NEW BOOKLET: Eugene Peterson’s Mixed Message: A Subversive Bible for a New Age

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Eugene Peterson's Mixed Message by Warren B. Smith

NEW BOOKLET: Eugene Peterson’s Mixed Message: A Subversive Bible for a New Age by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are available. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Eugene Peterson’s Mixed Message: A Subversive Bible for a New Age, click here.

Eugene Peterson’s Mixed Message Subversive Bible for a New Age (Examining Ten Variant Verses)

By Warren B. Smith

Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.1 Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951)

Subversive Spirituality

Eugene Peterson placed great emphasis on being—in his own words—“subversive.” In a 1987 interview with Christianity Today, Peterson stated:

So what I have tried to develop first of all, in myself, is the mentality of the subversive.2

“The Subversive Pastor” is the title of a chapter in his book The Contemplative Pastor (1989). Subversive Spirituality is the title of a book he released in 1994 while he was writing The Message. And if anyone doubts Peterson being a bit subversive, one need only look at his enthusiastic endorsements of three books with serious New Age implications—William Paul Young’s The Shack, Rob Bell’s universalistic Love Wins, and Sue Monk Kidd’s When the Heart Waits. But many people would say—“So what? His Message translation has won the praise of everyone from Bono to Beth Moore to Billy Graham.” But while Peterson delights many believers with what has been described as his “exegetical deftness,” he has also introduced a lot of leaven—some of it decidedly New Age. And it is Peterson himself who warns—“And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread” (Galatians 5:9 MSG). It is because of leaven—particularly New Age leaven—that Peterson’s Message is a spiritually dangerous mixed Message.

What is New Age?

Most people do not understand that the New Age/New Spirituality has been—and continues to be—the driving force moving the world and the church toward a New World Religion. It teaches that “we are all One” and “we are all a part of God” because God is “in” everyone and everything. This Doctrine of “Oneness” is the foundational doctrine of the New Age/New World Religion. The false God and the false Christ of the New Age have proclaimed through their many channels and teachers that “Oneness” is the foundational truth of the New Spirituality.3

As a former member of the New Age movement, I realize how easy it is for most believers to miss references to a belief system of which they were never a part and don’t really understand. However, it is crucial we recognize any leaven—especially New Age leaven—when it appears in more recent Bible translations like The Message (1993, 2003), The Voice (2012), and The Passion (2017). A clear example of how New Age teachings are often hidden in plain sight is seen in The Voice translation of 2 Peter 3:18 when compared to the King James Version:

2 Peter 3:18
KJV

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever.

The Voice

Instead, grow in grace and in the true knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Annointed, to whom be glory, now and until the coming of the new age.

Why King James?

Eugene Peterson’s Message was published by NavPress—the publishing arm of the longstanding Navigators organization. This Christian outreach was founded by the late evangelist Dawson Trotman (1906-1956). Highly respected, Trotman favored the King James Version in his teaching and preaching of God’s Word.4 In 2011, NavPress published The Book of Proverbs: KJV/The Message. The book presented comparative verses from The Message and the King James Version as it celebrated the KJV “as a cornerstone of the church, Western culture, and the development of the English language.”5 Given all this, and because of my own use of the KJV, this version will be used for the purposes of this booklet.

Examining Ten Variant Verses

1—As Above, So Below

Matthew 6:9-10
KJV

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

MSG

Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best—as above, so below.

What most people don’t realize when reading this particular verse from The Message is that Eugene Peterson has inserted a several-thousand-year-old occult/New Age maxim into the mouth of Jesus and into the Lord’s Prayer. Instead of “in earth, as it is in heaven,” Peterson translated it “as above, so below.” This may seem harmless to most people, but as a former New Ager, I recognized “as above, so below” for what it was—an ancient mystical New Age concept that is said to be the key to all magic and all mysteries. It means that all is “One” because God is “in” everyone and everything. As already noted, this Doctrine of “Oneness” is the foundational teaching of the New Age/New World Religion. But universal “Oneness” is a New Age lie. God is not “in” everyone and everything. As Above, So Below—a book authored by the editors of the New Age Journal and published in 1992—summarizes the New Age significance of “as above, so below”:

Thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, the great master alchemist Hermes Trismegistus, believed to be a contemporary of the Hebrew prophet Abraham, proclaimed this fundamental truth about the universe: “As above, so below; as below, so above.” This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one.6

When I initially searched the term “as above, so below” on the Internet, the first site that appeared said:

This phrase comes from the beginning of The Emerald Tablet and embraces the entire system of traditional and modern magic which was inscribed upon the tablet in cryptic wording by Hermes Trismegistus. The significance of this phrase is that it is believed to hold the key to all mysteries. All systems of magic are claimed to function by this formula. “‘That which is above is the same as that which is below’ . . . The universe is the same as God, God is the same as man.”7

Peterson Was Told
Because of all this, the question arises—Did anyone ever confront Peterson about using this New Age expression that, in effect, turns the Lord’s Prayer into an occult/New Age prayer? The answer is yes. Soon after The Message was first published in 1993, a concerned reader wrote Peterson and asked him if he was aware that “as above, so below” was an occult/New Age term. Because my book Deceived on Purpose (2004) discussed this issue, the reader had contacted me and informed me that Peterson had written him back and said if he had known that “as above, so below” was a New Age term, he never would have used it. Certainly, Peterson—if he had truly cared—could have had it removed from subsequent printings of The Message. Yet more than two decades after his book first came out, “as above, so below,” still remains in his translation—as do Peterson’s references to “Oneness” and God being “in” everything.

2—Oneness: God “in” Everything

Ephesians 4:4-6
KJV

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

MSG

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

New Age Doctrine of Oneness

By not removing “as above, so below” from The Message, Peterson actually reinforces its New Age meaning by translating Ephesians 4:4-6 to state that God is universally “present in all” and that “Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.” The “God” of the New Age, channeled through one of his top leaders, describes those who introduce the concept of “Oneness” (God “in” everything) as the “messengers,” “visionaries,” and “heralds of a New Age.”8

In the KJV, Ephesians 4:6 states “in you all” to make it clear that Paul is only speaking to “the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1). He is not stating that God is universally present in everyone and that a universal “Oneness” pervades everything we “are and think and do.” Rather, he is specifically talking to believers to whom the Holy Spirit had been previously sent because of their commitment to Christ (John 15:26). Paul is not making a statement about “Oneness” and God being “present in all.” In a published interview, Peterson said that one of the breakthrough moments in his knowing that he could create a new translation of the Bible was when he realized how “easy” it would be for him to “untangle” the apostle Paul:

Maybe I could do Paul, because Paul is easy in a sense because he gets tangled up and you can untangle him.9

The irony is that in trying to “untangle” Paul in Ephesians 4:4-6 (as if Paul needed untangling), Peterson is the one who gets all tangled up as he ends up presenting a mixed New Age message instead of the gospel truth. In another Message verse with special New Age implications, Peterson’s Jesus is never described as Lord.

3—The “Master Jesus

John 13:13
KJV

Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.

MSG

You address me as “Teacher” and “Master,” and rightly so. That is what I am.

The late New Age leader, Benjamin Creme, taught that Jesus is not the Christ but rather a “disciple” of Christ. Creme explained that when the New Age Christ appears, he will not come as “Savior,” but as “Teacher,” and in his own name—which is exactly what the true Christ said would happen (John 5:43). New Age leaders like Creme teach that this New Age Christ will set things right by teaching everyone the Doctrine of Oneness—that God is immanent “in man and all creation”—and that he is present in all religions. Creme wrote:

But eventually a new world religion will be inaugurated which will be a fusion and synthesis of the approach of the East and the approach of the West. The Christ will bring together, not simply Christianity and Buddhism, but the concept of God transcendent—outside of His creation—and also the concept of God immanent in all creation—in man and all creation.10

In explaining how Jesus was not the Christ but rather his disciple, Creme described how the first century Jesus allowed the “Christ” to “overshadow” him and work through him after he was baptized by John. Counterfeiting the true Christ’s return with his “mighty angels” (2 Thessalonians 1:7), Creme explained that when the New Age Christ appears he will come with his “twelve Masters of Wisdom.” These Masters—one of whom will be the “Master Jesus”—will help the New Age Christ do his work in the world. Thus, according to Creme and other New Age leaders, “Jesus” is not the “Lord” and he is not the “Christ”—he is simply the “Master Jesus.” Creme—speaking for this New Age Christ—explains how this “Master Jesus” will assume the throne of St. Peter and head up the “Christian” Church which will be centered in Rome as part of the New World Religion. Creme stated that the “Master Jesus”—obviously a false Jesus—will be in charge of a new reformation. It will be his job to “reform the Christian churches”11 so they conform to the “new reality” of the New World Religion which the return of the false Christ and his Masters will create.12

New Age leaders have made it clear that in the New Age/New Spirituality/New World Religion, you can identify yourself with any or no religion as long as you confess that “we are all One” because “God is in everyone and everything.” And, of course, you must profess that the New Age Christ—not Jesus Christ—is your Lord.

