This is part one of my review of Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live simulcast that aired on September 12, 2015. It is a follow-up to my posts Evaluating Beth Moore’s Upcoming Live Simulcast and Class on Discernment: Living Proof Live Simulcast. This a review about the teachings presented at the simulcast, not a judgment about Mrs. Moore personally. My purpose is to evaluate the teachings biblically for my sake, for the sake of the women who watched the simulcast, and for the sake of any woman who is interested in these matters. I am also mindful of the church at large.
I watched the simulcast from home. In order to view it, I had to purchase a digital pass from Lifeway. The pass gave me access to the live broadcast and to a recording of the simulcast that is available online until November 15th. That came in handy for writing this review. I ended up watching it repeatedly. There was a lot to cover; and I did additional research pertaining to the message of the simulcast. All this along with health issues is why this review took a while to get done.
The simulcast was broadcasted live from Wichita, Kansas. At the beginning, we were told that 150,000 women (“and a few brave men“) were participating. Based on my notes from last year’s review, this was 40,000 less than the 2014 simulcast. Why the drop? I don’t know. There could be lots of reasons, but one possibility is that more and more churches and individuals have become aware that there are problems with some of Mrs. Moore’s teachings and practices. These problems are significant enough to merit breaking off from her ministry. They have been documented online in many places. Because of that, doing a background check is not hard. I encourage you to do so if you haven’t. Perhaps you are doing that right now and that’s why you’re here. If so, I pray this review aids you in your research. It is so important that we examine our teachers closely. (Acts 17:10-11)
We were also told that 691 churches were participating. Each church pays to participate. The cost varies depending on the size of the church. Based on the pricing that I saw online, it looks like the simulcast brought in at least $485,000. This is based on the lowest price possible. It’s very likely that the total was a lot more especially when you add in other sales like books and non-church audiences. That’s a lot of money for a Bible teaching ministry to gross for one event. Is that hard evidence that something is amiss? Some may think so. At the very least, it’s a red flag.
The theme of the simulcast was connected to Mrs. Moore’s new book Audacious. The book was mentioned as well as its main message. I don’t know how closely the message of the simulcast lines up with the contents of the book since I haven’t read it, but I can share the message I heard.
At the beginning of the simulcast I continued my prayers for discernment and got my pen and notebook ready. Like the simulcast last year, there were three teaching sessions. We heard some Bible teaching and some personal experiences. Mrs. Moore was energetic and intense. She was friendly and emotional. Personally, I wasn’t moved or convicted during the event; but I understand others might have had a different experience. As tends to be the case with a Beth Moore event or publication, there was a mixture of good and not good. There were also some things I would classify as weird. In this post, I will address only one thing. It is not good, and is one of the biggest concerns I have with the simulcast. It’s import enough to focus on separately from everything else. I will cover other things in Part Two, Lord willing.
The Main Mighty Maker
The concern that I will be addressing in this post involves one of the “mighty makers” that was given during the simulcast. We were given six mighty makers. They all had to do with having the audacity to do something. I don’t know if the six mighty makers are in the bookAudacious, but I imagine it’s likely. I know at least the first one is. That is the one I will address here. I plan on listing and reviewing the others in Part Two.
According to Mrs. Moore, “mighty makers” are things we can do to make sure we get on a list that will be in heaven of the mighty men and women who were willing to stand up and fight the good fight with the shield of faith and sword of the Spirit. No Bible verse was given for this list or for her claim that her “mighty makers” will get us on it. What was given was her belief that “There will be chronicles of the wars that have taken place on the globe, when we get to heaven. I mean, how can there be much of a doubt in our minds that all of this will be on record somewhere?” She said, “And you want on that list and so don’t I because I was called to be a mighty woman of God.”
Mrs. Moore has a lot of confidence in her “mighty makers” She said this about them. “There is no way around any one of them.” She felt very strongly about the first one. She said this about it, “This is foremost, number one, and it’s the part of it that makes me want to sob my eyes out.” She also said, “This is what the book is. (Audacious) It goes totally with the love thing. It is the one thing it is about.”
