Table Talk: Beth Moore part 1

October 30th, 2012 Post by

Jesus warned His disciples in Matthew 16, “How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  In addition to this, in Galatians 5:9-10 St. Paul warned the faithful of  the circumcision party saying, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is.” This article is to warn those of the leaven of Beth Moore and her teachings.

I have reviewed four of Beth Moore’s bible studies and have read three of her books since being called to my current call. Beth Moore is the founder of Living Proof Ministeries. She and her husband live in Texas. Moore is a prominent figure in evangelical theology today. She has authored numerous books on the Christian life and has written volumes of bible studies for women. Her theology is Armenian at best, and at worst a loose form of Universalism. Click here for more on her biography and personal beliefs.  The concern amongst Lutherans today is that her bible studies are increasingly being used by women’s groups in LCMS congregations Synod wide. Is this a good thing or is it dangerous to be led by an evangelical guide through the depths of Sacred Scripture? What is the Lutheran take on Beth Moore and her bible studies?

Is it alright for a Lutheran Church to use Beth Moore bible studies? The wider question being, ‘Should a Lutheran Church use materials that are not doctrinally in agreement with the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions for bible studies, worship materials, and sermon series?” Should Lutheran Pastors allow other denominational materials to be used in their congregation? Walther would say, “Now, however, since our Church itself has everything it needs, it is unpardonable when a preacher of our Church causes little ones to suffer the shame of eating foreign bread” (At Home in the House of My Fathers 331). From a practical level, any pastor in the LCMS does not and should not allow any foreign materials to be used in the congregation. We have our own publishing house. Why do we need to use materials published by non-Lutherans who do not receive Scripture in the same manner as we do? However, on a doctrinal level, there are many reasons why one should not introduce foreign doctrines and practices into the life of the Church. However, this article is not about the wider topic, but the specific issues with Beth Moore’s theology. However, the arguments in this article can be made against a wide variety of other materials.

One of the main issues at the heart of Beth Moore’s theology is her view of sinful man, specifically the doctrine of the will of man.  In her bible study, Jesus The One And Only, which takes the reader through the Gospel according to St. Luke, Beth Moore defines the gift of free will to man saying that God, “purposely created us with free will and affections so that we could choose Him and love Him in the midst of many options and much opposition. God didn’t create robots. He created humans. We humans happen to be His prize creation and an important part of a work He looked upon and considered “very good” Genesis 1:31). When God sees humans cooperate with His good work and fulfill what they were created to be, He still sees something very good. Perfect? No. Respectable? Yes. When the Father sees a human who is prone to selfishness, pride, and arrogance humble him or herself and tremble at God’s Word, He esteems that person. Hallelujah! Oh, how I want to be someone God could respect! (Jesus The One And Only 80).  Beth Moore, in this passage, concludes that sinful man, after the fall, has free will to cooperate with God. Is this true? Well, Scripture says, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1st Corinthians 2:14), He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:11-13), The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart (Genesis 6:5-6).  Scripture does not assert the doctrine of free will, but rather that man’s will is corrupted to the depths of his conscience and therefore he will never choose God, but will instead willingly serve and love wickedness and the evil one.

Should Beth Moore’s material be used in a LCMS congregation? Well, what do our Lutheran Confessions say about the will of man? The 18th article of the Augsburg Confession says, “Concerning free will it is taught that a human being has some measure of free will, so as to live an externally honorable life and to choose among the things reason comprehends. However, without the grace, help, and operation of the Holy Spirit a human being cannot become pleasing to God, fear or believe in God with the whole heart, or expel innate evil lusts from the heart. Instead, this happens through the Holy Spirit, who is given through the Word of God.” Again, Luther says in the Large Catechism, “For where Christ is not preached, there is no Holy Spirit to create, call, and gather the Christian Church, apart from which no one can come to the Lord Christ” (Large Catechism Creed 45-46). Furthermore, the Formula of Concord Solid Declaration asserts, “Second, God’s Word testifies that the natural, unregenerated human mind, heart, and will are not only completely turned away from God in all divine matters, but are also perverted and turned toward every evil and against God. Likewise, they are not only weak, impotent, incapable, and dead to the good, but through original sin they have also been tragically perverted, poisoned through and through, and corrupted” (FCSD II.17).  Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions are clear on the topic of free will. Man does not have free will in matters pertaining to God because of sin. Man can only wreak havoc on the world and himself because of sin. Man cannot choose to do good or gain merit in the eyes of God. St. Paul says in Ephesians 2, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

