Even some of our most trusted teachers can go astray. Be watchful!
Beth Moore Bio
Beth Moore was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She has received an “honorary doctorate in humanities from Howard Payne University”1. She is married with two children. “Beth founded Living Proof Ministries in 1994 with the purpose of teaching women how to love and live on God’s Word. She has written numerous books and Bible studies, including Breaking Free, Believing God, The Patriarchs and most recently, James: Mercy Triumphs that have been read by women of all ages, races, and denominations.”2 She taught at Houston’s First Baptist Church and now is at the Bayou City Fellowship.
Now, please understand that this is not a “heresy hunt.” Beth Moore definitely teaches a lot of good things right out of the word of God. In fact, I found little with which to disagree. For the most part she is right on. However, there are some significant issues worth addressing. I’d like to say that Beth Moore definitely needs a proper theological education and needs to learn how to exegete Scripture better. Both would help her immensely. Furthermore, she is a Bible teacher. Is this appropriate for her since she is a woman and Paul says, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve,” (1 Tim. 2:12-13)? She is teaching people, including men. Though she is not doing it from a church pulpit, she is teaching on T.V. I know that the issue of women teaching men is not popular, but to what do we submit — popular opinion or God’s word? See, “Should Women Be Pastors and Elders?“
Beth Moore Mission Statement, but no doctrinal statement
On her website lproof.org is a mission statement (http://www.lproof.org/aboutus/OurMission/default.htm). In it are some pretty good things, including…
- Jesus is the only way.
- Salvation is found only in him.
- Scripture is inspired.
- Promotion of the unity of believers.
- The body of Christ has different kinds of spiritual gifts.
- The future glorification/resurrection of the believer.
However, there is no doctrinal statement, and as such we don’t see any affirmation of the Trinity, that Jesus is a man right now with two natures: divine and human. I could not find anything affirming justification by faith alone in Christ alone, or whether or not baptism is necessary for salvation (it isn’t). It is always helpful for a Christian ministry to have a doctrinal statement because it enables people to quickly see what basis a person is teaching from. Without one, we have to ask questions wondering what she believes concerning the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the sacrifice of Christ, the physical resurrection of Christ, baptism, how to be saved, etc. Of course, we can make assumptions that she affirms biblical orthodoxy, but we would prefer to have actual statements and not assumptions. The fact that there is no doctrinal statement is worrisome. Now, it could be that she does not want to be doctrinally minded because she is trying to reach across denominational lines. If this is the case, it is still problematic since there is no real public, doctrinal proclamation of her faith – in detail. This is unfortunate, especially since she supports the error of contemplative prayer and apparently considers Roman Catholicism to be another Christian denomination. She needs to step up and provide a detailed doctrinal statement.
How to become a Christian according to Beth Moore
One thing I found interesting on the website was a short statement on how to become a Christian. It was titled “How to Receive Jesus Christ”3 and consisted of three simple steps.
- “Admit your need for forgiveness and peace.”
- “Be willing to turn from your sins, believing that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and rose from the grave.”
- “Through prayer, invite Jesus Christ to forgive your sins & be your Savior.”
Certainly God could use such a three step process to bring people into salvation. However, the “list” is incomplete. There is no mention of what sin is (the breaking of God’s laws regarding lying, adultery, theft, etc.). There is no mention of God’s righteous judgment upon the sinner. The “rose from the grave” needs to be more precise by stating that Jesus rose from the grave in the same body he died in, though it was a glorified body. There is no mention of what Jesus is saving the sinner from – God’s righteous wrath. In fact, there is no definition of who Jesus is. From her website we cannot ascertain if Jesus is God in flesh, one of many prophets (Islam), our elder brother from the pre-existence (LDS), or even an angel (JW).
If Mrs. Moore is exercising the position of a Bible teacher, then she should be able to properly exegete Scripture. Unfortunately, she is guilty of frequent allegorization where she misapplies Scripture. To allegorize means to use a symbol as representing a more complex idea. The problem is that with allegorizing, Scripture can be made to say almost anything. Let’s take a look at a few of the many examples of Beth Moore’s improper biblical interpretive practices.
