"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

"God Will Kick Your Tail" - A Critique of Beth Moore's Teaching on James 4:10-11 from Mercy Triumphs

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.

To critique Beth Moore's teaching may mean an absence of uniformity, but it doesn't mean an absence of unity. For a further understanding of the differences between unity and uniformity, I refer you to this excellent article by Paul Burleson.

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.

(Begin Quote)

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!"

(End quote)

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,


P.S. And, before anyone makes the silly suggestion that this post should have been sent in the form of a private letter to Beth Moore, it should be remembered that a private letter is never sent by Beth Moore ministries to pastors requesting she teach the ladies in their churches. Beth Moore's ministry is public, and any criticism of her ministry can be public as well. Our ladies are free to do Beth Moore studies anytime they please! Our ladies also know I am free to disagree with what Beth teaches and they are even more free to disagree with what I teach! That, Christians, is real freedom.


Ramesh said...

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.
The wisdom of The Gospel is not of this world. It is purely divine in origin.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wade,
I agree with you here. I wonder if this is not because of what John Piper calls "debtors gratitude" in his book Future Grace.


Just curious if that is maybe why Beth Moore seems to get it wrong here?

In Christ
Robert I Masters

Wade Burleson said...

Robert I Masters,

You make a good point. Maybe it is just the language Beth uses, but where I grew up kicking someone's tail was not a gracious thing to do. I resist, with every fiber in my body, any teaching that motivates Christians to do the right thing because of a fear of a future tail kicking from God.

John Wylie said...

Hey Wade,

Don't you think that it's possible that Beth Moore was referring to the correction/chastisement that the Lord promises to every child of His? Maybe "kick his tail" is a little less than accurate, but the principle that God will discipline and correct holds true in the scriptures. (Hebrews 12:5-11)

Kimberlyn said...


I love Beth, and I really enjoy your blog. I just watched this video in my Bible study class this week and the only thing I walked away wondering about was "is it ok to disagree with others publicly?" I think yes it is ok, for the purpose of accountability. I believe she is referring to those who slander and misrepresent others because they have lost the heart of God, and care more about looking smart than about the body of Christ. At least that is what I received from her teaching. I don't believe you are one of those people, it appears to me that you have the right heart and motives for speaking, to build up the body of Christ.

I think Beth's fault here is not being clear in communicating what she means. A literal tail kicking is probably not from God, but as a euphemism it is sometimes how His discipline feels when it is directed our way. I just experienced this last Fall. I had an idol in my life that influenced me to be more prideful and superior. After two or more years God ripped this idol from my life, it was like a death, and it felt like a huge kick in the pants, but at the same time I felt His love. It felt awful, but God also lovingly walked with me through it every step of the way, and I knew His love for me more deeply. I took from her teaching that "pride comes before the fall" and that "God disciplines those He loves". I do believe the phrase is controversial and perhaps required more explanation if it was to be used, but not entirely inaccurate as a part of the process of God's expression of His love for us when we need it. I think she taught this because she loves those she teaches enough to warn them to change their ways before they have to go through this kind of discipline, because this kind of discipline is not fun. When someone used a euphemism it is usually hard to draw conclusions accurately, thus not always a good way to teach, but also not a good phrase to assume we know what the intent was as well. Beth is very emotional and passionate, that is part of why I love her, and she wanted this teaching to make an emotional impact so it would change someone's life, but emotional teaching obviously makes it more difficult to grasp meaning. I'd like to think both emotion and intellectualism have their place in teaching. I'm glad we have blogs like this to try to get to the heart of the matter. : )


Wade Burleson said...

John Wylie,

You make a good point. The problem I have, though, is the discipline of the Lord is always discipleship, for our good, and never out of anger. "Kick your tail" is language that speaks of displeasure, anger, and punishment. So...

When I wish for my people to think of God's chastisement, I much prefer a biblical description of it rather than a euphemism that falls way short of truth, if not unintentionally distorts the truth for the hearer!

Wade Burleson said...


Good word!


John Wylie said...


I agree and teach my church that God's correction of us is not motivated by His wrath nor could it be chacterized as punishment. However, the text I quoted in Hebrews tells us that God's correction of us is not pleasant and there is a word used in verse 6 translated scourges and flogs in various translations. I think that in our modern vernacular it would be most closely associated with a spanking. So "kick his tail" while a bit over the top is really not that far off.

