Beth Moore: “Biblicism, Spiritual Warfare, Mysticism and Pop Psychology”

Recently, a Pentecostal-Charismatic lay pastor told me that he used to be a Methodist. “So what prompted you make the move to Pentecostalism?” I asked. “Because,” he answered, “in our church today, when the singing starts, tears start running down my face.”

Teresa of Avila, Catholic mystic (1515-1582)

Evangelicals, in what Professor Scott Clark of Westminster Seminary in California calls the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Experience (QIRE), have largely equated Christianity with experience. In fact, they consume by far a lot more Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby, When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado, Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen, and “Encounter God Retreat” by the G12 Movement than books explaining what the Christian gospel is or why Christ is paramount in preaching.

And this is why evangelical itching ears have always emptied shelves of books and DVDs about “experiencing God,” “encountering God,” “and he walks with me and he talks with me” in the garden, and “worship experience.” For example, “Be Still” is a popular DVD that “demonstrates contemplative reflection” and features Beth Moore, who “has become the most popular Bible teacher in America,” and “some of today’s most highly respected authors, educators, and ministers,” who happen to include Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Calvin Miller and Priscilla Shirer. These last names figure prominently in contemplative/spiritual mysticism, which includes a form of an “altered state of consciousness” called contemplative/centering prayer, which is transcendental meditation disguised in “Christian” camouflage.

Why do evangelicals want more of Moore? Because they have turned Christianity into Eastern mysticism, gnosticism and pop psychology. In a review of Moore’s recent book, Believing God, Susan Disston writes,

Basically she says, don’t let theology and doctrine confuse you when you can figure it out with God for yourself in a way that works for you. Unfortunately, people who use her materials can’t help but absorb some of that reasoning. Even more troubling is that they think they’re doing Bible study when they are really getting a heavy dose of mysticism, storytelling, psychology, and prosperity gospel.

Prosperity gospel? Yes. In Believing God, she teaches that the “primary reason God left us on earth after our salvation was for our Christianity to ‘succeed’ right here on this turf.” For Moore, this turf is your earthly Promised Land where God’s “personalized promises over your life become a living reality rather than a theological theory.” Let’s see if she doesn’t get an egg in the face if she teaches this to depraved, suffering, persecuted believers all over the world, because the surest “living reality” promised by Christ in the here and now until he returns is this, “In the world, you will have tribulation” (John 16:33) and this, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).

Thus instead of desiring to receive God’s grace through the hearing of God’s Word preached and partaking of the body and blood of Christ, evangelicals covet sanctification by listening to experiential testimonies and repeatedly rededicating their lives in altar calls.

Halee Gray Scott writes in “First Came the Bible” (Christianity Today, August 2010) about four things that magnetize people to Beth Moore’s teachings: biblicism, spiritual warfare, mysticism, and popular psychology.

1. Biblicism. “Me and my Bible alone.” Isn’t this sola Scriptura, one of the great principles of the Reformation? Far from it. Scott says Moore, although self-taught and shows no interest in doctrine and tradition, depends mostly on her own intuition, and because of this false self-reliance, she is “not able to draw, as much as she might, on the solid biblical and theological scholarship that emanates from trustworthy seminaries and universities, teaching that actually guards us against heresy and reminds us of the hard lessons of history.”

2. Spiritual warfare. The danger in Moore’s strong emphasis on spiritual warfare is that it threatens to minimize humanity’s radical fallenness, and instead portrays man as victims of “generational strongholds, bondage from past sins, or increasing oppression by Satanic influences.”

3. Mysticism. In almost every book or video, Moore claims direct revelations from and conversations with God. She says in a video, “And this came as a direct revelation of the Spirit, because this would never have come to me. I know God spoke this over me as he began turning through a concordance in my mind and I started thinking about one Scripture after another.” “Be Still” is a video that promotes contemplative prayer, a form meditation rooted in Eastern mysticism, wherein a person slows down and silences oneself in the midst of a busy and noisy culture to not only talk to God but listen to him as well.

4. Popular psychology. Moore’s works are mostly therapeutic and experiential, although she tries to generously sprinkle them with Scripture texts. Her works have “a lot of wisdom, but it is long on anecdotes and short on theology and biblical analysis.” Because of her emphasis on spiritual warfare, her main concern is freedom and healing from bondage to past sins, generational curse and Satanic oppression.

This self-help, self-esteem man-centered emphasis comes out in Believing God, where she prescribes a five-point pledge of faith, a daily devotion that involves memorization and speaking out loud, “God is who he says he is; God can do what he says he can do; I am who God says I am; I can do all things through Christ; God’s Word is alive and active in me.”


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16 thoughts on “Beth Moore: “Biblicism, Spiritual Warfare, Mysticism and Pop Psychology””

  1. Pingback: of THIS United Methodist and Beth Moore #UMC #WVUMC | Unsettled Christianity

  2. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

  3. Wow, you people are a laugh-a-minute. What a dour, dry-as-dust vision of Christianity you depict. The fallen and broken must be breaking down your door.  Where is your relationship with Christ?

