I’ve seen some articles online claiming that The Message Bible is not true to the original Greek and that it is secretly part of the New Age Movement. I enjoy reading it and I have not felt that it is heretical. Do you have a comment?

Thanks for your letter. I’ve also heard some rather negative things about The Message Bible. However, there is at least one Probe staff member who also enjoys reading The Message – so you’re not alone there! I’m afraid that I personally don’t know much about it. I really doubt that it is part of the New Age Movement or Neo-paganism. Probably The Message is intended to be something more like a paraphrase of the Bible (like The Living Bible), rather than a translation (like the NASB or NET Bible). This CAN (and usually DOES) result in much more interpretative freedom for the one doing the paraphrasing (in this case, Eugene Peterson). Thus, the choice of words may not always accurately reflect the Hebrew and Greek texts. It’s important to bear this in mind. But this does NOT mean that it’s secretly purveying New Age philosophy.

I think that The Message could be a great resource for reading, but I don’t think it would be best for studying the Bible. If your goal is devotional reading, it’s probably great. If your goal is to get (as best you can) at the original meaning of the text, you’re better off reading the NASB or NET Bible. Of course, it’s best of all if you can read Hebrew and Greek! But not many people can. At any rate, there’s certainly nothing wrong with reading The Message. And if you like reading it, more power to you!

Hope this helps a bit.

Shalom in Christ,

Michael Gleghorn
Probe Ministries

© 2006 Probe Ministries

Sue Bohlin is an associate speaker/writer and webmistress for Probe Ministries. She attended the University of Illinois, and has been a Bible teacher and conference speaker for over 40 years. She is a speaker for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and Stonecroft Ministries (Christian Women's Connections), and serves on the board of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered outreach to those dealing with unwanted homosexuality. Sue is on the Bible.org Women's Leadership Team and is a regular contributor to Bible.org's Engage Blog. In addition to being a professional calligrapher, she is the wife of Probe's Dr. Ray Bohlin and the mother of their two grown sons. Her personal website is suebohlin.com.

What is Probe?

Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3-minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.

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