent-adolescent relationships that will help promote an atmosphere of communication, growth, frankness, forgiveness, love, and harmony in the home. Study questions at the end of each chapter help readers apply Peterson’s practical, Bible-centered teaching. There are also tips for using this material within the framework of parental support groups.
Like Dew Your Youth provides a much-needed balm against the fear and anxiety bred by traditional views of this exciting period of life and properly orients parents and teenagers within this God-provided environment for spiritual growth.
The best little book on the topic this reviewer has come across yet. . . Peterson knows what he’s talking about, and he offers helpful advice. . . If you are a parent of teenagers, know parents of teenagers or want to start a discussion or support group for parents of teens, this is the perfect book. I can’t praise it highly enough.
—St. Anthony Messenger
Winner of Christianity Today Book Award for best book in spirituality.
In Practice Resurrection Eugene Peterson brings the voice of Scripture—especially Paul’s letter to the Ephesians—and the voice of the contemporary Christian congregation together to unpack the crucial truth of what it means to fully grow up to the “stature of Christ.”
Though bringing people to new birth in Christ through evangelism is essential, he says, isn’t growth in Christ equally essential? Yet the American church by and large does not treat Christian maturity and character formation with much urgency. We are generally uneasy with the quiet, obscure conditions in which growth takes place, and building maturity in Christ too often gets relegated to footnote status in the text of our lives.
Peterson’s robust discussion will move readers to restore transformed Christian character to the center of their lives.
It is filled with many gems. . . . Practice Resurrection has plenty of depths to be mined for the pastor and layperson alike. . . . Within its pages there is much that is well worth reading and digesting.
Subversive Spirituality is a gathering together of articles written by Eugene Peterson over the past twenty-five years. Made up of occasional pieces, short biblical studies, poetry, pastoral readings and interviews, this book reflects on the overlooked facets of the spiritual life. Peterson captures the epiphanies of life with the pleasing pastoral style and inspiring depth of insight for which he is well known.
Peterson describes his book this way: “The gathering of articles and essays, poems and conversations, is a kind of kitchen midden of my noticings of the obvious in the course of living out the Christian life in the vocational context of pastor, writer, and professor. The randomness and repetitions and false starts are rough edges that I am leaving as is in the interests of honesty. Spirituality is not, by and large, smooth. I do hope, however, that they will be found to be ’freshly phrased.’”
A wonderfully refreshing collection of essays, articles, addresses, poetry, and conversations with one of the great Presbyterian pastors of our day . . . The author’s soul shines through each of these forms with clarity and consistency.
Spiritual reading has fallen on bad times. Today, reading is largely a consumer activity, done for information that may fuel ambitions or careers—and the faster the better. Take and Read represents Eugene H. Peterson’s attempt to rekindle the activity of spiritual reading, reading that considers any book that comes to hand in a spiritual way, tuned to the Spirit, alert to intimations of God.
Take and Read provides an annotated list of the books that have stood the test of time and that, for Peterson, are spiritually formative in the Christian life. The books on this list range from standard spiritual classics to novels, poems, and mysteries, and include an equally broad spectrum of authors—from Augustine and C. S. Lewis to William Faulkner and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Annotations following each entry offer Peterson’s own significant insights into the power of each work.
Peterson’s choices range from the expected to the delightfully different. His wide-ranging definitions of what is spiritual and his book-lover’s zeal encourage readers also to befriend books and enjoy their deep spiritual rewards.
Just as God used words both to create the world and to give us commandments, we too use words for many different purposes. In fact, we use the same language to talk to each other and to talk to God. Can our everyday speech, then, be just as important as the words and prayers we hear from the pulpit? Eugene Peterson unequivocally says “Yes!”
Peterson’s Tell It Slant explores how Jesus used language, particularly in his parables and prayers. His was not a direct language of information or instruction but an indirect, oblique language requiring a participating imagination—“slant” language. Tell It Slant beautifully points to Jesus’ engaging, relational way of speaking as a model for us today.