Since Mrs. Moore said that the first “mighty maker” was the one thing the book Audacious is about and having heard other statements that connected it with the description of the bookAudacious, I believe it is safe to conclude that the first “mighty maker” is the unnamed thing that is referred to as the “missing link” in the description. If you have read the description or saw my post Evaluating Beth Moore’s Upcoming Live Simulcast, you may be quite eager to find out what the unnamed thing is. It was presented as something quite incredible. I know I was eager. By way of review, the description of the book tells us there was something missing from Mrs. Moore’s vision for women. The description also states that this same thing is what women were aching for and what Jesus was longing for. It says it is for all of us and that it is the path to the life we were born to live. These are incredible claims. I had been wondering about what this unnamed thing could be. Well, now I know.
“The audacity to make an unseen Savior the supreme romance of your life.”
The teaching surrounding this “mighty maker” was a proposal given to us by Mrs. Moore to enter into a supreme romance with Jesus. According to Mrs. Moore, that is what we were created for.
During this part of the simulcast, things started with a lament for the loss of romance. Mrs. Moore said that we “are in desperate need of the redemption of romance in our day.” She went on to say that, “Now it’s been true since the garden that all romance just kinda went into the dirt in complete crumbs and crumbles because of what happened in the garden.” She then listed several things that we have like betrayal, infidelity, deceptions, divorce, abandonment, prostitution, sexual perversion, and someone falling out of love with us. She said nothing is left to the imagination and we have rampant pornography. She said romance is gone and we need it so badly. She added that there is supposed to be some mystery in our romance. A definition of the noun romance was given from Merriam Webster’s. Mrs. Moore crossed out some things she said didn’t apply and underlined things that were stressed. (She stopped at number three. Number four says “love affair”. The verb form was not shared, but is worth a look. Just scroll past the noun definition.) Here is a mock-up of the screen she shared.
ro●mance (Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary)
1 a (1) : a medieval tale(substitute “a real-time truth”) based on legend, chivalric loveand adventure, or the supernatural
(2) : a prose narrative treating imaginary characters (substitute “a very real Savior and very human humans”) involved in events remote in time or place and usuallyheroic, adventurous, or mysterious
(3) : a love story especially in the form of a novel
b : a class of such literature
2: something (as an extravagant story or account) that lacks (substitute “has”) basis in fact
3: an emotional attraction or aura belonging to an especially heroic era, adventure, oractivity
After going over it, she asked us, “You think you could use a little romance?”
I am sharing this part of the teaching to illustrate that Mrs. Moore’s idea of romance is very human. Why that matters will become clearer in a moment. First, here’s more of the teaching.
Some quotes and teachings about this romance
1. “I am suggesting to you that there is a sacred romance that will wake you all up.”
2. “It is His will. It is His desire. If you would let Him, He would romance you, He would romance you, He would romance you and in such a way you will never ever ever lose, find Him falling out of love with you, moving on from you, getting bored with you, or anything else.”
3. “Lord, call us back to love, to love and the most wonderful romance that we were created for.”
4. Mrs. Moore said that when we get to heaven, in spite of all we’ve been through on earth, if Jesus became the driving desire of our lives, we will say to him, “You know what? You were a blast. You were a blast. My life wasn’t a blast; a whole lot of it wasn’t very fun. But I’m gonna tell You something, You romanced me and You woo’d me and You pursued me and I think You are a blast.”
I am very confident that I will not say these words to Jesus, nor would I ever speak to him in a way I would deem disrespectful. In heaven, I will be overtaken by his awesomeness, not chatting with him like he was my high school boyfriend.
5. Mrs. Moore shared a story with us about some time she spent alone one week to get some work done. She said that the Lord Jesus had been romancing her. She was not specific about how or what he did. She also said that at the same time the enemy was being relentless. She was having all sorts of technical difficulties like the air conditioner shutting down, the Wi-Fi going out, and the printer running out of ink while trying to finish the work. She said it was just torment. During that week, she took a walk on the beach in the morning. When she got out there, there was no one there. She said Jesus cleared the beach for her and that he would do things like that for us (but not every day) once we begin what she has been teaching and say to Jesus, “I want You to be the supreme romance of my life.”
