Eugene Peterson’s Thoughts on Bible Study — A Warning at the Very Least!

This is a quote by Eugene Peterson concerning time spent studying the Bible.

Why do people spend so much time studying the Bible? How much do you need to know? We invest all this time in understanding the text which has a separate life of its own and we think we’re being more pious and spiritual when we’re doing it….[Christians] should be studying it less, not more. You need just enough to pay attention to God….I’m just not at all pleased with the emphasis on Bible study as if it’s some kind of special thing that Christians do, and the more the better. [source] [also see the edit below]

How does that line up with the Bible’s repeated commands to study the Word, to meditate on the Bible day and night, to study to show yourself approved, to talk about it when you rise and when you eat and when you walk along the way and when you lie down to go to sleep?

In my opinion, The Message is one of the worst Bible “translations” to use. I think it’s right up there with the New World Translation. The problems with The Message have been well documented; I provided some of the sources below.

If this steps on your toes, please understand that it is never my intention to simply hurt people’s feelings with my posts in the areas of discernment and warning. My concern is for the health of the church and my love for you as an individual.

Please seek truth and discernment as you study the Bible more and more each day, and stay away from The Message.

Edit: I’ve been challenged on the quote above, that because of the way it’s posted, the context and meaning have been changed from the original post. The elements included in the quote are the elements of Dr. Peterson’s statements about which I wanted to post. I would encourage you to go to the source of that quote (linked at the end of the quote above) and read the entire interview for yourself. (August 10, 2015)

A Creative But Inaccurate Message — Chapter 3 Ministries
The Message: Verse Comparisons — Chapter 3 Ministries
The Problematic Message “Bible” — Stand Up For The Truth
Heretical Quote of the Day — Do Not Be Surprised…
The Message “Bible”- A Breach of Truth — John Lanagan
The Message “Bible” Inserts Earth Reverence, God of “Green” Hope — Sola Sisters
What Kind of Message is THE MESSAGE? — Kjos Ministries


13 thoughts on “Eugene Peterson’s Thoughts on Bible Study — A Warning at the Very Least!

    • That was a question I had as well. Peterson’s original reason for writing his book, at least according to him at the time, was because he felt the people in his church weren’t getting the full impact of the Scriptures like the original readers did. I’m guessing he changed his opinion on whether or not they should read it at all. I have to agree that no one should read his version, but I disagree otherwise. We should be constantly immersed in the true Word of God!


      • “We should be constantly immersed in the true Word of God!”

        Indeed true- and I need to be far more immersed in it.

        When I do read I don’t use “The Message” though have some books that quote it. In print I have the KJV but not sure if there are decent modern translations I could use? (Tend to use the WEB for quoting online due to its public domain status but not sure if it’s that great or not).


        • There are several really good modern translations of the Bible. My personal favorite is the ESV. A close 2nd for me is the NET Bible. I also think the NIV is good as well as NASB. has all of those. All of those mentioned allow you to copy and paste up to a certain amount per writing. You can look at the intro material for each translation and see the specifics, but they’re all pretty generous.


  1. Pingback: Lesley’s Lagniappe ~ 8-11-15 | Michelle Lesley

    • Sharon – great article on pointing out the problems with The Message. That’s interesting that Eugene Peterson himself said he doesn’t like pastors to use it in sermon prep. I like your point that The Message doesn’t make the Bible more engaging, rather it obscures what the Bible is actually saying!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Sharon. Thank you for your comment and for your interest in my blog. It’s always nice to see that we (my wife and I) are not alone in our interest in discernment and viewing the Bible accurately; sometimes it seems like we’re fighting alone, though I know we’re not. Looking at your ministry website, I can see that we have powerful allies.

      Liked by 1 person

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