A Case for Exclusive Interpretation for Jesus’ Parables

The first century Jewish rabbi, most known by the name, Jesus famously used symbolic imagery with his teachings. These comparisons are known as parables and were used in support of his message about the kingdom of Heaven. In early twenty-first century western thought there is a strong push to belive that when Jesus spoke in parables he was offering the stories to have multiple interpretations. Postmodern philosophy particularly the idea of relativism, that denies objective truth, may have significantly influenced this idea. The relative interpretations are typically found through ones personal worldview and disregard the idea that Jesus, and a real person, was meaning something specific when he spoke in symbolic terms. Relative interpretation for the parables is unsupported by scripture in a number of ways. This concept is incompatible with the reality of exclusive interpretation, which is the view that when Jesus spoke in parables they held a particular teaching and single intended meaning that was to be understood by his original audience.

There are three main arguments that are used to support the relative interpretation view:
Jesus said “He who has ears, let him hear,” and some ilogically see this as a phrase which means ‘anyone may offer an interpretation for this parable and they will be correct’.
The Gospel books record a large number of parables that do not have a clear explanation from Jesus, and some see these as a different type of parable from the ones that were explained; that Jesus always intended them to have multiple interpretations.
Jesus was God, all knowing and all powerful, and he was able to masterfully design parables that would have multiple layers of meaning and for this reason it concluded that he intended all of these interpretations that people would later read into the parables.

This view of Jesus the supernatural story teller, with all interpretations correct and intended, could be said to contend with the Jesus who was a real, educated man and was talking to an audience of other real people in the first century. Rather than support the idea that he had a particular goal with his life and ministry, the relative interpretation view makes Jesus seem like more of a legend with an ambiguous purpose for his interactions with mankind. As well meaning as people are if they support relative interpretation, it does not lend people to understanding the truth about who he said he was, and what he said anyone needs to do if they are to follow him.

This essay will contend with the relative interpretation view by building a case for the exclusive interpretation view. Although additional personal and spiritual revelations revealed to an individual through the study of scripture are valid all of Jesus’ symbolic comparisons were intended for a singular interpretation and any other meaning, however positive and true, is removed from the matters Jesus was addressing in each of his parables. This essay will lay out five arguments against relative interpretation to support exclusive interpretation:

1. The fallacy of equivocation that surrounds the idea of ‘meaning.’
2. The exclusive nature of the explanations that Jesus did give for some of his parables.
3. The exclusive nature of all contemporary use of parable.
4. The single original context that there is to correctly draw from.
These four arguments show there is a single intended meaning for each of Jesus’ parables, and consequently for all other parabolic language in the scriptures.

Argument 1 - Equivocation of the word “meaning.”

The process of bible study is different for many individuals but in modern culture there are generally two different mindsets that most people will consciously or unconsciously approach the text with. These may sometimes be in mind together within a single reading, but usually one dominates over the other. Pastors Matthew Whitman and Tim Makie offer insights into one common modern mindset: the individual focused approach.

Whitman explains that it is easy to want to skip over the content about God and history, God’s ideals, God’s redemptive plan, and God’s kingdom, in order to get the answers to questions such as “Who am I?” And “What am I supposed to be doing with my life?” He explains that, what is here called, the individualist approach focuses on gleaning from the text personal instruction and affirmation. Makie charges western church culture as having conditioned people into using the individualist approach to the bible. He explains that people are exposed to small passages of the text, in church gatherings that are limited by time, followed by a message of how the passage applies to the lives of people today. And this has lead to some assumptions about what the bible actually is; a divine behaviour manual, a personal love letter from God to the individual, a theological dictionary or answer book that explains what to believe.

Practically speaking the individualist approach might be achieved by using any modern spiritual reading practice or contemplation practice. One example of this is Lectio Divina. It is a four step process of contemplation and has been modernised into the steps: scripture, observation, application, and prayer- or SOAP. Spiritual reading practices like this cause the reader to slow down and ask questions about the passage, listening to the Holy Spirit for prompting and understanding of a deeper message hidden in the text. This is also known in English studies as ‘reading between the lines’. The reader relates the events in the passage to their own life, experiences, relationships, and journeys and then asks God to assist them in executing the changes they may feel convicted to make in their life. Through gleaning from the text in this way many readers are lead to see meaning in the text from their personal worldview. This meaning is subjective and relevant to the individual. It is a meaningful interpretation on the passage for the individual reader.

Makie and Whitman make the case that while the bible is capable of answering the questions that centre around the reader, this individualist view is not the view of the authors of scriptures and the bible. The individualist approach has weaknesses, mainly that it adds meaning from the world of the reader that the author, who lived in a very different world, would not have understood. The problem this argument means to identify is that there are multiple definitions for the word ‘meaning’. Webseter dictionary gives three definitions for the word ‘meaning’:
1. The thing one intends to convey especially by language.
2. Something meant or intended.
3. Significant quality.

The individualist approach of reading the bible is focused on the personal significance that can be found in the text. This is the third definition.
The other mindset or approach to reading the bible could be identified as the immersive approach. One that respects that the events the bible records really happened at a particular time and in a certain culture. The immersive approach holds the expectation that the author had their own intention with what they wrote, and it means to dive into text with the focus to connect with the authors own message. This intention of the author is likely to be foreign to a modern reader. Without prior study of the history, religion, and worldview that the author would have had the reader understands that they may never be able to perfectly comprehend every detail the text, at least not the first time in a passage. This is definition 1 and 2 of the word ‘meaning.’ The immersive approach is mindful that many readers see personal significance and meaning in the text, but it does not allow these things to answer for the intended meaning of the author.

In the matter of understanding the meaning of Jesus’ parables, the postmodern view of relative interpretation sees the personal significance and meaning that a modern person can read into the text as being exactly what Jesus intended to say in the moments he spoke to the crowds of his followers. This idea distorts the reality that Jesus was a real human man who intentionally chose particular words and ideas to communicate his message and that he had his own thoughts and meaning behind what he was saying. The exclusive interpretation view holds this idea that Jesus meant something with his parables, and that the individualist approach of reading scripture will not always uncover what Jesus really meant. The relative interpretation view holds all readers personal meaning and significance for the text in the place of Jesus original intended meaning. This is the fallacy of equivocation as is has traded definition 1. and 2. (Intended meaning), for definition 3. (meaningful and personal significance).

There is a time and a place for both of these things, but the exclusive interpretation view holds that Jesus had a single intended meaning, and while there can be an abundance of relative meaning found by many people, this does not count as having understood Jesus' parables as he intended.

