It happened at the Women of Faith “Unwrap the Bible” Conference.
But first, some background.
This past February, just weeks ago, Beth Moore and four other women concluded the Unwrap The Bible event in Houston, and closed it with what the sponsor of the event, Women of Faith, called “A Commissioning”. (??)
“Unwrap the Bible” was touted as America’s largest bible conference, sponsored by “Women of Faith.” (WOF) It was held for two days at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church. In addition to five women who were to teach and preach their way through the weekend, WOF used clips from Catholic Mystic Roma Downey’s “The Bible” series to punctuate the biblical “truths” the lineup of teachers was to teach. Downey also promoted the conference prior to its inception. Christine Caine, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lisa Harper, and Sheila Walsh were the 5 scheduled bible teachers. Joel Osteen’s wife Victoria opened the conference with a prayer. Lisa Bevere was on hand too. Eleven-thousand women attended. Here is a photo of Lakewood Church with Beth on the jumbotron-
|Screen shot from WOF video|
At the very end of the conference, Beth Moore did not offer a benediction for the women, she did not sing a song for them, she did something peculiar. Very peculiar. She held a “commissioning”. At Moore’s insistence, telling women to grab the person next to them, and repeat after her, Moore led the 11,000 women in a ceremony whose likeness I can’t find anywhere in the bible.
At Moore’s command, the 11,000 women dutifully paired up, hugged up, listened and then spoke in unison in call-and-response style with Moore leading them in this “commissioning.” If you’ve never heard of a “commissioning” like this, I haven’t either, because it doesn’t exist. Moore has ripped the normal word from any biblical context and any known ceremony and has redefined it into something a seeker sensitive, New Age, pop psychology, comfy feminist would love. And love it they did.
|Screen shot from WOF video|
I am not making this up- the Women of Faith intended for the last segment of the conference to be called a “commissioning.” Here is the WOF title card for the video segment:
Here is the Women of Faith web page explanation about it.
“Women of Faith Commissioning“
Monday, March 17, 2014 By Beth Moore
At last month’s Unwrap the Bible event in Houston, Beth Moore wrapped up the weekend with a “commissioning.” She gathered major points from all the speakers’ messages and had the women in the audience speak them over each other. We loved it and thought you would, too.
I’m sorry, but I don’t love it. Not one word “spoken over the women” at the end of WOF Unwrap the Bible conference that Moore was “commissioning” was scripture. Not one. Many of the concepts in the ceremony were unbiblical, to boot.
How Moore introduced “the commissioning” to the women was:
“This is our way of sending you out with this truth embedded in the marrow of your bones.”
It was then that Moore told the women to grab a women next to them and repeat what Moore said to the women they’d grabbed. She would say a line, the 11,000 women would repeat it to the partner they’d grabbed, whether they knew the woman or not, not knowing whether the woman was even saved or not. That’s why there is a space for pauses after each phrase. Here is the transcript.
My dear Sister Be confident this great day That your God has chosen you He can make a miracle Out of your big mess He can stand you up straight And set your feet upon a rock No matter where you’ve been Or what you’ve done You are not dirty The power of the cross Has made you clean When you run out of what it takes Girlfriend, run to Jesus Let Jesus turn water into wine Never forget You have an enemy Hell-bent on destroying you But you have a Savior Who became earthbound to deliver you There is restoration and divine destiny for you Throw your arms wide open and receive in Jesus’ Name Rip off those expiration dates God’s promise to you will be fulfilled Quit just eavesdropping on God Start leaning in and believing what He says Impossible is where God starts! Your God is faithful He will do it Do NOT retreat in fear Now, girlfriend – get out there in that lost world And show them what a woman looks like When she unwraps her Bible
And thus, these women have now been “commissioned.” Did you notice the focus of the commissioning was on the women, and not the Lord? I did. In the bible, men are commissioned to go to the lost world and show Jesus to it by preaching His word. Beth Moore told 11,000 women to go to the lost world and show themselves to it.
But what exactly had happened at this commissioning? Was “the commissioning” at Unwrap the Bible an authoritative sacramental ceremony like baptism? Were they sacred vows like marriage? Was it an ordination ceremony? Unknown.
Was there a responsibility the women must now adopt because they’d uttered a creed and been “commissioned” by someone they consider a leader (and by some random women next to them)? It seemed so, because Moore said that she was “sending them out.” Therefore was it a Missionary Commissioning ceremony, akin to when Timothy had been laid hands on and sent out? (1 Timothy 4:14). Unknown.
