Beth Moore: No gimmicks, Just Jesus


He stood at the altar on Sunday morning, one hand gripping a cane, the other raised in adoration. I’m not sure now how it is that he came about to use that cane, this bear of a man. It might have been a stroke, maybe a heart attack. Whatever the reason, he hasn’t had the cane that very long.

He usually sits in the back of the church, on the opposite side from where I sit. I don’t know the names of those people very well. I couldn’t tell you his. I’m bad with names. If I see you somewhere and don’t remember yours, please forgive me. It’s not because you don’t matter to me. It’s just, well, I’m blond that way.

We have an altar call at our church every Sunday. People are invited to come down and pray. But this fellow came down long before the call to prayer went out. He was ailing too much to kneel so he just stood there, one-arm raised, face up, praying.


If I’d been a man, I’d probably been a preacher. Everybody who knows me says that. The people who have known me the longest have been saying it for years. But I grew up in a time and place where women were forbidden, outright forbidden, from being preachers. I didn’t know that when I was a very young girl.

In those years before Daddy died and life became trailer-park chaotic, I would gather my sister and the neighborhood kids and my tiny New Testament and we would play church. I was always the preacher. Nobody else wanted that job. Every kid on the block wanted to be Ringo Starr, Davy Jones or Diana Ross, except me. I wanted to be Peter Marshall.

I wanted to travel the world telling people stories of Jesus the way Peter did.

I can’t recall a time in my life when I didn’t love Jesus or the stories of his life. My favorite memory of my mother is that after-dinner hour when she would read to me and my brother from a thick red Bible storybook. She would give 10 cents to whichever one of us could answer the questions she asked at the end of the story. Frankie always got the money.

Sometime during my college years, I was given a book by author Ann Kiemel. When she came to Oregon State University, I went to hear Ann speak. That was the moment I decided that even though I could never be a preacher, I could tell stories about the people I met and the Jesus I love. I didn’t know exactly how that was all going to pan out but I began to prepare myself anyway. The first thing I did was switch my major from Sociology to Communications, with an emphasis on public speaking. That was the nearest thing to a preaching degree Oregon State offered.


I was thinking about all this as I studied that man there at the altar on Sunday, his one-arm raised.

I was in Spokane over the weekend attending my first ever Beth Moore event and that had me thinking about all sorts of things. Like how difficult it had been for me as a young mother all those years ago to get plugged into a women’s bible study group. I’d tried a time or two but I always left those bible studies feeling like I was the group project. Every pastor’s wife I ever met as a young woman felt the need to fix me.

I’m not saying I didn’t need fixing. I did. And I would get it, eventually, but not without some much-needed grief counseling from a trained professional. Some of the best healing took place right in my own home as I parented my own children. What I’d lost in my childhood God restored to me in my adulthood.

Beth Moore talked a little bit about her own childhood this weekend. She mentioned that she had been sexually abused from the time before she had memory until she was “yay-high” – likely in her early teens. Statistics say that one in three women has been sexually abused and one in six men has been. Moore never says who it was who abused her. She only says it wasn’t anyone in the immediate family.

There are a handful of people out there who think it odd that Beth Moore is guarded about her personal affairs, given the large following she has amassed. There were 5,500 people at the Spokane event from 19 different states. She routinely gets 10,000 hits a day to her blog.

There are others who claim that Moore’s success is because she’s pretty, perky and has big Texas hair – all things any good Southern Baptist woman ought to possess. Moore, herself, makes it clear that her ministry is geared toward women, though I did see men at the event and even spoke to one fellow who came over from Moses Lake with his wife.

“What’s the matter?” I asked. “Can’t she trust you at home alone?”

He laughed but I suspect he enjoyed Beth Moore as much as the woman sitting beside him.

Because here’s the thing – there are no gimmicks with Beth Moore. This is a woman who simply has the gift of preaching. Or call it teaching if that suits you better. She talks plainly, and communicates Jesus. She explains scriptures in a straightforward fashion, admitting that there are different ways of considering the matter, but here’s what she thinks and why.  She’s often funny but never demeaning, which can’t be said of Joyce Meyer or many others with similar platforms.

Beth Moore is the female equivalent to Billy Graham. She offers a clear message pointing people to the Jesus who can and will, given the chance, completely transform their lives. It’s that sort of transformation that causes an ailing man to stand at the altar, one arm raised in praise, the other gripping a cane, and a face turned toward the heavens as his tears fall back to earth.

Why should it matter if that message is preached by a man or a woman?

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  • Carmen

    Yep! Beth’s the real deal. We’re doing her “Breaking Free” bible study right now and it’s just dynamite!

  • It is my personal opinion that a woman shouldn’t be the primary teacher of a church, but I so appreciate what you’ve said about Beth. I don’t think you could have given a higher compliment.

