Posted in contemplative prayer, discernment, personal revelation, voices

Are we supposed to be able to hear a voice from God? If we do, how can I detect if it’s really Him?

A Pastor friend of mine posed this excerpt from a lengthy article dismembering the notion of contemplative prayer and hearing personal voices from heaven. This excerpt contains a salient part I believe is one of the best apologetics rebuttals of hearing voices that I’ve seen. The link to the full article is the clickable headline. It is by noted theologian Larry DeBruyn.

With more and more pastors attempting to legitimize that hearing personal revelation is normative, with more and more teachers teaching that there is something wrong with you if you don’t hear a voice from God… and with more and more bible teachers offering “lessons” on how to detect if a heard voice is the flesh, devil or God, discernment is needed for the everyday Christian more than ever. Therefore, please consider these things.

“Listen” by Ky, Flickr, CC by 2.0

Who Goes There?

(Pastor Larry DeBruyn) The fact that contemporary evangelicals seek “fresh” revelations from and experiences with God, even to go “out of the body,” indicates that they no longer consider Holy Scripture to be sufficient and authoritative in matters of faith and its practice (Contra 2 Timothy 3:16.). Yet if the Bible is no longer considered sufficient, hearing another voice give a revelation raises the following conundrum:

1. If a voice repeats what’s in Holy Scripture, then the word is UNNECESSARY.

2. If a voice intuition or actual speaking contradicts the Word of God, then what it says is HERESY.

3. If however, the voice supplements the Word of God, then the fresh revelation points to the Scripture’s insufficiency,

and regarding this last point Proverbs warns: “Add thou not unto his [God’s] words, lest he [God] reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:6, KJV).

[Thus, again, such practices of adding to the Word of God are HERESY]

So the Apostle Paul warned the Colossians against the folk religion that was leading them astray from the faith:

“Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God” (Emphasis added, Colossians 2:18-19).

One of the marks of spiritual defrauders is, as Paul points out, that they take their “stand on visions they have seen.” Would it not also be a legitimate application of Paul’s words to think that spiritual defrauders might also take their stand upon voices they have heard?

FOR COMPLETE ARTICLE: Who Goes There? Encountering voices in contemplative prayer . . .

Posted in contemplative prayer, discernment, john macarthur, mind, renew the mind, speaking in tongues, transformation

"Spirituality involves more than the mind, but it never excludes the mind"

The title of this blog essay is a quote from John MacArthur in the New Testament Commentary, First Corinthians. It refers to the verse below.

Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. (1 Corinthians 14: 13-19)

Even in Corinth during the early church, believers had a tendency to lust after the more showy Spiritual gifts, particularly tongues. Tongues were actual languages believers could spontaneously utter, not having studied or having any knowledge of the language at all, yet could speak it perfectly. This was a sign to unbelievers, a fulfillment of a prophecy given in the Old Testament. (Isaiah 28:11).

However today, tongues are seen to be a babbling gibberish that comes directly from heaven and falls out of the mouth, (to the edification of no one) thereby bypassing the mind. However this is not correct.

“Spirituality involves more than the mind, but it never excludes the mind.”

There are many spiritual activities today that directly exclude the mind. Contemplative prayer (or centering prayer) excludes the mind. How can this be? We are told to contemplate the Lord, (2 Corinthians 3:18, Psalm 48:9), so contemplation is good. We are told to pray, (Matthew 6:9-13), so prayer is good. How can both terms together not be doubly good? In the words of the inimitable Inigo Montoya,

THIS is how the unstable twist truth to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16). Putting together two commonly understood words but using them in a different way than is commonly understood is a bible twist. For example, praying mindlessly. Putting words together that are commonly understood but creating a different context for them through continued spiritual activity is another way that the truth is twisted. For example, babbling mindlessly.

So the “modern version” of tongues bypasses the mind, and contemplative prayer bypasses the mind, and neither are valid spiritual activities grounded in biblical truth. Another activity where the mind is bypassed is what the Southern Baptist Convention calls a ‘private prayer language‘ AKA modern gibberish tongues uttered in the closet while praying. The notion is that when a person prays, God will sometimes utter gibberish that the speaker knows not the meaning of but is a direct communication between the Spirit indwelling the person and Jesus up above. Private prayer languages were explained (or attempted to be explained) back in 2006 when the SBC originally banned potential applicant missionaries if they confessed to speaking in glossolalia either public or private:

IMB board of trustees chairman Tom Hatley said that during candidate interviews, those who practiced a private prayer language gave differing explanations of it, varying from an angelic language to a “revelatory” gift of the Holy Spirit.

Thinking is what
clicks ON the Light

So, they don’t really know what it is, only that they do it. All the more reason to refuse to accept it. Unfortunately last week the SBC re-accepted the applications of potential missionaries who pray in gibberish. Sad. Tongues being gibberish isn’t supported by the Bible, the transformation of the biblical gift of tongues from a known language to today’s gibberish in modern times isn’t supported by the Bible, either. Possessing a Spiritual Gift and only using it for personal use isn’t supported by the Bible. Employing a Spiritual gift through the heart or body only and not the mind also, isn’t supported by the Bible. A Christian’s walk uses the mind AND the heart.

Let’s see what the Bible says about the mind.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2).

and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, (Ephesians 4:23).

Gill’s Exposition explains that after salvation/justification, the “progress and carrying on the work of renovation, the renewing of them day by day in the spirit of their minds,” i.e renewing the mind obviously includes the mind.

but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Romans 7:23)

Gill’s again, says that “the new nature in us, the principle of grace wrought in his mind, is called the law of it, because it was the governing principle there;” Our transformation begins in the mind.

The heart is transformed, surely, but the governing principle is the mind. The new mind is equivalent to the new inner self. We have the mind of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Whenever you encounter an activity that exults in the fact that the mind is emptied, bypassed, marginalized, or in any way not fully engaged, it is a wrong activity. Because God’s transformation of us begins in the mind, bypassing the mind is actually choosing to bypass His sanctifying efforts in us. Not only will we not increase in sanctification through contemplative prayer, speaking in gibbering tongues, uttering private prayer languages, walking prayer circles or labyrinths, chanting mantras, barking holy laughter, doing “holy” yoga, seeking visions in trances, any of that which denies the mind is actually denying the mind of Christ. These activities exalt the self because you are indulging the fleshly mind. (Colossians 2:18).

Back to the title, which is a quote from John MacArthur. The Bible shows us that sanctification involves more than the mind, but it never excludes the mind. Beware of activities that sound spiritual, but aren’t. You will know they aren’t healthy for you if they exclude the mind.

His mind is too precious to waste.

Posted in contemplative prayer, discernment, prayer beads

Should Protestants use prayer beads? Part 2 of 2

Should Protestants use prayer beads? Part 1 here

Free wallpaper

In the previous part 1, I’d laid out the history of prayer bead use. It is a practice that comes from other religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, and Wicca. It has been imported to Christianity by syncretistic and now by ecumenical means. It is a self-help practice that is actually the opposite of what Jesus told us to do in prayer.