Argument 2 - The exclusive explanations in the text.
A careful examination of the language used in the synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke should show if Jesus meant for each of his parables to have multiple interpretations or a single interpretation. Using the principle in proverbs 26:5, answer a fool according to his folly, it should be first laid out what evidence each interpretive view requires to be supported by the biblical texts.

Things that would be Biblical Evidence for the Relative Interpretation View
Jesus suggesting that his parables may mean many things.
Jesus suggesting multiple interpretations.
Jesus approving multiple interpretations.
Jesus approving of different individuals having different interpretations.
Jesus approving interpretations that differ from his own.

Things that would be Biblical Evidence for the Exclusive Interpretation View
Jesus suggesting that his parables should only have one interpretation.
Jesus suggesting only one interpretation for each parable.
Jesus disapproving of multiple interpretations.
Jesus disapproving of different individuals having different interpretations.
Jesus disapproving of interpretations that differ from his own.

One line of evidence should clearly indicate that Jesus thought his parables may mean many things, or should have only one interpretation depends on a translation issue. It is a particular phrase that Jesus frequently said in relation to the interpretation of his parables and it is recorded in seven places in the gospels. One is Mark 7:16 and in Greek it reads: ‘εἴ τις ἔχει ὦτα ἀκούεινἀκουέτω,’ translated literally into English: ‘if any has ears to be hearing, let him hear.’ The interpretation that some have come up with for this phrase, particularly individuals who support the relative interpretation view, is ‘if anyone can make an attempt to understand, then he will understand.' One problem with this interpretation is that this claim is redundant; the people in his audience would have already been attempting to understand and interpret the parable without being instructed. If Jesus meant to tell them they would all be automatically correct then the Aramaic and Greek vocabularies have other words to communicate so more clearly. This interpretation supports the view of Jesus’ parables as supernatural or magical stories. More scholarly sources propose it is a false interpretation and it was not what Jesus meant to communicate with this phrase.

The real idea behind “he who hears, let him hear” is to say that only some people will understand what Jesus was trying to say, and those who do not catch on to his intended meaning of the parables simply fail to understand. Not everyone will comprehend his massage. William MacDonald explains it like this in the Believer Bible Commentary, “‘Pay heed. Don’t miss the significance of what you are hearing’…He was conveying an important message to the multitude.” The Expositor's Greek Testament, edited by William Robertson Nicoll, says it means, "the truth demanding attentive and intelligent ears." Scholars today believe that the phrase Jesus said following his parables was to specify that there was something that Jesus personally intended to communicate and that it was likely some people would never understand it, while those who do will pick up on a particular idea. This would mean that the parables are not open for interpretation. The intended idea that Jesus wanted to communicate with each parable is singular according to the phrase ‘he who has ears, let him hear.’

The synoptic gospels also record Jesus having frequently helped the disciples understand the parables. These are all examples of Jesus talking about the interpretation, suggesting an interpretation, and others making an attempt to interpret the parables. If the evidence listed above is at all available to examine, the following examination of the parables and the surrounding discussion should highlight it.

The parable of the sower
Jesus said, “Do you not understand this parable?” - The questions indicates Jesus’ expectation that simply hearing the parable did not mean they had a correct interpretation.
Jesus said to the disciples, “You have been given the secrets of the Kingdom of God.” The surrounding discussion indicates that the parable pertains solely to the subject of the Kingdom.

The parable of the mustard seed
Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed,” specifically because, “It grows up and becomes larger.” The discussion surrounding the parable clarifies why Jesus chose to say the kingdom is like a mustard seed. This is the only quality of a mustard seed the Jesus said is true of the kingdom.

The parable of the Pharisees’ leaven
Jesus said, “why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand?” This infers that whatever interpretation they were discussing was wrong if it pertained to baked goods.
Jesus said, “The leaven of the Pharisees is hypocrisy.” He infers that the interpretation is specific to hypocrisy rather than a different matter.
‘Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ This is and example of someone’s interpretation initially being wrong, meaning that it is then possible to interpret one of Jesus’ parables incorrectly.

The parable of the good tree and bad tree
Jesus said, “the good person, out of the good treasure of his heart produces good.” This parable is fully explained by Jesus. This is the only interpretation in the passage.

The parable of the Lamp
Jesus follows the parable with a practical warning, “Take care then how you hear, for the one who has, more will be given…” Jesus did not directly explain the choice of imagery but he does indicate the application that this parable should have in a person’s life. This is the only application in the passage.

The parable of the rich man with much grain
The parable is preceded by Jesus positing, “Take care, and be on gard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” It seems that the parable is an illustration of this very idea.
Jesus follows the parable with the words, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” This strongly indicates that the matter Jesus was addressing with his parable was related solely to covetousness and possessions as it relates to richness toward God. This is the only issue Jesus related the parable to.

The parable of the wedding feast
Jesus summarised the parable with the line, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” He identifies that this particular concept that should be understood through hearing the parable.

The parable of the great banquet
Jesus follows his parable with the claim, “For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Jesus supports the meaning of the parable with a claim of something that will literally happen, He gives the very reason why the parable matters.This is the only explanation in the passage.

The parable of the lost sheep
After the parable Jesus explained, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” This entirely identifies the meaning he was trying to communicate with the parable. It is the only explanation in the passage.

The parable of the lost coin
After the parable Jesus explains, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy before the angles of God over one sinner who repents.” This entirely identifies the meaning he was trying to communicate with the parable. It is the only explanation in the passage.

The parable of the two masters
Jesus says a servant cannot serve two masters and then claims “You cannot serve God and money.” This followup statement strongly identifies the point of the parable. The bluntness of the language reads like this is the sole intended meaning. It is the only explanation in the passage.

The parable of unworthy servants
Jesus said, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘we are unworthy servants; we have only done what is our duty.’” The language moves from describing a concept to enforcing a literal application. He makes his point clear and it doesn’t seem like anything else could better explain the parable.

The parable of the persistent widow
Jesus follows the parable with, “And will not God give justice to his elect…he will give justice to them speedily.” This indicated that Jesus was thinking of his own meaning for the parable.

The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector
The passage is concluded with “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” This indicates what Jesus’ point was for sharing the parable. It is the only explanation recorded.

The parable of the foolish and wise men
Aside from mentioning the construction of houses Jesus is recorded saying “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise men… And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man.” By removing the imagery it is clear that Jesus actually said what he meant with the parable.

The parable of the two sons
Jesus said “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.” Jesus indicates a specific matter that the parable pertains to.

The parable of the ten virgins
Jesus concludes with, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Jesus offers a particular application that he intents to communicate through the parable.

The parable of new and old treasures
Jesus says “Have you understood all these things?” The care Jesus takes in asking this question infers that there was really something he wanted them to understand.