So, should a Lutheran congregation use Beth Moore’s bible studies or her books. No. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Would any of us willingly eat a loaf of bread, knowing that the chef used arsenic instead of baking powder, even though it is only a little teaspoon worth? Would we trust ourselves to avoid the poison and only eat the good portions of the bread? No, because the poison is throughout the loaf and one bite will kill you.  Christ Jesus warned His disciples to beware the self-righteousness of the pharisees. St. Paul exhorted the Galatians to watch out for the circumcision party.  We must continue to heed the warnings of Sacred Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. Beth Moore begins with the premise of free will and therefore discredits the complete work of Jesus Christ for man’s salvation.  If man can accomplish 1% of his salvation, he rips Christ Jesus off the cross. There is no purpose for the death of Jesus if man has free will to choose good over evil. This is the primary reason why a Lutheran Church should not allow any Beth Moore materials in their church. The little leaven of false teaching corrupts the whole truth of the Gospel.

The Next article will deal with her doctrine of the Lord’s Supper and healthy alternatives for women’s bible studies.

 


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  1. Rose
    November 2nd, 2012 at 13:38 | #1

    @mbw #49
    Please explain further: “The presence of unisex polity within their church family”.
    Everyone, I think we’re getting to the nub of the problem.
    Men are called to be spiritual leaders of their families, but they don’t know it, a standard has not been set, and we’re probably uncomfortable that the subject is being brought up at all.

  2. Jim Pierce
    November 2nd, 2012 at 14:13 | #2

    @Rose #50

    Rose,

    If I am not mistaken, “women not married” in Luther’s day lived with their parents and the father would still be the head of the household over them. Regardless, the Large Catechism teaches us that the authority of father and mother extends over their children and that children are to honor their parents. No time limit is set on honoring father and mother. Indeed, in the Large Catechism (under the 4th commandment) we are taught that all authority extends from the “estate of fatherhood and motherhood.”

    I think the idea of splitting “women’s studies” and “men’s studies” into separate categories is really a twentieth century American invention springing from the idea that each group has their own unique perspective about the Scriptures, both of which are equally true and should be heard.

  3. Carl Vehse
    November 2nd, 2012 at 15:34 | #3

    @Jim Pierce #2: “I think the idea of splitting “women’s studies” and “men’s studies” into separate categories is really a twentieth century American invention springing from the idea that each group has their own unique perspective about the Scriptures, both of which are equally true and should be heard.”

    With women’s studies, men’s studies, children’s studies, teens’ studies, college students’ studies, young adult studies, married couples’ studies, divorced people’s studies, senior citizens’ studies, what we have is Church balkanization.

  4. helen
    November 2nd, 2012 at 21:02 | #4

    @Jim Pierce #2
    If I am not mistaken, “women not married” in Luther’s day lived with their parents and the father would still be the head of the household over them.

    That takes care of some young women. There were also widows in Luther’s day.
    Both young adults and widows tend/are expected to live independently these days.
    My grandparents taught their sons the 4th commandment; it benefitted their wives as well, (although some of them didn’t see it that way in the early years of their marriages.) ;)

  5. Jim Pierce
    November 2nd, 2012 at 22:27 | #5

    @helen #4

    Helen,

    I submit that if we had attitudes of how the family unit works much closer to that of those in Luther’s day, then we wouldn’t have many of the problems we see in America with Social Security and Medicare.

  6. Rose
    November 3rd, 2012 at 05:24 | #6

    @Jim Pierce #5,
    You’re right, we live in the days of “every man for himself” in the family.
    But our concern is spiritual. Wives and children are bereft of the leadership in the home by their husbands and fathers.
    If LCMS restored the expectation of spiritual leadership in the home, blessings would pour out on our church.
    Recently, Pastor Ken Klaus mentioned he asks couples coming for marriage counseling if they pray together. He reported none have answered ‘yes’ over the years.
    As a church we have good programs for women and children, but the bedrock teaching should be in the home, led by the father.
    I don’t understand the general silence on this topic, but I thank you for your response.

  7. helen
    November 3rd, 2012 at 07:12 | #7

    @Jim Pierce #5
    I submit that if we had attitudes of how the family unit works much closer to that of those in Luther’s day…

    I’m not sure I want to go back as far as my parent’s day… I remember women who were never married, who worked as drudges in the parental household till the parents died, and then, if there was anything to inherit, the sons got the larger share, and they could hire themselves out to more drudgery for unrelated persons, or do it for a sister-in-law. [Just to keep things “equal” I remember two different families in which unmarried men did about the same thing.]

