Why The Message bible should not be used

It is not the Word of God!

Although it appears that Eugene Peterson’s bible The Message is endorsed by many prominent people this does not mean we accept what they promote without testing it against Scripture. Acts 17:11 commends the Bereans "in that they received the word in all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." We all need to be vigilant in testing against Scripture what we come across in our daily life. This is especially so as the day of the Lord draws ever nearer and we know "false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24).

This document is not a full treatise of the deficiencies in The Message – you can find plenty of internet sites that give excellent analyses. However, it is necessary to highlight to our readers that it is far better to use a Bible which is a true translation of the original language than a paraphrase that maligns the word of God. Any careful reader of the Scripture would never use this version – it is errors are so great it is abominable.

Here are just a few examples of concern from The Message:

  • True translations such as The New King James Bible (NKJV) or New American Standard Bible (NASB) refer to Jesus as Lord Jesus over 100 times while The Message never uses such titles as Lord Jesus, Lord and Saviour [Savior] Jesus Christ (as found in Peter), or Our Saviour [Savior] Jesus Christ etc. Indeed "Lord" or "Jehovah" is found nearly eight thousand times in over six and half thousand verses in the Bible – whether KJV or NIV etc but a mere 62 times in The Message mostly not related to the Lord God Most High’s name, eg "he’ll lord it over you" Gen 3:16 – most versions use "rule".
  • Although The Message uses Jesus Christ 85 times, it mainly uses the new age titles: Master Jesus (82 times), Master, God or Master God, and often links "Jesus Christ" to Master. The Message uses names like The Presence (John 3:13), Priest-of-My-Altar, Altar-Rock (Ps 19:14) and God-Who-Puts-Everything-Right (Jer 23:6) among others when referring to God or Jesus. The Message transforms "The Lord" into "my rescuing knight" (2 Sam 2:22) while overlooking "my Redemption" (Ps 31:5), by "my Saviour" (Is 45:21) who has everlasting strength (Is 26:4).
  • Peterson in The Message changes the very words of Jesus, recorded as he taught his disciples, such as the Lord’s Prayer (Mat 6:9-13). Other examples include:
  • John 3:17 " For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (KJV) becomes "God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again".

This changes the entire intent by suggesting the world could become a better place – "put right". Yet the entire theology of John 3 shows that one needs to be born again to be right before God. Indeed the doctrine of salvation is rendered void by The Message simply in this statement. This false doctrine is continued in 1 Peter 5:10 where:

"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you" (KJV 1 Peter 5:10) is rendered: "It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good" (TM Peter 5:10), showing that the author has no intent of becoming Christlike. Indeed he rises no further than the fifth of this world voiding all that Christ has accomplished on the cross.

  • "Hallowed be Your name" (NKJV) becomes "Reveal who you are" in The Message.

God has already revealed Himself. We see His names and attributes in many passages throughout the Scripture. ‘Reveal who you are’ is a new age/Gnostic concept.

  • "On earth as it is in heaven (NKJV) becomes "As above, so below" in The Message.

The phrase "as above, so below" embraces the "entire system of traditional and modern magic" and claims that "that which is above is the same as that which is below." This means that God is the same as man on earth, and man is the same as God in Heaven.

  • "forgive us our debts (NKJV) is changed to "keep us forgiven" in The Message.

This changes the meaning entirely especially the theological intent.

  • "do not lead us into temptation" (NKJV) is changed to "keep us safe" in The Message.

There is a vast difference between temptation and "safety" and hence the intent of the Lord’s prayer is rendered impotent.

  • The intended meaning is often changed, for example, "righteousness" has been exchanged for "goodness" in Proverbs 12:28. There is a difference between good and righteous: good people are never good enough to gain access to the Father. There is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus: "I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). However, righteousness can be imputed due to faith which is clearly explained in Hebrews chapter 11.
  • The Message distorts the relationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son which is seen in John 10:30 "I and the Father are one" (NKJV), while The Message says "I and the Father are one heart and mind." Again John 14:28 "…. My Father is greater than I" (NKJV) is interpreted as "The Father is the goal and purpose of my life" in The Message. This distortion reduces divinity of Christ to a mere man, which is a lie. Jesus and God were one as John clearly explains.
  • The Message distorts and contradicts the Word of God. For example: The Message translates Romans 8:35-36 "Do you think anyone is going 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." This wrongly implies that sin will not separate us from God. Yet if this is true, we have made God out to be a liar since in Genesis we learn that sin is the very thing that separated Adam and Eve from God, and indeed is the very thing that continues to separate mankind from God’s presence today. If sin does not separate us from God, as implied in this verse, then Jesus’ death was meaningless and we have no reason to celebrate around the Lord’s Table each Sunday morning. Unlike The Message, Scripture states "the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God" in 1 Corinthians 6:9 -10 and Galatians 5:19-20. Indeed, without faith, we will always be separated from God.
  • The Message to adds or distorts the original text in many places. The following are just a few examples.
  • The Message adds a sentence to the end of Philippians 4:2 and Matthew 5:22; Jonah is not a prophet in Luke 11:29, God did not create man, he created "human beings" (Gen 1:26). It adds someone named "Syzygus" to Philippians 4:3 not found in true translations.
  • Day and night become "Madame Day" and "Professor Night" in Psalm 19:1. Proverbs 30:5 states "Every word of God is pure…" but this is altered to "Every promise of God" in The Message.
  • Luke 4:4 misquotes Deuteronomy by leaving out the command to live "by every word of God" and in Psalm 138:2 the word of God is no longer "magnified above God’s name."
  • Psalm 8:5 tells us in The Message "Yet we’ve narrowly missed being gods, bright with Eden’s dawn light, You put us in charge of your handcrafted world, repeated to us your Genesis-charge," instead of "For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honour" (NKJV).
  • John 3:16 is completely changed and becomes meaningless by saying "This is how much God loved the world: …anyone can have a whole and lasting life". A "whole and lasting life" is different to "everlasting life" as Scripture translates it.
  • Finally "The words of the LORD are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times" (Psalm 12:6). Throughout The Message however, one finds very offensive and vulgar language used. Scripture did not use these words because there was no need – the context clearly indicated the situation.

The distortion of God’s word in itself should sound alarm bells and therefore be of concern to all Christians since God says "Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar" (Proverbs 30:6). In Revelation 22:18-19 God says "If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things that are written in this book." For Scripture to be "living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12) it has to be translated accurately. Once we change or distort any part of God’s word, the integrity of the whole is lost.

For the student of the Bible, the Bible itself warns most severely that its words are not to be tampered with:

Some websites that may be useful (The author does not vouch for their truthfulness or otherwise – always read there statement of faith and content dealing with salvation):

Just try and Google 'errors in the "message bible"'

A large range of errors are exposed at the following web site:
<http://www.crossroad.to/Bible_studies/Message.html> (Accessed 6th December 2008, unfortunately does not completely understand the rapture and end times prophecies).

An interesting essay on how Peterson has brought the occult and New Age thought into the bible:
http://watch.pair.com/message.html (Accessed 6th December 2008)

Search The Message for yourself and find the errors. One site is:
< http://www.biblegateway.com/> (Accessed 6th December 2008)

David & Judith Simon
Edited 5 December 2008
Corrections\Why the Messege bible should be used