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) 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. Here’s the series so far:
Troubled by Beth Moore’s Teaching, Part 1: Introduction and Casualness
Troubled by Beth Moore’s Teaching, Part 2: Un-dignified teaching
Troubled by Beth Moore’s Teaching, Part 3: Contemplative Prayer
Troubled By Beth Moore’s Teaching, Part 4: Legalism
Troubled By Beth Moore’s Teaching, Part 5: Personal Revelation
This essay looks at how Mrs Moore combines improper handling of the Word (eisegesis) with her female-slanted pop psychology that forms the foundation of her current teachings.
First, the pop psychology- You have rights, you know! You have a right to make claims of God! At least, after listening to at least ten clips from Beth Moore’s teaching on Life Today, that seems to be one of the themes popping up more frequently than is wise. I’ll give just one example:
LIFE Today: Beth Moore “Your Right to a Sound Mind“
“Every single one of us has the right, in Christ, to be a whole healthy, individual. To have a healthy heart and a healthy mind, it is your right in Christ. Here’s what happens. For a long time we won’t admit we don’t have any stuff at all. But once we do come to grips with the fact that we really do have some pretty severe stuff, the enemy starts playing on us with- he begins to convince us that if we ever did open that can of worms, we wouldn’t even be able to deal with it. So if he ever could convince us, if I ever really looked into my past and dealt with the things that happened to me in childhood, I would go crazy. I would go crazy. Listen, it’s a big one cause it’s a serious threat. Because really, honestly, that could happen. And you know what? I’m really not so sure it couldn’t. Unless you claimed your right. Claimed your right in Christ. [emphasis hers].”
She continues with talks about facing your past, and how that makes the enemy cower.
I translated it word for word, you know. It makes no sense. She is simply babbling. I have no clue as to what the ‘stuff’ is or what the ‘can of worms’ is, or what the ‘serious threat’ is. It opened and closed with the show’s premise: you have some rights in Christ. And you must claim them. Now! I have a few things to say about that.
I mentioned in part one that Mrs Moore teaches a women’s ministry but that not all women have the same cultural background or even the same experience. Not all of us were abused as a kid. Not all of us adopted a child and then gave him back (or lost custody, depending on the story). Some of us don’t even have ‘stuff’ to face and there is not a can of worms in sight. I don’t understand what she is saying and I don’t connect with it. But why should all of that matter? Because Beth Moore uses the Bible as a cure-all for women’s emotional hurts and applies the worst pop psychology to do it. She does not preach from the Word, which delivers consistent understanding, but rather she preaches from her experience and applies the Word, which is hit or miss in the understanding department.
What we have with Beth Moore is a case of eisegesis, and not exegesis. GotQuestions has a great explanation of the difference, and provides a devastating example at the end of the page, and it corresponds exactly to what Beth Moore does in her teaching.
Here is the first paragraph of GotQuestions’ explanation of the difference between eisegesis and exegesis:
“Exegesis is the exposition or explanation of a text based on a careful, objective analysis. The word exegesis literally means “to lead out of.” That means that the interpreter is led to his conclusions by following the text. The opposite approach to Scripture is eisegesis, which is the interpretation of a passage based on a subjective, non-analytical reading. The word eisegesis literally means “to lead into,” which means the interpreter injects his own ideas into the text, making it mean whatever he wants. Obviously, only exegesis does justice to the text. Eisegesis is a mishandling of the text and often leads to a misinterpretation. Exegesis is concerned with discovering the true meaning of the text, respecting its grammar, syntax, and setting. Eisegesis is concerned only with making a point, even at the expense of the meaning of words.”
What Mrs Moore does is begin with a pop psychology point: in this case, your right to be whole and healthy. Others are ‘Pressing past our fears” or “Don’t be Demotivated”, “The Closer They Are, The Worse They Hurt”. She comes to the Bible with an emotional, psychological need in mind, and then finds the verses matching up that will show women how Christianity will take care of it for you. The verses she chooses are used out of context and often just wrong.
When Mrs Moore claimed, “Every single one of us has the right, in Christ, to be a whole healthy, individual,” she did not provide a biblical verse that supported her claim. There wasn’t a Bible verse that supported the premise, and this is also a problem because the Bible is present but little used at a Beth Moore study. With her statement about having certain rights, and about claiming them, there are two issues.
