Many of my “thread” and Wisconsin friends won’t get this post. That’s ok. Just skip it. I love that part in C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity” where he says “All sensible people skip freely when they come to a chapter which they find is going to be no use to them.” If this post doesn’t work for you, then skip it.
A while back Pam wrote on one of her blogs a post titled “Breaking Up with Beth Moore” concerning her thoughts and feelings about Beth Moore studies since we have moved up to Wisconsin. I think Pam is a great writer, and therefore I believe you should go over to her blog and read the post for yourself. I will, however, briefly summarize what Pam said. So here goes:
Pam used to be a huge Beth Moore fan and she learned a great deal from Beth Moore’s writing and conferences. Since moving up to Wisconsin Pam has been seeing Beth Moore studies through Northern/Midwestern eyes and she doesn’t believe what she has seen has translated very well to our ministry context. So she decided to stop using and taking part in Beth Moore studies.
Pam didn’t say anything terrible about the Beth (for the rest of the post I am simply going to refer to Beth Moore as “the Beth” because her fascination with her own hair reminds me of Donald Trump and his hair). She just said that she doesn’t connect with the Beth anymore, and she doesn’t feel like the Beth translates as well outside of the South. When she wrote it I thought it was a very good post, but I didn’t really think that it would garner very many non-friend comments.
I was wrong about the non-friend comments. It is the most read post on her blog by far.
There are 16 comments on the post thus far and I believe there are two more comments waiting Pam’s moderation. The surprising thing is the number of them that jump all over Pam. Her apparent sin? Seems to be that she dared to say she didn’t connect with the Beth’s teaching style anymore. One of the commenters said Pam should look for sin in her life. I guess the commenter believes that hidden sin is the only thing that would lead someone to question the Beth’s effectiveness. I have to say here that I got a little snarky with this commenter, but I figure it is a spouse’s duty and privilege to jump to the other’s defense. Another commenter said being funny while discussing someone else’s ministry is unscriptural based on Psalm 19:14. I found this post confusing because the scripture talks about our words being pleasing to God not about not saying anything against someone else’s teaching stlye. I think God very well might find such humor pleasing. My personal favorite is the commenter whose post hasn’t been approved yet. It is a grandmother who is worried that her grandchildren might find Pam’s post – apparently she doesn’t know what the real dangers on the internet are for her grandchildren.
My big problem with these comments is what I believe they come out of. I think they represent the almost deification of Christian leaders by some of those who idolize these leaders. I think the church cultural often celebritize some Christian leaders to the point that some begin to think that the leader’s holiness is such that they shouldn’t be questioned, that the celebrity is somehow more holy and closer to God than others. When did it become an affront to God to question the effectiveness of the Beth or any of the other Christian celebrity speakers? I don’t think it is.
I think we need to ask what our goal is when we do ministry. Is our goal for more people to know Jesus Christ? If so we’ll use whatever approach works best for the people who we are around. If our goal is for more people to discover the joys of Beth Moore studies, then we really need to make sure that no one criticizes the Beth.
I’ll be honest here. I have never connected with the way the Beth speaks, and I have never understood the rabidness of her groupies. Back when Pam did Beth Moore studies I used to jokingly say it was a cult because it all seemed focused on the Beth’s personality. I’m sure she is a wonderful godly person but I just don’t get it and I definitely don’t connect with God through the Beth’s sermons and such. She seems gimmicky to me and, worse still, I find the whole gimmick irritating. Like nails on a chalkboard.
Still do you know what I would do if people in Tapestry really connected with the Beth? I would have the church doing more Beth Moore studies than you can possibly imagine. Why? Because the goal is to connect people with Christ. I don’t care how I get them to do the connecting. For example, the weekly small group that I am a part of was reading Mark Buchanan’s book “Things Unseen,” a book that I love. After a couple of weeks everybody but me said it simply wasn’t working for them. I, however, love the book and really love the way Buchanan explains things. So what did we do? We ditched “Things Unseen” without a second’s hesitation and went with Deitrich Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship.” Why? Because the the only thing that matters is the group connecting with God not which author helps the group to do the connecting. The Beth is a tool and nothing more. The only thing that matters about a tool is that it gets the job done. If it doesn’t get the job done then you throw it off to the side, and maybe even laugh about thinking it would work in the first place.
That’s why it surprises me when people respond like one commenter did on Pam’s post. This commenter said that Pam was pushing the commenter’s mother-in-law further away from God. Why? Well because the commenter’s mother-in-law read Pam’s post and decided not to go to a Beth Moore bible study with her. If this was a math problem it would be:
“Not going to a Beth Moore study = falling away from God.”
I find that kind of logic kind of scary. In fact, I find it pretty close to idolatrous. That thinking makes the tool (i.e. the Beth) far too important. It is apotheosizing the Beth. That’s not cool and something I am sure the Beth doesn’t want her groupies to do, because we were created to worship only one God and He will have “no other gods before Him.” Exodus 20:3.
Now don’t apotheosis anyone.