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The Bible, and More or Less of Moore

Jan 12, 2019

OK, a few quick confessions: I know very little about American Bible teacher Beth Moore, and up till this point I have not had a desire to learn more. Thus when a little storm erupted recently on the social media over something she said, I paid little attention to it. However, someone just now asked me particularly about her comments, so I gave a generic response.

But I decided to look into it a bit more. Let me say a few more introductory remarks before specifically commenting on her tweet about Bible reading. As I have said so often now, while there certainly are such things as heresies and heretics, we also need to guard against becoming heresy hunters, condemning everyone plus their uncle if they do not think exactly as we do.

I believe the heresy hunters who condemn just about everyone else besides themselves and their followers can cause just as much damage to the cause of Christ as real heretics can. I really have little time for such heresy hunters. And I have given detailed reasons as to why this is the case: billmuehlenberg.com/2014/04/09/on-heresy-hunters/

And if you want to take all this a bit further, here are two more articles on this:

billmuehlenberg.com/2016/01/07/six-theses-on-truth-error-heresy-and-disagreement/

billmuehlenberg.com/2018/03/12/on-heresy-hunters-again/

Hopefully those three articles make a careful case as to what I believe on such matters. But back to Beth Moore. As I mentioned, I know little about her. But I have seen much about her on the social media – both positive and negative. However, as I have come to learn over the years, one has to be a bit cautious here.

There is a lot of fake news on the social media. Moreover, this avalanche of both positive and negative commentary is true of basically any public Christian figure, pastor or leader. They ALL will be praised or denounced on the social media and elsewhere. There is just no avoiding that.

Indeed, I am sure that if you googled my name with the word “heretic” added in the search field, you will find plenty of pieces seeking to prove that I am an arch heretic, and likely a very good candidate for the Antichrist. I certainly am aware of plenty of Christians who think that way about me.

So I already know that if I type in a search phrase with the words “Beth Moore heretic” I will get plenty of hits on google. Indeed, I just did, and sure enough: some 129,000 hits came back! Again, maybe one day I will make an in-depth study of her and her ministry and report my findings, but not just now.

That is really not my calling. Yes I have often called out clear-cut cases of apostasy and heresy, and I will continue to do so. But as I also keep saying, far too often we call someone a heretic when they are NOT a heretic. They just happen to have differing theological views on some issues, and that in itself certainly may not make them a heretic.

Anyway, with all that introductory material out of the way, let me go back to what she actually said about Bible reading that caused such a stir. Without going back to see what she actually said, I offered my social media questioner this quick reply:

Thanks – I have not followed that incident closely, so let me offer just a quick, generic response. It can be said that one might have a lot of head knowledge of Scripture and not really know and love God. That can happen often. But one cannot really know and love God without regularly and prayerfully reading the Word of God.

OK, so now I have just done a quick search on what this recent firestorm was all about. I assume the first piece I clicked on gives us a more or less accurate account of what took place. According to this article, Moore first tweeted this:

Spending time with God and spending time with the Bible are not the same thing. The Bible is the Word of God, crucial to knowing Him, but it’s not God. We can study our Bibles till the 2nd coming & leave God completely out of it. We can grow in facts & never grow a whit in faith.

And after some reaction to this, she said further:

Do not be deceived. People who study the Scriptures constantly and are continually mean-spirited, rude, slanderous and, aside their religious rhetoric, bereft of outward evidences of the Holy Spirit are having Bible study without God. He affects us. You can take that to the bank. I will emphasize once more that my point is NOT studying Scripture less. I am a proponent of daily Bible study. It’s my practice. My life work and my delight. My point is that we need to God in our study of His Word. I’m just saying don’t leave Jesus out of Bible study.
mychristiandaily.com/beth-moore-stirs-the-pot-by-stating-reading-the-bible-is-not-time-with-god/

As I said, I am not at this point interested in becoming an authority on Beth Moore and her beliefs, nor in defending her. She may well have said or taught unhelpful things elsewhere in the past. But on this particular matter, it seems what she said may not be all that harmful, and is the sort of thing I might also say – albeit perhaps a bit differently.

Indeed, as I have said elsewhere, we all know of Christians who have a ton of head knowledge. Their minds are crammed full of theology and even plenty of biblical knowledge. But they seem to live like the devil. They can be the most ungracious, unloving, uncaring people around.

Yet they are so very proud of how much they KNOW. Now make no mistake about it: I have said zillions of times that yes, we must know about our faith. We must know what we believe and why. We need biblical knowledge desperately. There is far too much biblical ignorance and theological illiteracy in the church today.

But as had been pointed out, the difference between heaven and hell is around 18 inches. If the heart is left cold and untouched by the Spirit of God while the head is absolutely full with knowledge alone, then you can go to hell just as easily as any pagan can.

