Birth and Growth—Misunderstood?

Eugene Peterson authored the book, Practice Resurrection, Eerdmans, 2010, in which he looks at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. He provides a refreshing look at this letter and at contemporary Christianity in the United States. I will be including some quotes in coming weeks.

Cover of "Practice Resurrection: A Conver...

First birth and then growth. Neither metaphor stands alone. Birth presupposes growth, but growth proceeds from birth. Is it an exaggeration to say that birth has received far more attention in the American church than growth? I don’t think so. It is true that the metaphor of growth is used frequently, as in “church growth” and “growing churches.” But it is also obvious that the metaphor has been torn out of its origin in biology and emasculated into an abstract and soulless item of arithmetic, a usage as remote from the biblical soil as is imaginable—an outrageous perversion of the metaphor and responsible for an enormous distortion in the Christian imagination of what is involved in living in the kingdom of God. (p.3)

What are your thoughts about this quote? What stands out for you? Have we lost the understanding of what “growth” means for the individual Christian and the Church? Are Christians pretending to grow without being fed? What are the implications of that situation?


(Just a note: I do not endorse everything that Peterson writes in this book. But he offers a penetrating look at the Church through the lens of Ephesians. And that is critically helpful for all of us.)


About exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian
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3 Responses to Birth and Growth—Misunderstood?

  1. Very interesting quote.It sounds like he’s going to approach this topic in an organic way… I am curious and intrigued!

    • exegete77 says:

      Yes, and he also shows that much of what passes for growth is busyness. And programitis can stagnate a church faster than anything.

  2. Pr. David Johnson says:

    All true growth happens as we sit at Jesus’ feet like Mary. “Mary has chosen the good the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Lk.10:42) If our programs do not direct people into God’s Word, we are leaving them spiritually famished, weak and prey to the enemy of our souls (the devil) who majors on deception and lies; anything to keep us away from discovering the power and blessing of God’s Word that brings true growth.

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