Kristen E. Vincent is a prayer bead maker and a prayer bead book author. I was struck by her article at Patheos, titled Prayer Beads: Yes, It’s OK for Protestants. In her article, she makes the case that using the bead technique is a helpful and biblical prayer tool. How? She uses Numbers 15:39. She never cites it in the article nor does she explain the verse correctly. The verse is taken out of context and applied incorrectly to today’s Christian. More on that specifically in a moment. Let’s look at the general discernment practices first.

Rule #1 for people to twist the bible when teaching, is to cite something from the Old Testament. Many people do not read the OT, they are not taught the OT, and their preacher rarely preaches from the OT. So when a person claiming authority or knowledge comes along and references something in the Old Testament, most people take it at face value. This is why it is SO important for you to read all the bible. Unfamiliarity always works against you.

Rule #2 for twisting scripture: reference that it’s in the bible, but don’t present the verse from the bible. Many people won’t look it up for themselves. They don’t know how, they don’t have the time, or they are lazy. It took me a minute or two to open to Numbers 15 and then find the verse she was talking about. At least she gave the book number. Many bible twisters don’t even to that much, making it even harder to find the verse they are talking about. Which is the point.

Rule #3 is to rip the verse from its context to make a personal application. Many, many bible teachers are doing that with the Old Testament these days. Rachel Held Evans and Beth Moore are two obvious recent offenders. Old Testament passages are either allegorized, or are directly applied to New Testament Christians. It takes study, nuance, understanding, and patience to learn the OT and which parts directly apply to us. Yes, all scripture is profitable, but there is a reason why NT Christians today eat shellfish and don’t build booths for Sukkot.

Here is an excerpt of Mrs. Vincent’s case for using prayer beads:

As the years passed and they got more and more tired of being hot and sticky and thirsty, they began to rebel. They even argued with God, saying they would be better off as slaves back in Egypt. They were beginning to think God had abandoned them.

In response, God told them to take up the fringe on their garments. Bet they didn’t see that coming! How could fringe help them in this situation? But God understood the Israelites were physical beings. Even though God had promised to be faithful and always be with them, God knew the Israelites would get so focused on being hot and miserable and forget God’s promises. God knew they needed something tangible – physical – to hold onto and remind them that God was with them. So God told them to take up fringe – a common, ordinary, everyday object – and hold onto it when they needed comfort, guidance, assurance, love.

So the upshot is that prayer beads are OK to use because:

–they’re kind of in the bible,
–the Israelites used them because they were hot
–God wanted to give them something tangible to show He loved them (as opposed to a Teddy Bear?)

Here is the actual verse:

And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: (Numbers 15:39)

Here is what is going on in context. Context means, when you read a verse, read the entire page. Read before and after the verse. Even better, read the whole chapter. Gain an understanding from the introduction to the book of the reason for the book, its theological themes, purpose, and audience. That’s context.

The first 25 chapters of Numbers records the death of the first Israelite wilderness generation. The remainder of Numbers records the replacement of the second generation. The book, then is a transition from sin and judgement (Num 1-25) to redemption (Num 26-36). Though the Israelites grumbled and complained, God did not forsake them. He punished them, but He provided for them. In this first part of Numbers, He did so mainly by delivering commands and expecting them to keep them. When they didn’t, He punished. (Paraphrased from Introduction to the Old Testament, Dillard)

In the Law of the Tassels, God told the Israelites to look at the fringe to remember Him and His commands. This was so they could obey. If they obeyed, they would not be killed, (Numbers 15:31), like the Sabbath-breaker in the verse immediately prior to the fringe verse was, or Korah’s group of 250, immediately after, 2 verses later.

The Sabbath-Breaker Stoned, c. 1896-1902,
by James Tissot

The Numbers 15 chapter is consumed with details about unintentional sin and of presumptuous sin. As a matter of fact, since the fringe verse comes immediately after the Sabbath-breaker’s stoning, it can be said that the fringe was given so they would remember the punishment, and in so remembering, obey. So absolutely it was not because they needed a loving hug. The context is sin, judgment, and death. The fringe was not given because the Israelites were “hot and sticky.”

The author of the Prayer Beads article then dispenses with the bible and presents three secular reasons for using prayer beads.

When people use prayer beads, isn’t the focus on the beads rather than God? No. The focus is on developing and going deeper into one’s relationship with God. That’s what prayer is about. The beads are just a tool to facilitate that.

If a tangible item can help deepen my relationship with God (as opposed to faith, obedience, and the Holy Spirit) then it stands to reason that more prayer beads will help me go even deeper. Perhaps I will buy a longer prayer bead string than my pew sister has. Then I will be very pious. That is the logic the Pharisees used. See, the author did not show what happened in the end to the Israelites who “needed something tangible to help them remember”. By the end of the Age of Law, the Pharisees had lengthened their tassels to show their very, very, deep, deep relationship with God. Jesus called them out on this. He called them hypocrites.

Here is John MacArthur on the Law of the Tassels, and of taking an internal intangible and making it tangible action:

They understood that that was symbolic of having the law of God in your mind, that’s thought, and having the law of God applied in your action, that’s work, that’s living….But about 400 B.C. some Jews decided that they needed to make that internal principle of the law of God in the mind and in the behavior an external act.

Barnes Notes shows us the end of the story, a story of which Mrs Vincent only showed the beginning of. This is another discernment lesson. False teachers only show part of the story. They omit the parts that don’t fit their pet theory. Not only were the fringes ordered to help them obey so they would not be judged, at the close of the Age of Law, we see how devastatingly man takes that tangible and corrupts faith with it. Barnes:

The arrangement of the threads and knots, to which the Jews attached the greatest importance, was so adjusted as to set forth symbolically the 613 precepts of which the Law was believed to consist. In our Lord’s time the Pharisees enlarged their fringes Matthew 23:5 in order to obtain reputation for their piety.

So did the fringes keep Korah from disobeying? No. Did the fringes keep the Pharisees mindful? Hardly. Fringes with knots didn’t work.

In the second of three secular reasons we are told prayer beads are OK to use, Mrs Vincent said,

How can they help? For starters, how many of us have begun a prayer, only to realize a minute later that we’re making the grocery list instead? Feeling the beads can help you maintain your focus in prayer. How many of us have rushed through the day and forgotten to pray? Seeing the prayer beads lying on a table, we are reminded to take time to sit with God. And how about those times when we, like the Israelites, feel lost and abandoned in the wilderness places of life? We can hold onto the beads and know that God is as close as the beads in our hands.

We do not need a man-made thing to remind us of our faith. We have a new covenant, one which Peter writes about:

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, (2 Peter 3:1-2)

We have the scriptures to stir our memory! Peter told them their minds will be stirred by remembering the Old Testament (Prophets) and by this New Testament, (through his epistle) and the Apostles (and by extension their epistles when they were canonized). He did not say that prayer beads will help them remember. He said the scriptures will.

The third reason we are told that it is OK to use prayer beads is this:

Why are beads even necessary in prayer? After all, we Protestants have been praying just fine without them all these years. Indeed. And certainly, not everyone will want or need to use beads in prayer. But many people struggle with prayer; they don’t know what to say or how to go about it. Prayer beads can offer structure, a path, a safe place even, for prayer.


First, raise your discernment when anyone introduces a new way to do things. Jesus and the Apostles set the standards for holy living, faith, and practice. Anyone who has a new and shiny idea is always going to be wrong.

