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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Message...God's Word or a Man's Mystical Misinterpretation



Hello All,

As I return to the blog, I want to begin by pointing out the subtle dangers of Eugene Peterson's "The Message"Bible. This is supposed to be a paraphrase of the Bible, but as you will see, it's much more than that. 


Please understand that this isn't about telling you which version of the Bible you should or shouldn't be using.  I do sympathize with my KJV only brothers and sisters for wanting the purity of God's Word, but I don't fall in that category.  I personally own the KJV, NASB, NIV, ESV and several others including the paraphrase Living Bible.  However, I would not suggest the Living Bible for an in depth Bible study.  But...I would not compare it to "The Message" paraphrase by Eugene Peterson.  There IS a difference... There IS an agenda.



 At one time in my less discerning days, I bought this new "bible" for myself and many friends and family members.  I loved the simple to understand "modern day" language.  I read Mr. Peterson's version of the "new testament" and some of the "old testament".


However, once I studied the new age and the occult, it was becoming clear that there was much more behind this mystical mess than meets the eye.  


Much of the phrasing and language is straight from new age and occult terminology. Once I  learned a little more about Mr. Peterson's liberal background, I began to understand the scripture twisting, and his real agenda to present a false Christ. The one within us all.    


If you will read each article presented, I think you will see that there is really no argument to support "The Message" as solid Christian food, in fact it's a complete dog's breakfast.


Unless...you adhere to liberal theology and/or new age and occult thinking.

This is the first of a series by Vicky Dillen of SeekGod.ca. At the bottom of this first article there are links to the rest of the case against "The Message".  Please continue reading them, as I probably won't put them all on this site.  Also, check out the many other in- depth articles that are well written and researched on discernment.

-Chris




1 Corinthians 2:12 -13
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.




The Message: 
Eugene Peterson's Opinion of The Bible





Overview


In the various related articles about The Message, analysis and information will be presented showing various theological bias implanted within The Message as well as verse and doctrine comparison to other versions. Research will be presented regarding the various promotions by NavPress, the publisher of The Message, using the words: Bible, Bible version, complete Bible, translation, paraphrase, complete Old and New Testament, accurate and so on. The research will present endorsements for The Message also used by the publisher as a means of authenticating this book as accurate, and will include biographical information on those many well known, and perhaps not so well known individuals.
The research article referring to Dr. Eugene Peterson addresses the assumption many have that Eugene Peterson has a doctorate in languages, which in many minds, would qualify his translating a Bible. However, several correspondences with NavPress proves that Eugene Peterson has no doctorate, with the definitive statement, "He doesn't have a PhD but he has 3 honorary doctorates from Seattle Pacific University, Messiah and Northwestern."
Further documentation shows that while having a BA in Philosophy at Seattle Pacific University, there was no language study mentioned in relation to that degree. Language study in Greek and Hebrew, with no clarification of what time was spent on either or qualification of time spent learning Koine Greek versus classical Greek, was limited to the two years spent at New York Theological Seminary. Originally called Biblical Seminary, this is where Eugene Peterson first attended to obtain a STB or bachelors in sacred theology, which focus, again, was not specifically languages. That was followed by a one year stint at Johns Hopkins where an MA in Semitic Languages was obtained, which means Koine Greek was not part of that course.  His return to New York Theological Seminary to teach "biblical languages and English Bible" was for a brief period, from 1959-1960.
The honorary doctorates Eugene Peterson has received are discussed as well as the teaching positions he has held, including, for example, the ecumenical Regent University, his return to the ecumenical New York Theological Seminary, the ecumenical St. Mary's Seminary, the first Catholic seminary in the U.S. It is owned and operated by the Sulpician Fathers, who are diocesan priests dedicated to the continued formation of priests for the Catholic church. These teaching positions are discussed in relation to his time spent at each and the theological positions of the various universities or seminaries.
Research is also presented concerning Eugene Peterson's Pentecostal background and his ordination in the United Presbyterian Church, the relations that denomination has with the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement in general. It should be noted that his Pentecostal bias concerning tongues and "private prayer language" is implanted into The Message.
In depth information is expanded on within a separate article concerning the ecumenical New York Theological Seminary, it's association with the National Council of Churches, World Council of Churches, the late Norman Vincent Peale's Marble Church, Riverside Church, the Rockefellers, The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Temple of Understanding and so on.
In other articles discussion will focus on Eugene Peterson's ties to The Chrysostom Society, its members and various associations, Renovar√©  & the concept of Christian Mystics, the contemplative prayer movement, and also the ecumenical theHighCalling.org which posts his devotionals. The National Council of Churches, World Council of Churches, etc., published the NRSV which is the source for Richard Foster's The Renovar√© Spiritual Formation Bible. Eugene Peterson played a significant role as editor for that New Testament as well as a contributor to various articles within it.
Changing the Word of God
Some of the promotions and reader comments of The Message indicate that this Bible or paraphrase ortranslation is so user friendly, and the wording so easy to comprehend, that all will be able to understand what a person could not before.
One might well ask, if it is so user friendly and understandable, why did a "Study Guide" need to be developed specifically with The Message of Hope, but also compatible with all The Messageproducts, and including definitions for terms and words the average person would not know?
"....This guide is intended to be useful to persons with little or no background in the Bible. Instead of verse numbers, we refer to page numbers in The Message of Hope.People and terms that the average person probably won’t recognize are defined briefly..." 1


