I have been asked, a few times, why I will use The Living Bible Paraphrase but reject The Message Bible Paraphrase with some even saying that both are simply harmless paraphrases. After careful research there are a couple reasons why I reject The Message. Let’s start with the language and we will use the Model Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 as our example text.
|The Living Bible||The Message|
|9 “Pray along these lines: ‘Our Father in heaven, we honor your holy name. 10 We ask that your kingdom will come now. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. 11 Give us our food again today, as usual, 12 and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. 13 Don’t bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.[a] Amen.’
|Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
as above, so below.
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!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
There is a lack of reverence in the Message. While “we honor your holy name” is not the greatest word choice, we are still left with the idea that God is apart from us and deserving of honor and reverence. “You’re in charge! You can do anything you want!” does not really fit with either the Greek or Latin renditions of this text. We pray “lead us not into temptation” asking God to lead us away from the storms of life and into His best for us. “Deliver us from the Evil One” is our ultimate prayer. Like Peter Satan has demanded to try us and our prayer is for deliverance from his power and from the end result of yielding to Satan but The Message Paraphrase removes that. Lastly, the ending of the Model Prayer in The Message Paraphrase is less of a prayer and more of orgasmic language; The Message repeatedly fails to give the Scripture its reverence due and we don’t even have time to discuss the New Age language (as above, so below).
There are some concerns that I have about Dr. Peterson that prevent me from ever endorsing any of his works and most especially The Message Paraphrase. In 2017 Dr. Peterson affirmed “gay marriage” and then retracted his statements as soon as he realized that Life Way, the largest “Christian” Bookstore would stop selling his materials.
The Message Bible waters down, if not removes entirely, the deity of Christ. Consider John 10:30 “I and the Father are one” where the Message reads, ” I and the Father are one heart and mind.” This gives a different connotation entirely from the statement of Trinitarian unity that is in John 10:30.As Justin Peters points out (link to article below), The NASB, NIV, and KJV are all practically identical, save for the insertion of a personal pronoun found in the latter. Not so The Message’s rendering. The Message denigrates the uniqueness and deity of Jesus. Let us remember that David was a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) but he was not God.
To read further from Justin Peters…https://fortheloveofhistruth.com/2011/10/07/why-is-the-message-bible-not-safe/
The Message does not give proper reverence to holiness nor does it give sin its proper place. See http://www.doveministries.com/topical_listing/dangers-of-the-message-bible
To bring out a little more from my research and Dove Ministries:
Following is a comparison between The New King James Version and “The Message” of the words used in Galatians 5:19-21:
New King James – The Message
- Idolatry – Trinket gods
- Sorcery – Magic show religion
- Hatred – Paranoid loneliness
- Contentions or strife – Cut-throat competition
- Jealousies – All-consuming yet never satisfied wants
- Outbursts of wrath – Brutal temper
- Selfish ambitions – An impotence to love or be loved
- Dissensions – Divided homes and divided lives
- Heresies – Small-minded and lopsided pursuits
- Envy – The vicious habit of depersonalising everybody into a rival
- Drunkenness – Uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions
- Revelries – Ugly parodies of community
Also from my research
Eugene Peterson’s distinct lack of awe and reverence explains his apparent lack of esteem for serious Bible study. In“A Conversation with Eugene Peterson,” in “Mars Hill Review (Autumn 1995, Issue 3: pages 73-90) Peterson is quoted as saying: “Why do people spend so much time studying the Bible? How much do you need to know? We invest all this time in understanding the text which has a separate life of its own and we think we’re being more pious and spiritual when we’re doing it…. Christians should be studying less, not more. You just need enough to pay attention to God…. I’m just not at all pleased with all the emphasis on Bible study as if it’s some kind of special thing Christians do, and the more they do the better.”
Before we go, a little from and about Dr. Kenneth Taylor, paraphraser of The Living Bible and his paraphrase
The Living Bible (TLB) is an English paraphrase of the Bible created by Kenneth N. Taylor and first published in 1971. Taylor used the American Standard Version of 1901 as his base text. According to “Ken Taylor, God’s Voice In The Vernacular” by Harold Myra in a 1979 issue of Christianity Today, Taylor explained the inspiration for preparing The Living Bible:
The children were one of the chief inspirations for producing the Living Bible. Our family devotions were tough going because of the difficulty we had understanding the King James Version, which we were then using, or the Revised Standard Version, which we used later. All too often I would ask questions to be sure the children understood, and they would shrug their shoulders—they didn’t know what the passage was talking about. So I would explain it. I would paraphrase it for them and give them the thought. It suddenly occurred to me one afternoon that I should write out the reading for that evening thought by thought, rather than doing it on the spot during our devotional time. So I did, and read the chapter to the family that evening with exciting results—they knew the answers to all the questions I asked!
Overall, I find The Living Bible Paraphrase to be much more faithful to the Scriptures and therefore
I am left to conclude that The Message Paraphrase is NOTsufficient for Christian use and therefore cannot support it.