October 23, 2017

Open Mic: Why Do Women Want Moore?

By Chaplain Mike

This week’s Christianity Today magazine has a cover feature on Beth Moore. I have not read all of it yet, but while I am in the process, I thought I would give our Internet Monk community a chance to answer the question the title implies:

Why are people (especially women) so attracted to Beth Moore and her teaching?

CT labels her “the most popular Bible teacher in America.”

I will admit that I am not familiar with her teaching, but I do know that she is Southern Baptist, sells obscene numbers of books, that many, many churches are using her studies and videos, and that her events in cities across the country draw record crowds.

What has been your experience with Moore and her teaching ministry? What have you appreciated? What, if anything, concerns you?

Sisters, speak out! Since Moore’s ministry is directed to women, we need to hear especially from you.

Comments

  1. Since I’m all the way over here in Ireland and hence don’t know the woman nor the sky over her, I’ll be interested to see what replies you get. Then again, I’ve never let my ignorance stop me from giving an opinion before, so why change the habits of a lifetime? 🙂

    Could it be to do with the whole interpretation of “headship” in some Protestant denominations? There have been some posts on here going back and forth about it, particularly the whole “women can’t teach men” part. Meanwhile, we Papists had Catherine of Sienna having no difficulty telling the Pope what he should be doing. Just more evidence of how badly the Reformation was overdue? 😉

    So I’m guessing that if women should not teach men, if a woman wants to exercise (some forms of) ministry, she gets steered to other women. And so you get the whole superstar phenomenon, made more so by the concentrated focus that results from a limited field. She tailors a particular message or a particular style to women, and so the division is perpetrated – the men get the chin-stroking scholarly gravitas *ahem* and the women get whatever Ms. Moore is doing.

    Would anyone say “Why is Rick Warren (or whomever) so popular with men?” in the same way? Or Mark Driscoll – isn’t he the fella with the “Manly Man Religion for Manly Men”? (Apologies if I’m mischaracterising him).

    • Martha, I think we do ask why some of those “superstar” pastors and teachers are so popular. Moore, being a Southern Baptist, has been marketed to women precisely because the Baptists do have that view of headship you mentioned.

    • If you are mis-characterizing Driscoll… well, at least you said it funny 😛

    • This is one of the most insightful and funny things I’ve read in a long time. I’m not a fan of the “Christian Super Star” phenomenon, and I’m not a Moore-follower, so I’m not sure why she would be so popular. Then again, “women’s ministry” in general turns me off. I prefer good, solid, intellectual Bible exegesis. Which I am somewhat capable of doing on my own, thankyouverymuch.

  2. Chad Winters says:

    I know my wife likes her studies and flipping through them, they looked pretty good. Biblical based, I think you could do much worse. She seemed orders of magnitude better than Joyce Meyer, etc.

    • “I think you could do much worse. She seemed orders of magnitude better than Joyce Meyer, etc.”

      I absolutely agree. If those are the choices for a woman’s study definitely go with Moore.

  3. I’m not a huge Beth Moore fan. I tried doing one of her Bible Studies with my church’s women’s group. I had an issue with how she interpreted a passage of Scripture, so I went to my commentaries and found that her interpretation was “iffy”, at best. When I brought this up in our small group discussion, I got blank looks. (Deep sigh.) Ms. Moore uses lots of different Bible verses from all over the Bible when she’s making her points, so I had really lost confidence in my ability to trust what she was saying.

    Why do women like her? I think many women like her delivery style with lots of stories. Many like that she’s a pretty, well-dressed, well-spoken woman who is able to teach the Bible – she’s someone to look up to. When she tells stories of going to Africa and having to live without her hot rollers, lots of women can relate. The studies are also well-suited for busy women – Beth Moore does all the “hard work” for us. (Of course, that’s the part that I dislike about them – I think they’re rather shallow.)

    I have lots of friends in our church’s women’s group, but I’ve decided that their studies are just not for me. It does bother me a little that the Beth Moore studies seem kind of “lightweight” and there are many women out there who could and should be doing more in-depth Bible study. (Of course, maybe I’m just intellectually arrogant.)

    Catherine

    P.S. Her accent grates on me, too. And I grew up in the South.

    • SearchingAnglican says:

      I agree with every single one of Catherine’s observations/critiques, particularly the view that Moore’s “flip through your Bibles and fill in the blank” as part of a topical study can be not only a lightwight approach to studying scripture, but also contextually misleading or worse.

      The very first adult women’s Bible study I ever facilitated – in an Episcopal Church nonetheless – was with a dear friend who came out of a baptist tradition who found herself in the Episcopal Church as a theological compormise with her Roman Catholic husband. She wanted to start a women’s study, but didn’t have the confidence to lead it alone, so I signed on to help her with no questions asked. She picked the study, and I kept my mouth shut to love and support my friend.

      While Beth Moore’s style drove me crazy, her Fruit of the Spirit study brought the women of my church together in study, fellowship and prayer, for the first time in many, many years. The opening and personal application questions, however, did lead to really good conversation, though. Five years later, we make a regular habit of much deeper studies.

      As much as I griped about the study (to myself), the Holy Spirit worked through in and through that study, and five years later, we are stronger and deeper in our faith than ever.. But that was definitely the most lightweight study we’ve ever done.

      But, wow, we got a lot of ANGRY CRAP from some of the older members in the church who decided the study was not “Episcopal enough.” Good times in the Body of Christ:-)

    • Debbie W. says:

      I guess my experience w/ commercial (as opposed to diy word studies, app studies, etc) Bible studies isn’t as wide as yours. Of all the “big names” in women’s Bible study, Kay Arthur, Joyce Meyer, Elizabeth George, etc, Beth Moore’s have been the deeper studies I’ve experienced. Maybe you could throw out some titles for those of us who yearn for more depth and can’t find it in the local Christian book store?

      • Actually, I pretty much read the Bible along with whatever commentaries I have around (a full set of old Broadman commentaries, Barclay’s New Testament commentaries) and other Bible “helps” (timelines, atlases, “How to Read the Bible Book by Book”, etc.)

        I rarely use the commercial Bible studies – I don’t really like the “fill in the blank” approach. I did a Kay Arthur one a long time ago that seemed OK. I really don’t like Joyce Meyer’s theology.

        My dad loves to study the Bible so I grew up watching him learn by reading from lots of different sources. I’ve found that approach to work best for me, too.

        So, I’m sorry, Debbie, I can’t really help with specific titles. (Although, my pastor has been really impressed with the N.T. Wright book studies.)

        Catherine

        • Debbie W. says:

          Thanks, Catherine. I guess from a group study perspective, fill in the blanks are the easiest kind to do. I’ll keep my eye out for some N.T. Wright stuff.

          • Debbie, you may want to read Eugene Peterson’s books. He has a very easygoing, conversation style.

          • Kenny Johnson says:

            N.T. Wright did a whole commentary of the N.T. (I think he’s not finished?). I’ve read all of Matthew and I’m in the middle of Mark. They’re very good. They sell study guides that go along with them, but I haven’t used them.

            The Commentaries are called. “… for Everyone” — e.g. “Matthew for Everyone”

          • I keep my Vine’s and my Greek lexicon handy, and make sure to look at more than one commentary. Hope that helps.

        • While academic resources can be great, they are not for typical human consumption. Commentaries are typically written for higher reading levels. it was hard enough to process them in seminary let alone to do a group study with them.

          • This isn’t necessarily true. Commentaries range from ridiculously technical greek/hebrew tomes that offer every thought every written on the passage since the beginning of time to simple narrative style explanation of the passage written for people who have very little biblical background.

            To write commentaries off as only for intellectuals is to miss out on a great resource for understanding the Bible.

  4. It does bother me a little that the Beth Moore studies seem kind of “lightweight”

    Sorry to hear that, considering her popularity.

  5. I never finished one and I started several of her studies. I don’t remember wholly why but I always struggled to get it. I often heard that her teaching is biblical and she is held high in respect, but I just didn’t get much from her heavy homework driven lessons. The church I still attend though I am no longer so comfortable within those four walls has a Beth Moore study every quarter (United Brethren, not SB).

    Now that I’m reading the bible on my own (I’m still reading the red letters mostly).

    • I meant to finish that by saying Michael Spencer, in Mere Churchianity, was the first to encourage me that I don’t need a Scripture interpreter. I’d found that out on my own and it was good for me to hear someone else agree since nobody else I know does. But I met God from a pit with a hand raised and scream cries. So real was my rescue and then forgiveness and healing that has flowed not from me, that I’ve never walked closer to my God. I didn’t find him through Beth Moore or any other teacher, but I did through sincere searching from the depth of me. “Are you there, God?” “Why don’t I hear your knock?”
      So I’m not able to articulate why Beth Moore and a host of other teachers didn’t help me much, but I am able to say who has. I finally understand what my Oma meant when she said she only needed the Bible.

      • Debbie W. says:

        This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing this Kris.

      • Kenny Johnson says:

        I don’t remember Michael saying that, but I disagree. I think we should always be reading the Bible in community and through tradition. Also, there are plenty of historical and cultural aspects to the Bible that good commentaries and study guides can illuminate which makes the passages and storied more clear.

