Monday, October 06, 2014

The Beliefs and Teachings of Beth Moore

Display of Beth Moore resources at a local LifeWay store.

Ac 17:11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
It is always right, even necessary, to examine the Scriptures daily to see whether a public speaker’s teaching is biblical. In doing so we must not judge anyone’s heart or question anyone’s motives or intelligence.
Wanda Elizabeth “Beth” Moore was born on June 16, 1957, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She is an evangelist, author, and Bible teacher. She is married with two grown children. She is the founder of Living Proof Ministries, based in Houston, Texas. Formerly a member of Houston’s First Baptist Church, she now belongs to Bayou City Fellowship (BCF) in Houston, where her son-in-law, Curtis Jones, is the lead pastor.
What is Bayou City Fellowship (BCF)? What does this group teach and practice?
BCF is a charismatic group which holds that “all men and women are born corrupted, sinful, and condemned.” From birth all people are “enslaved to sin” and are “unable to understand the things of God.” The Holy Spirit must first enable such understanding. They "believe all the gifts listed in the New Testament are still active." The gifts listed in 1 Cor 12:4-11, said to continue today, include tongues, healings, prophecy, etc. The group teaches that the Spirit baptizes all believers into the Body of Christ so that they are saved. Later they are to be baptized (by immersion) in water. A person once saved can never be lost, though “Christian freedom is not an excuse to sin.”
Readers, would you invite any member of BCF to teach a Bible class where you worship? Why or why not?
Let’s get back to Ms. Moore herself. She is a dynamic, passionate, and articulate presenter. She is very effective and persuasive. She has an extremely devoted following. Many enroll in every class she produces, faithfully watching the videos and eagerly doing the daily homework. They find her message and style engaging and captivating. They eagerly await each new Beth Moore study, on any topic or part of the Bible that it may address.
Though Beth Moore no longer belongs to a Southern Baptist church, the Southern Baptists’ publishing arm, B & H (Broadman and Holman), publishes her materials. The Southern Baptists’ commercial arm, LifeWay Christian Stores, promotes and sells them. The extent and influence of Ms. Moore’s ministry can also be seen in increased sales. The ministry reported 2011 income in excess of $5M and over $12M in assets.
To allow Beth Moore to speak for herself, please watch this sample YouTube presentation before reading further.
Readers, after watching the video, would you invite Beth Moore to teach a Bible class where you worship? Would you participate in such a class? Why or why not?
Some have a strong, even intense emotional commitment to Ms. Moore. In fact one can draw a very strong response from her supporters just for questioning her beliefs and teachings. I know this from firsthand experience! Several years ago, when her material was introduced into a local church setting, I asked some objective, Bible-based questions. As a result some sisters in Christ in that local church snubbed me and acted as if it was my problem!
With some it seems virtually impossible to have a rational, biblical evaluation of what Ms. Moore teaches. They react by asking, “How can you question a person who is so sincere? Who obviously loves God with all her heart? Who touches so many lives? Who has taught me more about the Bible than anyone I have ever known in my life?”
It is not Ms. Moore’s sincerity, passion, or love that is in question. We dare not judge such things. However, if the Bereans could evaluate Paul’s teaching in the light of Scripture (Acts 17:11), surely we can do the same with Ms. Moore’s teaching. Because her teaching is public, it is not difficult to ascertain its content and tone.
Does Beth Moore teach what the Bible teaches?
[1] Ms. Moore teaches that one receives salvation through the “sinner’s prayer” rather than through baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Her website notes, “How to Receive Jesus Christ: 1. Admit your need for forgiveness and peace. 2. Be willing to turn from your sins, believing that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and rose from the grave. 3. Through prayer, invite Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and be your Savior.”
Readers, would you invite Beth Moore to tell the people you know how to be saved? Regardless of her sincerity, is she teaching what the Bible teaches on this vital subject?
If she is not, may we say so without being harsh, judgmental, or unfair? Certainly it is OK to talk and write publicly about a public statement like this. Surely we may say with kindness and love, “This is not what the Bible teaches.”