In light of all this, it is important to note that The Message never refers to Jesus as Lord—not even once. Consistent with New Age teachings, Peterson’s Jesus is repeatedly referred to as the “Master Jesus.” And while the disciples of the true Jesus Christ called him Master, it was always with the understanding that He was also their Lord—and they continually and constantly addressed Him as such. And even when they addressed Him as Master, they never referred to Him as the “Master Jesus.” Yet the term “Master Jesus” appears repeatedly in passage after passage in The Message. An example of this is in Revelation 22:20-21:

KJV

Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

MSG

Yes! Come, Master Jesus! The grace of the Master Jesus be with all of you. Oh, Yes!

When “as above, so below,” “Oneness,” “God in everything,” “Master Jesus,” and all the other occult elements of the New Age/New Spirituality are taken as a whole, occultists collectively describe it as the “Great Work”—another mixed message found in The Message.

4—Great Work

Philippians 1:6
KJV

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

MSG

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

“Great Work” in The Message
The Greek word agathos in Philippians 1:6 is commonly translated into English as “good”—not “great.” But in this passage, Peterson translates agathos as “great”—not “good.” Thus, it becomes a “great work” that God is doing in you—not “good work.” Yet when he translated this same word agathos twenty-one verses previous in Ephesians 6:8, he translated it “good”—rather than “great.” Of the more than fifty Gateway Bible versions listed on the Internet, all but three translated Philippians 1:6 as “good work.” The three that translated it “great work” were the more recent controversial translations—The Voice, The Passion, and The Message.

“Great Work” in the New Age
The term “great work” that Eugene Peterson inserted into Philippians 1:6 is yet another New Age term like “as above, so below” that is hidden in plain sight. Terms like “as above, so below,” “Oneness,” and “great work” might seem inconsequential to most Christians—but they are not. They are a part of the emerging and overlapping language of the New Age/New World Religion reminiscent of the one language that God found so reprehensible in Babel:

And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. (Genesis 11:6)

The first entry that arose when I searched the Internet for “Great Work” immediately connected it with the “as above, so below” teachings of Hermeticism and the New Age/New Spirituality.13 In False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care? (2011), I quote the false Christ Maitreya inviting everyone to “share” in his “Great Work” of transforming the world. He said:

Share with Me, My friends, in a Great Work—nothing less than the transformation of this world.14

Also in False Christ Coming, I described how New Age leader (and 2020 presidential candidate) Marianne Williamson invokes this same occult/New Age term “Great Work” in her 2000 book Healing the Soul of America. She describes how the evolution of humanity will come through the enactment of the esoteric traditions collectively referred to as the “Great Work”:

Beyond the appearances of history, there is a great and glorious unfolding plan for the destiny of nations. According to the mystical traditions, God carries this plan within His mind, seeking always, in every way, channels for its furtherance. His plan for the evolution of humanity, and the preparation of teachers to guide it, is called within the esoteric traditions the Great Work.15

Another New Age source describes how the completion of the “Great Work” will be accomplished when it has been introduced in multiple ways “across numerous fields”:

The so-called “Great Work” of the occultists is at the heart of all esoteric activities in both the East and the West. And the “completion” of this “Great Work” is alluded to via a multiplicity of euphemisms scattered across numerous fields.16

“Great Work” in Gospel Music
The term “Great Work” has been introduced not only into three contemporary Bible translations, but also into contemporary Christian music. The album and title song “A Great Work” were both nominated for 2018 Dove and 2019 Grammy awards as the song for “best contemporary gospel song” and the album for “best contemporary gospel album.” Featuring Philippians 1:6 as the centerpiece of his album and song, popular Christian recording artist Brian Courtney Wilson sings: “He that has begun a great work in you is faithful to perform it.” In what has been described as his “purpose-driven lyrics,”17 the term “great work” is repeated over fifty times by the singer and the accompanying choir.18 This popular hit song is another graphic example of how an overlapping New Age term has become part of our day-to-day “Christian” language. But this is the way Satan, the Devil, Lucifer—also known as the “light-bearer”—works.

