21 September 2011

James MacDonald Thinks Beth Moore Studies are "Pretty Phenomenal"

That's right, according to James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel and Walk in the Word, Beth Moore studies are "pretty phenomenal:"

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 Discipleship
Nevertheless, 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


  1. Is what Beth Moore receives from the Lord consistent with Scripture? If so, how does that violate Scripture? I'm not trying to be antogonistic, I'm asking serious questions.

    And more...if God never speaks to us about anything not in His Word, how would we know where to live or work or witness? Doesn't God care about those things? Surely, I'm not arguing for things that violate the tenents of Scripture. But how did Paul know to go to Macedonia? The Holy Spirit. I understand the canon was not closed at this point, but why don't modern day missionaries fall under the same "Holy Spirit speaking?" And how did any pastor know God wanted him to be a preacher?

    I'm guessing you think I couldn't possibly hold a high view of the Bible, but I just don't get how God speaking to His people today violates the tenents of Sola Scriptura.

  2. Hi Billy,

    When Beth Moore claims that God tells her to write something down, that presumes that it is fresh, new revelation, and thereby violates the tenets of Sola Scriptura, that Scripture is all-sufficient. To be sure, the Bible doesn't tell us what job to take, where to live, etc., but neither does God speak directly to us in an audible voice to make these decisions. When we are walking with Him through biblical prayer and study of His Word, we make these types of decisions based upon our knowledge of His will as revealed in His written Word.

    For the sake of argument, let's say that everything Beth Moore claims to "hear" from God is in perfect alignment with what God has already revealed in Scripture (it's not, but this is a hypothetical). Why, then, would it be necessary to have the special revelation? Why would the Bible not be enough? The claims that Moore makes, however, are often not in alignment with Scripture, unless I've missed the place in the Bible where God says to people, "Let's play" and then seemingly directs their car to the local zoo. This is just one example of the ridiculous claims Beth Moore makes. This and others are further documented in this article by Dr. Sam Kurien, which further examines the unbiblical teachings of Beth Moore: http://atimetodiscern.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/a-biblical-evaluation-of-beth-moores-teachings-claims-of-direct-revelation.pdf

  3. We can save James MacDonald alot of trouble by explaining why people have "head knowledge" but no heart application. It is because of SIN.

    All through out the Bible God's people are being called to repentance (2 Chronicles 7:14). Daniel prayed, Jeremiah, Elijah on and on same story. How did repentance occur? The Word convicted the heart. Hebrews 4:12 "For the Word of God is living and active...able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

    First of all God CAN NOT "hear" us. Woman are so weighted down with sin it is piled as high as the heavens. Who is the John the Baptist that is calling out REPENT! Who tells the women that reading "Twilight" is partaking in the cup of demons and dabbling in the occult? Who tells women that Yoga is participating in a foreign religion. Who tells women that showing their cleavage is immodest and not honoring to the Lord? "If you love Me you will keep My commandments" John 14:15 Our hearts are HARDENED and our conscience are seared.

    We desperately need to repent and turn from our wicked ways. We need to come before the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart so God can hear us and in His great compassion forgive our sins.

    We have ALL heard God speak in His inerrant Word. Is anybody listening?

  4. Thanks for the reply, and I appreciate the tenor of it. You admitted that you are presuming that when God tells her to write something down that it is a new revelation. I would suggest that your presumption is likely way off base. And not only that, I think one of the reasons it is so hard to have conversation in the Christian world is that we tend to presume what another's motives are. So there's one issue I have.

    Second, you seem to hint that we can know where to work or live based on our relationship with God and His Word. But you admit that nowhere in God's Word is that information given. So how is it that we can know, apart from God speaking to us through the Holy Spirit?

    Third, the idea that one must either say "the Bible is enough" or "we believe that we hear from God today" is a false dichotomy. In the most theological way, I believe the Bible is enough. But practically, I must have the Holy Spirit to live out my faith. So in a broad sense, the Bible is not enough. We must have all that God has given us to live out what His Word says.

