Monday was my birthday. It was also the day Eugene Peterson died. He was two years younger than I am. I am grateful for his life. I am thankful that he influenced my life, especially his A Long Obedience in the Same Direction which I read many years ago. And of course The Message, which put God’s everlasting and holy words into such accessible style, with true respect.
The Rev. Eugene Peterson in an undated photo. A beloved pastor, he was also a prodigious writer of religious-themed books, most notably “The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language.”via Baptist News Global
The Rev. Eugene H. Peterson, a Presbyterian minister who challenged the mass marketing of Christian evangelism and wrote a shelf of books on religion — notably “The Message,” a series that recast the Bible into everyday English — died on Monday at his home in Lakeside, Mont. He was 85.
Amy Peterson, his daughter-in-law, said the cause was congestive heart failure. Mr. Peterson, who had dementia, had been in hospice care.
For most of his life Mr. Peterson was a small-town pastor and college professor who spread the Gospel with paperback books and with his sermons and ministrations to a few hundred parishioners. But he became an influential voice of American evangelism in his 70s, after the publication in 2002 of his full translation of the Bible, which sold 15 million copies worldwide and lifted him out of anonymity.
While televangelists like Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, Bob Jones Sr. and Joel Osteen reached millions with more impersonal and lucrative mass-media techniques, Mr. Peterson deplored modern megachurches, virtual religions online, televised preaching and what is known as the gospel of prosperity, which propounds the popular notion that God rewards the faithful in material ways.
“A pastor in personal relationships is not just trying to find ways to make people feel good, loved, whatever,” Mr. Peterson told the PBS program “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly” in 2011. “This is a kingdom of life we are living. It has to do with salvation. It has to do with justice. It has to do with compassion, and you can’t do that wholesale. You just can’t.”
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13):
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best — as above, so below.
Eugene Hoiland Peterson was born in East Stanwood, Wash., on Nov. 6, 1932, to Robert and Evelyn (Hoiland) Peterson. Eugene and his siblings, Karen and Kenneth, were raised as Pentecostal Christians in Kalispell, Mont. Their father was a butcher, their mother an ordained Assemblies of God minister.
“Many of the difficulties in prayer come from too much attention to ourselves –
our moods, our feelings, our fitness to pray. But prayer is paying attention to God.
We Christians need theologians far more than we need psychologists. Keep a
therapist/counselor in the wings for those times when you need help untangling
your self from yourself, but make sure you get a theologian to walk by your side.”
Excerpt from Eugene Peterson, “Are You Ready for a Real Theologian” –