I admire the women of Emmanuel Enid. They are strong thinkers, qualified leaders, and in many instances, Beth Moore enthusiasts. Anybody that encourages other Christians to study the Scriptures for themselves should be deemed an asset to the kingdom of Christ. Beth Moore is one of those valuable assets. I have listened to Beth Moore teach on a few occasions and have been encouraged by much of what I have heard. I have to confess, however, that I am sometimes bumfuzzled. On a few occasions I have even asked other women in a Beth Moore Bible Study: "Is Beth Moore saying what I think she is saying?"
I am about to be critical of something Beth Moore said in her Mercy Triumphs series, a study of the book of James.The teaching I will criticize is found in Lesson 6, and I will be very specific. Our ladies at Emmanuel Enid are using Beth Moore's videos on James this spring, and I am thrilled they are doing so. I hesitated posting what I am about to write because some might presume a motive. So, to be clear as mountain air, I want to preface my critique of Beth Moore's summary teaching of Lesson 6 with the following three caveats:
Christian freedom assumes one's ability to critique Christian teaching. Only in cults and other oppressively authoritarian environments is the freedom to critique what is being said taken away. Even the Apostle Paul says it is a noble and honorable thing to not receive what you hear Christians say (just because of who is saying it), but to search the Scriptures for yourself to see if what you are hearing is true (Acts 17:11).
Christian unity is not the same thing as Christian uniformity. Some Christians might bring their hands to their mouths and gasp if something critical is said about what Beth Moore teaches. Those Christians are the ones who mistake uniformity for unity.
(a). Unity implies diversity; uniformity eliminates it.
(b). Unity makes us different but one; uniformity makes us the same.
(c). Unity creates an organism; uniformity craves an institution.
(d). Unity combines and includes; uniformity confines and excludes.
The Word of God is infallible, but we who teach the Word of God are not. For this reason, every teacher of God's Word, including me, should view criticism as a gift. It is beneficial whether or not it is accurate. Regardless of the following criticism, I want the women of Emmanuel Enid to be affirmed in their use of Beth Moore videos. More importantly, the women of Emmanuel Enid are free to disagree with me and side with Beth Moore! Seriously, what I am about to write is a firm conviction within me, but I suggest you don't make what I write your conviction until, or if and when (because it may not happen), the Holy Spirit makes it your conviction. Why do I say this? Because I could be wrong in what I'm about to write and Beth Moore could be right iin what she taught! Of course, I don't believe I'm wrong, but my point to you is it makes no difference if you believe like I do or not! That's God's job, not mine. Now, to the matter at hand:
Beth Moore's Mercy Triumphs: Lesson 6 (James 4:11-12)
In this study Beth makes several statements about the importance of never speaking against another brother or sister in Christ. particularly on the Internet or Twitter, and the importance of affiliation with a local church, avoiding getting your main spiritual encouragement and support from any virtual preaching, virtual website, or virtual church. Beth then gives a few personal illustrations of negative things written about her on the Internet and then closes her study with five reasons why Christians should avoid cynicism toward other Christians. I will skip the first four (some of which are pretty good) and jump to the fifth reason, which confounded me. The following is the actual transcript.
Beth Moore speaking:
"Five top reasons not to get cynical: I wonder what point number five would be?
5. God will kick your tail. (Laughter; then Beth repeats point 5 slowly and dramatically).
I begged my good friend Dale McCleskey--who is my editor and has been for fourteen Bible studies--I begged him to let me say it like that! There’s no way I can say it the same way if I don’t get to just spit out!
I promise you.. I promise you .. Whatever I know about the Scriptures, and whatever I have learned about God in my tenure … I’ve been around a corner or two, I’ve seen the workings of body of Christ from this angle or that, and spent some years with the Lord Jesus, and I'm going to tell you, I promise you that if I know anything about what we are talking about tonight, I know this: If you (the believer) continue on in your cynicism, God will kick your tail!
It doesn't even matter how right you think you are, and it doesn't matter if you are on the right side. Once you become cynical about the body you have moved to the other side and you are in a dangerous situation ... God will kick your tail!"
Okie dokie (that's Oklahoman for "All right"), I have four strong disagreements with Beth Moore's teaching above.
(1). God lifts the head of the cynic in mercy and doesn't kick his tail in vengeance.
Were Beth speaking of unbelievers in Christ being cynical of God, I would understand her point (I think). But Beth made it very clear that she is speaking of believers in Christ who get cynical "about the body" -- God will kick your tail. It is unimaginable for me to kick my wife in the tail and the notion that God kicks His Bride in such a manner is so totally contrary to the teaching of Scripture that one wonders from where this sort of teaching arises? Could it possibly be that Beth Moore has fallen into the syndrome of many Southern Baptist who make the error of the ancient Jews (Psalm 50:21) and view God as if He were just like them? Beth Moore may wish to kick a Christian in the tail who is cynical about her or other Christians, but God is altogether different.
(2). Making promises about God's desires to kick any Christian's tail is very unwise on many levels.
A teacher should be very, very careful when it comes to speaking of God's desires or intentions. Why? Because God is God and we are not. I won't go into the other portion of the video tape where Beth Moore represents that she understands the mind of God but the cynic is clueless. Suffice it to say, anytime I ever hear someone making categorical statements about God's inner desires and intentions without the clear support and backing of Scripture, it causes me to cringe. Toward the end of the video Beth displayed a softness toward the cynic and said, "If God can cleanse the leper, He can heal the cynic." Amen! It's a little difficult to picture God healing and God kicking at the same time--unless of course healing from God is a result and consequence of us ridding ourselves of cynicism. I couldn't help but listen to the entire video and ask, "What kind of healing is it that requires no mercy or grace from God?" The constant "do this... do that... don't do this... and don't do that..." in this particular video made me wonder about Beth's understanding of the immeasurable grace of God (see Ephesians 2:4-5).
(3). When the believer's motive for avoiding sin is to avoid a good tail kicking from God, then Christianity is no different from the pagan religions of the world.
I shall not expound on this point, but simply refer you to a post I wrote entitled Why Do We Keep Remembering What God Forgets?
(4). It is an axiom of teaching/preaching that those things we most angrily denounce are most usually the very things with which bother us the most.
Beth Moore defines cynicism this way: "Cynicism is carnality that thinks its smart." According to Beth, all cynicism carries an air of superiority. Maybe. What I've seen in my experience is believers in Jesus Christ become cynical when church leaders present themselves as perfect, cover up sin, and take their place as God's alleged vicars on earth (authoritarianism). In my experience, the church is the one producing cynics because our religious teaching has departed from the radical teaching of God's amazing grace in Jesus Christ and has turned the church into a performance place, much like the corporate world, Hollywood, or any other secular environment. The gospel is radical, and the gospel I read about in Scripture is the good news that God takes cynical, hardened sinners and softens them by His goodness and grace. I guess what I'm saying is its Christian leaders pretending they speak for God ("God will kick your tail") that produces cynicism. So maybe cynicism is not such a bad thing after all. It helps keep us Christian teachers down to earth. Cynics could be God's gift to us,! If so, then it's not a kick in the tail God gives them but a pat on the seat and a "Well done, son!"
Oh my! :) I better quit with that! Keep up the good work, Beth! Just know that part of being the church of Jesus Christ is that disagreement is GOOD! It keeps us sharp, humble and on message!
In His Grace,