Picture Moses standing before 11,000 Israelite women, raising his staff, and telling them, “Start leaning in and believing what He says. Now, girlfriend – get out there in that lost world”
I submit to you that there are two problems with this WOF Commissioning event, and both represent an incremental slide down on the slippery slope of apostasy.
Discerners and watchmen are attuned to the incremental steps away from foundational truth. Most Christians with other gifts are busy employing their other gifts, and don’t notice the slide until a great number of leaps have lurched us downward. But we notice each inch. This is one. So we warn.
The first issue is that while the SBC has been looking north, east, and south to protect doctrine against the inflow of homosexuality, transgenderism, and Calvinists, to the west, the feminists have crept in. I’ve mentioned before that Beth Moore is a neo-feminist. She has usurped the authority of her husband and her home and the church. She teaches and preaches in authority along with men. She is the President of a multi-million dollar corporation, while her husband is the Vice-President. She brought home the bacon while her kids were little, and her husband took care of them while she was frequently away. She says she was a stay-at-home mom, but she lived like a feminist.
Christine Caine is more forward. She plainly states that she believes women should have leadership roles. Caine and Moore, along with many others, are good examples of the curse of Genesis 3: her desire is for her husband and he shall rule over her. (Genesis 3:16) The struggle for women is to submit to Jesus in their God-given roles in life and most importantly, in the church. It has been an age-old struggle, and it has become a pitched battle in many false churches and also some Protestant denominations. These days, most have lost that battle and women have been ordained to serve in leadership roles formerly biblically reserved for men.
Well, the second problem that ties back into the first (ecclesiastical feminism) is that words mean things. They mean things. Any liberal in any realm in the battle for hearts and minds will first seek to change meanings of commonly understood words in order to co-opt the meaning and then to redefine them to their advantage. Example: sodomite—->homosexual—->gay. In the church world, we no longer sin. We make mistakes. We’re no longer Christian. We’re Christ followers.
As the writers said in an essay titled “Redefining Terms” said,
In the political world, terminology is no less important than in the world of the programmer. However, there has been a systematic effort to obfuscate and confuse terminology in order to usurp hitherto positive meanings and put them in the service of ideals which, in many cases, are opposite to the word’s original meaning.
Let’s contrast Moore’s commissioning above to a biblical one. Here is a commissioning service from the bible:
“So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and commission him in their sight. “You shall put some of your authority on him, in order that all the congregation of the sons of Israel may obey him.” (Numbers 27:19-20)
Here is another reference to a commission, Paul reminding Timothy of his commissioning ceremony:
Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. (1 Timothy 1:14)
Or this, when the church chose their first deacons:
And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. (Acts 6:5-6)
Commissioning means something. It’s serious. Someone in authority gives authority to the ones who have been selected for a particular service, their qualification is affirmed by the whole church, and they are ordained in the work through a ceremony. Ordination means something too. GotQuestions explains a commissioning, this recognition of a man set apart for pastoral ministry, deacon service, or missionary work,
When God calls and qualifies a man for the ministry, it will be apparent both to that man and to the rest of the church. The would-be minister will meet the qualifications set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1-16 and Titus 1:5-9, and he will possess a consuming desire to preach (1 Corinthians 9:16). It is the duty of the church elders, together with the congregation, to recognize and accept the calling. After that, a formal commissioning ceremony—an ordination service—is appropriate, though by no means mandatory. The ordination ceremony itself does not confer any special power; it simply gives public recognition to God’s choice of leadership.
Christian feminists have seen that to redefine ordination into a commissioning is one way to get women into leadership. Moore publicly recognized all those women in a commissioning in a worship service and accompanied the recognition by a spoken creed.
Many denominations have been muddying the two words, most notably when Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York
commissioned ordained a female deacon in his church service in 2009. This sparked a heated discussion of commissioning vs. ordination. Here are but two examples-
Tim Keller: The Case for Commissioning (Not Ordaining) Deaconesses
Tim Keller and Confusion Over “Commissioning” (Not Ordaining) Deaconesses
Ordain or commission, either way it is a method for women to adopt leadership roles they were not given by God. But redefining the term away from ordain into commission helps soften the blow.
Here’s where the two issues, redefining terms and Christian feminism intersect with Beth Moore and the conference commissioning.
A scan on Wikipedia of the list of women ordained in this century, shows The Lutheran Protestant Church started to ordain women as priests in 1947. In 1972 America’s first female rabbi was ordained by a rabbinical seminary. The next year, a Mennonite church in Illinois followed, ordaining a female pastor. A branch-off of the Latter Day Saints ordained a women in the late 1990s. Methodists ordain women. Seventh Day Adventists, Episcopalians, and Congregationalists have all been accepting of women in leadership roles. The Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland stated this year that the Catholic church must ordain women and allow priests to marry in order to survive. Whether false churches or true denominations, every flavor of the spectrum have fallen to the notion that women can and should be ordained to serve in leadership roles in the church. Except the Southern Baptist Convention.
