Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New Doesn't Always Improve

Proverbs 22:28 lays out an interesting principle:

Do not move the ancient landmark
    that your fathers have set. (ESV)

When I read it this morning, I wondered if it could apply to the current practice of updating doctrine that characterizes the Emergent Church, the Gay Christian Movement, the Church Growth Movement and other groups that adjust Scripture so that it complies with 21st Century culture. So, not wanting to interpret this  verse through the grid of my experience with the parties I've just mentioned, I turned to some of my commentaries.

The Believer's Bible Commentary addressed the verse  by explaining its original (and literal) meaning, followed by its spiritual application for Christians:
22:28   The ancient landmark was a series of stones which indicated the boundaries of a person's property. Dishonest people often moved them during the night to increase the size of their farm at their neighbor's expense.
Spiritually, the ancient landmarks would be "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). The fundamental doctrines of Christianity should not be tampered with.

John Gill's Commentary agreed, though with the wordiness and flourishes that I've come to expect from Gill.
Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set. Or, "the ancient border" or "boundary" (n); by which lands, estates, and inheritances, were marked, bounded, and distinguished; set by ancestors in agreement with their neighbours; which to remove was contrary to a law, and a curse is denounced upon those that did it, Deu_19:14; and was always reckoned a very heinous crime in early times; See Gill on Job_24:2. This was so sacred a thing among the Romans, that they had a deity which presided over those bounds, and had its name from them. Some apply this, in a political sense, to laws of long standing, and customs of long prescription; and others interpret it, in a theological sense, of doctrines and practices settled by the fathers of the church; which, if understood of Christ and his apostles only, will be allowed; but if of the ancient fathers of the church that followed them, it should not be received; since they were but fallible men, and guilty of many errors and mistakes, both in doctrine and practice.
 Adam  Clarke, however, offered the strongest support for applying this verse to the preservation of tried-and-true doctrine.  His entry provided me with assurance that I had indeed made an appropriate connection.
Remove not the ancient landmark - Do not take the advantage, in ploughing or breaking up a field contiguous to that of thy neighbor, to set the dividing stones farther into his field that thou mayest enlarge thy own. Take not what is not thy own in any case. Let all ancient divisions, and the usages connected with them, be held sacred. Bring in no new dogmas, nor rites, nor ceremonies, into religion, or the worship of God, that are not clearly laid down in the sacred writings. “Stand in the way; and see, and ask for the old paths, which is the good way, and walk therein; and ye shall find rest for your souls;” Jer_6:16. But if any Church have lost sight of the genuine doctrines of the Gospel, calling them back to these is not removing the ancient landmarks, as some have falsely asserted. God gave a law against removing the ancient landmarks, by which the inheritances of tribes and families were distinguished. See Deu_19:14, from which these words of Solomon appear to be taken.
Progressive evangelical churches almost boast in  their rejection of old ways, thinking that keeping pace with current cultural norms opens the door to effective evangelism. Admittedly, many of these churches manage to fill their auditoriums with young double-income families, but do they produce regenerate believers who understand sound doctrine that affects their every day lives? Only by respecting ancient doctrinal landmarks can we  give the next generation the true  Gospel.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Sin Of Questioning Beth Moore

Beth Moore's devoted fans may raise additional questions about Moore's  ministry. For quite some time, I incurred the wrath of a friend who had been "blessed" by Moore's books and Bible Studies. This friend expressed sadness that I'd read (and shared) articles by Moore's critics rather than exposing myself directly to Beth Moore and consequently allowing myself to experience the blessing of her teaching.

So, wanting to be fair, I spent several hours on YouTube, watching videos of Mrs. Moore "minister" to women by twisting Scripture, telling funny stories and making veiled references to abuse she suffered in childhood that somehow validates her ministry now. I love her Southern drawl, to be sure, and couldn't help laughing over some of her stories, but whatever blessing I should have received eluded me. I saw, not a woman skilled in expositing the Bible, but a false teacher who distorted the very Word of God she claimed to revere to fit her "gospel" of self-esteem.

When I'd show my friend instances in which Moore misconstrued Scripture, she'd deflect by calling me a Pharisee. How dare I withhold the "blessing" from people by posting articles on Facebook that question Moore's teaching? (As if my calling Moore's teaching into question had the power to prevent anyone from reading her books or watching her videos!)

When I posted Chris Rosebrough's analysis of Beth Moore's teaching the other day, my friend couldn't contain her anger. I asked her to show me, from Scripture, how Rosebrough's actual analysis of Moore's teaching erred. Rather than offering a reasoned answer with Scripture, she ended our friendship because I "ripped" her "friend."

Losing this friend saddens me, but it also concerns me. Is it really so terrible to hold someone's doctrine up against the plumbline of God's Word? The fact that my friend preferred to end our relationship than to examine Moore's teaching alarms me. If she typifies Beth Moore's followers, than Beth Moore is far more dangerous than I thought.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Bare Bunny

Let's take a break from serious posts. Here's my latest Paintshop Pro creation. I haven't yet decided what to put in his "hands," or how to dress him,  but he's cute even as he is!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Beth Moore Twist

Reading the Bible in context sometimes means that a verse won't mean what it could mean if we just isolated it from the rest of the passage, tweaking it ever so cleverly so that it fits our particular agenda. If you listened to the episode of Pirate Christian Radio that I posted yesterday, you'll see how popular teacher Beth Moore did just that very thing by making Hebrews 10:36-37 apply to self-confidence rather than confidence in Christ's shed blood to secure our salvation.

Mrs. Moore understands that women generally believe that they lack healthy self-esteem, so she used the phrase "Don't throw away your confidence" as a springboard for her   'Atta Girl pep talk.

