Eat This Book

Peterson has some thought-provoking ideas in this book. I particularly appreciate his insights on Western individualism and professionalism. Peterson quotes G.K. Chesterton who satirizes the situation in his book, Heretics, saying,

Once men sang together round a table in chorus; now one man sings alone, for the absurd reason that he can sing better. If scientific civilization goes on (which is most improbable) only one man will laugh, because he can laugh better than the rest.

We do this with our spiritual lives sometimes, don’t we? The youth pastor is responsible for my kids’ spiritual growth… the leader of my Bible study is the one on whom I rely to do all the Bible study and then pass it on to me… the head pastor is the expert I trust to tell me what to think…

You may not go quite that far, but you probably know people who do. And it’s something prevalent enough to warrant addressing it — Since this is a pervasive way of thinking in my culture, has it crept into the way I think? Is professionalism allbad? How do we resist the ways it is unhealthy?I think Peterson swings a bit too far on the pendulum in reaction against the ideology of professionalism, particularly as he suggests everyone can be an exegete, which to some degree may be true. But there are trained, or professional, exegetes upon whom we should rely for help in our Bible study efforts. However, Peterson is right. If we think, ‘I have a job and a family and don’t have time to study the Scriptures, but studying the Scriptures is the job of the pastor…’ That’s not a good place for us to be. Peterson also encourages us to develop a “hermeneutic of adoration” and draws our attention to Paul Ricoeur:

Paul Ricoeur has wonderful counsel for people like us. Go ahead, he says, maintain and practice your hermeneutics of suspicion. It is important to do this. Not only important, it is necessary… But then reenter the book, the world, with what he calls ‘a second naivete.’ Look at the world with childlike wonder, ready to be startled into surprised delight by the profuse abundance of truth and beauty and goodness that is spilling out of the skies at every moment. Cultivate a hermeneutics of adoration — see how large, how splendid, how magnificent life is.

Overall, I appreciate this book and hope it provides encouragement and inspiration for those wondering if personal Bible study, specifically exegesis, is possible and how to begin.

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