Secondly, prayer beads will help us pray safely? If I send some stringed beads to the Chinese Christians, or the Iraqi or Syrian Christians, they will then have a safe place to pray? You see how ridiculous it is to apply First World terminology to the global church’s faith and practice.

Third, the ‘path’ is laid out by scripture. Even more specifically, it is laid out in the Lord’s prayer. (Matthew 6:9-13)

Last, as for struggling with prayer, I know many people do. I do sometimes. That is why we have the Holy Spirit.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (John 14:26)

When we struggle, the Spirit is here, inside us, to help us deepen our relationship with the Father. Not prayer beads, made by human hands. The precious Advocate will help.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26).

Are you going to look Jesus in the eye, who sent the Spirit to help us in our groanings, and say, ‘Nah. I’m good. I got my beads.’ Discernment alerts should always raise in your mind when someone tries to get you to do things in your own strength, and it takes your eyes off Jesus in the process.

Free wallpaper

And let us not forget Jesus is our intercessor, we must have faith that our prayers reach the ears of the Father by having our High Priest intercede for us. Why would I want to perform in my own strength, with some man-made clay or glass beads, when I have Jesus and the Spirit to help me in my struggle?

A discerning commenter, praise God, said this on the site where the essay was published

Mestes • 3 days ago

Let’s all try to remain focused on the topic at hand. There are a couple problems with this blog entry: 1) We’re being told that Numbers 15 in the Bible is talking about something that it clearly is not. 2) The author of this blog entry happens to make and sell said “Prayer Beads”. This article is not a deeply theological expression of a particular viewpoint meant to edify the body of Christ or glorify God in any way. It is nothing more than an advertisement for a product. As far as the personal use of beads or notes or whatever, I’d say use whatever you want. But don’t twist scripture to say God gave fringe to Israel as a gift. That didn’t happen. Don’t imply that the use of your “Prayer Beads” will deepen or do anything to develop your relationship with God. It won’t. As far as ecumenism: It absolutely is a way of blurring lines between Christianity and Roman Catholicism. That is clearly the undertone of this article (i.e. the title and the last sentence: “Even for Protestants”) And if you’re forgetting to pray, it’s not because you don’t have “Prayer Beads”. Christians don’t “forget” to pray, as though it’s an obligation. Christians pray because it’s the lifeblood of our relationship with the God of the Bible.


Further Reading

What are prayer beads? Is it okay to use beads while praying?

Praying unceasingly

Should Protestants use prayer beads? Part 1 here

Posted in contemplative prayer, discernment, prayer beads

Should Protestants use prayer beads? Part 1 of 2

EPrata photo

The beauty and simplicity of the Gospel is a stunning foundational aspect of true Christianity. The supremacy of Christ because of His incarnation and sacrifice is a wondrous fact for Christians to behold. God was pleased with His Son’s work on earth and His sacrificial death, and as a sign of that satisfaction, He raised Jesus from the dead on the third day. Our bondage to sin was now broken.

Because of Jesus’ work on earth and on the cross, it means that we have His righteousness imputed to us. We don’t do anything to earn it, it is a gift of grace, planned by the Father, earned by Christ, and delivered by the Spirit.

Though a true Christian’s bondage to sin is now broken, our bondage to the flesh is not. We are living beings inhabiting flesh and that flesh contains sin nature. Because of this, the Father sent the Holy Spirit to help in us to resist the flesh. In our flesh we cannot achieve anything that will satisfy God (Isaiah 64:6) and in our flesh we never will. We can’t. But the Spirit in us gives us the power to persist in overcoming sin. This also is stunning in its simplicity.

No it’s not easy, but it is simple. The bottom line is, it’s all Jesus.

Every other religion on the face of the earth rejects that simplicity. At root, they cannot and will not believe that humans in the flesh can’t do something to earn our way to Nirvana, Heaven, Valhalla, or be reincarnated as a higher being on the next step up the ladder. They reject the free gift of grace (by refusing to acknowledge their sins and repent) and try to climb that ladder toward salvation by themselves.

They will always fail.

Grace Cathedral labyrinth, Interior of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.
Wiki CC. By Marlinth

CC, by Flavio~

Though ecumenism this is not new, (John and Paul fought against the infiltration and acceptance of Gnostic practices in the first century), the past ten years has seen an increased push of syncretism. You’ve heard of ecumenism, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as The principle or aim of promoting unity among the world’s Christian churches. That sounds good but it’s not. That is because not all churches that call themselves Christian are actually Christian. Any church that says they follow Jesus Christ is considered Christian, even if they deny essential truths about Jesus. This includes Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, and Mormon. Yet practices from among different ‘Christian’ churches creep in to the true church all the time. This is because of either a lack of discernment or a lack of courage to stand and stop the creep.

There is a similar problem and it’s called syncretism.

Syncretism is also alive and well. Syncretism is an effort among non-professing Christian religions and Christian religions to accept each other’s beliefs and to cross-adopt its practices. GotQuestions defines syncretism this way:

Religious syncretism often takes place when foreign beliefs are introduced to an indigenous belief system and the teachings are blended.

The Catholic church does this when they evangelize an indigenous area. Missionary friends in South America tell me that where there is a Catholic cathedral, church, or chapel, there will usually be an area where the indigenous descendant Mayans can worship or sacrifice in a grotto out front, then they go inside the church to hear a sermon (and leave their money).

There is currently a Protestant craze to adopt some of these pagan beliefs and practice them inside Christianity. Labyrinths are one. Catholics adopted this contemplative technique from Greek mythology, (Daedalus, Theseus, and the Minotaur of Crete) then the practice gravitated to Greek pagan life, then Roman. What a contemplative labyrinth walker does is meander along a unicursive path to a center, then walk the path back out again. A labyrinth walk is supposed to enhance the spiritual journey of the contemplative. Learning a higher spiritual meaning rests on the contemplative person’s own efforts during the walk.

Prayer circles are another syncretistic activity accepted into Christianity, where a person draws a circle and sits or stands inside it and prays. Deeper meanings are supposed to come to the contemplative by performing this technique, and again, these meanings are given to the contemplative by his own efforts. Prayer circles originate from Wicca (witchcraft). I wrote about prayer circles here, and showed it in pictures here.

The latest fad to enter conservative Christianity is prayer beads. Prayer beads are well-known in Hindu, Buddhist, Islam, and Catholic religions, among others. I read an article recently from a woman with two divinity degrees and whose husband is a Methodist pastor. She wrote on Patheos that a Protestant using prayer beads is perfectly all right. By the way, the woman has a side business of making and selling prayer beads. More on that article in part 2.

Methods and items from other religions are always wanting to creep into Christianity. Man always wants to DO something to show we can achieve spirituality on our own. Prayer beads is yet another infiltration.

What are prayer beads?

Prayer beads are used by a worshiper to mark their repetitions of prayers, chants or devotions. Beads or knots is an ancient way of counting or keeping track of goods, of history, debts owed, or the calendar.

The ancient Mayan used knots on a rope called a quipu. Spanish chroniclers concluded that quipus were used primarily as mnemonic devices to communicate and record numerical information. (source). Later, this mnemonic device was used in religion to keep track of prayers. Right, representation of a quipu.

How do the different religions use prayer beads?

Hindus use Mala beads for their ‘do something,’ try harder to get to the truth, spiritual techniques. explains the Japa technique using Mala beads.