Doubtless, that talk encouraged numberless hurting women, assuring them that Jesus "believes in" them. How could anybody criticize her for making women feel good about themselves? After all, Ephesians 4:29 says we should build each other up with our speech!

Well, the verse does say that, but let's look at the context:

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ~~Ephesians 4:17-32 (ESV)

Using Scripture fragments as dishonestly as Beth Moore used Hebrews 10:36-37 may build up feminine egos, granted, but Paul meant building up the Church in a holiness that reflects Christ. Notice Paul's emphasis on putting away falsehood, and renouncing sensuality. How in the world does the misapplication of Hebrews 10:36-37 for the purpose of making women feel good about themselves possibly produce the type of edification that Ephesians 4:17-32 describes?

Beth Moore preaches a god that flatters women, and she does so by isolating Scripture from its context and wrongly applying it. I don't question her compassion for hurting women, nor do I doubt her sincerity. But wouldn't her ministry honor the Lord better by handling God's Word on His terms rather than her own?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Beth Moore, Confidence, And Looking At Scripture

Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith's Pirate Christian Radio did an insightful (and quite amusing) analysis of Beth Moore's teaching, "Don't Throw Away Your Confidence," which she based on Hebrews 10:36-37. I know it's quite long--over an hour--but it will allow you to hear both Beth Moore and Pastor Rosebrough's critique. Carve out some time to listen.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Missing Videos

For quite some time, E. Benz of Do Not Be Surprised and Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries have been blogging about their concerns over Beth Moore's claims that God speaks directly to her (even addressing her as "Honey" or "Baby"). Lately, I've found more assessment of Ms. Moore's "prophetic ministry" on Elizabeth Prata's The End Time blog, this time based on Ms. Prata's first-hand experiences. Each of these bloggers carefully documented their critiques of Ms. Moore's teachings with videos.

These videos provided enormous help in evaluating Beth Moore's ministry. Most of her videos on YouTube, while they certainly show that Moore's teaching centers mostly on what Jesus does for us rather than on Who He is, take Scripture out of context so subtly that most people believe she shows good Biblical scholarship. Indeed, she knows Greek words enough to appear as educated as any seminary graduate.

Yet the claims she makes of prophetic revelations cause great alarm to those of us who believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. To properly evaluate her ministry, therefore, it helps to understand that her theology allows for revelation beyond the written Word of  God. E. Benz, Ken Silva and Elizabeth Prata all posted videos that substantiate  Beth Moore's assertions of extra-biblical revelation. I've watched several of the videos, and saw from them that Ms. Moore teaches false doctrine by her claims of direct revelation.

As I searched YouTube this past week, all the videos in which Beth Moore recounted her "conversations with God" had vanished. So I consulted Do Not Be Surprised and The End Time. When I clicked the videos embedded in their blog posts, I got messages that those videos were either "private" or "not available." Thankfully, Ken Silva had downloaded them to reformat them for his blog, so we still have them.

The four of us have no wish to assault Beth Moore's character, nor may we pass ultimate judgment on her salvation. But, like the Bereans in Acts 17:10-11, we examine her teaching, ministry and conduct against Scripture. The missing videos troubled us. Their disappearance troubles us even more.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dreaming Of A 17th Century Vision

The Lord, through my marriage to John, brought me to New England. Sometimes, I marvel at how He fulfilled my life-long dream for marriage and my life-long dream to experience Boston in one fell swoop. Another example of His generosity.

Living here has given me a sense of connection with the Puritans who first settled this area in the 17th Century. John Winthrop summarized his vision for the Christian community that came with him on the Arabella in 1630 in his famous "City on the Hill" sermon (properly titled, A Model of Christian Charity). The four paragraphs that close the sermon demonstrate the sense of mission and the devotion to the Lord that formed the bedrock of New England's culture:

Thus stands the cause between God and us. We are entered into covenant with Him for this work. We have taken out a commission. The Lord hath given us leave to draw our own articles. We have professed to enterprise these and those accounts, upon these and those ends. We have hereupon besought Him of favor and blessing. Now if the Lord shall please to hear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath He ratified this covenant and sealed our commission, and will expect a strict performance of the articles contained in it; but if we shall neglect the observation of these articles which are the ends we have propounded, and, dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnal intentions, seeking great things for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely break out in wrath against us, and be revenged of such a people, and make us know the price of the breach of such a covenant.
Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness and truth, than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, "may the Lord make it like that of New England." For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God's sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.
And to shut this discourse with that exhortation of Moses, that faithful servant of the Lord, in his last farewell to Israel, Deut. 30. "Beloved, there is now set before us life and death, good and evil," in that we are commanded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one another, to walk in his ways and to keep his Commandments and his ordinance and his laws, and the articles of our Covenant with Him, that we may live and be multiplied, and that the Lord our God may bless us in the land whither we go to possess it. But if our hearts shall turn away, so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship other Gods, our pleasure and profits, and serve them; it is propounded unto us this day, we shall surely perish out of the good land whither we pass over this vast sea to possess it.

Therefore let us choose life,
that we and our seed may live,
by obeying His voice and cleaving to Him,
for He is our life and our prosperity. 

Sadly, the New England of the 21st Century has done much more than simply abandoning Winthop's vision. It brazenly mocks its godly principles. Finding a church that faithfully preaches God's Word requires monumental effort, and even the churches that promote themselves as "Bible Believing" capitulate to the marketing strategies of the Church Growth Movement and/or the elevation of personal experience that typify Pentecostal and Charismatic churches.

I find it heartbreaking that this region, which once honored the Lord, has indeed seen its Christians all but perish from its land, just as Winthrop warned. I pray we'll turn back to Christ, once again to serve as a beacon of light. That type of repentance would be more than a dream-come-true!


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