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Eugene Peterson and the Message

June 30, 2011

David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org

Eugene Peterson (1932- ) was for many years James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College. He also served for 35 years as founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. Today he is retired and lives in Montana.

The New Testament portion of The Message was published in 1993 and the complete Bible in 2002. It is called a “translational-paraphrase” and is said to “unfold like a gripping novel.”

In fact, it IS a novel!

It was translated by Peterson and reviewed by 21 “consultants” from the following schools: Denver Seminary (Robert Alden), Dallas Theological Seminary (Darrell Bock and Donald Glenn), Fuller Theological Seminary (Donald Hagner), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Trinity Episcopal School, North Park Theological Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Richard Averbeck). Columbia Bible College, Criswell College (Lamar Cooper), Westminster Theological Seminary (Peter Enns), Bethel Seminary (Duane Garrett), Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Paul R. House), Covenant Theological Seminary, Westmont College, Wesley Biblical Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute (John H. Walton), Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and Gordon College (Marvin Wilson).

The Message is widely recommended by well-known Christian leaders. In keeping with his love for every corrupt Bible version to appear since the Revised Standard, Billy Graham printed his own edition of “The Message: New Testament.” Warren Wiersbe, who should know better, says, “The Message is the boldest and most provocative rendering of the New Testament I’ve ever read.” Jack Hayford says, “The Message is certainly destined to become a devotional classic — not to mention a powerful pastoral tool.” Rick Warren loves The Message and quotes it frequently, five times in the first chapter of The Purpose-Driven Life. J.I. Packer says, “In this crowded world of Bible versions Eugene Peterson’s blend of accurate scholarship and vivid idiom make this rendering both distinctive and distinguished. The Message catches the logical flow, personal energy, and imaginative overtones of the original very well indeed.” CCM artist Michael Card says, “Peterson’s translation transforms the eye into an ear, opening the door of the New Testament wider than perhaps it has ever been opened.” Leighton Ford says, “The Message will help many to transfer God’s eternal truths to their contemporary lives.” Joni Earckson Tada says, “WOW! What a treasure The Message is. I am going to carry it with me. This is a treasure that I will want to use wherever I am.” The Message is also recommended by Amy Grant, Benny Hinn, Bill Hybels, Bill and Gloria Gaither, Chuck Swindoll, Toby of DC Talk, Gary Smalley, Gordon Fee, Gordon MacDonald, Jerry Jenkins, John Maxwell, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Max Lucado, Michael W. Smith, Newsboys, Phil Driscoll, Rebecca St. James, Rod Parsley, Stuart and Jill Briscoe, Tony Campolo, Bono of U2, Vernon Grounds, to name a few. (This information was gathered from the NAVPress web site.).

The Message sold 100,000 copies just in the first four months following its summer 1993 release.

Peterson told Christianity Today that a major turning point in his ministry was a lecture by Paul Tournier sponsored by the liberal Christian Century magazine and held at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore (“Books & Culture Corner: The Contemplative Christian,” by Nathan Bierma, Christianity Today web site, Sept. 29, 2003). In his 1973 Masters Thesis “Paul Tournier’s Universalism,” Daniel Musick warned: “Paul Tournier was an unrestricted universalist. His writings, personal correspondence with him, and interviews with many who knew him support this conclusion. An analysis of his soteriology over 35 years of writing reveals a transition from reformed roots to an unbiblical, neo-orthodox perspective influenced by Emil Brunner and Karl Barth.”

Peterson has recommended The Shack. Though fictional, this book’s objective is the redefinition of God. It is about a man who becomes bitter at God after his daughter is murdered and has a life-changing experience in the very shack where the murder occurred; but the God he encounters is most definitely not the God of the Bible. Young’s depicts God the Father as a black woman who loves rock & roll, and well as a man with gray hair and a pony tail. Young’s male/female god/goddess is the god of the emerging church. He is cool, loves rock & roll, is non-judgmental, does not exercise wrath toward sin, does not send unbelievers to an eternal fiery hell, does not require repentance and the new birth, and puts no obligations on people. (For documentation see “The Shack’s Cool God” at the Way of Life web site, http://www.wayoflife.org.)

