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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


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