Monday, January 9, 2017

Breaking Down Beth Moore's Comment at Passion 2017

The annual Passion conference was held last week at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, headed up by Passion City Church pastor Louie Giglio and featuring speakers like John Piper, Beth Moore, Christine Caine, and Francis Chan. The conference targets mainly young adults. In addition to preaching and music, there's a big push for ending the evil of human trafficking. I've never attended, but my sister has. The year that she did, I watched the entire thing online.

This year's conference caused a stir making even the pages of Rolling Stone when pop star Carrie Underwood took the stage with David Crowder to sing her song about baptismal regeneration, Something In the Water. Underwood claims to be a Christian, known for another Christian-esque hit, Jesus Take the Wheel. However, the often scantily-clad performer came out in support of same-sex marriage years ago. She has no business having a platform at a Christian conference, let alone being invited to sing a song about baptismal regeneration.

Josh Buice, director of the G3 Conference (which I really wish I was attending this year), wrote a great article at Delivered By Grace, which you can read by clicking here. The article was wisely entitled Passion Without Knowledge is Deadly. That's not only a warning concerning Underwood's cameo, it's a concern regarding the conference et al.

Over the last couple of days, John Piper and Matt Chandler have both drawn criticism online for reposting -- okay, hang on, this is going to get confusing -- a comment from Beth Moore taken from the sermon she preached at Passion as summarized by Louie Giglio's wife, Shelley, and retweeted by Ann Voskamp. Did that make sense?

Here was Moore's comment as recalled by Shelley Giglio and retweeted by Voskamp:
You will watch a generation of Christians -- OF CHRISTIANS -- set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible. This will be perhaps the cleverest of all the devil's schemes in your generation. Sacrifice TRUTH for LOVE's sake. And you will rise or fall based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both TRUTH and LOVE? -Beth Moore
Now that sounds about right, right? Someone in my congregation might even say, "Brother Gabe, haven't you preached that exact same thing?" I have. I have warned my congregation about teachers in particular who will set the Bible aside while calling for unity -- "just love" at the expense of the truth. In fact and ironically, Beth Moore is one of those teachers I've warned about.

About three years ago, Beth Moore spoke at James Robison's Awaken Now conference where she said the following about a coming revival:
"I believe that the Lord has placed it on my heart to tell you that as it comes, and it will... If we'll be willing to stop telling what it has to look like, it's coming. But we must be prepared in advance for scoffers. I'm going to say that again: we must be prepared in advance for scoffers. I want you to look at one another and say, 'Be prepared for scoffers.' And here's the thing: the unbelieving world's scoffing is not going to bother us that much. We're used to them thinking that we are idiots... But it's going to come from some in our own Christian realm, our own brothers and sisters. We're going to have people who are honestly going to want to debate and argue with us about awakening and downpours. They're going to say, 'That's not the way it should look.' You know what, dude? I'm just asking you are you thirsty?"
At Awaken Now 2014, we have Beth Moore warning about those who are going to be critical regarding what authentic unity should look like according to the Bible. At Passion 2017, we have Beth Moore pleading with Christians to watch out for those who are going to set aside the Bible for the sake of unity.

If the statement from Passion 2017 came from anyone else but Moore, I'd be fine with it. Like I said, I've preached on that very thing as recently as the last few weeks. But Beth Moore does ministry with noted heretics like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer. So when she says that there are Christians who are going to set the Bible aside for love's sake, I look at her ministry and I see her doing that exact thing.

From left to right: Victoria Osteen, Beth Moore, Liz Curtis Higgs, & Priscilla Shirer; preaching at Osteen's church.

This is why, much to Moore's chagrin, doctrine is so important. Hermeneutics are important. Theology is important. We can all use the exact same words but be coming from completely different approaches. Words have meaning, and those meanings are best understood in context. As much as we talk about understanding the Bible in context, we need to understand our teachers in context as well -- not just the sermons we take their pithy quotes from, but their teaching overall.

John MacArthur is someone I've listened to for years and am familiar with his teaching. So when MacArthur says, "Watch out for scoffers," I know it's coming from a sound doctrinal base (2 Peter 3:3). When Beth Moore says, "Watch out for scoffers," I know it doesn't. Again, both teachers are using the same words, but they have different meanings.

I'm not terribly concerned with Piper's and Chandler's hearts in reposting the Moore/Giglio/Voskamp quote -- even though all three women operate their ministries in biblical disobedience and have their own sets of serious doctrinal problems. When John and Matt read that quote from Moore, they were reading it from their own hermeneutic, not Moore's. It's poor judgment on their part and lacking in discernment. But it doesn't mean we throw Piper and Chandler out with the hypocrites. Take note of it, scratch your head if you must, and move on.

I love both men. We have a couple of their books in our church library under recommended reading: Chandler's Explicit Gospel and Piper's Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die. I appreciate the gospel basics both books offer. As invaluable as these men have been to me over the course of my young adult life, I hope and pray they will be more discerning as to who they're reposting on Twitter and thus giving an endorsement of.

Piper's continued involvement with Passion is becoming a growing blemish on his ministry for a number of reasons I won't get into here. I've defended him to my friends in the past, but it's increasingly difficult to do so the worse Passion is getting. I'm hoping that he will reconsider his participation with the conference and withdraw from future appearances.

Buice was right on point when he said passion without knowledge is deadly (read also his article on why pastors should stop using Beth Moore). We can have even a passion for the Bible but misuse it in such a way that it becomes a danger to us and to others -- mind you, with eternal consequences. Regarding the handling of Paul's letters, Peter warned, "There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16).

There will come a generation of Christians who will set aside the Bible in an attempt to be more like Jesus. But don't think of Moore as being some kind of prophet in that sense. That generation is right now, and Moore is among those teachers we should be watching out for.