Eugene Peterson’s The Message is sweeping into Christian bookstores, homes and churches from coast to coast. But watch out! It’s heretical!
What kind of message is THE MESSAGE?
Written in 1993 in response to several requests
The Message DELETES the reference to God’s holy name, ADDS requests not voiced by Jesus, and changes the meaning of other verses. Follow the link and learn more about the phrase, “As above, so below.”
“Our Father in heaven,
“Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best –
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!
The Message distorts the relationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son:
“…The Father is greater than I.”
“I and the Father are one heart and mind.”
“The Father is the goal and purpose of my life.”
The Message distorts the nature of God:
|Romans 15:13: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power (His sovereign power and authority) of the Holy Spirit.”||
“Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!
Riding a spreading tide of publicity and enthusiasm, Eugene Peterson’s The Message is sweeping into Christian bookstores, homes and churches from coast to coast. In the first four months after its mid-July lease, 100,000 copies of this “New Testament in contemporary English” were printed by NavPress. Seventy thousand books were sold. Thousands were either donated or distributed at reduced prices to youth leaders, Young Life staff, and pastors who could share Peterson’s message with their followers. Apparently, most readers were delighted. “The Message is so good it leaves me breathless,” writes popular author Madeleine L’Engle in her endorsement.
Considering this ground-swell of acceptance, we do well to ponder the question: What is Peterson’s Message?
“The Message is the boldest and most provocative rendering of the New Testament I’ve ever read,” writes Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, general director of “Back to the Bible” broadcast and former pastor of Moody Bible Church. “The Message is certainly destined to become a devotional classic – not to mention a powerful pastoral tool,” adds pastor Jack W. Hayford.
What does Eugene Peterson himself say? In his introduction to The Message, he tells us that “This version of the New Testament in a contemporary idiom keeps the language of the Message and fresh and understandable in the same language in which we do our shopping, talk with our friends, worry about world affairs, and teach our children their table manners….”
This sounds like a good idea, but what if essential Biblical concepts are not part of our everyday conversation? Should we then rewrite God’s holy Scriptures to fit today’s more shallow and worldly communications?
Remember, we are dealing with God’s holy unchangeable Word – not an ordinary book. God owns His message, we don’t. Only His own, well-guarded words can be presented as absolute truth. Yet, readers who trust NavPress and the endorsement of Christian leaders such Warren Wiersbe and J. I. Packer view this book as an authentic translation of the Bible rather than as Peterson’s personal, politically correct interpretation.
Throughout both Old and New Testaments, God forbids us to distort His Word. Additions and deletions are strictly forbidden in Scriptures like Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Galatians 1:8-9 and Revelation 22:19. Acts 17:11 exhorts us to learn from the Bereans who “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
Eugene Peterson would probably agree. His own interpretation of 2 Corinthians 4:2 holds him accountable to this timeless standard:
“We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.”
While the above verse corresponds to the original Greek, many other passages do just what The Message promises not to do: they “twist God’s word to suit” human inclinations. In fact, the very next sentence (verses 3-4), fails the test. It does not “keep… the whole truth on display.” Instead, it deletes the original references both to “those who are perishing” and to the glory of “Christ, who is the image of God.”
It doesn’t take a Greek scholar to recognize the appalling distortions of God’s holy Word. Any Bible student willing to compare Peterson’s Message with a Greek/English Interlinear Lexicon and take time to look up key words in a credible New Testament Bible dictionary will discover alarming deletions, distortions and additions to the original text. If Peterson is right, then all our other Bibles – the KJV, NASV, NIV, Greek-English interlinear Bibles – are false.
See for yourself. We have compared quotes from The Message with corresponding Scriptures in Bible version generally considered “authoritative.” Most of the time, we have used the New International Version — not because we like the NIV or use it ourselves (we don’t), but because, in all fairness, we wanted to choose a standard version that would come closest to Eugene Peterson goal of an “understandable” language. Please check the difference yourself by comparing the passages below from The Message with your own Bible.
To emphasize differences, corresponding words and phrases are underlined. Please pray for discernment as you check the following additions and deletions:
* DELETES words that imply occult spirituality. SUBSTITUTES more finite, human influences:
|1 Timothy 4:1 “…in later times some will abandon the faith and follow seducing spiritsand doctrines of demons.” (KJV)||The Message: “…as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars.”|
[We’re not just dealing with illusions. Deceiving spirits and the timeless doctrines of demons are far more effective in deceiving people than illusions and professional liars.]
* DELETES reference to “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” and “sinful nature” (the “flesh”):
|Ephesians 2:1-3: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.”||The Message: “It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat.”|
* MINIMIZES occult dangers, DELETES consequences:
|Thessalonians 2:9: “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”||The Message: “The Anarchist’s coming is all Satan’s work. All his power and signs and miracles are fake, evil sleight of hand that plays to the gallery of those who hate the truth that could save them. And since they’re so obsessed with evil, God rubs their noses in it – gives them what they want. Since they refuse to trust truth, they’re banished to their chosen world of lies and illusions.”|
[Peterson’s tendency to delete the supernatural and minimize the consequences of sin reminds me of Rom. 1:18 – “The wrath of God is being revealed…against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth…“]
* DELETES references to sinful nature and occult practices, minimizing Satan’s power:
|Galatians 5:19-21: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”||The Message: “It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religions; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved…. ugly parodies of community. I could go on.”|
[Idolatry and witchcraft are not the same as trinket gods and magic-show religions! We’re dealing with spiritual forces far greater than magical illusions.]
