The Message In The Message Is The Message

God is the one who calls His children. God is the one who reveals Himself to each of us. Is one way better than another? Is one Bible better than another? Is one TV pastor or evangelist better than another?

I’ve read several critics of modern translation of the Bible recently. Pastor J.R. Miller ditzed The Message, a modern language translation of the Bible, on his blog.  He called it watered down and ineffective. http://bit.ly/c5Turu

He claimed The Message was not a legitimate translation of the Bible On J.R. Miller’s blog Pastor Miller said, “I have made a good faith effort to expose what I perceive to be the deceptive and sometimes hypocritical marketing techniques employed by Peterson.”

The Message, The Bible in Contemporary Language, has enjoyed phenominal success in the marketplace for it’s author, Eugene Peterson, a pastor, author and scholar. Some pastors reportedly, according to Miller, have replaced the Bible with Peterson’s book as their main text for preaching reference.

Peterson does in fact use contemporary language that differs from some well known “translations” of Scripture. Here are just a few examples from some well-known verses.

Genesis 1:1

New American Standard — In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The Message — First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see.

John 3:16

New American Standard–For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting Life.

The Message — This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

Some Bible students (laymen who study the Bible either individually or in a group) claim the only true translation of the Bible is the King James Version because it is the closest to the original Greek manuscripts.The KJV’s proximity to the original manuscripts is true.  However, the purpose of God’s Word is to reveal God’s story and bring its readers into a personal and intimate relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. The Truth of the Gospel can not be watered down. To say it can, or is, in one translation or another is to doubt the power and presence of God’s Word in the world.

If God can use a donkey (Balaam, Numbers 22), a prostitute (Rahab, Joshua 2) or a whale (Jonah) to carry out His plan, He can certainly use any tool he chooses to bring His children into salvation or a closer walk with Him. In my view we get arrogant and pious when we try (in our limited finite minds) to limit God’s ability to reach us to a certain book, pastor, church or denomination.

I think Paul addressed and answered this debate in his first letter to the Corinthians. The Corinthians were surrounded by corruption and every conceivable sin and they felt the pressure to adapt. They were experiencing divisions in their thinking as well. Paul told them, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” v.1:21.

The way I make application of that verse to my own beliefs is this: God can even use foolish preaching to save His children. It is up to God, in my view, to choose the medium, the time and the place He will reveal Himself and His Truth to us.  I’m reminded of those verses in Isaiah 55: For my thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are you ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word which comes out of my mouth. It will not return to me void but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Romans 8:28 also comes to mind: “And we know that all things work together for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

One thought on “The Message In The Message Is The Message

  1. Well said. I found “Pastor” (and I use that term loosely) Miller’s blog to be arrogant and irresponsible. God bless Mr. Peterson for spreading the Word to the masses. His concern for those who could not understand or follow the Bible is so basic and he has given millions the ability to have a basic understanding of the Bible that will hopefully allow them a better understanding of the actual text.


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