5—Light-bearer

Matthew 5:15
KJV

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

MSG

If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket do you? I’m putting you on a light stand.

In my Internet search for the definition of light-bearer, I was immediately redirected to the name Lucifer.19 An online thesaurus listed the following synonyms for the word “light-bearer”—Lucifer, Beelzebub, Devil, Prince of Darkness, and Tempter.20 The occult/New Age Theosophical Society published a monthly journal as far back as the late 1800s titled Lucifer that featured a front-cover banner that read—“The Light-bearer is the Morning Star or Lucifer.”21 The Canadian branch of this same Theosophical Society continues to publish their seasonal magazine titled The Light Bearer.22 And the late New Age channeler Elizabeth Clare Prophet’s Summit Lighthouse organization advertised their 2018 annual conference by proclaiming—“Lightbearers of the World Unite.”23 Even a Lightbearer coffee mug with a “unique esoteric satanic 666 Luciferian seal symbol” can be purchased online. The product description further reads:

Lucifer the Lightbearer Satanic Mug—perfect gift for you or someone dear to you.24

Like light-bearer and the other terms already mentioned, “golden circle” is yet one more mixed message with occult/New Age implications found in The Message.

6-Golden Circle

Revelation 2:5
KJV

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

MSG

Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall! Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.

The term “golden circle” is not found in the original manuscripts. In fact, the single word “circle” is found only once in the KJV and refers to the circumference of the earth (Isaiah 40:22). An Internet search for “golden circle” does not bring up anything that equates to being biblical. But it does connect the term to, among other things, a Masonic ritual, a secret society, and modern-day witchcraft. “The Order of the Golden Circle” is the women’s auxiliary of the 33 degree Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.25 The “Knights of the Golden Circle” was a radical secret society in mid-nineteenth century America,26 and Wiccans—with their “golden chalk” and “golden energy”—often invoke the term “as above, so below” to seal their “ritual circles”:

When Witches seal a circle casting, sacred space or a spell, they often say the words “As above, so below.”27

The Maxim “As above, so below” (as well as others you’ll study in the future) does tell us that Wicca carries with it into the twenty-first century a heavy coil of very old, very ancient, golden energy.28

Golden chalk is used to draw the heart glyph at the center of a ritual circle. Golden chalk is crafted in a witches’ cauldron.29

And just as Peterson added the term “golden circle” in translating Revelation 2:5, he added the word “green” to his translation of Romans 15:13.

7—God of Green Hope

Romans 15:13
KJV

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

MSG

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!

Green New Age
The word “green” for most people has come to mean recycling, reducing our carbon footprint, and overall good stewardship of the earth. However, in recent times, the word “green” has also come to represent some of the more extreme environmental activism and earth worship identified with Paganism, Witchcraft, and the New Age movement. One online site straightforwardly states that the word “green” is synonymous with the term New Age:

Not everyone who came to be associated with the New Age phenomenon openly embraced the term “New Age” . . . Other terms that were employed synonymously with “New Age” in this milieu included “Green.”30

The “Green Movement” is commonly associated with Gaia and earth worship and has been described as being “at the very heart of the Global Green Agenda.”31 Consistent with New Age teachings, Gaia philosophy is the belief that humanity can save “Mother Earth” by recognizing its “Oneness” with “her.” Gaia is acknowledged to be part of the “Green Agenda” for a united “Green Religion.” The all-encompassing “Green Movement” is presently and actively promoting current environmental policies. Popular with progressive politicians and New Age spiritualists, a “Green New Deal” is already in the works. There is also a “Green Witchcraft,”32 and the “Green Horned God” of Wicca is frequently referred to as the “Green Man.”33

Peterson’s “God of green hope” translation lends itself to all of the above as it conveniently meshes with Paganism, Witchcraft, and the New Age movement. The Bible warns that we cannot just add words like “golden circle” and “green” that are not in the original manuscripts and call it a translation (Proverbs 30:6). It is as wrong as describing God’s creation as “God-craft.”

8—God-Craft

Psalm 19:1
KJV

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.

MSG

God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.

