Sunday, July 24, 2011

Beth Moore: reactions to Living Proof teaching in Charlotte. Part 2, The Music

Beth Moore: reactions part 1, The Women
Beth Moore: reactions part 2, The Music
Beth Moore: reactions part 3a: The Teaching

Beth Moore: reactions part 3b: The Teaching
Beth Moore: reactions part 4: A final word


I will say right off the bat that I am ultra-conservative in my approach to worship and music. I don't favor large revivalist type events, and I don't like loud music either in worship or personally in life. I may be a wet blanket, or even boring when it comes to those things, but I like dignity in a bible teaching and I don't apologize for that opinion.

In part 1 of my reaction to the Beth Moore Living Proof tour held in Charlotte this weekend, I noted the scene where women from 34 states and Canada streamed in to the Time Warner arena in advance of a 6 hour session of bible teaching, broken up over two days. In this essay I'll advance the scene to the start of the conference, the music from the Travis Cottrell band. From Cottrell's bio: "For the last fourteen years Travis has served as worship leader at Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live conferences. He and his team have been grateful to minister with Mrs. Moore in all 50 states and in several other countries as well."

It should also be noted that along with the live Beth Moore tour sessions there is an accompanied simulcast where women in churches around the country can also pay to participate via video. Sometimes there are over 500 annexed simulcast locations participating along with the women at the main location. So when I say that 12,000 women packed the arena to hear Beth Moore speak and praise band Travis Cottrell sing, there are also thousands more participating simultaneously all around the US so that number swells considerably.

As the lights went down other lights flared up. It was a light show that accompanied the first drum beat. And that percussion was LOUD. I'd estimate they were about 115-120 decibels. Pain begins at 125 decibels. Between the green and red lights sweeping the arena, and the beats that made the floors shake, I was already overwhelmed. And I was only one minute into it. All the women were standing and the captions to the songs were crawling across the jumbo-trons, several of which were stationed adjacent to the stage.

A still of a promotional clip of Living Proof praise singing,Rapid City S. Dakota Nov. 2010.
A still of a promotional clip of Living Proof praise singing,Rapid City S. Dakota Nov. 2010.
I tried to forgive the assault on the senses. I really did. I tried to imagine that they were emulating the verse of the blessed glimpse of heaven were given in Isaiah 6:1-4

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices
the doorposts and thresholds shook
and the temple was filled with smoke."

The Time Warner Arena doorposts and thresholds shook, and they shook hard. I decided right away that I'd spend Saturday's  musical worship time outside the arena in the lobby. The songs were a mixture of contemporary praise and hymns, but the hymns were blended into the contemporary. So as we were singing a modern song it would blend into an old-fashioned one. I don't even remember, now which songs were sung, because I was too overcome by the noise and the lights. The session lasted about 20 minutes and it had a mood all its own. The cadence would begin slow and soft, and rise and rise to a climactic moment when those drum beats would shake the house, and then slowly descend back into soft. This method was repeated several times. Rather than be moved by the music, I had a bad emotional and spiritual reaction. I fell to my knees. Crying, I prayed for forgiveness on us all. I really did.

I'm very affected by music. We all are. Nothing jazzes me up like a good ole fashioned singin'. I can sit in a pew and sing the good old hymns all night long and leave feeling terrific. I am not down on singing. It is a fact that music sets your mood and because we can be so moved by it, music can also be used manipulate us. It can bring to mind Godly worship and good thoughts, or it can be so manipulative that it can be its own thing outside of worship, an emotion all in itself, used to manipulate feelings rather than thoughts. It is my opinion that the musical worship at the Beth Moore convention is used for the latter purpose.

I wondered to myself if 12,000 women from 34 states and Canada would still drive 12 hours and spend hundreds of dollars to come to a place where there would be one guy singing The Old Rugged Cross on acoustic guitar, and one woman standing behind a podium speaking only bible truths. No light show. No concert. No personal testimony of Beth Moore's life, no jokes about bad hair days, no sweet stories about the husband or the dog, but only hymns and bible.

