I mentioned I was headed to a Beth Moore convention this weekend, part of the Living Proof Ministries tour. I should say right off the bat that I don't favor gender-segregated ministries. I am not a fan in particular of woman's ministries. I think they rely too much on emotion and not nearly enough on theology.
I should also say I'm from the North, but I live in Georgia. I've never gone through a Beth Moore study. Last year was actually the first time I'd heard of her. When a church friend mentioned her and I innocently asked "Who's she?" I'll never forget the response. She looked at me like I had two heads and gushed "BETH MOORE! You've GOT to go through one of her studies!!!!!!!!!" And so on. Lots of exclamation marks.
I was immediately skeptical. Because I have an end time prophecy and discernment ministry, and knowing it is the end time and we're to expect false doctrines, I'm always skeptical of wildly popular Christian personalities. Being wildly popular these days is almost a sign that falsity exists. People do not stand for sound doctrine, period. "The time will come when they [the people in the church] will not endure [tolerate] sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). If there is a wildly popular, lucrative book, DVD, and speaking tour, sellout crowds, AND it is based on strict truth and nothing but the truth, show it to me and then knock me over with a feather.
Last, Beth Moore plays up the southern belle, delicate flower, Texas big hair, ultra-feminine mystique...something that I as a Yankee find mystifying. It's a cultural thing, I know. But just because it is a women's ministry doesn't mean all women will understand the southern belle, delicate flower, Texas big hair persona or even understand what she's talking about half the time. However, if the bible is center stage, it will transcend cultural differences, wouldn't it? Let's see.
So those are my beginning positions. But none of them are important, because the only thing that is important, ultimately, is Beth Moore's stance on the word. Does she, or does she not, teach truth? That is what I am looking into. This will be a multi-part series. Apparently, there is a lot to say...
First, let's look at discernment. Discernment is a good characteristic, something we need: "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) Having no discernment is bad: "Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, but a man of understanding walks uprightly." (Proverbs 15:21)
Discernment is called for especially in these end times of deception: "For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough" (2 Corinthians 11:4; and 2 Timothy 4:3 quoted above).
Discernment defined by John MacArthur is "ability to understand, interpret, and apply Truth skillfully." Tim Challies defines discernment as "the skill of understanding and applying God's Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong."
Hebrews 5:14 teaches that: "solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." Discernment is a skill that has to be exercised.
One last caveat: I've watched Beth Moore clips and studies. I've read up on her. I've prayed. I've consulted the scriptures. I have some early concerns about her approach to theology, her method of teaching and her doctrines. I'm still looking forward to the weekend, because I want to investigate these things in person. But I do have grave concerns already. I did not want to go on the trip to the convention but the Spirit prompted me to, and even made provisions for me to go. I have a feeling that a discernment ministry is the reason. If you have rebuttals to what I share here, you must do in like kind, have watched her, prayed, and most important, consulted the scriptures and share the verses that inform your opinion. 'I love Beth Moore and you're a silly-head" kind of comments won't make it through moderation.
OK, to start with my concerns about Beth Moore:
The first one I came across was disappointment when I went to the Living Proof webpage to see what she would be speaking about in Charlotte. I like to prepare ahead. I read the verses, I read the context, I pray, I get a sense of the intent of the verses. I need that grounding and I like to have it. I was surprised at what I found:
"Beth's focus will be on the Scripture that God lays on her heart for each individual Living Proof Live event -- no two are the same."
So, no verses. Aside from my personal disappointment at not having an opportunity to learn the verses, the context, and to pray for her and the women I'm attending with based on those verses, I have a qualm about this kind of approach to bible teaching. It is too casual for me. It sounds nice, it sounds like it is being personalized, but it is not. She sold out at the Columbia Colonial Life Arena (18,600) last year and apparently the one I'm attending at Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena holds about the same number and is also nearly sold out.
Simply waiting for the Spirit to 'lay it on her heart' and being good to go seems disrespectful and also dangerous. In the first instance, it is disrespectful to God to be unprepared. Secondly it is disrespectful to the audience. I want to know that she has spent time treating the Word rightly, preparing and double checking. Would you like it if your pastor told you Sunday morning that he waited for the verse to be laid on his heart and then he bounded up the pulpit steps and launched in? No, I wouldn't either, and he is a seminary trained man whose systematic theology is his foundation. Beth Moore has none such. The risk of treating the word casually is too great to approach it this way.
2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
Barnes notes explains the verse:
"Study to show thyself approved unto God - Give diligence 2 Peter 2:10, or make an effort so to discharge the duties of the ministerial office as to meet the divine approbation. The object of the ministry is not to please men. Such doctrines should be preached, and such plans formed, and such a manner of life pursued, as God will approve. To do this demands study or care - for there are many temptations to the opposite course; there are many things the tendency of which is to lead a minister to seek popular favor rather than the divine approval. If any man please God, it will be as the result of deliberate intention and a careful life."
Now, to be fair, there is a period of ten days to two weeks or so between each event, and perhaps she does study between each one as the Lord lays it on her heart. But the seeming lack of forethought doesn't inspire confidence that that is what is happening. As a matter of fact, it inspires the opposite. If she rightly divides the word at some point the scripture explanation will be consistent, because the Holy Spirit is consistent. Last, I am not worried that "any two will be the same." I'm not an excitement junkie. I don't worry about repeats. Even if the scriptures used at one event are the same scriptures used another a year later, I will be a different Christian because I will have grown. I'll absorb it differently. And what if the Spirit DOES lay the same scripture on her heart, gasp! two events in a row? Would she chuck it, fearing 'it might be the same?" Maybe she is the excitement junkie.
Next blog entry, we'll look at her manner of delivery. I'm going through the more superficial (but just as important) things before getting into her treatment of the Word itself.
Next entries in the series-
Troubled by Beth Moore Teaching, Part 2: Un-dignified teaching
In which I look at one of the things that happens when women teach (tag-end questions and affirmation seeking), the undignified delivery of her lessons, and the problems with a rapid-fire teaching.
Troubled by Beth Moore's Teaching, Part 3: Contemplative Prayer
In which I explain what Contemplative Prayer is, why it is bad, and Beth Moore's participation in it.
Troubled by Beth Moore Teaching, Part 4: Legalism
In which I define legalism, and show three examples of Moore's tendency toward it.
Troubled by Beth Moore's Teaching, Part 5: Personal Revelation
Beth Moore claims direct revelation from God. Is this biblical?
Troubled by Beth Moore's Teaching, Part 6: Eisegesis, Pop Psychology, & Bad Bible Interpretations
Does she interpret the bible that badly?
Troubled By Beth Moore's Teaching: Part 7: Conclusion
It is not about Beth Moore-it is about our own proper discernment. Recommendations for discernment studies and also good women teachers