What We Can Learn from the John MacArthur Beth Moore Battle

"This kind of behavior is what many accuse FBFI-types of doing (and have done at times). It looks like we are not the only ones. We need to be more careful to treat serious issues in a serious and thorough way." - Kevin Schaal

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Bert Perry's picture

Also see John Ellis' comment on this phenomenon.  I look forward to more of this type of introspection; well done, Kevin.  And John.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

to not overreact to statements at conferences and act like they are decrees from on high. Relax. I realize the topic is heavy but this segment of the conference is supposed to have a lighter feel to it.

All this complaining about what MacArthur said, and still few are concerned about Beth Moore's choices. Interesting...

Let me ask this, if JM gave a long, reasoned criticism of BM, would the people have written, "MacArthur Gives Misogynist Attack of Moore." Answer: yes.

TylerR's picture

Editor

There could be legitimate explanations for Moore's revision of her book; e.g. tone, unhealthy focus on homosexuality to exclusion of other sins, etc. Her remarks about misogyny are likely correct, and could be applied in many ecclesiastical sub-cultures - behold discussions on SI itself! Her criticism of President Trump is meaningless to me, but the article seems to assume it's readers should be outraged - a troubling indication of potential biases.

I began following Moore on Twitter a week ago to begin receiving content from her directly, rather than having it filtered through those who so obviously despise her. I've found her to be uplifting, encouraging, and wholesomely, well ... nice. We'll see.

I am extraordinarily reluctant to criticize somebody until I have reviewed her written work myself. The context of the internet works against this kind of caution. We should try and hold to it, anyway. Don't criticize a public official or personality (or anyone, really) unless or until you've seen errors firsthand. Don't rely on secondary sources. Go to the source.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

David R. Brumbelow's picture

Tyler,

I posted the link without commentary.  Anyone can make of it what they will, and agree or disagree. 

I just appreciate Sharper Iron not deleting my comment like another site just did. 

David R. Brumbelow

TylerR's picture

Editor

David, I can't imagine anyone here deleting your comment, no matter which side of this issue you come down on! It's almost as if... iron should sharpen iron.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

Perhaps it would be instructive, per Mark's contention that some people simply need to learn not to "overreact", to remember the specific things said by John MacArthur.

  • "Go Home", implying that the totality of Mrs. Moore's ministry, even that to women, was wrong
  • "When you literally overturn the teaching of Scripture to empower people who want power, you have given up biblical authority", implying that Mrs. Moore's ministry not only overturns the teaching of Scripture, but also represents a desire for power on her part.  
  • Accused Mrs. Moore of being a narcissist and feminist, and of wanting power instead of equality.
  • "Just because you have the skill to sell jewelry on the TV channel, doesn't mean you should be preaching".  Clear accusation that she is a preacher, which she disavows.
  • Compared her implicitly to Paula White, a prosperity preacher
  • Accused her of overturning Scripture
  • Links in intersectionality and critical theory, describing this as liberalism
  • accused her of being part of the culture interpreting Scripture

Now let's imagine it's one of our own being insulted like that.  What would happen if, say, Steve Pettit or the like were so insulted, and when people objected to that, they were told that they were overreacting?

I'd imagine that all H*** would break loose, and for good reason.  What John MacArthur and Dan Philipps did here was to make a bunch of allegations that they really can't support well, just as they did (and as Joel Schaffer rebuked them for) regarding critical race theory.

Really, saying someone is "overreacting" when others wrongly accuse them of a litany of items, including clear infringement on the first Fundamental/Sola Scriptura, is more or less to blame them for being offended at something which is clearly offensive.  And if we can't see that this kind of thing is offensive, we are in serious need of "mirror time" so we can start to see what's going on.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

I'm reading through "Get Out of that Pit" for a second time, and I can commend Tyler's recommendation to actually read her work.  Moore's work is, by male standards, rather "fluffy" and relational, IMO, but despite the fact that it doesn't appear "idea-dense" like Calvin, there are layers of meaning in it that really don't come unpacked well in a Twitter feed.  Cherry-picking statements and making a big deal of it certainly doesn't do justice to her ideas.

