Beth Moore's Legalism: A Discernment Lesson applicable to any teacher

I have written about Beth Moore's legalism in the past (2011). It's hard to believe that was 7 years ago. Here is a refresher course on how, while seeming to speak a Gospel-infused sermon, Beth Moore's speeches are really just a try harder legalism. This is a lesson in discernment.

You have to listen carefully and do a lot of note-taking because Moore speaks so fast, or if you listen online, use the pause button a lot. Her 'try harder' theology is also in her books as you will see, so the issue is not just her speaking style, but her theology. You will hear that Beth Moore shapes the scriptures away from pure faith and toward legalism. She splits sentences, putting a crowbar between words and inserting things you've 'got' to do. There is a lot of 'do this or else'. There are also lots of warnings about the dire conditions of our walk, without real explanations. Like this from a few days ago.

It seems she is trying to say that we shouldn't be too busy. Too busy for what, Moore never says. Yet after more than three successive tweets (yes, it went on) she never got to any clear point. Milk meaning from graffiti? Huffing and puffing? And what does it mean, exactly, that we are 'blowing our houses down'? A teacher is supposed to be "able to teach." (2 Timothy 2:24). Not vaguely warn. Or be so in love with her writing that plain meaning is obscured...

Our precious Lord gave salvation as a gift. No matter how we stumble, or no matter how many times we enter a sin-repent-forgive cycle, we are saved and effective for His glory. He gave us a GIFT of salvation. It is the gift of redemption, a gift of imputed righteousness. Here are some examples of how Moore diminishes the gift of the Gospel and makes it a confusing, burdensome, treacherous walk among the heavy stones of the Law.

Example #1:
Her contemplative prayer quote: "[I]f we are not still before Him, we will never truly know to the depths of the marrow of our bones that He is God. There's got to be a stillness." 
According to Moore, we will "never" "truly" know who God is UNLESS we are still. Beware of Bible teachers who frequently use absolute words.

Example #2:

In one study, Beth Moore is speaking of 'confidence and competence' that Christ gives us. The study is based on Hebrews 10:19-20 but her interpretation of the verse is wrong from the beginning. Once the basic interpretation is wrong it is no surprise that what follows falls into even worse error. Watch carefully as she inserts conditions to salvation. She even outlines the effect of not believing the new add-ons that she includes.
...but what can happen is this ... If we receive Christ as our Savior but we never recognize and by faith believe Him to also be our healer and our restorer then we just stay just as cracked as when we got here.
The Gospel is now Law. According to Moore, we have to believe some things above and beyond what the Bible says we need to believe for salvation. According to Moore, we must believe in a different Christ than the Jesus presented in His Word. I certainly don't see anything in His word about having to believe that Jesus is our Savior AND our Healer AND our Restorer or else we stay "cracked". And what does cracked mean, exactly? This is some vague warning of looming disaster, the kind of warnings Moore loves to issue.

Now as for this cracked business, the Bible does speak of being cracked:

For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13).

The cracked ones were the ones who forsook God. They were the evil ones.

But when Jesus saves us, we are sealed!

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

There is no in-between in the New Testament, being saved but leaking through a crack.

Example #3:
…it [confidence] just bleeds out everywhere, we can't keep any confidence in there. Because we have never trusted Him to put three pieces of our lives back together. Is this making any sense to anybody? We have all these cracks and all these pieces. … And we're supposed to be effective here on earth. ... Salt and light and profoundly effective, but we can't be any of that unless we have our God-confidence.
Again with the "we can't ... unless". Note those words.

As to Moore's addition of confidence as a necessary condition of keeping our salvation or being effective or something, Jeremiah wasn't confident. His first worry was that he was too young for the job. (Jeremiah 1:6-8). By any standard, Jeremiah was an effective man of God.

Moses wasn't confident. He worried he wasn't eloquent enough to be a spokesman. (Exodus 4:10-12). By any standard, Moses was not too confident, but he sure was effective.

So far, from just three of her teachings we learn that --

1. Unless we accept Jesus as savior AND Healer AND Restorer, His work is not sufficient.
2. Unless we get some God-confidence, we are not effective.
3. Unless we believe certain things about Jesus, we will stay cracked.
4. Unless we are still, we will never truly know God.

The legalistic conditions pile up fast.

Example #4:

Breaking Free: Making Liberty in Christ a Reality in Life was reviewed by Paige Britton.
Britton says, "One rather ironic element of Moore’s teaching is her definition of "legalism," one of the roadblocks we must remove if we want to journey on to authentic freedom. According to Moore, legalism occurs whenever one studies the Word but fails to enjoy God; it is the absence of relationship, passion, engagement of the heart (pp.75, 77). This definition is fine as far as it goes, but it effectively obscures the fact that Breaking Free is all about applying new rules in order to gain what God meant for us as a gift in Christ.
Isn't that ironic. A book called Breaking Free is really just a new way to enslave you. Moore makes up and applies new rules to gain what was given as a gift says Britton, and I have noticed this too. So we have issues with new rules in Moore's speaking ministry and in her tweets and in her books. Her theology, no matter where it's publicly proffered, is a problem.

Once you start hearing the "got to" and "must do" and "unless you" you will hear her new rules permeating her teaching everywhere.

What does the Bible say about new rules for salvation? It says that adding an unbiblical load kills us.

"Woe to you as well, experts in the law!" He replied. "You weigh men down with heavy burdens, but you yourselves will not lift a finger to lighten their load. (Luke 11:46).

Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? (Acts 15:10).

Don't listen to Moore or any teacher who imposes conditions on your walk that are absent from the Bible. Or who uses absolute words like unless, can'talways, never, all the time, and so on. The Father loves us with an enduring, everlasting love that is perfect. Moreover, He is our priest who prays for us. He sends angels to minister to us. He gave us the Spirit to grow us. We are not cracked, leaking, unconfident, missing out on what we need, ineffective, on the verge of disaster, or any of the things Moore says we are. Moore's world must be dark and heavy indeed.

Our world, though a mindful one and filled with obedient striving, is one of light and freedom from the very conditions Moore seeks to impose. This is because we are in Christ, and He met all the conditions necessary on the cross and broke that chain, in order to set the captives free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be encumbered once more by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1).


  1. Ecclesiastes:

    13 And I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness. 14 The wise man's eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I know that one fate befalls them both. 15 Then I said to myself, "As is the fate of the fool, it will also befall me. Why then have I been extremely wise?" So I said to myself, "This too is vanity."

  2. 1 Corinthians:

    27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly and despised things of the world, and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast in His presence.…

  3. Great blog post! Moore is a modern day Pharisee who adds to the Word of God and makes it of 'none effect'.

  4. Ironically, one of Beth Moore's own tweets.:

    "I don’t know. Maybe I’m just cynical. But it has been my experience and observation over six decades that hyper legalistic people are usually hiding something. At least I was. I don’t trust that vibe. It gives me the willies."

  5. Good reflections. Gospel living is living the life of Christ within us by faith and resting in Him, even as we "work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling," as it says in Phillipians. Moore tends towards vagueness, too, which doesn't help matters.

  6. Good post. Beth Moore is just a religious works-based Pharisee. Same with Rick Warren. He will create the same "you must do this to get that!!!" nonsense and build an entire message around that, and not even touch on a Bible verse (and if he uses a verse, it will be from the "message" which isn't a Bible at all).


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