    • Tyler: Please say more about the basis for your opinion.

    • Kathy

      I am always perplexed to hear this sentiment, but even more so, coming from such a young guy. You seem progressive in other ways, so what’s up with this? In one of your blogs you asked the question “What does your church do that likely doesn’t make any sense to the unchurched?”. I submit, that one reason just might be that way too many church’s still believe as you appear to, that women “have their place”, but it’s not as a “primary teacher” (code for pastor) of a church. I’m curious, what the basis of your opinion is also?

      • I’m not a full complementarian, but I do support that position when it comes to senior leadership of a church. Rather than leave the longest comment ever I’ll just point you to these posts I wrote on the subject:

        Honestly, this subject isn’t a make or break one theologically. I work at a church where a women teaches fairly often and I have no problem with that. People outside of the church wouldn’t have a problem with a complementarian viewpoint if we were able to articulate the why behind it (at least not as much of a problem), but few people do that well.

        • Karen Spears Zacharias

          Good on you, Tyler, for being courageous enough to state your convictions on this matter.

  • Karen: And what exactly did those pastors’ wives think they needed to fix in you?

    • Steve Taylor

      Hey, Brother, check out my reply to back here:

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Any prayer request I ever expressed became cause for fixing. They meant well. It was just that I didn’t want to be somebody’s project. I wanted a relationship.

  • Steve Taylor

    Well my sister, indeed you are a preacher. Your pulpit just looks a bit different than most. Besides, our United Methodist Church is full of some of the best Baptist preachers!

    • Definitely love that.

  • Tyler: Thanks for the link. Read your post and all the comments. I’d add this. The most definitive work on the Trinity that the church has is the Athanasian Creed; yet a majority of Christians today probably have never read it, confessed it in worship or Bible study. Many, I suspect have never even heard of it. Attempts to do with words what we also attempt to do with intersecting circles overlapping a triangle. No wonder Jews so boldly confess the Shema and Muslims so firmly cling to the oneness of God. We can actually have a “correct” document and statement that is essentially dead because it is so sterile, redundant and boring to read.

    Galatians 3:28. I’m not sure it’s possible to overstate the implications of that verse, considering its context; although it is certainly possible to understate it. The force of Paul’s “let’s dismiss all the nicey-nice and cut to the chase” impassioned introduction tells us something very important is at stake: essentially the sufficiency of Christ. If that’s not clear to us, then we are exactly back to the law and circumcision; and Christians are at the square one of Jesus-plus. Paul leaves no room for that in bridging the divisions of race/ethnicity and class/status as he has in other letters–but then goes on to the even bigger one: gender. All the discussion about circumcision had always applied in his tradition only to men. It is taken off the table entirely, not because Paul himself saw no value in it but because of something entirely new brought to the table by Christ: oneness, unity, an entirely new way to look at humanity and the world, a glimmer of the implications of the kingdom of God. Had Paul lived yet another 10 or 20 years, I wonder where he might have gone with that.

    But what really brings me to jaw-dropping silence and wonder is the story of Mary at the tomb in the first half of John 20. For 2000 years we have been mostly immune and blind to her story because we have not been led to see through a woman’s eyes the world she knew and her own death and resurrection. Why does she get to be the first human being to proclaim, “I have seen the Lord!”? My answer: because at that precise, kairos moment in time, no human being on the planet had such a desperate need to. To me that is all the cap and gown, degree and stole, ordination and laying on of hands she and anyone else has ever needed to teach, preach, baptize and serve. Mary gets it. Mary gets what it means to have passed from death to life. And that is all Christ ever asked us to do. If we do, being disciples becomes almost automatic. We can’t experience that and not be changed.

    The intellectual discussions and explorations of complementary/egalitarian have been well researched, well reasoned and endless. And they will always be. Ultimately, we have to lay them in their place of interest and admit that we have always held things in tension and always will.

    From there, we turn to another way to proceed, the way of the heart. Here, Mary is our guide, as Christ is. Paul and Jeremiah concur: circumcision is a matter of the heart. As Christ is not divided, neither is faith, neither is Baptism, neither is the heart. I think that frees us to proceed in all things on a brand new level: unity in Christ in ways as yet unrealized, unimagined and unexplored in the past 2000 years. We aren’t done. We’ve hardly begun. Thanks.

  • I am a big fan of Beth Moore and I am so glad that God chooses to use her and she obeys. With her funny and poignant stories she get’s under your skin and into your heart with God’s message of unfathomable love.

  • My Baptist church in southern Virginia is celebrating its seventy-fifth anniversary this Sunday. Our guest speaker is our pastor’s daughter, an ordained minister serving a large church in northern Virginia. We praise God for our pastor of 35 years and his wonderful family.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      I love this! Thanks for sharing. I hope you all have a blessed celebration.