Posted in discernment, theology

Beth Moore’s spiritual biography

By Elizabeth Prata

Yesterday I wrote an essay posing the question, ‘Has Beth Moore drifted, or was she always false?‘ In researching for that essay I came across some interesting items that helped me formulate the origins of her theology. I promised to write a follow-up essay noting these items, a spiritual biography, as it were. This is that essay. It’s long, as a biography should be. It is made long also because I used much scripture.

Beth Moore has had a long career writing and teaching Bible studies, speaking, traveling, and preaching. At age 63 as of this writing, she is slowing down with the traveling a bit but her popularity remains and her influence still reaches out globally. She is one of LifeWay’s most favored and money-making writers. As Annette Ard who works for Lifeway stated in 2018, “No one’s products provide as much revenue as Beth Moore’s.”

Since Moore is still influential, and her written material, spoken material (including her TV show on TBN) and her preaching are still reaching thousands and millions of people, I remain persistently engaged in warning women about Beth Moore’s false gospel, her false teaching, and her unbiblical example.

Moore Loves Stories

Wanda Elizabeth Green was born in Green Bay WI in 1957. There are five Green siblings. One of her brothers is named Tony Green and one of her sisters is Gay Tuttle. She was raised in Arkadelphia Arkansas. When she was six years old, her father began managing a movie theater. Moore has said in interviews that she has always been entranced by stories and narratives, and after she finished helping her dad at the concession stand, she would go into the darkened theater to delight in, transfixed even, by the stories on screen. It was the cinema that sparked her interest in searching for God. Moore says that she sat bug-eyed, wide-eyed, by the stories the films would tell.

The family attended Arkadelphia First Baptist Church. Beth Moore tweeted on Aug 18, 2018

moore arkadelphia church

Had a blast at Hot Springs LPL! Now I am…well…I’m HOME. 1st pic is 1st Baptist Church Arkadelphia. My entire upbringing was spent in & out of this church multiple times a week. Sunday school/worship service AM&PM/choir/handbells/Wednesday night supper/Missions. Saved my life

Church life was important to Moore. As a child she wondered about Jesus. She said,

My Sunday-school teacher would hold up pictures of Jesus, and he looked so nice. I needed a hero, and Jesus seemed like one. I’d lie on the grass, stare up at the sky, and wonder what Jesus was like. Even as a child, I fell in love with him.

Her childish (and errant) view of Jesus as a hero to be in love with has never changed. Baylor University Ph.D Professor of Religion Elizabeth Flowers was researching book on women in the pulpit, and attended Beth Moore Living Proof Live event. She summarized Moore’s adult view of Jesus-

Moore depicted Jesus as a woman’s best friend and ideal companion. In his role as Savior, Jesus was a knight in shining armor, ready to rescue her from sorrow, disappointment, and suffering. … At the close Moore called the women forward to dedicate their lives to a Christ who functioned like an ideal husband and lover, a gentle but manly presence who could sweep each of them into his strong embrace. Source- Into the Pulpit: Southern Baptist Women and Power Since WWII by Elizabeth H. Flowers


Jesus as “Hero” – Moore’s Home Life as a child

One reason Moore needed a hero to save her from disappointment and depression, was likely due to the disarray of her home life. Siblings Tony and Gay as well as Beth report a difficult childhood. Their lives were impacted by molestation, abuse, lack of boundaries, and neglect. As teens they gave themselves up to alcohol, rebellion, and other persistent sins. Moore characterizes her home life as “troubled”, with “family problems … a mix of the good, bad and the ugly”.

Moore has been open about the fact that as a child under her parents’ roof, she was molested consistently “very young“, but refuses to name her molester. She has written, “Five minutes of stunningly selfish sexual pleasure can cost a victim a lifetime of suffering”.

Moore’s conversion – “before age 6”

So picture a child being raised in a broken and perverted home, with troubled older siblings and an omnipresent feeling of neglect and unsafety, and is weekly told stories of a Jesus who will love her and save her. It is this child who “committed” to Christ and “gave her life to Christ” before age 6.

