Did you know that for men who desire to teach, pastor, or lead, there are many more Biblical standards addressing their behavior than there are skill-level credentials? There’s just one mentioned skill: Men must be “able to teach”. But there are many more verses outlining how they are to behave. If they fail to adhere to any of the standards, including behavioral, they are disqualified from the position.
It’s the same for women. There are many more behavior and lifestyle standards than skills. If God were grading on a curve, behavior would weigh more than skills or talents. Here some of them are in Titus 2:3-5. The passage opens with admonishment for women to be reverent and ends with warnings that failure to be reverent will dishonor God’s word.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
I think we all understand what it means to be reverent, not a malicious gossip, and not a drunk. What does sensible mean in this context? It is to be self-controlled and of sound mind. Mark that, I’ll come back to it. What does it mean to “dishonor” God’s word? The Greek here is blasphēmētai 987: “to slander, hence to speak lightly or profanely of sacred things.” It is to be irreverent.
Now that we know what God expects, let’s take a look at who fails the test, and why.
Celebrity ‘Bible teacher’ Beth Moore has identified herself with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) since her earliest church-going days. She has had the support of Lifeway Books, an arm of the Convention, which has paid for half of her private jet travel to venues, including Australia, published her books, and organized her Living Proof events. She has been partnered at events with the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Commission president Russell Moore. She has been a member of SBC churches in the past (but not lately).
But all that is over, as today Beth Moore announced her split from the SBC and her departure from the Convention. This announcement is in-name-only, since she hasn’t adhered to the SBC’s Baptist Faith & Message for thirty years, and hasn’t been a member of any SBC church for a while. Her announcement today only confirms what we have known all along, she is leaving the SBC because she no longer identifies with its core beliefs. More on that in a moment.
Answer: Beth Moore is a false teacher. She has always been false.
Who is Beth Moore?
Beth Moore is a Bible teacher based out of Houston. She is married with two grown children, and is a grandmother. Her company is called Living Proof Ministries, a tax-exempt corporation founded in November of 1995. She has written numerous Bible studies and one novel. Moore has a television program on the TBN channel, and also travels around the country teaching at Living Proof Live (LPL) weekends, two-day sessions that fill arenas with enthusiastic women. These LPL attendees are a unique crowd in that some are groupies who follow her from city to city. Others who don’t physically follow Moore from venue to venue but follow her online and her teachings, are fervent in their embracing not only of what Moore teaches but her entire persona. If Moore is critiqued negatively in any way, her followers defend her madly. Continue reading “Has Beth Moore only recently drifted, or has she always been false?”→
The introduction will be a bit long. This is for two reasons. In case the reader is not familiar with the movement of IF:Gathering, and also for the reason I’ll state in the conclusion.
Jennie Allen, founder of IF:Gathering, and Beth Moore, founder of Living Proof Ministries, recently sat together in Jennie’s living room and recorded their conversation about Jesus, trials, and living out their passion for God. Jennie assured viewers at the opening of the video the in-person sit-down occurred prior to the mandated stay-at-home quarantine. The one-hour discussion was posted at the IF:Gathering’s niche inside the RightNow media host of streaming Bible studies.
IF:Gathering is a digital para-church ‘discipling’ movement founded by Jennie Allen in 2014 after she heard, in her words, “a voice from the sky” that instructed her to “gather and equip this generation.” The first conference was held in 2014.
That initial conference was touted mainly on digital media with a vague motto, “If God is real, then what?” with no speakers announced. Interest was sparked on Christian blogs, other social media, and word of mouth. This digital approach worked- the initial conference sold out in 42 minutes, surprising organizers, so digital-savvy founders quickly set up local watch parties across the U.S. and 22 other countries to allow for participation via simulcast.
Reportedly, over 40,000 people watched and 1200 attended in person, and the hashtag #IFGathering trended to the top on Twitter. Initial speakers of this below-the-radar movement busy gathering and equipping your women were Allen, of course, Ann Voskamp, Christine Caine, Shelley Giglio and Jen Hatmaker. Original advisers to Allen and other leaders in the of the corporation were Christine Caine, Shelley Giglio, and Debbie Eaton- all women.