Peterson’s introduction of the term “God-craft” seems to offer a euphemistic olive branch to those practicing witchcraft. In two videos posted by a self-professing “Christian witch,” he describes how he mixes his faith in “Christ” with his faith in witchcraft. He used the same overlapping term used by Peterson in The Message to describe his faith as “more of a God-craft”:

Many people don’t necessarily understand how you can mix Christianity and the love of Christ with a word like magic, and power, or the craft or the label Christian witch.34

Do I believe, do I practice a form of the craft? Yes I do, but I believe its more of a God-craft than it is, say, what most people would determine as witchcraft.35

Thus, Peterson’s translation of the Psalm 19:1 verse that reads “God-craft on exhibit across the horizon” seems more suggestive of witches riding the night skies than the heavens declaring God’s glory. Peterson has not only added terms like “golden circle” and “God-craft,” but he has also removed important phrases like “cunningly devised fables” and replaced them with misleading substitutes like “wishing on a star.”

9—Wishing on a Star

2 Peter 1:16
KJV

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

MSG

We weren’t, you know, just wishing on a star when we laid the facts out before you regarding the powerful return of our Master, Jesus Christ. We were there for the preview! We saw it with our own eyes.

It doesn’t take a Bible scholar to see that the key phrase “cunningly devised fables” was removed and the meaning of the passage completely changed by Eugene Peterson. “We weren’t, you know, just wishing on a star” bears no resemblance to “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables.” Peterson’s “wishing on a star” sounds more like Walt Disney and Pinocchio than the apostle Peter. What was a strong biblical warning about spiritual deception now sounds more like an indirect reference to Jiminy Cricket.

Those of us who were formerly involved in the New Age movement were not “wishing on a star” regarding the “coming of Christ.” We were following a “cunningly devised fable”—a “new story” and a “new narrative” for the coming New Age. This “cunningly devised” New Age/New Gospel fable convinced us that we were all “One” because God was “in” everyone and everything. But Peterson chose to eliminate this sharp as a two-edged sword warning about “cunningly devised fables,” replacing it with the flat-as-a-butter knife reference to “wishing on a star.”

The best-selling book The Shack is a perfect example of a cunningly devised fable. William Paul Young’s “Jesus” presents the same deceptive “as above, so below” teaching found in The Message—that God is “in” everyone and everything. Young’s “Jesus” says, “God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.”36 Not surprisingly, Eugene Peterson—the man who removed the apostle Peter’s warning about “cunningly devised fables”—provides a glowing front cover endorsement for William Paul Young’s cunningly devised fable!

Eugene Peterson, in using phrases like “as above, so below,” “light-bearer,” and “God-craft” has created confusion with terms that overlap with the occult and the New Age. It was Peterson, himself, who warned:

We cannot be too careful about the words we use; we start out using them and then they end up using us.37

But if you question today’s Christian leaders regarding any of this, you may find yourself being labeled as “defiant” and “mutinous.”

10—Defiant or Mutinous

Proverbs 24:21
KJV

My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change: For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?

MSG

Fear God, dear child—respect your leaders; don’t be defiant or mutinous. Without warning your life can turn upside down, and who knows how or when it might happen?

One of the predominant ways the New Age has entered the church is through new translations that change the meaning of otherwise properly translated Scripture. Somehow, we are to just trust that these translations have only our best interest in mind. Proverbs 24:21 warns of the ruinous consequences for getting involved with change-agent leaders who are “given to change.” Yet, Eugene Peterson removes the reference to change and, instead, warns of the ruinous consequences for not following these change-agent leaders! Those not respecting their leaders are described as “defiant” and “mutinous” and as a result may find their lives being turned “upside down.” But the only way Peterson can come up with this translation is to turn the original Hebrew upside down. It is not “mutinous” or “defiant” to search the Scriptures to see if what these leaders are saying is “so” (Acts 17:11). Isaiah specifically warned about leaders who were leading people astray—“O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths” (Isaiah 3:12). He warned that ruinous destruction would not come to those who defied these errant leaders but to those who unquestioningly followed them—“For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed” (Isaiah 9:16).

Epilogue—A Dangerous Walk

The danger of entrusting one’s Christian walk to Eugene Peterson and his Message translation was dramatically underscored in a 2007 book Peterson wrote titled The Jesus Way. In describing a group hike he took with friends and family in Glacier National Park, Peterson discloses how he purposely withheld crucial information from his family and friends prior to their setting out on their walk. In a moment of almost inexplicable candor, Peterson reveals how he “relished the spurt of adrenaline” he experienced in not telling his fellow hikers how a grizzly bear had mauled a hiker just the week before on the very same trail they were about to take. What makes his account especially disturbing is that his group included a friend’s two-year-old child and his pregnant daughter-in-law. Peterson wrote:

A few years ago a grizzly attacked a hiker not far from our home and mauled him badly. The hiker had heard of the wonder and beauty of the mountains of Montana and drove across the country from North Carolina to experience them for himself. Interviewed from his hospital bed, he said, “I’m never coming back to this place!” He didn’t know that wonder and beauty can also be dangerous.

