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Posted: 01/11/12

We're Really Not Out To "Get" John Piper and Beth Moore

Posted by Christine Pack and Cathy Mathews

The Passion 2012 conference recently finished the Atlanta leg of its tour, with notable keynote speakers Dr. John Piper and Beth Moore among the lineup. A controversy erupted when it appeared that during one segment of the conference that the speakers on stage (including Dr. Piper and Beth Moore) were engaging in some kind of mystical experience, that had similarities to the Roman Catholic mystical practice of Lectio Divina. It was also simultaneously reported that John Piper's Desiring God website had published a post by writer Jonathan Parnell in which Christians were actually encouraged to incorporate the practice of Lectio Divina into their prayer lives. The blogosphere erupted with discussion about both of these things, including our own blog and Facebook page, with some commenters confused, some not surprised by this development, and also a large contingent of commenters I'll call the Matthew Seven One-ers ("Who are you to judge!") calling us out for, that's right, judging.


With all that in mind, my sister and I would like to answer to the charge that we're hatin' haters who just want to hate on people. So this post is written in an effort to show that neither one of us is out to "get" either Dr. Piper or Beth Moore.

First, Dr. Piper....

Dr. Piper is highly respected in the evangelical community, and for good reason. He has written scores of very biblical books and articles, he is pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, and is known for being a staunch protector and defender of the purity of the gospel. This is why his apparent veering from the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura (or, the idea that we hear from God through Scripture alone) by his participation in a seemingly mystical practice and his website's outright endorsement of Lectio Divina is all the more distressing.

My sister, who came out of the same New Age mysticism that I did, has written before about there being a time, when she was a very new Christian, that John Piper's teaching actually helped her get free of mysticism. In fact, she credits this particular video as being instrumental in helping her understand the biblical model for prayer:

At about the two minute mark in the above video, John Piper makes the following statement which is just a wonderful teaching on the biblical practice of prayer:
John Piper: "(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."
Cathy's comment:
"One of the saddest things to me is that John Piper actually helped me come out of my Christian mysticism. When I began realizing that a lot of what is called Christian teaching these days is just pagan practices sprinkled with Christian terminology and some Bible verses, I looked to the Bible and to good Bible teachers to help me answer two basic questions: How does God communicate with us? And what is prayer? It was some teaching by John Piper specifically on that second question that really helped me. He was very clear: prayer is us talking to God- it is not like a telephone conversation where I talk and then God talks. I came to the realization that God speaks to us through scripture. I could stop looking for signs and clues and hunches and feelings- I could just read God's Word and know that God was speaking clearly and openly to me. It was so freeing."
And in fact, after Cathy made this comment on a recent blog post, in reflecting back I also remembered how she had labored over this issue with me when I was a new Christian and she was discipling me. She really worked to help me understand this strange new concept of how it is that God communicates with us. It was extremely freeing for me as well, having come out of mysticism, where you're always trying to figure out out if the sign/nudge/dream/vision/impression/etc. that you received was really from God. It was just, open up your Bible and read. Really?? Really. So freeing So unmystical. Not to mention, so biblical.

Now for Beth Moore....
"Thank you God, that you are trustworthy. Thank you that you promise to make our paths straight. Please help us to acknowledge you in all our ways."
This is the prayer that my 10 year old son prayed this morning during Bible study, based on principles for praying that I taught him. I learned these principles for prayer from a Bible study by Beth Moore (Praying God's Word), one of the first Bible studies I ever took. Before the class had begun, I remember being so curious about what was meant by the title of the book: how could one "pray God's word?" What did that mean? Now remember, I had come out of New Age Hinduism and paganism. There is no concept of a personal God in the New Age. In the New Age, there are lots and lots and lots of techniques from lots of different cultures that are used as a means to get to "God" - so there is some understanding of there being a "God" out there. But there's not at all a biblical understanding of God: that God is not only transcendent but He is also personal. God is a God who not only hears the prayers of his people, but He also has the power to answer them. He is a God who not only intimately and deeply cherishes his people, but He also disciplines them if need be, as a loving parent would discipline his children. These are just completely foreign concepts about God for New Agers. 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. The class consisted of each member being given an acrylic holder that contained a large number of small index cards on which Scripture was written. We were taught to read the Scripture, dwell on the passage for a few minutes, and then pray the Scripture back to God. 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 uncontrollably I couldn't even explain to my (concerned!) friends why I was crying. 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 have now taught these principles to my own children. 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.