What comes through in reading her work; first of all, she "gets it" that a lot of people out there are hurting, and she moreover "gets it" that a lot of churches really aren't reaching these people well.  She is, quite frankly, harsh on the habit of decrying various sins without teaching the congregation how to get out of them--one might wonder whether the preachers decrying sin like this don't actually think it's going on in their churches.  (and whether they're preaching against supposedly non-existent sins because those not committing those sins feel better and put dollars in the offering plate and rear ends in pews, if you want to be really cynical)

One place where people are justifiably suspicious of her is in her statements--and it's repeated--that God "speaks" to her in various ways.  In my view, however, she's more using a relational view of things that is natural to her as a woman than she is trying to assume a prophetic mantle.  I'd guess she's somewhere between "soft cessationist" (my position; gifts may not be gone, but I don't see 'em much) and "soft continuationist (gifts are there, but we don't see 'em much).  As long as she's not blaspheming and contradicting Scripture, I'm not terribly worried--at least until someone comes up with a better reason to be concerned.

That noted, one place where fundagelical theology is weak, IMO, is in describing how the Holy Spirit's leading works.  So what Moore describes might be part of that debate, and it's a discussion we ought to be having.

And regarding Moore's alleged preaching, that again needs to be put in light of what Scripture allows.  Women are called to teach other women, and that's the majority of what she does.  And as I noted in the previous thread, if local churches were doing a better job reaching women with Biblical truth applied well to women, the happiest person to "stay home" would be Beth Moore.

Regarding that bit, one thing that probably gets Moore into trouble--and I hinted at it a couple of paragraphs above--is that she is not afraid to mention preaching and teaching methods she believes are ineffective, methods that include a great portion of a lot of preachers' genre.  She is, thus, going to get under the skin of a lot of them--and IMO rightly so.  

Long and short of it; the woman has a lot to say, and we ignore her, or misrepresent her, at our peril. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

G. N. Barkman's picture

If Beth Moore truly made the statement that Paul Henebury posted earlier on the previous thread, she is skating on thin ice.  It is dangerous to talk about God speaking to you, and telling you to "write that down."  

I'm still waiting for someone to deny the accuracy of these tweets.  So far, no one has.  If they are accurate, and the absence of any attempt to refute them makes that seem increasingly likely, she is not a sound teacher.  Her approach will lead many astray about the source of divine truth.  Let's deal with that instead of arguing about MacArthur's tone.  The most important question is, "Is MacArthur correct in issuing a warning about Beth Moore?"  If so, let's thank him for doing Bible believing Christians a valuable service.

G. N. Barkman

Bert Perry's picture

GN, most of those tweets are, for starters, not primary evidence.  The best he's got is a single YouTube video, really.  That is, really rather thin gruel for establishing the kind of thing you're talking about.

More importantly, compare the list with the claims that MacArthur makes--either trust my listening or listen on your own.  They are quite different, IMO.  So even if Tom Buck was correct--I'd argue he is in various places pushing a narrative that a closer reading/listening would not sustain--I don't believe that it would justify the things MacArthur said.

This isn't about people being "too sensitive", brothers.  This is about slander.  And as John Ellis' column notes very clearly, if we want to persuade people into the egalitarian camp, we can do little better than to tolerate this sort of thing. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

John MacArthur has made it clear he thought Moore was out of line for years! Yes years. What does Beth Moore care? She is banking well off her ministry. The SBC collectively, but certainly not totally, loves her. She is brought onto every stage to talk about abuse in the SBC. She is riding high.

So the man who wrote a famous book on the role of women thinks she shouldn't preach to men. Is that anything to start a twitter war about, all the while taking the high rode while dozens write to her defense? No.

The point is, Moore has repeatedly made it clear she will continue to "speak" at Sunday worship services she is invited to. That is preaching any way you slice it. She is out to break whatever ceiling she sees is there against women. Fact. Not conjecture. So, in MacArthur's eyes, she is violating Scriptural commands, plain and simple. Feel free to disagree, but that is what she is doing in his view.