I have not seen the words repent or sin in Moore’s few recountings of her conversion. Child conversions may be genuine, but are rare. Any young child who wants to be forever friends with Jesus, or ask Jesus into their heart, or go to heaven, or whatever the lingo is, should be treated respectfully but carefully. Beth Moore was 4 or 5 years old when she says she committed to Christ. Do children that young have an understanding of sin? Of their need for repentance? Of propitiation, atonement, wrath? Of the true nature of eternity and our position before a holy God? They still believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.

When Moore was growing up and several decades after, Baptist churches were rife with cultural Christianity and walking an aisle to “receive Christ” was a weekly occurrence. Justin Peters is so concerned with the genuineness of baptized children and their professions of faith, wrote a book called Do Not Hinder Them: A Biblical Examination of Childhood Conversion. In it, he writes,

It seems in practically every area of life, we have no trouble understanding that there is a sizeable gap between children and adults in their reasoning abilities, maturity levels, and responsibilities – except when it comes to the Gospel. In the vast majority of evangelical churches, as long as a child makes intellectual assent to basic Gospel truths and answers a few basic questions in the affirmative, he or she is deemed ready to be baptized. ~Justin Peters, Do Not Hinder Them

Yet the nature of salvation demands more than intellectual assent, a cultural cooperation, or a response to peer pressure.

When one looks at the language of salvation in the New Testament, it is rather adult sounding language, is it not? ~Justin Peters, Do Not Hinder Them

Peters notes that believers are described as soldiers, slaves, and betrothed. None of these typologies fit a 4 year old. John the Baptist preached, Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3:8). As a 6-year-old, 7, 8, 12, 17 year old, did Beth bear fruit in keeping with her repentance? No.

Moore’s life between ‘conversion’ and adulthood

Moore moved to Houston as a teen. She attended churches as usual. She wanted to serve in a calling but wasn’t sure what it was or how to begin.  She never really felt the Spirit or pursued a holy life, in fact, she pursued sin. In her own words, Moore says,

Even though I committed my life to Christ as a child, as a young woman I lived the Christian life through my own determination. I was a very unhealthy person who made lots of destructive choices.

Around age 17 Moore was serving as a camp counselor with 6th graders when she described the experience of finally feeling the Spirit.-

Early one morning when the girls were still asleep, Beth says, the presence of the Holy Spirit surrounded her. “I felt His presence on my skin. I did not hear a voice, but I knew what was being said into my spirit, and it was: ‘You are Mine. I have called you.’ ” (Source)

Moore explains the experience much the same way in another interview,

Early one morning, as the girls were sleeping, I sensed God’s presence enfold me. There were no audible words, no bright lights. But suddenly I knew, without a doubt, my future was entirely His. “You are now mine,” He told me. It took me a long time to break free from self-destruction. (Source)

It was then that Moore “abandoned herself fully to His call”. (Source)

A Young Adult

Beth Moore attended college at Southwest Texas State University, where she pledged and was initiated into Chi Omega. She graduated with a BA in Political Science. At college she was named sorority president, All-Campus Favorite, and included in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities. (Source- Things Pondered: From the Heart of a Lesser Woman, By Beth Moore, p 85)

There isn’t much in the way of primary material to cover Moore’s college years. Moore has admitted to being very sinful, and explained in this interview of one pastor who knew of her sinful past, and refused to allow her a membership in a woman’s group. (Source).

At first, that may seem like a harsh response to her request for membership. But it was the right response. The Bible says that the person who claims Christ but acts like a pagan must be dealt with in certain ways. A person who claims Christ but continually pursues sin, or fails to bear fruit, is not a Christian. In fact, that person is to be disciplined-

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. (1 Corinthians 5:11).

you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:5). Meaning, put that sexually immoral one out of the church (if they refuse to repent.)

There is this story from one woman who related an early encounter with the bubbly blonde Sorority President Beth Green (Moore), who admits to being a destructive sinner herself for many years,

When I was in college, I attended a Campus Crusade meeting. Though I was raised in the church, I wasn’t living a Christian life. I wanted to get right with Christ.

I went alone. The meeting was almost 100 percent fraternity and sorority members. Hair, clothing, and makeup in the 1970s, well, Greek life had a very high standard.

Unfortunately, I showed up in a T-shirt, old jeans and flip flops. But I was earnestly trying to find God. I desperately needed a lifeline.

After the speaker, they told newcomers who wanted to know more about following Christ, to go to one of the four corners of the room; there, Crusade members would talk and pray with them.