There are many ways to connect with the truth; some would say that not all fit into the meditation category, so perhaps it could be said that spiritual technique and meditation are several of the dynamics that get us from HERE to THERE. … The general tools here would be a rosary of Mala (meditation beads, necklace, numbering 108). One would simply start with the first bead of the mala then chant the mantra on each of the 108 beads till we come to the last bead, then this process would be repeated approximately 93 times, which is a number over 10,000.

Mandala Mudra Prayer Beads, India, 1974, by Ernst Haas

Buddhists use prayer beads also. Japanese Buddhists, Chinese Buddhists, Taiwanese Buddhists…all use them. In some sects they are called ‘mindfulness beads.’ Wikipedia explains.

Theravada Buddhists in Burma use prayer beads, called seik badi, shortened to badi. 108 beads are strung on a garland, with the beads typically made of fragrant wood like sandalwood, and series of brightly coloured strings at the end of the garland. It is commonly used in samatha meditation, to keep track of the number of mantras chanted during meditation.

Catholics use prayer beads. Their bead string is called a rosary and it performs the exact function that Hindu and Buddhist and Wiccan does for the contemplative seeking various spiritual things in prayer.

Catholic Rosary beads- from Wikipedia

Rosary-based prayers are mostly Roman Catholic prayers said on a set of rosary beads. These prayers recite specific word sequences on different parts of the rosary beads. They may be directed at Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary or God the Father. Somewhat similar bead-based prayers also exist in other Christian denominations.

In monastic houses, monks were expected to pray the Divine Office daily in Latin, the liturgical language of the Roman Catholic Church. In some houses, lay brothers who did not understand Latin or who were illiterate were required to say the Lord’s Prayer a certain number of times each day while meditating on the Mysteries of the Incarnation of Christ. Since there were 150 psalms, this could number up to 150 times per day. To count these repetitions, they used beads strung upon a cord and this set of prayer beads became commonly known as a pater noster, which is the Latin for “Our Father”. Lay people adopted this practice as a form of popular worship. The Paternoster could be of various lengths, but was often made up of 5 “decades” of 10 beads, which when performed three times made up 150 prayers.

Catholic rosary w/Celtic cross. source

Should Protestants use prayer beads?

After all this long explanation, I would hope that a person would readily say “no”. Here are some biblical reasons:

1. In Luke 11:1 when one of the disciples asked the Lord to teach them to pray, Jesus did not begin by saying, “Now take your prayer beads…”

2. What Jesus did say was this: “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:7-8)

In that short verse, we learn that praying repetitiously is

–and we’re commanded not to do it.

3. When Catholics pray the rosary, some of the prayers are to Mary. Mary is dead. Other religions, notably Buddhist and Wicca, use prayer beads to honor, worship, or otherwise pray to the ancestors. Ancestors are dead. The bible strictly commands us not to do this (Deuteronomy 18:11).

4. This verse tells us who helps us remember the Lord’s commands and His word, and it isn’t prayer beads-

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26).

With so much being biblically and obviously wrong with using prayer beads in a contemplative practice, how can a Protestant possibly promote it as acceptable? Let’s take a look in part 2 at how a person can take an obvious NO and turn it into an obvious YES. This will be the discernment part of the two-part look at prayer beads.

Posted in contemplative prayer, meditating, mysticism

Are we there yet? I contemplatively prayed all day and all I got is bupkis

The unregenerated man looks within, and finds nothing. There is no inner peace, no ritual, philosophy, no lofty argument that will ever bring it.

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8).

That is how deception works. It’s the blending of empty philosophies with what we are already familiar with. It packages poison in a pretty package with a bow. Satan wants to make his poison attractive, so when you read about “contemplative prayer” it puts together two good words to make a poison result. Many people think that ‘contempative prayer’ means contemplating God via prayer. It does not.

Words like Vision casting, missional, emergent, centering prayer, gifting, unity, spiritual formation, spiritual disciplines and tolerance are just a few words that the dark side has co-opted, injected with poison, and launched aloft via milkweed seeds to waft into unwary churches with no screens on their windows.

For example, centering prayer sounds good. Here is the definition of what it is and how to do it.

“Centering prayer is popping up within the emerging church movement. Centering prayer, also known as contemplative prayer and listening prayer, is the practice of relaxing, emptying the mind, and letting one’s self find the presence of God within. It involves silence, stillness, patience, sometimes repeating something, and the practice of “not knowing” as the person seeks God’s presence.” (source).

So what’s wrong with seeking God’s presence? Relaxing? Because meditating, or contemplating God, does not involve emptying the mind and allowing a whatever presence to enter. That is just asking for trouble, it being so occultish. Meditating on God’s word means actively contemplating Him, via bible verses. (Psalm 63:6, “When I remember Thee on my bed, I meditate on Thee in the night watches.” Psalm 119:15,23,27,48,97, same source as above.). It means thinking. Not emptying. You see how contemplative prayer is the opposite of what the bible says to do? The term does not mean what you think it means.

A Christian does not need to be still and know He is God, we do not need to empty the mind in order to find Him. THIS is what “be still” means in the context of the Psalm 46:10,

“”be still”; not that they should be like sticks and stones, stupid, indolent, and unconcerned at the commotions that were in the earth, and be unaffected with the judgments of God, and be wholly silent and inactive; but that they should not be fearful, nor fretful and impatient, or restless and tumultuous; but be quiet and easy, resigned to the will of God, and live in an assured expectation of the appearance of divine Providence in their layout.”  (Gill’s Exposition).

It means your mind is calm because you have contemplated God, His statutes, and you rest easy knowing He is in control.

If you are asking “are we there yet” because you’ve gotten involved in the trap of stilling the mind in expectation of a presence to endow you with information, peace, or any other emotion, it is because you will never ‘get there’ that way. Any Christian knows the ‘are we there yet” question is moot: when we hear the trumpet, we’ll be there in an instant. Everything else until the trumpet sounds or we stop drawing breath is a slog through lively, active, mental contemplation of Him. In other words, STUDY!

Posted in contemplative prayer, discernment, john piper, lectio divina, ravi zacharias

Why are mature men of the faith suddenly seeming to go off the narrow road of orthodoxy and saying or doing wacky things?

I’ve been watching the Christian field with perplexity and dismay lately. It seems that the organizations an individuals we rely on suddenly take a left turn and drive pell mell off the road. They had been doctrinally steady for years and decades, and then suddenly they are doing strange practices or recommending heretics.

It makes me scratch my head, for sure. Why do mature leaders of our faith suddenly go wacky in the doctrine department? How does this happen? That is what this blog entry will seek to discover.

It stands to reason that babes in Christ lack some discernment because discernment is a skill. It comes with testing, with age, with study, with prayer, and by the Holy Spirit. It is why there are pastors and elders who are given instruction on how to behave with and teach the younger ones. Not that younger Christians can’t have discernment, but it is a skill that is refined with practice.

However the perplexity comes when the mature ones who should know better suddenly start displaying a lack of discernment. Let me offer a few recent examples:

–Focus on the Family has been a strongly mature and reliable biblical resource for families 35 years, but there are some with influence at the organization who have fallen hook, line, and sinker for Roma Downey and her Bible miniseries crowd. They have endorsed, even backed the series, and hosted a function to match up Downey and Burnett with gaming folks to create The Bible miniseries computer game, a game like “Where’s Waldo”.