    Fourth, I've never heard God audibly, and I doubt Beth Moore has, but why would that be an issue? Either God speaks today to His people or He doesn't. The manner in which He speaks is His call, not mine. It shouldn't make a difference to us.

    Fifth, I still don't get how a person knows he's called to preach or called to missions or where to live or what passage to preach or any of the other Kingdom-oriented things apart from God speaking to us through His Spirit. Would you please help me on that?

    Last, if God has the hairs on our head numbered, and if we really believe He is interested in all the details in our life, could not He speak something mundane, such as a zoo trip, or something huge, like a call to missions?

  5. Beth Moore studies are popular in the women's small groups at Harvest and the Director of Women's Ministries is an unabashed fan of Beth Moore and promotes her work.

    You will notice that when Pastor James is challenged he does not engage the argument. He will make a witty remark to elicit laughter or deliver an insult. He recently rebuked his small group ministry leaders for letters that he had received about Steven Furtick preaching at Harvest. Rather than engage the concerns, he said the writers are "ungracious" and went no further than that.

    I doubt Pastor James will look closely at the Beth Moore studies.

  6. Billy,

    I think if you would examine Moore's writings and videos for yourself, or at the very least read the articles I directed you to, then you would see that she is claiming direct revelation from God. It is clear from her words in the "Be Still" DVD that she is promoting contemplative prayer, which is nothing more than mystical meditation. Until you have examined the proof for yourself, there is little reason to continue this part of the discussion.

    If we are walking in the will of God, then we are free to make choices such as where to live, work, etc, so long as they do not violate the clear commands of God in Scripture. If you are waiting for a voice, laying out a fleece, or even waiting for a "warm fuzzy feeling" to make those decisions, then I'm afraid you'll find yourself terribly paralyzed.

    I have never denied that God speaks to us through the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives and through His illumination of Scripture. What I have denied is that that leading comes through audible direction. I do not believe that God speaks audibly today. Nor do I believe that He engages us on "play dates" as is suggested by Beth Moore. To suggest such a thing is bordering on blasphemous and is irreverent at best.

    "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world." (Hebrews 1:1-2)

  7. Anonymous #1,
    Fewer and fewer people are listening to God's unchanging Word. Of course, in that Word, God warned us that such a thing would happen.

    Anonymous #2,
    I do not expect that MacDonald will examine the Beth Moore studies either. Perhaps this post will merely serve as a warning to those who may be currently engaged in such a study and encourage them to at the very least proceed with caution.

  8. It amazing the amount of time and energy you spend find a stick in the other people eyes, without seeing the log in your eye.

    God is so gracious to us. To deny giving grace to others, clearly communicate how prideful you've become, and you're better than God.

    You're called to be like Jesus, in all of His characteristics. Its unfortunate you pick and choose which character traits to follow, developing your own concept of God ought to be.

    If you call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ, follow all of Him. Or else you're just turning those who watch you, wondering what do you really believe in.

    Instead of all spending all your time finding fault in the saved, spend your time finding those that are unsaved. That's what Jesus did.

  9. Anonymous #3,

    I suggest you re-read the Gospels and see the many times that Jesus publicly denounced false teachers. Matthew 23 or Luke 11 would be great places to start.

    Read 2 Timothy and notice how many people Paul warns against by name as being deceivers.

    Read Jude and realize that we are commanded to contend for the faith.

    This is not simply "digging" at something that I don't personally like about someone else's methods. This is about warning against and calling out those who are propagating unbiblical teachings, leading many astray. Is it not loving to warn someone if they are blindly traveling down a path to destruction?

  10. Warning of Beth Moore , Richard Foster, Mark Driscoll , and others and their sinful penchant for "extra-biblical" revelations only bothers those who have already embraced mysticism and vision casting and all of the myriad cosmic spiritual disciplines being peddled by the vast army of seminary trained contemplative sorcerers posing as Bible preachers....they are ...end time deceivers.

