Friday, December 5, 2014

Peterson, 1987. Chapter 9, “Practicing Spiritual Direction”

Chapter 9, “Practicing Spiritual Direction” (Loc. 1697-1910)

It is easy for a pastor to do a poor job of spiritual direction. Peterson illustrates this by looking at five pastors who attempted to help George Fox, as recorded in his journals. The first made Fox’s concerns a subject for theological debate rather than an opportunity for care and help. Though the theology can be interesting a person is not a case study. The second pastor gave some folk wisdom but failed to reach to the root issues. Fox was a consumer of his remedies. Because they didn’t work for him the pastor rejected Fox. The third pastor had a good reputation but could not hold up to the inquiry Fox had. He proved empty and unable to help in the times of deep trouble. The fourth pastor was concerned that Fox should be theologically orthodox. If his theology were right he would be entirely fine. Yet he could not deal with divergence between doctrine and behavior. The fifth pastor was an activist - medicine as actions, seeking cure by being busy. Yet spiritual health is not in doing but in being.

What are Peterson’s positive reactions? Practicing wonder in God’s world (Loc. 1786) is a start. The pastor should also realize his own ignorance (Loc. 1803). Then it is possible to help others in their walk, knowing that we seek God together.

Final Observations:

In this book Peterson calls pastors to focus on the main point of their work - being used by God in Scripture and prayer to change lives. His analysis is solid. The ideas presented could use more fleshing out, but he presents many interesting ideas which can be built upon.

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