So, I did it. I found the corner with the most girls and headed to it.There were three sorority sisters, all blond and decked out, waiting for me.

The taller of the three asked how she could help me. I explained that I was struggling with sin and that I wanted to get my life right with Christ. She nodded and demonstrated active listening. She took out a piece of paper and drew the classic Campus Crusade “God on the Throne” diagram. “You’re here, she pointed to the paper as if I was a preschooler. “God needs to be here,” she went on to explain.

I told her I was a backslider and wanted to get back on track. Surprisingly, she just went over the diagram with me again.

Finally, she took my hands in hers and I thought we were going to pray. I bowed my head and closed my eyes. She said, “Darlin’, look at me…” I lifted my head and looked into her eyes. “I just don’t think we’re the group for you. You’re not in a sorority, are you.” (Not a question; more of statement). I nodded my head no. “I think you might be better suited for one of the other campus groups.”

I left the meeting heartbroken. No one prayed for me. No one asked me to join them. No one offered me a helping hand.

Crying, I walked back to the dorm. I felt rejected by both the group and by God. I don’t understand how things work, but that night I went back to my room and got stoned with my friends. For the next two years I lived in total darkness and sin. Broken. Confused. In bondage.

Praise God that two years later, without any understanding of how or why, God grabbed me, filled me with the Holy Spirit, and Jesus declared to me, “You are clean.” And I haven’t looked back since. But my oh my, I would’ve loved to skip those two horrible years.

Why is this important? The university was Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos. The young woman who drew the diagram was the president of the Chi Omegas. Her name was Beth Green. You know her as Beth Moore.

I use this to illustrate that we’ve all said and done things that were rotten. Fortunately, no one broadcasts our errors for the world to see. I’m sure Beth Moore has no recollection of that event, but for me it was a life-changer–and not in a good way. She was snobby and she was demeaning. And she was doing it in the name of ministry. (Source)

moore graduate
Beth Green, class of ’82. TX State photo

Moore married her husband Keith “ignominiously” at age 21, the same year she graduated from TX State, in an “off-white dress so as not to be a total fraud”, having broken her engagement with her fiancee and Keith having broken his near engagement to another woman. Their “pure chemistry” was so strong that Moore claims that “we did not remotely ignore nor resist one another.” (Source).

This was the woman rejecting a tortured soul in need of counsel, a tear-stained fellow student ready to repent? A woman living much the same kind of life, just hiding it better? Hypocrisy now enters Moore’s faith.

Neither family was happy with the marriage, not the Catholic side, of which Keith is, nor the Baptist side which Moore’s family is.

Her marriage itself is unbiblical. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

Career Beginnings

Soon after, Moore started serving at Houston First Baptist Church. In the early 1980s she began with teaching children in a Mother’s Day Out program. She also led a Christian aerobics class starting in 1984. It was an outreach to the community. She began teaching Sunday School classes in 1984, also.

Pastor of Houston First Baptist John Bisagno arrived at Houston First Baptist in 1970 and remained as its pastor for the next 30 years. Moore was a young married woman serving dutifully at the church in several capacities. At Pastor Bisagno’s memorial service, she recounts the time when the Pastor called her for an appointment to his office to speak with her about something.

Moore said she was a very young woman at the time. The pastor told her he wanted her to speak to the church at a Sunday night service. Moore was confused with the request, saying that, “I cannot do that, I’m a woman, I have to be a woman under authority.” The Pastor drew himself up in his chair and said “Beth? Do I not look like and authority figure to you?”

moore blurb on john bisagno 2018
Moore on screen at John Bisagno’s Memorial Service, 2018

Moore concluded her reminiscence by saying, … “I’ve been told so many times there is no way you’d have that kind of favor from any other church that size in this nation like you have with John Bisagno,” Moore said. (Source1:03:57-1:05:42).

It is not up to a pastor to usurp himself above the authority of the true head of the Church, by negating the clear scripture that denies a woman the ecclesiastical authority to teach men or be an authority in the church. (1 Timothy 2:12.)

So we can see that Beth Moore’s career did not recently include preaching to men from pulpits, but started back in the early 1980s under the tragic guidance of her pastor. Moore’s correct understanding of a woman’s place in the church was sadly ‘corrected’ by her own pastor. In fact, [underline mine]

“During Bisagno’s 30-year tenure at Houston’s First beginning in 1970, the congregation grew from fewer than 400 to 22,000 members, Baptist Press reported in 1999. During that period, the church also baptized 15,000 people, gave $250 million to missions, relocated from downtown to its current location in west Houston and helped launch the Bible teaching ministry of Beth Moore….