A week after that grizzly mauling, Jan and I along with our son and his wife, plus another friend with her two-year-old son, were hiking on that same trail. At the trailhead a notice was posted: “Danger: Grizzly activity on this trail. Hike at your own risk.” None of the others knew of the previous week’s mauling and I didn’t say anything. I relished the spurt of adrenaline. The danger to life heightens the sense of life.38

Peterson goes on to describe how the group later encountered a grizzly bear and her cub that were up the trail from where they were walking. Obviously, concerned for her safety and that of her unborn child, Peterson’s pregnant daughter-in-law insisted on leaving immediately. Peterson attempts to use the incident to illustrate how the beauty of one’s surroundings can also be a threat to the “fragility and preciousness of life.” He explains that “Holy ground” can also be “dangerous ground”:

And then Amy, our daughter-in-law, who was five months pregnant and therefore especially aware of the fragility and preciousness of life, said, “I want to get out of here.” And we did get out. Holy ground, but dangerous ground.39

And while Peterson waxes poetic about the mix of beauty and danger inherent in life, his point falls flat as an obvious question arises—What kind of a man would put others in harm’s way for his own personal adrenalin rush? As I read Peterson’s strange account, I realized the incident was a perfect metaphor for what I had come to believe about Peterson and his Message translation. You are walking on a very dangerous path when you choose to walk with Eugene Peterson—whether it is in Glacier National Park or through the pages of his Message “Bible.”

God’s True Word

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. (2 Timothy 4:3)

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:5)

To order copies of Eugene Peterson’s Mixed Message: A Subversive Bible for a New Age, click here.

Endnotes:

  1. Dr. Harry Ironside, “Is Exposing Error Worthwhile?” (TBC Extra, April 2008, posted on The Berean Call website, https://www.thebereancall.org/content/exposing-error-it-worthwhile).
  2. “Eugene Peterson: “A Monk Out of Habit,” Interview by Rodney Clapp (Christianity Today, April 3, 1987, Vol. 31, No. 6), p. 24.
  3. One example of this statement is seen here: Neale Donald Walsch, Tomorrow’s God: Our Greatest Spiritual Challenge (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2004), p. 167.
  4. Betty Lee Skinner, Daws: A Man Who Trusted God (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress Publishing Group, 1974), pp, 153-155, 371.
  5. The Book of Proverbs KJV/The Message: Celebrating 400 Years of Scripture (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2011), product description on Amazon.com.
  6. Ronald S. Miller and The Editors of New Age Journal, As Above, So Below: Paths to Spiritual Renewal in Daily Life (Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1992), p. xi.
  7. http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/a/below_above.html.
  8. Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God: an Uncommon Dialogue (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1999), pp. 295-296.
  9. Michael J. Cusick, “A Conversation with Eugene Peterson” (Mars Hill Review 3 , Fall 1995, Issue No. 3, www.marshillreview.com/sojo/peterson.shtm), pp. 73-90.
  10. Benjamin Creme, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom (London, England: The Tara Press, 1980), p. 88.
  11. Ibid., p. 30.
  12. Ibid., p. 46.
  13. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great-Work.
  14. Maitreya, Messages from Maitreya the Christ: One Hundred Forty Messages (Los Angeles, CA: Share International Foundation, 2001), p. 142.
  15. Marianne Williamson, Healing the Soul of America; Reclaiming Our Voices as Spiritual Citizens (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2000), p. 195.
  16. Nick Sandberg, “The Great Work” (Hidden Mysteries: The Magazine, Vol. 14, July 2000, http://www.hiddenmysteries.org/themagazine/vol14/articles/occult-notes.shtml).
  17. Praise 96.5 FM (https://www.praise965.com/music/brian-courtney-wilson-a-great-work-number-one-on-billboard-gospel-airplay-chart).
  18. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=QYL-A1G9teE.
  19. https://www.thefreedictionary.com.
  20. http://www.freethesaurus.com.
  21. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucifer_(magazine)#/media/File%3ABlavlucifer.jpg.
  22. The Light Bearer (https://www.levir.com.br/theosophy/magazine.htm).
  23. https://bozemantc.org/tag/montana.
  24. Amazon.com: “esoteric coffee mug-Lucifer the LIGHTBEARER.”
  25. https://www.aasrphasj.org/index.php/golden-circle.
  26. http://knights-of-the-golden-circle.blogspot.com.
  27. https://web.archive.org/web/20170309164831/http://www.angelfire.com/moon2/mystique_angel/AASB.html.
  28. Ibid.
  29. https://sites.google.com/site/witcherymod/golden-chalk.
  30. “New Age” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Age), citing Stephen J. Sutcliffe in Children of the New Age (London and New York: Routledge 2003), p. 128.
  31. http://www.green-agenda.com/gaia.html.
  32. Ann Moura, Green Witchcraft (Woodbury, MN: Lewellyn Publications, 2002).
  33. https://whisperingworlds.com/wiccan/wiccan_god.php.
  34. “An Invitation to the Kingdom Coven” (Kingdom Coven YouTube, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=F67U4dikvQE), 4:20 minute mark.
  35. “The truth about the craft and Magick” (Kingdom Coven YouTube, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qos4H5g95CY), 3:00 minute mark.
  36. William P. Young, The Shack (Los Angeles, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 112.
  37. Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, 2005), p. 39.
  38. Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way: a conversation on the ways that Jesus is the way (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Erdman’s Publishing Co., 2007), p. 131.
  39. Ibid.

