One of Platteville’s more prolific authors has written two new books, in part because he couldn’t find books on the subjects about which he wrote.
Rev. Jeff Pedersen, pastor of Lutheran Church of Peace, is the author of A Basic Christian Theology and God Is Spirit.
“As the pastor of the church, I want to give instruction to our members, helping as far as discipling and what it means to be a Christian and what does it meant to be a member of the Christian church,” said Pedersen. The theology book he wanted to use with a small-group study was out of print, so, he said, “I finally decided to write my own.”
A Basic Christian Theology begins with a verse from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians — “we preach Christ crucified” — and goes through such areas as the Trinity, sin, the Bible, sacraments, worship and stewardship. It includes Augustine’s The City of God, Martin Luther’s The Book of Concord, and John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. Each chapter ends with review questions for study groups or individual readers.
“It’s written in a way that it’s readable,” he said. “There’s some great theologians that have written classics, but they’re hard to read.”
What Christians believe dates back to the days when the Roman Empire became officially Christian and the question “Who was Jesus?” was considered. The answers came from the council of Nicea, spelled out in 325 with the Nicene Creed, similar to the Apostles Creed.
“The basis of all Christian teaching has its origin in the Bible,” said Pedersen.
The final chapter of the book, “God’s Promises,” includes the Gospel stories of Lazarus and Thomas’ disbelieving Jesus Christ’s having risen from the dead, along with Pedersen’s experiences at the Holy Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem and taking a youth group from Wisconsin to Colorado.
Pedersen’s most recent book focuses on “the whole question of who is God; how do we experience God? Is God just a theological concept? Is God some kind of image humans have made?”
The book specifically focuses on the most difficult of the members of the Trinity for many Christians to understand, the Holy Spirit.
“God can be for a lot of people created in their own image — some kind of image we’ve created from our own minds over time,” said Pedersen. “God is real, God is living, we can experience God, we can come to know God.”
The inspiration for God Is Spirit was church member Ralph Bjork, a UW–Platteville professor described by Pedersen as “a man of very deep faith.” Before he died in 2013, Bjork wrote two books, Creation, tying God and science together, and God’s Name Is Jesus, which was issued in four editions.
“I always wondered if he was still living and healthy if he wouldn’t have written another book on the Holy Spirit,” said Pedersen. “That’s the reason I thought I might finish the trilogy, so to speak.”
Both books are published by WestBow Press, a subsidiary of Zondervan.
Pedersen is the author of six other books, including The Tie That Binds: Building a Strong Marriage, three Christian books based on recreational activities, and A Solvang Christmas Tale, inspired by his days as a youth pastor in California. He wrote a four-part confirmation series because he couldn’t find what he wanted to use for a confirmation class.
“As a Christian pastor I just have a desire to show the Gospel of Jesus Christ in whatever means possible,” he said. “Writing has become another vehicle.”
With eight books written, Pedersen has defined his writing process. He often writes between 10 p.m. and midnight.
“When the inspiration flows is when you’ve got to write,” he said. “To me the biggest thing is the ability to go through and clean it up. Sometimes it’s best to let it rest.”
Pedersen edited God Is Spirit on a train to see his daughter.
The books are available at his church and through Amazon.com. They’re also sold at Lutheran church synod gatherings. They are not often found at bookstores only because “there are getting to be fewer and fewer bookstores,” he said.
Pedersen also hosts “To Know Christ” on KFXB-TV (channel 40) in Dubuque. “To Know Christ” is also available on the YouTube KFXBTV channel and on Lutheran Church of Peace’s website.