The God of the Garden: Thoughts on Creation, Culture, and the Kingdom by Andrew Peterson. B&H Books. 209 pages. 2021
In this wonderfully written, and vulnerable book, Andrew Peterson takes us on journeys – from Illinois to Florida to England to Scandinavia to Nashville to the Abbey of Gethsemani to the Holy Land in Israel. He writes about his depression and being mad at God, his love of footpaths in England and his not so much love for American subdivisions. Along the way he writes about trees – two maples, the Thinking Tree, the Big Oak, an olive tree, and others – and books that are important to him – Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry and The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
Each chapter begins with a quote from William Wordsworth’s poem “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”. Some of Peterson’s song lyrics and drawings are sprinkled throughout the book, which was written at his home in Nashville called The Warren, in the Chapter House.
The book addresses going back home, suffering and healing, the beauty of a garden and trees, and the emptiness of subdivisions. He writes that few things are more wonderful to him than a graceful integration of nature and culture, which is essentially what a garden is. He tells us that if we integrated the loveliness of creation with the flourishing of human culture, we would be that much closer to a vision of the New Creation. His hope is to see the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, even in the way we plan our streets and footpaths and communities.
Like his 2019 book Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making, this was a wonderful book that I didn’t want to put down and looked forward to getting back to.
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BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ Providence by John Piper
I’M CURRENTLY READING….
- Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold. My wife Tammy recently published a book about HOW to study the Bible. The book is available on Amazon in both a Kindle and paperback edition. She writes “Maybe you’ve read the Bible but want to dig deeper and know God and know yourself better. Throughout the book I use the analogy of making a quilt to show how the Bible is telling one big story about what God is doing in the world through Christ. Quilting takes much patience and precision, just like studying the Bible, but the end result is well worth it.”
- 20 Quotes from Jackie Hill Perry on Holiness. Matt Smethurst shares these quotes from Jackie Hill Perry’s new book Holier Than Thou: How God’s Holiness Helps Us Trust Him.
- The Gospel Coalition 2021 Book Awards. I always enjoy reading end of the year “Best Books” lists. Here’s the first I’ve seen, from the Gospel Coalition.
- Devotionals I Recommend for a New Year. Tim Challies offers this helpful list of books he recommends for your devotional reading in 2022.
BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?
Providence by John Piper
The providence of God is his purposeful sovereignty by which he will be completely successful in the achievement of his ultimate goal for the universe. God’s providence carries his plans into action, guides all things toward his ultimate goal, and leads to the final consummation.
John Piper draws on a lifetime of theological reflection, biblical study, and practical ministry to lead readers on a stunning tour of the sightings of God’s providence—from Genesis to Revelation—to discover the all-encompassing reality of God’s purposeful sovereignty over all of creation and all of history.
Exploring the goal, nature, and extent of God’s purposes for the world, Piper offers an invitation to know the God who holds all things in his hands yet remains intimately involved in the lives of his people.
You can download the PDF of the book free from Desiring God.
Watch this six-minute video as John Piper talks about the book, and this interview with Dr. Joe Rigney of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
This week we look at Chapter 21: Human Kingship and the King of Kings. Here are a few takeaways from the chapter:
- God has chosen, in the way he orders the world, to enact most of his purposes not by his immediate kingly action but through human agents, in this case human kings— “the kingdom of men.”
- The reason God created human kingships was for the sake of the kingly glory of his Son.
- This was the ultimate goal of God’s providence in bringing about a “kingdom of men” and in guiding the thousand-year history of the kingship of Israel—the glorification of the reigning Lamb in the joyful praises of his people.
- Earthly kingdoms and their inhabitants are not impressive. God is impressive. And when he takes interest in these insignificant creatures, his grace, not their glory, is amazing.
- My sense is that in the twenty-first-century church, we are more likely to feel God’s mercy as a presumed right rather than a mind-blowing surprise.
- God is intent on showing these two truths: first, his plans cannot be nullified by man. And, second, no plans of man will ever be fulfilled unless they are part of God’s plan.
- Without God’s providence over wicked authorities, there would be no gospel.
- We are to pray for kings and rulers, because the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord (Prov. 21:1), and he can turn it for the advance of the gospel.