Many say that we should go to each person privately, as much as possible. To this end I have written a letter to Ms. Moore about this subject. Would you join me and do the same? Again, with kindness and respect for her knowledge and sincerity, you can contact her personally and ask her to reconsider what the Bible teaches about salvation. Her website says that the best way to reach her is by mail, at this address:
Beth Moore              12131 Malcomson                Houston, TX  77070
Before we go on to other teachings, let’s note this. Many sincere people, from various evangelical religious groups, have also expressed concern about some of Beth Moore’s teachings, which are noted below. You may search online and see that this is the case.
[2] Ms. Moore adds her own content to the Bible’s actual teaching. In the DVD series Believing God, she discusses Mark 9:14-24. Ms. Moore claims that when Jesus came down from the Transfiguration with the three disciples He had taken with Him, He found the other nine arguing about why He had not taken them with Him. Why had Jesus picked just Peter, James and John? Why were the others not good enough? This arguing supposedly gave them “a failure of faith.” Ms. Moore said that they had argued with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law “until they talked them out of their faith.” And this is why she says we are not to argue with “Pharisees” who want to destroy our faith in what God can do. This is simply not in the Bible, and in fact it contradicts it. The context (verse 29) gives Jesus’ actual explanation. The failure to cast out the demon was not caused by arguments about why some were not chosen or by arguments with the Pharisees about anything.
One of Ms. Moore’s followers once told me, “She’s showing us things I never saw in the Bible before!” She was right. As you consider her materials, listen carefully and be sure the Bible actually teaches what she says it teaches.
At another time Ms. Moore affirmed that Jesus was actually born on December 25. She suggested that He was quite possibly conceived on the Jewish Day of Atonement, and in that case He could in fact have been born on “Christmas Day.” Then she said, “That works for me!” She gave no Scripture. She had no biblical basis for her conclusion. The point here is not to tell people how to remember the coming and birth of the Savior. It is just to emphasize that we must be careful not to say more or less than the Bible says on any subject.
[3] Ms. Moore teaches men, in the presence of men (1 Tim 2:11-15). You saw this when you watched the sample video noted above. People may disagree as to whether she is “preaching” or “teaching,” but in either case the Scripture is clear.
Ms. Moore does state that women are to be subject to their husbands. In this same regard, she needs to make it clear that, according to Scripture, women must not teach men. She needs to insist on following this truth. This is a watershed issue in the religious world today, and we simply must speak where the Bible speaks. Ignoring biblical truth can be just as dangerous as adding to it.
[4] Ms. Moore claims that God has spoken to her individually, personally, and specifically.
You have already watched the sample presentation above, where she describes her verbal argument with God in an airport about brushing a man’s hair. You can read a description of this encounter here:
There she is quoted as saying, "Again, as clearly as I've ever heard an audible word, God seemed to write this statement across the wall of my mind."
In the Session 6 DVD of Believing God, Ms. Moore describes a conversation she had with God. He called her “Baby” and “Honey.” He established her as a religious authority, through whom He would give additional revelation beyond the Bible. She says: “You know what He told me not too long ago? I told you when I first began this whole concept, He first started teaching it to me about five years ago, and He said these words to me: ‘Baby, you have not even begun to believe Me. You haven’t even begun!’ You know what He said just a few days ago? ‘Honey, I just want you to know we’re just beginning.’ Oh, glory! That meant I had begun. Hallelujah! But He was telling me, ‘When this ends, we ain’t done with this. Honey, this is what we do for the rest of your life.’ And He said those words to me over and over again: ‘Believe Me. Believe Me. And I hope it’s starting to ring in your ears, over and over again, Believe Me.’”
Elsewhere she writes, “As we study we may see several examples of Him [Christ] posing a question that only He could answer. Christ certainly uses that teaching method with me. Sometimes He’ll cause me to dig through Scripture for a question He seemed to initiate. Other times the question may come as a personalized whisper in my heart: ‘Beth, why are you acting that way?’ Often my answer is ‘I don’t know, Lord! Can you tell me why?’ If I really search His heart, sooner or later He’ll give me insight into my reactions” (Jesus, the One and Only, by Beth Moore, B & H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tenn., 2002, p. 47).