Dee said...

Perhaps I am different than most but I actually find it fascinating when people disagree with me. It causes me to reassess my thoughts and attitudes and make sure that they line up with Scripture. I think far more deeply when someone challenges my assumptions as opposed to people just nodding along. That is what I love about blogging.

In fact, I believe that we should not take ourselves too seriously. At our blog we have a page with a section titled "What the world is saying about us." We list all of the rather critical, yet, to us, humorous names that we have been called. My current favorite is "Philistines" with a close runner up of "yellow journalists."

I make it a point to laugh and to pray for those who do criticize us in such a fashion. I would hope Moore would count her blessings to have so many people who love her and her studies. It's time to lighten up.

Wade Burleson said...


Delightfully different than most!


One Salient Oversight said...

As far as your comment about not critiquing Moore privately is concerned...

Don Carson wrote this a while back explaining the "abuse" of Matthew 18.

Very useful for Christian bloggers who wish to speak their mind.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. Since Moore says she and God talk on a regular basis,maybe God did tell her that he would "kick some tail". As far s I am concerned she is just another book seller and nothing else.

Anonymous said...

I think that Beth Moore is no different that a lot of preachers who are in the public eye.

Her and along with the other well known "Biblical" preachers are on a downword spiral when it comes to scripture. They have tainted it with their own egos.

Gem said...

"Beth makes several statements about the importance of never speaking against another brother or sister in Christ"

Interesting... and confusing???

I like Beth Moore, have been through about 9 of her studies (but not this one).

If we must NEVER speak against another brother or sister in Christ what was John thinking in 3 John? and what was Paul thinking in 2 Timothy 4:14?

Paul and John did not hesitate to name names and publicly hold people accountable (in a manner which is far more enduring than a Tweet IMO)

From “Beloved Disciple” by Beth Moore pg 153

QUOTE “Read 3 John . List each person identified and write a brief description ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Imagine being named in a letter that turned out to be inspired Scripture for all the world to see! Whether in commendation or criticism, having your name immortalized in scripture is a heavy thought! When I see a portion of Scripture with brief testimonials similar to the segment we’re studying today, I almost shiver… At times I would have been anywhere from devastated to humiliated over what might be written in my life’s theoretical one-sentence statement. I love knowing that as long as we’re kicking and breathing, we can change the course of our testimonies. God hasn’t put a period at the end of our sentences yet…” ENDQUOTE

Anonymous said...

What a shame. Moore is trying to make it a sin to critque her teaching or disagree with her publicly on the internet. She has a stage but wants to deny it to others because this is what she does for a living.

She is no different from Driscoll or Mahaney. She is using God, her position to scare people. She is a public teacher and goes to great lengths to market herself. We should check every word. I have other problems with some of her teaching but won't get into it here.


C said...

I appreciate your comments, Wade, and particularly the way in which you framed your post. Discussion and - gasp - even loving disagreement are healthy for the Church! Thank you for role modeling it in this post.

I do suspect that Beth Moore was implying a more disciplinary view of the expression, rather than punitive. Given the ambiguity of the language, perhaps a better expression should have been used.

Moret Webster said...

Hi Wade,

I happened to stumble across this post while searching for a story that Beth Moore did during the James study and I had a couple of thoughts I wanted to share.

First, I agree with some other posts about not taking the literal translation of "kick your tail". Mrs. Moore has a very light hearted, humorous approach to her teachings and I think she was more implying the correction and discipline as a father to their child than a husband to their wife.

Second, I don't think she's saying there will/should never be conflict/disagreements in the church. As part of the body of Christ we are redeemed from our brokenness but the battle of the flesh won't stop until we get to go home, so there's bound to be conflict. BUT what I think her message that week was about was not to slander other members in the body. Slander by definition being to speak falsely of someone damaging their reputation. I believe that's what Beth Moore encountered when she googled her name to find her blog; she was upset when she found a post someone had written about her and the interpretations of her teaching weren't correct and the writer bashed Beth's thoughts without first contacting her for a confirmation of "so this is what you're saying you believe because I disagree with it." This may be getting more off the topic of cynics and tail kicking, but as this part was included in the entire session 6 teaching, I think it's important to look at the teaching in its entirety, not simply comment by comment, same as with studying scripture.