Peterson, a master with language himself, looks at Jesus’ use of language. . . . Preachers especially will find themselves returning to Peterson’s imaginative expositions of Jesus’ words and encounters.
Any pastor who needs and wants to get back to basics will do well to absorb this book. Eugene Peterson, well known as “a pastor’s pastor,” here speaks words of wisdom and refreshment for pastors caught in the busyness of preaching, teaching, and “running the church.”
In The Contemplative Pastor Peterson highlights the often-overlooked essentials of ministry, first by redefining the meaning of pastor through three strengthening adjectives: unbusy, subversive, and apocalyptic. The main part of the book focuses on pastoral ministry and spiritual direction “between Sundays”: these chapters begin with poetic reflections on the Beatitudes and then discuss such themes as curing souls, praying with eyes open, the language of prayer, the ministry of small talk, and sabbatical—all with engaging, illustrative anecdotes from Peterson’s own experience.
The book ends with several meaning-full poems that pivot on the incarnation, the doctrine closest to pastoral work. Entitled “The Word Made Fresh,” this concluding section is a felicitous finale to Peterson’s discerning, down-to-earth reflections on the art of pastoring.
This excellent treatise on the rediscovery of the authentic purpose of true pastoral care deserves attention, dialogue and action.
—St. Anthony Messenger
A way of sacrifice. A way of failure. A way on the margins. A way of holiness. All of these ways prepared the “way of the Lord" that became incarnate and complete in Jesus. But somewhere along the line, have we lost the way? In The Jesus Way Eugene Peterson continues his stimulating conversation in spiritual theology, considering all the ways that Jesus is the Way compared to the distorted ways the American church today has chosen to follow.
Arguing that the way Jesus leads and the way we follow are symbiotic, Peterson begins with a study of how the ways of those who came before Christ—Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Isaiah of Jerusalem, and Isaiah of the Exile—revealed and prepared the “way of the Lord" that became complete in Jesus. He then challenges the ways of the contemporary American church, showing in stark relief how what we have chosen to focus on—consumerism, celebrity, charisma, and so forth—obliterates what is unique in the Jesus way.
Profound scholarship and spiritual wisdom. . . Soak yourself in The Jesus Way.
Like Eugene Peterson’s other books on pastoring, Under the Unpredictable Plant is full of stimulating insights, candid observations, and biblically grounded prescriptions. Yet this book emanates with a special poignancy out of Peterson’s own crisis experience as a pastor.
Peterson tells about the “abyss," the “gaping crevasse,” the “chasm” that he experienced, early in his ministry, between his Christian faith and his pastoral vocation. He was astonished and dismayed to find that his personal spirituality, his piety, was inadequate for his vocation—and he argues that the same is true of pastors in general.
In the book of Jonah—a parable with a prayer at its center—Peterson finds a subversive, captivating story that can help pastors recover their “vocational holiness.” Using the Jonah story as a narrative structure, Peterson probes the spiritual dimensions of the pastoral calling and seeks to reclaim the ground taken over by those who are trying to enlist pastors in religious careers.
This is a bold book. It has to do with changing the life of American society, from the inside out, through “source action” of prayer.
“I have written a book for Christians,” says Eugene Peterson, “who want to do something about what is wrong with America and want to plunge into the center, not tinker at the edge. I have chosen eleven psalms that shaped the politics of Israel and can shape the politics of America, and I have taken them seriously...I have written to encourage Christians to pray them both as children of God with eternal destinies and as American citizens with daily responsibilities in caring for our nation."
Peterson is concerned with the “unselfing" of our self-preoccupied, self-bound society through the action of praying together with other believers. He offers insightful, thought-provoking reflections on eleven select psalm-prayers that can help us overcome such things as self-centeredness, self-assertiveness, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, self-pity, self-service, and self-love.
Originally published under the title Earth and Altar and now being reprinted for wider distribution, Where Your Treasure Is provides solid fare for any thoughtful, concerned Christian. But the book is especially suitable for group study and discussion: what Peterson writes here will serve to stir small groups of Christians to pointed reflection and prayer-action.