*SOUNDS like the song “Awaiting You All” by George Harrison (Beatles) through “chanting the names of the Lord:“
You don’t need a horoscope or a microscope to see the mess that you’re in
If you open up your heart You will know what I mean…
Now here’s a way for you to get clean
By chanting the names of the lord and you’ll be free
The lord is awaiting on you all to awaken and see.
|Colossians 2:10: “…and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”||The Message: “You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him…”|
* DELETES words like adulterers and homosexual which identify specific sins and ADDS a politically correct reference to environmentalism.
(Recall the environmental terminology in Eph. 2:1-3, “filled your lungs with polluted unbelief…”)
|1 Corinthians 6:9-11: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders [sodomites] nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified…”||The Message: “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….”|
* DELETES reference to obedience and to the grace of our Lord:
Romans 16:19-21. “Everyone has heard about your obedience [the Greek word consistently refers to obedience or obeying], so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”
|The Message: “And so while there has never been any question about your honesty in this matters – I couldn’t be more proud of you! – I want you also to be smart, making sure every “good” thing is the real thing. Don’t be gullible in regard to smooth-talking evil. Stay alert like this, and before you know it the God of peace will come down on Satan with both feet, stomping him into the dirt. Enjoy the best of Jesus!”|
* DELETES “sexual immorality.” ADDS “avoids commitment and intimacy:”
|1 Corinthians 6:18-20: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”||The Message: “There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much a spiritual mystery as a physical fact. As written in Scripture, ‘The two become one.’ Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever – the kind of sex that can never ‘become one.’ ….In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for ‘becoming one’ with another.”|
[One could conclude that “commitment and intimacy” or “becoming one”, not marriage, set the boundaries for acceptable sex.]
* ADDS words that qualify homosexuality, providing a loophole for committed homosexuals who “love” each other. DELETES “God gave them over…”:
|Romans 1:26-27: “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”||The Message: “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 wretcheds.”|
[This strange wording leaves a loophole for homosexuality to be permitted if it was an expression of love, not lust – which many gay couples claim today. In other words, lust becomes the sin, not the choice of a same-sex partner. The consequences of disobedience, “due penalty” seems broader than “emptied of God and love…” Historically it includes sexually transmitted diseases as well as spiritual death. That politically incorrect possibility is deleted here.]
* DISTORTS truth with a contemporary bias:
|Romans 3:19-20. “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law, rather through the law we become conscious of sin.||The Message: “This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! and it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everyone else? Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.”|
[This interpretation endorses today’s false standard of tolerance: Don’t expose or criticize another person; just deal with your own sin. It defies God’s guidelines concerning counseling, correction, restoration and accountability – and supports today’s tendency to condone sin. See Romans 1:32 – but not in The Message. It deletes this important point.]
* DELETES “spiritual” – spiritual readiness to receive God’s resources for ministry. SUBSTITUTES “live creatively,” usually a reference to human resources, not God’s:
|Galatians 6:1-2: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”||The Message: “Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out.”|
* DELETES references to submission. ADDS marital equality:
1 Peter 3:1, 7: “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands…
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life…”
The Message: “The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands,responsive to their needs…
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….”
* DELETES references to sexual immorality, repentance, tolerating sin, the God who searches hearts and minds…
|Revelation 2:22: “I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. so I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds…”||The Message: “But why do you let that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet mislead my dear servants into Cross-denying, self-indulging religion? I gave her a chance to change her ways, but she has not intention of giving up a career in the god-business. I’m about to lay her low, along with her partners, as they play their sex-and-religion games. The bastard offspring of their idol-whoring I’ll kill. Then every church will know that appearances don’t impress me.”|
* MISLEADING emphasis:
|Romans 15:4-5. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God…”||The Message: “Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written forus. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personalcounsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir… our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God…”|
[No mention of endurance and hope – which implies triumph in the midst of suffering, as we remain confident that God will do all He has promised. In light of Peterson’s tendency to minimize the disciplining side of God, his emphasis on a warm, feel-good God seems to distort God’s revelation of Himself. Notice, “follow Christ Jesus” is replaced by a Jesus who “gets along with us.”]
* REPLACES “reconciliation” (a spiritual work based on the cross) with “friend.”
