By Elizabeth Prata
I am working on a series of essays looking at the teachings of Beth Moore. She is currently a wildly popular Christian Bible teacher. Her books, DVDs, lessons, devotionals and tours sell like hotcakes. She regularly fills stadiums and arenas to capacity. She is sought after for speaking engagements and has a regular spot on a television show called Life Today. She teaches Sunday School in her home town of Houston when she is in town and has had that position since 1984.
We are in the times of the doctrines of devils, of false teachers and of deception. Beth Moore may be true or she may be false (we’ll explore that this essay and the next) but because the Bible warns of these problems with teachers and teachings at the latter days, it is important for us to take a careful look at any and all teachers who have this much influence. I mentioned in Part One that I am headed to a Beth Moore conference this weekend. I’ll be listening to her for 6 hours and may have more to say afterward. In preparation for these essays I’ve listened to Beth Moore for several hours, prayed, read others’ concerns, and studied.
In exploring whether the content of Mrs. Moore’s lessons contain solid teaching, I’ll be looking at five issues- Contemplative Prayer, Legalism, Personal Revelation, Eisegesis vs. exegesis, and outright error. This part will look at Mrs Moore’s insidious Legalism.
Troubled by Beth Moore Teaching, Part 1: Introduction and Casualness
In which I declare my biases, give a short lesson on discernment, and begin with a concern about how casually Mrs. Moore delivers her lessons.
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.
Legalism is a reference to the Law, the Law of the Old Testament designed to show us in no uncertain terms that there is nothing that we can do in our own strength that will sanctify us and provide the pathway to heaven. If we rely on the Law, we are dead. Satan’s old trick of instilling in us the notion that we have to do things to get into heaven is alive and well, and has been since the earliest New Testament days. Legalism teaches that we do is more important that what we believe. Paul dealt with the first instance of legalism, busting it out of the water: “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:15-16)
Ecclesiastes 7:20 reminds us of legalism’s futility: “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.”
I’d mentioned in the last segment that Mrs. Moore has a tendency to pry apart the tightly woven tapestry of scripture and insert things you have to do, make conditions for salvation (if you do this, then you’re saved) and to teach of a certain way of doing Christianity. Some people say that it is just her style of casual teaching, friendliness and quick speech but she really means that we’re saved by faith alone. But then again, I spoke to the dangers of quick speech and casual handling of the Word. Bible teachers have to say what they mean in precision and back it up with scripture. Oftentimes, Mrs. Moore makes assertions that have no basis in scripture and adds conditions for our faith walk. Here are three examples:
I used one example of legalism at the end of Part 3. It was from 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.” So IF you aren’t still you WON’T know God. At least, not like a real Christian. It’s Pharisaical thinking, ‘I do this practice so I’m really more pious than that tax collector over there.’ (Luke 18:11). And the Pharisees were the ultimate legalists.
Here is another example. 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. I’ll address her interpretive error in the exegesis vs. eisegesis segment to come. But once the basic interpretation is wrong it is no surprise that what follows falls into even worse error. I transcribed this- Watch carefully as she inserts conditions to salvation and even outlines the effect of not believing the extra add-ons 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.”
That’s a blasphemous, heretical statement. Let the momentousness of that statement sink in for a second.
The Gospel is now Law. We have to believe some things above and beyond what the Bible says we believe to be saved. John 6:29 says, “The work of God is to believe in the One He has sent.” We believe the Lord died to save us from our sins and rose again, and we are saved (Romans 10:9). Even better, there’s nothing anyone can ever do to change that (Romans 8:38-39). The moment you asked for your salvation it was delivered. (Matt. 7:7-8). It’s guaranteed forever (Ephesians 1:13-14, 2 Cor 1:21-22). I certainly don’t see anything about having to believe that Jesus is our Healer and Our Restorer or else we stay cracked.
…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.”
What she is saying is 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.
Well…Moses wasn’t confident. “Then Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” (Exodus 4:10-12). By any standard, Moses was effective.
Jeremiah wasn’t confident. His first worry was that he was too young for the job. ” Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” But the LORD said to me: Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the LORD.” (Jer 1:6-8). By any standard, Jeremiah was an effective man of God.
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 ones who forsook God were cracked- the evil ones were the cracked ones and were bleeding water out everywhere. 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 Cor 1:21-22) There is no in-between, being saved but leaking. That is disrespectful to Him and it’s just not biblical. But it is legalism.
I’ve given two examples of Beth Moore legalism. One was from her stance on the DVD “Be Still,” about Contemplative Prayer. One was from an audio teaching about Hebrews 10:19-20. This next example is from her book, “Breaking Free: Making Liberty in Christ a Reality in Life”. It is a review of that book 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. Since Breaking Free is also all about experiential things like peace, satisfaction, and the enjoyment of a passionate personal relationship with God, it couldn’t possibly be an example of human-centered, legalistic religion, could it?”
Of course, the answer is yes.
Sister, watch or listen or read her works carefully, carefully, with this in mind: Beth Moore tends to apply conditions for faith that are not in the Bible. She also makes sweeping claims that she does not back up with scripture. It’s worse than Joel Osteen, because there is barely any Gospel if any at all in Osteen’s speeches. In Moore’s there is a lot of Gospelese mixed in with falsity, twisted interpretations, and legalism. Study, pray, and search these things out for yourself!