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Eugene Peterson: Practice Resurrection 9

Eugene Peterson, in his new book, Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ  explores the church in the book of Ephesians, and it’s a great week to ponder his thoughts and these questions.

Questions of the Day: Think about your local community … What do you see when you observe the Church? What do you think God sees? What do you think Christ wants us to see?
Chp 7 explores Ephesians 3:1-13, the manifold wisdom of God at work in the Church.
He tells a story of his own church back in his days in Maryland when he thought the Christians would struggle to worship and be all for neighborhood, but he found the opposite.
But shifts then to the theme of the chapter: “inscape.” The word was coined by the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, and it was framed from “landscape.” Instead of focusing on what everyone sees at the level of the empirical, the landscape, Hopkins was after the inner essence of what we see. It’s the inner character, the personality, what makes up the particular species that concerns Hopkins and Peterson when using the word “inscape.”
What’s the “inscape” of Church?


The landscape of the church can be laid on the table: creeds and buildings and choirs and conflicts and leaders and histories. But these, even if you find every one of them and put them on the table, don’t add up to the Church. And he doesn’t buy the idea of a mystical church, because the church is the reality of a local congregation.
Life created by death, attainment of glory by dishonor, blessing by curse, power by weakness… and more… “this is real church” (142). That’s its inscape.
Are we going to receive what God gives us? 
Observe, he says, the shadow work and you will see what God is doing.
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Ted M. Gossard

posted March 30, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Can’t wait to read this. Will get our copy when he comes to town over at Eerdmans April 16. Deb and I plan to be there. Never have seen him in person.
Interesting. One has to see with the eyes of the heart opened up by the Spirit, as Paul says in this very letter. But we’re looking at our very down to earth selves, and yet that is what our incarnational faith by the Spirit in Christ is all about.

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posted March 30, 2010 at 4:23 pm

I tell you what, as a youth pastor, I tend to dwell on all that is wrong with the church as a whole and with my church in particular, and many of the books that I end up reading tend to make me do so even more. What a breath of fresh air to read the words of Peterson as he talks about the Bride of Christ. May I be able to love the church and serve the church the way he has. Thanks for highlighting his book Scot.

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Jeremy Berg

posted March 30, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Peterson is a gentle prophet for the 21st century church. Oh, how we need his depth and wisdom — especially us younger, ambitious leaders who all too often focus on the landscape and overlook inscape.

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Dana Ames

posted March 30, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Humility, weakness, suffering, following Jesus into all of that, and death, as he finds those whose hearts are open and blesses and forgives and reconciles those who hate and mistreat and kill him…
Not many have ears to hear this about the church, about our call to this inscape, strengthened by the grace of the Spirit of God. Peterson is a prophet indeed.
A friend of mine wrote recently that God the Father is the source of Humility.
All of this is so contrary to our ideas about “leadership”, “changing the world for Christ”, our USAmerican can-do attitude. Not that we shouldn’t try to bring good to who/whatever we engage. But this inscape is decidedly different than what we’re used to contemplating.

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Jim Martin

posted March 30, 2010 at 9:41 pm

I was about to comment on this post when I read what Jeremy wrote #3. I totally agree and can’t say it any better.
“Peterson is a gentle prophet for the 21st century church. Oh, how we need his depth and wisdom — especially us younger, ambitious leaders who all too often focus on the landscape and overlook inscape.”
Very, very good.
I suspect that what burnout occurs among ministers is primarily due to an inordinate amount of time being focused on the landscape.

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posted March 30, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Paul’s prayer for Spiritual Vision in Ephesians 1:17-23 should be the heartbeat of every local church. I am convinced that a church that does not “see” these three urgencies (hope, wealth, power) will never live up to its true identity. And, any church that loses its Spiritual identity, will certainly lose its Spiritual activity. This is an enduring battle, true. But, then again, this is why Paul makes it a priority of intercession. May God raise up a people committed to praying for the realities of its identity in the Spirit to be demonstrated on the ground!

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posted March 30, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Thank you Scot for taking time to share Peterson’s wisdom. I have my disagreements with Peterson but why oh why do we not listen to what the Spirit is saying thru him about what it means to be the people of God?

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