ADDS “drop their differences” (Could he be promoting a PC form of unity?):
|2 Corinthians 5:20: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.“||The Message: “We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.”|
* ADDS a promise not found in the original Greek:
|Romans 8:35-37: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”||The Message: “Do you think anyone is going to be able 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:”|
The last passage seems consistent with Peterson’s refusal to mention those “worst sins” in the various New Testament lists of fleshly expressions. It also helps explain his commendation of medieval mystic Julian of Norwich, whose teachings – often quoted by controversial priest Matthew Fox, founder of Creation Spirituality – fueled the fourteenth-century flowering of pantheistic mysticism. In his article titled “Spirit Quest” (Christianity Today, 11-8-93), Peterson wrote, “Single-minded, persevering faithfulness confirms the authenticity of our spirituality. The ancestors we look to for encouragement in this business – Augustine of Hippo and Julian of Norwich, John Calvin…. Teresa of Avila – didn’t flit. They stayed.”
Since Julian of Norwich is a spiritual model to the man who has interpreted God’s Word for today, let’s take a look at what she believed. Indeed, her teachings seem to echo some of the cultural biases that thread through The Message. They also fit today’s uncritical search for experiential, feeling-centered spirituality. In his book, Soul Friend, Kenneth Leech describes some of her convictions:
“Because she held strongly this belief in the closeness of man and God, Julian has an optimistic assessment of man and the universe, and a belief that sin is relatively unimportant... Moreover she claims that ‘God showed me that sin need be no shame to man but can even be worthwhile.’ She seems to mean by this that sins are disguised virtues, for ‘in heaven what sin typifies is turned into a thing of honor.’
“ …In Julian’s theology, we find the fullest expression of the concept of the femininity of God. ‘God is really our Mother as he is Father,’ she says. ‘Our precious Mother Jesus brings us to supernatural birth, nourishes and cherishes us by dying for us, giving us the sacrament…. Her mysticism brings tenderness and ‘homeliness’ to the understanding of God our Mother. (Emphasis added)
The same article introduces another spiritual model. Peterson writes that “Baron Friedrich von Hugel, a Roman Catholic layperson, was one of the most respected spiritual directors in England in the early years of this century.” He devotes an entire paragraph to this leader whom the Encyclopedia Britannica describes as “the precursor of the realist revival in philosophy and of the theological study of religious feeling.”
Like the culture around us, many churches today seem to emphasize good feelings and subjective experience rather than uncompromising faith based on God’s revealed truth – the only foundation for a mature relationship with God. Peterson’s definition for spirituality in his article seems to reflect this drift from solid rock to shifting sand – along with an alarming focus on self rather than God:
“Intimacy: we want to experience human love and trust and joy. Transcendence: we want to experience divine love and trust and joy… We hunger for divine meaning, someone who willbless us. And so spirituality, a fusion of intimacy and transcendence, overnight becomes a passion for millions of North Americans…. It is heartening that our continent is experiencing a recovery of desire to embrace intimacies and respond to transcendence….” (Emphasis added)
Peterson rightly points out the need to discriminate “between the true and false” as people “ransack exotic cultures and esoteric groups in a search for wholeness.” But what does he mean when he tells his readers to acquire “a biblical imagination – entering into the vast world of the Bible and getting a feel for the territory, an instinct for reality.” What part did his imagination play in the formation of The Message? (See Shepherds & Prophets who mislead their flock )
The inspired scribes of God’s holy Word documented facts and observations. They were led by the Holy Spirit, not personal imagination. God was the Creator, not man. No one should know this better than J. I. Packer, the beloved author of Knowing God. Yet in his endorsement of The Message, he uses the same questionable terms — words popularized by the New Age quest for personal empowerment and unbiblical energies. “In this crowded world of Bible versions,” writes Packer, “Eugene Peterson’s blend of accurate scholarship and vivid idiom make this rendering both distinctive and distinguished. The Message catches the logical flow, personal energy, and imaginative overtones of the original very well indeed.”
What does Packer mean? Does the Bible really have imaginative overtones?
Peterson’s introduction to Revelation gives that impression. He identifies John as a pastor on Patmos, who “is preeminently concerned with worship” — not sharing God-given visions of end-time events. This first century pastor is also “a poet, fond of metaphor and symbol, image and allusion” who challenges “our intelligence and imagination.”
Historical facts and absolute truth made the Bible unique among the world’s religious documents. Pagan myths, on the other hand, spring from imagination, personal feelings and mysticalexperiences. Yet, the author of The Message repeatedly stresses the latter. He writes, “We are after what we came for in the first place: intimacy and transcendence, personal friends and a personal God, love and worship.”
It seems paradoxical that someone who desires intimacy with God, would minimize or ignore the main obstacles to that intimacy: our sinful nature, our specific sins and our lack of submission and obedience to God. Could an answer to this paradox lie in the strange spirituality he propounds in his article?
I realize that Peterson’s intent was “to recapture the tone” and subtleties of the Greek language. Whether or not he achieved that (personally I believe that his language reflects neither the heart of Jesus nor His followers’ fiery devotion to a holy sovereign God and the integrity of His Word), this noble goal can never be an excuse for “dumbing-down” Scripture to match our culture’s downward trends. The fact that essential Biblical terms are no longer part of our everyday conversation doesn’t give us license to soften God’s message. Shouldn’t we rather aim to use Scriptures to lift our communications to the level where our language reflects the eternal perspective of God’s revealed truth? That seems to be the exhortation of Deuteronomy 6:4-7 and 2 Timothy 3:16. When we simplify Scripture by removing its mysteries, controversies and exhortations toward God’s highest, we demean our Lord and misinform believers.