Six years later, the corporation is a 501(c)3 non-profit with recent revenues standing at 3.6 million dollars (but net assets of half a million). Their stated goal for the annual conference held in Austin at that time, was, “If Austin: a two-day gathering that brought thousands of women together in Austin and at local gatherings across the globe. The gathering is a fresh, deep, honest space for a new generation of women to wrestle with the essential question: if God is real… Then what?” and for the rest of the year, “If Equip: a holistic, strategic, deep way to connect online with a like-hearted community and relevant resources. We hope to prepare women around the world to know God more deeply and to live out their purposes by sharing comments and feelings about daily passages posted online”.
Thus, If Equip is centered around local gatherings studying IF-written devotionals and discussing their feelings about the verses outside of the church and apart from pastoral oversight.
The movement is ecumenical, not mentioning any particular denominations specifically but stressing that women “from different traditions” or “different camps” are welcome “for the sake of unity.”
Jennie opened the Webinar conversation by relating a story of her earliest memory of meeting Beth Moore. It was early days, Jennie said, she was in college and Beth had just started. She said she wept hard during Moore’s talk to about 300 women, because she connected with the passion and love for Jesus that Moore displayed. Allen said it was a relief to meet someone who felt the same way about Jesus that she did. As that long-ago event concluded, Allen approached Moore and stated that she felt about ministry like Moore does. Moore put her hands on both Jennie’s shoulders and proclaimed, “I affirm that calling of God in your life. Now go and learn your Bible.”
The webinar conversation published this week began with Moore talking of the importance of fulfilling one’s gifting to communicate, if that is the gifting, but on a larger scale for women to find traction in their walk of faith. “Fulfilling that place that God has for them. I believe with all my heart Jennie that we really get into the momentary that seasonal place God wants us to be,” Moore said.
Jennie shared that she worries that the generation coming up has made an idol out of their phones and digital life. (?! A startling admission from the founder of a movement whose promotion and existence is almost entirely digital.)
Jennie asked Moore how do we do ministry well. Moore answered that “it’s much more compelling that it’s harder than ever. That we have taken out everything so seeker friendly, fun, and comfortable, that we have taken out everything that is compelling. Are we ready to come forward and die? What is worth it to them to give everything?”
Jennie affirmed that the enemy is ‘getting us’ through distraction, numbness, and comfort. That said, how does Moore choose to follow Jesus in a better way and not get distracted? (and not too comfortable was tacitly hanging in the air). Moore said that it’s Jesus Himself that is the reason she is ‘still in it.’ She is still extremely interested in Him and is still extremely compelled by him, and mesmerized by him, and that is the reason she is still ‘willing to take the risk.’ In this numb, drunken sloppy culture that’s lulling us into self fulfillment Moore said, she is still willing to lose herself to find herself, to do the opposite of what the culture and even the Christian culture is asking us to do.
Moore stated the obvious, that women in other cultures might not have what we have, noting that they were sitting on a couch and many other women don’t even have that. “We’re not suggesting we don’t have those things, but…” and continued.
I’d like to insert here, in the discussion about ministry v. comfort, that Moore owns 4 homes, one is a ranch in Menard TX, and another more than a three-quarters of a million dollar home on a rare double waterfront lot on Galveston Bay, complete with private dock and a boat. She flies private jet to venues, a perk for which Lifeway pays half and her own ministry pays the other half. Moore’s salary is a quarter of a million dollars. She is more than comfortable. Allen herself is a successful multi-book author and is at this moment on a book tour for her latest book. Also, please don’t forget that last year Moore was asked a very simple question, whether she believes homosexuality is a sin, and Moore refused to answer. This in my opinion contradicts her statement that Moore is willing to be counter-cultural and take a risk in ministry.
Jennie asked Moore about finishing well after “so many years” in the ministry. Moore said, and I’m quoting,
“I’ve told Him, I said if you give me presence of mind in my last moments, I want to see my, in this order, my grandkids, then I want to be with my daughters, then I’d like to be with my husband, then let me have 30 seconds where I’m aware before I go home, and let me be able to say to Him, ‘I’ve had the biggest blast with you. In the midst of so much crap, yeah, I’ve had this insane adventure with him.”
Jennie asked about retiring. Moore’s reply was that she wanted to do what Jesus asks her to do, whether public or private, and if it’s private she is ready for that. But she also said she does not want to succumb to a failure due to spiritual warfare.
Their conversation ranged from there to the dark night of the soul, in which Jennie shared that she is deathly afraid of the dark and shared that she had an 18-months season of doubt so severe she thought she would lose her faith completely. They spoke of persevering, fame, impact in ministry, promoted each of their new books, fruitfulness, and generally continued in this manner with Allen asking and Moore answering, for the rest of the hour.