To order copies of Eugene Peterson’s Mixed Message: A Subversive Bible for a New Age, click here.

Also see John Lanagan’s booklet: The Message “Bible”— A Breach of Truth

18 Comments

  1. T. I. Miller

    if a little leaven leavens the whole lump imagine what a lot of leaven will do.
    How oxymoronic for a pastor to preach to his flock from the Message, so called, bible.
    David is the role model for all shepherds, for he slew the beasts attacking the flock. What a contrast with the hireling of Jn. 10:12. Every false teacher is like the beasts attacking the flock. Remaining silent is helping the beasts to ravage the flock. Shepherds love nothing but God and hate nothing but sin and false teaching, Not so for hirelings who run and hide. To say, “I preach what I’m for, not what I’m against”, is hiding like a hireling. There can be no unity with darkness, error, goats or the broad road.

  2. Heidi Lavoie

    This is an excellent booklet by Warren Smith. I had not been able to find an in-depth article such as this one that comprehensively lists and exposes all the new age terms found in the Message until now. I attended a Christian & Missionary Alliance church from 1999 to 2001 and the pastor had an incredible amount of discernment. He understood everything that was going on like a real Berean. But ecumenical compromise was his downfall. He was taken away from the truth by accepting the seeker-friendly, church growth movement, purpose driven teachings that exploded on the scene at that time. And he began quoting the Message extensively in his sermons. It was an exceedingly shocking and sad time for me as I realized that I had to leave a beloved church and pastor behind, again. But I find it so hard to fathom what happens to people who appear to be truly God’s children and they get taken in by something like this. It is almost incomprehensible to me.
    I am very thankful for this ministry, Lighthouse Trails, I find much valuable information here as well as comfort knowing I am not alone.

  3. CW

    How fascinating (not in a good way) that he himself said that he was subversive! Did he think people were not paying attention? I guess not. Unfortunately, he was right about that — a LOT of people have not paid attention to that, and the multitude of other problems with this horribly-twisted paraphrase (NOT a translation). Thank you so much for this summary. Like David, this definitely sheds new light for me on the “New Green Deal” being pushed by neo-socialist politicians. BTW, I just finished reading For Many Shall Come In My Name, by Ray Yungen. Although the book was published in 1991, it is a gold mine of information — very crucial these days. I found myself going Ah Hah, so THAT’s what that issue is really about, as I read each chapter. It is still current! Amazing book, amazing insights. I plan to share it with friends. Thanks again!

  4. Elizabeth Bennett

    The Messianic Congregation that I belong to is composed of conservative, believing Jews and Gentiles. We believe in the Trinity. I have never met a Messianic Jew who did not believe in the Trinity.

  5. David

    Thank you for this exceptional overview of core New Age principles and concepts, as well as sound Biblical reasons for not using The Message. It also gives a new understanding to the “New Green Deal” being pushed by certain members of Congress.