Peterson has also recommended Rob Bell’s universalistic book Love Wins. Bell says hell is in this life and most men will eventually be saved. He writes: “This insistence that God will be united and reconciled with all people is a theme the writers and prophets return to again and again. … The God that Jesus teaches us about doesn’t give up until everything that was lost is found. This God simply doesn’t give up. Ever” (Love Wins, Kindle location 1259-1287). Bell calls the preaching of eternal hell “misguided and toxic,” a “cheap view of God,” and “lethal” (location 47-60, 2154-2180). He says there is something wrong with this God and calls Him “terrifying and traumatizing and unbearable” (location 1273-1287, 2098-2113).

That kind of talk apparently resonates deeply with Peterson. No wonder he loves the non-judgmental god/goddess of The Shack.

Peterson is a big promoter of Catholic contemplative mysticism. He is on the Board of Reference for the international ecumenical contemplative organization Renovare (pronounced Ren-o-var-ay, which is Latin, meaning “to make new spiritually”), founded by Richard Foster. At the October 1991 Renovare meeting in Pasadena, Foster praised Pope John Paul II and called for unity in the Body of Christ through the “five streams of Christianity: the contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social justice and evangelical” (CIB Bulletin, December 1991). Foster advocates the practices of Catholic mystics and “the integration of psychology and theology.” In his book entitled Prayer Foster draws material from Julian of Norwich, Thomas Merton, Bernard of Clairvaux, Madame Guyon, Teresa of Avila, even St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. Renovare promotes guided imagery, visualization, centering prayer, astral projection, Zen meditation, and Jungian psychology (Calvary Contender, Feb. 15, 1998).

Along the same line, notice the heroes of the faith that Peterson quotes in the article “Spirit Quest” (which is a Native American Indian term for seeking intimacy with and revelation from pagan spirits): “Single-minded, persevering faithfulness confirms the authenticity of our spirituality. The ancestors we look to for encouragement in this business — Augustine of Hippo and Julian of Norwich, … Teresa of Avila — didn’t flit. They stayed” (Christianity Today, Nov. 8, 1993). Augustine, Julian, and Teresa had authentic spirituality? Not when tested by Scripture. Julian of Norwich said, “God showed me that sin need be no shame to man but can even be worthwhile” (quoted by Kenneth Leech, Soul Friend, p. 146). Julian also said, “God is really our Mother as he is our Father,” and called Christ “Mother Jesus.” Augustine was the father of a-millennialism; taught that the sacraments are the means of saving grace; was one of the fathers of infant baptism, claiming that baptism takes away the child’s sin; taught that Mary did not commit sin and promoted prayers to her; believed in purgatory and the veneration of relics; accepted the doctrine of celibacy for “priests”; and laid the foundation for the inquisition; to name a few of his heresies. Teresa of Avila was probably demon possessed; she levitated and made strange noises deep in her throat, experienced terrifying visions and voices, and held to Rome’s sacramental gospel that works are required for salvation.

Peterson was Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College, and it is obvious that he has been influenced deeply by the Catholic and pagan “spirituality” in which he has immersed himself for so many decades. I have spent many days studying in the Regent College library and the bookstore features many works by Catholic mystics, such as those already named, as well as by rank theological modernists. There is no warning whatsoever in regard to these books.

The mystical “spirituality” that is so popular in evangelical and charismatic circles today is a yearning for an experiential relationship with God that downplays the role of faith and Scripture and that exalts “transcendental” experiences that lift the individual from the earthly mundane into a higher “spiritual” plane. Biblical prayer is talking with God; mystical spirituality prayer is meditation and “centering” and other such things. Biblical Christianity is a patient walk of faith; mystical spirituality is more a flight of fancy. Biblical study is analyzing and meditating upon the literal truth of the Scripture; mystical spirituality focuses on a “deeper meaning”; it is more allegorical and “transcendental” than literal.

