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
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)
Be sober, be vigilant; because[fn3] your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
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.
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 [email protected]