When The Message was first gaining in popularity I remember hearing a passage being read and I kept wondering what they were reading from. When I found out it was The Message I began reading and comparing it’s translation with other versions of the Bible. When I’ve compared translations before they say the exact same thing, but maybe phrase it differently. When I read The Message, and compare it to other translations, it doesn’t even seem like some verses came from the same source. I think The Message really waters down, if not completely mistranslates at times, the word of God. But my main concern is really what could somebody un-familiar with the Bible or somebody with a New Age perspective take away from The Message?
Mysticism & New Age in The Message?
I read an article a while back pointing out mystic and New Age imagery and wording in The Message. This blog is going to be a bit of a rehash of that article.
The first thing I would like to bring attention to is the replacement of the word Lord with the word Master. The NIV uses the word Lord 6749 times, The Message uses the word Lord 71 times. The NIV uses the phrase Lord Jesus 102 times, but you will not find the phrase Lord Jesus in The Message ever. Instead you will find the phrase Master Jesus. The use of Master instead of Lord may seem trivial as the words seem interchangeable, but Master Jesus just happens to be a New Age title for Jesus. The New Age Movement believes Jesus to be one of many ascended masters who are on Earth during different ages. You may say, the disciples called Jesus master, and they did on a handful of occasions, but that pales in comparison to the number of times they called him Lord, and according to every other translation he was never called Master Jesus. Is this just reading too much into it? Did Eugene Peterson intentionally make this New Age reference? I don’t know, but I do know The Message is the first translation to completely replace ‘Lord Jesus’ in it’s text. The only other ‘interpretation of the Bible’ (I use that phrase very very loosely) that uses the title Master Jesus is The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ, a New Age text.
Likewise, The Message often uses the title Master God in place of Lord God. In Ezekiel 37:3 and Genesis 15:8 the word Sovereign is replaced with Master in reference to God. There is an arguable significant difference between sovereign and master. The NIV refers to the Lord God 76 times, The Message refers to Lord God 10 times, but prefers to favor the title Master God 56 times.
Druid Reference in The Message
May the God of green hope fill you up with joy… Romans 15:13
God of green hope is an odd phrase. Every other translation renders that phrase ‘the God of hope’. Where did green come from? What is green hope? For the Druids the color green symbolized hope and oneness with the earth. Why would Eugene Peterson render this phrase ‘God of green hope’? The phrase ‘green hope’ is not found in any other translation of the bible. Is there any explanation besides a druid reference?
New Age Energy in The Message
That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you… Philippians 2:13
When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. Luke 6:28
Energy is a key element in the New Age Movement. The energy mentioned in Luke 6:28 is certainly not anything that is taught in the Bible. The ‘energies of prayer’ leads one to believe we have energy in ourselves which can be released through prayer, or prayer itself generates an energy. The Bible clearly teaches prayers are answered by God and nothing within us causes a prayer to be answered.
As above, so below
Set the world right; Do what’s best-as above, so below. Matthew 6:10
This is a verse out of The Message from the Lord’s prayer. Most translations render the verse ‘your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ If you are familiar with the Lord’s prayer ‘as above, so below’ may sound a little strange, but you’ll most likely continue on and interpret it as ‘on earth as it is in heaven’. What most people don’t know is the connection to modern magic the phrase ‘as above, so below’ has.
The universe is the same as God, God is the same as man, man is the same as the cell, the cell is the same as the atom, the atom is the same as…and so on… “As above, so below”
‘As above, so below’ is not taught by the Bible. The concept in ‘as above, so below’ that man’s actions on earth parallel God’s actions in Heaven is not the same as ‘your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven’. The scary part is to some people ‘man’s actions on earth parallel God’s actions in Heaven’ could be passed off as the same thing as ‘your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’, and giving people a false connection between Christianity and the New Age Movement.
The Mystic Lotus Blossom
I’m just a wildflower picked from the plains of Sharon, a lotus blossom from the valley pools. A lotus blossoming in a swamp of weeds– that’s my dear friend among the girls in the village. Song of Solomon 2:1-2
The lotus blossom is a sacred flower in many eastern religions. In ancient Egypt the lotus blossom is mentioned in the creation of the world, “The lotus originated from primordial ooze, and the divine creator of the world arose from it’s bloom.” No other translation renders this verse using the lotus flower. This is another example of The Message giving opportunity for a New Age and occult cross over into Christianity. The NIV only mentions the lotus flower twice, in Job, and it’s talking about actual lotus flower, not a symbol of Jesus Christ.
In writing this, I’m not trying to condemn anybody who reads The Message. I’m trying to make people aware of some of the questionable imagery in The Message. I can’t judge Eugene Peterson’s motives. With these examples of New Age/Mystic imagery in The Message, that are not found in any other translation of the Bible, I think it’s safe to say The Message needs to be read with a guarded heart. I am concerned what somebody from a New Age perspective or somebody unfamiliar with the Bible will take way from The Message.
On a semi-side note, I also cannot get behind a translation of the Bible written by a man who says we need to reexamine our doctrines of hell.