18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2008
Any book by a Christian author that contains the following paragraph must be taken with the utmost seriousness;
"Our faith, all faith, everyone's faith, needs testing. And we cannot be trusted to test ourselves. We are too full of self-interest and self-deceit. We are too devious in devising ways of cooking the books to document the evidence that serves our illusions. When we look at the track record of priests and temples, pastors and churches, missionaries and missions, it is obvious that religion in all its forms, including most emphatically Christianity, is a perpetual breeding ground for violence, abuse, superstition, war, discrimination, tyranny, and pride. Religion and spirituality is a bottomless pit breeding illusion, deceit and oppression..."
Not surprisingly, this is a thought provoking book, well written and challenging on every turn of the page. It is essentially about what Jesus meant when he told us that he is "The Way" and that we should follow him.
The book opens by asking us to consider the modern "ways and means" by which we usually get things done. How we often embrace, even in our spiritual journey, the political, business and social practices that Jesus consistently rejected. For Jesus, the means of getting things done was through the messy business of engaging on a personal level with everyone he encountered.
Peterson then takes us through several Old Testament characters (Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah and Isaiah) and demonstrates how they were each diligently laying the foundations of The Way which eventually would be personified in Jesus. We examine episodes from these great lives and learn how they managed to discern the manner in which God sought to engage with his people. The lessons are fresh and full of significance for our own lives. The dangers of making God in the image of man by seeking a "worship experience" that simply serves our own desires for self-expression. Or, the pitfall of thinking that we can attain perfection simply by redoubling our efforts to be good, quite apart from what Jesus achieved for us on the cross. We understand that there are many appealing short-cuts that look attractive as we travel along The Way.
Attention is then turned to some New Testament characters (Herod, Caiaphas and the Jewish Historian Josephus) who demonstrate alternatives to Jesus. Their methods are successful on the world's terms. People become things to be manipulated in the name of the ultimate goal.
If you want a book to help you think about how to live with integrity then this if probably for you. It makes for an exhilarating read where the brute force of the challenge quickly makes way for a deep yearning to get back on The Way.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2009
An excellent book again from the pen of Eugene Peterson. He is masterful in seeing the bigger picture of Scriptures. It was a reminder too that God's men (and women) are only flesh and blood but with all the potential of walking through this world as His chosen. One little criticism! There was no mention of Daniel in the author's decription of the period of Israel's exile in Babylon and I'm not convinced of the 2 or 3 Isaiah theory. However this book is worth reading and re-reading.