The conversation was genteel and wide-ranging. Allen asked Moore questions of ministry and Christian life, and remained quiet, allowing Moore to answer expansively. For this reason, I noticed that Moore’s answers were more disorganized than usual. She answered in circular fashion, interrupting herself, inserting parenthetical comments, and occasionally even losing her train of thought. I also noticed that Moore’s answers were vague than ever. It seemed like she was being extraordinary careful with her answers. As casual as the conversation was, Moore was picking and choosing the most high-emotion but most drained of meaning words she could. Here is one example. It does not make sense,
“I believe with all my heart Jennie that we really get into the momentary that seasonal place God wants us to be.”
By contrast, Jennie Allen seemed sincere and eager. She was like a puppy looking up to her idol, and bounding from one topic to another with joy and a delight that was endearing. I was affected when she shared the depth to which she dislikes the dark and really felt empathy when she described her season of doubt.
Nevertheless, it saddens me to see the pairing of the two women, who talk of handing the reins to new generations, because both do not teach rightly. Yet both combined have a digital footprint and a resulting following of millions. I am talking millions. As an aside, Joyce Meyer is 76, Beth Moore is 61, Christine Caine, who claims Meyer as her ‘spiritual mother’ is 53, and Allen, who idolizes Moore, is 41. They have sparked generations of women all the way down the line, as influencers but went more and more unorthodox, as this insightful article unintentionally makes the point of, the rise of the female influencers. Who will be the next influencer coming up the ranks? Who is Allen influencing?
I am against Allen’s IF movement specifically because it draws women away from their home churches and creates a ‘community’ based on feelings about the Bible and not the theology of the Bible. I am against its main premise, “IF God is real”. I am against it because it seems not to have any male oversight. (Though Allen’s husband Zac is on the corporate board now). I am also against it because IF’s self-stated emphasis on social justice and spiritual formation.
I am against their secretiveness. They aren’t secretive as in dastardly, but secretive as savvy protectors of their digital content. Being mainly digital, they’re fiercely protective of their content behind their paywalls. They also don’t post a list of scheduled speakers before the annual gathering. You must buy the ticket based on the concept, not the speakers. To me this is backward, you want to know whose content you will be absorbing, and not blindly ingest. This is likely the reason many pastors are unaware of the influence from this movement on their women.
The Big Announcement
Jennie Allen’s organization sent out a follow up to the webinar announcing that since the quarantine time has hit, they wanted to help. So they developed IF:TV. Allen said in her announcement video,
We have a new dream. It’s called IF:TV. Because, what we’re good at is coming to you with content, with experiences around God, bringing together your people, while you’re in your pajamas! It’s our expertise.
The first IF:TV program is called MADE FOR THIS- Live with Jennie Allen. Beginning Wednesday, April 1st at 7pm CT I’m going to share the stories we need right now and have some fun! We’ll have a free resource each week to work through with your people from afar!
The second IF:TV show will be THE BEST OF IF:GATHERING -Your Favorite Messages, Beginning Friday, April 3rd at 12pm CT, Features some of your favorite moments from IF:Gathering over the years. We’ll give you conversation cards to start convos with your people.
Allen’s sincerity is evident and her joy seems boundless and undiminished after several years of nurturing her movement and corporation along. I give her that. It is true that given their shrewdness in managing content through digital media they are more prepared than most to share what they have to offer on their various platforms via a screen during this coronavirus time. But that, as we know, is not the church. Yet IF:Gathering now has another digital platform on which to send out their poorly constructed Bible studies and false conclusions.
Because their main thrust is digital, they capitalize on a well-known phenomenon called Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). Wikipedia describes it as
a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”. This social anxiety is characterized by “a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing”.
Their promotions usually include tantalizing phrases such as ‘don’t miss out’ or ‘be the first to sign up’ or ‘get early access’, ‘be the first to know’, or ‘want to learn more? sign up below!’ In my opinion they trade, probably unwittingly, on the FOMO many younger people deal with these days.
I agree with Carol Coppens’ assessment of Jennie Allen here expressed in her review of Allen’s 2018 book Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul at Michelle Lesley’s website-
This is not a book that will help you to dive deep into the character of God and to know Him better but instead, Jennie’s book is a tedious, self absorbed, experience driven, hermeneutically unsound, over-stepper of scriptural boundaries, mish-mash of emotionalism and repetitive “wrecked-ness”.
