A look at the twisting of scripture that is “the Message.”

Hello there,

        Welcome to Take Me To Eternity where I dig into things in the church and filter them through a biblical lens.

I have heard a lot about the Message “bible” for a long time now. I have never really spent time reading it or looking into it until now. First off, it can’t rightly be called a translation, nor can it be called a paraphrase of the original languages of the bible, because it doesn’t fit either category. It is nearly unrecognizable as the bible in so many areas it is disturbing. In an interview with Christianity Today, Eugene Peterson the author of the Message, described the beginning of writing the Message: he said “I just kind of let go and became playful. And that was when the Sermon on the mount started. I remember I was down in my basement study, and I did the beatitudes in about ten minutes. And all of a sudden I realized this could work.”

Is that how bible interpretations come about? You get playful and just bust it out real quick? where is the Awe and reverence for the Holy God that inspired scripture? Where is the fear of mishandling his word?

I had never really looked into this version until I recently came across a post from Doreen Virtue talking about the way “the message” took The Lord’s Prayer and changed it dramatically. Of course, I automatically went to look for myself and was appalled at what I saw. This started off as a “let’s look at this particular chunk of scripture” and turned into “let’s look at Eugene Peterson and more of the book that he wrote.”

I am not in any way trying to say that I know this man’s heart or that he is evil or unsaved as I talk about him. The problem lies in his lack of reverence for the word of God and some disturbing things that were said by him as well as what is twisted in his so called interpretation.

Let’s look at what NASB says about the Lords prayer. Matthew 6:7-13 says

““And when you are praying,  do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do,  for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.  So do not be like them;  for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come. Your will be done,  On earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts,  as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation,  but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:7-13‬ 

Now lets compare that to what the Message says.

““The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant.  They’re full of formulas and programs and advice,  peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense.  This is your Father you are dealing with,  and he knows better than you what you need.  With a God like this loving you,  you can pray very simply. Like this:  Our Father in heaven,  Reveal who you are.  Set the world right;  Do what’s best—  as above, so below.  Keep us alive with three square meals.  Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.  Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.  You’re in charge!  You can do anything you want!  You’re ablaze in beauty!  Yes. Yes. Yes.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:7-13‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Did you catch any red flags in that?

Let’s just start at the beginning. He says the world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer ignorant. Is that what is implied in the text though? Are they prayer warriors? Are they just prayer ignorant? Other versions use words like pagans and heathens when talking about these people. They aren’t just ignorant of how to pray; they are praying that way on purpose. They think that by using meaningless repetition they will be heard by their “gods”. They aren’t praying to God they are praying to “other.” Let’s stop softening scripture to make it more palatable also. Heathen or Pagan conveys so much more than “ignorant prayer warriors” that makes it look like they are trying they just don’t know any better.

For verse nine other versions say things like the LEB says Therefore, you pray in this way: “Our Father who is in heaven, may your name be treated as holy.

Or The ESV says Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”

the NLT Pray like this: “Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.”

NKJV says “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.”

This isn’t present in the message though. It takes out keeping God’s name Holy.

I think you got the point. Where is God’s Holiness in this? How exactly do you take this out? And why would we have to ask God to reveal who he is? If we are in the scripture, we know who he is. He has already revealed himself to us. To ask him to reveal himself is in fact dangerous. Unless we don’t know scripture. We see people doing that very thing in the occult, in the new age and places like Bethel who end up saying God revealed himself to them while they were pooping and coming up with a host of blasphemous things because of it. With random trips to heaven and new books of the Bible that they haven’t been given yet but will be soon, by Jesus himself. Why would we pray to a God we don’t know? And if we know scripture then we know who God is……. He has been revealed.

Another part that is seriously disturbing is his change of verse 10. He took “on earth as it is in heaven” and swapped it with a seriously troublesome phrase. “As above, So Below.” not only does this not convey on earth as it is in heaven better, but it also is an occult term and has been for a very long time. It means whatever happens on earth is reflected in the astral plane. Or that what you do in your physical body reflects on your spiritual one. It is widely used by esotericist’s and occultists. It’s like saying so the gods are above, so you are below.

Whether he knew it or not he was putting esoteric language into his text as he played fast and loose with God’s word. This phrase is said to come from the beginning of what is called the Emerald Tablet. It is related with Wicca tradition and the Occult. It’s used in the free Masons (totally Occult) and a host of other religions. They say that the significance of the phrase is that it holds the key to all mysteries. All systems of magic function with this formula.

“The universe is the same as God”

God is the same as man.