  11. Billy,
    I think you are asking good questions and would like to be helpful. If you attend Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, in the past they have offered a course called "Decision Making and the Will of God" and use a book by Gary Friesen. I think that course, if it is still available at Harvest, would be helpful. The book would certainly answer your questions. It is available on Amazon. God's grace to you!

  12. I would suggest "Just Do Something" by Kevin DeYoung.

  13. Hi,
    I am the "Anonymous" who recommended the Gary Friesen book to Billy. I had forgotten about the Kevin DeYoung book EBenz suggested. It is just as good.

  14. EBenz,

    Actually, I have read at least 4 books by Beth Moore and have listened to numerous DVD's of her teaching. So...I do have a pretty good handle on what she says. As to the idea that she claims "direct revelation", those are your words, not hers. If God speaks through the Holy Spirit in an inaudible voice (so it will fit your theology) on something that lines up with Scripture, clarifies it, and advances His kingdom, what is your beef with that? Again, other than appealing to the vague idea of Sola Scriptura, you haven't explained that.

    Just so I understand, God has no interest in who is a missionary or preacher or whether we work at Trane or IBM, since we are "free to make choices where we live, work, etc, so long as they do not violate the clear commands of Scripture." Is that your position, really? As to the whole voice or fleece thing you mentioned, you are once again assuming things that aren't true. I don't throw fleeces, I don't hear God audibly, but I do get the warm fuzzies when my wife is around. I read Scripture, pray, ask God for direction, seek Godly counsel, and by faith do what I believe God spoke to me :)

    God has never told me to go on a play date, but why is that bordering on blasphemy? Is God only interested in the big things of life? Honestly, I don't think we should wall God off of any area of our lives - play dates or worship services.

  15. Billy,

    Glad you're familiar with her work. It would help if you'd read the refuting articles I referred to, which examine her teaching against Scripture. Of course, I think it's safe to assume at this point that neither of us will change the other's mind on this particular issue. I'm sure you have better things to do today than discuss the nuances of Beth Moore's theology, so I'm hoping this conversation can end here.

    I'm not sure what is so "vague" about sola Scriptura. 2 Timothy 3:16. Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian. I have outlined my "beef" with all of this in the above article. If you don't agree with it, then that is perfectly fine. But I do not have time to continue to write the same thing over and over again.

    Again, I would heartily affirm that God speaks to us through His inerrant Word, and that He guides us through prayer, godly counsel and Scripture. And I never said that "God has no interest" in our vocation. But I don't think that He thinks less of one who works at IBM and acts as a "missionary" there, than one who goes to the remote jungles and shares His Gospel in that environment.

    I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to achieve by this seemingly circular discussion. If you want to affirm that God still speaks audibly today and is giving some people special revelation and others not, then that's fine. I do not affirm that, as I believe it goes against what God has already revealed to us in His written Word.

  16. Billy,

    I have demonstrated on my blot that Moore twists scripture to suit her fancy. She does it time and again. A person who abuses Scripture the way Moore does is not to be held up as a teacher. It's as plain as that.

  17. Said plainly and simply, Glenn. Thank you.

  18. I listened and watched this video several times... Excuse me but Pastor James McDonald is mutilating, misaligning and misrepresenting the passage from Romans 7.

    Roman 7:21-23 does not teach a mere intellectual assent resulting in dead faith asserted by McDonald. Not by any means.The "inner being" from Romans 7:22 @ 22seconds of video IS NOT Paul's natural mind only as McDonald implies but a new and regenerated nature and by the Holy Spirit for "inner man" and "new man" are one and the same and struggling against the "outer man" which represents flesh and its sin nature. This is a major difference and McDonald is teaching an error here. This grievous error by McDonald is further perpetuated by him in his reading and misrepresentation of "mind" in verse 23 where McDonald refers to it again as the natural mind only between 32 and 36 seconds of posted video. This is a grievous and serious error and misleading isogesis by Pastor McDonald of read passage because the Scripture in this immediate and broader context context speaks about RENEWED mind by the Spirit of God and not purely fleshy and natural mind as McDonald asserts wrongly. The Reformers understood it well and interpreted this passage correctly and completely in opposition to what James McDonald does with this passage.

