Eugene Peterson ends this book (his title was taken from a line of Nietzsche) in an awesome way. You get done reading it, and with a deep grin you chuckle and say “HA!” Then you put it back on the shelf with fondness, making a resolution to read it yearly and reference it often in your Christian studies. Here’s the ending I’m talking about – even though I hate spoilers, this is priceless.
I sometimes amuse myself by imagining Friedrich Nietzsche, who announced the death of God and who is now long dead himself, showing up in my study as I’m writing my books. He looks over my bookshelves and sees part of a sentence he wrote as a title on one of my books. He learns that I wrote the book. He beams (although I do have trouble imagining Nietzsche beaming). How pleased he is to find that I have kept his wonderful sentence “A long obedience in the same direction” in circulation into the third Christian millennium.
Then he takes the book off the shelf and looks through it. His face furrows into an angry frown. The old atheist was convinced that Christians, by promoting the weak and ineffectual Jesus to keep the weakest, spiritually diseased, morally unfit and inferior parts of the population alive and reproducing, were a malign influence on civilization and would be the ruin of us all. He thought he’d delivered a death blow, and now he finds us still at it.
I love imagining him standing there angry and appalled, beard smoking, astonished that these weak, inadequate, ineffectual and unfit Christians are alive still, and still reproducing.
By itself, that’s an outstanding ending; but if you take it in after reading the whole book, it is a serious faith-strengthening statement. If you haven’t read this book, make it the one you enjoy this Spring!