These things grow, they get out of hand. I heard one woman near me muse that in 'the old days' Travis Cottrell had only one or two accompanists but now he has a whole band and several singers. That's how it goes. These things only ever get bigger. And somewhere along the way, plain bible and plain music gets lost in an overwhelming flood of extras, extras that are then used to manipulate and distract.

In the Religious Affections Ministries blog, Scott Aniol wrote, "Emotion, Worship, Revivalism, And Pentecostalism."

He opened his essay with this: From W. Robert Godfrey, “Worship and the Emotions,” in Give Praise to God, Philip Graham Ryken, et.al. (Phillipsburg: P & R Pub, 2003), 368-9: "When emotions are misused, there is a constant danger of manipulation. It is easy for effective leaders to move people, especially trusting and expectant people, to feel what they want them to feel. Easily the church becomes a theater where feeling and catharsis take the place of true faith."

Beth Moore is all about catharsis. In order to engender the desired condition; music, lights, sounds, and emotions speed that catharsis. Scott Aniol continued his essay by saying, "Grant Wacker, a sympathetic historian of Pentecostalism, comments on this phenomenon in early Pentecostalism: “And then there was congregational singing, one of the most notable and remarked on features of Pentecostal worship. . . . Music offered leaders a ready means for managing the intensity of the service. They could ratchet up the tempo until worshipers broke into ecstatic praise, or tone it down when things seemed to be getting out of hand. Either way, music gave leaders a tool for regularizing the expression of emotion.”

"What Wacker sees as true of early Pentecostalism is even truer with the Contemporary Christian Music phenomenon. Praise songs, which originated in charismatic circles and spread widely in other Protestant churches, seem often to express rather spontaneous waves of emotion. But their use is carefully planned with an eye to the emotional effect on the worshiper. In such a session of singing one can predict exactly when the hands will be raised and when other emotional responses will be exhibited."

And unknowingly, he just described a Beth Moore praise concert. It is my opinion that the hollower the bible teaching is, the louder the music. The less the focus is on God, the more the service needs something to fill it, usually with loud music but sometimes with holy roller behaviors such as 'holy laughter', tongues, and other emotional-behavioral expressions. But I think the more the world reels toward ever higher assaults on the senses, the less we need it in worship. The more depraved the world gets, the more we should strive for purity in worship. Of course your definition of purity in worship may be different from mine. The point is, that the louder the world gets, the quieter we should get. The more the world puts on a show, the less we should indulge in clamor. The bible is getting lost in the world, so let's put it center stage.

Emotions are part of worship, I know, a valid part. We're filled with love and joy in contemplating the inexpressible Majesty of our God. It is proper to feel shame and repentance in a worship service when we need His forgiveness. Emotions are good as part of worship but they are not the key to worship. If the emotions displace something else, or cloud the reason of your presence there, then the problems begin.

But my problems were just beginning, because then Beth Moore took the stage.


25 comments:

  1. Music is a huge controversy in our church. 75% of the congregation are over the age of 65 and the rest vary from 64 to new born. The older group want the hymns with organ and piano and the other group want the more spiced up music. I do believe it is a matter of not only taste, what you were raised with but how your personality releases when you worship. The older group were raised confined and the loud noise reminds some of them of the war and bombings on their town. Where the younger group prefer to be able to let loose.

    Raising teens is really tough these days and part has to do with the music out there. :s When my kids were young I could control the type of music they listen to but as they grew and started hanging out with some kids from church they were exposed to 'the new music'. Christian bands but let's say not my taste. Groups like Thousand Foot Krutch, Skillet, Red. Since, with the computer available, I cannot really control what they listen to I decided on a deal. The words of the song need to be uplifting and praising to God and the music needs to be in alignment with our heart beat. It the music makes you angry and feeling bad, even tho it is Christian, they cannot listen to it. My daughter is obedient and willing to comply but my son, on the other hand, is rebellious and it takes a bit of a fight to get him to obey and even then he sneaks it in.

