015 The Man with the Message: The Eugene Peterson Interview

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Eugene Peterson has spent five decades providing spiritual guidance to a worldwide audience through his 30-plus books. He’s best known for his paraphrase of the Bible called The Message, which today is read by over 10 million people. When told that Bono was quoting The Message at U2 concerts Peterson replied, ‘Who’s Bono?’ Hip he isn’t, but that could well be why Eugene Peterson has had such an impact on so many.

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In the Interview

Question: Which Eugene Peterson book has most influenced your life? Tell me now

This interview will forever have a special place in my heart as Eugene (along with Australian cricket great Steve Waugh) was the feature guest on the very first Open House show in April 2006. My only regret is that I didn’t let the interview run longer. In it Eugene and I explore:

  • How Eugene wrote The Message and what he puts its success down to
  • How growing up in his father’s butcher shop influenced his spirituality
  • His personal spiritual practices (and why he’s reluctant to share them)
  • The one spiritual discipline that’s most impacted his life with God
  • The problem with modern spirituality
  • and… whether he now knows who Bono is!


‘My mother was a great storyteller and her love for words, stories, language was in my genes from her. The relational care of people, making sure they were getting what they needed, came from my father’ Tweet this

‘I started praying the Psalms when I was about thirteen or fourteen and have done it ever since. It’s been the basic text for my life of prayer’ Tweet this

‘I feel like [my morning devotional time] is the stretching and callisthenics you do before you run a race. Then you’re into the world, and that’s when the praying starts—grappling with life in Jesus’ name’ Tweet this

‘Watch what God is doing for a while, just for one day. He is watching what you are doing for six days—it’s pretty generous of him. So just watch what he is doing’ Tweet this

‘We have been so taken by the secularised world, the celebrity world, the world of addictions, of stimulus, of adrenalin—we have brought into that whole thing’ Tweet this

‘I can’t believe that everybody has a television set in their home. Why do they do that? Who wants all that poison coming into your house?’ Tweet this

‘There is nothing new in the newspaper. Every day there are murders, rapes or drug deals; there is almost never anything new. But when I open my Bible, you know, I’m surprised every day’ Tweet this

Please Share


  • July 24, 2013

    I’m loving Peterson’s book The Jesus Way at the moment, filled with gems like this: ‘Real life, the real world, is a vast theatre of salvation, directed by our wise and totally involved God’.

  • July 25, 2013
    Kez Etherington

    The Message has been such a great ministty tool & made it accessible for all to read in modern English ! Love it !

    • July 25, 2013

      There are some beautiful words in The Message, like this paraphrase of John 1:

      The Word became flesh and blood,
      and moved into the neighborhood.
      We saw the glory with our own eyes,
      the one-of-a-kind glory,
      like Father, like Son,
      Generous inside and out,
      true from start to finish.


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