Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Message “Bible” Inserts Earth Reverence, God of “Green” Hope

by John Lanagan, My Word Like Fire blog
"Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!" (Bold mine) (The Message, Romans 15:13)
Huh? What God of “green” hope? Why does The Message do this?

Before we examine what seems suggestive of earth reverence/earth worship, let us restate some of what has been covered elsewhere about The Message:

A generation has been raised on this disturbing “paraphrase” of the Bible. This is the primary version so many now rely on, and nationally known preachers quote from it with regularity. Yet, as we have seen, The Message flat out omits the sin of homosexuality from several key passages. We see this in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and also in 1 Timothy 1: 8-11 (read about that here).

Does the acceptance and use of The Message explain why many Christians are lukewarm on the issue of homosexuality? Certainly The Message is not the only factor–we dwell in a pro-homosexual media/culture–but place this “Bible” in a person’s hands and it can have, over time, significant influence. How can we understand God’s Truth when Truth is no longer there to be read?
"My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart." (Proverbs 4:20-21)
The beloved author of The Message, Eugene Peterson, has now endorsed two heretical books: The Shack, and Rob Bell’s sly ode to universalism, Love Wins. The Message, bluntly stated, seems written to make Christians less knowledgeable about the Word of God. While that may seem a strong comment, please consider what Eugene Peterson himself said about the Bible:
“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 it less, not more. You need just enough to pay attention to God….I’m just not at all pleased with the emphasis on Bible study as if it’s some kind of special thing that Christians do, and the more the better.” [1] (Bold mine)
I believe The Message is forerunner to a christless, sinless bible that will be used by the false church. There will be a “christ” mentioned, but not our Christ. Not the sinless Savior of humanity. Sin will be addressed, of course, but perhaps more in line with the Alcoholics Anonymous generic theology of “wrongs” and “making amends.”

Homosexuality will be perfectly acceptable, even sacred. And nature, the earth itself, will be worshiped. We have already addressed Eugene Peterson’s removal of homosexuality and other sins in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, but he also inserts the phrase “use and abuse the earth,” something the Lord did not place there at all.

Here is 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 from 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. A number of you know what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.” (Bold mine)
Did you catch that? Peterson’s version claims those who “use and abuse the earth” will not be saved!

Here is 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, from the NASB:
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
You will not find this apparent form of earth-reverence in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 in any reputable translation of the Bible. It simply is not there.
“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2)
Remember this past Easter? Some were not simply celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. According to Jan Markell:
“A very special week was hijacked by the environmental movement last week. What is known as Earth Day landed on the same day as Good Friday, so our crucified Lord had to share the spotlight that day. And if you think this was only the typical antics of the religious Left, think again. Evangelicals have now jumped into this arena. The cause of caring for God’s creation is our responsibility, although we cannot ‘save the planet’ as many herald. Should conservative Christians really be making the theological leap that it was significant that both observances were placed on the calendar on the same day?” [2] (Read entire article here)
It has started, even in the church. Perhaps especially in the church. Earth/nature worship is going to increase in scope and intensity. Peterson’s insertion of ”green” into Romans 15:13 shows us the way the false church will go. This changes the understanding of the passage, allowing a potential God/nature/earth interpretation that simply is not there.
"Oh! May the God of green hope* fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!" (Bold mine) (The Message, Romans 15:13)
Why has Peterson never corrected these things, in all the years The Message has been with us?

Here is NASB, Romans 15:13:
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
You may disagree with my view of the coming false church, and how The Message fits into this. I understand. But I hope you understand the seriousness of what Peterson has done. He has omitted, and he has added. The Message should not be used by the Body of Christ at all.


1. A Conversation with Eugene Peterson, “Mars Hill Review,” Fall 1995, Issue No. 3, pgs. 73-90

2. Mixing Paganism with the Passion, by Jan Markell, second article down on her webpage 

* Eugene Peterson is a contemplative. Interestingly, “Without  this green livery of hope in God alone” is a phrase used in Dark Night of the Soul, the influential contemplative treatise by St. John of the Cross, pg. 112 (read here). Perhaps this was a subtle tribute to an influential contemplative, unbeknownst to the numerous evangelical leaders who glowingly endorsed The Message.

But The Message is not about Eugene Peterson, and never has been. The Message is best understood through Scripture: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

As time goes on, these passages in The Message (1 Cor. 6:9-11, Romans 15:13) will increasingly be viewed and used in terms of earth/nature reverence and spirituality.

 Additional Resources 

Earth Day: The High Holy Day of Paganism

Paganism: The Natural Default of the Human Mind

The Bible is Our Firewall Against Paganism