    Worship was controversy in the days of David and it still is today. Can you imagine dancing for the Lord naked like David did? I cannot but it is what David felt led to by the Spirit of God, he let go of all abandonment and worshiped God fully. 2 Samuel 6:14-22 In verse 22 Daniel says....I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.

    Worship is controversy and I believe we should all worship God is the manner that He leads us, after all it is ultimately about Him.

    Side note: I too do not like crowds or loud music, I commend you for being able to sit through this whole ordeal, I believe I would have left. I went to a Heidi Baker conference which had only about 250 people and I felt overwhelmed worshiping in this crowd, but my hunger for God was greater and the need inside of me for paying Him tribute in a group of believers that only wanted to lift up His name in praise over came the 'boxed in' feeling I had.

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    1. Even David was cautious and did not attack Saul when he could have taken his life. I always think several times before I publicly criticize a minister or ministry. I would never want to attack one of God's servants. I may make a judgment personally as to whether I would benefit myself from a persons ministry but go no further. Is there Love, joy, peace, patience exhibited in the life of this person and do they love the word of God. Is there fruit from their ministry? These things cannot be faked.

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    2. Unknown,

      As far as Samuel and David, we're not talking about mounting up 3,000 men with swords and encamping an army around the false teachers. But since you bring up Saul, look what Samuel said to Saul:

      "“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”" (1 Sam 13:13-14)

      The prophet, at God's command, told the KING he was foolish, and that because of his foolishness he will lose the kingdom. Is he "attacking" the king? According to your definition of attack, yes, Samuel is. He is rebuking the king at the LORD'S command. We do the same by using the bible as the word of God whenever a leader does not follow the Lord's command, commands that are found in the bible.

      That aside, there is a difference between an “attack” and exposing false teaching. Here are two examples:

      Attack: Mrs So and So is a lousy mother and a wretch of a human being.
      Exposing false teaching: Mrs So and So is a false teacher because she claims to have had extra biblical revelation and the bible says in Hebrews 1:2 that in these days he has spoken to us by His son.

      Attack: I hate that teacher because she lies and is having an affair with Mr So and So
      Exposing false teaching: That teacher preaches a false doctrine, that Jesus was a sinner, yet the bible says He was without sin (John 1:35). Therefore I conclude she is false because if they preach a different Jesus, they are false (2 Cor 11:4)

      Do you see the difference?

      Further, attaching a discernment benchmark to their pleasantness is very dangerous. The bible says that false teachers will come to us as in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. (Mt 7:15). This means they will outwardly be showing all the same qualities as a mature Christian. As Barnes’ Notes explains, “The sheep is an emblem of innocence, sincerity, and harmlessness. To come in sheep's clothing is to assume the appearance of sanctity and innocence, when the heart is evil.” Someone can seem to be patient and to love the word of God, but their heart is impatient and they hate the word of God. You have to examine what they preach and teach, and if it varies from the bible, you know they are false, no matter how patient they seem to be.

      So I hope these examples help you in discerning the difference between an attack and a discernment of false teaching, and that being pleasant is not an indicator of whether someone has good or bad intentions. In case these are not clear, here are two other resources for you:

      Bible verses that say to expose false teachers:
      http://www.openbible.info/topics/exposing_false_teachers

      A biblical commentary on the verses that say to expose false teaching. I'll post the opening sentence and the conclusion:
      http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Gal/Exposing-False-Teachers

      In his exposure of these false teachers, Paul gives us six identifying marks that can guide us to discern the presence of "wolves in sheep's clothing" in our midst today....It is never pleasant to expose the deceptive, destructive tactics of the "false brothers." But it is necessary to do so in order to protect the freedom of fellow Christians. Of course circumcision is not an issue today. But we are constantly faced with a choice between different religious options. They are not all the same; they are not all spokes on a wheel leading to the same hub. Some religious options lead to slavery and imprisonment. Only by obedience to the truth of the gospel of Christ can we protect the freedom that is ours in Christ.

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  2. I agree with you - music is a controversy in a lot of churches and for good reason. Every generation has balked at the new generation's music. Some hymns we sing today were new in grandmother's time. I think there is a lot of good, modern praise music. The whole issue calls for discernment on the part of the music team to ensure tat the music sets the table for the preaching to come and is not the vehicle satan is using in order to whip up feelings and emotions.