So back to the Passion 2012 conference. If you happen to click on the Passion 2012 graphic at the top of this post, you will see a tagline that says:

My question is this: Do 18-25 year olds living in our postmodern culture really need to be encouraged to think of God in mystical, subjective and experiential terms (as the Passion 2012 Conference seemed to be teaching)? Is it wise to model to them that prayer is praying, then listening for God's words in response (as Dr. John Piper, Beth Moore, Francis Chan and Louie Giglio did in Session 5)? Is it biblical?

I would submit, in fact, that 18-25 year olds of today are already far too experiential and subjective in their worldview. They need to be re-trained to understand, as John Piper has taught so eloquently in the past, that biblical prayer is "intentionally conveying a message to God," not praying, and then listening for God's audible answer back to us.

May we all strive to be more biblical in how we approach God, remembering that He detests mystical practices, and continually seek to conform our prayer life as closely as possible to the biblical model for what that should be.
Distributed by

By Christine Pack

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Peipr & Moore
Posted On: 01/19/12 06:44:53 PM Age 0, TX
Right on Addie K. Miller. For years there has been one movement after another with people wanting to "be where the Spirit" is moving, only to be caught up in another deceptive gospel, not the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Give me the good old King James where you can research the original usage of words and gain a clearer meaning and the context of a scripture. Scripture twising abd deceptive teaching go hand in hand.

General revelation
Posted On: 01/19/12 04:44:46 PM Age 0, MN
Just wanted to respond to the last post. I believe in traditional theological terms, "general revelation" refers to God's revealing of His majesty, creativity, etc. through the creation. Scripture would normally be called "special revelation", in the sense that it is a special revealing of God's character, above and beyond what can be found in nature, to those who receive the bible. But I agree that there is another category of God's communication to us, which consists of the Holy Spirit's conviction of sin, illumination of scripture, and sometimes even specific guidance for life decisions or promptings about specific actions or ministries. But what would this category be called? I suppose something like "extra-biblical revelation". I think the problem is that people tend to think that the relationship between general and special revelation is similar to the one between special revelation and extra-biblical revelation. But that could not be further from the truth. Special revelation is above and beyond general revelation and overshadows it and corrects it in every sense. But extra-biblical revelation on the other hand is lower than biblical special revelation. For example if we feel that the Holy Spirit has powerfully prompted us to engage in an adulterous relationship, because there is some special exception for our case, we need to just ignore that and obey God's clear word on adultery. So the bible trumps extra-biblical revelation in every case, never the other way around. So I would say, go ahead with "Lectia whatever", just don't ever think that you are going to get some experience or guidance from it that will supersede scripture. I think another point is that the promptings we receive from God's Holy Spirit are from within - since He lives inside of believers. So that makes them a bit hard to distinguish sometimes from our own fleshly imaginations, emotions, and desires. That's why the written word is so important for final guidance, in this life.

