There was an actual woman Jesus condemned who was corrupting the church at Thyatira. However we know from the previous Bible examples that though there was an actual false prophetess corrupting the church at Thyatira, there will be again a type of false prophetess who corrupts the church.
Jesus’s letter regarding Thyatira was the longest of the seven. It enumerates a number of issues with that church, however I’ll focus on the teachings of the false prophetess who was corrupting the sheep.
This Thyatiran church was tolerating sin and idolatry (also sexual immorality). Worse, it was tolerating a woman teacher who was promoting idolatry and not only were they tolerating it, but she had risen to such a point of prominence so that Jesus called her “Jezebel” (who was a queen who led the people into idolatry and immorality). She was also prophesying in His name.
Now, it should be noted that this corruption was coming from a woman inside the church who was teaching the brethren, not from an outside influence. She was regarded as a sister in the faith. A prominent sister. So much so that she was given to teach and had gathered quite a few around her who were followers of her false teaching. The rest were tolerating it.
God wants a pure church. He wants Jesus to have a holy and virginal bride, and toleration of idolatry and false teaching is the opposite of that. This church at Thyatira was mightily besmirched.
However, to complicate matters, the verse in Rev. 2:19 says “as for your works, the last are more than the first.” They were loving, working and doing more that they had at the first. This makes it incredibly hard to separate the sinful idolatry from the loving works. They were not loveless, but they were tolerating sin, which would eventually eat them up. It did. By the second century there was no church at Thyatira any more. It had died. So obviously loving works alone are not enough to carry a church through. There must be solid doctrine and discerning elders properly addressing false doctrine.
In Thyatira, they were tolerating a false teaching and false propheying. They were accepting of a woman who had taken a place of leadership in teaching, she was preaching and prophesying which is forbidden to women in the church. The church congregation was tolerating these evils. Though the verse above calls them out for eating foods sacrificed to idols, nowadays, we do not sacrifice food to idols. However the notion there was of spiritual adultery, and spiritual adultery is certainly an issue today.
Can you think of one woman who perhaps fits the type that is described in the Letter to Thyatira?
Beth Moore, perhaps?
I think we can see that in Beth Moore’s fans, they exhibit what is called the idol worshiping excessive devotion to her that goes beyond a simple preference for one teacher over another. This is idolatry.
John MacArthur, in his sermon The Pathology of False Teachers, defines what false teaching IS: “It could be error about Christ, error about His lineage, error about His virgin birth. Someone who teaches contrary to the sinless perfection of Christ, contrary to His substitutionary atoning death on the cross, contrary to His resurrection, contrary to His miraculous life and works, His perfect teaching, His Second Coming, His high priestly ministry of intercession, His eternal reign, any of that. Anyone who teaches differently than that. It could be a denial of the authenticity of Scripture, the inspiration of Scripture, the authority of Scripture, the inerrancy of Scripture. It could be a denial of the work and ministry and person of the Holy Spirit as revealed on the pages of holy Scripture.”
In Mrs Moore’s case her falsity comes in her denial of the authority of Scripture by de facto writing her own. She also denies the authority of scripture by rebelling against it. She denies the sufficiency of Scripture by de facto claiming to write scripture herself. She also denies the sufficiency of scripture by teaching her own visions instead. If you are just reading for the first time that there are concerns with Mrs Moore’s teachings, please note that I have many examples of these concerns on the sidebar to your right. Other bloggers have also listed their concerns here, here, and here. I state unequivocally that through spirit-led study and discernment that my proposal is she is currently Christianity’s greatest counterfeit.
Her teaching denies the inspiration of Scripture, the authority of Scripture, the inerrancy of Scripture by inserting herself as another authority by reception of divine revelation outside the Bible. She has been subtle. However, her false teaching is rapidly becoming more bold. She says that she hears God personally telling her to do things or to teach things, this is a denial of the authority of scripture when you receive direct revelation and teach it as authoritative. She said recently she was lifted up to another dimension to see the church from Jesus’s perspective through Jesus’s eyes and returned to tell what she saw. This is prophetess. She says a book was delivered to her heart in toto by God with a force as compelled to put ink on paper. This is spirit writing, an idolatry that consorts with the devil. She says if she had not written her book that the rocks in her yard would have cried out, which is not only a claim that her writing is scripture, but is actually blasphemy. More here.