Peterson defines spirituality as “a fusion of intimacy and transcendence” (“Spirit Quest,” Christianity Today, Nov. 8, 1993). This confuses the sensual intimacy of earthly relationships with the spiritual intimacy the believer has in this life with God.

It is not surprising that Peterson’s translation has a New Agey flavor to it. He even uses the term “as above, so below,” which is a New Age expression for the unity of God and man, Heaven and earth. In the book As Above, So Below, Ronald Miller and the editors of the New Age Journal say: “This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one. Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, the invisible and the visible worlds form a unity to which we are intimately linked” (quoted from Warren Smith, Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church, Ravenna, Ohio: Conscience Press, 2004).

In light of this, consider the following quotations from Peterson’s The Message:

Matthew 6:9-13 — “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!”

Colossians 1:16 — “For everything, absolutely everything, ABOVE AND BELOW, visible and invisible … everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.”

THE MESSAGE IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL BIBLE

In Romans 15:13, The Message says, “May the God of green hope fill you up with joy…” and in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, it says that those who “use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t quality as citizens in God’s kingdom.”

THE MESSAGE IS THE PRO-HOMOSEXUAL BIBLE

The Message tampers with God’s Word about homosexuality. Consider the following two examples:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

KJV – “ Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

THE MESSAGE – “Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who do not care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom.”

1 Timothy 1:10

KJV – “For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.”

THE MESSAGE – “for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever!”

One brother rightly observed that “The Message is simply a forerunner to what will be a ‘christless,’ sinless Bible.”

CONSIDER SOME OTHER EXAMPLES OF THE AMAZING LIBERTIES THAT EUGENE PETERSON TAKES WITH THE WORDS OF GOD

Matthew 5:3

KJV – “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

THE MESSAGE – “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”

Comment: Being poor in spirit is to be at the end of your rope? Then vast numbers of unsaved people are candidates for heaven on this basis.

Matthew 5:8

KJV – “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

THE MESSAGE – “You’re blessed when you get your inside world, your mind and heart, put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”

Comment: This must be transcendental, because it doesn’t make any non-transcendental sense.

Matthew 5:14

KJV – “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.”

THE MESSAGE – “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.”

Comment: “God-colors”? I didn’t even learn about God-colors when I was a member of Parmahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship Society before I was saved!

Matthew 5:43

KJV – “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.”

THE MESSAGE – “Jesus said, You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’”

Comment: The Lord Jesus was not quoting the Mosaic Law; He was referring to the teaching of the Pharisees who had perverted the Law. The Law of God did not command, “Hate your enemy.”

Matthew 9:34

KJV – “But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.”

THE MESSAGE – “The Pharisees were left sputtering, ‘Hocus Pocus. It’s nothing but Hocus Pocus.’”

Comment: This is clearly a “translational-paraphrase.”

Matt. 11:28-30

KJV – “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

THE MESSAGE – “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.”

Comment: The Message sounds like an iron tonic television commercial here!

Matthew 28:19

KJV – “…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:”

THE MESSAGE – Matt. 28:19 — “…baptism in the three-fold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

Comment: The Message gives an Anti-Trinitarian, Jesus-only spin to this verse, which teaching claims that God is not three Persons in one Godhead but that He simply manifests Himself in three ways.

John 1:18

KJV – “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

THE MESSAGE – “No one has ever seen God, not so much of a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day.”

Comment: To translate “the only begotten Son” as “this one-of-a-kind God-expression” is not only heretical; it is absurd.

John 3:5

KJV – “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

THE MESSAGE – “Jesus said, You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation–the ‘wind hovering over the water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life–it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom.”