The cell is the same as the atom

The atom is the same as…. And so on, ad infinitum.”

Hence as above, so below. As the universe is, so is man or plant or animal or poop. Yes, even poop. This is not a Christian idea this is more equivalent to the little god’s idea that runs throughout false ideologies. It’s New Age propaganda. It’s more akin to Pantheism or Panentheism than Christianity.

Images are used with Baphomet, and as above so below across it, pentagrams and occult symbols all sporting this phrase. All you have to do is put in the phrase and you will get a host of satanic imagery.

So many will say “so what?” “Can’t we mean something different?” And the answer is yes. If you want to quote things and mean something different feel free but don’t change scripture to include such phrases.

Again, I am not saying that he thought ahead of time and said I am going to add this occult phrase into it. I don’t know his intentions. I simply know that he didn’t go about interpreting scripture in a way that honored God above all. He interpreted very flippantly even according to him as we saw. ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭14:12-15‬ says

“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ Nevertheless, you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.” Isaiah‬ ‭14:12-15‬ 

Some people say that as above, so below comes from this originally. It seems to make sense to that that’s true. He said I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will make myself like the most high.’ Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.

Satanists and Luciferins worship Lucifer and this is a sacred passage to them, they believe that, so he was above, so he is below and so are we. This is not new.

The next line says to “keep us alive with three square meals” but that isn’t the same as “give us this day our daily bread”. What about those who don’t get three square meals? What about the disciples? Does he think they got three square meals? What about the ancient Israelites? Was God not taking care for them because they didn’t get that? This surely isn’t a translation that a third world country could use or even a lot of places in the United States. Growing up I didn’t always get three square meals, but God provided my daily bread for sure.

People say its nit picking when I see problems with stuff like this but with so many issues how is this ok? This is the very word of God being handled as if it were a game of telephone. It’s not ok to get it a little right sometimes and call it good.

This passage says you are in charge, you can do anything you want. Where is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever? Instead, he gives us something that sounds very much like the satanic bible “do as thou wilt”. You can do whatever you want.

Eugene Peterson has said some pretty scary things throughout interviews and such. He talks a lot about the bible being a story and, in his words, “he took liberty with it” while translating it. He talks about how “the language is more of a story language so he could do that.”

Peterson’s goal in creating The Message, in his own words, was to “bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn’t read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become an ‘old hat’.”

Pastor Peterson’s parishioners, by his own admission, “simply weren’t connecting with the real meaning of the words and the relevance of the New Testament for their own lives.”

The Holy Spirit helps us to understand scripture, and if he is trying to speak to those who have never read it then what he says is going to help shape the foundation of their theology. That is pretty scary when you look at a lot of the passages.

I want to know why he thinks that he can do better by changing what is already there? The power is in scripture and the Holy Spirit, not his interpretation of it.

Yes, I know they have all been interpreted, it wasn’t written in English to begin with, but scholars are generally a lot more careful when they translate and take less liberty and freedom in their wording when they do so. This does not properly convey what the original language was saying in so many areas that it changes the meaning of scripture in some places altogether.

I have to say that if his congregation wasn’t getting it that might be a lack of study on their part. A lack of want and a lack of prayerful request. Maybe it’s a lack of actually preaching the word on his part? Could be a lack of The Holy spirit which brings up other questions. Hebrews 4:12 says

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:12‬ 

When we study God’s word and seek his truth, the word becomes clearer and more impactful. The more I study, the more intense his words are and the more I want to study it. I saw a post the other day talking about the more time someone chooses to be in the scripture the more they want to spend time in it, and I find that absolutely true. James 1:5 says

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”            James‬ ‭1:5‬ 

In another interview Peterson did he said, “the worst translations are the ones that try to be literal.” That is a crazy statement from someone who supposedly translated scripture.

He quotes someone and says “every time the Bible is translated another language gets to put in its two cents worth.: ‘he says he really likes that. He says, “every time it’s translated it is expanded.”

That is so dangerous. That isn’t how interpretation works. True Interpretation tries to properly interpret what the original language meant without adding or taking away from it.

Where is the reverence for God in this and how do you call that bible interpretation? To say I just let go and became playful and that he did the Beatitudes in about ten min.

Really? That is the “scholarly care” that he took to interpret THE BIBLE? This isn’t just some book. This is the very word of God. No Scholars who actually care about the integrity of scripture would interpret it this way. People of the past took way more care with the word than this.

