The Message Bible – Critical Reviews

The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language was created by pastor, scholar, author, and poet  Eugene Peterson  who passed away in 2018 at the age of 85 years old. The Message falls on the extreme dynamic end of the dynamic and formal equivalence spectrum. Over the past 25 years, the various ‘‘Message’’ translations have sold, according to Rev. Peterson’s literary agency, more than 20 million copies. His books have been and remain popular with Christians of different traditions, from Catholics to Southern Baptists to members of some evangelical churches and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I personally do NOT recommend “The Message” for general reading, nor especially for dedicated Biblical study, due to many liberties taken, some of which are specifically identified below.

The following links provide critical information pertaining to “The Message” rendering, for your consideration.

https://www.gotquestions.org/The-Message-MSG.html

https://www.biola.edu/blogs/good-book-blog/2016/why-we-should-stop-using-the-message

https://www.biola.edu/blogs/good-book-blog/2016/problem-passages-in-the-message

https://banneroftruth.org/us/resources/articles/2013/shall-read-message/

https://www.equip.org/article/the-message-bible/

https://fortheloveofhistruth.com/2011/10/07/why-is-the-message-bible-not-safe/

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/should-we-still-read-eugene-peterson/

https://www.challies.com/articles/eugene-petersons-philosophy-of-bible-translation/

https://www.bible-researcher.com/themessage.html

https://www.doveministries.com/key-issues/dangers-of-the-message-bible/

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

 

 

36 comments

  1. Your last two posts, opposed to the one relative to Philippians 4:8 you had posted a few days ago, is back in the anger mode I am used to seeing from you. As I had pointed out, ‘bottled up emotion’ and ‘bitterness towards other Christians.’ Go pray to the healer, Bruce. Or, talk to a therapist about the deep pain you carry. You must be miserable.

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    • Well good morning Damon, nice to speak with you too! I’m not angry, just making observations, you know, like you do. And, contrary to what you may think, I don’t carry any deep pain, nor am I miserable. You have yourself a blessed day!

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      • I thought long and hard about releasing your latest slur Damon, but you seem determined, so here you go. I hope it makes you feel better. And just so you know, the A.K.A as Papa, that I have noted on my https://bcooper.wordpress.com/about/ page, and that you find so distasteful, is what my 7 grandchildren call me, which if I am not mistaken, is quite a common term for a grandfather, which I obviously am. But using that nickname, as you have indicated previously, is a sign of a narcissistic mind. Hope you’re feeling better soon. – Bruce

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      • What is it with you two?! I think you have some kind of bromance going on and, deep down, like each other really. Love to you both. xx

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      • Hi Lesley, really nice to hear from you! If you check on Damon’s site for the last couple of years, you won’t find any disparaging comments authored by me (actually no comments at all), nor will you find any derogatory comments stated by me when I respond to his comments on my site, so I’m pretty sure the “bromance” doesn’t apply. Not to mention his statement that he has “developed a deep disgust” for me in one of his recent posts. (https://my-journey-online.com/2022/02/19/a-made-man/ refers). What I do know is that God’s love for Damon, available through Jesus, is still there, available to be experienced, and I do try to respond to Damon’s accusatory comments without responding in like manner, but Damon sure isn’t making it easy. Thank you for taking the time to comment and expressing your loving concern. Sincerely hope that all is going well with you. Blessings! – Bruce

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      • Hi Bruce, I hope you know that my comment was sent in a light-hearted manner. You don’t have to explain anything – I see how it plays out. I like both of you. I’m doing pretty well at the moment, thanks. 🙂

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      • Hi Damon, your last submitted comment authored “on your own defence” is not being released. I do not use accusatory adjectives such as “bored and ignorant” in my responses to you when commenting on non-believers such as yourself, and I would appreciate it if you would endeavour to reciprocate in like manner when addressing Christians on my site, and that would include myself. And just so you know, “bearing false witness against another” which is unjustified slander, as apposed to “justified” criticism, key word being “justified”, is not something that God takes lightly. https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-slander.html refers. Regards, Bruce.

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      • Oh hi again, Bruce. Just stopped by again. It’s a shame that we can’t be honest anymore, and comments are hidden on your site.
        I tried my best to really dig deep and stop checking in, but truly Bruce, you remind me of my father. Probably not in person, but the holier than thou aspect, in script anyway, is spot on. I didn’t like my dad.
        Always a bad outlook on life because he was a Jesus follower with a terrible view of anyone outside of his faith. I’m not sure why you seem to think that I’m not worthy of God, when in fact I do believe in one, just not in the way you do. Nothing can break the view of God for you, I get it, but I see your anger in a psychological sense. I study it and study you. If you don’t want to have a conversation in public view, then that really makes me question the authenticity of your true nature. We can hide whatever we like behind the web these days. I truly don’t believe in the God and, what you refer to as truth, or Jesus, so quit praying for me, please. I’m not dedicated to a questionable book or deity. The faithful Christians leave me in awe because they ignore the questionable. Bruce, you hurt others with your site, outside of those whose thoughts and views are like your own, and the justification you hold for yourself is disgusting. I’m not going to trust that you are so straight laced and in control behind the keyboard when you read my posts on my site—thanks for posting the links—but at least your audience thinks you are a great human being. Bruce, my acquaintance, enjoy the beautiful life with a miserable god. Living a lie is not something I’m going to do.