It is obvious from this examination that when Jesus spoke in parables he had a single exclusive interpretation in mind that he wanted to communicate. This conclusion is drawn from the examples of Jesus giving a single explanation in full, the examples of Jesus giving a single explanation in part, the examples of Jesus giving a single concluding application, and the examples of Jesus suggesting that without knowing what he was talking about one would be yet to understand the parable.

Another claim that is used in support of the relative interpretation view is that Jesus only explained two of the parables. As previously shown, by examining the biblical texts, this claim is very weak. This suggestion is derived from the fact that most English bibles provide a subtitle within the pages of the text such as ‘The Parable of the Sower Explained’ and ‘The Parable of the Weeds Explained.’ If the criteria for a parable to have an explanation includes that it must have such a heading over the passage, then it would be correct that only two parables are explained. However this criteria fails to represent the true number of parables that Jesus offers an explanation for. A more accurate criteria for an explanation would be if the parable is actually followed or preceded by Jesus expressing his intended meaning in the imagery. Whitman expounds on this issue of the headings, “remembering that the [verse] numbers aren’t inspired, the notes aren’t inspired, the maps aren’t inspired, the chapter and portion headings are not inspired. The only thing that Christians believe is inspired is the original text, so if you bare that in mind you’re probably going to get a little bit a head of the game in terms of understanding what this actually means.” He reiterates that if someone wants to understand the bible, and Jesus’ parables, they should draw from the text and make their own conclusions rather than rely of the packaging and additional elements of its printing. The 2005 edition of The Holy Bible, New International Version published by International Bible Society states in the preface that explains some issues of the formatting, “As an aid to the reader, italicized sectional headings are inserted in most of the books. They are not to be regarded as part of the NIV text, are not for oral reading, and are not intended to dictate the interpretation of the sections they head.” (p. vii) To then conclude that Jesus’ parables are open for multiple and relative interpretations because our English translators have only included two headings that express a parable is explained is flawed logic and the conclusion does not follow.

As the previous examination of the text revealed, there is more in a passage that subheadings suggest in regards to the parables being explained. Most of them are explained at least in part. The New Testament does not record Jesus explaining every one of his parables in full detail, but that does not mean he did not share his interpretation with his disciples while teaching them to continue to share the message of the kingdom after he would leave them. The large number of Jesus parables left without an explanation is not intended by Jesus to allow for any arbitrary explanation to be given. If somebody comes up with an interpretation that Jesus did not intend then it is he would likely say what he told the disciples: ‘Have you not understood?’

Argument 3 - The exclusive nature of Modern Parables (simile).

The concept of Jesus’ parables being stories with many intended meanings may have come out of misunderstanding what a parable actually is. The Oxford dictionary, which is the source Google draws its dictionary results from, defines parable as: “a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels. Similar to a fable”. This definition is inaccurate and misleading. It over spiritualises Jesus as a public speaker, and exaggerates a basic language technique.

The Greek word for fable used in the Biblical text is mythos. It appears in 1 Timothy 1:4 and 4:7, 2 Timothy 4:4, Titus 1:14, and 2 Peter 1:16. Strong’s Concordance shows its use as:
1. a speech, word, saying
2. a narrative, story (true or fable)

If the Greek speaking writers of the gospels wished to describe Jesus’ parables as a fable this word, mythos, would have most likely been used. Instead they used the Greek word parabolē.

Parabolē appears 50 times. It appears only in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and twice in Hebrews. Strong’s Concordance shows its use as:
1. a placing of one thing by the side of another, juxtaposition, as of ships in battle
2. metaph - a comparing, comparison of one thing with another, likeness, similitude

Traditionally a parable is a comparative language technique. Today this is known, in English speech and writing, as simile. Denny Prutow, professor of homiletics and pastoral theology, identifies parables as similes. “It’s a story that could be reduced to a simile…the parables may not always state the simile, and extent the simile, but the parables are stories which could happen and they can therefore be reduced to simple comparisons in the form of a simile.” Prutow analyses a number of the parables and is able to identify that they always involve two subjects that are being placed side by side to see that they share a quality. They will also have differences as suggested in the definition of parabolē in strong concordance.

The following diagram is to demonstrate this in practice:

Subject A. and subject B. are represented by circles, carried over one another like a Venn diagram.
The subjects are brought side by side to show some qualities are held by both subjects while other qualities do not match. “You are to get the main point, or the main comparison Jesus is giving or that the parable is giving. Do not press the details. If you press the details you will go astray,” Prutow says. He identifies that comparison reveals qualities that juxtapose. Smilies do not carry all the qualities of subject B. to describe subject A. An interpretation of a parable basically singles out the one quality that Jesus is referring to with the simile.
Two examples will be offered to show the exclusivity intended with modern parables.

Example 1. Shrek compares Ogres and Onions
In a scene from Shrek, the 2001 film by Dreamworks animation, Shrek uses a parable to compare ogres to onions. In this example Shrek is subject A. and an onion is subject B.

The conversation reveals that after saying, “ogres are like onions,” Shrek reveals that although they stink and can make someone cry, this is not his intended interpretation of his parable. There is exclusively one quality of an onion that he means to be identified as similar to ogres.

Example 2. Singer compares lover to chocolate
This is a section of Dare to be Human a pop song by the artist Beka Ellen.
In this example the lover is subject A. and chocolate is subject B.

In this song the only intended meaning of “[lover] you’re like chocolate,” is because, as the phrase continues, “I’d get hooked.” The songwriter draws only on the quality of chocolate that it has an affect on hormones and that the lover also has an addictive quality like chocolate does. This is the only intended explanation for this modern parable even though other qualities of chocolate could match with the lover.
These two examples of modern simile show that although many descriptions of subject A. and subject B. may match, this is not the criteria to identify the intended meaning of the comparison. Even though Shrek directly agreed that ogres can stink his audience, Donkey, had not yet understood the parable. Likewise in the song the lover may be sweet, or have a dark complexion, but this is not what the artist is trying to communicate.
When attempting to interpret the comparisons made in Jesus’ parables, it should be kept in mind that modern similes are not intended to carry all the descriptions of subject B. to subject A., as simile was no different in the first century.

Two examples will be offered to show the exclusivity intended with Jesus’ parables.

Example 3. Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a mustard seed.
In this example the Kingdom of Heaven is subject A. and a mustard seed is subject B.