She also talks a fairly heavy line about the failure of SBC preachers, leaders, and pastors with regards to abuse. Agree or disagree, she is seeking power to influence the SBC. Fact. She adds to that the need for women to speak more. Fact.

So what are complaining about again?

 

G. N. Barkman's picture

Bert, you are side stepping the issue.  Is the video accurate?  Did she, or did she not say these things?  If she did, and no one to date has denied it, she is not trustworthy, unless you have evidence that she acknowledges she misspoke and apologizes for speaking such grievous error.  You seem to be saying that because the Henebury post is mostly one U-Tube video, it should be disregarded.  Absolutely, if it is false.  Absolutely not, if it is true.  (Pardon me, but your bias is showing.)

G. N. Barkman

Bert Perry's picture

GN, not sidestepping at all.  In my view, the video is NOT accurate, which is why I call it, rightly, slander, in the same way that Joel Schaffer is pointing out that MacArthur's statements critical race theory are false.   He's asserting a bunch of things that he cannot prove, including assuming the motives of others as a general proposition (always dangerous), and should know better.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

G. N. Barkman's picture

Did she say these things, or did she not?

G. N. Barkman

Bert Perry's picture

As I noted above, GN, a series of quotes and allegations taken out of context, along with a single edited YouTube video, indicate that Buck was indeed misrepresenting Moore.  It is not accurate.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

You can make anyone say anything if you soundbite and distort media clips.

Given that Tom Buck is a big supporter of Founders Ministries and the way they slandered and attacked others in the original By What Standard trailer, I would be super careful about buying anything that Buck is selling, especially if it's soundbites and video snippets.  

Let's also admit that shock-jock tactics and scaring Christians into agreement against "the liberals" isn't supposed to characterize Christian discourse.  Fearmongering is a sin too.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Mark_Smith's picture

Do you think CRT has value in analyzing western culture. Yes or No.

G. N. Barkman's picture

So quoting Beth Moore's exact words as she spoke them in a video Bible lesson is now slander?  This is beginning to sound like a liberal's accusation of hate speech.  If I don't like what you say or the way you said it, it's hate speech.  Never mind whether the statement is true or false.

If it has been taken out of context, please show us the context so we can see this for ourselves.  Otherwise, the exact words speak for themselves loud and clear.  Beth Moore claims the God speaks to her directly, even to the extent of telling her to write down what God sad to her.  That is dangerous error.

G. N. Barkman

Bert Perry's picture

Quoting things out of context with an axe to grind IS slander, GN.  This is not complicated, and the axe to grind on the part of Mr. Buck is pretty clear.  One does not need to do an entire exegesis of Mrs. Moore's entire talk to figure this out.

Mark: I don't understand CTS well, but I do think that if Mr. MacArthur is going to speak on the subject, he ought to learn the topic so that people like Joel at least agree that he knows "from Shinola" on the topic.  Don't you think?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jay's picture

Jon Pratt addressed this issue in the latest Nick that came out this morning.  Here's a snippet:

When talking to fellow believers who embrace the same gospel message (and thus denying that Jesus’s words to the religious rulers of His day and the apostles’ words to false teachers are models for us in regard to this present subject), we are called to use edifying speech that gives grace to the hearer (Eph 4:29), that is seasoned with salt (Col 4:6), and that is characterized by gentleness and respect (1 Pet 3:16). May God give us the wisdom, skill, and tact to use our words well. And in this present circumstance may we keep from giving opponents cause to question our mental capacities, compassion, gentleness, and biblically correct complementarian viewpoints.

I'd agree with Bert and Tyler - those people who knock Beth Moore generally really do need to start by reading what she's saying and not relying on screenshots and tweets from others who use controversies to sell videos, books, and "masculine Christianity" or whatever else.

 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Joeb's picture

Moore saying God speaks to her so she can put the words in writing is very dangerous place to be.  If I misunderstood anything GN please correct me.   I agree with you on this point GN and could see how McArthur would take exception to this.  
 

At the same time we can't operate in a way to deny that our Lord can't do miracles during these times and the Holy Spirit can't fill someone to do a specific thing for our Lord.  So what is Moore really saying. 
 