Many contend that the Word of God is a closed canon and one cannot change or add to or subtract from it. If one peruses The Message one finds that major doctrines and verses which are found in the original manuscripts stated to have been used by Eugene Peterson as his resources, have been changed or eliminated.  That makes The Message, either new divine revelation, of which there has been no specific claim, or heretical writings, and brings into question Eugene Peterson's statements such as, "The Message isn't writing, it's translating." If The Message was direct revelation from God or an accurate translation, then we can no longer view any other Bible as accurate, simply because of the doctrinal changes within The Message
Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. 6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
If Mr. Peterson has changed the meaning of God's Word, then it is no longer the Word of God or a Bible, as many would maintain.
Eugene Peterson has claimed to put the language of The Message into the language of today, street language, or the language used by the average person in the United States. Based on that, the contemporary understanding of words or phrases is meant to reflect how individuals would understand them in current times. Because of this, we would then need to examine if any of the words or phrases would hold any mystical, occult/new age, or gnostic meaning to the average person, if that is how the words are used in today's society. The implication is that in this “updating” of the language, words were changed because a person might not understand what was meant according to the words translated from the original manuscripts via other translators in the traditional Bibles.
Eugene Peterson wanted to create or translate his paraphrase using the "rhythms and idioms" of what he perceived the original languages would convey if spoken today. According to his statements he was not concerned about word for word or thought for thought translation. Perusing The Message, one finds the writing is often doctrinally empty and not at all the sound doctrine and faith, 'once delivered to the saints'. His ecumenical theological bias which involves mysticism, means that the implanted doctrines are his interpretations based on what he believes people experience, what he would like them to experience or has experienced himself.



Mysticism is defined in various ways on the internet, including:
Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition:
mysticism: "a mental practice in which the mind is stilled so that it experiences the highest and most abstract conception of Godhead or Ultimate Reality free from any distracting thoughts whatsoever. Orthodox forms of mysticism include the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, the Spiritual Guide of Miguel De Molinos (Christian), the classical Qabalah (Judaism), Sufism (Islam), Yoga, Buddhism, Zen, Taoism, etc. ..."
2