- Quote: 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 demonic 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)
- Response: The biblical text is about Jesus’ authority over the demonic realm, not about people living “in the tombs.” The two demoniac’s that were living in these dark places were exceedingly violent (v. 28). They said to Jesus, “What do we have to do with you, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Jesus then commanded the demons in these two men to leave, and they went and entered into swine (vv. 31-32). The point of the text has nothing to do with people who are held in bondage by emotional traumas. Beth’s allegorizing the text to make it fit her need is a wrong use of the text.
- Quote: “as stated in the introduction to this book, we may not always be sure God wills to heal us physically in this life of every disease or prosper us with tangible blessings, but He always wills to free us from strongholds. You will never have to worry about whether you are praying in God’s will concerning strongholds. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1). (Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds, by Beth Moore, B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tenn., 2009, p. 36, italics in original)
- Response: The context of Gal. 5:1 is dealing with being under the law (Gal. 4:21). Paul contrasts children under of the law and “children of promise” (Gal. 4:28). Paul was warning the Galatians about being enslaved to the Mosaic law, which is why he says in the next verse “… that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.” Beth Moore has improperly applied a verse, taking it out of its original context and meaning, and used it in a manner for which it was not intended — as the biblical context demonstrates.
- Quote: After writing about literal Barbie dolls used in churches, put in pews, with hands lifted up, she mentioned how one of them had a gnawed off leg. “Though the group didn’t know it, they’d hit the nail right on the head, or maybe the leg right on the stump. That was me all right. No, I don’t have a missing leg, but if you could see me with your spiritual eyes, surely at least on of my legs was gnawed off at the knee. Ephesians 4:27 warns, “Do not give the devil a foothold.” Uh, too late. Satan has wounded me, but he hasn’t devoured me. He got the leg, but he’s never gotten the thigh, though goodness knows he wanted it. I may walk with a spiritual limp, but thanks be to God, who holds me up and urges me to lean on Him, at least I can walk. So can you.” (get out of that pit: straight talk about God’s deliverance, by Beth Moore, Thomas Nelson, Nashville Tennessee, 2007, p. 87)
- Response: The context of Eph. 4:27 is this: “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.” The stronghold is about sinning in anger or theft, etc. Beth Moore’s “spiritual eyes” here about being gnawed off at the knee and not giving the devil a stronghold are not related and have nothing to do with the text. Beth isn’t supposed to take any text that “might” look like a phrase “could” fit a “spiritual” lesson and then use it. She is teaching people how to fail to exegete Scripture properly. She is teaching them to just apply verses willy-nilly in whatever direction seems to fit. This is dangerous.
Scripture means what it means in context. Beth Moore needs to examine the context of Scripture, note what it actually says, and then stick to it. She should not take a word or phrase in Scripture, expand it, throw in a “spiritual” meaning not taught in the verses, then misapply it in a five step how-get-out-of-your-pit-of-depression pop psychology speech that is housed in Christian terminology. Proclaiming God’s word is a very serious matter, and all Bible teachers should seek to be as faithful to Scripture as possible – lest we violate God’s word and mislead his people.
Beth Moore Quotes
What does Beth Moore teach? As I said before, she teaches many good things. However, it is not these that we are have to worry about. It is the blatant unbiblical teachings to which we now turn our attention. Here are a few of them.
- Belief invites the power of God to flow: “God wields incomparably great power for those who choose to believe. Read it again! Incomparably great power! More than enough to break the yoke of bondage. Our belief unclogs the pipe and invites the power to flow” (Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds, by Beth Moore, p. 37)
- Beth Moore promotes contemplative prayer: “A true lover of God once spoke about practicing God’s presence. To me that’s such a part of contemplative prayer. That we are able to absorb the reality that as we commune with God through prayer that he is with us that his spirit for those of us who are in Christ fills us that we are drawn near to him that our souls find rest in him.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sPMPmOEV0c). In this video she was praising Brother Lawrence, an apostate Roman Catholic Monk.
- Response: Contemplative prayer is a dangerous practice that has been creeping into the church via Roman Catholicism. It is a form of eastern mysticism that has been packaged in Christian terminology. In brief, it is a way of trying to commune with God by emptying one’s mind, focusing on a word or phrase, and practicing the presence of the divine through inner, silent contemplation (i.e., contemplative prayer). In this practice, people are instructed to quietly sit, contemplating on a special word or phrase that is supposed to help you focus on the presence of God. The idea is to not think, but to experience God and to remain silent, without thinking, as you seek God’s presence. What this does is induce an altered state of consciousness. It is dangerous. Rom. 12:2says, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” The Bible tells us to renew our mind, not empty it.