In the research I’ve done in listening to Jennie Allen’s speeches and interviews, such as the above webinar, my opinion is the same as Ms Coppens’. Bad hermeneutics, drawing away from the local church, emotionalism, and not to mention Allen’s “voice from the sky” that directed her to found the corporation and audibly delivered the motto. The entire movement is founded on doubt, which they elevate to an exalted position, as many post-modernists do. As Phil Johnson said, emergents often “doubt seeking justification”. Please avoid IF:Gathering, IF:Equip, IF:TV and all the other IF’s, which have grown tremendously since 2014, as you see below from their website.
A dear sister sent me information related to a new ‘teaching’ series Beth Moore has begun, called, “Developing Compassion for the Sexually Abused – Part 1“. Apparently there are three parts to the series. The sister wondered if this is an indication that Beth Moore (ever eager to capitalize on any and all trendy or faddish waves, says me) is preparing to capitalize more overtly on the sexual abuse issues that have arisen in the wake of the Houston Chronicle’s exposé one year ago this month, the #MeToo movement, and Moore’s own “Letter to My Brothers” published in 2018.
This precious sister whose Twitter handle is CaDaisygirl (@CaDaisygirl), wrote a heartfelt thread about her time when she had followed false teacher Beth Moore. We know and understand that Moore and other false teachers affect a denomination. Their damage impacts wide swathes of professing and true believers. The damage is real.
But what of the lone woman, wandering in a maze of doubt, loneliness, perplexity? What of the negative influence on a woman’s life when she seeks the true Jesus, but isn’t taught? What of her private and individual pain? What happens when the Gospel isn’t even part of the conversation?
Here is CaDaisygirl’s testimony. She asks “that we together remain in prayer that these words would be used to glorify Jesus and bring others out of darkness and into His truth and glorious light. I by no means desire to wound anyone, rather I desire that we learn to put our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
I was praying about and for Beth Moore last night and checking my heart in this debate. I followed Beth for many years, a staunch supporter. I read her books, did her studies, and followed her blog.
I realize now that what captured me was, well, quite frankly, Beth.
She was witty, interesting, beautiful, and had that Southern charm. Being her fan was being part of a beautiful club of engaging women who were being drawn towards Jesus. I was a much less mature Christian in those days, and hadn’t yet encountered the depravity of my sin.
From her studies, I learned I was “broken” and a “mess” and that Jesus could fix my messiness, but what I realized in my prayer time last night was that, in all the books I read, and all the studies I did, I was never lead to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nowhere did I read that my brokenness and messiness was actually rebellion against God and His Word. Nowhere did I read that the flesh must be crucified with Christ, and it was no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me. Galatians 2:20.
Beth’s teachings dance around this concept, but never fully engage it. That is why they are so dangerous. They make you feel good to know about Jesus, without ever directing you how to know Him as Lord and Savior through repentance and surrender and obedience to His Word.
Her teachings are emotional and easy on the soul, but if a non-believer were to study them all, would they know, in the end, what is required to have a saving faith in Christ? Are her followers being drawn into a superficial knowledge of Jesus rather than a saving knowledge of Him?
That is my question and my fear, and that is why I feel compelled to speak about a ministry I so dearly loved at one time. We must use discernment in this day and age. No matter how charming a teacher may be, are they pointing us to salvation?
Are they pointing us to surrender, obedience to God’s Word, and crucifying of the flesh? Are they teaching us to die to self and live for Christ?
If not, why not?
—————End of Testimony—————
I praise the Lord that He draws women out of darkness. Those who follow false teachers are either given over to the lusts that allowed their desires to cloud the truth and they keep heaping up the teachers that speak to those desires, (2 Timothy 4:3) or they are brought out of darkness into the light, seeing satan for the masquerading minister of light that he actually is. (2 Corinthians 2:11)
We warn because of women who wander and remain broken but unaware of their true state and waxing worse due to the false teachers. We warn because of women who are being taught that Jesus is an add-on to their life, a fixer, but who remain unknowing of Him as savior and Lord.
I’m grateful for testimonies as grace-filled as CaDaisygirl’s is. Of her extolling Jesus who saves, who purifies His Bride. I pray her words will help another woman out there who wonders… ‘I’m broken and messy, but why aren’t I ‘fixed’?’ and that she finds true solace in repentance and glorifying Jesus for who He really is.
