Riding a spreading tide of publicity and enthusiasm, Eugene Peterson's The Message is sweeping into Christian bookstores, homes and churches from coast to coast. In the first four months after its mid-July lease, 100,000 copies of this "New Testament in contemporary English" were printed by NavPress. Seventy thousand books were sold. Thousands were either donated or distributed at reduced prices to youth leaders, Young Life staff, and pastors who could share Peterson's message with their followers. Apparently, most readers were delighted. "The Message is so good it leaves me breathless," writes popular author Madeleine L'Engle in her endorsement.
Considering this ground-swell of acceptance, we do well to ponder the question: What is Peterson's Message?
"The Message is the boldest and most provocative rendering of the New Testament I've ever read," writes Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, general director of "Back to the Bible" broadcast and former pastor of Moody Bible Church. "The Message is certainly destined to become a devotional classic - not to mention a powerful pastoral tool," adds pastor Jack W. Hayford.
What does Eugene Peterson himself say? In his introduction to The Message, he tells us that "This version of the New Testament in a contemporary idiom keeps the language of the Message and fresh and understandable in the same language in which we do our shopping, talk with our friends, worry about world affairs, and teach our children their table manners...."
This sounds like a good idea, but what if essential Biblical concepts are not part of our everyday conversation? Should we then rewrite God's holy Scriptures to fit today's more shallow and worldly communications?
Remember, we are dealing with God's holy unchangeable Word - not an ordinary book. God owns His message, we don't. Only His own, well-guarded words can be presented as absolute truth. Yet, readers who trust NavPress and the endorsement of Christian leaders such Warren Wiersbe and J. I. Packer view this book as an authentic translation of the Bible rather than as Peterson's personal, politically correct interpretation.
Throughout both Old and New Testaments, God forbids us to distort His Word. Additions and deletions are strictly forbidden in Scriptures like Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Galatians 1:8-9 and Revelation 22:19. Acts 17:11 exhorts us to learn from the Bereans who "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
Eugene Peterson would probably agree. His own interpretation of 2 Corinthians 4:2 holds him accountable to this timeless standard:
"We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don't twist God's Word to suit ourselves. Rather we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God."
Read more: http://www.crossroad.to/Bible_studies/Message.html