With how loose he is with scripture it is no wonder that he also says he would have no problem marrying gay couples and that he has lesbians in his congregation and that he hired a gay worship leader. This is the person who helps lead worship in the church. No wonder his congregation struggles with understanding scripture. You cannot hold scripture as authoritative while at the same time disregarding what it says. You can’t pick and choose the parts to listen to.

Romans 1:24-28 says in the NASB

“Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:24-28‬

Yet the message says

So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!” “Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.” “Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. ‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:24-28 MSG‬‬

First the whole essence of what is being said has been changed. One thing that I see missing is that they exchanged THE TRUTH OF GOD FOR A LIE. It was not just that they worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator that was the AND. They exchanged God’s truth for a lie. Peterson simply keeps the idolatry part and leaves the obedience to God’s structure part out.

The Message says “Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another……. All lust, no love.” This implies that it was an abuse because they didn’t love each other. That the sin was not having love not the behavior itself. God doesn’t say homosexuality is a sin if you don’t love each other it just says it is a sin because it goes against God’s order. It goes against how he made us to function.

We don’t get to disregard what God says and act like it’s no big deal. When we excuse sin especially to those sitting in it we are helping to cripple their spiritual walk. We are not helping to pull down the block between them and God. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 says.

for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” ‭‭ 2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:4-6‬ ‭

Part of our role is to not make it harder for people to come to Christ and when we excuse sin we are making it harder for them to see their need for a savior. We are allowing them to keep a block up between them and Christ and we aren’t calling them to repentance for such behavior. We are also putting doubt in their mind as to the authority and accuracy of scripture when we go around what the Bible says to make it softer, easier or more easily swallowed. How do we share the gospel without the repentance part? And how do we call people to repentance and at the same time excuse what God says is a sin.‬

We need to teach the word of God purely and unashamed. We need to see our sin and the wrongness of it. We need to see God’s holiness and our lack there-of. We can only do that with hard truths. Another example of the reason I think the message should not be used or why I say Peterson did a terrible job rewriting the Bible is found in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Let’s start with the NASB

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:9-11 NASB

Now for the Message

“Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:9-11‬ ‭MSG‬‬

This is just another way for people to say see it’s the “people who abuse each other and abuse sex.” It’s not homosexuality. And where does the abuse of the earth part come from? Is that a bit of environmentalism thrown in? 1 Timothy 3:12 is another example.

“Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.” 1 Timothy‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭NASB

And in the message

Servants in the church are to be committed to their spouses, attentive to their own children, and diligent in looking after their own affairs. 1 Timothy‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭MSG‬‬

I understand that some hold different views as to what is permissible but when it comes to the word why does anyone think it is ok putting their own ideas into it and calling it scripture. The text is pretty clear what it is trying to say. Other translations seem to agree so why twist it like that? Even the passion translation did a better job and that is saying something. (Don’t read the passion translation either) 2 Corinthians 2:17 says

“For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”     2 Corinthians‬ ‭2:17‬ ‭NASB

This corruption of God’s word isn’t new. Unfortunately, the more you know about the occult, and the new age the more you can see what he is saying actually lines up with it. It isn’t just one or two verses either, it is a lot of them.

Which again I am not saying he purposely injected the new age into the text, but it is quite interesting when you start researching it and hear some of the things he says.

So often people don’t realize how unbiblical their worldview is. He was completely nonchalant when he rewrote the Bible. The liberty that he felt he had in writing it is disgusting. The butchering that he did when he rewrote scripture is terrible, the lack of reverence for God and his word, he should be ashamed of himself. I don’t care who you are, to take the liberty on yourself to rewrite scripture so flippantly is horrible.

I went into this very skeptical of the message being a bad translation. After a lot of research and comparing scripture as well as listening to Eugene Peterson talk about things himself, I am simply appalled. I am appalled at his lack of fear of God when he spoke about his liberty. His lack of respect for the word.

Unfortunately we see more and more people who feel that they have the license to read into scripture Al kind of things it doesn’t say.

I would say be careful of the Message and dig in and compare it yourself. Go look at other versions side by side with it and look at what it is conveying. 

I pray that y’all hear this with the love for God and scripture that is behind it. I pray that even if you disagree, look into it yourself. I know it takes time to research and it’s easier to just blow me off, but we should care and be careful who we allow to shape our theology. This is our spiritual food we are talking about. Our view of God matters. This is only a few verses out of so many we could look at and show how badly written it is. ‭‭

If We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ then we need to care what is being said about God and his word. ‭

I love you Guys

Be Blessed

Until Next time (Lord Willing)


By Take me to Eternity

I am a God fearing mother of two. A wife to a wonderful husband. A crafter of junk. A baker. And anything the LORD puts in my path.

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