I just found this very important article from Suspicious Berean. I’ve been wanting to put up some info on The Message but haven’t gotten around to it yet. But here’s a good starting place. It is not a “simplified” version of the word of God! It is written heresy by a man -Eugene Peterson -who is NOT a Christian. The proof of that is in the message of The Message itself.
The Message distorts John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16-17, KJV
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. John 3:16-17, The Message
Some Bereans, such as Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon at The Berean Call, have commented about how Eugene Peterson in The Message alters the meaning of John 3:17. “That the world through him might be saved” is changed to “put the world right again,” which makes Jesus Christ sound more a social reformer than a saviour.
However, it’s also worth taking a look at what Mr. Peterson does to John 3:16. This is perhaps the most beloved verse in the Bible, and one that directly led me to put my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as my saviour. The word rendered as “everlasting” in the King James Version and “eternal” in most modern versions is the Greek word aionios. According to An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by W.E. Vine (1940), “…it is used of persons and things which are in their nature endless…” Which is to say, “everlasting” or “eternal” are correct renderings of the word. However, The Message changes “everlasting life” to “a whole and lasting life.” “Whole and lasting” sounds a lot less impressive to me than “everlasting” or “eternal.” It sounds as though Mr. Peterson is more interested in promoting a better life on Earth than in preparing people for eternity.
The reader will also note the absence of the word “begotten” from verse 16. I haven’t time to reprint it here, but Mr. Vine’s dictionary has a lengthy explanation of the phrase “only begotten,” which is the Greek word monogenes. The phrase is unique to the writings of John, and is found five times (John 1:14; 1:18; 3:16; 3:18; and I John 4:9), always in reference to Christ as the Son of God. I’ve already posted on The Message’s refusal to use the phrases “Lord Jesus” and “Lord Jesus Christ,” and I don’t understand how such a perverse paraphrase can be seriously regarded as a “Bible.”