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      • Hi Damon, I guess the first thing I would like to say in response to your current comment is that I am not your father. You may think I am like him but I am not. I’ve read how he treated you and I know some of what you were subjected to. And no, I do not presume to have walked in your shoes but neither have you walked in mine. A lot of us have less than ideal stories to tell about our past but not all of us lash out at others in the particular manner that you frequently do.

        And you should note that there is a distinct difference between two adults who do not necessarily agree with one another on a given topic, and deliberately attacking the character of the person who may not agree with you. You frequently cross that line and I do honestly endeavour not to cross that line, albeit sometimes better than others. Discussing disagreements between two people, does not automatically equate to hatred for the person who disagrees with you, or vice versa. What it does show is a disagreement that is oftentimes just accepted for what it is, a disagreement. Voiced criticism (being critical) is where two people discuss their opposing perspectives without getting angry or defensive and then re-evaluating their stance on that discussion. Sometimes I am proven wrong and sometimes I still think the reasoning I have is right. The right or wrong is not what is important, learning to re-evaluate a greater understanding of truth is what is more important.

        I personally have made many mistakes over the years and I am far from perfect. The thing is, the vast majority of us are all in the same boat and generally as one gets a little older and wiser, we learn from our mistakes but I do acknowledge that it can be a difficult process.

        With regards to me not posting some of your comments, or us being honest with one another, I think in all of our exchanges, and there have been many over the years, there only have been two or three of your comments that I have not posted due to the manner in which you have deliberately chosen to articulate yourself, pertaining to myself personally or some fellow Christians, who follow my blog. The personal attacks are not OK Damon, and I have not done that to you. In addition, the fact that I do not comment on your blog at all and have not done so now for a couple of years, but you continue to author and submit disparaging comments on mine, should tell you or anyone with a discerning eye, who it is that has a problem that continues to need addressing.

        I am not going to try to justify myself to you because it serves no purpose other than to fuel what you already have predetermined in your mind about me. But I will tell you this, I am not angry, nor am I resentful, nor do I think that I am any better than others, and if you knew me at all, you would know that. I am a recipient of God’s grace. That pretty well says it all.

        In this particular comment you indicated that I thought you were not worthy of God. That is your statement. All of us are worthy of God in the sense that He values us, because He does, but worthy because we have earned His consideration, by our actions and thoughts, I disagree. I am not holy, God is. That is a problem and explains why God our heavenly Father sent us His Son. That is the Christian God that the Bible speaks of. You disagree. Understood. The preponderance of the evidence that I personally have studied and my life experiences tells me otherwise. So we disagree, I don’t hate you because we disagree. What kind of twisted sense does that make?

        And your statement about how we Christians ignore the questionable. . . . Those of us who highly value our relationship with God, don’t ignore the questionable, we investigate it, and honestly try it, according to the prerequisites that God stipulates. God gets to define those prerequisites because He is God. And God our heavenly Father points us to His Son Jesus. Jesus is the proving ground, Jesus is what separates reality from non-reality, at least for me and countless others. Church attendance won’t do that, following rules (and failing) won’t do that, only entering into a relationship with Jesus and taking Him at His word, does that. And I can’t explain that reality that I have with Jesus to you any better than you can explain to me why you love your wife, because it is personal, one on one, and precious.

        And then there is this statement of yours, “Bruce, you hurt others with your site, outside of those whose thoughts and views are like your own, and the justification you hold for yourself is disgusting.”

        I hurt others with my site. Why, because I voice an opinion that differs from yours? And the justification I voice about my opinion, my investigations, my understanding, my life experiences, you find disgusting. “Disgusting” is a strong word. But yours are OK?

        And your final condescending statement of “Bruce, my acquaintance, enjoy the beautiful life with a miserable god. Living a lie is not something I’m going to do.” is a real honest and open meeting of our minds, from your perspective, isn’t it? You acknowledge I am an acquaintance and then it goes down hill from there. You infer my life is coupled with following a miserable god. That is your assumption, not mine. You infer that I am living a lie and of course, you will not do that. Again, your assumption, not mine. Your perspective is obviously superior to mine because you are not living a lie.

        Please note that I am not responding to a comment you left me on your blog, this is my blog and you are once again, making your condescending assumptions on my blog. But you have that right to do that because you don’t deliberately hurt people and of course I do. So who exactly is living the lie?