    I agree also that there are times and places of abandoning one's self to dance in praise, Miriam certainly did, but like at a Gospel sing or a contemporary praise concert. Not a bible teaching. That's just my opinion.

    As far as the Beth Moore influence goes, yes I was shocked myself to learn through this research just how pervasive her presence is. Her books make millions for LifeWay, her video studies are ongoing in 9 out of every 10 southern affiliated churches, her LIFE Today television devotes Wednesdays to Beth Moore and their reach is 300 million homes, and her Living Proof tours are seen by at least a almost a quarter of a million people per year.

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  3. Concerning the part you said about Beth Moore. WOW! I guess my question here is, how rich is she? Does she live an extravagant life with all this money coming in? OR, does she give it all away and live a simple, but provided life? Dealing with this much money coming in can be very tempting.

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  4. According to Christianity Today' article: "Living Proof Ministries is relatively small compared with the ministries of women of similar notoriety. Its total revenue in 2008, $3.8 million, is dwarfed by Joyce Meyer Ministries' ($112 million) and Kay Arthur's Precept Ministries' ($12.9 million) in the same year. (Meyer's ministry says its top priorities are evangelism and social outreach; Arthur's ministry mainly supplies resources for women to study the Bible inductively on their own; Moore's ministry is grounded in her unique gift of teaching.) Living Proof employs only 16 people, including Moore's two daughters and son-in-law."

    So let's say that three years later her total revenue is 5 million. She lives in the suburbs of Houston and attends Houston 1st Baptist church. I don't know about her house or other money habits. The CT article mentioned how tightly guarded she is with certain aspects of her life.

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  5. I love worship. I love it. I think that Biblically it is powerful, but it is not about us and our feelings; it has to be about HIM and His Majesty.

    I have noticed that there is even a trend in worship songs where the theme of the song is about "me" and "my problems" or "my feelings" or God meeting "my needs" -- I think this is so dangerous. Yes, God makes me feel good, and He meets my needs, but to call these songs worship kinda means we are worshiping ourselves.

    And like you said, there is something to be said about a man with a genuine heart to worship God alone on stage, truly worshiping God.

    This should be enough. Not like it needs to be the rule, but if what you feel for God is real, you don't need lights, or drums simulating it all.

    I love the music of Hillsong United, and there shows are very exciting, they use the lights and the drums and the screens. Everyone will stand and worship. But, I go to their shows to meet the Lord, not to be entertained. I go there because I believe that they worship God with sincerity in their personal lives, and I find in the lyrics of their songs the same verses that God has been speaking to me. I go worship there, but I spend more time next to my bed singing the same songs, alone. Just me and God, and that time is sweeter. It is about God.

    But,I do think though that people can be living in sin, and go to their show, put their hands in the air, have an emotional experience and then leave feeling close to God, but truly unchanged. That is scary.

    True worship is young David on playing for King Saul, and sending an evil spirit running. True worship is joining with the angels in heaven singing "Holy Holy Holy is the LORD God Almighty." True worship is King Jehoshaphat sending the worship team out ahead of the army, into battle.

    True worship is Paul and Silas sitting on a filthy prison floor, their legs in stocks, and praying and singing praise to God, despite their circumstances, not knowing that God was prepared to shake that prison and break those chains.

    True worship is about God, not me.

    Beth Moore is wrong. We need to stop thinking of ourselves so much. It becomes self-worship. We have situations and circumstances beyond our control. But it is not about that. It is about God. It is about His glory and worth, not any "holes" in my soul. I want to be emptied. His grace is sufficient.

    This is so important Elizabeth. Thanks for posting.

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  6. Again, what you describe sounds much like a rock concert. Why in the world do they always think they have to have everything so loud?!? Part of it, of course, is to build the emotions, which you noted by your own experience. The problem is, your emotions were not what they want to build! Your discernment led to more objectivity. Music is indeed a powerful driver of the emotions, and is indeed used to manipulate in many similar events to Beth’s, including all the false revivals and the churches who promote them.