The biblical aim is to have sound biblical knowledge in our heads, but ALSO a heart and life that have been radically transformed by the Spirit, based on that knowledge. Mere head knowledge will do you no good, just as a soft and fuzzy heart with no biblical knowledge will also be problematic.

People who are emotional and “loving” but devoid of sound doctrine are easy prey for Satan and the cults. But people who have all the “right” beliefs and doctrines but have a heart cold as ice are also easily manipulated by the devil. So we need to avoid both extremes.

And if that was the main point Moore was trying to make in her tweets, then I have no real problems with it, and would basically agree with it. Again, I am not necessarily seeking to fully defend her here on this particular matter. And even if I were, to defend her here on this one issue does NOT mean I might approve of all she says.

But my main reason I guess in penning this piece is to warn against another error: some Christians are as eager as all get out to find something – anything, even the slightest thing – as a gotcha moment. Anything will do as an excuse for them to exclaim: “See, I told you she was an arch heretic! Death to the apostate!!”

Well, perhaps in other areas she is, and again, I would have to explore such things further and more carefully. But it is not a good Christian practice to just run on hearsay, Facebook memes, or rumours about such things. This post then was really about just two things:

1) Answering a direct question from a person about a particular issue;
2) Giving a broad-brush look at how we might seek to wisely and biblically deal with such matters.

As always, we need to avoid the nasty and unbiblical extremes. Pretending there is no such thing as heresy and claiming there are no heretics is a dangerous place to be in. But so too is the one where we discover heretics under every rock, behind every door, in every church, and in every ministry. That too is more the work of Satan than it is of God.

So let’s pray to get the biblical balance right here. That is absolutely essential.

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14 Responses to The Bible, and More or Less of Moore

  • Let me be the first one to comment here. If you are really eager to inform me of just how bad – or good – Moore is, thanks, but I can easily enough do some further research here, and I do not necessarily need some of you inundating me with heaps of videos and websites proving just how bad – or good – she is! OK? But thanks for your concerns.

  • A balanced response, Bill.
    Thanks.
    Whatever she may be, in this instance what she said was quite correct & not heretical.
    As Christians we should be honest about everyone, no matter who they are.

  • Thanks, Bill, for giving such a reasonable and fair response to this question about Ms. Moore and what she said. I never had heard of her before, but it is obvious she was trying to distinguish between a “head” knowledge and a “heart” knowledge as you explained so well. An example of someone with a “head” knowledge could be a scoffer who reads the Bible with the aim of convincing himself NOT to believe.

  • I was a young man, sitting in the backyard looking at the stars, and awe and wonder led to my silently praising God. My life was pretty mundane, spiritually – typical drunken youth. I felt God challenge me: “Have you read my book?” I was confounded! How bizarre to read the Bible! I’m a Catholic! But God had challenged me, so I set myself a goal of reading 10 pages a night, from Genesis forward. Numbers and Leviticus were hard, but I persevered. Then, as I neared the end of John’s gospel, I suddenly fell in love with God. An amazing transformation!
    So, I agree entirely with you, Bill: heart and mind, learn and change.

  • Thanks Bill,
    We must be generous with our brothers and sisters, and indeed we can afford to be.
    We are all growing in our faith and understanding, even those who are leaders are honoured if they are teachable.
    At the same time we should hold our understanding of the faith with the proper balance of rigourous dilligence and then also with “loving kindness” and humility.

    I have long been instructed in the deliberate difference between the two sayings of Jesus found in Lk 9.50 and 11.23. These are both in the same book and the careful Luke included both. The other gospels have only one or the other and unscrupulous exegetes could have suggested that one is a corruption of the other.

    Lk 9.50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”
    NRSV
    Lk 11.23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
    NRSV

    Jesus teaches us that He is the focus point of commitment, obedience, and fruitfulness.
    If we are not with Him then we are against Him, there is no generous middle ground.
    Those who are not against Him intentionally, through, for example, ignorance or apathy are still against Him. Those who do not gather with Him, nor actually scatter, still cause a scattering from Him.

    In the other statement there is a generous middle ground and we are to regard that as being for us.
    The thing to note for this second scenario is that the focus has changed from the relationship to Jesus to the relationship to His followers.

    In practical terms then, in both life and ministry we are to treat anyone, believer, non believer, even a heretic as being for us until they make deliberate and perhaps sustained efforts to be our enemy. Then we are to love them!

    Of course wisdom has a place here, but an open heart can do wonders.

    What then of Beth Moore?
    Has she made herself an enemy of the faithful? It seems not.
    BUT: Have we made ourselves an enemy to her?
    I doubt any followers of this blog would have.
    It seems though that there are those in other places who may have.

    The key is to focus on the relationship with Jesus, not on us.