Some might ask, “Who are you to question the wisdom and scholarship of respected Church leaders?”
The sad fact is that shepherds and leaders throughout history have turned from truth to embrace “new” teachings. We are all called to “examine Scriptures” and test our leaders as did the Bereans and Ephesians. Our ability to exercise this kind of discernment comes from the Holy Spirit – as God tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:5: “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant.” (NASV) Sad to say, Peterson deleted this wonderful promise of God’s sufficiency for any task He assigns us.
“But isn’t most of The Message accurate?” ask some. Probably. So is the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible. However, it only takes the distortion of a few key passages to reflect an entirely different message. When any part — even “the smallest letter” — of God’s Word is changed, the integrity of the whole is lost.
If The Message is accepted as Biblical truth, three distortions of New Testament teachings could spread and permeate the Church, conforming “truth” to popular consensus and false unity:
- Since God is love, He wouldn’t be so cruel as to cause someone to suffer, perish or burn in hell. So don’t mention Biblical consequences or punishment.
- Since God forgives, don’t be too concerned about specific sins such as homosexuality or adultery. Jesus wouldn’t want you to offend someone.
- Since God is tolerant, don’t correct others. Be tolerant of all, except those who criticize something you like. (This politically correct attitude censors much-needed rational, objective criticism as a corrective force.)
The consequences of twisting God’s holy Word are devastating. Throughout history, whenever God’s people followed distorted teaching and ignored genuine truth, they would compromise with popular culture and drift back to earth-centered spirituality. It’s happening all around us today. The masks for timeless paganism – whether they are Babylonian, Canaanite, Roman or Native American – make little difference. All these polytheistic/pan-theistic/monistic belief systems mocked God and established deadly connection between gullible seekers and demonic spirits. Today’s most seductive masks bear an alarming resemblance to Christianity. History documents the results – both personal and cultural: a tragic blend of plagues, drought, famine and wars. (I document these in Under the Spell of Mother Earth.) Humanism was often an intermediary step (see Psalm 12:4) and continues to provide an effective tool for banishing God until spiritual hunger draws people to all kinds of pagan, earth-centered alternatives. Romans 1 outlines this timeless slide.
The signs of compromise are multiplying – even in God’s churches. Congregations have traded truth for myth and Mother Earth for God our Father. Sunday school curricula teach Native American shamanism and equate the Creator with the Great Spirit. Gay pastors teach spiritual guidelines, and children’s pastors teach Bible “truths” through comical skits that mock God.
What we need is truth – the whole truth and nothing but. Yet Peterson, willing to use words like consecration and antithetical, refuses to use the word sanctification and deletes “holy is your name” from the Lord’s prayer. How can we cry over sin and apostasy when the holiness of God is concealed from His Word?
As we face an explosion of false teachings and spiritual substitutes both in churches and in the world around us, we had better be faithful stewards. It’s time to awaken all God’s people to test, guardand follow the truth our King has committed to us. Therefore,
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ… Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:1-5
For a closer look at America’s rejection of truth and growing fascination with all kinds of myths – from seductive distortions of the Bible to the world’s earth-centered religions – read A Twist of Faith.
Author of Newberry winner A Wrinkle in Time and many other books filled with occult imagery and psychic practices such as kything – a form of mental telepathy and communication between people, trees and any other part of creation. Kything is growing in popularity within God’s churches, especially among women.
Sinful nature, a condition dealt with by the cross, is not the same as “doing what we felt like doing….”
The lawless one is not an Anarchist. He will despise God’s law but enforce plenty of his own laws and regulations.
The New Englishman’s Greek Concordance of the New Testament (Wilmington, Delaware: Associated Publishers & Authors, 1972), 772.
This may sound good but makes me uneasy. This sacredness of the body and the goal of “becoming one” fits right into New Age and Neo-pagan views of the physical body and sex. It seems to me the NIV reference to oneness is a warning that we not become one with the wrong person (v. 16) – not a standard for immorality. Nor do commitment and intimacy define the Biblical boundaries for sex. Whether or not Peterson intended to use these terms rather than the NIV’s prostitute to define right or wrong sex, it could be easily be understood that way.
Apparently “spiritual” refers to those who are filled with – and walking in – the spirit, thus ready to allow God to work through him.
Peterson may not have realized that the title of his article, “Spirit Quest,” is the name given to the Native American initiation into adulthood. Indian youth still journey into the wilderness to connect with their guardian spirits or animal spirits. This occult ritual is promoted in classrooms nationwide and spiritual seekers flock to America’s sacred “power places” (Sedona, Mt. Shasta, Alberta…) in search of their personal spirit guide. Today, unlike a decade ago, the demonic personalities respond quickly to the summons – with devastating consequences to the host. Psychologists in Alberta, Canada, face an explosion of tormenting “multiple personalities” among gullible spiritual seekers and testify to acceleration of demonic activity in the area. This is no time to minimize the power of Satan, the destructiveness of sin, or the overcoming power of God.
