2009 Christianity Today Book Award of Merit in Spirituality
Just as God used words both to create the world and to give us commandments, we too use words for many different purposes. In fact, we use the same language to talk to each other and to talk to God. Can our everyday speech, then, be just as important as the words and prayers we hear from the pulpit? Eugene Peterson unequivocally says "Yes!"
Tell It Slant explores how Jesus used language---he was earthy, not abstract; metaphorical, not dogmatic. His was not a direct language of information or instruction but an indirect, oblique language requiring a participating imagination---"slant" language. In order to witness and teach accurately in Jesus' name, then, it is important for us to use language the way he did.
Part 1 focuses on Jesus' words in everyday contexts---his teachings to the crowds, the stories he told, his conversations with his disciples. Part 2 shifts the focus to Jesus' prayers---the words he spoke to God the Father.
Peterson's Tell It Slant promises to deepen our understanding of Jesus' words, strengthen our awareness of language as a gift of God, and nurture our efforts to make all of our speech convey a blessing to others.
"Language---given to us to glorify God, to receive the revelation of God, to witness to the truth of God, to offer praise to God---is constantly at risk. Too often the living word is desiccated into propositional cadavers, then sorted into exegetical specimens in bottles of formaldehyde. We end up with godtalk. . . . My concern is that we use God's gift of language in consonance with the God who speaks. Jesus is the primary person with whom we have to do in this business. Jesus most of all. Jesus, the Word made flesh. . . . I want to nurture an awareness of the sanctity of words, the holy gift of language whether it is directed vertically or horizontally. Just as Jesus did."- from the introduction