Last week I talked about my difficulties discerning the difference between Christian meditation and Eastern meditation. In order to better define the differences for myself, I’ve been conducting my own research on various discernment ministry websites. Often the sites warn of specific well-known Christians who have embraced the contemplative prayer movement along with other forms of mysticism. One name that has shown up frequently (to my surprise) is Beth Moore.
I’ve completed several of Beth Moore’s Bible studies and I’ve found them helpful (although the last one I participated in was nearly six years ago). The argument I’m seeing from many former New Agers turned Christians is that Beth Moore has offered solid Biblical teachings in the past but seems to be moving toward mysticism in recent years.
Christine Pack at Sola Sisters speaks highly of Beth Moore but expresses disappointment and concern for the direction of Beth Moore’s ministry.
The New Age “God” is an impersonal essence, or energy, or vibration, and somehow, people find ways to tap into this God for the usual things (power, love, success); or, they access or experience this “God,” through various mystical practices.
So with this as my background, I went into the Praying God’s Word Bible study by Beth Moore, and I was just completely undone when I came to an understanding that the God of the universes would not only allow us, but want us to pray directly to him, to come boldly before the Throne of grace, and into his very presence. … Seems pretty remedial doesn’t it? But this was an entirely new concept to me, so much so that in the middle of one class, I was so overcome with joy about knowing, finally knowing really and truly, how to speak to God that I began to weep so profusely… So for that study alone, I have tremendous goodwill toward Beth Moore. To this day, I pray using the principles for prayer as taught to me in that class… And that is why I’m deeply, deeply grieved to have watched Beth Moore slowly become more and mystical in both her manner of speech and her teaching over time.
Is Beth Moore dabbling in non-biblical forms of prayer?
Last week I ran across a video from the 2012 Passion Conference. In it Beth Moore and others, including Francis Chan and John Piper, stand on a stage before the projected words “Jesus, speak to me.” Each person reads a passage of scripture and then says something like, “Be still and let Jesus speak.”
Below is Beth Moore’s Bible reading and then her call to “be still”.
My first impression of the video was that it is a bit odd. Not the Bible reading, but the call to “let Jesus speak”.
Hasn’t Jesus already spoken? At the cross he said “It is finished”.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30 NIV)
And in Revelation aren’t we told, For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19 NKJV)?
Granted, I may be reading too much into the above verses, and I’m not saying that facetiously. Maybe when Jesus said “It is finished” he simply meant his time on earth was finished. And maybe in Revelation “this book” only refers to Revelation and not the entire Bible. However, what I’ve taken the above verses to mean is Jesus Christ paved the road to salvation roughly 2,000 years ago. The work is already completed. Jesus has already spoken. Everything we need to know about the nature of the triune God is in the Bible. (Emphasis on need to know. There is much about God not expressed within the pages of the Bible, but those things are not essential to our eternal salvation, so they have been safely and, we can trust, wisely omitted.)
With this in mind, consider what John Piper said about the unidirectional aspect of prayer during one of his sermons (thank you, Sola Sisters for the transcription):
(You might ask me) why don’t you just say (prayer), then, is communicating with God? That would be a little less awkward than ‘intentionally conveying a message.’ Why don’t you just say, prayer is communicating with God? And here’s the reason I tried that and rejected it. It’s because it sounds when you say that like you mean you’re communicating that way (pointing up to heaven) and He’s communicating this way (pointing down to himself), and that’s prayer. And that’s not prayer. The Bible never calls God’s communication to us ‘prayer.’ Never. And we get ourselves into a big muddle when we concoct phrases to that effect. Like his talking to us is a kind of prayer. It isn’t.
Now consider this video of John Piper praying at Passion 2012. If you don’t have time watch the entire video, fast forward to minute five where Piper says “Be quiet and ask the Lord to speak.”
No wonder I’m confused. In one sermon, Piper says prayer isn’t a two-way communication, and then in another sound bite, he tells us to “be quiet” and let Jesus speak. What exactly am I listening for? An audible recitation of scripture by Jesus Christ himself?
I realize Beth Moore and John Piper are both very popular Christian figures, and as a result, this post may come across as a bit controversial. My intent isn’t to stir up trouble, but perhaps simply to state: This bothers me. The whole “listening for Jesus to speak” bothers me. My question to those who are reading is, Does it bother you?