An Introduction to Christian Mysticism, Lectures given at the Abbey of Gethsemani, MS. (1961), 145. Quoted by Kenneth Leech, Soul Friend (HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), 146.
Roy Bailey and Mike Brake, Radical Social Work (1975), 1. Quoted by Leech, 147.
Encyclopedia Britannica, XI (Chicago: William Benton, 1968), 810.
An expression used often to describe what is happening in public education, where teaching is geared to the lowest common denominator.
Acts 17:11, Revelation 2:2
Personal consequences are listed in Scriptures like Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Peter 3:16 and Rev. 22:18-19.
[Article Reprinted with Permission]
by Bert Kjos 2003
Original Source: http://www.crossroad.to/Bible_studies/Message.html
|Dr. Terry Watkins||Dial-the-Truth Ministries|
[Article reprinted with permission]
|With today’s epidemic of Bible per-versions spreading like a runaway virus, nothing should shock us . . . but buckle up! If you have any spiritual pulse, Eugene Peterson’sThe Message will shock you. The Message promotes the mystical New Age message with a boldness never seen in a mainstream Bible. The Message has sold over 10 million copies and has continually ranked among the top five best-selling Bibles. The Message website (www.navpress.com) displays endorsements from such prominent Christians as Billy Graham, Chuck Swindoll, Christianity Today, Dan Quayle, Bill Hybels, Gordon Fee, J.I. Packer, Jack Hayford, Jerry Jenkins, Jerry Savelle, John Maxwell, Max Lucado, Richard Foster, Rick Warren, Rod Parsley, Tony Campolo and Warren Wiersbe, among many others.This article will barely scratch the surface of the mystic New Age religion filling The Message. And this article only examines the New Age mysticism in The Message, we do not examine the treason against the Deity of Jesus Christ, salvation and scores of other fundamental doctrines. Note: We’ll refer to the King James Bible as KJB, the New Age Movement as NAM, and The Message Bible as The Mess.
The first blast from The Mess attacks the “Lord.”
The “Lord” occurs a whopping 7970 times in the KJB — more than any other noun. Of the 8,000-plus different words used in the KJB, the “Lord” ranks 14th among the most occurrences (number 13 is the single letter “a”). Only helper words such as “the”; “of”; “in”; “to”; et. al. occur more often.
The Mess contains the “Lord” only 71 times! The “Lord” ranks 1087th among words in The Mess. It appears the same number of times as words like “question” or “reputation.”
In the New Testament, (ironically, the Testament of the “Lord” Jesus Christ) the “Lord” appears a skimpy 23 times in The Mess. The Mess NEVER directly honors Jesus Christ as Lord. The “Lord Jesus” occurs 118 times in the King James Bible. The “Lord Jesus Christ” occurs 84 times in the King James Bible. The phrase “Lord Jesus Christ” or “Lord Jesus” is not in The Mess! The outright denial of the “Lord” Jesus has never occurred in ANY translation.
Let us clarify something . . . the total amputation of the “Lord Jesus” is no accident. It is not an issue of translation or Greek manuscripts. It is not a matter of updating archaic words or making it easier to understand. It was a deliberate and intentional doctrinal decision to remove the “Lord Jesus.”
It is interesting that Judas Iscariot never calls Jesus “Lord.”
The Bible states 13 times Judas “betrayed” the Lord Jesus; Judas was possessed of Satan (Luke 22:3); Jesus Christ calls Judas “a devil” (John 6:70); Jesus calls Judas the “son of perdition” (John 17:12 – which is also the title of the antichrist in 2 Thess. 2:3). The Bible describes hell as Judas’ “own place” (Acts 1:25).
Judas always addressed Jesus as “Master” — never “Lord.” Following the footsteps of Judas the “betrayer,” the Mess also “betrays” the Lord, always calling Jesus “Master” – never “Lord”!
Another partner in the “Master Jesus” plan is the New Age religion. The root of the New Age Movement (NAM) teaches during various “ages,” teachers or guides arise called “Masters.” Helena Blavatsky, the guru of the modern-day New Age Movement, wrote extensively of these enlightened “masters.” In the 1980’s, the book Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow by Constance Cumbey, exposed the New Age Movement. Mrs. Cumbey defines the mystic new age as:
In his best selling book, A Crash Course on the New Age Movement, author Elliot Miller describes the new age Jesus as:
Second only to Blavatasky in the New Age hierarchy, is Alice Bailey. Author Constance Cumbey says Bailey, “. . . did more than anyone, except perhaps H. P. Blavatsky, to build the foundations for the ‘New Age’.” (Cumbey, Constance, Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, p. 49) In 1922 Alice Bailey formed Lucifer Trust Publishing, which was later renamed to the subtle Lucis Trust Publishing. Bailey wrote extensively on the “Master Jesus.” The following quote are but one of the hundreds of references to the New Age “Master Jesus”:
New age researchers quickly discover the Jesus of the New Age is not the “Lord” Jesus but “Master” Jesus:
The Mess calls Jesus “Master” over 400 times and the unique New Age phrase “Master Jesus” appears 76 times! The only other Bible I found “Master Jesus” in was the New Age Bible titled The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ!