  6. kat

    My husband and I attended a church quite a few years ago and some of the people in the church were carrying around The Message so-called bible ( which we knew about it being NOT a bible but a disgrace to God’s Word.) . When co n fronting the Pastor, he said it was not to be used for doctrinally purposes but when he preached he would reference The Message. Even in hand-outs it was referenced. Not long after this we stopped attending this church. This is a travesty in a lot of churches still going on. We have learned so much from lighthouse trails and all the authors to include Warren Smith. In fact the book by Warren Smith , Th Light That Was Dark took the blinders off a good friend’s eyes and God woke this person up because she was into paranormal things and thank God she repented. Passing these books around as well as the booklets can definitely reach out to people that are being deceived . God bless, a sister-n- Christ

  7. I value the extensive work of Lighthouse Trails and the appended wisdom of those who read the articles.

    It is incredibly sad how the Message Bible has been well-received. Eugene Peterson was your typical USA Presbyterian—anything goes (including same-sex marriage) and all go to heaven. Eugene Peterson rewrote God’s holy, inerrant Word to make it secular-friendly to please villainous men.

    I do not believe I have met one USA Presbyterian who stands on the Bible nor sees the necessity of being born again. I have been told, “We do not believe that way.”

    • CW

      I know that PCUSA is extremely unbiblical these days, as you said. Do they not still believe/teach predestination, as historic Presbyterianism does? Or has that particular branch gone into universalism?

    • vanessa walters

      In a local Christian bookstore, years ago, I looked through a copy of The Message Bible. I asked the clerk what he thought of it, and he said “I wish we didn’t have to sell these”..when asked why, his comment was ” the language is so common, so coarse”..unfortunately later on, I did buy a copy. By then, the Bible was organized by chapter/verse..But the clerk was right, it IS language that is common, coarse..and I got rid of my copy. I had NO idea how pervasive the New Age ideas were in the language. Since then, Ive been appalled how much this bible is quoted in books/articles/from pastor’s pulpits, Sunday School lessons! I wouldn’t have one, if it was the only bible available for sale.

    • David

      Yes it is – very sad and disturbing. Shows the lack of discernment and the increase in deception affecting many church leaders.

      • Lillia

        What has happened, and unbenounced to most; is that the church has been infiltrated by wolves in sheep’s clothing. Their sole purpose is to steer the church into deception. They will sound ‘biblical’ for decades even, and then at just the right time… the ‘turning point’ will come and they begin leading the sheep astray, who now have their full confidence rooted in a false teacher personality like an anchor in cement. Much of the apostasy is due to these ‘change agents’ and the rest by the gullibly deceived leaders who follow them, all of which lead the sheep off the cliff and away from the Shepherd. It is a sad situation.

    • CW

      Unfortunately, this does not surprise me about David Jeremiah. He quoted Sue Monk Kidd positively in a book he wrote — praising “her passion” (never mind the fact that her passion is for paganism!) 🙁 LHT has written at least one article about this. They contacted him about it, but got no good response.

  8. Lillia

    Some very interesting points to be made here:

    1. This pope also wrote a lengthy paper called the ‘Encyclical’ which was all about environmentalism and ‘going green,’ and I heard it endorses sodomy and abortion in the name of population control for the ‘good of the earth.’
    2. That part about Peterson not telling these people about the danger and the adrenaline rush almost sounds like one who is eager for a human sacrifice to ‘mother earth’ as pagans used to do (and maybe even still do as many have had a supposed ‘death in the family’ in apostate Christianity).
    3. ‘Master’ is also a new age term as they believe in ‘ascended masters’ as being leaders of all religions; i.e. buddha, etc. This ties in exactly with that is referred to.
    4. “Creme—speaking for this New Age Christ—explains how this “Master Jesus” will assume the throne of St. Peter and head up the “Christian” Church which will be centered in Rome as part of the New World Religion. Creme stated that the “Master Jesus”—obviously a false Jesus—will be in charge of a new reformation. It will be his job to “reform the Christian churches”11 so they conform to the “new reality” of the New World Religion which the return of the false Christ and his Masters will create.” —–happening right now.

  9. Elizabeth Bennett

    It was cruel and evil of Peterson to put his own family and friends in such physical danger without telling them just so he could have an adrenaline rush! Very selfish of him. I have never used The Message Bible; our Messianic congregation did not approve of it many yrs. ago. It seems to be similar to Jesus Calling; putting words in God’s mouth that God did not speak.

    • Linda

      I have done some research on Messianic congregations too and notice that the general rule is that they don’t believe in the Trinity; deity of Christ. I would make sure and ask them about that.
      ( :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *