To Heterodox Teacher Beth Moore – It is a Faithless Generation that Looks for Signs, by Pr. Rossow

In the Gospel reading for this week in the one year series Jesus says “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” In a parallel passage in Luke 11:29-32 Jesus says “An evil and adulterous generation looks for a sign.”

What does the Bible say about signs from heaven? This is a serious topic of spirituality in this emotional and pietistic generation that we live in. Beth Moore and other evangelicals promote a spirituality of divine hunches that rival the authority of the Word of God.

Beth Moore’s Harmful “Hunch Spirituality”

I like to call it “hunch spirituality.” Beth Moore thinks that she gets hunches from God apart from His Word for her Christian walk and daily decision making. She practices and recommends contemplative prayer in which the believer communes with the reality of God. She claims that God speaks to her by putting pictures in her mind and that He whispers in her heart. For more details and a helpful critique you can click here. (Go down to the section on “Beth Moore Quotes.”)

Beth Moore and the Absence of the Means of Grace

Beth Moore is a Southern Baptist which means that she is also in error on the teachings of faith, conversion, the means of grace, eschatology, and more. It is the denial of the means of grace that leads to the spirituality of hunches. When you do not have a real forgiveness, spoken by real shepherds of God (Holy Absolution) or a real regeneration to new life (Holy Baptism) or a real presence of Christ where he said he would be (Holy Communion) you need to invent a spirituality.

Beth Moore and the LCMS

Sadly, there are thousands of LCMS congregations that are routinely channeling the teaching of the likes of Beth Moore, Rick Warren and Mark Driscoll. Beyond channeling, they are actually showing live webinars of these false teachers. We won’t do a wedding with a heterodox teacher because that is against our LCMS rules but we have no problem bringing a false teacher into our pulpit (teaching a Bible class is on the same level as preaching from the pulpit) for a two hour, live webinar teaching.

Walther in his 8th thesis on the church (Church and Ministry) says “For the sake of your personal salvation, flee all false teachers and heterodox congregations.” He gets this from Romans 16:17 which says “I appeal to you brothers, to watch out for those who cause division and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.” These countless LCMS parishes and pastors who peddle Beth Moore and others to their sheep are living dangerously on the edge of faith shattering false teaching and their District Presidents refuse to do anything about it.

We All Fall Prey to the Temptation of Sign Reading

Even if we do not listen to Beth Moore videos, each of us is susceptible to this false spirituality. So often we want something to be the case and so we think we start to see signs from God. Actually they are coincidences or imagined by us or possibly even tricks from Satan to pull us away from the revealed Word of God to the imagined word of our own invention.

Nowhere in the Bible does it tell us to looks for signs from heaven. As a matter of fact, it says the opposite. We walk by faith. We live under the cross.

God did give signs to a few folks in the Scriptures but it is a false move to extrapolate from them that God is doing the same with us. The few places in Scripture where this happens are indeed in Scripture and are a part of God working out His history of salvation in Christ. Unless you think you are a part of the history of salvation it is best that you ignore these hunches and use the gift of reason (and even intuition – a sort of semi-conscious reason) that God has given you to make the best decisions you can.

The Sign of Jonah

What does the Bible say about signs from heaven? Jesus says the only sign I will give you is the sign of Jonah (Luke 11:29-32). This sign is two-fold. First it is a sign that just as Jonah spent three days in the belly of a great fish, so too Jesus would spend three days in the belly of the earth. Secondly and more to the point, the sign of Jonah is the sign of repentance and preaching. Jonah did no signs for Ninevah. He simply preached the law, they repented and he preached the Gospel and they believed. Jesus says this is the sign we should look to.

In the LCMS today pastors and parishes are looking for the signs and wonders of American Evangelicalism and the false teaching of people like Beth Moore who wrongly direct people to signs and hunches from God for the security of their faith.

As in the case of Jonah however, we have the sign of preaching and that is enough. We have the spirituality of the presence of God in preaching and the sacraments and that is more than enough for a full spirituality.

Can Jesus do a miracle today? Without a doubt. Should we look for a miracle and expect one? No. Instead fix your eyes on the cross for that is where faith comes from. Not faith in a healer and fixer, but faith in a savior from sin. For Jesus sake your sins are forgiven. Be at peace. You don’t need any magic hunches. Live in confidence and trust in the cross of Christ.

