I have to admit that reviewing a book by Eugene Peterson is not easy for me. Since Peterson has authored The Message, endorsed Richard Foster’s mysticism, and participated in the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible, it is difficult to be objective about other books he authors, but with this caveat I will do my best.
Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places is a big book, at least 170,000 words I figure. It is not a quick read, as Peterson prefers a contemplative style. To get the most out of this volume one needs to take his time and to do so is to be often rewarded. Peterson says a lot of things worthy of meditation. He is knowledgeable, well read and not given to fluff. Peterson also does an excellent job on several occasions of tracing biblical storyline through sections of Scripture. These insights are helpful. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to believe the same man who mutilated Scripture in The Message wrote this work as well.
At the same time Peterson is often frustrating. He makes sweeping generalities that are hard to assess. He draws numerous unwarranted conclusions which amount to his own opinion, not Scripture’s. He often uses passages out of context and frequently quotes people of whom few have heard. He has some strange views on communion and baptism (e.g. pp. 206-212) and, quite frankly, it often is difficult to know what he is really saying. I believe Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places would have twice the value at half the size.
For the somewhat limited reward I am not sure how many will want to wade through this much material, which makes it the perfect candidate for Christianity Today’s book of the year award. Personally, I recommend you pass on this one.