Answers in Genesis is an organization founded 35 years ago by Ken Ham. It is dedicated to bible apologetics with a particular focus on supporting young Earth creationism and a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. They have been strongly biblical for decades. Yet at least one reviewer on staff deemed the bible miniseries fairly acceptable, mostly because it played to their bias and presented Noah and the flood as historical. They stated,

“Nevertheless, even as a stand-alone production, The Bible will likely lead many to Christ. Why? Because it presents the Bible’s history as real history—instead of eroding trust in God’s Word from the very first verse…”

I believe the series has shown itself undeniably to have eroded the word of God. As a matter of fact, it has eroded it so much that AIG says the following in the same review, prior to the above statement:

“It unfortunately lacks a clear presentation of the gospel message like that included at the end of the 1979 Jesus Film AIG also notes because the mini­series has about 4,100 years of history to cover in just 10 hours, many of the events are compressed and shuffled, resulting in “a few things out of order and even a few outright discrepancies with biblical history.”

“Obviously, if you or your children are troubled by the presence of some factual errors, then you should consider not watching the film,” AIG notes.

We don’t come to faith because we believe the bible is historical fact. We don’t say, ‘hey it was pretty good, despite being unclear on that whole Gospel thing’. We don’t say, “gee, despite getting some things flat out wrong, the bible miniseries was acceptable!” We don’t say, “If you’re overly sensitive to our inerrant bible having error polluted by pagans with an antichrist agenda, maybe it’s not a good idea to watch it, but for the rest of us who don’t mind our blood-bought word presented corruptedly, it’ll be a comfy evening with the telly!” Except…they did say it.

–John Piper has been a pastor for 30 years and has authored 50 books. He is well regarded as a pastor, having just retired this month. Yet of late has participated in a Lectio Divina, a Catholic mystical practice involving prayer, endorsed it and offered resources on his website on how to perform it, and hobnobs with heretics, all at this late date in his career. (He retired this week).

If you don’t know what Lectio Divina is or contemplative prayer (or centering prayer) know that it is a method of prayer that does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied but a is mystical exercise of substituting for study an intuitive experience of having emptied the mind to receive a special revelation from God directly. The following bloggers have explained why Contemplative prayer and lectio divina are bad.

Sola Sisters: Piper encouraging Lectio Divina
Do Not Be Surprised: Biblical silence vs. mystical silence.
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry: Centering prayer
Wretched Radio explains contemplative prayer and discusses Piper’s promotion of Lectio Divina at the Passion 2012 conference.

–Ravi Zacharias is a Canadian-American evangelical Christian apologist. Zacharias is the author of numerous Christian books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner Can Man Live Without God? and bestsellers Light in the Shadow of Jihad and The Grand Weaver. He is the founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and host of the radio program Let My People Think. He is a high-end intellectual, brilliant and wise, gentle and profound. He has stood on the bible and its doctrines as the only truth for decades.

That is why I was stunned when he appeared on heretic Joyce Meyer’s show and worse, said she was “a great bible teacher” and that “God was using her”. I can understand if he wanted to appear on her program to reach her lost followers, John MacArthur was asked to speak at the Mormon temple and they still invited him after he stated he was going to present the Gospel and say what he had planned to say. But this wasn’t that. It was Ravi endorsing Meyer as a bible teacher and announcing that God was using her. I went totally off my rocker when I saw that.

Youtube link here

If it is news to you that Joyce Meyer is a heretic, go to CARM to read why. Also in Justin Peters’ updated bible teaching titled A Call For Discernment, he uses Meyer’s material to show why and where it is false.

We are all scratching our heads, saying WHAAAAT is going on? It is a fact that these strange and unsettling things are happening. My question is, why?

The number one issue related to the church, pastors answer when asked, is that its people lack discernment. As John MacArthur says

“Today’s church is like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, who could tell the difference between superficial things like pleasant and stormy weather, but not between truth and error (Matt. 16:1-3). So many churches have relinquished biblical ethics and doctrine, a deep reverence and worship of God, repentance over sin, humility toward God and fellow believers, and a profound understanding of God’s character and work. All that has resulted in a low-level commitment to holy living.”

However, the men I’ve quoted are individuals or are with credible organizations. It does not seem to me that Ravi Zacharias has made a low-level commitment to holy living. Nor John Piper. So what’s the deal?

Tim Challies wrote a book on discernment. He says that lack of discernment leads to backsliding. That is a good thought. Personally, I think that backsliding, or unaddressed sin, also leads to a lack of discernment. I do know that the bible says we cannot be mature without discernment, but the perplexing lack of discernment we are seeing is from many mature, elder pastors and men of the faith who have demonstrated steadily mature discernment for decades. Could it be they have had a failure to repent of some unaddressed sin which is causing dullness of hearing? Perhaps. Hebrews 5:11-14 says–

Warning Against Apostasy—  About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

The writer of Hebrews here is talking of a regression. They should be more advanced than they were but the writer despaired of even going forward with what he originally wanted to say because they had become ‘dull of hearing’ and it would be pointless. What causes dullness of hearing? I think anyone can make a mistake, and anyone can have an unaddressed sin in their life. But if one does not repent of it, compounds the tendency to regress back to milk, and the refusal/inability to hear leads to more drifting. This is a deadly trajectory. Again we go to Hebrews, this time chapter 2.

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” (Hebrews 2:1-4)

At The Expository Files we read, “The first reason for this exhortation is that there is a real danger of “drifting.” It is actually possible for us to “drift away” from our salvation. In 2:3 we learn that we can “neglect” our salvation. Later in 3:12-14 we are told that we can “depart” from God. In 6:4-6 we are told that we can so “fall away” that it becomes impossible to renew us again to repentance. And then in 10:26:27 we are told that we can reach a point where the sacrifice of Christ is no longer available for our sins. So the danger of “drifting” is very real!

(Go here to see how the Hebrews verse is NOT talking about a solid Christian losing their salvation)

The verse does not say we plunge. It doesn’t say we plummet out of faith. It seems to happen slowly. We drift. It happens when we neglect, and we fail to pay attention.

In the novel “Watership Down” a fictional story of rabbits searching for a new field to create a warren in, they would entertain each other with tales and myths. They had sayings. One of them was about the weather, and the onset of bad news, “One cloud feels lonely.” Let’s change that to my own motto, “One sin feels lonely”.

If there is a sin, and it’s not addressed, it hardens us a little bit. It makes us a little bit sluggish in the spiritual department. We get wax in our ears. Jeremiah 7:11 says “But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear.” You refuse to pay attention, and your ears get dull. More sins come. Just look at what happened in the Garden, and pretty quickly, too. Genesis 3. They disobeyed, they blamed, they hid. By the next generation, there was murder. It doesn’t take long for sin to pile on!

Matthew 13:15 also speaks of the hard hear and dull ears. In all three cases, (Hebrews, Jeremiah, Matthew) it was the person’s refusal to hear. They did it deliberately either through neglect or through rebellion.

This drifting, this regressing, is a process. It’s spoken of in 2 Timothy 3:13 “while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Once the trajectory is begun, they go from bad to worse.

