Slowly, but surely, our church is embracing the Message bible. My spirit flinches when I hear it being used. Today, the whole sermon was preached with verses strictly from The Message.
Before the speaker started to quote the poorly paraphrased verse he even joked that he could hear the gasps as he was using the Message. Alright - if you knew that you were doing something that would offend people but you went ahead and did it then you have sinned, sir. In other words....I don't care if this hurts your feelings but, hey, I wanna do it.
My case against the Message
The Message bible isn't a bible at all. The Message is a paraphrasing, written in novel form, to appeal to many cultures while keeping it 'relevant'. (that word gags me)
So if I take the Cliff notes of War & Peace and told you it was War & Peace I would be wrong. Because it isn't. Whole chunks of the original text are missing, simplified paraphrasing is used and the whole dynamic of the book is gone! The same holds true with the Message. Chunks of text are missing, it's a paraphrase and the dynamic of the most holy, most sacred, most esteemed book in history is gone.
As for it's relevance - when did the Holy Bible lose it's relevance? When did man need to make it relevant? God's word is from everlasting to everlasting. God needs no help in keeping his word relevant! This point alone is a key to why the Message needs no place in a pastor's library. Isn't it the job of the pastor to teach, present and give illumination to the scriptures, for the flock?
If you would like too see some of the abhorrent messes the Message makes of scripture then follow along...
Let's look at the Lord's Prayer. (Matt 6:9-13)
King James Version - 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
New International Version - 9 "This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
The Message - With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:
Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are
The Message does not tell us we are speaking of our heavenly Father, nor does is exalt HIM! Eugene Peterson (the author) decided God didn't need to be given glory first. And in no translation does Jesus ask that God reveal Himself to us.
NIV - 13 For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
KJV -For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
The Mess - You're in charge! You can do anything you want! You're ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Again, the glory and honor due the Creator of the Universe, The I AM, Our Savior is...gone. It's interesting the the 'beauty' line was randomly stuck in. Then Mr. Peterson ends with "Yes. Yes. Yes." Somehow the punch of Amen (it is so) is miserably lost with a simplistic "yes".
........................One last comparison............
In Song of Solomon chapter 2:1- Jesus is the type and shadow to come, being called the Rose of Sharon.
NKJV - I am the rose of Sharon, And the lily of the valleys.
2 Like a lily among thorns, So is my love among the daughters.
THE MESS -
I'm just a wildflower picked from the plains of Sharon, a lotus blossom from the valley pools.
2 A lotus blossoming in a swamp of weeds—
that's my dear friend among the girls in the village.
So just a wildflower, huh? And a lotus...really?! What religion worships the lotus, reveres it and uses it to symbolize the sacred? Hinduism and Buddhism. The flower of the lotus conveys the idea of beauty, and symbolizes the means to achieve non-attachment, as it lives in the earth but rises above the water.
There are hundreds of misinterpretations of the original text...too many to list here. There are so many times when Jesus' own name was replaced or not used at all. There are countless examples of Eastern religion's symbolism peppered through the Message to appeal to other cultures. The sanctity of the words have been dumbed down, dulled and taken into Universalism realm.
I think this quote from Craig Blomberg is a fair assessment to end on
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."1
So take care!!!!
Rev 20: 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
How's that for relevant....
1. Craig Blomberg, review of The Word of God in English by Leland Ryken, Denver Journal: An Online Review of Current Biblical and Theological Studies, volume 6 (July 2003).