While she was on the beach she got caught in a very dark thunder and lightning storm. There was only one area of the sky where the sun was shining. She thought she was going to die. She hollered out to God and began to twirl and dance. She had an umbrella but intentionally never opened it. She said, “It was one of the most romantic moments I have ever had with Jesus.”
6. Mrs. Moore taught that what “makes for certain” that we “step into the life we were born to live” is for Jesus to be the supreme romance of our life.
7. Mrs. Moore connected romance with Jesus with the “first love” of Revelations 2:4. Additionally, based on the fact that the Greek work for “left” in verse 4 is translated “forgiveness” in verses Luke 23:34 and Matthew 6:14, another connection was made between holding on to unforgivness and having Jesus be our first love. (I will address this connection in Part Two of my review in the section about Bible interpretation.) It was taught that there is a reason Jesus is not our first love: unforgiveness is taking up the same space our first love would take up. We were told that some may say they have wanted Jesus to make himself their first love, praying for it for years; but it hasn’t happened. She said the reason why was “The fervor of it, the passion of it (unforgiveness) is taking up the same place. (parentheses mine) And “Your unforgiveness is taking up the space of your first love for Jesus.”
Later we were walked through a physical demonstration of letting go of unforgiveness and entering into a supreme romance with Jesus.
“The whole objective today has been to enter into the supreme romance that we were born for. It’s not meant to do any harm to any other relationship.”
We were asked to stand and hold up our hands and internally name the things we are letting go and give them to God. After we let things go, we had room now; so Mrs. Moore prayed for God to fill our hearts. She prayed, “So here, Lord, Here’s our hearts. Would You perform a wonder over them today and begin to take them over? Romance and woo us, Lord.” We were told to cross our open palms against our chest and told this “Say I receive You. Tell Him, I want You Lord to be the supreme romance of my life.” A little bit later she prayed, “I pray, Father, that as of this day, 150,000 women will begin the greatest romance of their lives and that You will redeem romance for all of us who have need to believe that it still exists and that it is sacred and it is holy and that it is everything we were reborn for.”
8. Backing up in the day, while encouraging us that things would be more than just all right for us, Mrs. Moore said, “You’re going to live happily ever after.” She continued, “And Jesus says Himself. He’s going to say, ‘Enter into your Master’s happiness. Enter in, Cinderella, you will live happily ever after.’” (I couldn’t tell if this entire quote was attributed to Jesus or if it was Mrs. Moore’s words from the second “enter”. There was no obvious switch in the speaker, however.)
Mrs. Moore’s teaching about entering into a supreme romance with Jesus was new to me and didn’t sit right with me immediately. I was disappointed to hear it. I did consider that she might just be putting a biblical concept into creative language or language women could relate to. We are a romantic bunch after all. Maybe a reference to loving Jesus more than anything we “can see, touch or feel” is all I should focus on. In spite of these thoughts, my serious misgivings about the teaching remained; so I tested it more thoroughly. I went through a process involving prayer, thinking, and the Bible that I would like to share with you. The process is not difficult or extraordinary, but it is important for discernment.
- Before, during, and after the simulcast I prayed for discernment. I rely on the Lord’s help in this work.
- When I test a teaching, I always consider the source. Are they reliable? Are there any known problems? Considering the source is important. It’s not a perfect way to test a teaching, but it is helpful. In this case, I knew that Mrs. Moore was not entirely reliable. I had seen a mix of good and bad things from her in the past, so I knew I needed to examine things closely. This doesn’t mean I was closeminded.