It is really important for a mature person who deviates from the solid food of doctrine, if not caught early, will fall away and it will be impossible to restore them to repentance. Hebrews goes on in chapter 6 thus:

“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

So you see the danger. When we see mature elders suddenly veer off, it is either they were false all along and their true colors are coming out (something I hesitate to believe in the above cases) or they have some unrepented-of sin, have become dull, neglected some aspect of their faith walk, and are sliding and drifting away. In the latter case, perhaps when we see a perplexing behavior or doctrine come out of them that makes us scratch our heads, that is the first signal. The check engine light just came on, and it better get checked, because one sin feels lonely.

It always strikes us at the heart when a person is uncovered who suddenly seems to be lacking in the discernment department, and disheartening too. However, we have the privilege of praying for them and others that we may know who seem to suddenly be coming up with unorthodox behavior or doctrines. We can ask for discernment (wisdom). The glory is that Jesus promised to deliver it to us if we ask. (James 1:5).

Posted in bible, comfort, contemplative prayer

Let the Man of Sorrows comfort you in your sorrow

Dear friends,

As the times become more cold, and love ekes away, many people may find they are feeling rejected for their faithful witness to Jesus. They may feel sorrow and betrayal. These are hard things to bear. We are all human, and we all want to feel loved for who we are, but sometimes, because we are human, we are rejected instead. Or maligned. Or misunderstood. Or any of the myriad of things that a population of diverse people feel when they are thrown together and have only one common bond: Jesus.

But what a bond!

Isaiah 53:3 says “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.” Recently I was thinking of when He was alone in the Garden and everyone fell asleep even though He had asked for company. And later, how Peter said he didn’t know Him, denying Jesus three times. That had to have hurt. I thought about the universe’s most ultimate betrayal, Judas. I thought of Jesus saying to Judas, “What you must do, do quickly.” (John 13:27).

You see, Jesus KNEW Judas was going to betray Him, but He loved Judas perfectly anyway. That is a powerful model of love. If I knew I was going to be betrayed and rejected ahead of time, would I love the people all the same? I’m human but sinful and Jesus was human and sinless. Therefore I know I would not.

Jesus came to earth SO THAT He could feel these things with us. Did you know that? We focus on the salvation aspect of His time on earth and His sacrifice as the Lamb. But did you know that He is not only Messiah, but also High Priest? He was fully God and fully Man and He came to feel every emotion that we feel. Hebrews 2:17-18 says “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

He wanted to feel everything we feel so He could be the most faithful High Priest, not only to save us but to sympathize with us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now let that stop us for a moment. The God of the Universe poured Himself into human skin to live a full life, so that He could save us by dying, but before that, to feel what we feel as we are tempted.

When you are feeling lost, lonely, sad, rejected, tempted, betrayed, angry, bitter, or anything else, remember, that when we pray to Him, He is there. He knows. When we feel betrayed, He knows. He has been there. He serves God as our High Priest, interceding for us in a way that is fully empathetic. He is God, yet He came to us as fully human this so He could empathize with us in our times of sorrow. Are you not floored by knowing this?

Know this also, Psalm 56:8b- “Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?” He not only numbers the hairs on your head but sees and knows every tear shed in His name.

Psalm 34:18- “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.” So, just knowing He WILL do it, helps us until He does it. That is faith.

Are you crying in your own sorrows right now? This from Revelation 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Your face may be wet today, but he will dry it Himself on that Day! Isn’t it worth the wait, and the tears, just knowing He will fulfill His promise to wipe them away with His own hand? If your tears feel large to you today, just imagine how small they will be when His hand erases them into oblivion and gives you perfect peace.

And finally, remember the Love chapter from 1 Corinthians 13. Love bears all things. Love means we have to open ourselves to people and love them, even knowing that rejection, betrayal, sadness and hurt will come along with that. We don’t like it, but Jesus said to choose this kind of love as an expression of the Gospel He came to proclaim. His hurt and betrayal was so monstrous, how can we then complain of ours? We cannot.

Begin praying for others. Pray for missionaries in places where their mission will bring them death. Converts in the dangerous places where their faith may bring them imprisonment or worse. Praying for others in worse circumstances helps us put our things into perspective; HIS perspective.

The key is to focus on Jesus. He is the lens through which all trials are put into proportion. He gives comfort and He gives a Kingdom perspective, of eternity. Prayer helps and prayer works, because the Spirit brings to mind his Word, and his Word is always the triumph over all. Why? It is the greatest love letter ever written, and relying on it through submission to and by the strength of the Spirit revives even the poorest, saddest child of Jesus.

Posted in beth moore, contemplative prayer, legalism

Troubled by Beth Moore’s teaching: Part 4: Legalism

By Elizabeth Prata

I am working on a series of essays looking at the teachings of Beth Moore. She is currently a wildly popular Christian Bible teacher. Her books, DVDs, lessons, devotionals and tours sell like hotcakes. She regularly fills stadiums and arenas to capacity. She is sought after for speaking engagements and has a regular spot on a television show called Life Today. She teaches Sunday School in her home town of Houston when she is in town and has had that position since 1984.

We are in the times of the doctrines of devils, of false teachers and of deception. Beth Moore may be true or she may be false (we’ll explore that this essay and the next) but because the Bible warns of these problems with teachers and teachings at the latter days, it is important for us to take a careful look at any and all teachers who have this much influence. I mentioned in Part One that I am headed to a Beth Moore conference this weekend. I’ll be listening to her for 6 hours and may have more to say afterward. In preparation for these essays I’ve listened to Beth Moore for several hours, prayed, read others’ concerns, and studied.

In exploring whether the content of Mrs. Moore’s lessons contain solid teaching, I’ll be looking at five issues- Contemplative Prayer, Legalism, Personal Revelation, Eisegesis vs. exegesis, and outright error. This part will  look at Mrs Moore’s insidious Legalism.

Troubled by Beth Moore Teaching, Part 1: Introduction and Casualness
In which I declare my biases, give a short lesson on discernment, and begin with a concern about how casually Mrs. Moore delivers her lessons.

Troubled by Beth Moore Teaching, Part 2: Un-dignified teaching
In which I look at one of the things that happens when women teach (tag-end questions and affirmation seeking), the undignified delivery of her lessons, and the problems with a rapid-fire teaching.

Troubled by Beth Moore’s Teaching, Part 3: Contemplative Prayer
In which I explain what Contemplative Prayer is, why it is bad, and Beth Moore’s participation in it.


Legalism is a reference to the Law, the Law of the Old Testament designed to show us in no uncertain terms that there is nothing that we can do in our own strength that will sanctify us and provide the pathway to heaven. If we rely on the Law, we are dead. Satan’s old trick of instilling in us the notion that we have to do things to get into heaven is alive and well, and has been since the earliest New Testament days. Legalism teaches that we do is more important that what we believe. Paul dealt with the first instance of legalism, busting it out of the water: “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:15-16)

Ecclesiastes 7:20 reminds us of legalism’s futility: “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.”