        Jesus, the Son of God, of our heavenly Father, told us to pray for and bless those who mistreat us, so that is what I will continue to do with regard to yourself until He tells me to stop and He hasn’t done that yet.

        And why would Jesus ask that of me? Well I’m thinking He knows you better than you know yourself and He knows that He and He alone is what you need Damon. So I’ll trust in Him and obey.

        Blessings.

        Bruce

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  2. As a translator myself (Portuguese/English) I get why Peterson as well as a number of others have given us a different way of understanding the text. I do agree with you in that I am not comfortable just how far both Peterson and even the most recent update to the NIV are moving from the original. God’s word is our most precious gift and should be treated as such. Have a blessed day brother.

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  3. Thanks for this much-needed post, Bruce. There are excellent word-for-word Bible translations out there (NASB, ESV, NET) for primary Bible reading without having to resort to paraphrases. I do have a NLT that I occasionally refer to while doing deep-dive Bible studies. The Message goes beyond a paraphrase. I cringe when I see people using these pseudo-bibles as their primary “Bibles” for everyday reading and meditation. Pastors are derelict in warning the flock.

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    • Hi Tom, yes it is scary isn’t it? One would think that this would be a no brainer, because correctly understanding God’s Word is so important, but unfortunately, for far too many, such is not the case. And when some Pastors quote it as “God’s Word”, that sets an approval example that leaves the door wide open. Blessings Tom.

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  4. Bruce, I occasionally look at the Message Bible to get a different perspective on a passage I am studying, but I don’t believe I have ever quoted from it in my blog. ~ Don

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    • Hi Don, I can understand that, a different take can be helpful, but for general reading and especially serious study, one would think that common sense would prevail. Thanks for taking the time to comment, seriously appreciated! Blessings!

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  5. I used to read and quote the MSG translation–until I realized it’s not truly a word-for-word translation at all. Yes, The Reverend Peterson was a Hebrew and Greek scholar, yet the liberties he takes with certain passages–to put them in everyday language–crosses the line. I had a Greek professor in Seminary who often read to the class straight from this Greek New Testament–translating on the fly. It was interesting, but not on par with translations painstakingly made by teams of Bible scholars.

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    • Hi David, yes, we are not talking about changing the words to modern English, we are talking about instances of completely removing critical words which totally change the whole concept being conveyed. Scary stuff for sure! Blessings!

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  6. One of the blessings in the last couple of years of blogging for Christ has been reading different materials from varied sources, and learning along the way. Previously I had been blissfully unaware of problems with publications such as the Message and the Passion to name but two examples. I am indebted to brethren such as yourself Bruce for collating and sharing such information with others. May our Father God continue to guide and bless you in your service of Him brother.

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      • And it was Alan, influenced by Bruce, who shared more information with me about The MSG–information that helped me understand the slippery slope some modern renderings of scripture put themselves on. I thank both of you!

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  7. First of all, Brewster is wrong. But I also noticed that he did not “correct” you with “gentleness and respect”. Big red flag! Ephesians 4:15 says, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
    Bruce, you are the one speaking the truth in love. And I, for one, really appreciate it! Those of us who were once misled by false teaching are hungry for sound teaching and guidance.
    Those of us who speak out for truth may get hammered, so we must support one another in accordance with God’s Word. I have noticed that “corrections” like the one from Brewster often come as a personal attack. That’s another red flag. These attacks can have a devastating effect. I know that well. Correction from God does not feel like a spiritual attack. Thanks for all you do. You are a blessing to the Body of Christ. Blessings, Bruce!

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    • Thanks Cindy, I appreciate the kind words. Damon hasn’t had an easy go of it and God hasn’t told me to stop lifting him up in prayer, so I keep on hoping. I don’t always release everything that he sends my way. Keep him in your prayers. Blessings!

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  8. I have encountered the same kind of dilemma regarding singing songs that were written by people with flawed theology, but where the songs themselves don’t contain those errors.
    “We never read anyone who is right on everything, except within the covers of our Bibles. Everything else we ought to read with a certain level of skepticism and discernment, including (maybe especially?) the things we write ourselves.”
    “If a wise man who has translated and written commentaries on the prophets, on Romans, on Revelation, can make that sort of turn, with that little revelatory authority behind him, then I could easily talk myself into some error too (1 Cor. 10:12).”
    These are sobering words from “Should We Still Read Eugene Peterson?”
    I guess the bottom line is, when in doubt, be a Berean – check and confirm everything against the truth of Scripture.

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    • Hi Annie, indeed, especially when the Scriptures within those covers themselves are what is being added to and subtracted from. Not sure if you had the time to check out the links I provided but as identified within those links, we are not talking about a translation per se but rather a modern contemporary rendering that goes considerably beyond a casual updating. Just a recommendation not to use, with reasons, obviously everyone is free to make their own decisions. Taking the time to actually do some homework obviously never hurts. Thanks for commenting Annie, blessings!

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