  If Moore is claiming to be a prophet then  she is incorrect. If Moore is saying she is being lead by the Holy Spirit to take a certain action and putting her thoughts down on paper.  I don't know if that is wrong.  
 

I guess my question to GN is which is it   
 

Note: Bert just finished Kelly Tough by Jim Kelly's Daughter.  I'm guessing your a Buffalo Bill's fan so I highly recommend the book. 

 

G. N. Barkman's picture

I've been asking for someone to demonstrate that Moore's words should not be understood as meaning she thinks she receives direct revelation from heaven.  So far, no one has documented an alternate explanation.  I've only heard several assertions that she's being taken out of context, etc., but nothing to explain why this is so.  If Burk's tweets are taking Beth Moore out of context, surely someone should be able to provide evidence.

G. N. Barkman

TylerR's picture

Editor

There's a lady at church who says God told her to stop smoking. Should I record her words, interrogate her mercilessly, and shun her because she thinks she receives direct revelation from God? Or, should I put a more charitable interpretation on her words? What would people think of me if they objected to my attacks, and I said, "this is an important theological point to clarify!" Would they think I was being a self-righteous jerk?

Charity is lacking, I believe.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

But Tyler, why should believers be charitable towards each other, especially when Beth has already addressed the Praying God's Word issue herself on her blog?

Here's the post:

For those needing further information on the removal of some of my words (not God’s words but my own) from the chapter I’d written on “Overcoming Sexual Strongholds” in the prayer book Praying God’s Word:

When I wrote PGW many years ago, I exceeded Scripture and singled out same-sex sin as particularly satanic.

As the years passed, I increasingly winced at what I’d conveyed but the basic rule of thumb in authorship is that it is better not to go back and edit an old book but, rather, let it just phase out and simply don’t make the same mistake in the future. The problem was, because PGW is a handbook and not a regular nonfiction book, it didn’t phase out in the same way. I have had many years to test the fruit of what I wrote and have seen over and over again that numerous readers, who had gone to this chapter with their struggles, came to my words and proceeded no further. My words had kept them from God’s words. That, to me, is a pretty serious stumbling block.

I also heard from some heartbroken mothers about their kids who were having a hard enough time feeling ostracized as it was. This prayer book sits on the bedside tables and on the shelves in many Christian homes. Picture a 13 year old struggling with an onslaught of sexual feelings and temptations who has no idea what to do with them. The child picks up the book and reads my words, only, in this case, comes to the conclusion that he or she is particularly demonic. Not only is that devastating to the child. It is not even biblical.

I hold firmly to a traditional Christian sexual ethic and continue to believe the Bible sets apart marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman. But I also believe that Scripture clearly teaches that all sex outside of marriage is contrary to God‘s will.

Here is what I would want that 13-year-old to know:

I want that kid to know that the author of that book, Praying God’s Word, has been forgiven for more sins than that kid can fathom. I want that kid to know my gracious and merciful Savior, Jesus, and that I would have had reasons in my past to have been thrown out of the camp under Old Testament law if not stoned to death. By the power of the cross of Christ, I live. By His grace alone, I serve.

This may not have been the action you would have taken. I understand. But I came to a place that I believed it was the best action for me to take and I stand by it. In the words of the apostle Paul in Phil.2:11, we’re all faced with working out our own salvation in fear and trembling. None of this has been void of fear and trembling before God.

Lastly, I must tell you that I’m weary of our blind spots. Weary of my own. Here is what I no longer have the stomach for after the last several years: the hypocrisy burgeoning from hyper fundamentalist Christianity. I do not lack a Scriptural view of sin. I just believe in a longer list of serious sins than some.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

In Christ,

Beth Moore

But it's probably too much to ask people to investigate things rather than gather a lynch mob and 'prove' she's guilty on the basis of suspicion and innuendo.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Larry's picture

Moderator

There's a lady at church who says God told her to stop smoking. Should I record her words, interrogate her mercilessly, and shun her because she thinks she receives direct revelation from God? Or, should I put a more charitable interpretation on her words?

