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.
Troubled by Beth Moore’s Teaching, Part 1: Introduction and Casualness
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 penchant for personal revelation.
Personal revelation…everybody and their brother is a prophet these days. Have you noticed? Seems like everyone has had Jesus show up in their living room, their bathroom, their potato. Seems like some special ones get a free tour of heaven or a lengthy visit with grandpa up there. This is because as the emergent church asked and asked and asked what truth is, actually chipping away at it as they asked, we began to substitute direct revelation and personal experience for truth. If the Bible isn’t thoroughly true, then I’ll just accept these experiences, tongues, visions, and voices as truth. After all, it happened to me, and I know it’s true.
Another effect of the emergent church’s chipping away at truth through incessant questioning is that if there is no one truth, we accept it all. “You had a vision? Cool! Wanna hear mine?” “God talked to you in the shower? He spoke to me in the kitchen!” It is the result of a decade of charismatic emphasis on personal experience as a substitute for systematic theology and disciplined study.
Now, it is true that the LORD speaks to us today. The Lord does speak; through prayer and the Bible. Read this for explanation and verses. He spoke to people audibly in the past, mostly to the prophets, but He certainly could speak to someone today, though I don’t think it happens nearly as often as we read about.
But personal experience is NOT a substitute for intimacy with the Lord. The Bible is the only barometer of truth. How often are we are told that we are, could be, and are likely to be deceived? Many times in the Bible! (2 Thess 2:9; John 4:48; Rev 13:14, etc)
Beth Moore often says thing like “God spoke to me…” Or, “God said…” In her book “The Beloved Disciple: Following John to the Heart of Jesus” she wrote that God said, “My child, in between more intense rests, I want to teach you to take Sabbath moments.” It is nice that God speaks in such complete sentences to her. Moore doesn’t say how He spoke it to her…just “God told me.” And look at the sentence carefully: He said he was going to teach her to take these moments. Is a new doctrine being taught? And is it just for Beth Moore? I have no quarrel with someone saying that they feel that Jesus spoke to them in some way, but I’d like a lot more specificity as to how and where.
Here is an example of a direct revelation in a clip from Life Today, called “It’s scary to be us” in which Mrs. Moore said, “He knows it’s scary to be us. And I know that He does. I know that He does. He does not take lightly what you are going through. … I don’t know if we think He is so far removed that He doesn’t feel it, respect it, esteem it… But He knows what you are going through.”
Now that’s a nice sentiment. I happen to believe it is true- He does know what we are going through. He does attend to even the smallest of our needs. Do you know how I know? Matthew 10:29; Matt. 6:25-34; Matt 10:31; 1 Peter 5:7 and others. God knows the number hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7). If a Bible teacher makes a claim that she knows something about God, I expect that teacher to use the verses as proof of her assertion. All Mrs. Moore said was, “I know that He knows.” That is spiritual arrogance.
God has said: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8). Moore does not use scripture as the basis for making the claim that she knows what God is thinking. That is not only spiritual arrogance, it is dangerous.
In 1997 the Baptist Press began their feature on her with this sentence: “Beth Moore talks about God so personally, it is easy to imagine her reaching over and squeezing his hand.” She does seem to have an over-familiarity with the King Jesus that is precious, but not so reverential.
In the Old Testament God raised up prophets who spoke for Him after He spoke directly to the prophets. They spoke aloud and they wrote things down. The people knew which prophets were true and which were false by the standard laid out in Deuteronomy 18:22. When the people heard the prophets speaking the words from the LORD, they would have heard something like this:
“But My people have changed their Glory
For what does not profit.
12 Be astonished, O heavens, at this,
And be horribly afraid;
Be very desolate,” says the LORD. ” (Jer 2:11b-12b)
In the New Testament we hear the Lord say through John, “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” (Rev 3:14-16)
Because the veil was torn now we all have direct access to the Lord now, our buddy, old pal. We can hear Beth Moore say: “Just that morning God confirmed His desire for me to drive all the way to the other side of Houston…I got in my car and prayed. I pulled out of the parking lot, fighting the tears. A few blocks later as if on autopilot, I turned my steering wheel straight into the parking lot of the Houston Zoo! Christ seemed to say, “Let’s go play.” And that we did. I hadn’t been to the zoo in years. I heard about all the improvements, but I never expected the ultimate: Starbucks coffee! (OK, so I don’t have my health issues down pat.) Can you imagine watching a baby koala take a nap in a tree on a rare cold day in Houston with a Starbucks grande cappuccino in your hand? Now that’s a Sabbath moment! God and I had a blast.” (source)
So now a zombie Jesus takes over the body of a person and drives her to the zoo to watch a koala.
I’m not saying that Jesus doesn’t care for us in all aspects of our being, and that stress reduction isn’t an important part of the life of a restful and healthy Christian. I’m just trying to show how God spoke to His people throughout the eons and that over-familiarity and careless handling of His word diminishes His august majesty when we say things like, ‘I was driven to the zoo by Jesus to watch the koalas.’
The method of receiving her direct revelations changes too. Sometimes it is an audible voice. Sometimes it is in her mind. Sometimes it is across the wall of her heart. Dr. Kurien did a good job of examining the issue at “A Time To Discern”, here. It is a .pdf. If you want even more examples of the direct and personal revelation claims from Mrs. Moore, go on over to The Watchman’s Bagpipes for a gentle dissection and rebuttal, here.
Pastor Bob DeWaay of Twin Cities Fellowship in Minneapolis, Minnesota said- ” We have ideas in our minds – that may or may not be from God. They are not God’s authoritative binding revelation. Ideas, dreams, or visions – are part of God’s Providence and they contain good and evil. We are free to have ideas – but you never know for sure because they are not God’s binding revelation. These words, thoughts, ideas or visions may or may not be from God. There are no new revelations since the closing of the Canon of Scripture.”
This is true. Look what the Bible says is within us: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Matthew 7:21-23)
When Beth Moore says “God told me” I want verses to back it up because that should be the source. Otherwise it could by from any source and according to the Lord’s own Word, that source could be pretty ugly.
In his series, “How does God Guide Us? Guidance Through Divine Whispering (Part 2)”, Mark D. Roberts said: “Unfortunately, a multitude of contemporary Christians have trivialized this ministry of the Spirit. “God spoke to me” has become a virtual replacement for “I thought,” except that by saying “God spoke to me” a person avoids having to take responsibility for his or her actions. After all, if God told me to buy a new computer that I really don’t need, who are you and who am I to question God’s command? Claiming God’s authority for my own thoughts not only appears to protect me from being corrected, but it also gives an added punch to my own preferences…. While recognizing that the Spirit will speak to us, we must also acknowledge our tendency to misinterpret what we hear, or to mistake our own inner voice for the voice of God.” It is an excellent post on the issue of Divine Whispering. Please take a moment to read it. It is not long. Roberts’ whole series examining “How Does God Guide?” us is here.
As I said, the whole “God told me” thing could be real or it could not be real. I tend to think that it’s less real than Moore hopes it is. One of my favorite preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather, it is telling the difference between right and almost right.” Moore is almost right … but in the end will that be enough?