    This is an excellent analysis, and I’m heading right for the next chapter!

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  7. God sees through us, and it doesn't matter whether the music is loud or soft. All that matters is our heart, and whether the center of our worship is Him. I used to be so critical of pentecostal style of worship because I belong to a more conservative denomination, but that perspective changed when I got invited to large pentecostal church. I would say I honestly see people worshiping God in wild abandon, the lyrics of the songs are purely God-centric. I love soft music more than loud music, but I think I've outgrown my tendency to be so critical. The only barometer I use when commenting on churches is whether they worship God with reverence, awe, and deep love.

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  8. Regariding kids, I have three - 18, 15, and 12. They understand the need for SOLID food even in music. They dont care for the 7-11 praise songs (7 words repeated 11 times) and have been taught exactly why music is so important and powerful. They listen critically so far (obviously differing somewhat by age). When we were kicked out of our old church for opposing purpose drivenism and seeker sensitive methodology (as well as our pastor's bad behavior) we did not hide these issues from our kids, who were 12, 9, and 6 at the time. They were taught that even though our ex church was behaving poorly they still ought to treat people there with respect and love.

    So, even though they are listening to different things on their own time, they know that church and worship is something different than just listening to music for enjoyment.

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    1. So I suppose 10 words repeated endlessly by God's 4 living creatures (Rev 4:8) is not solid enough for you. Look man, I agree with a lot of your concerns, but I think we also have to compare our concerns against God's word. Nothing wrong with 7-11 per the Bible, so long as it's a God-honoring 7. And if it's a God-honoring 7, why would we be critical of singing it?

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    2. Comparing the holy creatures praising God in the heavenly temple and sinful man on babbling earth is a ridiculous comparison. Anyway, Jesus said in Matthew 6:7- "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking". I think that verse about covers the 7-11 songs...

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  9. Anonymous posted: "All that matters is our heart, and whether the center of our worship is Him. I used to be so critical of pentecostal style of worship because I belong to a more conservative denomination, but that perspective changed when I got invited to large pentecostal church. I would say I honestly see people worshiping God in wild abandon, the lyrics of the songs are purely God-centric"

    All that matters is our heart, yes and our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Even as saved people, we are prone to wander, and can fall into grave error. We can't just trust our hearts or others' hearts. Being Biblically critical is of UTMOST importance. But it won't gather you a large crowd of friends, especially at a man-centered church.

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  10. Do not take your cues from Scott Aniol. He imbibed racist ideas at BJU and still holds a view of music which elevates European styles and therefore is suspicious of anything with black origins.

    He tries to pretend that the Bible backs him up, but when he is pressed, he resorts to cliches about a "sensual" beat that are straight out of 1970s films of the animalistic African.

    I'm not saying that your points about Beth Moore are not valid, just that you should make your own case and not bother to quote Aniol.

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  11. I don't take my cues from Scott Aniol. I take them from the Holy Spirit. I don't know about your beef with Mr Aniol, and if he errs in other areas then that needs to be addressed. The point I was making here about emotionalism and manipulation in worship when it becomes a theater were well stated in his words. I liked what he had to say in the quote. I am glad I used that quote and I stand by it.

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  12. While everyone has a different style and taste in music and that is okay. There should be a varity for all. I think Beth Moore is doing a great thing for God. He is using her because she allows herself to get deeper and deeper in a relationship with him. He blesses her. Sounds like a lot of you are just looking for an offense, just to be jealous. So what if she makes money doing what she is doing? She is also helping people, that seems to be her focus in all her studies I've done thus far. But there is always someone who has to talk about what God is doing through others. Even if you dont understand the purpose God placed on Beth or others you have no right trying to bring dirt oh her ministry.

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  13. Beth Moore is not doing a great thing for God, unless it is that she is being used by discerning Christians as to what a counterfeit is.

    You should be more worried in this day of promised ticked ears and false teachers, that the dirt is being thrown on JESUS.