I’d mentioned in the last segment that Mrs. Moore has a tendency to pry apart the tightly woven tapestry of scripture and insert things you have to do, make conditions for salvation (if you do this, then you’re saved) and to teach of a certain way of doing Christianity. Some people say that it is just her style of casual teaching, friendliness and quick speech but she really means that we’re saved by faith alone. But then again, I spoke to the dangers of quick speech and casual handling of the Word. Bible teachers have to say what they mean in precision and back it up with scripture. Oftentimes, Mrs. Moore makes assertions that have no basis in scripture and adds conditions for our faith walk. Here are three examples:

I used one example of legalism at the end of Part 3. It was from her contemplative prayer quote: “[I]f we are not still before Him, we will never truly know to the depths of the marrow of our bones that He is God. There’s got to be a stillness.” So IF you aren’t still you WON’T know God. At least, not like a real Christian. It’s Pharisaical thinking, ‘I do this practice so I’m really more pious than that tax collector over there.’ (Luke 18:11). And the Pharisees were the ultimate legalists.

Here is another example. In one study, Beth Moore is speaking of ‘confidence and competence’ that Christ gives us. The study is based on Hebrews 10:19-20 but her interpretation of the verse is wrong from the beginning. I’ll address her interpretive error in the exegesis vs. eisegesis segment to come.  But once the basic interpretation is wrong it is no surprise that what follows falls into even worse error. I transcribed this- Watch carefully as she inserts conditions to salvation and even outlines the effect of not believing the extra add-ons she includes. “…but what can happen is this … If we receive Christ as our Savior but we never recognize and by faith believe Him to also be our healer and our restorer then we just stay just as cracked as when we got here.”

That’s a blasphemous, heretical statement. Let the momentousness of that statement sink in for a second.

The Gospel is now Law. We have to believe some things above and beyond what the Bible says we believe to be saved. John 6:29 says, “The work of God is to believe in the One He has sent.” We believe the Lord died to save us from our sins and rose again, and we are saved (Romans 10:9). Even better, there’s nothing anyone can ever do to change that (Romans 8:38-39). The moment you asked for your salvation it was delivered. (Matt. 7:7-8). It’s guaranteed forever (Ephesians 1:13-14, 2 Cor 1:21-22).  I certainly don’t see anything about having to believe that Jesus is our Healer and Our Restorer or else we stay cracked.

To continue:

…it [confidence] just bleeds out everywhere, we can’t keep any confidence in there. Because we have never trusted Him to put three pieces of our lives back together. Is this making any sense to anybody? We have all these cracks and all these pieces. … And we’re supposed to be effective here on earth. … Salt and light and profoundly effective, but we can’t be any of that unless we have our God-confidence.”

What she is saying is that —
1. Unless we accept Jesus as savior AND Healer AND Restorer, His work is not sufficient.
2. Unless we get some God-confidence, we are not effective.

Well…Moses wasn’t confident. “Then Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” (Exodus 4:10-12). By any standard, Moses was effective.

Jeremiah wasn’t confident. His first worry was that he was too young for the job. ” Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” But the LORD said to me: Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the LORD.” (Jer 1:6-8). By any standard, Jeremiah was an effective man of God.

Now as for this cracked business, the Bible does speak of being cracked: “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13). The ones who forsook God were cracked- the evil ones were the cracked ones and were bleeding water out everywhere. But when Jesus saves us, we are sealed! “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Cor 1:21-22) There is no in-between, being saved but leaking. That is disrespectful to Him and it’s just not biblical. But it is legalism.

I’ve given two examples of Beth Moore legalism. One was from her stance on the DVD “Be Still,” about Contemplative Prayer. One was from an audio teaching about Hebrews 10:19-20. This next example is from her book, “Breaking Free: Making Liberty in Christ a Reality in Life”. It is a review of that book by Paige Britton.

Britton says, “One rather ironic element of Moore’s teaching is her definition of “legalism,” one of the roadblocks we must remove if we want to journey on to authentic freedom. According to Moore, legalism occurs whenever one studies the Word but fails to enjoy God; it is the absence of relationship, passion, engagement of the heart (pp.75, 77). This definition is fine as far as it goes, but it effectively obscures the fact that Breaking Free is all about applying new rules in order to gain what God meant for us as a gift in Christ. Since Breaking Free is also all about experiential things like peace, satisfaction, and the enjoyment of a passionate personal relationship with God, it couldn’t possibly be an example of human-centered, legalistic religion, could it?”

Of course, the answer is yes.

Sister, watch or listen or read her works carefully, carefully, with this in mind: Beth Moore tends to apply conditions for faith that are not in the Bible. She also makes sweeping claims that she does not back up with scripture. It’s worse than Joel Osteen, because there is barely any Gospel if any at all in Osteen’s speeches. In Moore’s there is a lot of Gospelese mixed in with falsity, twisted interpretations, and legalism. Study, pray, and search these things out for yourself!

Posted in beth moore, contemplative prayer

Troubled by Beth Moore’s teaching, Part 3- Contemplative Prayer

By Elizabeth Prata

I am working on a series of essays looking at the teachings of Beth Moore. She is currently a wildly popular Christian Bible teacher. Her books, DVDs, lessons, devotionals and tours sell like hotcakes. She regularly fills stadiums and arenas to capacity. She is sought after for speaking engagements and has a regular spot on a television show called Life Today. She teaches Sunday School in her home town of Houston when she is in town and has had that position since 1984.

We are in the times of the doctrines of devils, of false teachers and of deception. Beth Moore may be true or she may be false (we’ll explore that this essay and the next) but because the Bible warns of these problems with teachers and teachings at the latter days, it is important for us to take a careful look at any and all teachers who have this much influence. I mentioned in Part One that I am headed to a Beth Moore conference this weekend. I’ll be listening to her for 6 hours and may have more to say afterward. In preparation for these essays I’ve listened to Beth Moore for several hours, prayed, read others’ concerns, and studied.

So far I’ve looked at Mrs. Moore’s manner of delivery. In these next essays I’ll look at the content of what she teaches and whether the Word is handled rightly. I’ll be looking at five issues- Contemplative Prayer, Legalism, Personal Revelation, Eisegesis vs. exegesis, and outright error. This part will  look at Mrs Moore’s drift to eastern mysticism and Contemplative Prayer.

Troubled by Beth Moore Teaching, Part 1
In which I declare my biases, give a short lesson on discernment, and begin with a concern about how casually Mrs. Moore delivers her lessons.

Troubled by Beth Moore Teaching, Part 2
In which I look at one of the things that happens when women teach (tag-end questions and affirmation seeking), the undignified delivery of her lessons, and the problems with a rapid-fire teaching.

Contemplative Prayer:

On June 10, 2011, I posted a blog entry about a congregation that voted to rejoin the Catholic church. They were so happy, saying, “It’s like correcting 500 years of history.” Their yearning for the ‘rigor’ and authority of the old Catholic traditions is really a disguise and a diversion for a more insidious liberal Christian drift: Catholic Mysticism. The Catholic traditions have always been rooted in what every false religion is rooted in: some Bible PLUS man’s traditions. Some of the Catholic traditions were gained from mystics and monks who claimed special revelations after having engaged in certain kinds of prayer, or other behaviors suspiciously similar to Native American spirit walks and aboriginal dream quests. It was this problem among many others what Martin Luther rebelled against, stripping away the layers of man-built doctrines to get back to the pure Word taught directly taught to the people and available directly for the people.

