Saturday, February 07, 2009

Eugene Peterson Is a Subversive

Eugene Peterson, the kind-bearded translator of the Bible into The Message, is a subversive. (Like Jesus was.) One has to watch out, or his thoughts will get into you, planted like seeds, one day to emerge out of your heart making you think - where did that come from?

I read a lot of books at one time. I like to go slowly through them, absorbing them, slow-cooking the ideas. One of the books I'm slow-cooking now is Peterson's The Jesus Way. Here's one of his radical ideas ("radical," from Latin radix, meaning "root," from which we derive "radish"; a "radical" gets at the root of things).

"Unfortunately, the more popular American church strategies in respect to congregation are not friendly to the local and the personal. The American way with its penchant for catchy slogans and stirring visions denigrates the local, and its programmatic ways of dealing with people erode the personal, replacing intimacies with functions. The North American church at present is conspicuous for replacing the Jesus way with the American way. For Christians who are serious about following Jesus by understanding and pursuing the ways that Jesus is the Way, this deconstruction of the Christian congregation is particularly distressing and a looming distraction from the way of Jesus." (5)

Yes, and of course. Read those words slowly. Observe American "Christianity," not to brutalize it, but to gain wisdom as how to get those Christians delivered. Alongside this read the original Jesus texts - M, M, L, & J. Note the cognitive dissonance. Choose the real Jesus over the American Jesus. Give thanks for the real thing; pray for the Babylonian Captivity of the American Church.