Beth Moore also notes sometimes she has been mistaken about God speaking to her. She says that there are occasions when "I probably misunderstood or accidentally ascribed [the voice] to Him." Read these words in their own context.
In So Long, Insecurity, Moore writes: “I’d like to replay it to you in the form of a dialogue because when it occurred, it was as if God spoke every word concretely and audibly to me. In reality, what I’ll describe was expressed in my spirit rather than in my physical hearing. After spending years in relationship with God, seeking what He’s like and how He operates in Scripture, I, like many people, can get a sense of something He’s strongly impressing upon me without “hearing” precise words. When thoughts come to me out of the blue that I’m convinced did not originate in my own mind, if they’re consistent with God’s character and sound like something He would say in Scripture, I usually assume it’s Him. Ultimately, time proves whether or not I discerned the voice correctly. If it produces substantial fruit, I know it was God and I was on target. If nothing comes of it, I probably misunderstood or accidentally ascribed it to Him. None of us are beyond confusing our own thoughts with God’s, no matter how many times we've been around the bend with Him (Moore, “So Long,” pp. 325-326).
When God speaks to Beth Moore, what would He instruct her about salvation? Would He have her teach others the “Sinner’s Prayer?” Or would He have her say, as the apostles did, “Repent and be baptized?”
[5] Ms. Moore allegorizes Scripture. That is, she takes elements from the Bible, turns them into symbols of other ideas, and draws her own conclusions. Speaking of the demoniac of Matt 8:28-34, she says, “Before we proceed to the next point, consider a fact revealed in verse 27. The demoniac didn't live in a house. He resided in the tombs. I wonder how many people today are living “in the tombs?” I know a woman who is still so oppressed by despair that decades after the loss of a loved one, she still lives “in the tombs.”  (Jesus, the One and Only, by Beth Moore, B & H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tenn., 2002, p. 143-144)
Of course, the text itself does not actually highlight the difference between living in a house and living in the tombs. In fact the man was not only in the tombs but also on the mountains (Mark 5:5). The point of the event actually has to do with Jesus’ power over demons, the people's fear of His authority, and His directing the man to tell others at home what the Lord had done for him. This passage does not refer to people today who are in despair because a loved one died. Certainly the Lord promises us His comfort (2 Cor 1). This text, however, describes a specific miracle, unique in several respects, in which Jesus miraculously cast out a large number (“Legion”) of demons. This particular text does not promise that Jesus will miraculously remove one’s grief after bereavement.
The problem with allegorizing is that one can make the Bible say anything he wants. For example, “Legion” actually involved many demons. We could make that large number refer to a multitude of struggles that people have. There would be no need to limit it to grief. We could include in the list anything we choose. We could claim that, according to this passage, Jesus will miraculously, visibly, and totally cast out all the problems we have. Some even say that many conditions with which people suffer today are caused by demons that possess them. Why not?
Then, of course, Jesus sent the demons into a herd of pigs. Who are the “pigs” in our allegory? Could we make the pigs to be God’s enemies today and claim that our grief and bereavement will somehow be transferred to them? And what is the allegorical significance of the townspeople, the cliff down which the pigs descend, and the water in which they drown? We could make these things represent whatever we choose. Apparently, however, the significance of this strange event is simply that the devil's power is real and destructive. Jesus, with His supernatural might, is able with a word to overcome the devil's worst. 
[6] Ms. Moore takes an ecumenical, inter-denominational approach, going along with man-made denominational divisions, doctrines, and traditions. Her website notes, “We actively support the unity of all believers eclipsing all denominational, economic, or ethnic diversities.”
When God speaks to Beth Moore, would He give her that message? Or would He tell her to call all her hearers back to the “one Lord, one faith, one body, and one baptism” of Eph 4?
Readers, would you ask a person (even the most sincere and passionate) with these beliefs to teach anyone – including yourself – about matters pertaining to eternal life and death?
Here’s a much safer course, in fact the only safe course. Keep reading that Bible, believe what it says, and stick with it. Evaluate everything by it, and honor the Lord by obeying it.
Cory Collins