Theological Dictionary > mysticism: "The belief that knowledge of divine truth or the soul's union with the divine is attainable by spiritual insight or ecstatic contemplation without the medium of the senses or reason" 3
For a New Age view, from "The Global Oneness Commitment", mysticism is defined thusly:
"Mysticism is usually defined in dictionaries and encyclopedias as a spiritual discipline used to make contact with the divine. ... The mystical event is a personal experience during which one feels as though one has been touched by some higher or greater truth or power. This may occur inside or outside of a religious setting, within or outside a religious tradition."4.
 With all of the recent publicity given to the Gospel of Judas, and The DaVinci code, the termgnostic has become a part of daily media discussions. The gnostics believed in the dualism between two gods, one who was good or the Supreme Father who was from the good spirit world, and the other one who was evil or the Demiurge , also known as the God of the Bible. One of the actions that the evil god perpetrated, was to create evil and the physical or material world. The good god, who was the secret, hidden, unknown god, existed in the kingdom of light. The primary objective of the gnostics was to reveal this unknown god. They believed that Jesus was merely a heavenly being sent to impart secret knowledge, or gnosis to people in order to enlighten them. The Jesus that they preached had come to bring a secret knowledge, and through this knowledge people would be awakened spiritually to their “divine spark”, and to reveal that every person has this spark of god within. They believed that this “spark” was trapped in the physical bodies longing to be set free. 
For example, in the Gospel of JudasJesus tells Judas that he will be doing Him a great service by “sacrificing the man that clothes me” (flesh) so that He could be be released from His physical body and reunited with the unknown god in the kingdom of light. There was no need for Jesus to die on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice, only for Him to impart this knowledge to all, and by this secret knowledge they would attain salvation. His death was viewed as important only because it freed Him from his evil flesh.
In the article Literal Kabbalah: Gematria & Numerology, gnosis was discussed and defined by various authors. It included the following:


In "Gnosis: The Nature & History of Gnosticism," Kurt Rudolph exposes the true character of Gnosticism as a heresy that infiltrates and destroys Christianity from within:
" ... The process, which is plain from the New Testament itself, is twofold, the Christianising of Gnosis and the gnosticising of Christianity. The result of both processes is the canonizing of Christianity as an orthodox Church on the one hand, and the elimination of Gnosis as a heresy on the other. Gnosis as we meet it in the New Testament is understood less as an alien pagan religion; " rather, it is only dealt with so far as it is a phenomenon within Christianity." The gnostics feel themselves as Christians and present themselves as such in the young Christian communities. Thus it is a danger of more from inside than from outside about which Paul is already said to have given warning. (Acts: 20:29)" 18.
Gnosticism, according to Rudolph, aims at "the acute secularization of Christianity,"...
....Gnostics sought to replace the Christian Scriptures with their own.
"... By way of systematically perverting the doctrines of the Christian faith the Gnostics claimed to possess the true versions of the Gospels, and professed belief in these to the exclusion of all the other..." 20.
end excerpt~
Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
As one reviews the many foundational passages concerning Christ, salvation and so on, it becomes clear that aside from being extremely ecumenical and with specific theological bias, there is a presentation of universalism which allows all who follow the message in The Message, to be saved. The focus many times is not specifically salvation through Jesus Christ alone or God's grace. It is about sincerely being Christian, resolving conflicts with others, being nice or good, and practicing Christianity or living for God, or having the "God-life" which is also a Renovar√© concept. If one thinks they are a Christian, then that must be so, whether they actually know Jesus Christ or not.

Psalms 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

Absolutes and foundational doctrines, although not denied in all relevant passages, become set aside for religious experience of some kind in others. At times there is a deliberate elimination of the deity of Christ, and other foundations, although they are also implied or stated at times. God is not the author of confusion. Instead of the Word of God providing consistent and distinct truths by which we are to live, The Message (and many other interpretations), attempts to use allegory, treats some passages as nice stories to learn by and removes the authority the Word of God should have in our lives.

In fact in Matthew 13:34-35 we read:


Mat 13:34 All Jesus did that day was tell stories--a long storytelling afternoon. 35 His storytelling fulfilled the prophecy: I will open my mouth and tell stories; I will bring out into the open things hidden since the world's first day.
Jesus was not simply telling stories as The Message in Matthew 13:34 implies.  "All Jesus did that day was tell stories." He was fulfilling prophecy and the Scriptures.

KJBThe MessageNASBNIVNKJBNRSV
Psalm 78:2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of oldI'm chewing on the morsel of a proverb; I'll let you in on the sweet old truths,...a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,...in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of oldin a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,...a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old
Matt 13:35That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.
His storytelling fulfilled the prophecy: I will open my mouth and tell stories; I will bring out into the open things hidden since the world's first day.
This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES; I WILL UTTER THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD." So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: "I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world." that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world."This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: "I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world."
The use of stories and storytelling is different than the word parable which is a 'life' story which can be applied to all.