  6. She is a classic “proof-texter.” She has a message to get out, and, rather than approaching the Bible on its own terms, she uses select scriptures to lend credibility to that message. Like all speakers who read and use the Bible this way, sometimes she gets lucky and finds solid biblical backing – other times, she is on shaky ground.

    This all comes via conversations I’ve had with my wife who has attended two of Moore’s conferences. She has said that she experienced wonderful fellowship with other women and heard messages that ranged from “excellent” to “mostly harmless,” which, for my wife and I, puts her ahead of a great number of other celebrity “preachers/teachers.”

  7. Debbie W. says:

    Interesting.

    I should say that the only book of hers I’ve read is Praying God’s Word, most of which isn’t really hers, lol. But I’ve done a handful of her workbook studies and one video-seminar study w/ one of the above mentioned workbooks. So I can only share my experience w/ those.

    Her teaching is biblical, solid, and refreshingly unaffected by popular church culture. She doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff. And her studies have much more depth than most studies marketed to women, and more than many studies marketed to a general audience.

    She’s transparent and real, and never gives an air of authority, she lets the Bible be the authority while her mission is to bring it to light. She does seem gifted as a teacher. Though she is SB, she doesn’t plaster her studies w/ SB doctrine (allows her to reach a wider audience, I suppose).

    She doesn’t go in for the topical or popular-type studies. She takes a book or person from the Bible and studies it along with you (that’s her presentation style). Also, she hasn’t gone in for a lot of the crazy stuff that’s so popular today (health/wealth/prosperity caca)

    Regarding the headship issue, I attended one of her conferences several years ago. She noticed men in the audience who had come to either monitor the teaching their wife was receiving, or were dragged along by their wives…who knows which. After noticing their presence, she went out of her way to explain that she was not assuming authority over them nor teaching them (lol), but welcomed them into the conference nonetheless.

    The fella that does the musical worship portion of her conferences (can’t think of his name) is the first and only person I’ve seen do a “blended worship” well.

    Just my 2 cents. 🙂

    • Travis Cottrell – his Jesus Saves Live CD is excellent.

      IMO opinion some of Beth Moore’s stuff is far superior than some of her other stuff. Every once in while in her writing or in a seminar/conference she can put words together in such a way that just reaches in and touches your soul. Those moments make trudging through some of the mediocrity worth while. If you are amil/covenant theology/Calvinist/egalitarian you prbably won’t like her.

  8. As has been mentioned, she’s articulate and well spoken. She’s marketed specifically to women (yes, partly due to theological issues), so women feel “understood” by her, but she’s good at not talking down to them like she’s giving the poor dum wimmin “Bible lite” or whatever. Her studies aren’t overly demanding–I would concur with the “flimsy” criticism in a lot of cases–but given the context she comes off as downright scholarly. She’s competing with cheesy verse-a-day affirmations for women and other such fluff. So there’s kind of a void and it’s probably 50% legit skill as a communicator and 50% right place/right time.

    So I’d agree that her stuff is often flimsy and I’d also agree with the proof-texting complaint. The reason why I don’t take notice, and also maybe part of the reason why so many women do, is that she’s quintessential evangelicalism, both in her general theology and in the assumed cultural context into which she speaks. I’ve got a ton of friends from my prior evangelical lifetime who love her stuff. But since I’m no longer particularly evangelical in many theology matters and definitely not in culture or context, I simply don’t relate to her stuff at all. I have things I dislike about her, but this issue ultimately gets to the heart of why I’d never pick up a book of hers, watch a DVD, or participate in a study. We’re so of two separate worlds that she might as well be speaking a foreign language to me.

    • I agree that she’s “classic evangelicalism”. My sister-in-law loves her stuff. I think one reason that I have issues is that she uses so much scripture without discussing the context. I’ve been learning in the last several years about the importance of serious exegesis and hermeneutics – and I am become more skeptical of anything that looks like “proof-texting”.

      Catherine

      • I agree with both of you.

        I started one of her courses (Methodist church) but only made it through the first couple of weeks.

        My mother (Southern Baptist) taught Sunday School for over 50 years, and probably taught most of the Beth Moore courses at her church. She thought I should have given the course more time because even if I didn’t care for the style it was an opportunity to meet other church members. A chance to fellowship.

        I was the youngest present. I think most attended because they were looking for fellowship and would not have wanted anything too challenging. Beth Moore Bible Study does signal that this is a course for women. Maybe older women buy her books because they think she is so pretty and well spoken and, oh, why couldn’t she be _my_ daughter?

        Believe I’ll run that theory past my mother this evening.

  9. Apparently it’s not just gals who are attracted to her materials. Someone recently asked Piper “I’m a guy. Is it wrong for me to listen to Beth Moore?” His initial response is classic: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/AskPastorJohn/ByTopic/49/4728_Is_it_wrong_for_men_to_listen_to_female_speakers/

    I have never listened to her intently, though I see her regularly on DayStar. Never last for more than a few minutes, though that’s more a reflection of my tastes (and the fact that I’m a dude) than her teaching capabilities. My mom, who is a former Joyce Meyer fan, saw one of Moore’s books prominently displayed at a Christian bookstore a while back and said to me something along the lines of “Is it mean of me not to want anything to do with upping the book sales of this latest personality-driven publishing phenomenon?” Books with her face on it sure are pushed heavily at the Christian bookstores, so it’s only natural to be a bit cynical at first. However, from what little I have gathered, I think she’s sort of like a female Max Lucado; nice person, loves Jesus, good teaching, captivating communicator, and wide appeal. Uses the bible, communication skills to speak to lots of people in a no nonsense, personal way. Can’t speak to the depth of her teachings, but at least its seems more God-centered than prosperity-oriented or therapeutic, so that’s a big plus. One thing I do know; she has a soul piercing gaze.

    • Kenny Johnson says:

      I was going to post the same link. My friend shared it on Google Reader, and I replied, “I think it’s OK for women to be pastors.” He didn’t respond. 🙂

      My wife went to a Beth Moore study and didn’t seem to care for the material at all. She couldn’t articulate exactly what bothered her (other than the big hair), but seemed unimpressed.

    • Annnnd – that’s the attitude I was getting at.

      “In context, I think this means that women shouldn’t be the authoritative teachers of the church—they shouldn’t be elders.”

      And is it any surprise then that studies for women by popular women teachers come off as light and fluffy by comparison? Certainly, in my own church, women can’t be priests, so that would fit (in a similar context?) with the provision that women cannot be elders.

      But to say that women cannot teach men because that would entail being in a position of authority over them – Saints Teresa of Ávila, Catherine of Siena and Thérèse of Lisieux are smiling at that (and smiling that it took until the 1970s for women to be made Doctors of the Church).

      If the division is perceived to be “men do the serious scholarship like arguing about the tenses of Greek verbs and women do the ’10 Bible verses about being the perfect helpmeet'”, then yeah – going to get the “flip through the Bible and plug in the verse” approach.

    • “But I don’t want to get into a relationship of listening or attending a church where a woman is becoming my pastor, my shepherd or my authority. I think that would be an unhealthy thing for a man to do. ”

      Don’t get married, then 🙂

      • Fish, as a single woman, it would be improper of me to comment 🙂

        But that’s the attitude that drives me to head-banging when I see it; if Brother Billy-Bob was coming out with the same line of teaching or preaching, there would be no problem, but make it Sister Betty-Lou and whoa! danger, danger, Will Robinson!

        Like I said, I’m Catholic, and the Church’s position is firmly no woman priests. And I’m traditional (stuffy?) enough that I’d be very uncomfortable to see a woman giving a sermon at Mass. (Even though a great deal of the homilies from priests I’ve heard have not been the world’s greatest, I have to admit).

        But on the other hand, if a woman is giving good, solid teaching as an invited speaker, or at a retreat or workshop, how is it going to make any men who might hear her fall down and turn pink with green polkadots?

  10. This is totally unrelated, but since I haven’t seen it elsewhere, the same issue of Christianity Today has an sizable excerpt from Mere Churchianity in it. They do a monthly except from a new book, and this month’s is Michael’s.

  11. I should probably keep quiet as I admit that I have never read Beth’s books or been to any of her programs. My wife did attend a long Beth Moore study. I had never heard of her until that point. Then it was Beth Moore here and there and everywhere.

    I think the concern I raise is more general and about the whole concept of Christian heroism. Since King Saul, (actually even before) there as been a tendency of humans to create heroes. When someone becomes a brand, books, tapes, posters, music, bobble head dolls, they become bigger-than-life in a not so healthy way in my opinion. I’ve had many Christian heroes in my life . . . they all have disappointed me in the end. I think I learned this the first time when the most godly, gifted man I had even known up until that point (Campus Crusade director, Youth Pastor) was suddenly arrested for child porn charges.

    My point is, we are all made of the same stuff . . . and that is fallen stuff. I don’t think there is a mouse’s eyebrow of difference between the most godly Christian and those that struggle the most.

    If I have a hero now, it is still Francis Schaeffer. However I am far more realistic now that I use to be. That is why I feel very comfortable with books such as his son’s “fictional” trilogy and “Crazy for God.” I know he had a temper and fits of rage . . . but I still adore his thinking.