(This is an abridged version of the sermon I preached tonight and will preach tomorrow at Bethany Lutheran Church and School, Naperville, Illinois. It is loosely based on the “What Does the Bible Say” series of sermon notes by Bo Giertz for the one year series.)

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

To Heterodox Teacher Beth Moore – It is a Faithless Generation that Looks for Signs, by Pr. Rossow — 44 Comments

  1. Oh those Southern Baptists.

    Makes one wonder why anyone would share their doctrine of the Word. I mean, they get everything else wrong (pretty much).

  2. Steve Martin,

    Actually, if Beth Moore is any representation we have a lot of problems with their view of Scripture because they abuse it by pretending they get these divine hunches. That elevates my own mind to level of Scripture.

    Also, Lutherans ultimately place their trust in Scripture based upon the cross. Because Jesus has rescued me through the forgiveness of sins, I trust his word.

    Baptists fought the fight for the Bible in the last generation but they trust it ultimately because of the sovereignty of God and his glory.

    They also have pretty much gone the way of all flesh and are post modernists who put their trust in human emotion. They have little need to trust the word as they with countless LCMS parishes seek to meet people’s felt needs.

  3. Each church should invest in the Concordia Study Bibles and Book of Concords For Adult Classes and youth too. There is so much material by trusted Lutheran Sources. There is no need to bring in materials by people who love the Lord but also teach some error. If you do read these people you then have to determine what is true and what is false. I don’t trust How many of us can say that we will catch all of the errors. I know I will let some slip by

    There is no need for this

  4. False teachers?

    Never!

    I don’t know too much about Walter’s teaching. I love Luther and what he taught about Scripture (and everything else)

    And I love the teaching of my own pastor, Mark Anderson, who was a student of Forde.

    So, we are pretty much centrist Lutherans, I guess. Won’t go to either extreme. The center being Christ, alone.

  5. @Steve Martin #4

    Steve,

    Your comment about being “centrist Lutherans” seems odd to me. I accessed your website via your name and I think I understand, but may be wrong. Are you in the ELCA?

    Randy

  6. Randy,

    Officially…yes…but we have not had anything to do with them in 15 years.

    We voted to leave, but did not get enough votes. So, the pastor (our pastor) preaches against the sort of thing that the ELCA has become, as he is handing over Christ, with NO strings attached. NO add-on’s.

    Most people in the pews don’t have a clue. But we’re glad they are there…in the path of the Living Word.

  7. So, we are pretty much centrist Lutherans, I guess. Won’t go to either extreme. The center being Christ, alone.

    Can you explain what this means?

  8. So, we are pretty much centrist Lutherans, I guess. Won’t go to either extreme. The center being Christ, alone.

    Can you define the extremes? Is Walther extreme? Is Luther? Is Pastor Mark Anderson extreme? If not, in what sense is he centrist? Please be specific.

    Is Beth Moore extreme? If not, how not? Please be specific.

  9. If Beth Moore is a Baptist, I’d say that she is extreme (free-will, and all that).

    I don’t know much about Walther.

    Luther was centered on Christ. Absolutely.

    Pastor Mark Anderson is also a Christ, alone, guy. NO add-on’s. No social gospel, or throwing out God’s Law (ELCA)…no “3rd use”, or inerrant text required. “Christ is the end of the law…”

    To us, that is being centered solely on Christ.

    We do nothing. There’s nothing that we can do. He does it ALL.

    And that leads to freedom. So, I’d say that freedom is the watchword for us centrists.

  10. Steve,

    All seems good except for “no third use” and “no inerrant text required.”

    The third use of the law is in Formula of Concord.

    The lack of confession of the inerrant text is what led the ELCA to be the point where it is today.

  11. Sorry, Pastor. That’s not true about the inerrant text leading to where the ELCA is.

    Inerrant text is a relatively new doctrine. The early Christians didn’t believe that way about the Word, and Luther certainly did not believe that every jot and tittle had to float down from Heaven. He understood, as is biblical, that “the Lord uses earthen vessels” to accomplish His perfect will. Otherwise Luther couldn’t have said the things he said regarding Scripture, such as this:

    “All upright sacred books agree on one thing, that they all collectively preach and promote Christ. Likewise, the true criterion for criticizing all books is to see whether they promote Christ or not, since all scripture manifests Christ. Whatever does not teach Christ is not apostolic, even if Peter and Paul should teach it. On the other hand, whatever preaches Christ is apostolic, even if Judas, Annas, Pilate, and Herod should do it!” (LW 35:396)

    Or…

    “If they use the Scriptures against Christ, we will use Christ against the Scriptures.”

    I find it so odd that so many Christians believe that Christ is able to use the poor words of a sinner, ordinary bread, and lousy wine, to accomplish His will…but yet the book must be perfect (as the Muslims believe their Koran to be). I mean, even our dear Lord was fully man…and yet fully God.

    The Bible is God’s Word. ALL of the Bible is God’s Word. It is infallible. That is different than having to have an inerrant text.

    With an inerrant text, one doesn’t even require any faith.

    The ELCA’s problem is that they have thrown out God’s Word. And that is different.

    It’s late. I’ll discuss “3rd use” with you some other time.

  12. What are you talking about, Randy?

    If you know for sure, that every jot and tittle is true…then why would you need faith? You would not.

    You guys seem to believe this way, “In the beginning was the Bible, and the Bible was with God, and the Bible was God.”

    It seems to me that you are not even aware of the long process and countless writers and translators who were involved with the Bible. Yes, it is of God. But it is also a part of the historical process.

    We don’t have to get bogged down with the secularists who point out contradictions or seeming contradictions. You have painted yourself into a corner, so you do have to get bogged down in all that stuff.

    For us, the finite contains the infinite. Same as with Jesus.

    You guys want a Southern Baptist doctrine of the Word? Fine. Have it. But it is not how God works.

  13. Well…I’ve decided to put 2 cents in (quickly) about the so-called “3rd use”.

    The Lutheran Confessions are great works. But they are in no way Holy Scripture. “Christ is the end of the law…”

    You want to subvert that with a man centered doctrine? As Nestingen says, “The supposed “3rd use” is ALREADY in the first two uses. As if we could use the law, anyway. And it lets the fox (the law) back into the henhouse.

    Luther NEVER preached on the “3rd use”. Melancthon, the humanist, put it into the Confessions.

    Here’s what Dr. Steven Paulson has to say about it:

    http://wordandworld.luthersem.edu/content/pdfs/21-3_The_Law/21-3_Paulson.pdf

    All that said. We believe that you guys are still Lutherans…even though we believe you get some major issues wrong. We know it always doesn’t work the other way around.

    Thanks. G’nite.

  14. @Steve Martin #14

    And so you implode.

    If you know for sure, that every jot and tittle is true…then why would you need faith? You would not.

    Romans 10:17 (ESV)

    17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

    And therefore, you believe that the Word has error. Welcome to the ELCA.

  15. @Steve Martin #15

    So you believe that God’s Word has fallacies and therefore faith is required to overcome the error that He introduced? To you it seems that Faith is a means that God provides to overcome error that He introduced into His own Word. Uuuuuhhhm, not buying it. Think about what you’re saying.

  16. Steve,

    I am glad that we have a lot of things in common. Christ-centeredness is crucial.

    I can live without the third use of the law as long as we understand that it is included in the second use which Luther clearly preached. If there is no second use then there is no true and infallible morality from God. Luther certainly held that there is such.

    I am not sure what you mean by upholding infallibility and rejecting inerrancy on the principle of faith. It takes faith to know that the Scriptures are infallible.

    The most important question is this. Do you accept the moral truths of Scripture or are you a Gospel reductionist?

    Thanks for reading the blog. It is good for NALC and LCMS folks to keep lines of communication open.

  17. Pastor Tim,

    I accept all the truths of Scripture. 100%.

    Infallibility means that it is all trustworthy. The story of Scripture is right, true, Holy.

    Inerrancy means than the human element was somehow brought to another plane and that is not the case.

    Thanks for allowing me to opine here. It’s so often a wasteland out there in the Christian blogesphere, and you folks here are spot on and a breath of fresh air.

    I appreciate it!

  18. Randy,

    I believe ALL of Scripture to be true.

    But I do not need to believe that it is textually inerrant, as you do.

    Who showed up at the empty tomb first? Was the Spirit first given to the Church at Pentecost…or in the Upper Room? Why does Genesis describe a flat earth (with a dome over it?) There are others I could raise.
    Do these questions bother me? Not in the least. Not a bit. For I know about the historical process that God used to put that book together. I know that God uses earthen vessels.

    Thanks, Randy.

  19. @Steve Martin #21

    @Diane #22

    Nowhere does Genesis describe a flat earth. Expressions such as “Four corners of the earth” are still used today, but that does not mean we believe the earth is flat or rectangular. I’m sure that to use the expressions “sunrise” and “sunset” does not mean we think the sun moves around the earth. I’d be interested in knowing where the Bible describes a flat earth. On the other hand, Isaiah 40:22 says, “He sits above the circle of the earth,” which certainly does not describe a flat earth.

    But I digress. The topic is Beth Moore, isn’t it? She is a master at Bible-twisting, and from what I’ve read of her stuff, it’s “me-centered” not Christ-centered. Could we now stick to the subject?
    Thanks

  20. And now, back to the subject. Pr. Rossow writes, “Sadly, there are thousands of LCMS congregations that are routinely channeling the teaching of the likes of Beth Moore, Rick Warren and Mark Driscoll. Beyond channeling, they are actually showing live webinars of these false teachers.”

    A tour of the congregational websites in your respective districts will turn up any number of Beth Moore references. I found a few in my Ohio District recently. A lot of what she teaches is dangerously similar to what Pentecostal “Renewal In Missouri” (RIM) was and is teaching in some of our LCMS congregations even today. She promotes the same Rick Warren formula for becoming a Christian in three or four easy steps. Tragically, I found that same formula on one of our District’s congregations. Unreal. No wonder we got a mess on our hands.

  21. This BJS article is timely for me and I’m pretty grumpy right now since this type of baloney walked into my church yesterday. I, like many these days, travel a fair distance to attend a good church. Apparently the elders of my new church invited a pastor in that was essentially on a fundraising drive. This guest pastor gave the sermon and conducted the bible study. Things just weren’t right, so when I got home I looked him up. The first thing that I found was this video where he turned his pulpit over to a layman who proceeded to give the message. Beth Moore was a key part of his message. So, beware of this stuff. It’s real and it has made inroads into the LCMS.

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doGAg_g4V3I?feature=player_embedded&w=640&h=360

  22. @Steve Martin #1
    Steve, I’ve explained to you, repeatedly and with articulate detail, the difference between the LCMS and SBC doctrine of the Word. They are not even in the same ball park. But you can keep ignoring my points and say that “inerrancy” always means what you say it means, if you like.

    Our doctrine of the Word is OFFENSIVE to Southern Baptists, and even if many of our ministers are Reformed-leaning magisterial rationalists with a fundamentalist third use of the law, that doesn’t establish official doctrine or policy. Ours is the teaching of the Lutheran Confessions, where you will not find a Bible-belt caricature or the Chicago Statement.

    If you have not read much Walther, you have no intellectual standing to accurately critique our understanding of the nature of text.

  23. Consider also who is being abandoned to Beth Moore teaching, the women of the church, who then take it home and teach it to their children not recognizing her errors.

  24. This again raises the serious question of how much fellowship confessional Christians really ought to have with those in American Evangelicalism. The WELS approach of “shun it all,” while perhaps a bit harsh, doesn’t necessarily seem to be completely unfounded.

  25. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #29

    We attended a friend’s memorial service in an ELCA church last week. The service included Holy Communion, and the pastor invited everyone: “Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians,” as he put it. After the service, my wife remarked to me, “Yeah, we don’t care what you believe…”

  26. @Joe Strieter #30
    This is awful and totally against proper oversight of the Holy Meal. But that goes with the ELCA territory, they are becoming farther apart from us. I wish we could either get them to drop the name Lutheran, or ? Not really sure, but it certainly confuses the person out there that says, “Lutherans are all the same.”

    No LCMS Church would allow for this.

  27. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #31
    No LCMS Church would allow for this.

    Probably no LCMess church would put it so boldly, but if you invite “any baptized Christian”, you have certainly covered all the denominations mentioned (and some more). And LCMS churches do that.
    ELCA is in pulpit and altar fellowship with all but the Roman Catholics in that list, isn’t it?
    [And with RC they have that famous agreement!] So, no surprise….

  28. @helen #32
    Just to affirm, our NID District President Gilbert did affirm “close / closed communion” is the only option for all of us. He did this at General Convention, and he reaffirmed we should never, ever “play” with the Words of Institution as well (some Churches did this).

    Now if fellow Churches are straying, and please do allow for pastoral discretion in special situations (even the most stringent policy lists this as proper), then let us all know who is in violation.