Lastly, from another previous session Beth Moore discussed the scriptures when James warns "teachers" because of the "power" and "influence" they can have. She went on to discuss that she takes that role very seriously. I agree with your point, or another's comment, that the Word of God is infallible but the people preaching it are not, I think it's also important to look at the character, purpose, and entire message of the teacher to determine if they're intentionally leading the flock astray, misunderstood, or misunderstanding.

As the Body and Bride of the Most High we should never publicly slander one another but instead go to our brother or sister who has sinned against us in private and discuss the issue. I especially think it's important to write Beth Moore yourself and inform her that you disagree because of 1. 2. 3. because then if you win her over, she'll change her message and stop steering people in an untheological direction. But if you don't reach out to her and just write about her behind her back, I don't think that's very loving, that's not the way Jesus wanted us to handle conflict, and a house divided cannot stand... which is exactly what the devil wants.

Annabel said...

Wade, I was very heartened to see your thoughts. After hearing this lesson presented in Beth Moore's James study, I was very disturbed for a long time. It felt to me that she was veering off from the lesson and getting very personal and even defensive. I felt this was inappropriate. I am having an increasingly hard time with Beth's interjections of her own life into her teaching/preaching. Her dreams, her stalkers, etc.

I could not shake this and so went looking for others' opinions and found your blog. You presented your thoughts in a very reasonable way. Bottom line is, I am taking a very long break from Beth and finding other ways to study that don't depend on the thoughts and opinions of popular teachers.

Anonymous said...

I came across the Blog - while searching for "problems with Beth Moore" I have been in several of her studies and with Each One, I feel that "The Holy Spirit" is telling me - THAT IS WRONG! with some of her teaching- I Followed thru with the Scripture to find out that some statment was indeed incorrect. Now I am in the "James" Study. - and found that she use alot of phrase words, such as -"may have been" "could have been" "perhaps" "If""Maybe" Possibly" (you get my drift)when she is talking about Joseph, Jesus,James,-You cannot Add to or take away from the scripture -She is Still changing the words of the scripture.
All in the 1st session/ Her Daughters attempts with "The Next Level" are not good. She talks about the Nazirite Vow quotes someone about it then goes on to say"Of course we cannot verify" WELL WHY PUT IT IN THE STUDY!!

Unknown said...

"God will kick your tail" is just a figure of speech people. As a matter of fact, if you all dont think that God will punish or correct His children, you are in for an awakening! Why would you want to call Him you Father if He doesnt love and care about you enough to correct you? What kind of parent would you be to your children if you didnt punish them for their wrong doings? As for me...I'm sooo grateful that my God loves me so much that He does convict and correct me before my sin takes over and becomes my own undoing!!!

Chris Candide said...

And isn't she engaging in exactly the behavior she is condemning?

Unknown said...

You took her out of context quite a few times. Did you listen to the study, or even the previous studies on james? She did not advocate staying away from Christian blogs, podcasts...she said what was the equivalent of don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together. Aren't you abusing your freedom right now by disobeying James 4:11? And in a public forum where these words will remain for who knows how long. I'm from Canada and I recognize she is speaking Texan by saying "kick your tail" for what really means "God will discipline you". I am saddened by a world where us christians will speak against another in public forums. I sure hope you believe in our Lord's discipline because it is in the word but we pretend it doesn't exist when we live in grace. I believe that the cynicism she was speaking of was similar to what is written in Hebrews 3:12 i.e. brethren having an unbelieving heart. We see the consequences of that in Heb 3&4.

Shane Haffey said...

We can look to the scripture for examples of public correction. Most notably Paul as he publically rebukes Peter's teaching. And when I say rebuke he put's Peter in his place and rightfully so. Peter was in error and Paul was not worried about Peters feelings or worried about being "cynical", he was concerned about the truth being altered to the detriment of church. Now to complete the context Paul sharply corrected Peter on a foundational issue regarding grace by faith and not by works. The flip side is we can be in danger of ignoring Paul's instruction to Timothy. "But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels." So we pick and choose our battles making sure we aren't soliciting quarrels for the sake of quarreling but instead we contend for the faith and for truth vigorously in the spirit of love. God Bless

dlarryb said...

