Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places; A Conversation In Spiritual Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 368pp.
Pastor and professor Eugene Peterson combines head and heart, theology and everyday spirituality, in this the first volume of his projected five-volume series on what he calls "spiritual theology" — lived theology or theology lived. On the one hand, much theology is little more than arid rationalizations and "depersonalized information about God." On the other hand, much so-called Christian spirituality is "impersonally functional," served up with cliches, slogans, and programs. Peterson protests against both. As he defines it, spiritual theology "represents the attention that the church community gives to keeping what we think about God (theology) in organic connection with the way we live with God (spirituality)." He organizes his thinking along Trinitarian lines. Between an introductory chapter and a concluding epilogue, he has just three long chapters in which he explores the role of Christ in creation, history, and community.
Peterson hews to the Biblical narrative, with extended exegetical treatments of major passages that guide each of his three themes. For Christ in creation, for example, he unpacks Genesis 1–2 and John 1, for Christ in history Exodus and Mark, and for Christ in community Deuteronomy and Luke-Acts. Further, I appreciated his efforts to purge theology and spirituality of pious cliches that expunge rather than savor the mystery and joy of following Jesus. I had hoped for more story-telling. For example, when he writes of sabbath-keeping with wonderful critiques of culture and insights from the Biblical narrative, what stories from his rich pastoral experiences might he have shared, successes and failures? How did he and his church community "do" the theology of sabbath-keeping?
Now retired from a professorship at Regent College in Vancouver, and a distinguished tenure as founding pastor of Christ our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland (he served there for 29 years), Peterson currently lives in Montana. He is in a unique position to bring his rich life experiences, his broad reading and reflections, and his passion for Christian formation, all to the service of ordinary believers whom he clearly loves. For a short interview with Peterson about what he hopes to accomplish in this book, see the interview from Christianity Today (March 2005) at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/003/26.42.html.