Category Archives: Tributes

Eugene Peterson – a tribute

Don Whebell

Eugene Peterson wrote over 30 books. My library includes Peterson’s Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and The Praying Imaginationa Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society The Message Bible: The Bible in Contemporary Language, and The Daily Message.

Books especially for Ministers:  Working the Angles, Five Smooth Stones, Under the Unpredictable Plant, The Unnecessary Pastor, Run with The Horses. 

I often turn to these books for timely inspiration. Peterson’s lectures and courses are still available for download from Regent College Book Store.

Eugene Peterson’s most remembered Christian contribution will be The Message Bible. The Message Bible is not a direct translation or paraphrase, it was written in the words of Peterson: “for two different types of people: those who hadn’t read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become ‘old hat.’”

For me, Eugene Peterson’s contribution to Christianity is on par with C.S. Lewis and JB Phillips’ paraphrase of the Bible. Peterson’s interpretation of Galatians 3:1-5 puts his style, legacy, and passion for Christ in clear unvarnished prose. Here it is:

“You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you?

Have you taken leave of your senses?

Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives.

His sacrifice on the Cross was certainly set before you clearly enough. Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin?

people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing?

It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?”

Eugene Peterson died on 22nd October 2018.   Among his final words were, ‘Let’s go.’ And his joy: my, oh my; the man remained joyful right up to his blessed end, smiling frequently. In such moments it’s best for all mortal flesh to keep silence. But if you have to say something say this: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy.’

Rev Don Whebell is a former Moderator, Queensland Synod, UCA.

oOo