Comment: Peterson’s “translation” gives the baptismal regenerationists the best support they have ever had. The Roman Catholics who write to debate me would love this version.

John 10:30

KJV – “I and my Father are one.”

THE MESSAGE – “I and the Father are one heart and mind.”

Comment: To add to the words of Christ in this strange manner, it truly appears that Peterson has no fear of God.

Acts 8:20

KJV – “But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee…”

THE MESSAGE – “Peter said, ‘To hell with your money!’”

Comment: Since Peter cussed some the night he denied his Lord, I suppose Peterson believes he was still cussing in the book of Acts.

Romans 8:11

KJV – “…he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

THE MESSAGE – “…he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself.”

Comment: Peterson spiritualizes Christ’s resurrection here.

Romans 8:35

KJV – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

THE MESSAGE – “Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture.”

Comment: Revelation 22:18-19 should cause Peterson (and everyone who approved The Message) to lose a lot of sleep.

1 Corinthians 13:12-13

KJV – “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

THE MESSAGE – “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears, and the sun shines bright! … Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”

Comment: It is the “translator” who is squinting in a fog!

Philippians 2:12

KJV – “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

THE MESSAGE – “Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.”

Comment: This is another New Agey, heretical spin to the Scriptures.

Colossians 2:10

KJV – “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:”

THE MESSAGE – “You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him…”

Comment: What? And this mess was reviewed by 21 scholars and approved by the likes of J.I. Packer?

1 Peter 3:1

KJV – “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.”

THE MESSAGE – “The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs…”

Comment: Peterson has done away with wifely subjection. Do we have the “feminist version” here?

th_goodbooks.jpgth_goodbooks.jpg

Chicken Soup for the  Soul…did you know that the author of these series of books is listed under the New Age section on the Master List from Christian Research Services?

  • UPDATE – This list is no longer available .

 

Have you ever read the shocking book “The Secret”?  Well now you can get the Christian version called “the Secret Things of God” by Dr.  Henry Cloud, a psychologist. More about this later…..

Every month I regularly receive a magazine from a well-known Christian store. I am on their mailing list because I have ordered from them in the past. I have been known to absent-mindedly just toss most of the magazines I get  into the trash.  This time I decided to take a look.

This particular christian book store has quite a few titles and many gift items.  I have purchased CD’s here also.  Now this was about two years and since, my taste in books have definitely changed with discernment and research.

 

Magazine in hand,  I decided to search for bookstore authors featuring Centering Prayer, Church Growth, Contemplative, Emergent, Labyrinth, Mysticism, and Purpose Driven systems.

Here is who I found:

Ken Blanchard

Richard Foster

Tony Jones

Keri Wyatt Kent

Sue Monk Kidd

Dan Kimball

Brennan Manning

Erwin McManus

Don Miller

Beth Moore DVD

John Ortberg

Doug Pagitt

Eugene Peterson

Leonard Sweet

Gary Thomas

Rick Warren*

Robert Webber

Lauren Winner

I only found a few authors on the New Age list online with this particular website, although the New Age authors on the Master List are blatantly New Age.  On the other hand this list will have to be closely watched because contemplative prayer is but one step from metaphysics which is entering an unknown spiritual realm.  One will need to constantly review this portion of the list to inform the reader of any New Age material in their possession.

Brooke Boon (Holy Yoga)

Jack Canfield (They Call Me Dad, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Christian Soul)

Here is a quote from Canfield which will explain why he is in the New Age category. “In USA, we have a Christian fundamentalist movement right now which is threatening other religions and I don’t like it. It’s a religious revival which is intolerant, it creates separation, pain, and is based on ignorance…What works for me is a combination of disciplines: I do yoga, tai chi which is a Chinese martial art and three kinds of medidationvipasana, transcendental and manta (sound) meditation…I meditate every day and I do something with my body every day: yoga or tai chi”.