    So, in summary, when I see any Christian raised up as a hero-type, and carried on the backs of publishers and marketeers it makes me a bit nervous as it seems unhealthy. Does that make sense?

    • This is a great point – and the big warning sign or red flag that I try to keep an eye out for (within my own thinking as well as others) is when the words of pastors or teachers are referenced more while making faith decisions than the Bible.

      It seems like a lot of people who post here are fans of NT Wright. I must say that he and I disagree about a few things here and there – particularly with regard to his reading of Romans – but he begins one of his books, “The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture” with a wonderful statement that I think echoes the concerns you raise here.

      He writes: “Writing a book about the Bible is like building a sandcastle in front of the Matterhorn. The best you can hope to do is catch the eye of those who are looking down instead of up, or those who are so familiar with the skyline that they have stopped noticing its peculiar beauty.”

      While each of us has some wisdom to impart by way of our own experiences in the world and in the company of the Holy Spirit, nothing any of us shares, no matter how moving, can or should compete with the Bible when it comes to knowing the character of God – his hopes, his plans, his love and his will for us and all creation.

  12. I haven’t read Beth Moore, but thus far, I’ve found women’s Bible study to be a damper to my faith. I can’t ask questions, and often, I felt like I was the only one that had questions to begin with. I did a study on Exodus, and I felt like the only one who struggled with the concept of God in a pillar of fire, or talking serpents, or the Calvinistic God.

  13. Ok…I like Beth Moore. I have done a few of her studies (though that’s been a few years ago), been to one of her conferences, and I read the blog where she and her daughters write about as regularly as I read IMonk. Sometimes the talk of hair and wardrobe get to be a bit too much for me, but I think that’s just a matter of personality (plus, you guys here at IMonk help balance that out for me! Please don’t start talking about your hairdos :)). She seems to make an effort to speak to real people about living a real day to day life with Jesus. Sometimes it’s lighthearted…sometimes more serious.

    Though she certainly isn’t marketed to men, I don’t thinks she goes out of her way to exclude them. At the conference I attended, she made it clear that the men in the audience were welcome and she was glad they were there. On the whole, I get the sense that she is the real deal (as much as anyone can assess that sort of thing about any author or blog writer).

    I have enjoyed and benefited from her studies, though I certainly wouldn’t want her studies to be the only way I ever interacted with Scripture…and I suspect she wouldn’t either. In my first few years as a stay at home mom, I spent a fair amount of time reading and doing studies by the conservative Christian, family oriented, be a better Christian mom/wife types. I have a very different view of those types of books and studies now, but in my opinion, Beth Moore is in a different category. At least in my experience, her studies weren’t the moral “how to” manuals that many of the others were.

    Her style definately isn’t for everyone, but at least as far as I can tell, she’s about Jesus.

  14. I don’t know. I’m not one of them.

  15. Maybe I should be embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve never read anything of hers, and I’m honestly not interested in doing so. So many books aimed at women in Christian bookstores seem to be fluff, and I’m honestly not the kind of person who wants to read the same thing that everyone else around me is reading, anyway.
    But she couldn’t write anything as bad as “Captivating”, could she? 😉

  16. Beth Moore is right there in the evangelical collapse that we talk so much about here at IM. Bouncing all over the Bible to pull verses. And it matches the fit the Bible to your needs. A recent Christianity Today article had Beth Moore dealing with women’s insecurity.
    We have seen several churches where “you just have to come to the Beth Moore study” on Weds night. Beth Moore is a women’s prophet as far as far as they are concerned.

  17. joel hunter says:

    Sorry this comment is going to be off-topic, but I can’t help myself…

    What are the biblical grounds for a gendered Bible study of any kind? One for men, one for women?

    “Because men and women are different and have different priorities, struggles, gifts, etc.”

    Then what are the biblical grounds for reinforcing those differences rather than overcoming them?

    “Because the special kind of fellowship that occurs in a women’s-only BIble study.”

    Is that really koinonia that the Bible describes? Why is a Bible study the proper occasion for “sharing” and “fellowship?”

    I really don’t get why this culture is seen not only as normal but healthy. Would we have a Bible study for Gentiles only on Tue night and Jews only on Wed night? For free people on Fri and slaves on Sat? All of the same justifications about gendered Bible studies can be applied to those as well.

    • sarahmorgan says:

      Thanks for saying this….as an older, college-educated, married-but-childless woman, I’ve never really experienced that “special kind of fellowship that occurs in a women’s-only Bible study,” especially when everyone else is a young mother, and they learn that I’m not miserable over not being a mother.
      As for Beth Moore, the last of her studies I attended was her series on Proverbs, and I had some trouble with the fact that she seemed to insist that all the women in her audience admit that they were total idiots who needed proverbial wisdom before she would dispense any of that wisdom…came across as very condescending. :-/

    • This is so true. A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post (http://domesticadventure.blogspot.com/2010/06/on-being-christian-woman.html) that relates somewhat to this. It’s quite telling that Jesus never segregated out his teaching. There’s not a Sermon on the Mount for women and another for men. The truth of the Gospel is for everyone – it’s not different based on your age or gender.

      And, yet, there are times when it is helpful to be with people who are dealing with similar issues in life. When I was working, I was a little frustrated that there were so few other working Christian moms that I could talk to. Now that I’m staying at home, I can understand the attraction of a “women’s Bible study”. I’m most distressed that so many of the studies lack the depth that some of us crave.

      But yet I have had more real relationships develop in mixed groups (mixed in age and gender). I also enjoyed the study more because we had a variety of people with different life experiences to share.

      I think there may be a place for “gender-specific” Bible studies, but it’s probably not good that they are so ubiquitous.

      Catherine

    • Michelle says:

      “What are the biblical grounds for a gendered Bible study of any kind? One for men, one for women?”

      Biblical grounds for a gender-based Bible study? You have to have Biblical grounds for that? It’s not common sense that bearing one another’s burdens is easier when you are with like-minded people? Many people find they can open up more in gender-based studies (or age-based studies, or marriage-based studies, etc.). Not all people, but many.

      “Then what are the biblical grounds for reinforcing those differences rather than overcoming them?”

      I’m not sure why you think gender-based Bible studies are reinforcing the differences between men and women. It sounds like you would abolish all gender-based Bible studies. Could you expand?

      “Is that really koinonia that the Bible describes? Why is a Bible study the proper occasion for “sharing” and “fellowship?”

      It’s called ‘bearing one another’s burdens’. I guess if you think a Bible study should only be about the study and no one should be allowed to share or eat . . . er, I mean fellowship, then you are free to go and find like-minded people who want to run a study the way you do. And I hate to ask this, but . . . do you have biblical grounds for that?

      I’m sorry I’m being snarky, joel. I just have a problem with people who throw around the term ‘biblical grounds’. I’ve heard too many people use that term as a weapon to control others into following their particular agenda. I’m not saying you are doing this.

      “I really don’t get why this culture is seen not only as normal but healthy. Would we have a Bible study for Gentiles only on Tue night and Jews only on Wed night? For free people on Fri and slaves on Sat? All of the same justifications about gendered Bible studies can be applied to those as well.”

      We are free people under grace and can gather with whomever we choose. In America, anyway.

      I wonder if they allow visitors in the Slave Bible Study.

      • joel hunter says:

        Hi Michelle,

        So…the short answer you’re giving me is: “none”.

        I was not expecting such intensity of feeling in reply. You seem quite sure that I am wrong to even pose the questions I asked, all of which can be safely brushed aside from your point of view, and yet your reply is consistently condescending over my tiny dissent. I can only surmise that I have scratched the skin of some sensitive area that cannot tolerate the slightest hint of a threat to complacent acceptance of what you already regard as self-evidently true. What are you so anxious about?

        Isn’t it kinda odd to ignore what the Bible says about who the people of God are, our new social relationships in Christ…when you’re engaging in an activity central to Christian formation–discipleship, devotion and spiritual practice?

        Why do you think it’s idiotic to ask about the ethics of gendered Bible studies? Is it really that self-evident to you that there’s nothing in the Gospels or in the NT letters relevant to this, perhaps even critical of it? If you think there is relevant biblical testimony on the subject, I’d love to hear what you think about it.

        • There is the passage in the Pastorals about older women teaching younger women, and so on. So I think there is some basis. Also, remember that most of the societies in which Jesus and Paul ministered would have separated men and women in various ways. However, I don’t find any indication that the content of what was taught to them was as clearly divided into “men’s stuff” and “women’s stuff” the way it is today. They were taught the Gospel and how to follow Jesus.

          • joel hunter says:

            Thanks, CM. Titus 2 was what I expected. And you followed up with my next question: is holding a BM video/workbook study consistent with picture of local NT church teaching given in the pastorals? I hasten to add that I don’t think it is–imo much of the pastoral material is accommodated to cultural norms of the time. And that’s what fascinates me about the justifications given for gendered Bible studies in America today–istm that many participants, all of whom undoubtedly want simple, good, and admirable things from the BM study, are nevertheless invited to project themselves onto the cultural ideals of our age, ideals both of the broader culture (celebrity, success, body image, prolonged youth, etc.) and the evangelical subculture (sororities (in the general sense), gendered roles, and Perpetua knows what else).