Someone using the relative interpretation view may focus on trying to understand what Jesus was saying about the Kingdom of Heaven by including all of the matching descriptions into their interpretation. This ignores that Jesus gave a sufficient explanation for this comparison; “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and put in his own garden. It grew, and became a large tree, and the birds of the sky lodged in its branches.” (Luke 13:18–19)

Example 4. Jesus compares himself to the Lamb of God
In John 1:29 Jesus said ““Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
In this example Jesus is subject A. and a Lamb is subject B.
John’s book that records the life and teachings of Jesus does not record any of the traditional parables that are formal comparisons, but focuses on the character of Jesus and presenting him as the human incarnation of the living God. This gospel is the one to account Jesus’ analogies with which claims himself to be the lamb, the bread of life, and the door. These images do not have a new hidden revelation but clarify his role as the messiah in relation to the rest of the people in the world, as these symbols already meant something to the Jewish people. Jesus is not simply saying he shares a particular characteristic with a baby sheep, but he is identifying himself as the literal atoning sacrifice for all sin. Jesus is not just comparing himself to bread, but is identifying himself as the very thing that literally satisfies all spiritual hunger and need. Jesus is not positing that he shares any characteristic with a door, but is literally identifying himself as the only available means to enter heaven and live forever. Jesus allegorical metaphors aren’t really in the same category as his parabolic metaphors, they are imagery that doesn’t even call for an explanation. The people already knew from their own culture what he meant.

The concept of Jesus’ parables being stories with many intended meanings is an over complication of the purpose of the language technique of comparison knows as parable or simile.

Argument 4 - There is only one original context.

This argument may at first look like a fallacy of division, in which something true of the whole is being assumed to also describe the parts, as there is only one original context through which one can correctly interpret a parable therefore there is only one interpretation. However this is not the point that is intended with this argument. It is to say that there is only one correct context to draw from and so this at the very least eliminates all other interpretations through any other context.

Micheal Heiser, PhD in MA in Ancient History, MA and PhD in the Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages with a minor in Classical studies said this when he was faced with the decision to accept understanding the bible comes from seeing it as the author intended rather than through the filter of church tradition:

“If we believe this thing we call the bible is inspired, and we believe things like God decided to prompt individuals to produce this thing we call the bible at a certain time, in a certain culture, in a certain place, with a certain worldview that is not ours, then we really aught to not impose our own worldview on the text. We should try to read them the way they wanted to be understood, what was going through their heads, because they're not writing from the perspective of a 21st century white guy. They're not asking the questions or addressing the questions that I have in my culture, in my time-period. They're doing something different. Now it all applies to us, but we have to realise while the bible was written for us, it was not written to us. It was written to somebody else. And if we rightly understand that then we will know that we're applying things correctly and we will be able to understand more of scripture.”

Heiser says this about the biblical writers and the people who recorded the events of Jesus’ life, but it is important to think about Jesus in this way too. He was really alive as a man and actually grew up and lived in Israel as a carpenter’s son and as a Jewish religious teacher. He was grounded in the cultural, social and political climates of the day and it is wrong to believe that his teaching was not heavily rooted in these things that he encountered in his experiences as a human.

The single cultural context that the parables originally came from, eliminates interpretations of the parables that have not gone through this very cultural lens of first century life in Israel and Judaism. An interpretation that looks through any other cultural lens will be obsolete. All philosophical, social, economical, scientific, political, or moral worldview that developed after the time of Jesus are useless at supporting an interpretation for his parables, because they are not the context that surrounded the imagery Jesus gave. Any other traditions that surround weddings, including that of western twenty-first century, cannot be used to understand the parable of the ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom, nor the parable of the wedding feast. Any further micro-evolutions in botany cannot be used to understand the size of a mustard seed in comparison with others it may compete with to be the smallest. Any newer methods of farming cannot be used to understand the parable of the lost sheep. Any later developments of agriculture cannot be used to understand the parable of the sower. Any later developments of monarchal government cannot be used to understand the parable of the forgiving king and the unforgiving servant. Any later developments of vineyards and wine making cannot be used to understand the parables that mention the operation and management of such plantations. Any more recent changes in the political situation between Samaria and Judea cannot be used to understand the parable of the good Samaritan. Any later developments of household dynamics affecting children and employees cannot be used to understand the parable of the prodigal son, nor any concerning masters and their relationship to servants.

Jesus was a Jew living from 3 BC - 30 AD and his original audience lived in this time too. Reverend Donna Howell says “You cannot divorce the interpretation of scripture from the culture of the time it was written.” Keeping the changes in mind between the culture of early first century Palestine and other developments of the world will only result in confusion when attempting to interpret Jesus’ parables. If Jesus expected his audience to understand his teachings then we must assert that he not only spoke their language, but drew upon elements of the world that they lived in; not the world we live in today. The billions of people who have lived after the writing of scripture - and their culture, has no effect on the original meaning of scripture. Their Interpretations are entirely useless unless they removed their own culture from their thinking and look at Scripture through the world view of the day it was spoken and recorded.

Thinking that there can be multiple interpretations blinds people from the fact that Jesus had his own interpretation that he actually wanted people to understand. But this kind of thinking may be a reflection of today’s culture that is a result of every high school English class being taught to read between the lines. It is only what everybody does with all stories and imagery, as Steven Crowder protests the modern interpretation of Stockholm syndrome over the sacrifice of Bell in Beauty and the Beast, 1991 or today’s focus on consent over Snow White being kissed back to life in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937. “Not only can you not look at words [with] previous definitions…a lot of people think that fiction is up to interpretation. That’s part of what’s enjoyable about fiction is that you can kind of take from it what you want, I understand that. That being said, not all interpretations are as valid…It’s not fair to look at old Disney films through todays sense and act as though your interpretation is just as valid. No, because you know what if we were to ask the screenwriter, if you were to ask the author, If you were to say hold on was this meant to be [insert interpretation through today’s presuppositions] And the guy would say ‘No! it’s what…was the intent of the author, and to try and act as though it wasn’t [is ignorance].’” Crowder articulates this issue being problematic outside of biblical interpretation and this may be why so many unconsciously hold to the relative interpretation view when moving over to analysis scripture.

In conclusion, it does not really matter why relative interpretation for Jesus’ parables and teaching is part of modern biblical understanding, but it is a misguided path to follow. It is not the correct way to interpret any parables or similes as then are called in English. It is not supported by Jesus himself and he demands particular point to be understood and a result of correctly interpreting his parables. Careful attention show instead be given to understand the exclusive interpretations of Jesus teachings though each may have a number of applications. Reading the bible correctly involves reading the text for what it really is and the interpretation may often be right there in the next line or in those preceding. The interpretation and understanding for each of Jesus’ parables are exclusive to whatever meaning he intended, and this is not relative to a modern reader, nor is there multiple correct interpretations.

20 Arguments Against God's Existence | Logic Test

This is a response to the video published by The Atheist Voice. The aim of this article is to educate people in how to make a good sound argument and avoid illogical reasoning. What's important is everyone knowing how to discern nonfactual statements even if they look good. You don't have to be a theist or an atheist to understand that, logically speaking, the whole presentation is grabbing at straws.