In the article 'Have Nothing to do With Fables' the difference between a fable, a story and parable were defined.
A Parable, which Jesus used frequently, is a short story of everyday life used to teach a moral by comparison or by implication. According to Strong's Concordance, it is "an earthly story with a heavenly meaning." Jesus taught the truth with situations that could easily be applied in our own lives.
A fable on the other hand, occurs five times in the New Testament, and is defined as this: [all bolding and underlining mine]
Fable (def)--1. A story made up to teach a lesson; 2. an untrue story; falsehood 3. A legend, Myth.
Someone who tells a fable is called this:
Fabulist (def.) -- 1. A person who tells, writes, or makes up fablesa liar.
Someone who writes fables or old wives tales is agreeing to write about something that is fictitious.
Fabled (def.) -- 1. told about in fables, legends or myths 2. Having no real existence; made up; fictitious.
Old wives' tale (def.) -- a foolish story; silly belief.
There are some who also say the Bible is composed of myth –meaning it has no foundation in truth. The stories of the Old Testament are just as true as what is recounted in the New Testament. They are historical records which actions and behaviors relay prophecy, fulfilled prophecy, how to live or not live for God.  If one believes they contain myths and just stories that we can pull out to learn a life lesson from, then we miss the reality that Jesus is the Word of God and the Bible is the record of how to live for him.
Each time the word fable occurs in the New Testament, the underlying Greek wordmuthos (3454 moothos), is used, which is where the English word myth comes from. Strong's Concordance says the word means "a tale, i.e. fiction (myth): fable." 
One can’t say the Scriptures are myths and then true, ..."
We are reminded:
2 Timothy 4:2-4 
"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season: reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
At times in The Message, there is a total lack of reverence for Almighty God, when the Scriptures would normally be addressing God in such a manner, or it is written like a childish 'primer', with repetitive notions such as 'Yes, Yes, Yes," which one would be hard pressed to find any adult expressing themselves in such a manner. In fact eternity or everlasting or similar are changed to such repetitive phrasing as "always, always, always", "day after day after day", "age after age after age," etc.. For example: Psalm 41:13:


Blessed is GOD, Israel's God, always, always, always. Yes. Yes. Yes. [The Message]


Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen [KJB]



The 'earthy' language and claim of Biblical accuracy of The Message removes the reader from considering what the actual Scriptures do say, and rather, this biased reinvention of the Word of God becomes the doctrine by which to live. Those who would protest this evaluation, need to read on.


1Thessalonians 5:21-22
21. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.



2 Timothy 3:16-17 
16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Next Suggested ArticleThe Message and Dr. Eugene Peterson



Related Articles







Footnotes
1. November 2005 http://www.navpress.com/Assets/PDF/Message/MOHguide.pdf 
2. Journal of the Western Mystery TraditionNo. 0, Vernal Equinox 2001 www.jwmt.org/v1n0/glossary2.html
3. Theological Dictionary http://www.innvista.com/culture/religion/diction.htm
4. The Global Oneness Commitment ; http://www.experiencefestival.com/mysticism_archives
5. http://www9.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/_pdf/GospelofJudas.pdf




Copyrights:





E-Sword® Version 7.7.7  Copyright © 2000-2005  Rick Meyers All Rights Reserved Worldwide
THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language
This edition issued by contractual arrangement with NavPress, a division of The Navigators, U.S.A. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All Rights Reserved.
Power Bible CD > KJB, NASB, NIV, NKJB, NRSV
The Power BibleCD program is Copyright ©1999-2005 Phil Lindner, Online Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Copyrighted Bible texts are published with permission by Online Publishing, Inc. (ROCKware Publishing). The copyright holders reserve all rights to their material.




The King James Version of the Holy Bible
KJV 1769 edition, public domain.

The New King James Version
Copyright ©1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
The New International Version
Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by The International Bible Society. All rights reserved. Used by permission.





The New American Standard Bible
The New American Standard Bible 1995 Update
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(r), Copyright (c) 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."

The New Revised Standard Version
Copyrighted ©1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used with permission.
Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionary
Taken from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, by James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D., 1890. Public domain.





All Scriptures from the KJB
Copyright . All articles are the sole property of SeekGod.ca and Vicky Dillen






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