Monthly Archives: August 2012

Beth Moore: Heretic or Healer?

I ran into this radio post through someone else’s facebook page.  This guy offers critical analysis of sermons to point out all their faults.  This particular post caught my eye because I happen to be a fan of Beth Moore, and I’ve honestly never heard of anyone calling her a heretic before.

I have to say upfront that the speaker on Pirate Radio, Chris, annoys me with his incessant tone of superiority.  I almost couldn’t get through the first 3 minutes, and I struggled for the next 50.   I had to stop after that because it’s late!  I will have to finish it later.

There are many moments where the speaker, Chris, is just plain mean.  I don’t understand how a Christian could treat another Christian (or anyone!) with such disdain and rudeness.  I was really hoping this would be a purely intellectual discussion.  You can listen to it here, if you like: http://www.extremetheology.com/2010/03/beth-moores-dangerous-bible-twisting.html

Chris had a few valid points.

1)      Beth Moore alluded to Hebrews 10:35-36, which she appears to take out of context.  “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”  Beth uses this verse to encourage her listeners to believe in their God-given confidence and abilities.  Chris gives a comprehensive explanation of what he believes Hebrews 10 is referring to.  I do think Beth was taking this verse out of context and constructed a message around it.  It is concerning, and this is what incenses Chris.  But Chris is convinced that Beth is trying to teach believers to have confidence in themselves alone.  He constantly refers to this, even when Beth appears to have moved away from the Hebrews passage to make her point.

I can see what Beth Moore is trying to convey.  To me, it’s clear as day that she’s talking about having a confidence through Jesus Christ.  Women (I can’t speak for men, but probably men too) are always second guessing themselves and often think they have to rely on themselves for strength rather than on Christ.  We are supposed to find our confidence and strength through Jesus.  This is what I would have assumed Beth was saying.  Perhaps this is because I have read several of her books, so I have the benefit of knowing her mind a bit more than a first-time listener.

I’ve read Beth Moore talk about the lack of confidence in her life.  It crippled her to the point where she was not effectively serving Christ.  This is how I’d explain it: God called her to speak, and she refused, much like Moses doubting his ability when God called him to lead the Jews. (Exodus 3:10-16)  Beth didn’t have confidence IN Christ, and she didn’t have enough OF Christ’s confidence.  They’re different, but they’re closely linked – you need to have a belief that God can do what He says He CAN do through you (confidence IN Him), and you need to trust that God WILL do it (having all OF God’s confidence).  Any less than total confidence in Christ is detrimental to your personal spiritual life and your effectiveness as an agent of God for the Kingdom.

2)      There’s a lack of Scriptural teaching in this message.  Beth is a good storyteller.  She’s able to use her personal experiences to convey a lesson God taught to her.  She does this in her books, but usually it’s fairly balanced along with Biblical text and teachings.  I can agree that her message in this recording is a bit sparse on the Biblical side, and a little more “feely” to appeal to the mostly female audience.

Where I think Chris is wrong:

1)      Beth says Christ’s spirit (Romans 8) takes up residency in our spirits and therefore we gain His attributes like His confidence and His competence. The speaker harps on the literal version of the translation.  Romans 8 does not use the words “Christ’s confidence and His competence”.  This is true.  This is an inserted opinion that Beth tried to use as a literal interpretation.  I can see her point.  If Christ dwells in us, then His mind, wisdom, and heart dwells in us.  Doesn’t this mean his competence and confidence also?  Colossians 2:9-10 seems to say so: “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” I can understand Chris’ wariness of inserting meaning into this text without full Biblical context and additional references.

2)      At one point Beth says, “If we receive Christ as our Savior but we never recognize and by faith believe Him to also be our healer and restorer, then we stay just as cracked as when we got here.”  The speaker calls this heresy.  I call this Biblical truth.  The Bible doesn’t use the words “healer and restorer” as far as I’m aware, but the Bible does say that faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26)  If we believe Christ to be our Savior, then we will allow Him to deliver us from our sins, teach us the ways of righteousness, and restore us.

I have the benefit of knowing Beth’s common language and usage – when she says “healer”, she doesn’t literally mean “If you aren’t healed of your cancer, you aren’t a Christian.”  I’m going to assume Chris thought she was saying something along those lines.  It’s true that when we accept Christ into our lives, we don’t have to work to gain salvation.  But it’s true that if you truly accept Christ into your life, your life will drastically change.  What was dead is now alive; the old flesh is cast off. (Ephesians 2:1-10, Colossians 2:11-15)  Is that not healing and restoring?

(As a side note: It’s funny to me that Chris always calls Beth legalistic and then he condemns her for giving personal life stories rather than speaking specifically about stories in the Bible to teach about God.)

3)      Beth Moore said, “Each and every single one of us has been created with an area of brilliance.”  The speaker quips, “You’re missing the whole major point of the Scripture that we are dead in our trespasses and sins.”  I thought the whole point of the Gospel was that Jesus freed us from our sins, that we are no longer slaves to our sins.  We WERE dead in our trespasses and sins.  Now we are alive and free in Christ.  (Galatians 5:19-25, Romans 8:1-11) I think I understand that Chris’ theology believes all humans are evil and corrupt from birth, so therefore we can’t be born with a shred of goodness and we can’t ever become good while on this earth.   I disagree with this, as do several other denominations.  In fact, some people on the opposite side of the spectrum would call Chris out for heresy for saying we are always dead even after we become believers.  Food for thought. . .

4)      The host of the show says, “If we really know God, His love will be on our hearts” – to which Chris says “LAW, law, LAW!”  as if that explains anything.  He’s claiming that the people involved in this discussion are false teachers who are preaching legalism.  I don’t understand why this quote is so troublesome.  I wish he had explained what he thinks, rather than assuming I agree with him.

5)      Chris harps on the host’s call to take care of the children all over the world who are dying from lack of something basic, like water or food.  Chris essentially asks why they’re bothering to put effort into feeding these children if they aren’t evangelizing to them and teaching them the way to eternal life.  First of all, these people didn’t say they weren’t evangelizing, they were just trying to encourage those who were not in South Africa (or wherever) to take immediate action and GIVE to these children in need.  Evangelism without social justice is like praying “the prayer” without believing in Christ.  Christ called us to care for people AND preach to them.  (Matt 10:5-8)  I’d argue, what good is a sermon if a man needs a coat and you do not give him your coat?  Just as I’d imagine Chris would  argue, what good is prolonging a man’s earthly life if you do not give a man the way to receive eternal life?  If Chris gave me proof that the host’s plea for money for these children was not attached to any sort of gospel message, I might understand Chris’ indignant outcry.  But without that, he just sounds like an overly judgey guy who gets off on criticizing and insulting people.

I’m obviously not convinced by this radio show that Beth Moore is a heretical teacher.  I think she does wonderful ministry work.  None of Beth’s teachings in this recording raised a red flag to me, but perhaps you think differently.  I’d be very interested in what you have to say, because there might be something I haven’t thought of before.  Feel free to defend Chris or Beth.

The Church as an army

A pastor recently said that in 1920, 80 percent of Americans went to church.  IN 1960, it was 60 percent.  Today, only 40 percent go to church.  He further commented, “The church is under attack.”

I was incensed and wanted to jump up and yell, “What do you mean, the church is under attack!  The problem is not the church being under attack ; it is that the church is not attacking!  It’s time to get this army back in the war!”

– Maverick, In the Dragon’s Lair

Thoughts?

Prophet by R. J. Larson

I read one of the free books I received from the International Christian Retail Show.  I didn’t mean to read it yet.  I was packing my things from my old apartment to move to my new one, and I had every intention of just reading the first chapter or two to see if I wanted to temporarily store it or bring it to my new place.  But this book was so good, and I was so desperate to escape from reality that I read half the book in one night.  Escape I did, into an colorful world in an Old Testament-era time period with fictional kingdoms, prophets, and kings.

The book is entitled, Prophet (Books of the Infinite), by R. J. Larson.  A young woman of 17 is called by the Infinite to become a Prophet and save the nearby kingdoms from the Infinite’s just wrath.  Ela is a likable character with honest feelings that any person could relate to.  The Infinite is obviously an allegory to God, but the god of this book is only ever referred to as “Infinite” and “Creator”.  I found it interesting that Larson never used “God” or “Lord” within the book.  Even though this book is infused with religious-inspired stories and perspectives, it seems to make it more accessible to non-Christians.  I read an Amazon review of a self-identifying atheist who said she was shocked by how much she enjoyed the book.  Initially I was surprised she valued it so highly, as my new-found love for this book comes from the many spiritual realizations I had while reading it.  However, it became clear in retrospection that this is a great book for an open-minded atheist or a struggling Christian.

This book does a wonderful job of portraying a just and merciful God, a concept that many have a difficult time reconciling.  What this books reveals is the perfect heart of God — a completely loving, generous Creator who wants nothing more than his creation to repent and return to a relationship with him.  But when his creation refuses time and time again in their own pride, He does not hesitate to do what is just and destroys them and their evils ways.  It’s clear in the book that he takes no pleasure from it, and his prophet, Ela, has a compassionate heart despite her role as the Infinite’s doomsayer.  The thoughtful questions Ela has for her Creator is matched by wise responses that appear to be entirely Scripture inspired.  It was a blessing to read responses that made logical sense and fit with God’s character.

Ela is a strong female character, but unlike the modern day version of a “strong” female, Ela is humble, submissive to God, and compassionate.  Too often I see female leads attempting to overcompensate for society’s expectations and they end up being horrible role models for young women who desire to seek God.   I found Ela’s intelligence, her strength in character, her honest recognition of her weaknesses, and her love for her family and friends very inspiring.  Her relationship with her sister, her captors, and her friends will touch you.  The book does not shy away from the fact that she is a female Prophet.  I am sure there will be good character development in the next two books.  I only wish there was more back story about Ela’s past.

Some readers will be displeased with the lack of scenic detail in this book.  I do not find those sorts of things distracting because I typically spend all of my time concentrating on dialogue and relationship building between characters.  I’d say her style of writing reminds me a bit of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  I should mention that if you’re wary of authors inserting words into God’s mouth, then you might have a difficult time warming up to this book.  Of course, it’s important to realize that the author never claims her story is a factual depiction of God.  It’s really just a story to inspire you to seek God in all you do and listen to His every word.  I highly recommend it, especially to young women, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!  I look forward to the next books in the series.