    I do remember families which had a “granny flat” so a widowed mother could live with some dignity and privacy when the farm was inherited by a son. Others were lucky to get a room to themselves. (Now, of course, if the family can afford it, the room is in a Lutheran “home”, or maybe one that is not Lutheran.)

    The “advantage” of lack of medical care was that many things went untreated or insufficiently treated, and people died sooner (which was an advantage, too, I suppose.)

    The other advantage was that nobody had time or money to spend on Beth Moore, et alia! :)

  8. November 3rd, 2012 at 07:19 | #8

    Rose :If LCMS restored the expectation of spiritual leadership in the home, blessings would pour out on our church… I don’t understand the general silence on this topic…

    Speaking for myself, Rose, my silence is assent. You are correct. Pastors have been remiss at teaching God’s Word. We seldom hear Ephesians 5 at weddings, and even when it is not ignored, verse 21 (about submitting to one another) is overemphasized until the following verses (about wives submitting to their own husbands “as the head of the wife”) are gutted of any significance. And on the few occasions when the submissive role of the wife is mentioned, her role is minimized by an overemphasis on the sacrificial role of the husband, who should be willing to die for his wife.

    Pastors have been remiss, and so have husbands and wives. Husbands often don’t accept their God-given responsibility to be the head. Alternately, husbands have so often abused their proper role that “submissive” has become almost synonymous with “abused.” On the other hand, wives often distort their submissive role as helper by acting totally helpless. Alternately, wives often reject their own responsibility and instead try to usurp their husband’s. The behavior of wives is no better than the behavior of husbands or pastors. There is certainly enough blame to go around for everyone.

    “When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Sadly, this “truth” has largely replaced godly counsel in our society. What “Mama” don’t realize is that she would be far happier if her husband had the courage to follow God’s counsel and live up to his God-given responsibility – whether or not his pastor or his wife encourages him to do so.

    We all would be far happier if we each repented of our own share of responsibility for the sinful mess we’ve made of God’s gift of marriage.

  9. Rose
    November 3rd, 2012 at 08:08 | #9

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #8
    I agree with you 100%.
    What action should we take?
    Would you cowrite an article with me for submission to the Lutheran Witness?
    I have led a craft session for women to make wood home altars, a visual reminder to include family devotions after dinner.
    Here’s an article by Pastor Walter Snyder:
    http://xrysostom.blogspot.com/2007/09/why-and-how-of-home-altars.html
    A good nonLutheran source is Voddie Baucham’s audio “The Centrality of the Home in Evangelism and Discipleship.”
    I noticed President Harrison has an office prayer-altar.
    Home altars similarly remind us to seek God’s counsel daily.

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #8

  10. Kim Schave
    November 3rd, 2012 at 08:12 | #10

    I think you would be pleasantly surprised to know that there is a resurgence in teaching from the Small Catechism within churches and homes, as well as one relating to the Lutheran doctrine of vocation. A wonderful resource that I highly recommend for every pastor and church library (and to be given as a gift to newly married couples) is the book “Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood,” written by an LCMS layman (Dr. Gene Veith) and an LCMS Deaconess (Mary Moerbe). It goes where other contemporary books might not dare to go by delving into Biblical headship and other family relationships as they were originally designed by God.

    http://www.amazon.com/Family-Vocation-Marriage-Parenting-Childhood/dp/1433524066

  11. Rose
    November 3rd, 2012 at 11:06 | #11

    @Kim Schave #10
    Kim,
    Yes, of course! Dr. Veith’s book.
    And we have our excellent degree programs in Family Life, especially at CUAA.
    I heard Rebecca Duport speak at Orlando ROC in January on Family Life.
    The concept is that basic teaching is done in the home with PCW support rather than our common model of instruction at church with family support.
    Family Life is a great idea if it isn’t only Mom teaching at home.

  12. November 3rd, 2012 at 15:03 | #12

    Rose :Would you cowrite an article with me for submission to the Lutheran Witness?

    You flatter me, Rose. That is a big commitment for me right now. Let me sleep on it, OK?

  13. November 3rd, 2012 at 16:51 | #13

    So, I’m having supper with my wife, loving it that all 4 of our teenagers are able to join us, when I reached over and grabbed the Portals of Prayer. I explained that I had been asked to co-author an article about fathers leading their families in learning the Word and I didn’t want to be too big of a hypocrite. They got the joke and burst out laughing. (I don’t lead devotions around the kitchen table nearly often enough.) Well, during the reading for today, we got to the part that said, “A sermon seen can be better than a sermon heard.” This reminded me a lot of Pastor McCain’s comments on that article about the mythical quote about spreading the Gospel — with words if you must. We all had a great discussion about the high value of helping our neighbors change their flat tire, but the infinitely higher value of using words to help them know Jesus as their Savior. My 18-year-old capped off the discussion by suggesting we switch our daily devotion guides to the ones from Higher Things, “because they’re Lutheran.”

  14. Gisela
    November 3rd, 2012 at 17:11 | #14

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #13
    Your 18-year-old’s remark shows that you HAVE done a good job!

  15. November 3rd, 2012 at 19:07 | #15

    @Gisela #14

    Thank you, Gisela. Probably the wisest thing my wife and I have done for our kids is taking them to Higher Things!

  16. Gisela
    November 3rd, 2012 at 19:36 | #16

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #15
    I would love for my grandchildren to go to Higher Things, but their churches send the kids to the National Youth Gathering. Their parents think it’s a good thing. Guess I didn’t do such a good job.

  17. November 3rd, 2012 at 20:08 | #17

    No! Please don’t beat yourself up that way. Your adult children are now making their own choices, influenced by many things, only one of which is your training of them. Gisela, do you hold your own parents responsible for the decisions you make today? When you complimented me for my 18-year-old’s behavior, I should have given her much of the credit and not taken it all. Forgive me, please.

    And I’m so sorry if I implied I’m a better parent than those who send their kids to “that other gathering.” The National Youth Gathering has gotten much better.

  18. Gisela
    November 3rd, 2012 at 20:25 | #18

    @Pastor Ted Crandall #17
    Forgiveness granted. And, no, I don’t hold my parents responsible for my [bad] choices. I confess I am rather touchy about the National Gathering, given what I saw going on at the last one. But I have heard that there are improvements coming, so perhaps it will be more Lutheran than past ones. I have had the benefit of this site, Issues, Etc., and Pirate Christian Radio, plus some good, solid Lutheran friends met via Facebook, that have all helped me rediscover confessional Lutheranism, something I haven’t much experienced since my childhood congregation. My kids haven’t had that benefit, so any changes will have to come slowly. “We are all beggars. That is true.”

  19. Abby
    November 3rd, 2012 at 21:43 | #19

    Next subject: Joyce Meyer :)

  20. November 4th, 2012 at 06:00 | #20

    @Abby #19
    Oh, is Joyce the featured presenter at the 2013 National Youth Gathering? :)

  21. Abby
    November 4th, 2012 at 11:30 | #21

    @20 God save us, please!

  22. Mrs. Hume
    November 4th, 2012 at 14:58 | #22

    @Gisela #18

    My kids haven’t had that benefit,

    This really says it all. Our kids will never see their inheritance. It has been taken from them and replaced with something “cool”. Save us from “cool” stuff. I am weary of “cool” stuff.

  23. Myrtle
    November 6th, 2012 at 17:42 | #24

    @Rev Paul T McCain #12

    I do not understand your charge of an anti-sanctification stance by Ellie Corrow. The Christian Book of Concord clearly teaches that we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit through the Living Word and the Sacraments. Nothing that Ellie has stated here or implied goes against the work of the Holy Spirit. Again, in the 34 pages that were posted online from “Bless These Lips,” the work of the Holy Spirit was obscured, muted at best. The focus is on what woman does, not what Christ has done for her or what the Holy Spirit is doing through her. But if the whole of it teaches that we are sanctified by how we use our lips before God and before others, then it is false teaching.

    “For there are many kinds of spirits mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, such as the spirit of man, heavenly spirits, and evil spirits. But God’s Spirit alone is called the Holy Spirit, that is He who has sanctified and still sanctifies us. For just as the Father is called “Creator” and the Son is called “Redeemer,” so the Holy Spirit, from His work, must be called “Sanctifier,” or “One who makes holy.” `BOC, LC, II, 36

    “Neither you nor I could ever know anything about Christ, or believe in Him, and have Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel. The work of redemption is done and accomplished. Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, and so on. But if the work remained concealed so that no one knew about it, then it would be useless and lost. So that this treasure might not stay buried, but he received and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to go forth and be proclaimed. In the Word He has the Holy Spirit bring this treasure home and make it our own. Therefore, sanctifying is just bringing us to Christ so we receive this good, which we could not get ourselves.” ~LC, III, 38-39

  24. Nicholas
    March 27th, 2013 at 19:47 | #25

    Despite the picture, Beth Moore is infinitely more heterodox than Erasmus could ever dream of being. There are still things to be gleaned from Erasmus’ writings, but not so with Beth Moore!

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