Now on to the Word-of-Faith, New Apostolic Movement, Kingdom Now, Manifest Sons of God, Latter Rain, False Healing, False Prophets and False Teachers. This is a different story…..

Reinhard Bonnke

Charles Capps

Paul Yongi Cho

Kim Clement*

Kenneth Copeland

Creflo Dollar

Jesse Duplantis

Richard Foster

Francis Frangipane

Marilyn Hickey

Benny Hinn

Bill Hybels

T. D. Jakes

Rick Joyner

Joyce Meyer*

Miles Monroe*

Joel Osteen*

Rod Parsley*

Frederick K.C. Price

Dutch Sheets/Chuck Pierce

Tommy Tenney

C. Peter Wagner

*Authors found in catalog.

So these were all the authors I found being promoted on the Christian website even though they are classified as unfruitful works by the Christian Research Service.

There is another list of contemplative authors on http://lighthousetrailsresearch.com which serves to round off the list. I believe there to be many more. But this a very good start.  New names are sure to be added.

Now back to the featured book on the Christian website …. “the Secret things of God” by Dr. Henry Cloud. apparently Dr. Cloud a psychologist who is interested in spiritual things, was asked to write a “Christian” version of the shocking book “The Secret”. He says “This book is not a Christian argument for or against The Secret. In fact, it sometimes agrees with and sometimes differs with it.” For the record, this book needs to be totally rejected by Christians.

Here is an excerpt telling of how he became a Christian…..

I wandered across the SMU campus and found an empty chapel. It was cold and dark, and I went down to the altar and said a simple prayer. It was something like this: “God…I don’t even know if you are there. But if you are, I need your help. If you help me, I will do anything you tell me to do. Just help me. Find me.” At that point, I knew something had changed.

No — nothing happened. No lights, no burning bush, no feelings of peace. Just empty silence. Nothing on the outside was different, but I knew that inside something had changed. I had just taken a real step of faith…and I knew that if God did not show up in some real way, my life had just gotten a lot worse. I knew that if he did not answer me, I was truly alone in the universe. All my life I’d had the good ol’ American security blanket of “There is a God out there who is nice and loves us.” But now, I had actually stepped out and asked him to do something. (Emphasis mine).

It is not my place to decide if someone is living for the Lord, but where is the repentance? To belong to Christ involves admission of sin, as we are all guilty in God’s eyes. What is telling is that 25 years later he is on an airplane and describing how he usually tells a nosy passenger that he write books about God to shut them up.

Here is a video clip (1.5 min.) of the author and his book:

*UPDATE THIS CLIP IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE. *

This video was  taped at a Women of Faith Conference.  I was once invited to one of these events when it was being promoted in Seattle, but when I researched the speakers, I found them to be “fluffy” with little biblical content. Max Lucado was one of the main speakers and I had been warned of him as a contemplative. I declined the invitation.

Well….. all this to tell you that Christian bookstores are promoting questionable books. You cannot trust many sources these days and I always recommend reading your Bible and pray that the Lord to open His word up to you. My  study group uses the NIV but I use the King James Version and go to the Blue Letter Bible all the time to verify a translation or to see it in Greek or Hebrew. http://www.blueletterbible.org/ Whenever I am in doubt I simply google the author and check the discernment sites.

The time has come that I no longer can go to the religion section in a big-name bookstore and just select something that sounds interesting.  Actually the New Age section is larger than the religion section, but the worst of it lies in the fact that there is a crossover of New Age and Religion titles.  I only buy books that I know tell the truth, and the truth is getting harder to come by.

Zondervan is now owned by Harper Collins, who also publishes “The Satanic Bible” and “The Joy of Gay Sex”.

Need I say more?

8/21/16.  I am adding a link of an excellent article taking a close look at his teachings.

http://www.christiandiscernment.com/Christian%20Discernment/CD%20PDF/Book%20pdf/27%20Cloud%20Changes.pdf

 

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