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Reversed Thunder
by Eugene Peterson
Published by HarperSanFrancisco 1988




  1. Famous Last Words — A look at John, the writer of the Revelation as theologian, poet, and pastor.
  2. The Last Word on Scripture — Every line of the Revelation is mined out of rich strata of scripture laid down in the earlier ages. The scriptures are not a textbook on God; they are access to the living word of God that speaks a new world into being in us.
  3. The Last Word on Christ — Fire penetrates and transforms. Holiness gets inside us and when it gets inside us it changes us. Christ's gaze pentrates and purifies. He doesn't look at us, he looks into us. We are not a spectacle to Christ, we are invaded by him.
  4. The Last Word on the Church — The church is not what we organize but what God gives, not the people we want to be with but the people God gives us to be with — a community created by the descent of the Holy Spirit in which we submit ourselves to the Spirit's affirmation, reformation, and motivation.
  5. The Last Word on Worship — Worship is an act of attention to the living God who rules, speaks and reveals, creates and redeems, orders and blesses. Worship centers, gathers, reveals, sings, and affirms. Worship rehearses in the present the end that lies ahead.
  6. The Last Word on Evil — Christ is conqueror over all forms of evil. Yet the forms under which the Christ conquers are those of humility, love, and sacrifice. He does not conquer evil with evil.
  7. The Last Word on Prayer — Prayer reenters history with incalculable effects, immense force, reversed thunder. Prayer is access to an environment in which God is the pivotal center of action. Important things are being done while we wait.
  8. The Last Word on Witness — Biblical faith insists that God speaks and that we must listen and answer. "Witness" is a personal report on the conversation. Witnesses first become what they then say. If witness is to be anything more than gossip about God, it must be the word internalized.
  9. The Last Word on Politics — People love to hear that God is powerful and that he rules; they are not as enthusiastic when they discover the means by which he exercises his ruling power. We overestimate the politics of Rome and underestimate the politics of grace.
  10. The Last Word on Judgment — Worship provides the context for the paradoxical simultaneities of believing in justice while experiencing injustice. The greatest evil the people of faith face from outside is the obstruction of worship. The greatest evil that they face from inside is the subversion of worship. Judgment is enacted in order to set people free to worship.
  11. The Last Word on Salvation — Salvation is the intimacies and festivities of marriage; salvation is aggressive battle and the defeat of evil. Salvation is neither of these things by itself. It is the two energies, the embrace of love and the assault on evil, in polar tension, each defined by the other, each feeding into the other. Salvation is not simply something that God does: it is something that God is doing, and not only for us but with us, enlisting us in the saving action.
  12. The Last Word on Heaven — If we don't want God, or don't want him very near, we can hardly be expected to be very interested in heaven.
  13. The Last Words — Everything that John wrote was and is immediately relevant. It is not something that can be pushed off to some future date. The Revelation is about God. If we are not willing to relate to him now, there is nothing the future can bring that will satisfy us or protect us.