Should we ban Beth Moore?

Jeremy Smith is concerned about the popularity and widespread use of Beth Moore Bible study materials in United Methodist settings.

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15 thoughts on “Should we ban Beth Moore?

  1. I read in Christianity Today that she, like Joel Osteen, is neither seminary nor college trained for her work. Is this relevant to Methodists?

    Also, isn’t she the one who was photographed on a holiday with Benny Hinn right before his wife left him? I may be wrong, but I think I read that also. If true, shouldn’t that be a consideration, at least as a reflection on self-consistency and judgment?

    • Frank, I think it was Paula White who was photographed with Benny Hinn.

      Moore is not seminary trained. That does not impact her ability to provide and lead Bible study in a Methodist setting. It certainly may impact that way she is perceived by people.

  2. I believe we as United Methodists are putting too many qualifications on the act of serving God. We believe you have to this or fulfill that requirement before you can go out. What is does the Lord our God say? People are stuck to much on the legalistic matter. The best sermons I ever seen were deliver not by seminary graduates hoping to link some scripture together, but in the simple act of one loving their neighbor.

  3. I read the article last night, and appreciated much of the content. I, too, have struggled at previous appointments with the Beth Moore issue. I think it is absolutely appropriate to address the non (perhaps even anti) Wesleyan/Arminian angles of any education materials offered in a United Methodist setting. I am sure we should be questioning Cokesbury/UMPH’s failure to offer real alternatives, as well as its decision to “go where the money is” and sell so much merchandise that is decidedly Reformed/Calvinistic. We should bemoan the lack of clarity in United Methodism about who we are and what it means to be Wesleyan/Arminian.

    At the same time, let us have some intellectual integrity about ourselves. Many UM’s who dislike Beth Moore don’t do so because she is Reformed/Calvinist or Southern Baptist, except insofar as those things generally equate to one being theologically conservative. To support this, I point to the number of moderate-to-progressive Reformed thinkers whom you will seldom, if ever, hear disparaged among United Methodists (i.e., Walter Brueggemann and Eugene Peterson).

    The reason so much Calvinism sneaks in the back door of United Methodist churches is because we are so preoccupied over the conservative or progressive bents of our own teachers, that anyone with any passion about anything is “vetted” out by our system, allowing only milquetoast teachers or materials to receive the denominational seal of approval. For example, one of the alternatives listed in the comment section was Jessica LaGrone. Jessica would be an excellent alternative to Beth Moore for United Methodists. However, she went to Asbury and is on staff at the Woodlands UMC. For many people, because she has a conservative United Methodist pedigree, Jessica might be considered worse than Beth Moore. I imagine it is no coincidence her study was published by the Woodlands UMC and not by Cokesbury or UMPH. I wonder if she even tried? We don’t have lots of good, solid, passionate Wesleyan material because Cokesbury and UMPH won’t or can’t publish very many passionate Wesleyans due to the political pressure exerted on them. To the average Mary and Joe Pew Sitter, passion beats out content any day. We have made our own beds, brothers and sisters, and now we are lying in it.

    One thing that did strike me (no surprise here) is the level of vehemence Beth Moore generates. A perusal of the comment section finds one suggestion Beth Moore’s popularity is due to her attractiveness. This comment, made by a man, as of yet has not been contradicted. In fact, it was seconded by another man (try to say that about an attractive progressive thinker, and you might as well tie the rope you’ll be strung up with). Others used terms such as “despicable” and “crap.” Can’t you just feel the love of Christ? Now I am making assumptions and employing stereotypes here, which I know is wrong, but I think it is fairly safe to surmise many people who harbor this level of animosity toward Beth Moore would be among the first to say we need to be more tolerant and open-minded (say on the issue of homosexuality, for instance). It seems we are all at some level intolerant fundamentalists. We just had different fundamentals.

    Should we have concerns about Beth Moore and similar teachers/materials being utilized in United Methodist settings? Absolutely, because she holds to a theological framework (Reformed/Calvinist) which on key points is diametrically opposed to our own Wesleyan/Arminian heritage. But let’s be honest. Most UM’s who don’t like Beth Moore could care less about that. Their concern is she’s a conservative evangelical with a large following.

    • You raise some good points, here, Billy. I am not convinced her theological flaws (from some points of view) are Reformed so much as a they are non-academic.

  4. From these comments it appears that seminary graduates cannot perform “a simple act of one loving their neighbor” because they are too busy working with scripture, and that liberal/progressive Christians are not skilled teachers because they lack passion. Accusations and stereotypes such as these will not empower our churches to speak the love of Christ into people’s lives.

    Perhaps our time would be better spent constructing a useful approach to what we teach in our churches so we can be more effective in making disciples and loving our neighbors.

      • Thanks for correcting me on the Paula White-Beth Moore thing. That explains why I haven’t seen Paula on TV recently, although I did catch Benny asking for money the other day.
        Something else I don’t understand…doesn’t the UM church require seminary education for ordination? I assume that this would be so because a denomination would want all who teach the faithful coming from the same direction, even those who are teaching Sunday School or whatever. Even the lowly SS teacher would be under the direction/supervision of someone who is from an accredited seminary. Right? I’m confused by some of the comments above.

        • The UMC has three orders of clergy.

          Elders: Ordained to ministry of word, sacrament, and order. M. Div. required. These clergy are usually pastoral leadership of congregations large enough to pay their salary and benefits.

          Deacons: Ordained to ministry of word and service. Generally must have a Masters degree of some kind plus theological education, but not required to have full M.Div.

          Local Pastors: Not ordained. Appointed to ministry of word, sacrament, and order. Generally serve small churches on a part-time basis where a congregation could not support a full-time elder. Education and training provided through the annual conference and/or special seminary courses.

  5. In further comment to my earlier comment, but it may not be seen as related. Any bible study in a United Methodist Church should be lead by a Pastor or someone who is grounded in the UMC core beliefs. With that you would add to the discussion when controversial beliefs are raised by comparing and contrasting. We are all about the truth, but does that mean we should censor those who voice a different view? We have seen where censorship has taken many things in the past, and it usually adds strength instead of hindering. If we are to bring the truth into veiw we must first bring it out of the shadows and examine it. The examination will give light and understanding to all the voices of God. Only when we understand where the others stand will we truly stand together.

    • I appreciate the sentiment behind having a pastor led bible study, but I think it is impractical. Even a small church could have 5 Sunday school classes going on at the same time. At best, the pastor can teach one.

      The next step would be for the pastor to approve the teacher, but I’m not sure this is practical either. Pastors can change frequently at some churches due to the itinerant system, and they won’t always know the congregation as well as a pastor who has spents years or decades in a single charge.

      I think we have to be careful with any system that treats a pastor as the sole spiritual authority. I understand they are (mostly) educated and (hopefully) called to lead the church, but the church has to be careful not to implicitly endorse a system with a few professional christians and large body of spiritual spectators.

      I agree that we should be slow to censor differing opinions. We grow in our faith when we seek answers to hard questions. Fewer people will ask those hard questions, though, if they will be ostracized for finding the wrong answer.

  6. I AM IN DISBELIEF at happening upon your page just now! GOD has used Beth Moore to lead so many women to know and love Him. There is nothing negative to say. She is popular because GOD IS USING HER!!! There is no reason why any true Christian should be critical of her. I really do not understand you!

    • Caroline,

      Thank you for visiting. I am a bit of a loss as to what you do not understand about me? I posted a link to another person’s blog with that raises a question about the materials we use in United Methodist churches.

      I regret that you think that makes me somehow less than a true Christian.

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