    Your reasoning of her ministry playing loud music, making money, and seeming to be a Christian are not the discerning components we are told to use when judging. I apply this verse to your comment, which failed to note any biblical response to any bible verse I'd used:

    "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." John 7:24

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  14. Right based on your standards or biblical standards? Where is the scripture that tells us how many decibels loud music can be, what type of lighting is acceptable, and how many beats per measure are too many? I would ask that you consider John 7:24 in regards to your comments while you are focusing on the splinter in another's eye.

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  15. Hello Anonymous,

    Your valid concerns go to the definition of worship as applied to the music part of the service. What is worship? How do we do it? When does worship that is a variance with my neighbor's tip over into something that is not worship? When does a praise band either enhance the worship or hinder it? Here is a great article that answers your questions.
    http://forsclavigera.blogspot.com/2012/02/open-letter-to-praise-bands.html

    The author asks some main questions and then answers them. He also defines worship.

    1. If we, the congregation, can't hear ourselves, it's not worship

    2. If we, the congregation, can't sing along, it's not worship.

    3. If you, the praise band, are the center of attention, it's not worship

    Here is where the author defines worship--
    http://forsclavigera.blogspot.com/2012/02/postscript-to-open-letter-to-praise.html

    In the second link above, the author shows us that worship is not just expressive (us to God) but it is formative (God to us). He says "*How* we worship shapes us, and how we worship collectively is an important way of learning to be the body of Christ."

    I recommend reading both short essays and I believe they will go a long way toward answering your questions.

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  16. I was visiting my mom in Houston this past easter and we went to her church. The "worship" team played "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang. My wife and I were the only ones that seemed to be upset by this.

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  17. This entire post makes me very sad. The gifts God has blessed Beth Moore with in her ministry have led so many to Christ and a relationship with him. I am thankful for these people God has brought up to share his word. We all find God in different ways of worship. The studies of Beth Moore have taught me one thing for sure. It is not about me. She is one of the most humble people you could ever meet in awe of her Lord. May God bless you!

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    1. Hello Amy,

      I am sorry you are sad. My intent was not to sadden you, but to enlighten you- to the dangers of using music to emotionally manipulate congregants. I fear I have not made the point in your case.

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  18. I just returned from a LPM event in TN & the teaching was incredibly sound, Biblical, & the worship was beautifully done, not too loud at all! I'm the type of person who is very discerning when Christian teachers, preachers, & other leaders step outside the bounds of the Bible. Travis Cottrell is a gifted song writer who Lord most definitely uses & yet while people may let their emotions get the best of them & may look for the emotional parts to draw them, I seriously doubt he nor Beth are contemplating them & manipulating them to have some emotional connection, but rather letting the Lord speak through them & move as the Holy Spirit sees fit. Its up to each of us to have self-control & to draw into the presence of God as He leads us. I cry often in worship, not because a song draws my emotions, but because I'm in awe of what my Lord has done, where He has brought me from, & in everything that He is.

    Your opinion is just that, your opinion. But I caution you to be careful about making critical comments. When David danced before God he shed his robe in humiliation, being totally free of what others thought & simply worshipped as his spirit directed. Michal made critical judgements & the Lord cursed her. When she criticized David he told her could get even more undignified than that!

    Just because your personal style & preference is more quiet, conservative, & reserved doesnt mean those differing are false or manipulative. Over & over in Scripture when it makes references of music to the Lord its often LOUD! And I for one look forward to a LOUD trumpet shout from Heaven the day Jesus returns :) Blessings to you!

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    1. MommaAsh,

      I'm sorry you believe Beth Moore's teaching to be "sound". That is a problem for you on the discernment level, and also especially since I used scripture to illustrate that it is NOT an opinion but a biblical issue for us all.

      I'd like to learn what you mean by your admonition to "be careful of making critical comments." You did respond with an opinion, because you used no examples to show how or where you feel BM's teaching is sound. Yet I used scripture in each of the parts of this series...so I think I need to understand form you why comparing a teaching to scripture and finding it lacking is "an opinion" and "critical."

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