The following examples (among many) of the “Master Jesus” in The Mess loudly echo the Judas-inspired, New Age doctrine of the “Master Jesus.”
The Bible in 1 Corinthians 12:3 warns against spiritual counterfeits such as The Mess that deny Jesus is the “Lord.” Notice how the Mess attempts to cover its tracks by perverting the same verse.
Not content with propagating the NAM “Master Jesus,” The Mess continues its “master” plan. The “Lord God” occurs 546 times in the King James Bible. The “Lord God” briefly appears 9 times in the Mess. The Mess replaces the “Lord God” with “Master God.” I could not find the “Master God” in any other Bible version.
Again, notice the new age, mystic tone of the “Master God” in the Mess.
The Mess travels to “loony land” deleting the “Lord.” Rather than correctly translate the “Lord God,” The Mess crafts the gobbledygook phrase “God, God.” It also deceitfully slips in a comma attempting to justify the goofy Mess.
The NAM identifies their “Masters” as “divine guardians” and “custodians of the Divine Plan.” The New-Age Tara Center describes the “Masters” as “custodians” of the Divine Plane:
In Deuteronomy 32:8, the Mess also references these “divine guardians” who “care for the Earth.” This is not Bible Christianity. And this is not in the Hebrew text! Notice the complete change from the King James Bible.
The New Age Movement revolves around the “One.” Riplinger writes in New Age Versions: “Virtually all exposes on the New Age Movement observe ‘the One’ is thismovement’s object of worship.” (Riplinger, G.A. New Age Versions, p. 85)
New Age guru H.P. Blavatsky teaches the NAM begins with “the One”:
In the following quote Blavatsky states Jehovah and the Serpent [Satan] that tempted Eve both are the “One”.
The One theology stems from pantheism. The word Pantheism derives from the Greek words pan meaning “all” and theos meaning “god.” Pantheism teaches God is All and All is God or “One”. It rejects a personal, loving God, instead defining God as “Presence” or “One.” Infoplease defines “pantheism” as “a denial of God’s personality and expresses a tendency to identify God and nature.” The god Pan appears as a cloven-foot, half-man, half-goat satyr playing the hypnotic “pan pipes.” (Ezek. 28:13) Occultist Albert Pike describes Satan as “. . . the mythologic and horned form of the God Pan. . .” (Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 102) The Satanic Bible (p. 144) also includes Pan in its list of Infernal Names of Satan. Hence, a pan-theist follows Satan.
During a NAM meeting in Boulder, New Age leader Jose Arguelles told his listeners to, “. . . invite “PAN” in, accepting him as the leader and guide for their lives. . . that ‘right now Mother Earth is bringing Pan back to save us and lead us into the New Age. We can help by surrendering to him. . .” (www.raidersnewsupdate.com/gaia.htm)
Make no mistake — Pan is the “One” of the New Age religion.
The New Testament of the King James Bible never refers to God or the Lord Jesus as the impersonal One. Several times Jesus Christ is called the Holy One and the Just One, but never an impersonal, mystic One. The Mess changes the personal pronouns such as he and him (that reference Jesus and God) and personal nouns such as the Father, with the impersonal pantheistic “One” over 102 times in the New Testament! The following verses from The Mess loudly resonant the New Age “One” mantra.
Building upon the “One” concept, a distinct code-word among the mystic New Agers is “oneness.”
“Oneness” is an unusual and bizarre word, not appearing in most dictionaries. Only New Agers recognize the “oneness” teaching. Following the mystic New Age “Oneness” script, The Mess says in Ephesians 4:6, “Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness“. The word “permeate” means “spread throughout” or “to penetrate”. According to The Mess, “Everything you are and think and do is spread throughout with Oneness.” Make no mistake about it — this is heavy-duty New Age doctrine.
The New Age guidebook Metaphysical Primer: A Guide to Understanding Metaphysics gives nearly the exact same principle of the New Age Movement, “Everything is one with everything else. All that is on Earth is an expression of the One Deity and is permeated with Its energies.” (Yungen, Ray. A Time of Departing, p. 52)
The Mess doesn’t stop there. It continues to spread the New Age “Oneness.”
Another “oneness” term the New Age Religion exercises is “interdependence.”
Constance Cumbey writes in The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, “Another key teaching of this movement is that all things are ‘interconnected’ or ‘interdependent’”. (Cumbey, Constance, The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, p. 67)
Cult author Dr. Walter Martin, identifies “interdependence” as a New Age “buzz-word” used to “describe the oneness”.
Like a hypnotized cobra being charmed by the sweet sound of the piper, The Mess serenely dances to the New Age Piper (Ezek. 28:13) while singing the song of interdependence.
Another key New Age teaching surrounds “the Presence.” The NAM “Presence” forms a mystic, impersonal pantheist “presence” of God. The following quotes reveal the importance of the “Presence” in the New Age agenda.