First, we all come to the cross broken. It is what sin does to us. It is what others’ sins do to us. The Lord allows the effects of sin to pollute the world and even unsaved children, or mature Christians are affected by the pollution. We’re ALL broken. We ALL have ‘stuff.’ It is the reason we need Jesus. But the Bible is not a cure-all. It is not to be trotted out and read with an eye for how this verse or that verse is going to magically cure my emotional hurts. I have sympathy and sensitivity for people who have gone through stuff. I have gone through stuff. But the key phrase is “gone through.” I am not stuck in it and if I was I would not use the bible as the self-help book. I have the following attitude toward wallowing in personal hurts:
Now, to the eisegesis of another teaching of hers I’d mentioned from Hebrews called, “Don’t throw away your confidence”. I’ll show how pop psychology will often lead to an understanding of the text that is exactly opposite to its true meaning. She uses Hebrews 10, especially verse 19-20 as the source text, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. By a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,” and verse 36, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
Moore speaks then of how “we have let the enemy drain us of the confidence and competence we were given in Christ. These are the kinds of things that even when we are in our workplace and something has happened and something has tripped us up or we’re getting intimidated about a presentation we’re about to make, something that we’re about to do out front and it is really not our thing, these are verses you need to be saying to yourself.”
She worries for us that “perhaps you’ve been given somebody the power that only God should have over you and that is under cutting your confidence.” So the teaching is about you, your confidence, and someone else that is moving in on your goods. It is not about Jesus. Eisegesis vs exegesis. But people love her teaching because it’s always about us. To be truthful it’s always about her, but she relates so well to the audience that she makes it seem like it’s about us together, anyone with me on that? But it’s not about Jesus.
I was offended by that teaching, first because Moore seems always to think that women are walking emotional wounds, in need of biblical band aids in order to function. Then I was also offended in the extreme because the source text was NOT about having self-confidence. It was about having confidence in Jesus. The verse actually began with the writer’s use of “Therefore…” This is an exegetical clue. The point has already been made, and this sentence is the conclusion. For good exegesis we always look to the context, read what is prior to the verse and what is after the verse. Never pick just one verse and then make a popular doctrine of it. Because Moore did this, she got the teaching exactly backward.
The writer had been talking about the sacrifice Jesus made, and how His flesh was the veil that had been torn. The writer explained that without blood there is no remission of sin. Because Jesus did this, and because His sacrifice is perfect, we can have all confidence that our sins are forgiven, forever.
And she taught that the verse was having self-confidence when you walk into a meeting.
Having turned the Bible into stuff about us, she often tells the audience that we have rights. So to close with the opening, from “Your right to a sound mind”, she had said, “Every single one of us has the right, in Christ, to be a whole healthy, individual”. It was a claim not backed up by scripture. I’m not surprised, because it can’t be backed up by scripture. Scripture actually says the opposite.
Romans 12:1 says “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” If we sacrifice ourselves to God do we have claims later? Takes-backsies? No. The quid pro quo of faith and worship is that His mercy saved us, and in submitting to that mercy we recognize that He has full rights to us because He knows us and He has a plan for us. (Jer 29:11). Sometimes He tells us what the plan is and sometimes He doesn’t. Did He tell Jeremiah ahead of time that he’d minister and exhort 40 years without a single convert? And live friendless? And be thrown into a pit? Did Jeremiah shout from the pit ‘I have the right, in Christ, to be a whole healthy, individual! And to walk into my meeting with confidence!’ No.
In Beth Moore-land, Nebuchadnezzar was cheated out of his ‘right’ to a sound mind? In Daniel 3:26-30 the king was floored by God’s work with the three in the fiery furnace and proclaimed God as the One to worship. In Chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar’s pride returned and God made him go insane for 7 years. Beth Moore should look into this outrage. Or maybe the ACLU, his rights were denied.
Are we entitled to a sound body? No. Ask Paul. Paul was buffeted constantly, beaten up, stoned, flogged, left for dead. (2 Cor. 11:23-26). Each time the Lord healed Paul. But Paul did ask if the Lord would lighten satan up a bit on the harsh resistance, but the Lord said, no, My grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9) And being the slave to Christ that Paul was, he went off to another city to receive some more earthly beatings.
God has a plan and the sacrifice WE make is that we fling ourselves fully at the base of the cross and say “Abba! Father! Use me!” Did you know that we are slaves? Yes, slaves. Paul uses the word but it is often translated bond-servant, or diluted even further to servant. We’re slaves to Christ. Slaves have no rights. Our faith is based on the fact that God is perfect and will use us perfectly for His glory. We certainly don’t have rights and we definitely don’t make claims of God! Here is a great teaching on our slave-Master relationship from John Macarthur.
We’ve gone on a long journey now, from part 1 to part 6, from simple concerns about dignified teaching to proofs of how Mrs Moore twists scripture to the detriment of the honor and glory of God. Verve and energy she has, but underlying that stage frenzy is a lot of false teaching. And just at the time when we need solid teaching most…