- When I test a teaching, I also check to see if I’ve ever heard it before. This is an important question for two reasons. First, there may be legitimate Bible teachings that we have not heard yet. We should be open to the idea that we don’t know everything and may need to adjust our understanding. Conversely, a “new” teaching could indicate a problem, especially if you’ve been a student of the word for years. If you haven’t heard it before, it is important to ask why, especially if it’s as important as Mrs. Moore’s teaching is purported to be. Remember, she taught that this romance was what we were created and reborn for. In this case, in the almost 28 years that I’ve been a Christian, I had never heard any pastor, author, or teacher teach that I should make Jesus the supreme romance of my life. So, this certainly raised my caution level.
- I also ask if the teaching reminds me of anything. It’s interesting how certain erroneous themes show up again and again. Mrs. Moore’s teaching did remind of something that I had been aware of for a long time, the objection that some contemporary Christian music sounds more like a love song between two people than something pertaining to God. Please see more about this in my post Romance with Jesus: The Bigger Picture. It is a companion post to this review.
- When I test a teaching, I want to be fair; so I step back and question my understanding of it. Am I hearing it right and interpreting it correctly? I listened and relisted to the simulcast. There were not just one or two mentions of romance with Jesus. As you can see above, it was repeated a lot. There were even more than I listed. I believe I “got” what she was trying to say.
- The most important questions I ask when I test a teaching involve the Bible. I ask, were any Bible verses used to support the teaching? I also ask, where in the Bible does it say (insert teaching in question)? In this case, I neither knew of nor found any verses that said that Jesus is supposed to be the “supreme romance” of my life. Additionally, during the simulcast, no verses were given that spoke about romance with Jesus. This is a critical point. A Bible teaching that is not supported by Bible verses is big trouble. Revelation 2:4was mentioned because it says “first love”, but that is not sufficient. What that first love is has been spoken of as a love for Jesus and/or fellow Christians in numerous commentaries. In other words, there are varying opinions about the meaning. Additionally, even if it means our love for Jesus, there is no biblical basis to romanticize it. It wasn’t said during the simulcast, but I wonder if this equivocation to romance is being made because of our modern day understanding of the expression “first love”. It can be quite romantic. We all remember our first love, in other words, our first boyfriend. But is that really what Revelation 2:4 is speaking about? I don’t see romance there. First love is “prōtos agapē” Prōtos according to Strong’s Greek dictionary means “foremost (in time, place, order or importance)” So this love could be one or a combination of these. If it is time, then the Christians in the church in Ephesus had moved away from an earlier expression of love they once had. Jesus was calling them back to the agapē (which is not romantic love) they had left. If it is order or importance then I consider first love to mean preeminence, not unlike how Jesus was called “the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15) or how David was called firstborn, though he was the youngest son of Jesse. (Psalms 89:20, 27) The love spoken of would therefore be a chief love. Again, I see no sense of romance there.
- In working to understand a teaching I look for the foundation. Mrs. Moore did make reference to loving Jesus supremely above all else. So I ask, how was this love defined? Was it defined biblically? No it wasn’t. This is a critical point. It gets to the bottom of the teaching. In order for it to hold up, a biblical definition must be used. Unfortunately, what I heard being taught was a love that was consistently shaped by the idea of romance.
- So then I ask, how was the idea of romance defined? Besides an attempt to see romance in Psalms 63:1-4, the idea of romance that was given was clearly and consistently based on human experiences and relationships, even drawing on a dictionary definition. Mrs. Moore used Psalms 63:1-4 as an example to show that her teaching about making Jesus the supreme romance of your life applied to men too. But while those verses speak of the strong need David had for God and the deep appreciation he had for God’s lovingkindness and how he wanted to praise God, I see no reason to call that romance.
- Since a human understanding of romance was relied on and no Bible verses speak about romance with Jesus, the relationship that Mrs. Moore encouraged us to enter into with the Son of God will need to completely rely on our own imaginations and experiences of what romance is. Please don’t read this point too quickly. It’s very important.
- The result is that we will shape the relationship. We will approach Jesus on our own terms, not on his terms.