Wanted: SBC Church desires a substitute Sunday School Teacher for women. Term: 1-year. Prefer untrained young candidate, motivational speaking a plus. Responsibilities: Teach the word of God eisegetically to women older than yourself. It’s OK if you just think up things to speak about on Saturday night and then match some scriptures to your thoughts. Note: We will let you flounder for 9 months of the 1-year term before stepping in to help. And even then, we will only expect you to take 1 doctrine class. Bonus: Afterward, consider yourself equipped for a 35-year Bible teaching career!!
Don’t you love genesis stories? How things began? I watched the original episode that got Paladin started on his “Have Gun – Will Travel” career. That popular TV show from the 1950s and 1960s where the main character goes around fixing wrongs, featured Richard Boone, the good man in a black hat. Or the pilot episode of Gilligan’s Island (that went missing until 1992?) Did you know John MacArthur started as a youth pastor? Or that Phil Johnson started as a proofreader? Or how the universe began? Fortunately, we can read that genesis story in Genesis, starting with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth …”
How did Beth Moore get started? The Southern Baptist Convention’s darling and biggest moneymaker Beth Moore started as a motivational speaker completely untrained for handling the word of God and in fact floundered in eisegesis for 9 months and even afterward only took 1 class in doctrine. The job description above is accurate, not a spoof or made up. It’s taken directly from Beth Moore’s own mouth as she related her genesis story to Transformation Church in a sermon to that congregation in May 2019.
Beth Moore began in her early 20s as a Christian motivational speaker. Beth herself stated in May 2019 at Transformation Church during her famous Mother’s Day sermon to the congregation that “I was already what you’d call a Christian motivational speaker.” When she was 27 years old, her church asked her to substitute teach a women’s Sunday School class of 28-31 year olds. The regular teacher was pregnant, and they needed a teacher to teach the class for one year. The youngest person in the Sunday School class was older than she was, Beth noted.
She said “It was a treacherous year”. Why? This inexperienced young motivational speaker, charged with teaching people older than herself, was thrown into the deep end with no support and no training. Further, she was a young woman teaching older ones, instead of as Paul advises in Titus, the other way around. The mistakes are multiple and overwhelming. Mistakes like this have conseqences for the entire Church, not just a local church, as we will see.
‘The church’ as Moore identified, had asked her to do something for which she was biblically unqualified on several levels. We don’t know who asked her to teach, she only says ‘the church’ asked her. ‘The church’ should know better. In the first place, a wise elder board or pastoral staff should be raising up men and women for these positions. It’s their literal job to keep an eye out for teachable anointed ones and train them up for the edification of the body so that when opportunities come, they are ready to install a trained, if hopefully experienced, man or women. Throwing a young, inexperienced woman into a class where the total job is to handle the Word rightly, is against so many scriptures. (Titus 2:3-4; Hebrews 5:12; Proverbs 1:5, Acts 8:30-31; 1 Peter 5:5-7…).
If Moore was humble, she would have declined. If she was wise, she would have asked for help early on, instead of allowing her “treacherous year” to continue so long to the NON-edification of herself and the other women.
Sadly, the floundering method Moore employed for herself, “thinking up stuff to say and then matching verses to it the night before” as she stated, never stopped. When I attended a Living Proof Live event in 2011, she related to us this exact scenario as to how she arrived at her two-day lessons she’d be delivering at the conference. She was still doing it, years later. Her early mistake became cemented-in.
Even more sadly, this widespread penchant for installing untrained and unready people into leadership positions continues, despite what the Bible says about qualifications of leaders. Rachel Held Evans, Jen Hatmaker, Beth Moore, Joshua Harris, Mark Driscoll, Jennie Allen, all examples taking advantage of the millennium’s global platforms to launch themselves untrained in positions of authority and teaching. With book deals. As conference speakers. With web pages or Instagram accounts intent on ‘building a brand’ and gaining followers rather than training up in the word.
