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The End of Death-as-the-End for Eugene Peterson (1932–2018)

We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word.

—Romans 6:6-11, The Message

“I’ve always liked Billy Sunday’s formula for the ideal Christian life,” Eugene Peterson wrote in the opening lines of his book Living the Resurrection.

“Hit the sawdust trail, fall on your knees, and receive Christ as your Savior. Then walk out of this tent into the street, get hit by a Mack truck, and go straight to heaven.” You must admit, I think, that it’s a wonderful formula for getting to heaven the quickest and easiest way.

Of course, he was being ironic. “Quick and easy” has never defined Eugene Peterson. He is better known and greatly loved for the way of “a long obedience in the same direction,” a deliberate and gracious way of living that is shaped and strengthened by the reality of the Incarnation—life in a universe crafted by a God who “became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, The Message)—and a vision of the Resurrection: the defeat of death by the God of eternity.

On October 22, 2018, at the age of 85, Eugene has completed his journey along the sawdust trail and has entered the life to come in “the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!” (Romans 6:1-3, The Message). He is survived by his wife, Jan, his three children, and many grandchildren….

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