Why are these the only two options? Why not ask what she means and teach some on revelation?

And is this lady going around teaching in churches and seminars influencing others after careful study? Isn't this connected to the point James 3:1? She is not teaching anyone. Those who teach others should be held to a higher standard.

I don't think anyone has interrogated Moore mercilessly. If reports are correct, she won't allow it.

What would people think of me if they objected to my attacks, and I said, "this is an important theological point to clarify!" Would they think I was being a self-righteous jerk?

They might. Is there a reason they might think that? Or do they see you as a person with careful theological precision who loves people and teaches truth? That probably has a lot to do with relationships and history with people.

The time, place, and manner in which you teach this certainly matters. But an personal comment by a "regular church member" should be viewed as an entirely different matter from someone who holds himself or herself up as a teacher and who asks others to hold himself or herself up as a teacher. More is required. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

What Beth Moore book should I read that showcases all her faults; that exposes her as a false teacher?

I will read and review it at SI. I admit I've never read one of her books. Presumably, some people here condemn her based on first-hand reading of her false teaching, and not YouTube excerpts or tweets ... so I assume it will be simple to suggest a book for me to read.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

I just realized that I have access to a copy of Praying God's Word; it's the 2004 printing so it will include the disputed quote.  I'll borrow it and write a review for SI.  I may do any other books that someone else can suggest as proof of her false teachings.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

I thought this thread would focus more on the fact that the FBFI's President criticized Pastor John MacArthur for how he spoke out against the female preacher Beth Moore. 

MacArthur has now been criticized by the FBFI both for being too soft on New Evangelicals (https://fbfi.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Complete-Resolutions-2010.pdf -- Resolution 85.09) and for being too hard on them!

G. N. Barkman's picture

There's a big difference between a lady at church and a nationally known Bible teacher saying, "The Lord told me this."  The language reveals a poor understanding of the doctrine of inspiration.  The Bible is the only reliable source of divine revelation.  The church lady's statement can be excused because of poor teaching.  In time, she should grow in her understanding of the difference between what the Lord actually said, and how Christians perceive divine leading.  However, a respected Bible teacher should know the difference and communicate it clearly.  When she doesn't, many thousands are encouraged in a deficient understanding.

But when the teacher adds, "And He told me to write this down," the error grows larger.  It's hard to understand that statement to mean anything less than "what the Lord told me is divine revelation, and I need to write it down to remember it exactly and share it with others so they will know what God said."  Our impression of divine leading does not rise to that level.  We "feel" as if the Lord is leading in a certain direction.  We weigh that impression until it gains a degree of certainty.  We don't write down our impressions as if they constitute divine revelation.  The "write this down" statement sounds like something a dangerous charismatic would say.  If a nationally known preacher like, say John MacArthur, made a statement like that, the same ones who are giving Beth Moore a pass would be all over him in a heart beat.  He should know better!  Hmmm.  Are you giving Moore a pass because she's a woman?  Is it OK for her to be more touchy feely and imprecise?  Now that's an interesting twist.  Should women Bible teachers be evaluated by a lower standard than men?  (Now watch the fur hit the fan!)

G. N. Barkman

TylerR's picture

Editor

How many of you have made bad theological statements, or failed to properly nuance a statement or two in sermons? How would pastors here react if people spent untold hours pouring over audio files from your church websites, and compiled quotes that "showed" your false teaching over a period of many, many years? What if you didn't even know these people? Would you graciously respond? Or, would you dismiss them as deranged people who didn't deserve a response?

I am waiting on a recommendation for a book Moore wrote that showcases her false teaching.

Remember this:

  • Don't criticize a Christian for false teaching unless you've read her written work and have seen it yourself
  • Don't rely on secondary sources for your information - or else you're no better than the KJVO guys who rail against things they've only heard filtered through Sam Gipp.
  • For example, I have not criticized Andy Stanley because I have not read his book or watched his sermon series on "unhitching" the OT. I also haven't criticized Revoice because I haven't watched a session. I've heard plenty of secondary info, though. I'm worried, but I won't discuss it online until I check it for myself.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

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