Eugene Peterson

Eugene
Peterson
1932

American Pastor, Scholar, Author, and Poet, Gold Medallion Book Award Winner

Author Quotes

One threat to our security comes from our feelings of depression and doubt.

That's why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they're blue in the face and not get it.

The work of liberation must therefore be accompanied by instruction in the use of liberty as children of God. Those who parade the rhetoric of liberation but scorn the wisdom of service do not lead people into the glorious liberty of the children of God but into a cramped and covetous squalor.

We must extend the boundaries of our lives beyond the dates enclosed by our birth and death and acquire an understanding of God’s way as something larger and more complete than the anecdotes in our private diaries. Otherwise, we will always be “mistaking a sore throat for a descent into hell.”

You can see now from my comments that my gut feeling is that the most mature and reliable Christian guidance and understanding comes out of the most immediate and local of settings. The ordinary way. We have to break this cultural habit of sending out for an expert every time we feel we need some assistance. Wisdom is not a matter of expertise.

Instead of asking, “Why does this happen Why do I feel left in the lurch” we can ask “How does it happen that there are people who sing with such confidence, ‘God’s strong name is our help’”

Our days are busy with little leisure for frills. We have work to do, interests to pursue, books to read, letters to write, the telephone to answer, errands to run, children to raise, investments to tend to, the lawn to mow, food to prepare and serve, the garbage to take out. We don’t need God’s help or counsel in doing any of these things. God is necessary for the big things, most obviously creation and salvation. But for the rest we can, for the most part, take care of ourselves. That usually adds up to a workable life, at least when accompanied by a decent job and a good digestion. But—it is not the practice of resurrection; it is not growing up in Christ, it is not living in the company of the Trinity.

The Bible is not a script for a funeral service, but it is the record of God always bringing life where we expected to find death. Everywhere it is the story of resurrection.

Theology is about God, and God is Spirit … we have accumulated a lot of experience in the Christian community of persons treating theology as a subject in which God is studied in the ways we are taught to study in our schools—acquiring information that we can use, or satisfying our curiosity, or obtaining qualifications for a job or profession. There are, in fact, a lot of people within and outside formal religious settings who talk and write a lot about spirituality, things of the spirit or the soul or higher things, but are not interested in God. There is a wonderful line in T. H. White’s novel of King Arthur (The Once and Future King), in which Guinevere in her old age becomes the abbess of a convent: ‘she was a wonderful theologian but she wasn’t interested in God.’ It happens.

We survive in the way of faith not because we have extraordinary stamina but because God sticks with us.

You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true.

All the water in the oceans cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside. Nor can all the trouble in the world harm us unless it gets within us.

Help comes from the Creator, not from the creation.

Ambition seeks to make something cheap and tawdry, sweatily knocking together a Babel when we could be vacationing in Eden.

Hoping does not mean doing nothing. It is not fatalistic resignation. It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions. It is not compelled to work away at keeping up appearances with a bogus spirituality. It is the opposite of desperate and panicky manipulations, of scurrying and worrying. And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion or fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident, alert expectation that God will do what he said he would do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith.

Another common way to avoid community is to turn the church into an institution. In the process, the church becomes less and less a community, that is, people who pay attention to each other, “brothers and sisters,” and more and more a collectivism of “contributing units.”

I have my doubts (that the schools will open on time). We have a law case out of Sojourner-Douglass, and at Chesapeake we have all kinds of issues.

But then it begins to develop a culture and language and hierarchy all its own. It becomes first a special interest, and then a specialization. That is what seems to be happening in the circles you are frequenting. I seriously doubt that it is a healthy (holy) line to be pursuing.

I haven't made that decision. But I would certainly welcome the superintendent of schools, instead of pointing the finger at everybody and everything, taking some accountability of what is happening on his watch.

By setting the anguish out into the open and voicing it as a prayer, the psalm gives dignity to our suffering. It does not look on suffering as something slightly embarrassing that must be hushed up and locked in a closet (where it finally becomes a skeleton) because this sort of thing shouldnÂ’t happen to a real person of faith. And it doesnÂ’t treat it as a puzzle that must be explained, and therefore turn it over to theologians or philosophers to work out an answer. Suffering is set squarely, openly, passionately before God. It is acknowledged and expressed. It is described and lived.

I think generally we're heading in the right direction, but we still don't have enough seats for all these kids.

Classically, there are three ways in which humans try to find transcendence--religious meaning--apart from God as revealed through the cross of Jesus: through the ecstasy of alcohol and drugs, through the ecstasy of recreational sex, through the ecstasy of crowds. Church leaders frequently warn against the drugs and the sex, but at least, in America, almost never against the crowds.

I was astonished to learn in one of these best-selling books (on church life) that the size of my church parking lot had far more to do with how things fared in my congregation than my choice of texts in preaching. I was being lied to and I knew it.

Devotions are the discipline of being quiet and listening for what we donÂ’t hear in the streets, in the media, in the workplace.

I will not try to run my own life or the lives of others; that is God's business.

Author Picture
First Name
Eugene
Last Name
Peterson
Birth Date
1932
Bio

American Pastor, Scholar, Author, and Poet, Gold Medallion Book Award Winner