    I am presenting the text and the notes about that from Geneva Bible published up to 50 years prior to KJV to support my case indicating erroneous teaching of Pastor James McDonald in this instance clearly juxtaposed with how the Reformers understood it 450 years ago.

    "(1)I find then that when I would do good, I am thus yoked, that evil is present with me. For I delight in the Law of God, concerning the {2}inner man. But I see another Law in my members, rebelling against the law of my {3} mind, and leading me captive unto the law of sin, which is in my members."

    Romans 7:21 - 23
    Geneva Bible 1560-1599

    Notes to the passage with each verse:

    Romans 7:21

    (1)I find then that when I would do good, I am thus yoked, that evil is present with me.

    (1) The conclusion: as the law of God exhorts to goodness, so does the law of sin (that is, the corruption in which we are born) force us to wickedness: but the spirit, that is, our mind, in that it is regenerated, coexists with the law of God: but the flesh, that is, the whole natural man, is bondslave to the law of sin. Therefore, in short, wickedness and death are not of the law, but of sin, which reigns in those that are not regenerated: for they neither wish to do good, neither do they do good, but they wish and do evil: but in those that are regenerated, it strives against the spirit or law of the mind, so that they cannot live at all as well as they want to, or be as free of sin as they want to.

    Romans 7:22

    7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the {2} inward man:

    (2) The inner man and the new man are the same, and are compared and contrasted with the old man; and neither do these words "inward man" signify man's mind and reason, and the "old man" the physical body that is subject to them, as the philosophers imagine: but by the outward man is meant whatever is either without or within a man from top to bottom, as long as that man is not born again by the grace of God.

    Romans 7:23

    7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my {3} mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

    (3) The law of the mind in this place is not to be understood as referring to the mind as it is naturally, and as our mind is from our birth, but of the mind which is renewed by the Spirit of God.

    May God shine His light on this Pastor and His congregation.

  19. I'd like to thank you EBenz for posting your points with a polite tone. I'd also like to thank you for your many, many cited verse references to back up your arguments. The trend of skipping God's word in favor of some form of "revelation" has troubled me recently, as I find a great many people I used to look up to in the church are more and more going off their own opinions with nowhere to reference it but in their own head. I'm sure many of these people do actually "hear" a voice confirming their subconscious desires, however they quite blindly assume that this "voice" is God's, never once considering the lion that seeks to devour them.

    Anyway, very interesting and useful read. Having the biblical references and recommended reading from both sides gives me a good starting out point for my own scriptural research.

    Thanks again!

  20. Driscoll Announces Beth Moore as New Teaching Pastor

    SEATTLE – In a surprise announcement, senior pastor Mark Driscoll introduced Beth Moore as the new junior teaching pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. In a very carefully worded announcement, Driscoll took the platform Sunday morning and introduced Moore in her new position. “This morning I am totally pumped to introduce the newest member of the pastoral teaching staff here at Mars Hill. Most of you know her..."


  21. While I fear the article Anonymous has quoted could one day become reality in one form or another, it's important to point out this disclaimer at the bottom of the article that is linked above:

    "This April Fool's Day post is completely fictitious."

    Thanks for the early morning chuckle, Anonymous.

  22. Could it be that the word "phenomenal" was meant in a different way...possibly in the context of "popularity". Not that the content was phenomenal or outstanding, but that the popularity of it was outstanding.
    Could be.....

  23. Anonymous,
    Perhaps, but the fact that Beth Moore studies are on the approved list of Bible studies at HBC (as I pointed out in the post), is an obvious endorsement of Moore. And even a cursory look at Moore's teachings should give any discerning Christian pause.


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