1. There's no evidence for God.
In forensics, evidence is supposed to be things that the culprit left behind at the scene of the crime. What would evidence for God look like? The aftermath of someone having created the world would perhaps be... the world. A lot of people think that the order and design of nature is evidence enough.

2. God doesn't stop the evil in the world therefore he doesn't exist.
An equally valid argument is to say; God doesn't stop the evil in the world therefore he does exist. If a cop cannot hold back a shooter from using their free-will to kill innocent people dose that cop not exists? If your mother told you not to jump off a bridge, but you did anyway while your friends were doing it, does that mean you never had a mother? This is completely irrelevant but it's a very common argument people use because they are upset with the horrors of the world.

3. The global flood to destroy the inhabitants of the world is not a sign of love.
That depends on who was destroyed and who was saved. The bible says the human population was corrupted with the genetics of fallen angels and these hybrid creatures were 'cold-blooded' killers murdering everyone in sight. Only those remaining who were pure went onto the ark. The flood was salvation for the human race from a living hell; so this was very much a sign of love.

4. The opening lines of the bible are factually wrong "in the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth" therefore God doesn't exist.
This is an example of the fallacy known as begging the question. The conclusion that God does not exist therefore he cannot have created the world is already assumed when claiming that God couldn't create the world. There hasn't been any trail of reasoning from multiple premises to a conclusion so this is not a sound logical argument.

5. Prayer has never fixed anything that was not already naturally possible.
Even if a person is already able to heal through the slow natural process of mitosis, if they were to heal a large open wound in a day it would become unnatural, and by definition a miracle.
Then he assumes that no amputee has ever had their limb grow back as the result of prayer. This is because he has seen many people in his life with missing limbs. He is barking up the wrong tree when he approaches at all the amputees in the world and asks if they have ever prayed for healing. To determine the truthfulness of this original hypothesis you actually need to ask everyone with all their limbs if they used to be an amputee.

6. There are thousands of gods you don't believe in. What makes yours any different?
I actually believe most of the gods that other people follow are real. What makes mine different is that they are created beings and Yahweh is the creator. I see it to make better sense to worship the God who can create other gods that put any faith in the others because he's more powerful.

7. Where you are born essentially determine what you believe. Why should the truth be based on geography?
Again this is begging the question. Hemant has not asked everybody in the world what they believe and plotted their responses on a map. There are plenty of people who convert from one religion to another or believe differently from their parents after they leave home. If this argument were true then we probably wouldn't even have the word 'conversion' to describe this phenomenon.

8. Who created God?
Yahweh is unlimitedly powerful which allows him to be self-sustaining. God is unchanging, which eliminates the possibility of him once being non-existent and changing to be existent.

9. Some children are born with cancer therefore God does not exist.
Cancer is caused by radiation and mutation. These things are part of the world because it's not perfect. If the argument intended is supposed to encompass the idea that God created a perfect world, and the world we have now is not perfect it would be more reasonable to say "what happened that things went so wrong?" This is more reasonable than to point a finger at God and say it's his fault because he doesn't exist.

10. Unconditional love shouldn't come with a list of conditions.
God loves people unconditionally despite their flaws and mistakes. The conditions in the bible, the 10 commandments, are not a list of requirements to receive God's love; they are the instruction for how a human can love God, should they choose to.

11. Every single supposed miracle gets debunked eventually.
How about the one that experts have been working on for two thousand years; the resurrection of Jesus Christ? The theories that supposedly debunk it have also been debunked. The swoon theory is impossible if the man really had a roman crucifixion. And the hallucination theory has been said to be a greater miracle than one person coming back from the dead.

12. The 10 commandments left off "don't rape people" and "slavery [kidnapping and forced labour] is not okay."
Actually no.7, "you shall not commit adultery," does encompass the former and no.8, "Do not steal," encompasses the latter by extension of do not steal people.
Hemant may be going off of the fact that the Israelites had their own practise of slave ownership but this is not equal to the type we know today; it was voluntary, allowed the slave to have property rights and payment, in order to pay off debt to their master and get themselves out of unemployment and therefore save their lives. It was the welfare program of the ancient world.

13. The music and movies that honour God are just awful.
This is subjective. Also true, but irrelevant. Most christian movies do not have a big budget, and the casting directors seem to be too nice to say 'please go back to acting school.' But that is an ad hominem; The people who produce Christian music and Movies are terrible at their job therefore they cannot be right when they say that God is real. This is unreasonable.

14. The invisible and the nonexistent look very much a like.
The same could be said about oort clouds and star forming regions. No one has ever seen one in action; they are theories that were hypothesised by astronomers using their imagination. But if these invisible things are not really there our galaxy would be less than a million years old and that doesn't give enough time for the current theory of evolution to have happened.

15. No hide and seek game lasts thing long.
Hemart assumes a number of things here; God is hiding, Humans could find God if God was really hiding from them, This is not the game of hide and seek that sets the record for longest game of hide and seek. All of these claims are arbitrary and the opposite is equally reasonable to suppose; God has revealed himself to certain people ie. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and anyone who met Jesus. Humans would never find God if the unlimitedly powerful God was hiding from them. And otherwise this is the game that sets the record for longest game of hide and seek.

16. Science explains so much of what we used to attribute to a god.
Science is the observation and testing of the natural world. Scientists expect that the laws of nature like physics and biology remain constant allowing them to make predictions with some controlled variables. It should never be assumed that science can help to answer any questions about the spiritual or unnatural because miracles happen outside of those natural parameters that can be measured and tested.

17. The more we learn the less reason we have to believe in God.
The truth in this statement is a little more nuance than Hemant realises; he actually means "The more I learned about the natural world through science, the more I felt comfortable believing that God is not in it." Physicist Stephan Hawking concluded that there was a reality before the big bang in which time, space, matter and energy did not exist, and what caused these things to be 'invented' was something that is not limited to these things. Observing this dimension will never show us anything that is space-less, timeless, immaterial, and runs on a power-source other than energy, but these descriptions fit perfectly for the being we know as God.

18. If you tried to explain your religions mythology to someone who had never heard it before you would sound crazy.
This is based on the presupposition that the theology is wrong and that the person specifically believes there is no real supernatural reality that could be correctly explained.
What would happen if you were right, and the person had already experienced some supernatural encounters that they wanted an explanation for?  They would judge it to see it if makes sense to them and you would either be right or wrong, but not 'crazy'.