          • I can’t help but agree with the thought that a biblical basis isn’t exactly necessary to support the allowance of separate men’s and women’s studies. That said, I’ve enjoyed co-ed and women’s groups and I certainly don’t think that separation should be mandatory. Over two years ago I joined a study for post-college 20-something women, led by a few women in their late twenties and early thirties. I was skeptical at first, but we’ve studied books of the Bible (straight from the Word alone), books focused on women of the Bible, books focused on women’s needs, and topics such as Biblical service and counseling. It’s fabulous. It allowed me to meet women my age and to grow together. It’s nice having a community of friends — I know they’ll provide a Biblical perspective on issues I’m currently experiencing.

            As to why I was skeptical, I was uncertain that there would be any benefit to a women’s only study. Some of them I’ve joined before have been a little too fluffy. Seems to be that studies and groups often are/become what you make them. So perhaps there is a time and place for both co-ed and single-sex studies and not a thing wrong with either as long as they are “managed” properly. Additionally, I know it’s been beneficial for my husband at times to meet with only men. I do not need to hear about some of the issues men are dealing with and I don’t think men would be as upfront about them (rightly so) in front of women. Same thing with women. Accountability and discipleship often seem more appropriate and open in same-sex situations.

        • Michelle says:

          There is Titus 2, as well as the example of Jesus. His disciples were all men, and He spent a lot of time alone with them, teaching them and sharing their lives. To me, His example was balance. His time spent alone with them was balanced with time in mixed groups (as well as time alone). That’s a good example for the body of Christ—balance the gender-specific studies with regular corporate gatherings, which is what most churches do. No, I don’t see anything critical of gender-based study in the NT– Jesus didn’t give any commands on how to have a Bible study, so yes, to me it is self-evident that this is an area in which we can exercise free will. Paul does talk about what a well-run church should look like, but he doesn’t mention any preference regarding men/women/anybody meeting in specific groups. He does have the controversial statement about women being silent in corporate gatherings, so that probably led to the first women’s study.

          As for your statement “that many participants, all of whom undoubtedly want simple, good, and admirable things from the BM study, are nevertheless invited to project themselves onto the cultural ideals of our age . . .”—this is definitely food for thought, but this problem is not specific to gender-based studies. IMO, this problem is specific to the human condition. I can sit in the local congregation on Sunday morning and get this line of thinking.

          I understand questioning the popularity of a particular speaker, what I don’t understand is the assumption that gender-based studies cause a divide between the genders, or the questioning of whether or not gender-based (or specialized) studies should be happening at all. To me, this is questioning people’s freedom, and that’s a slippery slope. This is what I got from your OP, and I could be totally wrong, which is why I hoped you would expand.

          • joel hunter says:

            Hi Michelle,

            Thanks for your reply. I’d rather not expand as it would add further clutter to a thread that CM intended for different purposes. But we’ve already come this far, and you make thoughtful points, so I respond thusly…

            “[Jesus’] disciples were all men…”.

            This is not correct, unless you mean ‘disciple’ in the narrowest sense of the Twelve he specifically authorized to preach the Gospel, baptize, and forgive sins. Jesus’ disciples (in the sense that you and I are his disciples) are those who deny themselves and take up his cross. The Samaritan woman at the well was his disciple. So I don’t think we can look at Jesus’ discipling as an example of how and why to institutionalize gendered Bible studies.

            “No, I don’t see anything critical of gender-based study in the NT– Jesus didn’t give any commands on how to have a Bible study, so yes, to me it is self-evident that this is an area in which we can exercise free will.”

            In my original comment, I was asking about how we’re supposed to think about Bible study as one component in discipling, devotional and spiritual practice. I did not want (nor expect to get) a detailed set of how-to instructions from the Bible for the proper conduct of a Bible study.

            So, if you don’t see anything critical of gendered Bible study (spiritual formation) in the NT, do you see anything critical of group identities based on ethnicity or economic class? Even if you think the Bible is indifferent on this (i.e., it’s left up to our preferences), can we still examine how to do spiritual formation responsibly, i.e., responsive to Jesus-shaped, Spirit-directed, NT-people-of-God behavior? And is it possible that some (most?) promotion, advocacy for and practice of BM and gendered Bible studies is irresponsible in light of kingdom ethics? If it’s possible, then I think it’d be important to know how to recognize when it’s actually so.

            “but this problem [of projecting ourselves on cultural ideals] is not specific to gender-based studies.” Couldn’t agree with you more. This, too, gets us beyond the scope of CM’s original post, but I do think that the willingness (if not eagerness) to hand over the discipleship of people in the local church to celebrity preachers and teachers is symptomatic of something more pervasively defective in our social relationships. It is precisely because BM and gendered Bible studies are formalized and institutionalized in churches and conservative Christian society more broadly–i.e., that these distinctions and activities are sanctioned as normal and healthy–that I find unwise and possibly damaging that otherwise informal associations and gatherings are not.

            “what I don’t understand is the assumption that gender-based studies cause a divide between the genders, or the questioning of whether or not gender-based (or specialized) studies should be happening at all.”

            I don’t think I’m assuming that gendered Bible studies cause a divide between the genders in the life of the church: I’m stating as a fact that doing so with the formal, institutional sanction of the church reinforces distinctions that have been erased thanks to our status in Christ. Surely it isn’t unreasonable to assume that ethnically divided Bible studies impede rather than promote our unity and equality in Christ (“Northern Europeans are meeting in 101 today, Hispanics are meeting in 201, and Africans in 301.”) Are we free to do so? I suppose. Is it wise? No, I’m pretty sure it isn’t. The same goes for separate discipleship for property-owners and renters, white collar and blue collar workers, urban and exurban dwellers, etc. It is conceivable to have specialized studies for people who fall in these distinctions. I’m not questioning anyone’s freedom to do so; I’m questioning their wisdom in doing so, and especially when those distinctions are not just acknowledged, but reinforced institutionally.

        • Honestly, given your commentary on that biblical passage, I’d say the purpose of it may not have been matching the right teachers up with the right groups. The New Testament is not very precisely prescriptive when it comes to organizational structure, as evidenced by the plethora of conclusions we’ve arrived at using the same texts. Perhaps the point is simply to ensure that everybody is taught and no groups are overlooked?

      • cermak_rd says:

        Wait, fellowship is code for eating? It involves food?

        I’m going to have to rethink my avoidance of it through all these years.

    • dan baker says:

      thanks for bringing this up. my wife and i ask this same question of the churches we have attended. your question about “gentiles only and jews only” is a good one. other than cultural/regional definitions, i have never seen any biblical support for gender roles. the whole “men are this way, women are that way because that’s how God made us” is absolute crap as far as i can tell. the image of God within all humanity is not gender-specific. in fact we remake God in our image when we try to relate his “male qualities” and “female qualities”. certainly there are biological differences, but everything else is cultural.

      as to the topic at hand: our church is big on Moore studies as well as gendered adult “sunday school”. i personally get more out of a class or study that is mixed-gender/age for the simple reason that you hear from a more diverse range of life experiences.

  18. What are the biblical grounds for a gendered Bible study of any kind? One for men, one for women?

    I actually prefer co-ed studies. Um…I actually prefer male teachers (I am a woman). Mostly it’s a style difference. On average, guys are less likely to only appeal to my emotions. It’s not universal, but it’s a tendency. Um, I also have trouble convincing people that it’s possible to be single and happy and not especially looking.

    I haven’t done much Beth Moore. Um, I’ve…always had this sort of “arm’s length” relationship with Bible studies/workbooks anyway. I’ve been through the original Breaking Free study, the Living Beyond Yourself, and the Esther studies. And…..I have a bad habit of not answering questions if I think they’re bad questions or simply making sure I’m really paying attention in class.

    That said, the two female Bible study writers I’ve recently started to enjoy are Priscilla Shirer (who had Moore as a mentor) and Kelly Minter (who has two out now). I like Kay Arthur, but she can get a bit too detailed for my tastes on some things (marking my my Bible can get distracting). There’s a few others I read when I get a chance, but they’re fiction writers, not Bible study teachers.

    I’m picky. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Dallas Willard and listening to some Tim Keller.

    For my part, I look for pastors who can appeal both to my heart and my mind. Otherwise….honestly, I tend to get frustrated.

    “Because men and women are different and have different priorities, struggles, gifts, etc.”

    I tend to not find that entirely true. We have the same weaknesses. They manifest differently. We handle them differently. Or we handle them the same way but it still looks different on the surface.

    Totally another subject.

    “Because the special kind of fellowship that occurs in a women’s-only BIble study.”

    There’s definitely some things I can’t say with guys in the room, most subjects, I think, are not the case.

    Is that really koinonia that the Bible describes? Why is a Bible study the proper occasion for “sharing” and “fellowship?”

    I actually hate the phrase “sharing with each other” for no apparent reason. But hey. I’m weird.

    I really don’t get why this culture is seen not only as normal but healthy. Would we have a Bible study for Gentiles only on Tue night and Jews only on Wed night? For free people on Fri and slaves on Sat? All of the same justifications about gendered Bible studies can be applied to those as well.

    Because when your society truly believes men and women are not from the same planet, you do not and cannot see a correlation.

