I remember it clearly. My pastor at the time regularly preached from the New King James Version (the one without the Thees and Thous) of the bible. I was a fairly new Christian at the time so what version of the bible someone read didn’t matter much to me, but I learned quickly it did matter to some.
At that time there were no slick power point slide presentations to flash up on a screen, just an old school overhead projector reflecting on a preferably white wall. My pastor was comparing a particular scripture using several different versions using an overhead when all of a sudden an elderly lady in the third row shot up from her seat and shouted:
“The King James Bible is the only bible!”
As my pastor politely asked her to sit down and keep her comments to herself she made a gesture like she was dusting off her hands, threw them up in the air and exclaimed, “No one’s blood is going to be on my hands.” I’m pretty sure she saved us all that day (I’m joking).
As extremely self-righteous and religious as this incident sounds I experience the same type of feeling now as I did when that lady took her stand and made such a ridiculous claim when I see someone bashing a paraphrased version of the bible they haven’t taken the time to learn anything about. The most current bashing and bullying being of The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson.
It only takes a Google Search to reveal the so called evils of The Message bible, but before you let the Google search results decide for you, I would take time to pick up Eugene Peterson’s auto biography, The Pastor: Memoir. By reading the book about his life I think you would benefit to find out more about the man behind The Message and the Pastor who penned the pages.
Let me give you three reasons you’re not going to lose your faith when you read The Message.
1.Peterson wrote parts of the New Testament and Psalms into an American vernacular initially to teach his congregation of 29 years to pray the scriptures with understanding.
“For a number of years I had also translated from Hebrew several psalms for my congregation into what I thought of as “American.” But I didn’t think of it as a translation. It was a pastoral act, a way of teaching them to pray. Sometimes I did it for a single individual as a way to provide guidance in prayer. A common difficulty in developing life of prayer is trying to be “nice” before God, using polite language, telling God what we think he wants to hear.” – Eugene Peterson, The Pastor: A Memoir
2. Peterson initially “translated” Galatians over a two year period of time for his congregation to rediscover who they were in Christ.
“I had sensed that these people to whom I was pastor were slipping into a kind of Americanized religion in which they were becoming conformed to the security systems and consumer satisfactions of the culture around them. I wanted to recover the energetic vigor of (the Apostle) Paul’s insistence on living original lives in Christ, not lives sustained by hand-me-downs from the culture.” – Eugene Peterson, The Pastor: Memoir
3. Peterson wrote The Message out of necessity to bridge the world of the Bible with the world of Today, a world his congregation saw as separate.
“I became a “translator” (although I wouldn’t have called it that then), daily standing between two language worlds, getting the language of the Bible that God uses to create and save us heal and bless us, judge and rule over us, translated into the language of Today that we use to gossip and tell stories, give directions and do business, sing songs, and talk to our children…I had spent several years teaching in the seminary thirty years before, those powerful and vivid Hebrew and Greek originals, had been working their way underground in my speech, giving energy and sharpness to words and phrases, expanding the imagination of the people with whom I was working to hear the language of the Bible in the language of Today and the language of Today in the language of the Bible.” – Eugene Peterson, The Pastor: Memoir
If you have your doubts about The Message research it yourself. I would highly recommend you pick up Peterson’s auto biography, The Pastor: Memoir to give you an understanding and appreciation of the man behind The Message Bible.
What version of the Bible are you currently reading?