19. If God does not exist the world would look exactly the same way it does now.
This is begging the question again. Hemant expects that God does not exist and did not create the universe therefore whatever natural thing 'actually' created the universe would still have lead reality to be the way it is now. But the opposite claim is equally as valid; If God, the creator of the world, does not exist then the world would not exist at all. This is how much faith Hemant has in atheism; that he would risk the existence of the whole world on the claim that God isn't responsible for making the universe.

20. If God existed he would smite me right now.
On what basis, that you asked him to? In arguments 3 & 10 Hemant has already shown that he understands God is meant to be loving. If God really loves everyone like a parent loves their children, and if he has plans for our lives, would they end their life if the child asked them to? Or if they had been deviant? I good parents won't kill their children if the child screams in their face that they hate them or do not believe in them. This argument is an absolute bluff, and I call bulls**t.

Now watch the original video and see what it looks like when someone is confidently using logical fallacies. It doesn't look any different from someone who's actually being reasonable. So watch out for that when you're in conversation with people. People make arguments for things all day long and you need to be able to realise when they are using bad logic.

How To: Choose Songs for Corporate Worship

As a music leader of any group of people in a Christian setting there are some important questions to ask before we can determine if a song is really a good fit and they have nothing to do with how great it sounds or how popular it is.

Music leaders or worship team leaders are typically the people who will choose the songs that are performed and lead for the entire congregation. Their work here, simply in this preparation stage in the week leading up to Sunday, is incredibly impactful and yet so often overlooked.

Typically what is expected to happen during the music and singing part of a church service is those of us who already have a restored relationship to God will be connecting with him, resetting our perspective of letting God be more deserving and capable to be the authority over our lives, offering up our thanks and praise to him, feeling the heaviness of his presence, and/or experiencing healing in our soul and spirit. The worship leader actually has a lot of responsibility using music to encourage an environment where this can all happen without disruption or boredom.

But what many Churches don't seem to cater for, coming into the 2020s, is that not everyone who enters through those doors on a Sunday morning are born-again believers. According to the typical church survey we're maybe safe if we say 40-60% of the service attendee's don't actually completely subscribe to our Jesus following cult.

Why? Well, why did they come to Church in the first place?
To be loved by charitable people even if that actually just looks like they're there for the free food? To find friends, considering it's the weekend and there are hopefully some nice people gathered in one place who they can have a chat with? To have their personal needs met because the church should have a reputation for assisting those who are in need; widows, orphans, and foreigners?

What if the answer is: they already know these things about Christian people as they've encountered us in their school, their workplace, at their gym or in the church and realising there's really something different about us, they want to know what it is?

What if people are actually coming to Church to learn about God and understand how they can get right with him?

The answer overwhelmingly is yes, and the unfortunate side of this is that so many churches are so busy making noise with their big light shows, and giving motivational talks, that it doesn't actually seem like they're sharing the gospel. The very thing that we believe will save people from an eternity of making up for their own mistakes in this life. The hope that Jesus, God in human flesh lived a sinless life and then died taking the punishment for the world and resurrected, showing us that if we put our trust in him then we will do the same and through his spirit we can be made a new creation, set free from darkness and the fear of death.

Yes, there is huge importance in the roles of greeting people at the door, helping people find a seat, putting the kettle on, looking after the children, running the visual presentation, singing a nice harmony, and keeping time for everyone from behind the drum kit, but these things don't really hold water unless the message and the music is going to change peoples lives.

So, for this reason, we need to be mindful of our song choices, the songs may be the very thing that teaches a person what they need to understand in their head so that they can give their heart to the Lord. The time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). To worship in truth means to understand in one's head who God is and what he has done for us, then from this, we can encounter him in a spiritual way that is appropriate, for God wants to be understood (in this way the 4s can relate).

I recently thought of a new series to write in which I'll analyse the message in the lyrics of worship songs. But I thought I'd share the questions I'll be thinking about as I look at each song.

These questions are important for anyone to ask whether you're choosing songs for your church or to listen to in your own worship time and it's for a biblical reason. We were told: do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world (1 John 4).

I believe this includes testing the songs and their lyrics from every church and songwriter so we can hold up to what Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.

This may very well sound foolish and insulting if you don't believe that there is an enemy who wants to destroy peoples healthy relationship to God and make them believe lies about him, about theirselves, and about everything in between. The truth is the one who is against Yahweh loves to get into the church and attack wherever it is we are weak. He has the whole world twisted to believing in false spirituality and we can't fight against it if the leaders of the church don't know that war is raging, and has been ever since Genesis 11.

Leaders of the worship team across the world are supposed to be assisting to create an environment in the realm of truth, so that people can worship in spirit. So we need to discern if the songs we perform promote anything that is not truth.

Some things that need considering:
1. What is the actual message of the song; what is the moral or morals one is meant to take from it?
2.a. Does it specify who is being worshiped with names like Yahweh, The Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit or God?
2.b. Is the use of "god" ambiguous enough that this song could be sung at a Satanist, New Age, or Freemasons church to praise the god of this world?
3.a. Is it biblical; are there obvious lines of scripture; are there nods to scripture?
3.b. Is the meaning of the scripture kept in its original context; does listening to the song and then reading the passage have a different meaning?
4.a. It is theologically sound?
4.b. Does it make the trinity confusing for someone who doesn't understand the '1 God, 3 persons' element of the Christian faith?
4.c. Does it suggest that man can be equal to God?
5.a. Is it clear on morality; that one must be forgiven for sin?
5.b Does is promote tolerance of sin in the life of someone who would want to be in right relationship with God?
6. Is the metaphor clear OR could someone get the wrong idea about God if they took it literally?
7. If this song was the only explanation of the Christian faith could someone come to salvation through Christ?
8. Does it have any red flags; does it say anything against how one is saved through faith and not by works?
9. Does it truly edify and build up the faith of believers in Jesus?
10. Listen to Holy Spirit; what is he telling you about this song?

I'm not suggesting that these questions are absolute rules to go by, and usually for a worship leader you'll be selecting multiple songs to go together. I just want you to be considerate about the picture that is being painted by the songs you choose.

You have to remember that not everyone reads the bible and the songs people sing in church are sometimes the only way they are exposed to it. This also means that if there is something in a song that is against what the bible would say then they will never know the difference. That is why music team leaders need to filter and discern if a song is really okay for a whole group of people to use together to worship God. We can't always just go with the ones that are our favourite.

Thanks for reading and hopefully this has helped.


xxo Beka

How To: Start Interpreting Your Dreams

Over the last few months I have been studying Dream Interpretation through a number of resources. I have completed a course lead by John Paul Jackson through Streams Ministries; Understanding Dreams and Visions. I've learned so much and grown in my faith. As I am now in the intermediate stage of experience in dreams and visions I've created a public form for people to send in their dreams to be interpreted. I mean to email back my response as soon as possible, and free of charge.

