Somehow I stumbled onto all this vitriol about Beth Moore, someone I’d never even heard of before last week. I watched a video interview of Susan Heck—also a newcomer to me—and frankly her self-righteousness made me sick to my stomach. Same with all these other articles slamming Ms. Moore. She is clearly doing what she thinks God wants her to do. Where, I ask, did you all miss the Biblical exhortation that “the greatest of these is love”? There is no love in your critiques—none—despite your protestations to the contrary.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article on Beth Moore and for sending your e-mail. I agree with you: Beth “is clearly doing what she thinks God wants her to do.” And what she thinks is wrong. Friend, the Bible says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
A pastor’s responsibility is to “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine, and to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). As a pastor, I am to teach the truth of the gospel and protect the flock of God from error, and this I do in love. You called this “vitriol.” But where? What did I say that was cruel and bitter? Did you not read in my article where Beth said of Dr. Owen Strachan that he made her want to vomit, just for saying what the Bible says? How was that not vitriolic?
Susan Heck, a humble teacher who has memorized the entire New Testament, desires to educate women about God’s word, proclaiming the truth and defending against error (I’m guessing the interview you saw was this one she did with Justin Peters). Why does this make you sick? Does it not sicken you that there are false teachers perverting the truth, with “mere speculation rather than furthering the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1 Timothy 1:4)? How do you accuse the ones speaking truth of being without love?
In the pantheon of false teachers in American evangelicalism, few are as deceptively influential among women as Beth Moore. As I’ve demonstrated in the past, you could grab any message of Beth’s at random and find the same troubling elements, including eisegesis, mysticism, pop psychology, and positivity. Consider the following example.
Studying a Beth Moore Study
On the day that I read your message, I pulled up the latest episode of her podcast entitled The Net, a message she gave at a Living Proof women’s conference. It is a master-class in eisegesis. In case you’re not familiar with this term, eisegesis means to take a passage of the Bible out of context and “impose upon” the text your own ideas. This is opposed to exegesis, which means to “draw out” from the text its originally intended meaning. Exegesis is the way we are meant to study, teach, and understand the Bible. This is not what Beth does.
In this particular message, Beth began by saying that she asked God to give her a word, and the word He gave her was “net.” This is mysticism, and it’s exactly how the word-faith false teachers and prophets bloviate. A false prophetess like Cindy Jacobs will say, “The word of the Lord for this year is Breakthrough!” It’s as if we’re in Pee Wee’s Playhouse and God is playing the secret word game.
Where does this word come from? It comes from no where but their own mind. But Beth believes her thoughts are God’s thoughts. The reason she did a message about being caught in a “net” is because, in her mind, God told her to. Therefore, everything is subject to the “word” she claims God gave her, including the Bible. In a Beth Moore study, the Bible is not the authority—Beth is.
Next, she took her audience to Psalm 25 which is a lament asking God to forgive and to rescue: “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great” (v.11). But that’s not the thing Beth taught about. Instead, she focused only on the word “net” in verse 15: “My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net.”
Initially, she read the Psalm from the New International Version (NIV), but then she switched to the English Standard Version (ESV). The NIV says, “He will release my feet from the snare.” But snare is not the word that God gave her. He gave her “net.” So she switched to the ESV, because that’s the translation that uses the word “net.” Again, all of this is subject to the word she claims she received from God.
She talked about the word study she did and all the different ways “net” is used in the Bible. Word studies are fine—I do them all the time. However, the way Beth teaches, the context of the word is secondary to the word itself. Your own presuppositions about a word rule over however the text defines the word.
Beth fashioned in her hearers minds what she wanted them to think about a “net” before she showed them what the Bible says. She did this by drawing her audience’s emotions into the study before it really became a study. Within the first 10 minutes of her talk, she presented a question to her audience in this way: “Let me just ask you this in the past tense so we all feel safe: Anybody but me ever been in a net? I mean, before we already study the Scripture together, you’re going, ‘I already know I have been in a net.'”
She then drew upon other examples of a “net” in the Bible, once again reading verses out of different translations. She totally missed the point of verses she read, and the reason she missed the point is because the point doesn’t matter to her. The main point of the passage is secondary to the point she wants to make with her word, “net.” The text says what she wants it to say.