    Our Father knows how best to bless Beth Moore.
    May He do so abundantly.

  • Bill,

    Beth Moore falls into the same class as Joel Osteen and other multimillionaires who have made themselves rich through the word of God. They justify it by cherry picking the Bible verses and cashing in on Jesus! Frankly, I am tired of this and their lavish lifestyles and temples they build for themselves. How do they sleep at night? They all should have become socialworkers and psychologist.

    Beth Moore displays herself as this innocent country girl with overwhelming knowledge of everything Holy. It is bad enough that all men, particularly white men,are classified as monsters spawned from Satan himself. She speaks in generalalities and very seldom is specific. She can’t take a solid stance on abortion or lgbtq sin, proliferating and brainwashing tactics.

    So whatever she is doing it is for her and only her gender. One of many reasons I have stopped going to church. There is no clear path for salvation coming out of the mouths of those who occupy the pulpits. No wonder church attendence is down! Who do you believe?

  • I have listened and watched many who today proclaim the truth. I can find fault in every single one of them, not because I know the truth 100% but because they contradict each other at some point and so they can’t all be right. No one has the truth 100% and I certainly don’t. However, there are many who are still worth listening to provided one applies discernment with the aid of the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit.

  • I saw a YouTube video recently of some pastor claiming John MacArthur was, quote, “an unsaved devil going to hell” for statements something along the lines of repentance after conversion being necessary for salvation.

    While this pastor is entitled to critique John MacArthur’s theology, I think he needs to be reminded that actually God decides who goes to hell, not a YouTubing pastor.

  • Jas 3:2 For in many things we all offend. If anyone does not offend in word, the same is a full-grown man, able also to bridle the whole body.

    Joh 5:39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life. And they are the ones witnessing of Me,
    Joh 5:40 and you will not come to Me that you might have life.
    Joh 5:41 I do not receive honor from men.
    Joh 5:42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.
    Joh 5:43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me. If another shall come in his own name, him you will receive.
    Joh 5:44 How can you believe, you who receive honor from one another and do not seek the honor that comes from God only?
    Joh 5:45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you, Moses, in whom you trust.
    Joh 5:46 For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me.
    Joh 5:47 But if you do not believe his writings, how shall you believe My Words?

    While Jesus was speaking these words to the Jews it is abundantly clear that Christianity has exactly the same propensity for error as they did. Those who cherry-pick the scriptures and then pretend that the scriptures declare that they are righteous are demonstrating that they have no love of the truth.

    Joh_4:24 God is a spirit, and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.

    Luk_10:27 And answering, he said, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.

    The problem these days is not so much people studying the scriptures and not coming to God, although there has certainly been a rash of people quoting the scriptures to attempt to justify their own error recently. Most people simply do not spend the time to study the scriptures for this to be a great issue.

    One of the very biggest problems these days is people not understanding that truth and love are integrally linked.

    2Th_2:10 and with all deceit of unrighteousness in those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, so that they might be saved.

    1Pe_1:22 Purifying your souls in the obedience of the truth through the Spirit to unfeigned love of the brothers, love one another fervently out of a pure heart,
    1Pe 1:23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the living Word of God, and abiding forever.

    (MKJV)

  • As she is President Donald Trump’s spiritual advisor, it would be profitable to learn more of her views. I won’t presume to list any of those here, as, like you said, you are quite capable of researching those on your own. Having been acquainted with her teachings for years, I find her rather dangerous.

  • We have done a couple of Beth Moore’s studies in our Young Women’s Bible Study. (I might add I am not young and have been a born again Christian for 70 years. Praise God! The older I get the more of a miracle it seems to me that God soughtt me out and miraculously saved our whole family. But that is a story in itself…) I am no authority on Beth Moore but she seemed most sincere and I found her teaching quite sound. She did a good work with the Holy Spirit’s blessing amongst our young women. She did not come across as a “know it all” but as a humble servant called to teach others what she herself was learning from God’s Word. I hope I would not be deceived as I usually have good discernment about people.

  • I must apologize to Bill and Ms. Moore, and make an immediate retraction of my prior comment. The personal, spiritual advisor to President Donald Trump is Paula White. I made a major boner, and while I am also no fan of Ms. Moore and her teachings, I gave incorrect information. Please forgive me and bear this in mind before judging her or her teachings in any way that takes my comment into consideration. I had the wrong person!

  • Bill…I was on a thread recently regarding Beth Moore and that specific tweet. I completely agree with your assessment and was genuinely surprised at the condemnation that came from her accusers. It came from people whom I also respect…so I attempted to parse her statement very specifically. It was a good lesson for me. We do need to: “So let’s pray to get the biblical balance right here. That is absolutely essential.” Thank you, for another timely response.

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