If that sounds like something you'd like to try you can send me your dreams here.

I thought in this post I'd explain some of the questions on the form that are there to help me understand the dream.

Suggest a Title
The idea behind suggesting a title for a dream is that it will highlight the parts of the dream that you think are most important.

Numbers are symbolic in dreams. The date you had the dream may be part of the whole story.

Is it reoccurring?
Having a dream multiple times means that you still haven't worked out what it means. The message that the dream holds hasn't been understood properly in order to help you with your destiny.

Colour Scheme
Knowing the colours or lack of colour in a dream can help to identify the source of a dream; is it from light or from darkness.

Where were you in relation to the action?
Whether the dream is happening directly to you or if you are observing the events happen to somebody else can help to identify who the dream is really about. Sometimes you might have a dream about doing something with others and those people may be mixed in with the message on the dream.

Lucid Dreaming
Being able to understand that you're dreaming and being able to manipulate the scene may directly link to one's development in the things of a spiritual nature.

What feelings were evoked?
The way you feel in a dream is actually part of the whole experience. If you feel good then I can use that to understand that the dream is also good. If you feel bad in the dream, it may identify a dark presence is involved. It should also help to identify what type of dream this was.

Who is in the Dream?
Listing off the cast members of a dream can be very helpful for understanding the interpretation because there are different things that may identify what a person is really there to represent. It could be that the dream is really about them or depending on their name or relationship to you they could be leading you to a particular destiny.

More on this in an up coming post, How to: Interpret People in your Dreams.

2 Cautionary Arguments against The Passion & Message Bible

2 Peter 1:20-21 English Standard Version
Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.


Do not expect the information in the following article to be particularly subjective or unnecessarily negative. It is meant to be informative and helpful for those who are interested in thinking through this subject for themselves. This article is only intended to encourage looking into this for yourself.


My bible is the 1984 New International Version (NIV) by the International Bible Society and was published by Zondervan. It was worked on by over 100 translators, from all over the world and from a number of church denominations. It is a balance between word-for-word and phrase-for-phrase, meaning that unless a literal translation would awkward be too to understand the English version of the bible that I have is really telling me what the scriptures are supposed to say.

They were going from a number of manuscripts, mainly the Masoretic Hebrew Text but also the Greek Septuagint, Latin Vulgate, Samaritan Pentateuch, Syaric and the Dead-sea scrolls to name a few. Every page is dotted with footnotes and I highly appreciate it because the translators were intellectually honest to point out when these manuscripts say something different in a particular wording or numbering. 

I enjoy using this particular translation for my own bible study, but its not the only thing I rely on. I often use a concordance to see what other words the translator team might have been able to use for my English print of the scriptures.

Careful discernment and critical research shows that the Passion and Message "Bible" do not have similar origins to the NIV, nor the ESV, NASB, KJV, or NKJV. They are marketed as a paraphrase, they are not direct translations of scripture but interpretations. The concern with this is that it really seems to be a single person who wants to help people to understand the bible they way that they understand it. Brian Simmons and Eugene H. Peterson did this by writing it like they would say it in modern english.

One person can't be as experienced and qualified as a whole team of translators, such as the people who have produced other bibles. A case could be made that myself or even you could print our own interpretation bible in the same way, by reading any of the aforementioned English bibles and then rewording it to explain what we think the verses are meaning. But individual people can only come up with an interpretation that fits into our existing understanding of the spiritual realities of the world, the cultural, religious and social context of the author, and my understanding of how salvation through Jesus really works. 

These men are not linguists. Not translators. There is real reason to believe they have never studied ancient Hebrew, Aramaic or first century Greek, as they would like you to think. They don't actually need to in order to produce the books they have, however, they are not honest about this and they would rather you think that they have printed a real bible so that you don't consider it to be anything less than a commentary. But really that is all it is.

We all need to be aware of this textual dishonesty because things could have been changed beyond helping us understand the divine revelation that the biblical authors were trying to describe in their songs, books and letters. See that's what is most important when we study the bible; we need to be asking "What did Paul mean in his letter to the churches?" or "What did David mean with that line of poetry?" or "Why did Luke use that particular Greek word while he was reporting on what Jesus preached in Aramaic?" There isn't much room for these enquiries when the page already says what Brian Simmons thinks it means or what Eugene Peterson believes it should say. They have already done the supposed study for you and their interpretation could be very very wrong. Which is dangerous if you accept it to be correct.

1 John 4:1-3 - NIV
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you will know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

Here's what my version would say about these verses if I printed a book in the same way that I believe Simmons and Peterson did:

1 John 4:1 & 3 - Beka's Bible Interpretation Commentary Book
[Everyone in all the churches], do not [ignorantly accept] every [teaching and spiritual idea to be true]. Do not [allow yourself to be persuaded by] every [preacher, guest speaker, church denomination, online personality, Christian organisation, song, sermon, Christian television show, motivational Facebook post, and author], but test [examine, and give the burden of biblical proof] to see whether they are from God because [we have] many [enemies who hate Christ], which you have [dealt with for nearly 2000 years] and [who have slipped in among the believers to lead you away from the truth].

This might be what John would say today because he too was a translator of what the Holy Spirit revealed to him while he was composing this letter. However it is revelation that was given first to John and we should just feel privileged to have a copy of what he wrote, and we should respect the way that he articulated his ideas. The same goes for all the biblical authors, scribes, and editors. I don't mean that we can expect to understand the whole world that these texts were formed out of without extra biblical historical sources, but when someone prints a version of the bible that adds so many more words that do not come out of the original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek, they should be intellectually honest and call it what it really is; an uninspired interpretive commentary.

Unfortunately the problem is even worse than explained so far. 
The Problem with Brian Simmons being the only one who actually wrote the Passion Bible, he was able to make it say whatever he wanted it to for when he is preaching. And likewise the problem with Eugene H. Peterson being the only one wrote the Message Bible, he was able to push his own false philosophies within the church. The Passion and the Message bible interpretations are not only bad scholarship but they are also promoting false theology. 

Simmons believes:

∙There are 7 spirits of God, including the spirit of wisdom.
He believes that after already being a Christian with the Holy Spirit he was baptised in the sprit of wisdom too. This is incredibly unsupported by scripture; God only offers the Holy Spirit and that should be enough. The only other option, if Simmons has been entered into by a new spirit then it is a lying spirit.

∙He speaks of being blessed with dreams and visions from God.
People in the New Age movement see visions and have spiritual experience that look like all sorts of fantastic things. The fact that these experiences are real does not make them true because demons and fallen angels can fake a vision, frequently alien abduction sequences, or intimate love-making sessions.