    • nice post; Willard and Keller are excellent, you may be picky, but your tastes (at least those two) should take you closer to Jesus. I’m the same way you about fill in the blank answers: sheesh, just get me a big fat crayon and Big Chief tablet already….they should come complete with Little Debbie snack cakes and a blankey……

      Enjoyed your post.
      Greg R

      • Thanks. And I don’t so much mind “fill in the blanks” as much as “Let me ask you a question where the answer is what I just said two sentences earlier.” If a phrase really stands to me, I’ll rewrite it in the margin. Moore doesn’t normally do it too badly, but when she does I just skip it.

        Hey…I’m the kid who chooses “none of the above” half the time. 0=)

        But like I said, I have kind of an arm’s length relationship with Bible study workbooks in general. And I can only take video series for so long, I learned recently, before I just pull my hair out.

        I’ve heard some say they prefer Moore’s books to the workbooks, and I have one which I intend to try as a result (when I get to it).

    • Good post there, Kaci. I have to agree with what you said.

  19. Women like her because she is like the Christian version of Oprah Winfrey. She has at least looked at a Bible in the past 10 years, at least a few times, so she’s acceptable because she’s not going to teach outright rank heresy. However, she appeals to the fact that most women’s bible studies end up being more like a N.A.G.S meeting than studying the bible. She’s very appealing to the “man–haters” that abound in most women’s ministries so that they’re able to collectively vent about how “men are pigs” and how their husbands are just awful, lazy creatures.

    What someone needs to do is tel her to get her tail in the kitchen so she can do something productibve, like fix her husband a sammich.

    • joel hunter says:

      Joe, your comment is irresponsible and cruel. In order to imply that BM is an uppity bitch, you suggest the women who like her are superficial, gripers and gossips. Why did you rush to stereotype and insult with such meanness rather than imagine legitimate, if not kinder, alternatives?

  20. Dan Allison says:

    I stay away from Beth Moore and similar teachers, but everything I’ve read here confirms my impression. Lightweight, personality-driven. Reinforcing the prejudices of attractive, affluent, upper-middle-class, white, Baptist and Baptist-leaning types. Focused on the self rather than about being sacrificial for others. I simply don’t think Beth Moore’s followers pose any threat to the “world system” the church is supposed to challenge and confront. She quotes a lot of scripture (if the above comments are accurate) but my impression is that the net effect is close to “civil religion” that lines up with “establishment” values. My impression is that her followers also tend to be follwers of people like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck rather than Tim Keller, NT Wright, or Brennan Manning.

    Keller, Manning, and Wright — my own favorite teachers — really push me to grow in Christ, to be uncomfortable (rather than comfortable) with the world. They challenge my prejudices rather than reinforcing them. The Beth Moores will always be more “popular” but they will do little to change the world.

    • I think you hit it right here. At my old church they showed a promo videoclip of one of her small group studies that the women’s group were about to go through. Warning sirens immediately went off in my head as she announced that God personally, specifically, and prophetically gave her a specific Bible verse to her about something that inspired her to start this study. She then proceeded explain that passage way the heck out of context. Next, she went on to explain how Moses’ tent of meeting was for everyone, how every believer can have their “own personal tent of meeting and talk with God” all day all night anytime you want.

      I immediately cringed–Henry Blackaby says something similar in his Experiencing God where he thinks that Moses was called up to Sinai not to give him the Law, but to also “spend some personal time” with him. Meanwhile the other 2-3 million men, women, and children who aren’t talking to God are busy trying to stay alive in the desert and building golden calfs.

      That’s probably why she’s so popular, after all everyone wants a Buddy Yahweh who feeds your narcissistic desire for attention, who you can approach as casually and glibly. Also, I’ve heard from a few trusted critics that her material is way too personal and subjective, and mishandles Scripture a lot, but they also say she has a lot of good stuff too.

      So that’s probably why she’s so popular. She’s got an attractive personality, she is marketed like a celebrity, has enough good stuff, which people are attracted to, and a lot of God remade in the image of our narcissistic, hyper-individualistic, overly internal/inward-focused culture, which people are also attracted to.

      This seems to be why Joyce Meyer, Henry Blackaby, and Rick Warren are popular as well. N.T. Wright, however, seems to be popular because of the content of his stuff–even those who disagree with him on a lot of things still love the guy’s work–he’s just that good.

  21. Looks to me like you asked the wrong crowd, RM. It would appear to me that she is a cultural phenomenon and that there appears to be little cultural overlap between IM readers and Beth Moore fans. Interesting display of evangelical sociology here. And I confess, I too have never read or listened to Beth Moore at any length. Being a guy might be part of it, but the Piper quote removes that excuse. In all honesty, I’ve never heard her say anything in an opening paragraph that makes me want to hear the rest of what she is saying. It appears that few IM readers have either.

    • Not meaning to reply to myself, but just to extend a thought. I have no complaints about any gynecologists or kidney specialists either. But that is largely because I don’t need to be treated by what they’re offering. Ask me about orthopedists and you get a different story, however.

      Maybe Beth Moore is attractive to a particular audience because she addresses needs that don’t show up in the IM community.

  22. On the scale of what is out there in terms of womens bible studies I would reccomend Beth Moore over most of it. Her interpretation is sometimes sketchy and she does proof text but it is not that bad. Give the ladies more Moore and less Meyers any day.

  23. I’m currently about 1/3 through Capon’s _Between Noon and Three_. Personally, I think this would be a terrific book for a women’s study. The Outrage of Grace For Women. No fill-in-the-blank workbooks! Really delve into the topic of Grace. If assignments must be given, maybe encourage the group to write their own parables of grace. OK, sure, we might wonder off into discussions about which undergarments are most difficult to remove…

  24. Thanks for all the contributors on this thread so far. My wife is a big Beth Moore fan, and this helps me understand why. I went to the source (my wife) and here are some of her thoughts.

    1. she is an interesting and passionate speaker; her love for Jesus comes through, not just a blob of information
    2. she connects with her audience, partially due to her vulnerability; she is not afraid to share about her past, warts and all; maybe this gives her audience the freedom to be themselves, warts and all
    3. she obviously cares for the people she is talking to: ;she does not talk down to them

    I wouldn’t want a nation of Beth Moore clones, but is seems to me that there are pastors that could learn a thing or two from Beth……through their wife’s notes or conversation after a conference, of course… 🙂

    • joel hunter says:

      Interesting, greg. It seems that BM’s pastoral role is more significant to your wife than the knowledge imparted through the study. And that’s not necessarily bad. But here’s the curious thing: off the top of my head I can think of five women in our smallish-medium-sized church that fit the three qualities your wife listed. Why is it preferable to be led by and ministered to by a celebrity teacher who doesn’t personally know any of the women she teaches than it is the women in one’s local church? Are we really that starved for intimacy and affirmation, or are our cravings for something which falls under the guise of “pastoral” out of proportion?

      • Great push back. I don’t think it’s “out of proportion” so much as we take it (pastoral care) where we can get it, and can I just say that there are more than a few pastors who are decent enough speakers, but wouldn’t know a real pastor if they slapped them silly and called them “your holiness”. The ev. church in general has settled for proficiency in speaking with a high tilt toward entertainment and ‘felt need’. In this kind of vacuum, along comes someone who at least talks like they care and understand. This need not replace the kind of friendships you talk about: one should reinforce the other. Both/and not either/or.

        The fact that she has become a celebrity, well, that’s a post all its own. Why is Rick Warren, or Rob Bell such a celebrity ?? That’s a loaded question, there…

        God’s kind smile and encouragement this Sat. to ya’
        Greg R

  25. “What has been your experience with Moore and her teaching ministry? What have you appreciated? What, if anything, concerns you?”

    I’ve have no experience with anything by Moore, so I can’t address her in particular, but she is part of a wider phenomenon that does concern me.

    Here is what I see as that wider phenomenon:

    Twenty-five to thirty years ago, when I was in the college/young-career stage of life, in a evangelically inclined mainline congregation, we gathered in various small groups, although they weren’t called small groups back then. They were called “Bible study” or “Prayer group” or “choir” or “food pantry” or even “sewing circle”. The groups were more oriented around an activity, and “fellowship” happened along the way rather than as a primary focus.

    In “Bible study” we actually opened up a Bible and read the words and discussed them, usually with a leader who had prepared to guide the discussion, but didn’t do a “you sit and listen while I talk” one-person show. And often the task of preparing to guide the discussion rotated among people in the group. Quality varied, but many people did improve in preparation/leading ability with practice. I know I learned a great deal about how to study the Bible and talk to other people about a passage by learning what resources other people used to prepare for the discussion and observing how they went about guiding a discussion.

    Then I moved to another part of the country where the mainline congregations were much more liberal, and I ended up in an evangelical (non-mainline) church plant. The adult Sunday school and “men’s group” were led by the pastor (since it was a small church plant, there weren’t than many studies to lead), with much more emphasis on him talking and us listening, but some discussion. Since he couldn’t very well lead the “women’s group”, somehow it was assumed that we had to have a study guide – usually about a Christian-life oriented book, rather than the Bible itself, almost always specifically geared to women. The thought that a woman/women might actually do their own preparation and facilitate discussion of a passage of the Bible seemed utterly foreign.