It is a recipe for apostasy. Indeed, those I just mentioned are either gone or in the process of it. In fact, Moore just this week singled out Same-Sex Attraction (SSA) celibacy as a “tremendous sacrifice“. “Let’s not be scandalized by what I’m about to say” she began, saying that SSA people who have dignity have “chosen to fellowship with Him [Christ]” by “choosing celibacy”. And that she has recently read about “my culture” and “gotten to know my culture” and that “it’s not our parents’ world”, and “we need to have good conversations and dialog.” Anyone with a finger on the evangelical pulse knows those are code words for soon claiming homosexual acceptance.
It’s the very reason we don’t put untrained, unguided, uneducated, youths into positions of care or teaching. Would you seek a doctor answering to the job description I’d posted above? A lawyer with pedigree of Beth Moore? A motivational speaker with one law class? Of course not. So why do so many churches install the young and untrained? Souls are at stake. The spotless name of Jesus is at stake.
Put into position of leadership early, we were all both horrified and grieved at Josh Harris’s departure-from-the-faith announcement, an utter rejection of Christ and all His holiness and righteousness. At age 23 he ran a Christian magazine. Three years later he was tapped to be a pastoral intern. A couple of years after that, he authored a book that sold a million copies. Phil Johnson recently said that he had been worried about Harris from the beginning, because his first book, on dating, no less, (“I Kissed Dating Goodbye”) was first published when Harris was in his early twenties and not yet a pastoral leader. It wasn’t written from a pastor’s view, but from a layman’s.
Anyway, Harris was off and running. Sadly, at age 44, he repudiated the faith and ran away from it. His goodbye to the faith was both nightmarish and crushing.
I’m not saying that someone young can’t ever be a pastor or a leader. Some can, in certain circumstances. Paul was mentoring young pastor Timothy. (1 Timothy 4:12), after all. The Bible does suggest, though, that it’s often best when candidate elders or teachers have had a time of seasoning before they lead. What I am saying is that unmindful appointment of untrained or unready youngsters can and does do damage to the worldwide faith. Joshua Harris and Beth Moore are prime examples. My plea is for sober-mindedness, adherence to scripture, and a carefulness when installing men and women to various positions. May God always be glorified.
You know that Beth Moore deleted a portion of the material in the Kindle version of the book Praying God’s Word, but that deletion is more extensive than most people know. She got rid of the entire discussion on homosexuality from her chapter Overcoming Sexual Strongholds. It was 6 pages of material. It was half the main discussion of the chapter. She excised from mid page 279 to mid-285.
As a result, the word ‘homosexuality’ does not appear in the Kindle version except twice, once in a quote from a man testifying about his homosexuality recovery and once in a verse. In the hard copy she retains all that material, with the word homosexuality being mentioned 12 times within the 6 pages. I believe her decision to redact the entire discussion about homosexuality is, in effect, a change in stance toward this sexual sin.
That said, I’ve also been thinking of the wider issues surrounding Beth Moore’s decision to delete the biblical discussion of homosexuality from her book. It’s bad enough to be ashamed of God’s doctrine to delete it completely from your book. But this next part compounds the wrong.
She violated the social compact that exists between an author and her readers.
Let me explain further.
There exists a social compact between writers and readers. Did you know? Yes.
We might not be aware there exists a social contract between author and reader, but we know instantly when it’s been broken. A broken contract means trust has been severed, which usually entails feelings of anger, betrayal, or even outrage. Think of the outrage that occurred when it was learned that Mark Driscoll reportedly bought his way onto New York Times bestseller list. The social contract of trust, that true popularity, reflected in sales, had propelled that book up the best-seller ladder was destroyed when it was revealed that filthy lucre had done the deed.
So we might unknowingly operate in the social contract but it certainly becomes known when it’s violated.
Another example of this tacit compact is plagiarism. A well known part of the contract between an author and his or her readers is that the material they publish under their name will be their own creative content. It is understood that the material is not plagiarized from someone else and sold under their name as their own. Doing so violates the implicit trust that the author has with her readers. They are buying the book under the terms of this implicit contract.
“Roots” was a phenomenon in the 1970s. The book was an extreme best-seller, won a Pulitzer Prize, and spawned a miniseries that impacted the nation for years. Yet it turned out that its author Alex Haley had plagiarized some parts from a less well known book called The African, which had been published 9 years earlier. Americans were outraged and heartbroken.
So, we see from the negative examples, that the social compact between writer and reader exists. What is this social compact like, what is it supposed to do?
Writers must establish a reader-writer interaction which sets up “a coherent movement” toward a reasonable interpretation of a communication. An author, accountable in one sense to a selected audience of readers and in another sense to a message deemed worthy of their consideration, will do greater justice to that message if the needs of the readers are attended.
Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life….A writer must reflect and interpret his society, his world; he must also provide inspiration and guidance and challenge.
These examples and quotes of the ethical standards in publishing and the implicit social contract that comes with it are from the secular world. Would not a Christian author have even a deeper obligation to her readers, especially if her book sales are aimed at sisters in the faith? How much more meaningful is the social compact between author and reader when the two are part of the same Body, operating in the spotless name of Christ?
How much MORE so when a Christian writer is given gifts to convey the timeless, majestic and eternal truths to a waiting generation? Wouldn’t one of these writer responsibilities be the safekeeping of truth?
How much MORE so when a writer who is Imago Dei, labors with the understanding that at the very least, she should do no harm to the reader.
But deleting the entire discussion of homosexuality from her Kindle book does harm the reader. How?
Let me state an inconsequential but more relatable example. If you’re familiar with competitive cooking shows, where a chef is tasked to cook a dish and then serves it to judges at the end of the time constraint, at the end of the time, things get hectic. Sometimes the chef-contestants are just throwing the food on the dish by the end.
I remember a few times where a chef presented a dish that had some components on one plate, but were absent those components on the other. One judge looks at his plate, looks at the other judge’s plate, and asks, ‘Why does his plate have potatoes on it and mine doesn’t?’ They yell at the contestant that this is unacceptable. Why? If a paying customer orders a dish described on the menu they expect to be served that exact dish. That’s the contract. It makes things worse if a chef gives one person their expected dish and denies the other person the same food. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right.
How much more so when Beth Moore knowingly decides to deny her Kindle readers their potatoes, while hard copy readers enjoy the full dish? And how much worse it is knowing that we are not really talking about potatoes, but the food of Christ laid from His table?
Beth Moore has spent years developing a relationship with readers. She trades on the comfy and sisterly relationship she has cultivated publicly. One wonders how a conversation with the Christian Publishing House B&H (arm of Lifeway) would go?
B&H, I want to get rid of that section about homosexuality. Delete it before the republished version comes out on Kindle.
Because I’m worried about a 13 year old girl
But Beth, what about all your other readers? Don’t you owe them anything, especially the readers who’ll buy the hard copy?
Nah, I owe them zero.
Wayne Grudem spends a great deal of time in his book Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning on the definition of and biblical instances of lying. He says that lying is verbally affirming something you believe to be false, and maintains the verbal-only aspect of lying. But there is also something else discussed in that incredible book and that is called deceptive action.
I fail to see any morally relevant difference between intentionally misleading someone with the lips and misleading them with an action. John Frame
Whether one wants to call it a decision to stand by, a sin of omission, misleading, or deceptive action, we consider the fact we are supposed to operate as Image of Christ.
The fact is, no matter how you define it, Moore and her publisher B&H, chose to purposely excise a significant portion of one of the re-published versions and didn’t tell readers, while selling the fuller re-published version to other readers, and to my knowledge, never said a word.
At least, in my hours of searching online and on her blog, I never saw any announcement of this deletion, nor did I see one in the hard copy or the Kindle version. If such a statement existed in 2009 when the books were re-published, please point me to it. Otherwise, Beth Moore engaged in a deliberate action that broke the social compact and betrayed trust with her readers.
Moore says thatsheperformed the act of removing the half-a-chapter on homosexuality (from one version but not the other) and shestands by her action.
Now that we understand the issue about the social compact that exists between a writer and her audience, and about truth and honorable Christian publishing decisions, and seeing that this very week Moore is teaching about the writing and publishing process, and seeing that organizers are touting it as holy, and knowing that B&H attests to the motto below clipped from their website, doesn’t it make a difference in how you view their moral character?
Every word matters? Really B&H Christian publishers? Except the 6 pages of words about overcoming homosexuality with God’s help through the Gospel. THOSE words don’t matter. The biblical content you and Moore excised cannot “positively impact the hearts and minds of people”, because you deleted them. And remained silent about it. For ten years.
Lying by omission and lying by commission. Lying by omission is far, far worse than lying by commission because the latter can at least admit refutation and public debate. Suppression of reportage is lying by omission (Gideon Polya)
Beth Moore’s action that she “stands by” is a terrible corruption of the implicit contract she has cultivated as Christian writer with her Christian audience in a situation of trust.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)