∙Humans are the same as Jesus.
While Jesus is the Son of God, he had both a human nature and a divine nature. He was both truly human and truly God. But we are not like this; ordinary people, even Christians, do not have a divine nature. It should be understood that there is a difference between a Human and Jesus. But Simmons breaks the logical law of identity when he claims that "anything that can be said of Jesus can be said of me" - You would think that's easy to disprove by just asking "Brian, did you die on the cross?" He would say "yes" because of the way he misunderstands Romans 6:6 - For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.

∙We need to activate our gift.
As someone who has grown up in a Baptist church (We believe in the trinity of Father, Son, Holy Spirit, we baptise people in water when they ask for it, most of the songs talk about Jesus giving his life on the cross to set us free from our sin and praise God that he is greater than us, and the fabulous speakers on the preaching team actually cover bible stories and use scripture rather than giving anecdotal stories of their own life with some nonsense motivation inspiring message) this talk of 'activating your gift' sound like someone is selling something. No, I don't know what methods are expected to be used to do this. That must be why Brian Peterson hosts conferences for people to learn about it and help them with whatever it is. As long as they pay. It is the Holy Spirit who gives out the gifts of the spirit.

∙ He can publish scripture under the name of John the Apostle
Brian believes that Jesus revealed to him in a vision John chapter 22, a lost piece of John's gospel. When this is printed there will be absolutely no manuscript evidence for the chapter's exsistance. But as totally fabricated as this book will really be he still thinks it's okay to sell it to people as the authoritative word of God. Now it starts to get funny because the guy is absolutely nuts. If he thinks that he can add this to the bible then what does that say about his translation and interpretation method? It totally discredits his previous work as the writings of a mad man and a fool.

We can't really know for sure what's going on in Brian's head- It seems like he genuinely believes what he is preaching and doesn't even know that he is really a false profit. He's probably not intentionally getting people to open spiritual bridges for demonic oppression but he is defiantly leading people away from the truth. Either-way, the Jesus that he believes in and prays to isn't the same as the real Jesus. What he has done is create an image in his mind to worship that is not really YHWH, the living God of Heaven. Yes, I'm saying Brian Simmons is an idolator. You cannot be wise and believe his bible is trustworthy.

Eugene H. Peterson is just the same with a different fake Jesus. But his bible further pushes the ideas of New Age spirituality. In the words of Steven Bancarz and Josh Peck (former New Agers, now phenomenal Biblical Christian teachers):

"The New Age movement is a spiritual system of thought and practice composed of beliefs, values, and traditions from various schools and religions throughout the world. 'New Age movement' is really an umbrella term covering a wide range of topics, including: Buddhism, Hinduism, Mysticism, Transcendentalism, Gnosticism, Paganism, Pantheism, Occultism, Esotericism, Witchcraft, Meditation, Yoga, Psychedelics, Channelling, Divination, Sorcery, Mind science, Reincarnation, Astral projection, Ufology, Spiritual psychology...The 'New Age' is a collection of beliefs and practices aimed at bringing enlightenment. The goal, at an individual level, is to 'raise the consciousness' to a 'higher density' or a 'higher vibration,' meaning that knowledge of self, combined with divination and occult practices, can elevate our spiritual condition to a level of self-divinity. This movement teaches that we don’t become divine, but that we already are divine in and of ourselves, such that the enlightenment the New Age movement seeks to bring about is arrived at by leaving a state of self-ignorance and realising that the inner self is ultimately God (Bancarz & Peck, 2018, The Second Coming of the New Age).

You can already take verses from a well translated bible out of context to promote these ideas:
Genesis 1:27 - So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Genesis 3:4-5 - “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Colossians 1:19-20 - For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven...
If you mistook the intention of the biblical author, this could very easily paint the picture that humans are a part of God and they need to find unity and reconnect with the universe to find peace. But the Passion and the Message actually encourage thinking like this.

The major issue with New Age practices is that while people are trying to do what they can to reconnect with the universe they often end up connecting with the very real spiritual realm that is full of entities who aren't always nice. I mean demons and fallen angels that parade as spirit guides, and this has lead millions of people into spiritual oppression.

Even myself, last year went through a time of having physical manifestations in my body that I really had a hard time trying to control. I don't exactly know what invited it, but I'm defiantly never doing Yoga again. Being ignorant that what you're are doing is idolatry and worship of pagan gods, and being a Christian does not protect you. As a child I was told, "you have the Holy Spirit so you cannot be possessed by anything else." This isn't exactly true, and the bible says to avoid idolatry and destroy items that are associated with the occult. God is very clear about this and we should heed his warnings for our own safety.

This is where the Message is even more different from the real scriptures than the Passion is; Eugene H. Peterson hasn't just added false New Age ideas into the bible, he has totally written a New Age bible that is really targeted towards people who want a combination between Christianity and New Age spirituality, and a life without moral accountability.

The late Mr. Peterson believed:

∙Jesus is Master, not Lord
In the New Age movement people who want to gain spiritual awakening do not have an authoritative text to really lead them on their path. There are many spiritual leaders who host hippy meditation retreats and share with others their spiritual wisdom and experience in the practice. These spiritual leaders or gurus are often called masters. Jesus is depicted in the New Age movement as being a human who got this right and when he ascended to heaven after his resurrection he actually ascended to the final level of enlightenment and unity with the creator, like we all can if we meditate enough.

The rest of the differences in the Message bible ultimately emulate from this idea.

I now offer a catalogue of resources that will continue to help you see how these books have a dishonest agenda in the changes they have made to scriptures.

If you own one of these bibles then let me tell you that no biblical Christian needs to have one of them and you have just been mislead like millions of others who have purchased a copy. I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord for discernment. If you feel conviction by the Holy Spirit to get rid of your book then just be obedient. I rejoice with you in your desire to only see the truth; you're just not going to find it in The Passion or The Message.

Exposing the Passion

Seriously this "instant download" language is not how divine inspiration works; this sounds like the origins of the Quran if you know the story of Muhammad being visited by a spirit in a cave. He was told that Jesus wasn't the son of god, and that in fact he didn't even die on the cross even though this is a proven fact in secular history. And then what did Muhammad do with this information? He became a terrorist, and ordered the death of all Christians.

I know these presentations are quite long but they are thorough will help you know what to do if you own a copy of the Passion; I'm seriously suggesting that you get rid of it.

This is a presentation of the additional vocabulary in the Passion that supports Simmons' theology, as well as some more verse comparisons and important comments from the authors former co-workers.

Burning Scripture with Passion: A Review of The Psalms (The Passion Translation) by Andrew G. Shead