Thanks Wade. Those with discernment will recognize that with Beth Moore, a number of "good things" will be said but her approach to theology is problematic. And it's not just in this teaching series. Her whole approach to Scripture has problems. And this is where the Church at large today is lacking: no discernment. That's how the false is swallowed: a lot sounds good. Rather, consider the Precept ministries of Kay Arthur.

Anonymous said...

I stopped using Beth More studies for a few reasons. I enjoyed her for a time. But wanted something deeper and more theologically sound. I found Nancy Guthrie's series - seeing Jesus in the Old Testament - to be one of the best I have found. it gives a better understanding of Scripture and How's overall plan of redemption. CouldN't've studies are like eating candy. Nancy Guthrie's are like eating steak.

hitsnooz said...

Bottom line: "the sum of God's word is truth".

We have to look at all of scripture when we consider what God would or wouldn't do. The picture of a husband "kicking the tail" of his wife is certainly inappropriate. But don't forget that God also represents Himself as our Father, and fully instructs us that He will discipline any true child of His (Hebrews 12:4-13). I would consider becoming cynical of our brothers and sisters something that a good Daddy would administer discipline over.

Maybe your problem is with Beth's "red neck" phraseology. I think she would be the first to tell you that God can administer a "spanking" that is somehow filled with grace and gentleness all at once. I know I have experienced it myself--and have been truly thankful for it.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)

I am so thankful that My Daddy-God is personal with me. That He loves me enough to discipline me when I become critical of those around me. Determinedly making me more like him, and less like me.

Anonymous said...

Kick your tail is not literal. You are taking one part of a sentence and taking it out of context. It is kind of like taking one bible verse and using it out of context. You have to read the whole paragraph to glean the full intent of what she is saying. Personally I don't see why there is a need to criticize at all.

Anonymous said...

I just ran across this. Is it ok that I don't like Beth Moore's teaching? Is it ok to say that? I really don't care what Beth Moore says. I really don't know why people are drawn to her. She is a writer and makes lots of money from it. Her job is to sell books! Truly, I hope she reads your comment and softens up her language esp. when it comes to knowing God. Romans 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor?

Unknown said...

I am deeply disappointed with your blog. Did you bother to research a little further? If you would have you would have noticed in Session 6 around min 31 that she starts addressing this and it is clear that you misunderstood. I would suggest an apology post.

Unknown said...

Let God handle Beth. You are playing right into the devil's hands. Dissension among the ranks. The devil is eating this up".

roadside said...

I feel a little like all the prep you wrote before you got down to your "complaint" was too much protesting. I think you enjoyed criticizing Beth Moore.

barb hendrickson said...

I humbly disagree with you on this point. Wade very respectfully disagreed with another Christian's teaching and I think it helps us fine tune what we are teaching and believing. If Wade had been hateful and rude, your point would have been right on.

Unknown said...

Wow, Ive just done this study on James, It was so uplifting. Your Article, right from the choice of picture of Beth moore, though all the throwing her under the bus was disappointing. I think your time would be better spent building teachers up that you have enjoyed and sharing those thoughts.

Wade Burleson said...


Being disappointing to people is not an uncommon experience for me, neither is it ever motivation for me to change my thinking. I live, think and behave on the basis of guiding principles, not pleasing governing people who take it upon themselves to inform me of their disappointment. I also agree that "time is better spent" building up teachers and the body of Christ, but I happen to disagree expressing a disagreement with a teacher like Beth Moore is tearing her down.

Unknown said...

It is seven years since you've posted this, yet I'd like to add my two cents. I think the phrase 'kick your tail' has been misunderstood. It means one of the following:
1. To defeat someone or something decisively.
"We weren't prepared for that game, and the other team kicked our tail."

2. To physically attack one; to beat one up.
"I'll kick your tail if I ever see you talking to my girlfriend again."

3. To be very effective or successful.
"This new strategy is really kicking tail and keeping the groundhogs away from my vegetable garden!"

4. To motivate one or shock one out of complacency.
"The professor's speech today kind of kicked my tail and made me realize I need to start applying myself."

I believe that what Beth meant was the latter, #4.