    Then I moved again and ended up in a larger evangelical church about the time the “small group” movement hit. That meant there had to be more “leaders” of more groups. Developing leaders is difficult. The thought that these “leaders” needed a study guide – usually of a Christian-life oriented book rather than the Bible itself – spread everywhere – women, men, both-gender groups.

    Then video came along and these groups more often sat and watched pre-recorded video of a distant talking expert.

    And with each of these steps above, there was more and more pressure on the “leader” (or author of the book/study guide … or talking head on the screen) to have a personally charismatic style that would keep attention. And business realized that the relatively small number of people with the ability to produce these types of pre-prepared studies could be heavily marketed. Beth Moore is just one example.

    And, as has happened more generally across American evangelicalism, the approach grew of having a non-accessible, personally charismatic, big-wig leader talk while all the little people meekly listened. I’ll assume that there are small groups out there that actually do have discussions about whether the leader/author might be correct in all they say, but I haven’t personally been in one.

    Now … I’m not sure if it is just my personal path through various churches that causes me to be able to remember having “Bible study” where the Bible was the main book sitting in your lap and leadership was shared … or if other people of middle-age and above remember that too.

    My concern about all this: Maybe it all works to create a common culture within a church where people will sit in the same room long enough to possibly get to know one another. But what happens when a person is outside the Christian bubble and has need to actually open/study the Bible? Where do they get the skills? For example, what happens when your non-Christian coworker or officemate, sitting across the lunchroom table, suddenly pops a question about Christianity that leads to a discussion that is best discussed by cracking open a Bible and “leading” a little mini-discussion? Or when you, yourself, start having questions not allowed by the Christian bubble and need to crack open an actual Bible?

    • Or when you, yourself, start having questions not allowed by the Christian bubble and need to crack open an actual Bible?

      Don’t talk to anyone about it, lest you will be sinning. Be discerning in whose fellowship you seek and reveal your thoughts. Stay up late nights in despair. Try to unsuccessfully ignore the questions. be quiet and hide. Become insecure around Christians and unsure about Christianity.

      Surely there must be a better way. I seriously felt like the only female in my church that was doubting God (and I wasn’t condescending or mean about my doubts, but I definitely learned quickly not to talk too much about the questions in my mind so I would be “normal”). I had to be a different person in women’s Bible studies, and eventually, it was just too hard to fit into that mold and we are looking for a new church home.

    • Just to toss it out there (and since I saw some reference here): I’ll be the first to say too many videos and not enough interaction, or too much of one person talking, is maddening. (I work from my home. I’m a writer. I am alone most of the time. The very last thing I ever want to do is come in, sit, and watch a screen for an hour after having looked at a computer monitor all day.)

      That said: I’ve attended the “facilitator” approach, and it can be equally frustrating depending on the dynamics of the group.

      It’s a bit like the line from The Patriot (the Mel Gibson one): “Why should I trade one tyrant 600 miles away for 600 tyrants 1 mile away?”

      At any rate, I wasn’t really disagreeing as this was a good place to toss the comment. You are right: This is a “Bible study workbook” culture. Because we like how-to manuals.

  26. Most of these commenters are painfully ill-informed. Just because Beth Moore’s face is all over the Christian book stores does not mean she is “one of them.”

    I have done several Beth Moore workbook/video studies and will continue to participate whenever the opportunity arises. I don’t always agree with her. This is to be expected with any teacher. I am from a tradition of knowledge-based faith, of doctrine, and loving God with our minds. Beth Moore has taught me a lot about loving God with my heart, too; and my soul and strength.

    Women like Beth Moore because she is sincere, and funny, and really smart. She teaches women to dig into the Bible. She is a leader in studying what we read, not just glossing over it. She is humble and loving and fun to listen to. She is imperfect, and the first to admit it. She is annoying, and loud, and girly. Women don’t follow Beth Moore because she is a hero or a prophet. She’s just a person, who loves God, and really, really loves people too.

    • joel hunter says:

      Hi Jane,

      You answered the questions that CM posed quite nicely. But you couldn’t resist the condescending crack at the beginning against any who have expressed concern or dissent. Now, I’m with you about the lack of charity shown by commenters who pass judgment without sufficient information–that doesn’t help this conversation at all.

      I would find it illuminating if you would interact with the comments of Becky above or Michael Peterson below.

      • I don’t see how “painfully ill-informed” was condescending. She’s right: Most commenters have read little of Beth Moore. Heck, I haven’t.

        At any rate, I have to finish getting ready for a wedding….

        • joel hunter says:

          Some commenters were ill-informed, Kaci, it is true. But most who were ill-informed admitted as much. Jane sweeps these few together and calls them “most of these commenters [in the thread],” whereas it’s quite clear that *many* are well-informed but have misgivings about BM’s methods, content, etc., as well as the contexts in which her teaching is used. It is condescending of Jane to tell those expressing informed dissent that they don’t know what they’re talking about. It sounds like Jane experienced BM teaching in a more critical context, which is great, but far from the norm in evangelicalism.

          Enjoy the wedding, Kaci…especially if you’re the bride!

          • Mmm….Yes, and no, I suppose. I suppose it depends on perspective.

            At any rate, thanks. Hehe. I am quite far from being the bride. Just an old friend of mine.

      • Hi Joel,

        I would characterize my first remark as frustration rather than condescension. I was disappointed that so many commenters were presenting opinions based on little or no factual evidence. I didn’t intend it to be snarky; it was more of a straightforward observation and I apologize if I offended anyone.

        Regarding Becky’s concerns, the best part of Beth Moore studies, for me, is the hour of group discussion time each week. We pray for each other, and read the Bible aloud, and discuss the workbook questions. In those times I have connected with other women in a very deep spiritual way, which has had a lasting impact on me for many years.

        Regarding Michael’s concerns, those are some of mine as well. Beth Moore says that our lives will be better because of knowing Christ. I’m not always sure how that is supposed to work out. I am of very little faith most of the time. I don’t know if I would call Beth Moore “therapeutic”; if anything she will tell you that God’s Word is powerful and will change your life. That God can and does work in and through us.

        I do set aside some concerns when studying with Beth Moore. She is the first to admit that she doesn’t have all the answers. I truly believe that she is doing her best to minister to people in need.

    • Thank you. I’ll say more later, but while I do admit she’s not really “my personal preference,” I’d hardly throw her under the bus. I don’t agree with her on everything, but she hardly promotes a prosperity gospel and I wouldn’t put her and Oprah in the same breath. Thanks for putting that into words for me: She’s too “girly” for my tastes. I’m hardly going to bash her just because of a personality clash. I don’t always agree with her. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Esther book.

      But the reason recommending books and Bible studies is so challenging a task is because you have to know the person you’re recommending to on a very intimate level, and you have to know where they are on the road home.

      The funniest thing about workbooks is something I had to explain to a friend of mine a few years ago. She said, “I feel like I go run off on these tangents and I’m not necessarily getting out of this what I’m supposed to.”

      To which I said, “That’s because the Spirit had a direction for you that was different from the writer’s. It’s perfectly legitimate.” What the writer sees in a passage may not even register to the reader.

      At any rate, I think the healthiest approach to podcasts, sermons, video, books, and Bible studies is that they are supplements, not the steak and potato dinner of Scripture. They’re PopTarts to the breakfast plate of bacon, eggs, grits, and biscuits. Some of them, they’re just ice cream. Or Coke instead of water. It’ll do short term, but you can’t live off that.

  27. In the CT article, it was mentioned that the B.Moore team required questions be submitted for pre-approval, that one hour would be granted, no access to certain areas, and there would always be attended by some kind of aide (personal guard). The article also mentioned that B.Moore believes some of her material was dictated by God. Hmmm? In contrast it seems that Jesus allowed access for many hours, many days, and took on questions without hesitation or need for being pre-approved. It seems to me that if B.Moore is such an excellent example of transformation and Godly relationship, that God would have directed her to grant as many hours as the CT journalist wanted, and free access to the working area, as well as the employees. She would welcome spontaneous questions since nothing is hidden from God, and He would love to give Godly wisdom spontaneously through her. Such would help all of us see what kind of relationship is possible if we were submitted and obedient like B. Moore. Mrs. Moore gave one hour, and got back NINE pages in CT. Guess we know who needed whom the Moore!
    OK, tongue out of cheek. You who are fans are buying into a crafted image. You are vulnerable to such because of the one core assumption of your salvation – to seek that which is therapeutic – that which makes ME and MY KINGDOM feel better. You will have to go from one Pulpit Pharmacist to another, always seeking that which comforts ME. We are pathetic for even allowing an industry of glamour stars to peddle this too us. We just prove that we are merely religious forms of the Adamic character of the world. Folks, if after your B. Moore therapy sessions, you still have no frustration that the gates of hell have not been moved back on your block, in your workplace, in your schools, in your government, then you have missed our first measure of success as a united people on earth. Seek you first the kingdom, and ALL the internal fixin’ that is needed will follow. Get to know HIM, get to correctly worship Him, and invite Him to get to know you. When He goes into each room, and suggests a major makeover, AGREE with Him. And if only a B. Moore prozac seems to fix you now…guess who is not doing the work.