Alice Bailey reveals the “Presence” strikes a blow at the Biblical “transcendent” God or a God that exists apart from nature and man.
The Mess refers to God at least 34 times as the NAM “Presence.” Teaching the God of the Bible as a mystic Presence constitutes blatant blasphemy. This can only be defined within a New Age viewpoint. In sharp contrast, remember, the Mess NEVER directly refers to Jesus as Lord. The following verses (of many) echo the NAM mystic “Presence” of the Mess:
The Mess calls the sacred “shewbread” as the mystic “Bread of the Presence” eight times [Ex. 25:30, 35:13, 39:36, 1 Sam. 21:6, 1 Kings 7:48, 2 Chron. 4:19, 29:18].
Energy activates the spiritual “force” of the New Age religion. Prayers, meditations, invocations, and rituals all create energies.
Alice Bailey references “energy” over 1029 in the Rays and The Initiations. New Age disciple and popular, folk-rocker Tori Amos, defines this New Age energy as Lucifer, while readily confessing her love and worship of Lucifer.
The Mess explicitly promotes the NAM mystical “energy.” Energy appears 40 times in The Mess. Note: Energy only appears one time in some of the other per-versions. The Mess leaves no doubt concerning its faith in the New Age “energy” force.
In Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:28, the Mess changes “pray” to “the energies of prayer.” Apparently, God no longer answers our prayers, instead, the prayer itself, generates “the energy.” The Bible definition of prayer means “to ask.” (Matthew 21:22)
Mark 5:30 and Luke 16:19 no longer reads “virtue” leaving the Lord Jesus, but “energy discharging” or “surging” from him.
The following are a few more (of many) undeniable NAM “energy” doctrine in the Mess:
A casual study of the New Age religion quickly exposes their light-god. A best selling New Age book of the 90’s was Embraced by the Light by Betty Eadie. Light is the cornerstone of NAM.
The popular new age prayer called The Great Invocation by Alice Bailey, (originally published by Lucifer Publishing), begins with the words, “From the point of Light within the Mind of God
Marilyn Ferguson, states in her best-selling New-Age guidebook, The Aquarian Conspiracy:
The guiding light of NAM is Lucifer, which means “light bearer.” Hence, new age disciples proudly label themselves, “light bearers.” The Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto, under the listing for “Lucifer,” simply says “see LIGHT.” (p. 329) The definition for “light” then reads “. . . Latin lux ‘light’ which English gets Lucifer, literally ‘light bearer’.” (Ayto, John. Dictionary of Word Origins, p. 323) 2 Corinthians 11:14, says, “. . . Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” In Luke 10:18, Jesus Christ says, “. . . I beheld Satan as lightning . . .”
The following excerpts from New Age material testify of their “light” god:
The Mess is flooded with the mystic NAM “light.” The Mess adds “light” when light is not in the text. It magically transforms simple “light” into NAM “God-light” or “Life-light.” The following verses from The Mess compared with the KJB clearly reveal the NAM “light” agenda.
Lucifer literally means “light bearer.” And New Agers, who recognize Lucifer as their god, proudly wear the title “light-bearer.”
The Mystic Mess also claims the Luciferian New Age banner, “light-bearer.”
Another well-known NAM term is “light-seeds.” And again (and again. . .), The Mess preaches NAM agenda.
Anyone familiar with New Age and Eastern mysticism knows the importance of the lotus. H.P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine contains a chapter titled “The Lotus as a Universal Symbol.” The Secret Doctrine, directly mentions the mystic lotus over 80 times. In Alice Bailey’s A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, the lotus carries over 249 references. No symbol is more sacred in the New Age mysticism than the lotus.
Blavatsky describes the “Lotus” god of the New Age.
The New Age Aquarian Gospel of Jesus, crowns Jesus with the “Lotus wreath.”
The Dictionary of Symbolism states the sacred “lotus blossom” originated from “primordial ooze” and arose to become “the divine creator of the world.”
The Mess writes the most blasphemous and openly New Age propaganda ever recorded in a mainstream Bible. The Mess transforms the Lord Jesus from the “lily of the valley” to the mystic “lotus blossom from the valley pools.”
Notice the Mess degrades the beautiful “rose of Sharon” to a crude “wildflower picked from the plains of Sharon.”
In Micah 7:14, The Mess performs more New Age magick. It transforms “midst of Carmel” into a blatant new age phrase “centered in lotus land.”
In Romans 15:13, the Mess contains the most bizarre statement ever in a mainstream Bible.
Who is the “God of green hope”?
The “green hope” originated with the hellish, human sacrificing, Druids. The publication Talks on Freemasonry states, “Green was, with the Druids, a symbol of hope and the virtue of hope with a Freemason illustrates the hope of immortality.” (Kenneth Tuckwood, Talks on Freemasonry) The “green hope” mantra is a popular rallying cry in the new age Mother-Earth environmental movement. In NAM “green” signifies Oneness with the Earth, hence the title of William Anderson’s book, Green Man: The Archetype of Our Oneness with the Earth.