ole olsen said...

Cory, You were both biblical and fair in your comments. The truth is that many people may be sincere in their beliefs, but if what they believe and teach is not in harmony with God's word they will be lost. Teaching the "Sinners Prayer" to be saved is not by the Lord's authority. Thank you for not compromising the Word of God.

J Hall said...

Thank you for speaking out on this in such a kind and Christ like way. I pray as Ms. Moore touches lives with partial truth, that people will study to find the whole truth in God's word.

Anonymous said...

Cory, I have a creative mind and I believe God can allow us the privilege of taking a verse and it having a personal application to help us or at the very least let us express our human feelings... Ie:The story of the disciples on the boat, a storm hits, the disciples cry out to the Lord basically "Don't you care?"... That story can help in a myriad of ways...and everyones own personal journey can find something to relate to... And gain some insight into others or themselves. I believe Beth does this with her words being she is very creative ( how God made her). She's not trying to twist scripture or add to it. People who are black and white in their thought life have a hard time discerning the "spirit of the thought"...

Anonymous said...

Also I don't believe what Charismatics do with tongues, prophecy etc... But God has spoken to my heart throughout my years, sometimes he gives me a visual picture to teach me, or convicts me with thoughts like " you think that was spectacular? Give yourself 100% to me and you'll see even greater things" why wouldn't God want to use His still small voice to encourage or shape us?

Cory Collins said...

"Anonymous," thank you for these thoughts and comments.
Certainly we can and must make personal application of the Word, like Jesus did, to every life situation. The concern has to do with allegorization and making points that are not made in the text.
You noted your rejection of charismatic tongues and prophecy. Was there any other question raised in the post that you found to be valid? Baptism and the "sinner's prayer," for example? Any twisting or adding to the Word here? Please comment further. Thanks again, and God bless.

Gail Harper said...

Why can't we just look at the results,her fruit? I do agree that we should examine solid biblical teaching but after watching the clip I saw a woman who boldly stepped out for God publicly. I wonder if Gary would have done (publicly at an airport) what Beth did when there was a chance for embarrassment? Her service to the old man brought tears to my eyes. She did it for Jesus and not for herself. WWJD

Cory Collins said...

Gail, thank you for your comment. May we be bold indeed, and willing to be embarrassed, in living for the Lord and sharing His message, yet without changing that message! God bless.

marlene said...

Talk to God about men and talk to men about God. If I. Suppose another is incorrect I. Their teaching I should pray for them that God will reveal what is lacking not attacking. We've used many of Beth's teachings and others and always tell our women to evaluate whatever anyone says in light of God's Word. And I've always loved the passage that says, "Knowlege puffs up love builds up and he that thinks he knows does not yet know." And this one, "If on some point you think differently even that Christ will make known to you." No one is 100 percent accurate in doctrine unless He's Jesus. The main point is that we know personally our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. And yes we are warned, "My people perish for lack of knowledge" but God promises us if we seek Him with our whole hearts we will find Him, regardless of the vessels humanity. He used a donkey, he can use any of us; we just need to make sure of the motives with which people speak and present and with the Spirit's discernment He will show us truth as we ask. And we're told not to compare ourselves by ourselves and yes to expose false prophets. But if someone gets something wrong or says one thing wrong does that make them a false prophet. We need to be very careful about what we say about another's servant. God has and does use Beth in the lives of thousands and I've seen those lives transformed not by Beth but by the Spirit of the living God through the teaching of His Word.

Cory Collins said...

Marlene, thank you for your comments. This post was intended to do just what you noted, "to evaluate whatever anyone says in light of God's Word." The Bible teaches this explicitly in Acts 17:11. You and I can - and must - do this, without being puffed up or thinking that we know everything there is to know. We must not judge anyone's motives or sincerity, but we must stick with the Word. If any of Beth Moore's teachings concern you as being out of harmony with the Spirit-given Word, would you please join me in contacting her? Please reply. Thanks again, and God bless.