There's much that could be discussed from this brief clip, not the least of which is the apparent dismissal of the importance of knowing the truth. It's true that "head knowledge" does not a true convert make. But without that knowledge of the Truth, the heart can never begin to change. "We do need to learn the Word," says MacDonald, but "information is not the key." Okay, but how can someone ever hope to be saved without hearing, without knowing, without being informed about the Word of God? How many individuals, upon having the truth of the Gospel explained to them, have been brought to a saving, repentant faith in Christ? Faith does come by hearing, after all, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Faith does not come by having accountability to a small group leader, nor does spiritual maturity. Rather, faith comes through God's own Word, and spiritual maturity comes through the study of that Word. Growing in knowledge of the Truth holds one accountable to the only One who matters - God.
"Bible study is the most essential ingredient in the believer's spiritual life, because it is only in study of the Bible as that is blessed by the Holy Spirit that Christians hear Christ and discover what it means to follow Him." - James Montgomery Boice, Christ's Call to DiscipleshipNevertheless, without the context of the entire sermon, we can set this conversation aside and focus on the rather stunning declaration by James MacDonald that he thinks Beth Moore studies are "pretty phenomenal."
The clip above was taken from a sermon preached just this past weekend, September 17-18, 2011, at Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC). Beth Moore "Bible studies" have been welcome at this church for quite some time, however. For instance, according to HBC's "Small Group Curriculum," any study by Beth Moore is acceptable:
Quite honestly, it's disheartening to see Beth Moore studies placed on the same level as those written by John MacArthur, but I suppose having MacArthur on the list gives validity to the others. It is interesting that MacDonald preached above that small groups are more about "accountability" than "studies." It causes one to wonder why they would have produced a 3-page PDF listing of approved studies if the aim of the small groups is "accountability" rather than growing in biblical truth and knowledge?
Why should we be concerned that James MacDonald is endorsing, and apparently has endorsed for some time, the work of Beth Moore? Longtime readers will know that we have discussed the dangers of Beth Moore at length on this blog. Moore, a Southern Baptist Bible teacher, has shown herself to be a proponent of the contemplative spirituality, aka mysticism that is rapidly infiltrating the church visible. This is most evident, though not exclusive, in her participation in the Be Still DVD. Her seemingly consistent claims of special revelation from God should cause any Bible-believing Christian to pause and step away.
In the article "Believing Beth About Believing God," written by M. Kurt Goedelman and Glenn E. Chatfield and published in the January-March 2009 edition of the Personal Freedom Outreach Quarterly Journal, it states:
Moore often talks of how God "shows" her things and "speaks" to her. While this type of language is regrettably common among Christians, it can begin to sound like claims of special revelation. Leaders who hold to the sufficiency of Scripture and who rely upon the Bible alone for words from God will take issue with the "God told me" methodology used by Moore. And actually, in Moore's case, it would be quite imprecise to suggest the idea that she merely borders on a claim of special revelation. Listening to her preach, one is repeatedly inundated with reports that God speaks to and through her. At times, Moore herself appears to be electrified by such divine disclosure:
"Boy, this is the heart of our study. This is the heart of our study. Listen carefully. What God began to say to me about five years ago, and I'm telling you it sent me on such a trek with Him, that my head is still whirling over it. He began to say to me, 'I'm going to tell you 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.'" (Quoted from Moore's DVD study Believing God)Over and over again, Moore emphasizes her teaching by declaring that "God told her." Well, clearly one cannot argue with someone who has a direct line to God, now can they? And so her dangerous, mystical teachings, complimented by her bubbly and apparently likable personality, cause her popularity to rise and her error to propagate. In this same article, Goedelman and Chatfield share that Moore claims that her daughter shares this same "prophet gift," receiving words from the Lord. It's not just a family affair, however, as Moore promises that her followers will also hear from God. Goedelman and Chatfield continue:
But the benefit for those devoted to Moore and her teaching resources is that they too will receive a fresh word from God. "But I'm telling you, He's going to speak through that homework, so hang in there with it. Use those tools and do it, because He will speak such an individual word over your life as you do that," she told her faithful viewers.The authors of this article then go on to list some examples of Moore teaching her "students" to listen for the voice of God. Perhaps most unsettling is the following quote from Moore's Believing God study, Session 7:
"That when He gives us a word, when He commands us to do something, that with that revealed word to us, comes the empowerment to obey. Now listen carefully. I believe with all my heart, when an anointed word comes to us personally - every single time you believe God has just spoken a word over you, He has revealed an anointed word to you, with that anointing comes the power to obey it."Do you have a Bible verse to go with that claim, Beth? It doesn't matter what Beth Moore believes "with all her heart" nor does it matter if you think that "God has just spoken a word over you." What matters is what the black and white, clear, all-sufficient truths of Scripture teach. Unfortunately, Beth Moore has proven herself to rely much more on personal experience than upon the sure Word of God.
So why would a trusted pastor such as James MacDonald endorse such a mystical "Bible teacher" as Beth Moore? This is a question that truly needs to be asked, and done so seriously. We would do well to notice also that Harvest Bible Chapel has long maintained a suggested 5-year reading plan for it's members. It can be found here and, while many of the titles on this lengthy list are indeed well-written and godly works, others must be called into question. For instance, why is the book The Practice of the Presence of God by the Roman Catholic mystic monk Brother Lawrence on the list, a man who is praised by Beth Moore on the Be Still DVD? Also of note on this "Year 2 Reading List" is the book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life/Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health by quasi-contemplative author Donald Whitney.
Further cause for concern can be found in the "Year 4 Reading List," where the book Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas is listed. Why should this raise a red flag? As Apprising Ministries informs us, "[Gary] Thomas, who happens to be a preaching pastor at the Southern Baptist megachurch Second Baptist Church of Dr. Ed Young, also comes highly recommended by the SBC flagship Saddleback Church of Rick Warren as well." (Online Source). Further, this article from Lighthouse Trails documents that Gary Thomas is an advocate of such unbiblical practices as mantra meditation.
Again it is fair - and at this point it is necessary - that James MacDonald and HBC be asked why they are endorsing and promoting authors who teach contemplative prayer/meditation, which is really nothing more than Eastern mystic meditation in a chintzy Christian costume. How can such things possibly resonate with the biblical Gospel which MacDonald, HBC and Walk in the Word claim to stand for? The answer: they cannot. You either stand for truth or you stand for error. It's time to make a choice.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
A Biblical Evaluation of Beth Moore's Teachings - Claims of Direct Revelation (Dr. Sam Kurien)
Christianity Today Acknowledges the Contemplative Prayer Controversy...And the Role of Beth More as an Influential Promoter
Still More on Moore
A Most Peaceful Deception