In 2000 The Baptist Faith and Message was amended to state, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”
So far the SBC has been practically the only denomination of any kind, in any true religion or false, to withstand the onslaught of feminism that hearkens back to Genesis 3 and do not ordain women as pastors or deacons and rarely commission a woman alone for missionary work. Or have they? Does what they say match up with what they do? No.
Beth more preaches in pulpits substituting for men or alongside men, in authority during worship services. Here is Beth Moore with three ordained pastors, leading worship, her bible in hand.
|Moore leading worship at the pulpit during Passion Conference 2012.
Screen shot Youtube. L-R, Moore, & actual ordained pastors, Chan, Giglio, Piper
Chan is a graduate of John MacArthur’s Master’s Seminary, a biblically solid seminary. Giglio is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2011 Pastors Conference. Piper is a Reformed Baptist. All of them have been through training and serve in conservative churches and should know unequivocally that a woman cannot be a pastor, nor serve as a deacon, nor teach in authority over men during worship service. Yet there they are.
The SBC has not rebuked Moore for usurping authority in violation of the bible and their own declared creed. People, it’s always important to see if what they say and what they do match up.
The authors of the Redefining Terms essay said of changing word definitions in the political world,
This is not an academic exercise in semantics. This is about truth, and about a threat as real as any terrorist attack and more immediate because it is covert.
It is exactly the same in the church world. Beth Moore’s ‘Commissioning’ at the end of Unwrap the Bible was not a small thing. She endowed women with a commission, and sent them out. The very act of leading a commissioning ceremony imbues Moore with a tacit authority to do such a thing in the first place. But from where does she receive her authority to commission men and women in the first place? (and yes, there were men in the audience). There was not a pastor with her on the stage. Just Moore, giving a responsibility to 11,000 women, co-opting a term that the rest of the church has understood for millennia, and trivializing it. Trivialize how, you ask?
First, because all commissioning ceremonies in the bible and in solidly doctrinal churches in the centuries since, depend on the Holy Spirit’s selection of individuals for the particular kind of service to Jesus (pastoral, deacon, or missionary). That’s what commissioning services are, a public recognition. The entire congregation recognizes it, and participates in prayer and/or laying on of hands. The men selected for whatever service they are commissioned for (pastor, deacon, missionary), are uniformly recognized as saved, Holy Spirit-selected, and qualified.
Yet Moore told 11,000 women and men to willy-nilly speak words to the person next to them that they might not even know, such as this- “Be confident this great day That your God has chosen you”. How utterly foolish to say to an unknown, random person that they can be sure God has chosen them! Moore urged women to say “Throw your arms wide open and receive in Jesus’ Name”. Jesus is not a genie and His name is not magic! And receive what, exactly? If they are saved they have already received, if they are not saved, they need to repent first!
And what if I don’t throw my arms open, will I still “receive”? What if the lady next to me I’m parroting this to is not saved? Will she “receive”? And how completely meaningless to say “Rip off those expiration dates Quit just eavesdropping on God”
From the majesty of the commissioning of Numbers 27, to the beauty and authority of this commissioning from Moses to Joshua,
“Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 31:7)
We have Moore who has NO authority telling a bunch of women that they’re chosen by God to quit eavesdropping and not be dirty and to then she sent them out and…what. To do what? The commissioning was absent any notion of service. But it was filled with self-esteem. So these women left the conference feeling like they’ve been given some authority to do something. They’ve been sent- to show themselves.
It’s just trivial and sinful and ugly. The entire Commissioning was a terrible display of what happens when a woman like Moore who has thoroughly usurped authority at home and has been allowed by her denomination to usurp church authority for 20 years. This commissioning fad will infiltrate the SBC and before you know it undiscerning local Baptist churches will be “commissioning” women into leadership roles. Soon after that, they’ll be ordaining them. You’ll see.
May the Lord return before too many more undiscerning women fall into Moore’s snare, and before too many good churches slide one more incremental step away from healthy doctrine into the pit of feminism. The Baptist churches have been so busy holding back the tide of homosexuality they forgot to look out for their wives, and sure enough, their desire is for their husbands and the struggle for power has at long last come to the last bastion of conservative church polity.
It’s my job to tell you, and now I have.
For Further Reading:
Christian feminists like Beth Moore are redefining biblical womanhood