    1. The dour, dry-as-dust Christianity you describe is Biblical Christianity. And sinners are truly not breaking down the door of our church. They come because the Holy Spirit has moved them to repent and believe.

      Is that what you believe Christianity is all about? A “relationship” with Christ? A feel-good, emotional, experiential, but Scripturally-void “relationship”? And asking God to teach you “something new” daily by listening to his “still, small voice” “falling on your ear”? This is the stuff that mysticism and gnosticism are made of.

      I’m sure, like Beth Moore, Benny Hinn and other heretics, you talk to God daily to get new revelations to add to your “Scriptures.”

  4. I’m sorry Nollie.  I wasn’t addressing anything you said.  I was strictly speaking of the article, which does accuse her of preaching a prosperity gospel in the 4th paragraph, including the quote by Susan Disston. 

    That 4th paragraph takes what Beth Moore is saying completely out of context.  On page  80 of the book Believing God she says, “New Testament Scripture stacks up too much evidence for us to claim that suffering is never within the plan of our sovereign God, whether through His perfect or permissive will.”  Also on page 78 she says, “If we are accurate in our estimation of the inward priority of the new covenant, we might assume that no one will completely forego suffering.  Neither will those who don’t know Christ, I might add.  Unfortunately, no one in this present world system foregoes suffering.  It is a compulsory part of human existence in a terribly fallen world.  The difference for believers is that our suffering need never be in vain.”

    Beth Moore’s “prosperity’ gospel…if that is what it must be called….is not that believers will prosper in all things but that God’s plan is that we prosper through all things.  Which is exactly what “depraved, suffering, persecuted believers all over the world” do.  They prosper through it. 

  5. I can not believe anyone would compare Beth Moore to Joyce Meyer or Benny Hinn.  She is not an advocate of any prosperity gospel and I would advise anyone look into it themselves before they take this article as a good representation of Beth Moore.  Be fully informed on the matter.

    Be fully informed on the matter.

    1. The article and I didn’t say that she teaches prosperity gospel. The article, however, mentions that she has views that are part of mysticism when she says that she gets direct revelation from God. And most of these prosperity gospel preachers believe in the same thing, since most of them are Pentecostals who believe in “fresh revelations” and prophecies directly given to them through conversations with God.

  6. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote an article on September 20, 2010, “The Subtle Body: Should Christians Practice Yoga?” In the article, he warns Christians about the dangers of this “sufficiently safe” spiritual exercise, advocated and practiced as contemplative/centering prayer, spiritual formation, etc. These are rooted in Eastern mysticism and gnosticism:

    When Christians practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga. The contradictions are not few, nor are they peripheral. The bare fact is that yoga is a spiritual discipline by which the adherent is trained to use the body as a vehicle for achieving consciousness of the divine. Christians are called to look to Christ for all that we need and to obey Christ through obeying his Word. We are not called to escape the consciousness of this world by achieving an elevated state of consciousness, but to follow Christ in the way of faithfulness.

    There is nothing wrong with physical exercise, and yoga positions in themselves are not the main issue. But these positions are teaching postures with a spiritual purpose. Consider this — if you have to meditate intensely in order to achieve or to maintain a physical posture, it is no longer merely a physical posture.

    The embrace of yoga is a symptom of our postmodern spiritual confusion, and, to our shame, this confusion reaches into the church. Stefanie Syman is telling us something important when she writes that yoga “has augured a truly post-Christian, spiritually polyglot country.” Christians who practice yoga are embracing, or at minimum flirting with, a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives into a “post-Christian, spiritually polyglot” reality. Should any Christian willingly risk that?

  7. If she is the most popular Bible teacher in America today, how come we don’t know her? Maybe because we are not charismatic?

    I saw on TV Patrol world news that Joyce Meyer is so popular in the Phil.?   She even has an ad broadcasted on Filipino news saying she is the most popular author and Bible teacher in the world.  Seems like the Filipinos don’t do research before broadcasting, and because she is from America, they just swallow what she teaches hook, line and sinker.

    1. Maybe because you’re not “evangelical”?

      In the Philippines, these are the favorites: Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Apollo Quiboloy, Eddie Villanueva, and other heretical prosperity gospel people.

  8. Is she another case of what Dr. David F. Wells calls “No Place for Truth” “Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology”? If Beth Moore’s popularity is a measure of Christianity in our age, then, I think, the kind of Christianity that we have simply makes us feel good and successful about ourselves but devoid of truth of God and his redemptive work in our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the severity of human sin and misery. That’s not the kind of Christianity that the risen and reigning Christ commends. Rather, as what we can read from the book of Revelation, the kind of Christianity that the Lord approves is one that stands, even contends, for the truth of God and the testimony of Christ even unto death, and keeps itself pure, holy, and obedient to His law by the  power of the Spirit of God.

    1. Who knows and who cares about David Wells’ books when we can be “touched” by pop psychology and have our best life now? A great example of Christless “moralistic, therapeutic deism.”

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