Earlier today I reviewed a couple articles critiquing Beth Moore. Increasingly, her critics notice what they call her narcigesis. Narcigesis is a recently coined term describing the practice of interpreting a passage of Scripture as an allegory about one’s personal spiritual experience. Matt Slick’s C.A.R.M. article on Moore cites several examples of her poor exegesis, including this one:
Quote: “As stated in the introduction to this book, we may not always be sure God wills to heal us physically in this life of every disease or prosper us with tangible blessings, but He always wills to free us from strongholds. You will never have to worry about whether you are praying in God’s will concerning strongholds. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” (Gal. 5:1)(Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds by Beth Moore, B & H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tenn., 2009, p. 36, italics in original)
Response: The context of Gal. 5:1 is dealing with being under the law (Gal. 4:21). Paul contrasts children under the law and “children of promise” (Gal. 4:28). Paul was warning the Galatians about being enslaved to the Mosaic law, which is why he says in the next verse ” . . . that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.” Beth Moore has improperly applied a verse, taking it out of its original context and meaning, and used it in a manner for which it was not intended–as the Biblical context demonstrates.
As I read through Slick’s article, my mind went back to all the sermons, Bible Studies, books and women’s retreats where I saw this hermeneutic applied. I remembered two women’s Bible Study leaders in particular that consistently taught using that methodology. At the time I attended their Tuesday morning meetings, I believed that they rightly applied the Bible to modern spiritual struggles. Slick’s article tempted me to resent those two women (as well as other leaders in Charismatic churches) for teaching me this illegitimate way to study and apply God’s Word. Shame on them!
Then, to my horror, I remembered all the counseling letters I wrote for Love In Action in which I did the same thing. Shame on me, both for misusing the Bible and for self-righteously throwing stones at those who taught me. Shame on me for looking down my sanctimonious nose at Beth Moore! Praise God for His correction and forgiveness!
Beth Moore definitely needs to be called out for her irresponsible handling of God’s Word, so please don’t misunderstand me as excusing her behavior. On the other hand, please do understand that Moore has most likely learned, as I did, that Scripture lends itself to allegorical interpretation. We must judge her narcigesis as being disrespectful to the Scripture she professes to love and harmful to the people who sit under her teaching, but we must also pray that the Holy Spirit will gently lead her to repentance.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.~~Galatians 6:1 (ESV)
Matt Slick’s article didn’t change my conviction that Beth Moore is a false teacher who poses a great danger to the Body of Christ (for several reasons). But it did remind me that I once practiced one of her most glaring errors. That humbling knowledge helps me pray that the Lord will show her the same compassion He’s shown me.