“Bro. John empowered women in ministry,” Lewis wrote in a Facebook post. “Beth Moore, Jaye Martin and I were allowed and encouraged to pursue the calling God had on our lives. He was our greatest encourager and friend. His influence will be felt for centuries.” (Source)

It is no wonder that soon after when men began to flood Moore’s Sunday School class, she did not discourage them.

Being a woman called to leadership within and simultaneously beyond those walls [of an SBC church] was complicated to say the least but I worked within the system. After all, I had no personal aspirations to preach nor was it my aim to teach men. If men showed up in my class, I did not throw them out. I taught. Beth Moore, Letter to My Brothers

moore transformation church
Preaching Transformation Church Sunday service, 2019

This kind of path was just Moore’s ticket. It suited her ambitious spirit just fine, because as reported in The Atlantic, publicly she was careful,

“embodying what a young fan described to me as the ‘Southern-belle white Christian woman.’ Privately, however, Moore has never cared much for the delicate norms of Christian femininity.” (Source).

She knew the scriptures, but she decided that it suited her to reject the scriptures where it was convenient, especially because she ‘never cared for’ the womanly roles Christ has delineated.

At this point, her teaching was obviously becoming more permanent. The maternity leave substitute teaching position lasted the better part of a year. With speaking engagements now being requested of her, Moore decided that she needed tutelage and attended a doctrine class offered at her church. She had been flying by the seat of her pants with the lessons, thinking up a topic on Saturday night and finding verses to match, admitting, “you know what, we weren’t really studying the scriptures.”

Yet Beth Moore still teaches using that same method to this day. She cobbles together scattered verses to match a topic that the Holy Spirit directly reveals to her.

Moore knowingly violates the scripture that says of believers, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Moore admitted was sure she would be bored to tears in the doctrine class, she said, only when she saw the emotional response of the teacher while he was teaching it, she then became interested.

He taught us with such a passion that tears filled his eyes. I couldn’t take a single note. When it was over, I ran to my car and burst into tears. I don’t know what that was, I told God, but I want it. That night God lit a fire in my heart for his Word that continues burning to this day. The Lord responded instantly to her prayer. “It’s like the Lord took a match and struck it across a stone and stuck it in my heart, and a love affair started,” Beth says. This supernatural encounter “was the beginning of health for me,” Beth says. Source

She wanted the passion, more than the Christ.

Living Proof Ministries was founded in 1994 with herself as President and her husband as VP. In 1995, Lifeway published her first Bible study, with a foreword by Pastor John Bisagno. Incidentally,

A little known fact is Beth Moore’s first manuscript was turned down by LifeWay, then the Baptist Sunday School Board. Fortunately, saner heads prevailed. Lee Sizemore, then a video producer at the Baptist Sunday School Board made a trip to Texas to hear this young, vivacious Bible study teacher at Houston’s First Baptist Church. The decision was made to ask for the manuscript back. (source)

Did you catch that? On its merits, the manuscript was rejected. It was only after seeing Beth Moore teach live that Lifeway reconsidered.

In 2002 she began her online/video study courses, and in 2003 began the simulcasts. In 2010 she was on the cover of Chritianity Today in a lengthy article, and in 2018 was featured in a lengthy article in The Atlantic.

Lifeway reports in 2020, Moore Living Proof Live events occurred in 11 cities and combined with simulcast events included 242 churches and 42,000 participants. A Living Proof cruise set for this October was canceled but rescheduled for next October. Moore is still popular.

Conclusions: An experiential life professing Christ- but does she posses Him? I say no.

Exhibit #1: Beth Moore as a 4 or 5-year-old “committed to Christ”. Does a 4-year-old commit to anything for more than five minutes? Her testimony, when I’ve found it publicly, is absent words that should be included in a conversion story, words such as wrath, righteousness, judgment, resurrection (Romans 10:9) etc. Incidentally, the Living Proof page also presents an extremely watered down Gospel and gives ‘three steps’ in a ‘how to become a Christian’.