- Catholicism is part of the Christian Church: In this video on God’s vision for the church she is teaching on stage. She has women sitting in small groups on stage who represent different religious groups within the church. They are the United Methodist Church, a Missionary Baptist Church (black community), a Catholic Church, and the Abundant Life Church (charismatic). It is not stated if she includes the Catholic Church as being another denomination, but this is a concern. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-Lk5YyI43Y)
- Response: The video does not state particulars, but the concern is that she apparently considers the Roman Catholic Church to be just another Christian denomination. It isn’t. Perhaps she is just grossly ignorant of the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings that we have to go through Mary to obtain forgiveness of sins, that we have to take sacraments to have grace infused into us, that we have to keep the 10 commandments to be saved, etc. If she did, would she consider it Christian? I hope not. Still, her ignorance and faulty understanding of both the biblical doctrine of salvation as well as the serious errors of the Roman Catholic Church demonstrate that Beth Moore is not a competent teacher of the word.
- God Shows Beth Moore A Vision Of The Church: “I see God doing something huge in the body of Christ. I do not know why I have had the privilege to get to travel around and see one church after another, one group of believers after another, interdenominationally all over this country but I have gotten to see something that I think is huge. And I’ll also suggest to you that I am not the only one. And tonight I am gonna do my absolute best to illustrate to you something that God showed me sitting out on the back porch. He put a picture I’ve explained to you before I’m a very visual person. So he speaks to me very often in putting a picture in my head and it was as if I was raised up, looking down on a community as I saw the church in that particular dimension. Certainly not all dimensions, not even many, but in what we will discuss tonight the church as Jesus sees it in a particular dimension.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVkJiYEyRwc&feature=relmfu)
- Response: The problem here is that Moore is equating the picture in her mind with Scripture. In other words, she talks about getting an impression, a kind of vision, and there is absolutely no mention of whether or not this vision is biblical. She seems to view personal revelation as being equal in importance and authority as the word of God.
- Whispers in the heart as revelation from God apparently are equal to Scripture: “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).
- Response: There is no mention of the superiority of Scripture over the whisper in her heart. All sensations, all insights, all “whispers in the heart” should be checked against Scripture. Mrs. Moore should always be pointing people to the word, and telling them to submit all experiences to it. She fails to do this here, and in her negligence encourages others to look to feelings and experiences over the word of God. This can only lead to error.
- Beth Moore gets revelation knowledge direction from God: “What God began to say to me about five years ago and I’m telling you it is in me on such a treck with him that my head is still whirling over it. He began to say to me, ‘I’m gonna say something right now, Beth. And boy you write this one down. And you say it as often as I give you utterance to say it. My bride is paralyzed by unbelief. My bride is paralyzed by unbelief.’ And he said, ‘Starting with you.’ Amen. Because we can do a lot of finger-pointing around here about why we’re revival is not happening here and there. Let me tell you something revival will always happen with faith.”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOlCicOQygE
- Response: As a Christian, I am fully aware of how God sometimes “speaks to us” via the Holy Spirit who is in our hearts (2 Cor. 1:22) in such ways as bearing witness that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16), or helping us to pray (Rom. 8:26), or convicting us of sin (John 16:8); but this is not what she is talking about. Instead, she is claiming to know the exact words that God himself is saying through her to the Christian church. Essentially, she is advocating extra-biblical revelation on a level equal to the apostles themselves. She did not preface her “Revelation” with any humility or fear before the Almighty. Instead, she whips out a statement to the audience in such a way that she is claiming a special place of revelatory knowledge from God himself that is to be given to the Christian Church through her. She is elevating herself to the level of apostle, and this is, of course, unbiblical and dangerous. What other “revelations” from God will she get?
We must be very careful when listening to a teacher. Beth Moore, in my opinion, is not to be trusted to properly teach from the word of God. She is leading many astray with her approval of contemplative prayer, personal revelations, and faulty biblical exegesis. Yes, I know that many claim to have been helped by her. That is fine, but the experience of feeling helped is not where truth lies. Rather, it is God’s word that is the standard of what is good and bad, not if we are helped through the wolf of pop psychology in Christian terminology. Therefore, I cannot endorse Beth Moore.