In her cross-referencing, she settled on Ecclesiastes 7:26, which says this: “I find something more bitter than death: the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her.”
She told her audience of women, “A woman’s heart can twist into a net.” She went on to say, “It seems reasonable to me that a heart would only morph into a net from a life lived in a net.” This is pop psychology—the reason you are this way is because others are this way. In other words, your condition is someone else’s fault, whereas the Bible says that sin comes from within (Psalm 51:5, Matthew 15:19).
But that aside, Beth completely warped what Ecclesiastes 7:26 is really saying. Ecclesiastes 7:26 is not talking about a woman’s heart becoming a net full of drama. The reference is about a woman who is a slut! A sexually promiscuous woman. An adulteress. A whore. Her heart is wicked, like nets she ensnares, and her hands are like chains that imprison. “He who pleases God escapes her”—a godly man will not be seduced by her.
Not only does Beth avoid the real meaning of this text, she even softened the blow of the passage before she read it. She prefaced the verse by telling her women, “Don’t find a whole lot of offense to it.”
Why not? What if there were women sitting in her audience who were sexually promiscuous? Who need to hear that they are wicked? Who need to be told they ensnare men and cause them to fall into sin? Who need to know they are guilty of evil that will keep them from the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21)? Who need to repent and turn to Christ before the day of judgment? Who need to hear the gospel of grace and love and forgiveness and healing and restoration?
You will never hear anything like that in any Beth Moore talk. She is about the most influential women’s Bible teacher out there, and she won’t warn women about feminism, abortion, or sexual immorality—among the biggest lies being forced upon women in the culture today. She won’t tell wives, “Submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18).
You do not hear about sin and repentance. You do not hear about the gospel of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross and rose from the grave so that all who believe in Him will be saved from the wrath of God (Jesus was never even mentioned in this episode of her podcast, so of course the gospel wasn’t either). It is not loving to refuse to confront sin with the truth—it is, in fact, quite unloving.
What you will get from Beth Moore is a lot of positivity. She’s like the Christian radio network K-Love, whose slogan is Positive and Encouraging. That is the cookie-cutter ideal in American evangelical teaching. Many unqualified pastors and teachers do the same soft, topical preaching Beth does—picking something they want to talk about, finding verses to fit the topic, and avoiding anything offensive. It becomes less about God’s word and more about the preacher’s word. It’s less about giving people what they need and more about selling a product—in Beth’s case, Beth Moore studies.
And again, this is your average Beth Moore study. All I did when I received your e-mail was I went to the latest episode of her podcast. This is the way all her teaching has been. I’ve been hearing it for years—going back to when I worked in Christian radio and I was subject to having to listen to it all the time. You say you just found out about her a week ago.
Study the Bible Instead
The Apostle Paul wrote to his protege Timothy, a pastor in Ephesus, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene” (2 Timothy 2:15-17).
At her most basic, Beth Moore’s teaching is irreverent babble. It is soft-peddled, pragmatic nonsense that she in her pride claims was given to her by God. She so twists the Scripture that it cannot lead people in godliness because she makes it mean something other than what God said it means. If it doesn’t lead to godliness, what would it lead to instead?
Paul goes on to call out two false teachers by name: “Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.”
Friend, there are times when false teachers need to be called out by name, just like Jesus did, and just like His apostles did. This is the loving thing to do. This is warning the flock of God to avoid those who teach falsely, who do not build up the church with the truth but rather tear her down with lies. There are a plethora of other ways Beth Moore does this, and I’ve covered them before—some of which you’ve apparently read.
I’ve written this response to you for two reasons. Number one, that you may know that calling out false teachers is not unloving. In fact, it is one of the responsibilities of pastors out of love for Jesus and for His flock. Number two, in order to demonstrate that Beth Moore’s most basic, average teaching is not Bible teaching. It’s Beth Moore teaching. Again, I agree with you that she “is clearly doing what she thinks God wants her to do.” But what she thinks isn’t good enough. What does God say in His word, the Bible?
I would invite you to listen to my podcast, which is twenty minutes of Bible teaching every day. I hope for you that your eyes and ears may be open to the truth of the “gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ… to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen” (Romans 16:25-27).