Thursday, January 29, 2009

Got "The Message"? Oh, I Hope I Got that Wrong...

Last night, I was perusing Ephesians 1-3, and came upon this verse: I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (v. 17)

Needless to say, I have read Ephesians many times before, but I love it when God "quickens" a verse to my heart. Knowing the Lord, as opposed to simply knowing about Him, has been my passion since I was about 12. God is faithful, and I can truly say I have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, but I often get discouraged and have doubts about His closeness. Apparently, Paul foresaw that and prayed for the Ephesian Christians to know Him better...and by extension, that we would, as well.

Well, since I now have that new shiny laptop (see post of a couple weeks ago), I can now take my time, reading several versions on in the warmth of the first floor. I sometimes like to check out passages in different translations, just for fun. It makes life all the more interesting. Sometimes, the Amplified Bible will offer an insight; the King James will clarify if "you" was singular or plural; and the Bulgarian will come in handy for a future witnessing opportunity.

And then there's a relatively new addition: Eugene Patterson's translation, The Message. This one is supposedly in easy-to-understand vernacular, for those mornings when you haven't had your coffee yet and you feel really lazy. I confess I've never read it before. (I usually have had my coffee by 6:00 am).

Well, I checked out my New Favorite Passage in The Message. My eyes scanned it quickly....and then, dear readers, I nearly choked to death on my Raisin Bran. Here are verses 15-17:

That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn't stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! (emphasis mine).

The "Master Jesus"??? 'What is He', (I immediately thought), 'a Hindu avatar???'

Just as I was clicking away from the page, I caught the rendering of the final clause of verse 17 - 'endless energy'. Energy? Where does that appear in any of the other translations? It certainly isn't in the Greek. I immediately thought of the New Age concept of 'Christ consciousness' and cosmic energy. Either one of the two terms might have gotten past me, but taken together, my discernment flags went off. (Knowing how often Beth Moore quotes Eugene Peterson, I should have been suspicious from the get-go). I Googled "Christ energy", and returned 14,900,000 results. No, I didn't check all of them; just the first two pages. Without exception, they were New Age and occultic healing pages. Here's a gem from the first site I checked: "This Master Teacher was known as Jesus the Christ. The man Jesus was a perfect child of the Goddess and God energy - just as we all are perfect children of the God-Force!

"Master Teacher." Catch that? Not Lord and Saviour.

"What really made Jesus so special was that he was able to be enLightened in a time when the inner channel to Christ Consciousness that all humans possess was blocked by planetary conditions."

Peeps, I couldn't make this stuff up.

It gets better. Check out how The Message butchers 1 Peter 1:18: "Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God." (Sounds more like something Deepak Chopra would say than the Apostle Peter). Now let's check out the NASB (I use the NIV myself, but they say the NASB is a word-for-word translation): "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers,"

I knew full well I couldn't be the first one to catch teh occultic overtones in The Message (and this was just TWO PASSAGES!!) I don't have time to do real research. Thankfully, Lighthouse Trails has done it for me. I Googled "Eugene Peterson The Message" and bingo:

The King James Bible refers to Jesus as "Lord Jesus" about 115 times. The New King James Bible uses this term about the same amount of times and the New American Standard about 100 times. How many times does Eugene Peterson's The Message use the phrase "Lord Jesus"? None! Not once. Never! (Check it out at (

What The Message does refer to Jesus 77 times is the title "Master Jesus." This is a New Age term.

Read full entry here. The Message is chock-full of New Age terms. Stay away from "The Message". Buy a real Bible instead. If you don't have one, leave me a message in the combox and I'll send you one - free.


Anonymous said...

Good catches! I had seen other bad translations in the Message but not the New Age-ish ones.

The whole book just gives me the willies. I don't like when people refer to it. Even without the errors, it is just too cutesy to me.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Rick Warren also loves "The Message," which is part of his doctrinal/theological problem also. Five years ago The Berean Call had a page of parallel passages of "The Message" and the KJV for comparison and that was my first view of the problem. I bought a parallel "The Message" and NIV to compare. "The Message" is not a Bible in any sense of the word. It is rife with new age terms and in places says completely opposite things from the Bible. The devil has another tool in his box to mislead people to false teachings.

Marie said...

So I am truly a day late and a dollar short in noticing this. I would have noticed it eons ago; it's just that I am too far above reading anything as insipid-sounding as the whole premise of "The Message".

Rick Warren needs a good hard smack of a lesson in exegesis (and humility). Any preacher who's using or endorsing a "translation" that plays fast and loose with Scripture the way this one does should be sent back to seminary until he repents.

Don Kimrey said...

Marie, I appreciate your insghts, your integrity and courage. Since I'd been "out of the loop" for several years, I'd been unaware of the "New Age" rage. I'd read the traanslation and was impressed with what I saw. Rest assured I'll view it with much more caution. I'm still drawn strongly to my original statement of purpose, so I thank the Lord people like you and Neal, Mark, J.L. and others draw a straight line on apologetics and such. Thank you, too, for the encouragement you've given me. Stay close to Christ. Let's pray for each other. ~dk

Boosalis Bloggle said...

Here is an article written in 1993 regarding The Message.

Marie said...

WOW! Thanks for the link. The article lists many verses that The Message has distorted, comparing them against the real Bible. It's stunning how Peterson's twisted the verses that deal with sexual sin and occultic practices. This "Bible" translation is more corrupt than the Jehovah Witnesses' New World Translation.

How does he get away with that??? And NavPress published it? Much of their stuff is pretty good. I'm surprised.

Jean said...

I love your blog Marie, I look forward to reading more. I am glad someone also sees whats wrong with Beth Moore's teachings. I thought I was the only one. Its a shame guys from the Way Of The Master promote her like mad, they also promote Billy Graham, Ken Ham and many more I question. Oh well, maybe its just me.
Sorry to rumble, I do look forward to more...

Daniel said...

I started reading the message a couple of years ago in order to get another perspective on various texts.

My father and others scorned me for my decision and even though I have stopped reading it early last year, they have still been on me about the type of translation I use.

Reading your blog has been very eye opening. I guess a lot of the material in "The Message" is quite suttle, at least that is the way it comes across to me, and because of that I had not really caught the problems and religious meshing that it does.

I enjoyed reading your blog.

Marissa said...

Gah. I hate the MSG too. I'll read the NIV (which I'm not a fan of either) before the MSG. It's not a Bible. It's supposed to be a paraphrase and I hate it when people quote it like it's the Bible.