We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Monday, January 4, 2010

Where is Pastoral Discernment?

Yesterday as I was reading my morning e-mail and eating breakfast, I received this interesting letter:

I want to thank you for posting about Beth Moore on your website. I live in a small town on the coast of British Columbia. I had been going to a Baptist church in town until the emergent movement teaching showed up there. I was very distressed about this and went in to share my concerns with the asst. Pastor and our Bible study leader. The response that I received was that they did not know what I was talking about. So, I left that church and began to go to a small sister church out here in the country where I live. The ladies’ Bible study there, led by the Pastor’s wife, was on Beth Moore’s video “Believing God.” At first I thought, well maybe this is ok, so I went a few times. I even shed some tears a few times over things that she said in the videos, but something deep inside troubled me a bit. I did not know what it was though. One time after the study I asked myself, is this really sound doctrine or is it a mix of truth and psychology? It also bothered me how often she would say, “God told me” this or that. I would think to myself, something is wrong, I do not believe God talks like that. There were about 12 sessions. I attended 4, missing the rest on purpose because I was so troubled. The ladies there are all pumped on Beth Moore, especially the Pastor’s wife. I was going to print out your reviews and bring them to the Pastor but I don’t think I have much clout compared to Beth Moore. I am still looking for a church here. Some are emergent, others are signs and wonders…. Why can’t so many Christians see? especially the leadership?

Well I responded to the young lady, and then I thought about doing a blog comment using her as an example, so I asked permission to use her comments (without her identity). In her response, granting me permission, she included this additional information:

I feel really heartsick but at the same time, pleased that the Lord opened my eyes a little at a time. Actually, I think He opened my eyes a bit at a time as I sought to know the truth. It sure did not come all at once and I am still learning much. Another thing they did was to make some crocheted blue bracelets that we were supposed to wear during the weeks of the study but, lol, I refused and tucked it into my notebook. Also, before each study we had to stand up and do that mantra thing with the sign language, “I believe God,” which I also refused to do. I am so very thankful to the Lord that He has been opening my eyes to all this stuff. … I was finding more stuff online about Beth Moore - wow, it’s not easy to find - and thinking about her teachings most of last night and now realize that she is very dangerous because she is leading people to open themselves up to and depend upon revelation instead of God’s word. I think that her teachings are just as dangerous as those of, for example, the Word of Faith Movement.

My first thoughts were, “What a discerning woman to see the problems with Beth Moore!” Then I looked back over her letter and was saddened by the lack of discernment by pastors she has encountered.

Look at the first one she mentioned: She identified that emergent teaching was coming into the church and when she talked to him, he had no idea what she was talking about. This is unconscionable; every shepherd out there should know about the emergent heresy so as to protect their flock from it.

The second pastor’s wife is teaching Beth Moore, apparently without her husband’s objection. Where is this pastor’s discernment? I find that a lot of pastors’ wives are indeed great fans of Beth Moore; where is the discernment of these husband-pastors who permit their wives to fill their minds, and the minds of other women, with the false teaching and pop-psychology presented in Beth’s “studies”?

This woman sent me a follow-up e-mail with some more thoughts about the study:

I realize now that a major factor that drew me to the Bible study at church was the longing for fellowship with other Christian women. I also noticed the emotional response of the women present after each video viewing. They seemed very emotionally charged and kept saying things like.. "Oh, I love the part were she said this" or 'Oh, I loved it when she talked about that, I never seen it that way!" … I am not sure which video it was, but it was the one where she was teaching about labels that people put on women. She had women on the stage with jackets and letters on their backs to represent labels that we wear. But, I noticed that repeatedly she kept saying, you need to do this or you need to do that. There was no mention of the fact that we cannot do anything outside of the grace of God operating in our lives. I was thinking as I listened, this is really sounding a lot like a combination of self help/new age/emergent/ psychology. She seems to me to be the female-good looking- well dressed-entertaining-charismatic-don’t have a clue about sound doctrine-version of Joel Osteen.

Now, there are a lot of problems in the “Believing God” series which this woman has astutely identified, yet pastors, the leaders of our flocks, don’t seem to have a clue about. Why is it that our church leaders completely lose objectivity about Beth Moore and turn a blind eye to the need for meat among their women members? Is it because she is popular and they don’t want to step on toes? I think that is a major factor.

What about the need for fellowship among women, which this lady identified? Should there not be mature, discerning women identified in the body who can disciple women properly without resorting to the shows put on by Moore?

With the popularity of Beth Moore, I think the most important thing for pastors to do is use the pulpit as a place to tell their whole congregations that she is not a good teacher, that she may have a lot of good things to say but that her teachings are laced with such error as to be a spiritual danger to those who follow her. Until our leaders have the courage to do this, Beth Moore will continue to fill the minds of our Christian sisters with false teachings.

5 comments:

EBenz said...

Thank you for posting this! It's refreshing and encouraging to see there are discerning believers out there, but disheartening to realize again that so many pastors are living in a spiritual fog and leading the "sheep" of their congregation down a dangerous path!

peazy said...

I would encourage Christians to stay close to the Lord through prayer, fellowship and most importantly..the study of the Word of God because, it is His Word that gives us light to see during these dark times when deception lurks everywhere.Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path
The Holy Spirit leads us into all Truth.Sometimes the path may have obstructions along the way but, His Word will keep us and guide us. If you find yourself in a situation where you are saying something like this to yourself, "somethings not right here?" take the time to seek the Lord through His Word and see if what you are hearing,reading or watching is in line with Scripture.Never be afraid to question anything.
Never be afraid to see clearly.
God is pleased when we honor Him not only by the way that we live but also by whatever we allow others to teach us about Him.

Yvonne said...

Glenn,

I can certainly relate to this woman's experience! 'Believing God' was the study that finally open my eyes to Moore's subtle deception.

Thanks for sharing her story.

Steve Bricker said...

Hi Glenn,

I stumbled across your blog through a comment you made on an Extreme Theology blog post.

Sandi went through BM's study on Daniel with a small ladies' group and thought it was well done. (I did not see it so can't comment.) That group of ladies decided to try one on Esther. To quote Sandi, "A lot of these questions [from the study guide] are weird." She gave me one example, and I just responded with an odd look because it made no sense to me either. Your critique of BM's thinking helps me to understand why.

Aymee said...

I've been involved in a few Beth Moore studies over the past year. I loved her at first, but after a little while something didn't seem right, but I could never put my finger on it. I always thought I was being paranoid or too critical, but there was always something popping up that made little alarms go off. I came to realize the problem is the subtle way she twists scripture.

I've given up on any Bible study where the Bible isn't used and sadly they're hard to come by now. Everyone is doing someone's study then tell you to put up 15 bucks for the book. We're spending 15 bucks a pop for someone's opinion. I've realized these "Bible" studies are like trying to pass off a Huffy as a Rolls-Royce. I've had to learn the hard way if people are flocking to something, that is the first red flag I should be running in the opposite direction.