By Elizabeth Prata
On Facebook recently I’d posted a mini-discernment lesson regarding a tweet a well-known self-described Bible teacher had written advocating a process for distilling whether a prompt from the Holy Spirit is legitimate or if it’s your own imagination.
Yes, the Spirit does convict us of sin, pricks our conscience as to moral decisions, but this isn’t that discussion.
If you don’t know, Beth Moore is a self-described ‘Bible teacher’. She has 753,000 followers on Twitter alone. Her comment on Twitter went to her hundreds of thousands followers and then beyond that. What opportunities social media allows for leaven to spoil the lump!
I wrote the following in response to her tweet:
Nothing in the Bible says what she said and teaches. What solid and credible Bible teachers do is teach their pupils to go externally and seek the source of all truth from the Word of God. Moore teaches women to go internally and rely on mystical warnings, feelings, and prompts. What Moore is actually teaching is the insufficiency of scripture and the sufficiency of ourselves to obey personal feelings.
If Moore was a true Bible teacher she would have written that we seek wisdom from the Bible and follow its commands. We do not rely on the timing of mystical feelings in order to make decisions. We don’t even have to wonder if it is our imagination if we read it in the Word of God. Here is what she should have written-
“Take caution not to override a command of the Lord in His word. Pray persistently in seeking the strength from the Lord you need to obey what is written. Mind the Lord and His statutes.”
Her own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, affirms and denies the following truths from the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy:
WE AFFIRM that the written Word in its entirety is revelation given by God.
WE DENY that the Bible is merely a witness to revelation, or only becomes revelation in encounter, or depends on the responses of men for its validity.
WE AFFIRM that God’s revelation within the Holy Scriptures was progressive.
WE DENY that later revelation, which may fulfill earlier revelation, ever corrects or contradicts it. We further deny that any normative revelation has been given since the completion of the New Testament writings.
I thought that it would be obvious that Moore is teaching something extra-biblical. Obvious.
I was wrong.
I received several comments, one of which asserted that I’d misunderstood the tweet. While it’s always possible I misinterpret an author’s intent within the confines of a 280 character tweet, in this case I’ve studied Moore’s work widely enough to know that I had not done that in this case. I also thought the tweet was plain enough in its assertion.
Another commenter tried to to convince me that there was room for direct revelation. She knows there’s room, she said, because though 99% of the time scripture is enough, sometimes God speaks “very clearly” to her and she knows it’s Him because what He says comes true according to her wishes and wants at the time.
If scripture isn’t sufficient 100% of the time, it is not sufficient at all. God is not speaking to anyone in any form, not in…
…because the Bible says that God has spoken through His Son, who is the Word. (Hebrews 1:2). And what is the Word? The Bible.
Peter said personal experience is never a proper validation of God’s authority, because the word is more sure. (2 Peter 1:19). I notice in these kind of discussions that people assert that it must be God is telling them stuff because what they wanted is coming true. However I notice it never seems to be the case that ‘the Lord told us very clearly one of us will die from cancer’, or ‘the Lord told us very clearly that we will never have children,’ or ‘the Lord told me that I should stop sinning via pornography.’ No, the direct leading of the Spirit people claim they receive are never that kind, the type that brings bad news against their wish list or commands the person to slay their besetting sin.
Worse, women who claim “He told me very clearly that…” means the woman is claiming prophet status – which elevates her to a position she does not have, because prophecies have ceased and no office of prophet now exists. Again, the Bible says God has spoken through His Son, the Word, which is the word as written in the pages of our Bible.
Moreover, it discourages other women who have not had the so-called experience of “hearing directly from God”. They begin to doubt their situations when they aren’t given such personal, clear commands.
One commenter did ask a good question, which formed the basis for this post. She asked, “Where does the Holy Spirit come into it?” Her question is a good one, but a sad one. An entire generation of women have been taught by the Beth Moores and Sarah Youngs and Joanna Gaines’ etc. that we should expect to be directly (or audibly) led by God in making career choices, moment by moment mothering decisions, or even where to go to buy your turkey for Thanksgiving, that they do not know what to be led by the Spirit actually means. So tomorrow will be the second half, a post on what it means to be led by the Spirit.