Question: I liked your May article. You emphasized the theme of the lamb that runs through Scripture. Doesn't The Message downplay if not eliminate the lamb in Hebrews:11:4? How can so many evangelical leaders recommend Eugene Peterson's The Message, published by NavPress, when it does such violence to God's Word!
Response: God says, "By faith Abel ["a keeper of sheep" (Gn 4:2)], offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh" (Heb:11:4). The Message says, "By an act of faith, Abel brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain. [So far, so good.] It was what he believed, not what he brought, that made the difference. That's what God noticed and approved as righteous."
On the contrary, the sacrifice Abel, brought from his flock is what the Bible emphasizes! Peterson substitutes his own words for God's, and he dares to call what he has authored "another version of the Bible"! Clearly, Hebrews emphasizes what Abel brought ("sacrifice...gifts...it") and says it was offered "by faith." Moses likewise emphasizes the offering: "And Abel...brought of his firstlings of the flock....And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering...but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect" (Gn 4:4,5). The entire emphasis is on the offering: Abel's was accepted by God, Cain's was not!
Peterson's perversion of the Bible implies that the offering is unimportant and that it was only what Abel believed that mattered. How do we know what he believed? By his offering! Christ "was once offered to bear the sins of many" (Heb:9:28). Our faith is in Christ who "offered himself without spot to God" (Heb:9:14) for our sins. The offering is central to our faith. Here, as elsewhere, Peterson changes the meaning entirely, robbing readers of the truth!
Considering in what great detail God describes Old Testament offerings, Peterson's view is heresy! He tampers with a major theme of Scripture and the meaning behind it—the Lamb slain for our redemption. Peterson gives us his words, not the "word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord" (Dt 8:3) and "endureth for ever" (1 Pt 1:25). Yet he deceitfully passes it off as "Bible." The Psalmist rejoiced, "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven" (Ps:119:89). We rejoice that Peterson cannot "improve" God's Word up there!
How can so many church leaders praise Peterson's mutilation of the Bible! Endorsers include: Richard Foster, Jack W. Hayford, J. I. Packer, Rick Warren, and Warren Wiersbe. Ask them why they endorse this perversion that ought to be denounced. How can true Christians take this mutilation of God's Word lightly?! Christians must awaken to the corruption taking root in the church, rise up in protest, and hold accountable those who are responsible. Surely a firm stand for truth is long overdue! We hope and pray that TBC's readers will act decisively!