All false teachers gather to themselves followers who exhibit excessive devotion. These followers defend their favored teacher almost violently. Many call themselves a “Beth Moore groupie.” The word “groupie” is … a derisive term used to describe a particular kind of female fan assumed to be more interested in sex with rock stars than in their music.” In Mrs Moore’s case it is the emotional intimacy they seek, because Mrs Moore is a self-help guru using the Bible as a platform from which to read ourselves into the text for temporal help with astray emotions, rather than a sacred text to discern more about Jesus. In the groupie’s mind they seek more intimacy with the false teacher than with Jesus. Any person who has become the substitution of adoration aside from Jesus is worshiping an idol.
Many female fans are more interested in following this false teacher than the One whom they are supposed to be learning about. Like this lady who titled her blog entry “Confessions of a Beth Moore groupie“. Or this lady, who calls herself a BM groupie and says that if Mrs Moore is anywhere within driving distance, she goes to see her. Or this lady who made tank tops and took a photo of the self-admitted groupies in her group to send to the object of their adoration. Or this lady who calls herself a groupie and jokes that she amazingly strayed once from Mrs Moore to take a study under someone else (Priscilla Shirer, another false teacher). This lady calls herself not only a Beth Moore groupie, but a Beth Moore addict. I can go on with the myriad of ladies online who self-profess excessive devotion to a person who is not Jesus, but you get the idea.
The verse from 2 Timothy 4:3 applies best here: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears...” Let’s unpack this phrase by phrase.
First, these ladies do not want sound doctrine. They have already rejected it.
Second, they want to suit their own desires. There is nothing in the universe more powerful than satisfying our own fleshly desires. It got Eve, then Adam. 1 John 2:16 applies here: “For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.” It is one reason for the vehement defense of Mrs Moore and the violently verbal rejection of anyone sharing concerns about Mrs Moore.
Third, they ‘heap up teachers.’ This part of the verse always reminded me of a child at the beach, heaping up sand next to themselves, or a child at Christmas, heaping up toys.
Fourth, their ears itch. An itch MUST be satisfied. The Greek word for itch here is knéthó, itch, rub, tickle, or from a late word meaning ‘scrape.’ This brings to mind the extreme scene of itching Job experienced when he had boils, and used a pot sherd to scrape them. He didn’t care if his very skin was scraped off, he had to satisfy that tickle so badly, even if it hurt him. (Job 2:8).
It is not simply a difference of opinion in one Bible teacher over another. Where satan has successfully installed a false teacher who is drawing many away from sound doctrine, he will fight to the death to keep it that way. Here is a great short essay in Why Idolatry is so Attractive. If you read it, you will see why the ladies react the way they do, and why it is so hard to get a Beth Moore lover away from her teaching.
No, she does not call herself a prophetess, but she acts in the prophetess role when she says she received a word from God audibly, directly, or through a vision and was ‘told’ to go out and speak it to the people. Defenders of Mrs Moore pick at points such as the aforementioned, but in looking at false teachers and the type of false prophetess described in the letter to Thyatira, we look at what they do, not just at what they say. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck.
I have shared with you an interpretation specific to Thyatira of what Jesus warned, and of which we discern also will happen to the churches throughout the age. I applied an understanding of how Mrs Moore may be filling a type of role Jesus prophesied will occur. I ask you to ponder it, pray, and decide for yourself. I believe that Beth Moore is a type of false prophetess so deeply embedded in the body of the true church that her deep things of satan are corrupting it. That is my opinion, based on research, discernment, and prayer.
Meanwhile, Jesus said to those who do NOT hold to this false prophetess’s teaching, this or any false teaching, I remind us of Jesus’s words, “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come.”
Hold fast to the truth! He knows who does not fall to the deep things of satan, and has their reward in mind. One stays fast to the truth by continually studying the real thing, praying, and submitting to the Spirit’s generous leading into discernment. If you know the real thing, then you can spot the counterfeit. Watch out for popular false prophetesses, Thyatira, and hold fast, Jesus is coming!