Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Mess of The Message: Psalm 1

As I've mentioned before, the Message is a complete mess. I can only do a post on the Message every now and then because frankly, heresy and blasphemy turn me off. It takes me a while to recover and return my center to Jesus where I can feel clean again.

The Message is not a bible translation, the author didn't translate a single word from one language to another. It's not a bible version, a bible version seeks to stay true to the word of God. The Message is a seeker sensitive satire of the Bible. The Message of The Message is not the word of God but the word of Eugene Peterson. 

It appears to me that Eugene Peterson didn't like all that religious talk about God and sin, and repentance, and replaced it all with a feel good, happy clappy seeker sensitive mashup of nonsense, new age psychobabble, and outdated "hip" jargon in an effort to stay relevant to people lead easily astray. Thanks to a post at Do Not Be Surprised I return to the fray as Psalm 1 is a beautiful example of how horribly heretical The Message truly is. 

Let's compare Psalm 1 from two points of view, the New American Standard Bible, widely recognized as a highly accurate and faithful translation of God's word, and the Message, which is not.

Psalm 1:1 - NASB
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
The Message
How well God must like you - you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon, you don’t slink along Dead-End Road, you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.

Psalm 1:2 - NASB
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.
The Message 
Instead you thrill to God’s Word, you chew on Scripture day and night.

Psalm 1:3 - NASB
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

The Message
You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.

Psalm 1:4 - NASB
The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
The Message
You’re not at all like the wicked, who are mere windblown dust

Psalm 1:5 - NASB
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

The Message 
Without defense in court, unfit company for innocent people.

Psalm 1:6 - NASB
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
The Message
God charts the road you take. The road they take is Skid Row.

Let's look again at this bit by bit. Psalm 1 is an introduction to Psalms but its also a quick overview of the entire bible because it tells of people, the paths they can take, and their ultimate destination. In the real bible people are separated by the godly and the ungodly. In The Message people are separated into two groups too; the reader and the rest of the world. 

Verse 1
In the real bible Verse 1 flat out says that any person that doesn't congregate with and emulate sinners is considered blessed. 

In the Message righteous people aren't blessed because God is preoccupied with YOU! God really must like YOU! because YOU! are so awesome! And then it gets worse - Sin Saloon? Dead-End Road? "you don't go to Smart-Mouth College" Seriously? Ivy league frat-boy humor in the bible? (Smart Mouth - Dartmouth Get it? Big yucks there Gene.) I really can't conceive of  a way to re-word Verse 1 any worse than Eugene Peterson did.

Verse 2
In the real bible this verse shows how all righteous people take delight in the Word of God, studying it night and day.

The Message is all about YOU! Don't worry about God, Jesus or anyone else, it's YOU! and "chew"? in an email to an old friend "chew" would work, but in a supposedly serious version of the bible? please....

Verse 3
In the real bible this is a poetic simile, a righteous person prospers like a fruit tree planted near a river where water is abundant. There next to the stream the tree gets plenty of water and does what a good tree does best, it produces abundant fruit in season and the leaves don't wither from lack of water.

In the Message, again it's all about YOU! and this time YOU! take on mystical magical properties. YOU! are not just planted by a stream, YOU! are moved to the Garden Of Eden itself! (Probably because YOU! are just so darn awesome!) and not only do YOU! produce fruit in season, YOU! produce fruit every month of the year! While YOU!  are in full blossom at the exact same time! 

Note to Message readers: You may have picked up on the fact that there's no mention of Eden in verse 3 of the real bible, there's no mention of anything that makes the tree produce fruit constantly in the real bible, there's not a mention of the tree being in perpetual blossom in the real bible, there's just a tree doing what a tree does normally, and doing it well.

Verse 4
In the real bible this is a great visual image. In ancient times wheat would be gathered and laid out on the threshing floor. After using flails to remove the kernels of wheat from the stems and to open up the hulls the wheat is thrown up into the air. The wind carries off the unwanted parts: stems, hulls, hairs, dirt, etc. (which is known as chaff) while the clean wheat falls down into the thresher's baskets. This is a powerful message: the unwanted chaff is carried off while the desired wheat kernels are left behind, just as God will keep the righteous and discard the unrighteous. This is God's judgement, it's a very powerful verse.

In the Message YOU! are not like those wicked people, no sir! YOU! are awesome just like the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14. The wicked? They're just an 80's guitar anthem, dust in the wind. The problem here is that dust is dust. It's a fact of life, you may not like it, but add a little water to dust and you have dirt and you can grow plants. In the real bible chaff is completely unwanted and separated from the good wheat kernels a very powerful image, in the Message dust is just dust, it's annoying. The image is left open to interpretation if anyone would bother. Eugene Peterson eliminated God's judgement and turned it into a dry dusty day. Probably so YOU!  wouldn't get upset over your coming fate.

Verse 5
This is an admonishment that the wicked will not do so well when it comes to the judgement. What is the judgement? This is the bible, it can't be anything but  God's judgement. It also says that the sinners will not be able to join in the assembly of the righteous. Why? Because in Verse 4, God did away with them.

The Message changes God's judgement to nothing but a civil court. Is Eugene Peterson saying that the Great White Throne Judgement of Revelation 20:11-15 is just a little civil matter? Or is he eliminating God all together? Because God's judgement is never referred to as court in the real bible. In the same verse he calls the righteous "innocent". Righteous does not mean innocent. Righteous means virtuous, just, morally right, free from sin or guilt. Innocent just means not guilty of a crime or harmless.

Verse 6
By "way" the Psalmist is saying that God knows the entire course of your life, not which road you're on but everything, lifestyle, moral choices, everything. It also displays a special intimacy with the righteous whereas for the unrighteous their way leads to death. This is reiterated throughout the bible but really brought to the clear in Romans 6:23

However in the Message the focus returns to YOU! again. However here God isn't just watching over you like in the real bible, he's actually doing the mapquest thing and charting your course for you. What a relief! There's no sin possible if God is charting your course, which means if for some reason sin does happen, it's not YOU! it's God's fault. Isnt' that awesome? As for the wicked? Death isn't their problem, but they are going to the ghetto so I guess The Message isn't all hugs and bunnies.

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