Cognitively, children by twice Moore’s claimed conversion age, 9 years old, are expected to have attained the following cognitive milestones

–Know that objects have uses and can be classified into different categories. For example, they recognize that a carrot is something to eat and is a type of vegetable.

–Can read and understand longer sentences up to 12 words.

–Can add and subtract 2-digit numbers, understand fractions, and are learning how to borrow and carry values.

–Can accomplish increasingly more complex tasks and projects in school, such as book reports.

–etc.

Can a young child make a careful assessment of his sinful state, know the weight of an eternal judgment, and look to Christ in repentance and submission?

We must be careful in accepting child statements of conversion. I recommend the Justin Peters Book mentioned above.

Exhibit #2: After claiming before age 6 to commit her life to Christ, Moore spends the next years as a carnal sinner, living rebelliously and destructively. There was no evident change in her life. There was no fruit and nothing to indicate a genuine conversion had occurred.

Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3:8).

The notion that one can be justified, deemed righteous, holy, and acceptable to the Lord, while still remain for decades in active rebellion against Him, only submitting later, is alien to the Bible.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11).

but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

There is no such thing as a carnal Christian, it’s heresy and it is to be rejected, as RC Sproul explains in this 1 minute clip.

That we must believe that the Holy Spirit comes in and nothing changes in the person, and years later a second stage occurs where the lordship of the Messiah is introduced along with His throne, is a “great and ghastly error,” Sproul said.

Yet not only Beth Moore lived that way, but also her brother Tony Moore explicitly claims that it was the case with him- “Even though Tony had been a Christ-follower for 14 years, he said he has only been surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ this last year.” (Source).

And Moore’s sister Gay Tuttle claimed the same in a 6-part series she wrote for Beth’s blog. It is a shame that three of the Green children were taught or believed so wrongly.

Exhibit #3: Moore’s adopting of her life-long fascination with experiential theology occurred early. She sought it and eventually she got it.

“I was not about to let somebody convince me that Scripture and experience were always mutually exclusive. I wanted them both. I wanted to thrill to the Word of God with everything in me AND I wanted to experience the presence of Christ as palpably as He’d permit me.” (Source)

It kicked in as a teenager when she recounted that camp counselor experience she’d had in bed in the early morning with a skin-tingling something-or-other enveloped her. It was only then, that this supernatural encounter “was the beginning of health for me,” (Source). When she saw the passion her doctrine teacher exhibited she pleaded with the Lord to give her that passion, she was entranced by the emotion, not in Christ himself.

Moore’s recounting of the feeling of the Spirit on her skin and Him revealing Himself in direct quoted words is not only creepy, not only concerning, but suspect in the extreme.

I believe that in looking at the spiritual milestones of Beth Moore’s life, her fruit, and her statements, she is not a Christian.

That is not to say I don’t feel any empathy for Beth Moore. I do. Her molestation as a child is devastating to even think about, never mind endure. I feel for her. Her loss of the feeling of safety and security in a family is something that I can identify with and I know you never really get over it. Her father failed her. Her pastor failed her. Her husband disappoints her. Her years of destructive sinning, broken engagement, rocky marriage are also very painful, I’m sure. She said in a blog recently that her husband doesn’t read her books.

Please avoid Beth Moore. She has nothing to say to us believers, nothing to add to the faith. Nothing. The longevity of her career is not an indicator of genuine wisdom. She is simply a successful, ambitious, gifted woman who, unless she converts, will spend an eternity in judgment and hellish punishment for her deeds.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-3)

Author:

Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

3 thoughts on “Beth Moore’s spiritual biography

  1. Thank you for your careful analysis.

    On a personal note, my own spiritual walk sounds eerily similar to Moore’s, the only difference is that indirectly via brain surgery (1999) my religious experiences and feelings ceased almost immediately. Whether my walk without God (2002-2006) was due to extreme backsliding or proving I was a false convert I still am not sure.
    What I do know though is that when I heard a street evangelist (November 2006) it made me think, then re-investigate, and then actually decide – minus feelings – to believe in Jesus Christ.

    I fear that if Beth Moore for whatever reasons lost feelings towards Jesus, she would eventually reveal that she had little to no faith like I did. I really hope I am wrong, because if she turned from Jesus when He no longer was real to her she could take many of her followers with her into unbelief.

    Like

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