Free In Christ

Finding Freedom in the Churches of Christ

Changing My Mind On The Message

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By “The Message”, I am referring to Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the Bible that came out a number of years ago.

The first time I read part of it, I was flabbergasted. I really hated it. I thought it was the worst piece of garbage that I had ever read. It was just a commentary and probably had a hidden agenda and I thought that nobody could ever benefit from reading it. That said more about my spiritual state than that of Peterson.

You see, I didn’t like it because that was when I followed the Bible. But I don’t anymore.

It might shock you that someone who writes a blog that is about Christianity would say that he doesn’t follow the Bible but that is true. I don’t follow the Bible, I follow Jesus. They are not the same.

Let me explain, I really hated the Message because I didn’t see how anyone could live by it. You see, Peterson often takes the commands of Scripture and takes them out of command form to show the truth that is in them. He gets to the point of the command but that isn’t what I wanted when I first read The Message. I wanted to be able to follow the command, I didn’t care about the wisdom that Christ wanted to add to my life. My religion was based on works and correctly following every command (not in getting the point of what Jesus was trying to say).

I had a religion of my own making where I got to obey commands but never had to truly change. I loved it for a long time until I longed for the freedom that I saw in other followers of Christ. Also, I didn’t see my command-keeping religion as being in line with what the Apostles wrote about the nature of the New Covenant and I wasn’t walking in the same freedom as Jesus and the Apostles.

Since I’ve begun following Christ (and thus stopped following the Bible) I love reading out of The Message because I care more about what is being said than having a law to obey. When you have a law, it has to be written precisely (word for word) so you know what to obey (and can find loopholes as well but that is another issue) but when you are looking for wisdom, you need what Jesus is saying more than what he said. It is a subtle distinction that really makes all of the difference.

Although I do use “The Books Of The Bible” by the International Bible Society (which you can order through the “Store”) more than The Message, I really do enjoy Peterson’s liberating take on the text.

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Written by freeinchrist

December 11, 2009 at 8:00 am

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