Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sincere Thoughts About Beth Moore

Paul and Barnabas had a sharp disagreement over Mark in Acts 15. It was so bad they had to part ways. Mark had abandoned Paul at one point and didn't continue on in their missionary work. It is safe to assume Mark had repented (at least in word) for this since Barnabas was adamant about him coming along. Paul obviously felt his repentance was only in word and it wasn't worth the risk to let him come along again. Let me ask you this: who was right? Paul or Barnabas?

It is my conviction that both men were right to do what they did. This isn't to read some relativistic moralism into the text - rather, I'm just basing it on what the Bible teaches. We need to look at things objectively and discerning truth from error but we also need to be gracious and charitable. I am certain Paul had his reasons for doing what he did and Barnabas had his reasons. I'm guessing personality had a lot to do with each decision. As much as we need to see the nobility of the Bereans in Acts 17 we also need to look at the wise person described in James 3:13-18 and the Christian described in Ephesians 4:17-30.

Paul and Barnabas would have each been fully convinced in their own minds that their decision was right. It's right to not take people with records of cowardice on trips that require tremendous amounts of courage. It's also right to be gracious with people and give them another opportunity. If someone loaned me their car and I wrecked it being an idiot, would it be wrong if they didn't loan me their car again? What does the Bible teach about making wise and informed decisions? Would it be wrong if they loaned me their car again? Maybe if they did so out of ignorance but if they did so out of conscience and after prayerfully weighing the costs, I don't for a second think it would be wrong.

That all brings us to Beth Moore. There are men smarter than me who are certain she's a false teacher. There are men smarter than me who do not believe she's a false teacher. I respect men on both sides. I see the argument from both. I waver back and forth between the two.

  • She makes me extremely uncomfortable. I'm also not a woman and her audience is women. I recognize that not every teacher is for every person.
  • She teaches a lot about self-esteem when the Bible, to the best of my knowledge, makes no mention of our self-esteem being of any significance. But a lot of women really struggle with self-esteem and it's something worth trying to fix. Again, I'm not a woman so I can't relate.
  • She has claimed to receive direct revelation whether she knows it or not. This is deeply concerning to me because I'm about as much of a cessationist as one can possibly be. But I don't really think many people understand the implications of saying "God told me, I had a vision" etc. I just don't think she's very theologically minded and is probably (this is me being charitable) speaking out of ignorance instead of just being a false prophet.
  • She's partnered with and endorsed Joyce Meyer. Joyce Meyer is indeed a false teacher. I can't defend Beth Moore on this. There is no defense for this. But partnering with a false teacher doesn't make one a false teacher. John Piper partnering with Rick Warren doesn't make John Piper a false teacher. It just means the person lacks discernment or had a lapse in judgment.

I am 100% fine with people wanting nothing to do with Beth Moore. I want nothing to do with her. I don't want her stuff in my house. But I'm not protesting a church or a pastor who endorses her. I think that's a bit dramatic. I would encourage the churches who do permit her teachings to examine the depths to which they endorse her. When most of the women's studies revolve around Beth Moore's material I think it's hard to not implicitly give a tacit affirmation of everything she teaches without some specific disclaimers:
"Hey Beth Moore has some good stuff we think is of value to the women but she also doesn't believe in the sufficiency of Scripture and practices lectio divina. So if you come across that stuff, know that she's wrong and, as always, compare everything with the Bible."

I have yet to hear someone explain precisely how she preaches another gospel (Galatians 1) so I can't in good faith call her a heretic or a false teacher. Those monikers are tossed around way too lightly. Those are heavy, heavy, heavy terms. I've heard people explain her false teachings and why they are so dangerous but that doesn't make her a false teacher any more than it makes RC Sproul a false teacher for baptizing babies or Wayne Grudem a false teacher for redefining the Apostolic gifts. How are covenant guys okay with MacArthur (and me) using a completely different hermeneutic? But maybe I'm a false teacher for not being fully convinced Beth Moore is a false teacher?

I need to be charitable and gracious with people. I don't want people basing their opinions of me on my worst teachings. I want to be impartial in how I evaluate teachers and treat people (James 2). Isn't that a fair, honest and Christ-like way to treat people?

You can finish reading now. That's the thrust of my argument. The following is just to indulge my urge to emulate an Ent in that I believe it's not worth writing something unless it takes a really long time to read.

I do not know where to draw the line as far as which teachers are and are not acceptable. I have so many inconsistencies in what I would and would not recommend. There aren't many guys who I can recommend without issuing a few disclaimers. This has been a constant struggle for me. I don't want to be some theological elitist snob who has a problem with everybody but I also don't want to just let people fend for themselves if they aren't mature enough to discern things for themselves.

We can ask whether someone is a deceiver or if they are just being deceived. That's a good question to ask. But it's a tough question to answer. Ultimately it doesn't matter that much. If the thrust of someone's ministry is false teaching and no one knows what they believe, then they are of no value to the church. It may just be a matter of the person's inability to articulate the truth in an understandable way. That person is still of no value in a teaching position.

The difference I see between Rick Warren and Beth Moore is that Rick Warren does know better. He's a smart guy. Super smart and very informed. That is exactly why he's so dangerous.

I think we gotta be realistic in how we approach people. I don't really mind the tone in which someone criticizes me. Most men don't. Some men do. But women? We really need to live in reality in how we address women on some of these issues. We need to measure our language and consider our tone. Tone absolutely shouldn't matter, but it does. Whether someone yells at me or whispers to me, I should be eager to correct a wrong view. That's the perfect world where people look at content and truthfulness objectively. But most people filter words through extra grids. That's just reality. If you're married you've got to understand what I'm saying. If you don't understand me, then you probably won't be married much longer.

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