The Message

I have struggled greatly with this topic because I do not want to ever tell anyone else what is and is not Biblical. But I do believe that The Message is something that I need to address.

The Message is a ‘version’ of the Bible. It is written by a man, Eugene Peterson. He wanted to make a ‘dumbed-down’ version of the Bible to keep Christians interested in it. He thought they were getting bored…

Long and formal-sounding sentences in the original Bible are often simply replaced with punchy phrases: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” is replaced with a jovial “Enjoy the best of Jesus!”

Many renderings can only be described as facetious: John 1:14 “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” becomes “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”

The language is spiced up with slangy and amusing idioms: 2 Corinthians 4:17 “These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times.” In Acts 13:6 “crooked as a corkscrew” is used instead of the simple adjective “false.”

James 4:7 instead of “resist the Devil and he will flee from you” we have “Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper.” This is intended to make us chuckle.

In Acts 12:16 according to The Message the disciples were not only “amazed” when they saw Peter, they “went wild,” which suggests an amusing scene of commotion that is not indicated in the original text.

Literal translation The Message
1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance — the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes — but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, and were good, loyal wives to their husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as, “my dear husband.” You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated. The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground

We notice how Peterson’s instruction to wives here differs somewhat from Peter’s instructions. Peterson strips away any suggestion that the women are to subject themselves to their husbands, although obviously this is the main point of the passage, as written by Peter. Instead of “respecting,” “submitting to,” or “obeying” their husbands, the wives are to be “responsive to their needs,” and “taking care” of them, like mothers. Turning to the men, Peterson puts the idea of wifely submission out of bounds by telling them, “you’re equals.” He explains that the woman is a “weaker vessel” only in a sociological sense — the women “lack some of your advantages.” Here it seems that Peterson has simply replaced the teaching of the passage with its opposite.

Putting his own “take” on the Bible is precisely what he has done throughout The Message. But on the other hand, in the same article he admits that he does “take considerable liberties” with the text. He says that when pastors have told him they have used it in preaching he warns them that “they miss the connection with the past with this translation.”

He indicates that it is for “first-time readers,” and that these readers should quickly “get weaned from it.”

In an interview published in Christianity Today when he was asked, “Do you think The Message will be well suited for reading in worship?” he replied, “When I’m in a congregation where somebody uses it in the Scripture reading, it makes me a little uneasy. I would never recommend it be used as saying, ‘Hear the Word of God from The Message.’ But it surprises me how many do. You can’t tell people they can’t do it.”

This book should be recognized for what it is. It began as a stimulating paraphrase of the Epistle to the Galatians included in a popular devotional book, and it remains a piece of stimulating devotional literature. But it is not the Word of God. As Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary has put it, “it is freer even than a paraphrase. I think of it more as devotional literature than as a version of the Bible and wouldn’t recommend it for any other role.””The basis of this study is the English paraphrased text of the New Testament written by Eugene Peterson called “The Message.” Through the use of paraphrase, ‘The Message’ was ‘crafted’ to present the doctrines of mysticism to the Christian church in order to seduce believers into the occult and the New Age Movement. Readers who recognize mystical/occult terminology, will definitely get “the message” Mr. Peterson is seeking to convey throughout his version of the Bible.”-Janet Moser, author of, The Message, The Mystical Bible

The Message -A Reference Guide
The Message-A Mystical Bible
The Message-A seductive Distortion of the Bible
The Message is NOT a Bible Translation

These are a few examples of how The Message is not a representation of the Bible. In this day and age, where people are seduced away from God’s ABSOLUTE Truth, I believe we need to be in a constant state of discernment and awareness.

The devil is a prowling lion, just waiting for his chance to swoop in an ‘capture’ our attention in a new and distorted way. (The following is the NKJV)

1Pe 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because[fn3] your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
1Pe 5:9
Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
1Pe 5:10
But may[fn4] the God of all grace, who called us[fn5] to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
1Pe 5:11
To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

I pray that you receive these words. If you disagree with me or have any questions or further concerns, please email me manda2177@aol.com

Comments

  1. Christy says

    A couple years ago doing research on this new “book” it kept coming up under new age stuff. I don’t have “The message” and have no intentions of getting it or reading it. I don’t think as a Christian I need to have the bible “dumbed down” to me. I need the bible for and as it is, God’s holy and true word. I need to pray on his word and seek him in the understanding and instead of reading a book that ultimately wants to draw me AWAY from our Lord, I need to seek him more deeply.
    Great post!

  2. Julie in WA says

    Excellent post! We do have a copy of The Message; years ago, when I was young, The Living Bible came out. It, too, is a paraphrase. My father, a very conservative Christian, actually purchased one, and he read it as family devotions after supper every night. He would read a passage, then tell us what the ‘real’ Bible would say. I will never forget when he read I Sam. 24:3…Saul went into the cave to GO TO THE BATHROOM. My dad was AGHAST!! How dare anyone use such crude language with regards to anything in the Bible?!!!
    Yeah, we would not use The Message (or the Living Bible) for study, but sometimes it gives a fresh perspective!

  3. says

    Great post! I have to admit, I was not familiar with The Message — I didn’t even know what it was about until I read your post. But, that is just crazy! Oh geez!

  4. says

    Glad you wrote this post. I think that is the trend today– do things to keep people interested. Whatever happened to the drawing of the Holy Spirit?

  5. Joe Miller says

    Hi, very nice summary. It is nice to read from your perspective which verses mean the most to you. I am glad you found value in my summary… it makes all those hour of work worth while :-)

  6. Lori says

    I had never heard of “The Message.” I find it interesting that when it’s used or quoted in sermons it even makes the author “uneasy.” Paraphrasing a scripture after reading it (word for word) and discussing it in context is one thing; this is entirely something else. I think what this man has done is very dangerous. There are too many people out there who would skip reading the real thing and read this instead, thinking that they’re reading The Bible or not even caring. Unless an author is a Bible Scholar with some education about the Greek (or Aramaic or Hebrew, depending on what part of The Bible) language, he shouldn’t mess around with this. I’ve often had reason to compare different translations, and one thing I’ve almost always found is this: no matter who has done the translating, attention has usually been given to detail and the translator has translated from the original text with a word or phrase that gets the original meaning across, and even if another translator used a different word or phrase, the meaning is still clear and the context is in harmony with the rest of the Scriptures. What this man has done is only going to serve to continue “blinding the minds” of some to Truth.
    Lori
    http://journals.aol.com/helmswondermom/DustyPages/

  7. says

    Thank you for this VERY informative post – it seems to reinforce my “gut feeling” regarding The Message. For quite a while, I was adamantly opposed to this “version” of the Bible. But after a gifted Bible teacher that I greatly respect began using it, I questioned if I was off-base…being legalistic…etc. I tried it and I was very uneasy. I feel as though there is no room for the Holy Spirit to speak to me through it…because I don’t need to do any thinking myself. I also have MANY concerns about the very loose translations that seem to water down the TRUTH (and come very close to actually twisting it). After giving it a try, I put it away, resisting the urge to throw it away cause I paid so much money for it. ;)
    Recently, the discussion has resurfaced and I have prayed and prayed and prayed about it (again!)…I STILL do NOT feel released by the Lord to read/study/memorize or quote from The Message.
    Honestly, I am so confused as to why so many gifted Bible teachers are okay with it…so confused!

  8. Amber Hurd says

    Very good and interesting post. It does say not to add to or take away from the Bible and I am not sure what this category would fall under maybe taking away. But, I heard that the King James version is the most accurate depiction of God’s word. I do have the Living Bible. Now it has me thinking if it is the best version I should be reading….. Hmmm I will have to pray on that.

  9. says

    Hi,
    Came over here via MckMama’s. You have a beautiful blog, and you bake gorgeous treats.
    Just came across this post on the Message. Until now, I’ve never heard any criticism of this book (but we also live under a rock). Very interesting points. However, I do have to say that we were given a copy of this book several months ago, and God used it in many ways to encourage my husband and I greatly through our trials…
    While you have valid points, I also cannot deny how God used it to help me grow in my faith, as well as to minister to others.
    Just thought I’d give a different perspective…
    I look forward to reading future posts.
    Sincerely,
    Victoria

  10. melissa says

    Thank you so much for this! I agree completely. We only read KJV or NKJV personally as when you research the differences between them and others (for example NIV) there are many things that are notadded or taken away as editors felt appropriate. This is not to say God doesn’t use other versions to bring people closer to Him! But once you do your homework its hard to ignore. Thanks again!!!

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