October 7, 2011

Friday Favorite: Paraclesis

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Today's Friday Favorite is a long quote from Eugene Peterson, who does an incredible job of talking about the role of spiritual direction and the language of spiritual direction in the Church. I'm working toward committing this to memory.

… Paraclesis is language used with men and women who already have received the word of preached salvation and have been instructed in the teaching of the law, but who are in need of comfort or encouragement or discernment in the muddled details of dailiness. This is a way of language commonly identified in the church’s life as “cure of souls” and “spiritual direction.”

And this is the style of language that is absolutely required in the church in the process of becoming mature, of growing up in Christ. All three ways of language—kerygmatic, didactic, and paracletic—work together in this, but the one most often slighted, at least in the American church with its fondness for the indicative (telling it like it is) and imperative (ordering people to do something about it) is the paracletic. This is the kind of language that pays attention to the way the preceding languages of preaching and teaching enter into the personal particulars of each person while in the company of brothers and sisters, strangers and neighbors. Individuality is given dignity, but always in the context of congregation. Listening, which requires silence, is a substantial element in the language of paraclesis.

Paracletic language is the language of the Holy Spirit, a language of relationship and intimacy, a way of speaking and listening that gets the words of Jesus inside us so that they become us. It is not new information. It is not explanation. It is God’s word on our side, within us, working out the details in the circumstances of our lives.

Practice Resurrection by Eugene Peterson, p. 171-176


  1. Laurie Wade
    October 7, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    I am enjoying reading your blogs on spiritual direction. I really liked this quote.