Reviewed by Jeff Scoggins, pastor, Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.


In his introduction to Practice Resurrection, Eugene Peterson is scathing—refreshingly so. The essence of his premise upon which the entire book is founded includes the idea that Christians have taken the biblical metaphor of spiritual birth to ridiculous lengths while effectively ignoring the metaphor of spiritual growth. In his words, it is “an outrageous perversion of the metaphor and responsible for an enormous distortion in the Christian imagination of what is involved in living in the kingdom of God” (3).

From this platform Peterson leaps into the book of Ephesians where he both systematically and poetically moves deeply into the apostle’s intent for the book: Christian growth and maturity; and intentional, ongoing spiritual formation into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

Peterson asserts that the word worthy is the huge word of Ephesians, and that to be worthy means to walk in response to the call. “Implicit in each gift,” Peterson says, “is an assignment” (47). There is no getting away from it: if you are resurrected into new life in Christ you must do something with that gift. Moral behavior, while not the way to salvation, is the way of “giving expression to resurrection” (194).

In the course of his exposition on the book of Ephesians, Peterson tackles a wide range of subjects concerning the practice of resurrection: the way we worship, the function of good works, the way materialism has made us into “hybrid Christians,” even our preoccupation with serving God instead of growing in a relationship with Him.

Peterson’s is one voice among a growing choir of Christians who are calling Christians back from lukewarmness into fervent relationship. “Life in the church is dangerous,” he writes. “[We have become] so diligent in learning about and working for Jesus that our relationship with Jesus erodes…. We take on a role, a religious role, that gradually obliterates the life of the soul” (190).

Throughout the book of Ephesians, Peterson extracts and delivers afresh God’s plea to us for undivided relationship with Him—not a relationship of forms and rituals but a relationship as real as marriage— both the pleasant and the rocky sides of it.

Eugene Peterson is a poet, a master of words, and speaks in constant metaphor. I admit that I have difficulty getting through his books in their entirety. I must read with an intention of engaged study rather than relaxing review. I have found, however, that when I take Peterson’s work in bite-sized pieces, a rich reward results every time.

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus
Reviewed by Jeff Scoggins, pastor, Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

April 2011

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

From workday to rest day: One pastor’s journey to Sabbath renewal

How do Adventist pastors practice and experience the Sabbath?

The Sabbath: A time for exhaustion?

No time clock can measure what ministers invest throughout their lives.

Proclaiming the gospel and changing society

What two unsung pioneers of African American Adventism can teach us about changing the church and reaching the world.

Beyond abstinence: Presenting God’s ideal for sexual intimacy

The author offers suggestions on teaching youth and young adults a positive theology of sex.

Missional church: What it can do for church growth

Deep roots in Jesus will bring a greater impact for church growth.

The nominating committee: Streamlining the process

If tuned to maximize its pluses and reduce its minuses, the nominating committee can be satisfying—even fun.

Graceful retirement

What could “graceful retirement” look like?

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - RevivalandReformation 300x250

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - SermonView - WideSkyscraper (160x600)