  28. Beth Moore’s teaching, like much of contemporary Bible teaching, takes a therapeutic approach to understanding and appreciating God. For example, a book of hers with which I am familiar, Get Thee Behind Me, Insecurity goes into great detail (and not unwisely) about how one’s trust in God will make you less insecure or, said slightly differently, true security lies in the faith in God’s (Jesus’s) redemptive power.

    My objection to Ms. Moore’s teaching does not arise from the truth of what she claims. But, rather the huckerish approach to faith. Her message is of a kind and virtually no different from the message that living by the Word will result in gifts of great wealth. In other words, the extent to which Ms. Moore’s teaching is compelling, depends entirely on a faith that is predicated on what faith in God will do for you to make you more secure, a better parent, have more money (or not value money so much), feel better about yourself, not frightened about the future, etc., etc.

    The problem with the therapeutic view of God is that it holds so long as a better therapy doesn’t come along. A more Biblically grounded faith, I would argue, begins and ends with the belief that the purpose of all creation, including man in God’s image, is to (and for) God’s glory alone. When we adopt God’s values and live according to Jesus’s admonition in Matt 22:37 we glorify Him. That’s it. That’s all there is, nothing more. If we become better people in the process, wonderful. But God is not our servant nor our therapist. He is our creater, LORD and Master.

    Blessings,

    Michael

    • Yours seems like a much needed counter balance. Well said. There are parts to her message that come across, TO ME, as escapism, esp. her eschatology, but then again, I’m amill. , so what do I know 🙂

  29. I disagree with her view of women in the church. I’ve noticed that women who immerse themselves in her studies tend to be offended by women who are pressing ahead in ministry, academic studies, professional careers, etc. A corollary or alternative outcome can be that women who are highly competent outside of the church doors become unqualified to pass along their competency within the church except among women or children.

    This outcome appears to be symptomatic of divisiveness and lack of fundamental reconciliation of the primary human alienation after our alienation from Godself in Gen. 3 Churches we have been a part of which had separate women’s classes studying Beth Moore’s books & guides suppressed women in ministry — we never were able to ascertain whether the suppression was involuntary, unwitting, tacit, or deliberate. Some church leaders didn’t even recognize it was happening, and claimed to support women in ministry!

    • I dunno. I’m neither a feminist nor a traditionalist. I can’t recall anything openly problematic (and believe me, I’ve thrown more than one thing across the room as a result of “little submissive female” training; but there seems to be a lot less of that going around these days).

    • Your post strikes a chord with me! Completely! This is why I love the the lack of gender divided ministry in my current church. No more “Men’s Breakfasts’ (catered for by the wives of the men who cook and cleanup while the men have teaching) or women’s coffee meetings where the single/windowed/divorced women run the creche and the women having coffee have teaching equivalent to coffee (short acting, addictive, low on sustenance, instant and quick to complete). For all our difference all of us have the same spiritual needs with our being coming from the same Creator.

  30. “I follow Paul” “I follow Apollos”

    First off, I’m a man and don’t tend to follow Beth Moore’s studies, although I am familiar with her basic beliefs. What I know is that she is orthodox in her teachings, biblically faithful, and many women get a lot out of her teachings.

    So why the smugness and snarkiness over the fact that “she’s just not very deep and a part of what we don’t like about the church right now” I ask?

    Good grief, not everybody is at the exact same spiritual place in their walk with Christ. Not every Christian woman on the planet is ready to delve into a deep study of systematic theology. They just want to know how to be conformed into the image of Jesus while driving their screaming kids to (insert school activity here)…..I can respect that as long as they are growing to a place where they do want to go deeper in their study.

    I think Beth Moore fits the bill for those people.

    If Beth Moore or any other woman wants to teach a group of women about Christ and living for HIm in a biblically faithful way, I have no issue with it. It doesn’t freak me out that maybe she and her conference attendees looks like the average American suburban housewife. It’s not on my radar of daily concerns that those people may be Southern Baptists (gasp!)…..or even worse, act like they are (double gasp!)….

    She has helped a lot of women grow in the Lord and I’m fine with that . The End.

  31. I have enjoyed the Beth Moore studies I have done. That said, I also have learned a lot from Kay Arthur, Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Ann Graham Lotz, and many others. To avoid not being a lost little sheep being hand-fed by who knows who, the Holy Spirit must reign supreme.

    I like co-ed studies, too. A man’s perspective is always going to vary and bring more into the equation.

  32. “What has been your experience with Moore and her teaching ministry? What have you appreciated? What, if anything, concerns you?”

    I have attended or facilitated six Beth Moore studies over the past 10 years. In addition we have done many other studies from different authors and publishers. While we always have several who have a hard time keeping up with the weekly work, the overwhelming majority of the women (at my church) who have been a part of the Beth Moore studies has found them to be excellent. I have seen such a difference in the lives of these women in terms of their Christian walk as well as my own for that matter. The other Bible studies we’ve done from great authors or publishers like John McArthur, Kay Arthur, Navigators, etc. are wonderful, but they don’t seem to have nearly as great an impact on the lives of the participants as the Beth Moore studies.

    The Beth Moore studies prompt the participants to really delve into their Bibles and to grow in their knowledge of God’s Word. I have only positive things to say about her and about the impact her studies have had on my life. It is through the “Breaking Free” study that I truly came to know what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus, so as you can imagine, my gratitude knows no end.

    We are currently in the process of selecting our next Bible study for the coming semester, and the name that comes up more than any other is Beth Moore.

  33. I know this will sound elitist, since I am a man, and an opinionated one at that! But I think the big appeal of Beth Moore is one of style over substance. She is a very gifted communicator, and as has been mentioned above, she takes a rather therapeutic approach in much of her application of the Bible – it is relevant to all your problems. My wife has done a number of her studies and I have read through several of them. Women relate to her because she is ‘real’ and speaks to issues in their lives (I know my wife appreciates that in her). That is her strength (a genuine and appreciated one).

    My real problem with Beth Moore (again at the risk of sounding elitist, this time an academic elitist) is that I think that anyone who presents themselves as an authoritative teacher (whether that be pastor, professor, televangelist on TBN, or mass-media/mass-marketed teacher) should have some academic theological training, rather than a degree in polical science and an honorary doctorate. Her lack of theological training is evident in the works I have read (classic dispensationalism with a lot of folk theology, and a healthy dose of much that is problematic with American evangelical in general). I have stated many times (referring to James 3:1) that teaching or preaching the Bible is serious business – short of God’s grace and sovereignty, people’s eternal destiny rests to some extent in what we teach. Given the awesome responsibilites involved (especially when literally millions up people eat up your every word), I think it behooves one to do as much as possible to ‘get it right’, which, in my not-so-humble opinion, requires some serious training. Would a sensible person lie down on the operating table for brain surgery by someone who heard some good stories from brain surgeons and refers to a few (outdated) reference works?

    • My understanding is that Beth Moore is a Baptist. Do most Baptist seminaries offer this type of theological/pastoral training for women? (I don’t know the answer to this, btw). If they don’t offer this type of training for women, I’m not sure if this is a fair criticism.

      • My wife has a master’s degree in religious education from a Southern Baptist seminary.

      • Incomplete response. Women can and do earn M.Divs at Southern Baptist seminaries as well.

  34. All I know is that every woman I’ve ever known to be a part of BM studies has had to spend a gripload of time doing homework. The other day I heard a rumor that her work wasn’t even exegetical, it’s topical. That blew my mind! This whole time I thought these ladies were working so hard on inductive study! What IS she making y’all do for homework?

    • I dunno. It’s never taken me more than thirty minutes to complete any of the assignments; so I don’t know what takes people so long, either. I think it depends on how much answer you give each question (or you really are trying to hard). And there’s a lot of reading. Um, I read fast (which is why “one minute” devotions are simply pointless for me) and keep it short or skip, so that may be it.

      Also realize that if you put personal questions and women in the same place, you’re going to get a lot of “explanation.” (Which I always think is funny because if it’s your workbook no one else is every going to see it anyway. hehe.)

      So I think it’s mostly that:
      –people read too much into the questions
      –some people go way too long on the personal questions
      –not everyone is a speed-demon reader

      If you’re really curious, I’ll go yank out some questions to post. Won’t take long.

  35. Here is a link to a blog that Beth’s daughter did in response to the CT article. Reading comments to her blog gives a good picture of what women think who have done the studies.

    http://blog.lproof.org/2010/07/a-recent-article.html/comment-page-7#comments

  36. Just a little history before I try to answer the questions.

    My wife and I were separated 16 months several years ago, and during that time she was very publicly leading a “Believing God” study by Beth Moore. Unbenknownst at the time to my wife, I started doing the on-line study of the same name and did it a couple of times.

    At first I was mad that the leaders in our church didn’t remove my wife from leading the study, but after I calmed down I kept my mouth shut because I realized that knowing our circumstances, I truly did not see how if my wife was truly listening to God, He would tell her to get a divorce. By God’s grace with Christ’s help we did reconcile.

    So to answer the first question about why people are attracted to her studies- for myself here are some of the reasons.

    a. Her love for Jesus shines through.
    b. She has an enjoyable style.
    c. She shares alot of scripture and helps you understand the Greek and Hebrew words behind much of it.
    d. She admits that on lots of hard issues she isnt’ sure she knows the answer and she will list some of the arguments on both sides, and then tell which way she leans and why.
    e. She is very authentic with what she shares.