  29. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #31

    You said,”No LCMS Church would allow for this.”

    Sorry, Pastor, but I respectfully beg to differ. In my [Ohio] District, I found several congregations that, altho they don’t mention other denominations by name, encourage “all who are baptized” to come to Holy Communion, without reference to LCMS membership. I have personally witnessed this communion policy, as well.

  30. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #33

    That’s good, since I attended a wedding around 2010 in the NID, officiated by a district officer (not Pres. Gilbert). The bride and groom were not Lutheran, let alone LCMS, and in fact my husband had argued a few months earlier with the bride about the nature of the LS. She is a clear memorialist/Zwinglian.

    Communion was part of the service, though. The pastor basically stated the Lutheran position (including judgment upon those who do not confess the scriptural teaching), communed the couple, and then everyone went up, except me and my husband, and some conscientious Baptists who knew better.

    As recent converts, it was shocking.

  31. @Joe Strieter #34
    Then that Church and their Pastor need a talking to, and perhaps this is where I wonder, “what to do?”

    01) The Church, the Pastor is a public entity; so why not call that Church out by name, just as we are calling out 5/2, etc.. List it right here.

    or

    02) Email your Pastor that “walks in proper practice”, and have him by your request, email or contact the other Pastor in error.

  32. @Katy #35
    This is a danger of Communion outside the “normal fellowship of the faithful” services.

    I have never done Communion at a wedding or at a funeral because of this.

    What to do?

    01) Of course, a proper policy on paper for such occasion.

    02) An announcement is good.

    03) Some need “registration cards” to be admitted to the table, but I think that is “old school”.

    04) A challenge at the rail for all others is appropriate, and the pastor can simply bless all he does not know as a flock member.

    And once again, the Pastor in good order is always the one to hold and deliver the Body of Christ, because he is the one that all assistants look to. The Pastor is the one that makes the “go or no-go” call.

  33. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #37

    David:

    I’m wondering more and more if pastors just should not commune any visitors at all, even those of the LCMS. That way, we commune only those we know and pastorally care for. It’s sounding better and better to me all the time for reasons like this.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  34. I have been questioned right at the rail “Excuse me, do I know you?” (nicely). I had emailed the pastor several weeks before, but we arrived late to service and didn’t get a chance to talk to him or an elder. I wasn’t offended at all, and he remembered by email and communed us

    I think it’s a good idea not to have communion at weddings and funerals.

  35. @Rev. Robert Mayes #38
    Yep, the WELS and some early LCMS (I think) practice do this well. Yes, it “hurts” the flow of the liturgy, but when communion comes, pause the service, ask the visitors to go, then continue the communion liturgy with those eligible. OK, I have never done this (thought about it??)

    Yes, I think earlier threads went against this, but funny, our Church has big doors that can close off the sanctuary. Must have been a thought.

    In the end, we do our best.

  36. @Katy #39

    Actually, though rarely practiced in America, it is very Lutheran to use the LSB marriage rite as a part of the Sunday morning Divine Service, therefore making communion very appropriate.

    Issues Etc. did a wonderful piece on this in the past year, illustrating how holding a wedding within the DS puts the focus on Christ instead of the bride and groom.

    Hoping my kids elect to go this route someday.

  37. @Katy #42
    @Marc from Cincy #41
    Oh, that’s fine. I meant at conventional wedding, where the majority are often not Lutheran

    Is Marc from Cincy teaching his kids to date LCMS only, then? Revfisk recommends it! 😉

  38. helen :
    Is Marc from Cincy teaching his kids to date LCMS only, then?

    Worked for me. 😀 When I could ‘sense’ I was getting close to finding someone I would marry (a discernment thing), I got to look for and date exclusively in the church. My wife has a lot of good qualities, we like many of the same things, and we get along as friends. Yes, she has a couple of quirks, and I rather thought I would settle down with someone really skinny (like I USED to be…) But the trump card that made many things irrelevant is that she is LCMS. And that was by far and away the most important thing to me, since I am very active in church, am a lay minister (I know, it’s crap) and am exploring seminary options. In fact, the previews girl friend I broke up with because she was very Baptist. She hated me for ‘hiding behind church,’ but it was the reason it wasn’t working out. That last girlfriend and my wife are incredibly similar, so yeah, being LCMS was make or break.

    Stick for what you believe in, all you singles out there! 🙂

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