We have been concerned about The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson for quite some time now.
And even as we post this, we ask that you pray for discernment as you read what we share – and the articles we will refer you to. God’s Spirit is the one who gives us discernment (2 Corinthians 3:5)
It appears Peterson tried to get the Bible to fit into our culture and adapted to the way we speak now. However, it’s clear that our culture has taken a dumbing down of many things, including God’s Word. People would rather be fed sugar on a spoon via easy-to-read devotionals and paraphrases than to dig into the meat and bones of solid Scripture. It is important to note that the Message Bible is not an attempt to translate exactly word for word – it is an attempt to be a “thought for thought” translation. See a definition here: Thought for Thought translation.
Sadly, the results of Peterson’s attempts were devastating. We are concerned because The Message Bible has deleted, twisted, paraphrased, and added to our precious Word of God. We will give you a couple examples.
KJV – Romans 8:35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
. . . versus . . .
The Message Bible – Romans 8:35 “Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture!”
Not only does Peterson rearrange this verse – he also adds in a promise that is not there (that sin cannot separate us from God). And the promise goes directly against the rest of Scripture. There IS one thing that can separate us from God – sin.
KJV – Isaiah 59:2 “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
Then in the Lord’s Prayer, Peterson changes the phrase of “on earth as it is in heaven” to “as above, so below”. You might be thinking that is not bad, just simply a paraphrase. But the phrase “as above, so below” is an occultic New Age phrase that “is believed to hold the key to all mysteries. All systems of magic are claimed to function by this formula.” (source – 2012)
Warren Smith (ex-New Age, now Christian) said this regarding that phrase, “That’s the key to all magic and all mysteries in the occult. We knew that saying from the New Age. It means that God is in everyone and everything, which is the foundational lie of the New Age movement and the new spirituality and the new world religion. . . ” (source – 2017)
We urge you to read those two links on why this phrase should not be found anywhere near Scripture . . . let alone put into Jesus’ own mouth regarding the Lord’s Prayer.
New Age implications and terms are all through the Message. In the KJV, the term “Lord Jesus Christ” appears 118 times. But in the Message is does not appear at all. Instead, in many places, it uses the term “Master Jesus”. One author who goes to great depths to prove the New Age agenda of the Message said this: “The only other Bible I found “Master Jesus” in was the New Age Bible titled The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ!” (source- 2015)
Peterson also changed the word prayer in some places. “In Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:28, the Message Bible changes “pray” to “the energies of prayer.” Apparently, God no longer answers our prayers, instead, the prayer itself, generates “the energy.” The Bible definition of prayer means “to ask.” (Matthew 21:22)” (source – 2015)
Even more . . .
Romans 15:13 in the KJV says this: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
The Message Bible says this: “Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! Romans 15:13
Green hope?! What does that mean and why did Peterson put it in there? Here is an explanation:
Who is the “God of green hope”?
The “green hope” originated with the hellish, human sacrificing, Druids. The publication Talks on Freemasonry states, “Green was, with the Druids, a symbol of hope and the virtue of hope with a Freemason illustrates the hope of immortality.” (Kenneth Tuckwood, Talks on Freemasonry) The “green hope” mantra is a popular rallying cry in the new age Mother-Earth environmental movement. In NAM “green” signifies Oneness with the Earth, hence the title of William Anderson’s book, Green Man: The Archetype of Our Oneness with the Earth. (source – 2005)
These are only a few examples, yet it concerns us greatly! And it just barely skims the surface of issues. But we don’t currently have the time to write up a full post on why we believe it should not be used by those who love the truth, so we are going to share two articles that go quite in depth about the errors contained in The Message Bible. Again, please ask God to give you an open heart and discernment as you read this.
Article addressing doctrinal errors in The Message:
Riding a spreading tide of publicity and enthusiasm, Eugene Peterson’s The Message is sweeping into Christian bookstores, homes and churches from coast to coast. In the first four months after its mid-July lease, 100,000 copies of this “New Testament in contemporary English” were printed by NavPress. Seventy thousand books were sold. Thousands were either donated or distributed at reduced prices to youth leaders, Young Life staff, and pastors who could share Peterson’s message with their followers. Apparently, most readers were delighted. “The Message is so good it leaves me breathless,” writes popular author Madeleine L’Engle in her endorsement.
Considering this ground-swell of acceptance, we do well to ponder the question: What is Peterson’s Message?
“The Message is the boldest and most provocative rendering of the New Testament I’ve ever read,” writes Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, general director of “Back to the Bible” broadcast and former pastor of Moody Bible Church. “The Message is certainly destined to become a devotional classic – not to mention a powerful pastoral tool,” adds pastor Jack W. Hayford.
What does Eugene Peterson himself say? In his introduction to The Message, he tells us that “This version of the New Testament in a contemporary idiom keeps the language of the Message and fresh and understandable in the same language in which we do our shopping, talk with our friends, worry about world affairs, and teach our children their table manners….”
This sounds like a good idea, but what if essential Biblical concepts are not part of our everyday conversation? Should we then rewrite God’s holy Scriptures to fit today’s more shallow and worldly communications?
Remember, we are dealing with God’s holy unchangeable Word – not an ordinary book. God owns His message, we don’t. Only His own, well-guarded words can be presented as absolute truth. Yet, readers who trust NavPress and the endorsement of Christian leaders such Warren Wiersbe and J. I. Packer view this book as an authentic translation of the Bible rather than as Peterson’s personal, politically correct interpretation.
Throughout both Old and New Testaments, God forbids us to distort His Word. Additions and deletions are strictly forbidden in Scriptures like Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Galatians 1:8-9 and Revelation 22:19. Acts 17:11 exhorts us to learn from the Bereans who “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
Excellent article addressing the New Age aspect of the Message:
With today’s epidemic of Bible per-versions spreading like a runaway virus, nothing should shock us . . . but buckle up! If you have any spiritual pulse, Eugene Peterson’s The Message will shock you. The Message promotes the mystical New Age message with a boldness never seen in a mainstream Bible. The Message has sold over 10 million copies and has continually ranked among the top five best-selling Bibles. The Message website (www.navpress.com) displays endorsements from such prominent Christians as Billy Graham, Chuck Swindoll, Christianity Today, Dan Quayle, Bill Hybels, Gordon Fee, J.I. Packer, Jack Hayford, Jerry Jenkins, Jerry Savelle, John Maxwell, Max Lucado, Richard Foster, Rick Warren, Rod Parsley, Tony Campolo and Warren Wiersbe, among many others.
This article will barely scratch the surface of the mystic New Age religion filling The Message. And this article only examines the New Age mysticism in The Message, we do not examine the treason against the Deity of Jesus Christ, salvation and scores of other fundamental doctrines.
We would suggest that Eugene Peterson, as well as all Christians, whom naively (or not so naively) change or add to Holy Scripture…………heed these warnings from the God-breathed Words of Life that they are tampering with!
Matthew 5:18 – For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Revelation 22:19 – And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.