Chanting occupies a central role in paganism and mysticism. The popular book, Chant and be Happy, featuring former Beatle and Krishna disciple George Harrison states, “By serving GOD through each thought, word, and DEED, and by chanting HIS Holy Names, the devotee quickly develops God-consciousness.” Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience, defines “chanting” as: “The continuous recitation of a mantra. . . which helps one achieve an altered state of conscious, ecstasy, communion with the divine. . .” (Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience, p. 92). The word “chant” occurs only one time (Amos 6:5) in the KJB and refers to idolatry. The mystic Mess includes “chant” 9 times. (Jdg 5:11; Psa 35:15; Psa 71:24; Jer 9:10; Jer 51:14; Eze 26:17; Eze 32:16 (3 times); Rev 4:8; Rev 4:10) In Revelation 4, the four and twenty elders (vs 10) and the four beasts (vs 8), before the throne of God, are “chanting.”
As the name implies, the New Age religion teaches a series of “ages.” The Mess promotes the New Age religion with the phrases “age after age” (Rev. 4:9; 4:10; 14:11) and “age after age after age” (Psalm 72:5; Rev. 5:13; 22:5).
A popular New Age, Oneness-Pantheistic, teaching says, “as above, so below.” New Age Journal published a book titled As Above, So Below. The Introduction says, “’As above, so below’ means that the two worlds are instantaneously seen to be one when we realize our essential unity with God. . . . The One and the many, time and eternity are all One.” (New Age Journal, So Above, So Below, p. xi)
The Mess quietly transforms the hallowed “Lord’s Prayer” into a New Age “as above, so below” invocation.
In Matthew 6:10, The King James begins with the familiar, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
The mystic Mess reads, “Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best– as above, so below.”
The Bible says in Psalm 119:140, “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.”
Note. The following verses from The Message include vulgar and offensive language. I recognize the sensitivity of my readers, but The Message is heavily marketed towards the youth by scores of Contemporary Christian Musicians, including CDs of verses from The Message. The only accurate way to expose this filth is to show the verses. Remember this is a “Bible” recommended by tons of prominent Christian leaders!
When the King James Bible describes intimate relationships and immoral behavior there remains a careful wholesome tone in its wording. It doesn’t sugar-coat the sin, but it doesn’t smell with the stench of the world. Contrary to the pure Words of God – the Mess wallows in the sewers of smut. The Mess smells of “sex, sex, and more sex.”
The word “sex” appears 199 times, (remember the “lord” appears only 71 times). The Mess contains enough “sex” to satisfy even Hugh Hefner. There is sexual intercourse (Jdg 21:11); sex goddess (2Ki 21:7); sexual predators (Job 24:15); sexual excesses (Job 36:14); sex shrines (Jer 5:7); sluttish sex (Eze 16:24); sex orgies (Eze 16:26); sexual prowess (Eze 23:21); obsessive sex (Eze 23:49); filthy sex (Eze 24:13); loose sex (Hos 4:2); drunk on sex (Hos 4:12); sex-worship (Hos 4:19); popular sex gods (Hos 11:2); lewd sex-worship (Hos 13:1); sacred sex-and-power centers (Mic 5:14); sexual orgies (Hab 2:15); sexually confused (Rom 1:27); sexual transmission (Rom 9:8); scandalous sex (1Co 5:1); sexually promiscuous (1Co 5:9); sexual sins (1Co 6:18); sexual relations (1Co 7:1); sexual drives (1Co 7:2); sexually tortured life (1Co 7:9); sexual disorder (2Co 12:21); cheap sex (Gal 5:19); sexual obsession (Eph 4:19); casual and illicit sex (Heb 13:4); sexual filth (2Pe 2:7); sexual rack and ruin (Jud 1:7); dirty sex (Jud 1:8); and sex peddlers (Rev 21:8). Note: most of the above phrases occur several times.
The Mess routinely uses crude words such as “genitals,” “semen”, “slut,” and “streetwalking whore.”
Jeremiah 8:13 even quotes a Holy God calling Israel “a slut.” Notice the wording of the King James Bible.
In Ezekiel 16:24, The Mess spews the most vulgar and crude language ever recorded in a mainstream Bible:
While “sex, sex, and more sex” floods the Mess, the sodomites disappear. The “men” of Sodom in Genesis 13:13 are now “people of Sodom.” The Mess completely pardons the “sodomites,” replacing them with the inoffensive and meaningless “sacred prostitutes.”
The Bible admonishes us to, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. . .” (Eph. 4:29) The Mess routinely speaks “corrupt communication” with some curse words in its pages.
“Damn” appears many times in precarious settings.
Nothing seems sacred to the Mess, even descending to using the “G.D.” word.
Notice how different the words of God’s tender compassion found in the King James Bible in Micah 3:5:
Like this “present evil world,” The Mess enjoys perverting and redefining the word “hell.”
And there’s a lot more filth in The Mess. . . This tract contains just a small drop in the mystic and malignant poison infecting the Mystic Message. I’m reminded of Ronald Reagan’s eloquent critique of the Good News Bible during his famous radio address on September 6. 1977. Comparing the Good New Bible to the King James Bible, President Reagan closed with these insightful words:
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