- God and his word should be the source we use for how we relate to him, not our idea of romance. Any other way will fall short. The Bible has plenty of instruction about this. We only have to look.
- This teaching is a backwards approach to God. It starts with sinful man’s understanding and goes up to God, instead of starting with God and his word.
- The idea of romance with Jesus cheapens the relationship we are actually supposed to have with him by overlaying it with that human experience. Romance with Jesus is not what I was created for or reborn for. It is so much more.
- As a follow-up to my evaluation of a Bible teaching or even during it, I often ask is anyone else teaching it? This is something I considered in the days after the simulcast. I got online and searched for the teaching of romance with Jesus. I have found it helpful to see if a teaching is widely accepted by the church or teachers I know and respect or if it is only being taught by the one teacher or a small or aberrant group of teachers. I got results that were very interesting. I share some in my companion post Romance with Jesus: The Bigger Picture. In that post there’s also information about the statement in the description of the book Audacious that this teaching had been missing from Mrs. Moore’s vision for women. Apparently, it had been missing from her vision; but not from her personal life.
- I also ask where this teaching could lead. Could it have any negative ramifications? I touch on answers to these two questions in my companion post, but I think someone could write a book about it. What I found raised my concern to a whole new level. Would you be surprised to find out that some women have taken the idea of romance with Jesus so far as to see his face, lie in bed with him, and go on dates with him? I was.
Better than Romance
Mrs. Moore promoted romance as the way, but I believe it is unbiblical and devoid of any real substance. It may not seem empty since romance can be so exciting; but it is devoid of real substance because our ideas of romance are flawed with sin and far below what God wants for us.
Thinking of approaching Jesus through romance causes every cell in my body to recoil. Yes, I’m being dramatic. It’s more like I shudder in my spirit over the idea of approaching my holy, all powerful, sovereign, merciful yet righteously wrathful, glorious Lord and Savior with the human notion of romance instead of approaching him with awe and love based on what I know of him through his word. I dare not rely on my own personal experience with romance and my own imagination of what that must look like to relate to him. What I have with Jesus is far, far better than romance. He taught me how to love him through his word. Because of what I know about him I cannot but help love him and in that love have all fullness of joy.
Oh, how I wish a solid, biblical love for Christ based on everything that he is and everything he has done was preached at the simulcast, not the human idea of romance. Those in attendance were short changed in a sad way. I hope some in attendance will release this human notion of romance with Jesus and find true joy and peace in loving him biblically.
The topic of romance with Jesus is big and important. It involves our understanding of how we relate to God. I am not new to studying how we relate to God either individually or corporately. I have been studying the relationship between Christ and his church, his bride, for years both for the sake of my marriage ministry and for my own interests. I have repeatedly studied all the verses about marriage and read every mention in the Bible where God calls himself husband or is called husband. I know that some see Song of Solomon as an allegory for God and Israel or Christ and the church. I have heard sermons and read commentaries, books, and articles on marriage and on the love between us and Jesus. Never in all that did I come to the conclusion that there is a biblical basis for me to enter into a romance with him, even if it is the supreme romance of my life. Mrs. Moore has not convinced me either.
I have seen and read enough elsewhere to know there are those who embrace the idea of romance with Jesus and will not see this as a reason to question Mrs. Moore as a reliable Bible teacher, but I do. I stand by the conclusion that I came to last year after watching the simulcast of 2014. I cannot recommend her as a teacher nor would I use her material myself.
I have one final thought for now. Do you wonder if some of the pastors who brought Mrs. Moore’s teachings about romance with Jesus onto their pulpits via the simulcast would suffer a man preaching the same things to their whole congregations? I do. I believe women Bible teachers should be held to the same standards as men. The women in the audience deserve to be looked after and have the best teachers possible. We don’t need a watered down, sensational, and emotional girly gospel to relate to Jesus. We need solid preaching of the word of God.
So much more could be said about this subject, but this is long enough for now. I need to turn my attention to Part Two. I thank you for your patience, and I invite you to come back again when the next one is up.
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Authors: Sharon Lareau