    What has been your experience with Moore and her teaching ministry? Part of my experience has been watching my wife grow spiritually,and the depth and breadth of her Biblical knowledge and her relationship with Jesus has growna alot with the more she has studied under Beth.

    What have you appreciated? See above.

    What, if anything, concerns you? I wish her ministry was more geared to both sexes. I think alot more men need to hear what she has to say. I also wish that at times she was a little more open about some of her past trauma, but it could be that she is protecting people still alive.

  37. I’m a dutch christian and I’ve never heard of her.

  38. I’ve done several studies of hers and the plus sides are pretty much as have been listed already: engaging, vulnerable, easy to understand. However, after awhile pretty much all of the women in our group concurred that we wanted something more. We wanted less proof-texting. We wanted less spoon-feeding. We tried a few other studies and I WILL say that after seeing the other women’s studies out there, there is a certain amount of depth to Beth’s studies that is lacking in many.

    Still, we’ve dropped the ‘fill in the blank’ studies in favor of studies that take us slowly through one book of the Bible, giving us historical background, etc. but leaving the understanding part up to us actually reading and discussing the passages.

  39. I’ve done one of her studies with Priscilla Shirer and Kaye Arthur about David. I really enjoyed it because they didn’t seem to bounce around the bible. They stuck to the story (the good of David as well as the bad) and related it to today’s time. I wouldn’t consider myself a groupie as I don’t go into bookstores looking for her but the items of hers I have fell in my lap by other women I respect. I enjoyed this particular study with the 3 different authors and different ways to study.

    Some people called her studies “lite” but I think she leaves the door open for you to do more research and study. You can just fill in the blanks and not do more, but I think we are putting a lot into the authors hands and not enough in the hands the leaders/readers of these study groups. The leader I had would come every week with insight, commentaries, research and a few of the ladies picked up on her enthusiasm and started to do the same. Our group was diverse from the start, and as we are told from the beginning, the core (or spine) of our faiths are all the same, however its the ribs that are different. We were asked to stick to the core. I’ve made many friends from my group and of our group of 8 women, only 3 came from the same church, we had some who didn’t attend a regular church, others were from a completely different denomination and that fellowship was the best experience I’ve had.

    I thought Beth Moore was insightful and down to earth. I related her. I didn’t feel like she was talking at me or somehow forgot about God or Jesus during this study. I think that’s why women like her, she comes across as down to earth and someone they can relate to.

  40. Having seen people bash Beth Moore and other “big name” preachers/speakers, reading this thread has made me realize a few things…
    1. You could take her name out of much of the above and replace it with any other “big name” speaker or even THEOLOGIAN.
    2. One person mentioned Piper. I know a NT prof at Trinity Theological Seminary who debated Piper. In fact, on the whole “where do women belong in the church” you will find a large number of theologians on both sides of that issue.

    It all comes down to this… no matter how BIG NAME a speaker or even if it’s the pastor of a 50-person church, they all have their flaws, they all interpret scripture differently (major or minor). In the end, it’s my relationship with Christ and my ability to study the word of God myself that matters. If I listen but never read and study, then I’m in a very sorry state.

  41. I have no Idea who Beth Moore is. I will be honest and say that growing up in the ‘church’, I was desperate and determined never to do the whole ‘women’s ministry’ thing. I watched the simpering, submissive women taking the leftovers of teaching, being told to accept what they were given and be joyful. I resented my intended future and rebelled. When I was 16 I was asked to do do a study at Youth Group – I chose Deborah, Barak and Jael. Needless to say, I was never asked to attend or be involved in the Women’s group (relief).

    I did not stay. The church I attend does not have a ‘Women’s Ministry’. I do not buy books aimed at men or women at the local Christian bookshop. I plan to never do so.

    • Ann Marie says:

      I’m heading towards reverting to the Catholic Church, but for the past seven years or so, I was involved in an evangelical church that often went through Beth Moore DVDs/workbooks for their women’s bible studies. The group met in an all-purpose room to watch the DVD, then broke up into smaller groups to discuss the DVD and the homework.

      One thing that’s honest and inspiring about her is that she is open about insecurities caused by being abused as a child. (Sexual abuse, although she didn’t go into specifics.) Since I come from an alcoholic family, I relate to her message that only God can fill the gaps and insecurities that are formed when we don’t feel safe in our childhoods.

      Of course another study could cover the same things, but Moore is very specific about the ways we women try to fill the holes in ourselves, with approval addiction, obsessing about our weight, clinging to the wrong relationships, being overly dependent, envying other women, etc. Maybe some women are beyond that, and if so, I applaud them, but I’ve made a lot of the mistakes Moore discusses and she was very clear about reminding women over and over: You have to fill those holes in yourselves with God, not other people, not approval, not your own anger, not your kids. I don’t have a desire to do another one of her studies, because my theological views are probably quite different than hers now, but I don’t regret the studies I did.

  42. Joe Willoughby says:

    To have a better understanding of the Beth Moore phenomena you must know her story. She never set out to become one of the foremost women’s Bible teachers in America. Rather, she began teaching a small Sunday School class in her home church in Houston. God has given her enormous favor and her influence continues to grow. Her passion for God and His Word is evidenced by her humility as she shares truths gleaned from her daily walk with Him.

    D.L. Moody heard Henry Varley say, “The world has yet to see what God can in and through and with and for a man wholly committed to Him” and responded with “By God’s grace, I will be that man.” Beth Moore is an example of what God will do with a woman wholly committed to Him. She is the real deal and is inspiring others – men included – to be passionate Christ-followers as well.

    • Joe Willoughby says:

      Correction: I should have used the word “phenomenon” instead of “phenomena” in the first sentence.

  43. I continue to be puzzled why Men get all wrapped up into “headship” issues when it comes to the Bible. Sad that Mrs. Moor must caveat her ministry to the men present. If women are incapable of teaching Scripture then why do we allow them to enter the teaching profession at all. This is a place dominated by women…who control 12+ years of education to our children, including our sons. Such nonsense is dark ages patriarchy.

  44. I have gone to Beth M. studies and found them to be a lot of psychobabble with an overlay of Christian vocabulary. It seems that Beth M. thinks all women are depressed, insecure and victims of one sort or another. I’m sure she is a very nice person who means well, but I have found her books completely lacking in theological depth and understanding.

    I really wish my church would offer something of substance rather than Beth Moore. R.C. Sproul has some workbook studies that are not taxing for those without a lot of time or theological background that are sound in doctrine and biblical understanding (one is The Holiness of God). They aren’t filled with fluff, emotionalism and personal stories that are irrelevant, distracting and sometimes embarassingly silly. R.C. does not try to be the star of study, instead his studies focus on Christ. I don’t know of a woman bible teacher who that does that. They all seem to focus attention on themselves.

    Just thinking of going to a Beth Moore study is depressing to me and brings out a rebellious spirit that I regret and for which I have to ask forgiveness. Because I dislike the studies so much and it seems the majority of women LOVE them, it makes me feel isolated and out of sync with other women in the church. I would really love to have something less touchy feely and more
    of substance–so I just don’t participate in women’s bible study. Instead, when I have time, I audit classes at a seminary (Beth Moore seems to hold a dim view of seminaries as per the CT article). If it weren’t for the seminary in my town I’m not sure I’d still be in church–I get so frustrated with the whole evangelical sub culture and lack of substance across the board in worship, bible study, women’s groups, etc.

  45. I am currently working on an article for an apologetics journal that will address the concerns that are out there on Beth Moore’s teaching, primarily her methodology for handling scripture. Her last book, in my opinion, explains why the CT article uncovered an extremely private Beth Moore. In So Long Insecurity….she declares that what she has in common with the apostle Paul is their shared problem with insecurity, citing Paul’s defense of his apostolic authority to the Corinthians (2 Cor). The entire book has a tone of prosperity gospel in the sense that God doesn’t want us to be insecure, to be followers of Christ is to be settled with who we are. This is one of these issues where she’s not entirely wrong, but she taps into to where women are prone to superficiality. Giving sin barely a mention in the book as a root cause of insecurity, she does the opposite of what I think was her intention….for women to focus on God and not themselves. Her motives are well and good, her delivery is abysmal.

  46. The issue with Beth Moore is the issue with a lot of Christian celebs. They are taken at their word, hotly defended, and put on a pedestal from whence they can do no wrong. We are called to be Bereans, to ask questions of what is taught and to square it all up with Scripture.

    Moore is a charismatic speaker who loves the Lord. However, not everything she says should be treated on the same level as the Bible. One small criticism of her teaching brings out the dogs who will defend the most trivial point as if it were on the same level as Christ’s resurrection.

    Moore claims she is not perfect. Unfortunately her followers believe that this means she is perfect. She has a penchant for using her followers to justify certain incidents in her private (yet she made them public) life. She makes statements about these issues yet refuses to answer any followup questions. She seems to want it both ways.

    The bottom line is this. Take Moore with a grain of salt. Read your Bible. Listen to other teachers, preferably a few who aren’t on the million dollar lecture trail, and be willing to listen carefully to those who offer up critique. When a speaker rises to the level of, and even, eclipses Jesus in anyone’s life, it is time to rethink and regroup.