In sports it’s called a “hot take.” Because there’s so many talking heads in the media discussing a limited amount of athletes, there’s always a temptation to be a contrarian simply to be one, to support an outlandish position just to be different and just to stand out above the rest. Yesterday I came across a hot take on my Facebook feed, a pastor’s wife who proudly declared that she had broken free from the heretical teaching of Beth Moore, popular teacher and author for tens of millions of Christian women. That’s the novelty, that she dares stand up and call Beth Moore a heretic.
Once you dig in a little more to her story (which I did before posting this), you’ll realize this isn’t as novel or spontaneous as it seems. She posted on Pulpit & Pen, a blog with a strong history of going after the biggest names in Christianity today all in the name of protecting orthodoxy. The blog testimony of breaking free from Beth Moore is the fourth such testimony to appear on the blog in the past few weeks (all of which have been shared on Facebook over 10,000 times), which all follows the author of the blog’s declaration that Beth Moore is a heretic. So, this isn’t so much a spontaneous realization so much as a coordinated attack.
But back to the blog post I came across yesterday. Here’s a Southern Baptist pastor’s wife, the very bastion of support for Beth Moore, standing up and calling Beth Moore out for her ‘heretical’ teachings. If you strip it down, here’s the accusation of heresy: Beth Moore claims that God speaks to her, directly to her, and that’s the ‘heresy.’ Does God still speak to us today outside of the Bible? Does God still speak through us outside of the Bible? This pastor’s wife states that any claims that God speaks to us personally is extra-biblical and dangerous. If God can only speak to us directly through a Bible verse, then her husband, as well as me, as well as the tens of thousands of other preachers that preach on Sundays need to stop preaching from the pulpit. Just read a Bible verse and sit down. Anything extra, any study or inspiration of the Holy Spirit is extra-biblical and therefore ‘heretical.’
And that’s the underlying problem behind this particular approach to Christianity: the Bible has replaced the Holy Spirit. This pastor’s wife rebukes Beth Moore for claiming that the Holy Spirit stills speaks directly to His people today. This view elevates the Bible to the fourth person of the Trinity. Beth Moore strongly supports and believes and teaches Scripture, as I do. But the Bible didn’t die on the cross for my sins. The Bible didn’t rise from the dead. A person did that, Jesus. And Jesus specifically told his disciples in the Bible we all love so much that he was sending a person to live in us, the Holy Spirit (John 14), and that his Holy Spirit would teach us all things, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26).” Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit would be an active participant in our lives, teaching us and reminding us of the teachings of Jesus.
Please hear me, because this is the crux of my disagreement with this pastor’s wife: the Holy Spirit and the Bible are two different things. One is a person, part of the Godhead, God’s Spirit in us. One is a book, divinely inspired by God Himself. Look at it this way: if you’re reading this blog right now, you’re reading my words. My words express my thoughts, but these words aren’t me. If a woman wants to choose to break up with Beth Moore, that’s her right, but she needs a better reason. Calling out ‘heresy’ because someone interacts with the Holy Spirit is not heresy. I would argue that anyone claiming that the Holy Spirit cannot speak today is a heretic. Did God stop speaking to humanity at the end of the first century after the last books of the New Testament were written? Has He been silent the past 2000 years? When Beth Moore claims that God speaks to her, that doesn’t mean she’s denigrating or walking away from Scripture. Jesus himself said that when the Holy Spirit speaks, he will always point us back to the words and teachings of Jesus (found in the Bible). The Holy Spirit speaks to me on a regular basis. That’s His role. That’s why Jesus sent Him. But the Holy Spirit never speaks contrary to Scripture, because God doesn’t contradict Himself. When the Holy Spirit has spoken to me, it’s always been in line with the Bible. One of the video clips this pastor’s wife used against Beth Moore was when she claimed God told her to brush a man’s hair. That’s the supposed heresy: that God would dare speak to a human and ask her to show compassion to a stranger in need. Funny enough, that’s exactly the kind of thing Jesus did all the time.
So, if you want to break free from Beth Moore, that’s your right, but please pick a better reason other than denying the role and person of the Holy Spirit, because when you do that you point the finger of heresy right back at yourself.