Special revelations have always attracted sinful and prideful man. We want to hear from God and we want it now. Diligent searching of the scriptures and patience to hear His Spirit speaking softly to us are too hard. A vision will do. Why study hard when I can wait for a neon writing in the sky that I can then use to exalt myself and prove I am really, really religious. The current drift back toward these practices should not surprise us, it has been a problem since the beginning. Contemplative prayer is a mystical kind of prayer session in which the penitent actively engages in a consciousness-altering methodology in order to better hear the Spirit speaking. As with so many of satan’s successful tactics, true contemplative prayer is a hunk of manure with a superficial layer of something that seems good on the outside. Initially, you’d think that contemplative prayer means being quiet, and pondering the Word in a reverential moment. No doubt that was what it was at the beginning.  Monks and Anchoresses engaged in contemplative and mystical practices along with their other ascetic exercises and things are coming full circle now.

Asceticism is defined here: “The most blessed of all people are those who exhibited the greatest repentance, with pain and inner contrition, and, in this way, extinguished the proud enemy. They humbled their unruly flesh with asceticism – subdued it to the spirit – and granted the greatest joy to Heaven with their repentance (their return to God). (Elder Paisios). That definition brings to mind this verse: “The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.” (Luke 18:11). And notice who subdued the flesh: man, not the Spirit. The Spirit subdues the flesh (1 Thess. 3:13; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 8:2-4; Gal. 4:6). But in contemplative, mystical practices, man’s efforts are supreme.

So the penitents were the guys who wore hairshirts, flailed themselves, and knelt on stones to prove they were more pious than other people. It’s the same-old same-old, Pharisaical practice of showy faith and the false belief that what I do gets me into heaven, rather than what I believe. Wrap contemplative prayer in this set of practices, include practitioners such as New Agers and Buddhists, and you’ve got the picture.

The Fuel Project addressed Catholic practices and the Reformation in their fine series.

Now what does Beth Moore have to do with Contemplative Prayer? In participating in a DVD called “Be Still”, about Contemplative Prayer she identifies herself with those who are part of a growing Counter-Reformation movement. The old ‘God will let me in because of what I do’ and mystical, personal revelation, experiential, vision quest approach to faith (faith by signs and not faith by belief) is becoming increasingly popular even as it has already infiltrated the more conservative realms of the shreds of what used to be a strong fundamentalist faith. Satan got the Catholics long ago. He’s got the liberal Christians now. Who is left? Satan knows that the last bastion of people who preach the truth are the fundamentalist, conservative evangelicals huddled at the corners of places like the Southern Baptist Convention and other pockets, so he figures the best way to attract them to falsity is not by luring them back to the obvious errors of New Age, Wiccan, Buddhist etc. Those practices would turn off the conservative evangelicals, identifying it for what it is, false and wrong. Instead, he turns the prideful eyes to a near-Christian practice, embedded in our religious psyche: Catholic and Orthodox mysticism. All that unpleasantness about the Reformation happened so long ago, can’t we all just get along? And bingo, we have Beth Moore saying:

“You know, one of the things that time gives us is that it erases the lines in between people so many different sections of the people of God. Because many years later it doesn’t matter any longer that this person was of this practice in the Christian faith and this person of another. Time somehow blurs those lines and we are profoundly moved by the historical narratives of all their lives, of so great a cloud of witnesses; that we can look back on and see what kept them running the race, what kept them running toward the face of Christ at the end of that finish line.”

So, ‘all that messiness’ was so long ago it doesn’t count anymore? All the martyrs burned for daring to oppose the Catholic Church’s authority can be dismissed, while we embrace the forefathers of this perpetration of evil because we’re moved by their historical narrative? I don’t think so. Yet suddenly the lines are not blurred when she teaches on generational bondage and advises women how to extract themselves from the historical hold addictions have on them…

In the Be Still promotional writing, the producer says of the practice: “We wanted people to know that you don’t have to be a super scholar or saint to experience this type of listening prayer and intimacy with God.” It is the old, false drift to personal revelation extant of the Bible, my truth versus your truth, and experience not scholarship. This appeals to women because they are busy. Either they are at home with kids, in which case their middle name is “run-run-run”, or they are working AND raising kids which means they really have little time at all. Being told by famous Christian women that you don’t have to study and you can just tune into God’s frequency and have it all plopped down into your mind has great appeal. The danger, of course, is that what is plopped down into it may be untruth, but since women are being told they don’t have to study, how will they know?

The Be Still producer continues, “Look for times to stop and grab ‘be still’ moments. One of my favorite times is when I pull into the driveway after being out in traffic or running errands. There is a perfect silence just as I turn the car off and the door is still closed. Sometimes I will sit in the driveway with the Lord for five or 10 minutes before I go into the house. We have these moments all throughout our day, but if we don’t make time to learn to recognize them, we won’t notice them and will miss God’s little gifts of silence and peace.”

But we’re supposed to meditate on the scriptures! you say. “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” (Joshua 1:8)

Yes we are supposed to meditate on His Word. Read Charles Spurgeon’s explanation of what that means and how to do it. I don’t see anything in there about emptying your mind, breathing deeply, and sitting in the driveway.

Now I want to mention that I think we have become too casual about praying in the Word. The liberal theology of past generation has instilled in us an undue focus on the Buddy Jesus and not the JUDGE ALMIGHTY. We focus on His friendship, His lovingkindness, and forgo the reverence that used to define private worship. We finish the dishes, plop down, fold our hands, and start yakking. This is fine as one kind of prayer, but there should be some kind of reverential attitude at some point. When I sit down to pray, I take a few deep breaths, to separate in my mind the previous activity from the upcoming one. I clear the cobwebs and prepare my body to respect the moment. I wait a few minutes and let the mundane thoughts bubbling around my mind dissipate. In Old Testament times the High Priest could only enter the Holy of Holies once per year, on the Day of Atonement. “Even as the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he had to make some meticulous preparations: He had to wash himself, put on special clothing, bring burning incense to let the smoke cover his eyes from a direct view of God, and bring blood with him to make atonement for sins.” (source). He didn’t sit in the driveway and grab a few minutes just to stick God into the day!

Just because we can do this: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body …let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” (Hebrews 10:19-22) doesn’t mean we should be calling driveway prayers special intimacy with God. New Covenant access to Him doesn’t mean casualness, but that’s what intimacy with Him has become. And that is one of the issues I have with Moore. (See part one). And what about the thief on the cross? I don’t think he had time to be still and quiet, so he missed out on “God’s little gifts of silence and peace”? Beware teachers who say do it my way or you’re doing it wrong. Of contemplative prayer, Beth Moore said; “[I]f we are not still before Him [God], we will never truly know to the depths of the marrow of our bones that He is God. There’s got to be a stillness.”

And that brings us to an even greater concern of her teaching: legalism. You have to listen carefully and do a lot of note-taking because she goes so fast, or listen online and use the pause button a lot, but Beth Moore has a tendency to shape the scriptures away from pure faith and toward legalism. She splits sentences, putting a crowbar between words and inserting things you’ve ‘got‘ to do. There is a lot of ‘do this or else’. Re-read her contemplative prayer quote: “[I]f we are not still before Him, we will never truly know to the depths of the marrow of our bones that He is God. There’s got to be a stillness.” Tell that to the thief on the cross.

Next essay: Beth Moore’s Legalism