The Folly of Cessationism
Posted On: 01/19/12 07:26:06 AM Age 0, TX
In the mission of heresy hunting, one must be both sensitive and specific. Sensitivity means not missing error ,while specificity means discerning what is wrong without FALSE Positives. Over sensitivity is like an autoimmune disorder. Here our immune system attacks what is good. Lupus, scleraderma and rheumatoid arthritis are medical examples of where our means of immune defense is tricked to turn against us. Such hypervigilance is unfortunately rampant in the Bible Churches, which believe that God only communicates to us through Scripture. Sure there are problems with Christians who undiscerningly believe that God 'speaks' to them. There are counterfeit, lying spirits; however, Scripture gives us guidance to help us in judging such extra-Scriptural communication. There are also counterfeit Christian leaders, who use deception in order to manipulate and fleece the flock. Then there are those truly anointed with supernatural gifts, but whom Satan hijacks in order to capture and direct those gifts against God's purposes. Nevertheless, heresy hunters need to be careful that they are not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. While sticking with Scripture is like Ulysses binding himself to the mast of his ship to avoid the temptation of the Sirens, one must consider that gifts will cease when that which is perfect comes. That which is perfect is Jesus Christ. Last time I checked, the head of the church is still separated from the body. Ergo, the full spectrum of spiritual gifts persist throughout the Church Age. However, true gifts must NEVER contradict Scripture.

Beth Moore
Posted On: 01/18/12 02:27:31 PM Age 0, MI
When I first heard about Beth Moore, I researched her on the Internet. At that time there was an article on her site in which she stated that men were asking to sit in on her classes. After discussion with her pastor, men were allowed. Since the Bible notes that women are not to have authority over men in spiritual matters, this was the first red flag to me about her teachings. When a person varies from such a plain Biblical principle, one can rightly assume there are other variations as well.

Appeal Only to Scripture for doctrine
Posted On: 01/18/12 05:56:48 AM Age 0, VA
Great point, however, if you are appealing only to scripture for doctrine, I don't see how you can get away from the fact that there is no scripture to defend something like the, "Jesus Speak to Me." that was posted on the back screen at the conference. For one thing, we pray to God the Father, through Jesus, but I don't see any prayers in the Bible that are TO Jesus directly so it's a jump to ask Jesus to speak back to us when the model for Biblical praying is to the Father. Secondly, if you do a study on the verbs that are used describing the ministry of the Holy Spirit, you will find words like, "led, walk, dwells, testifies" etc. in relation to a believer. However, "speak/speaking" words or implications are either to the Father in prayer ("intercedes for us") or to unbelievers in order to proclaim the gospel. I just can't think of any scripture that might be used to defend the idea that "Jesus speaks to me" directly. I would feel more comfortable if the text on the back of the screen had been scripture. Of course, I might be missing something here, but again, I just can't think of any scripture that would have fit that particular request.

A little harsh maybe?
Posted On: 01/18/12 04:08:12 AM Age 0, AUSTRALIA
There is a form of Lecto Divinia that is definitely wrong, however is not meditating on scripture the same. Say a verse comes to mind whilst walking, is that not at least at a slight level the holy spirit speaking to a person? I understand that if a person is waiting for an audiable voice, or waiting for some kind of thing to hold onto as a message from God it is wrong, but to state that wanting to hear from God in a non literal sense does not seem wrong. It also seems Pharasaical. These people knew the Law backwards, but just words alone were not enough. A Christians life is one of faith, not just stone cold knowledge. Why does the Bible ask us to test the spirits, if the concept itself is something unbiblical. Why not just state, if you hear a voice in your head, or an idea comes to mind it is all unscriptural. What about people God saves, who have never heard the gospel message. People in remote areas of cultures where God 'Damascus road' style elects a person. (please bloggers and morons, I am not saying Jesus actually appears to people, I mean God speaks to a person via some form or another, ie dream, angel etc). Sola Scriptura can be a form of godless religion if it means that God is only bound by things specifically communicated in his word. Why would there be a need for discernment if the Bible was enough on its own. Ok quick summary then. If something lines up to critical comparison to scripture, howeve has come in a format not specifically endorsed by the Bible, are we to say that God is Sovereign, but must submit to his word. Is God actually able to do something according to his will, that is not specifically stipulated in Scripture. Additionally what has Dr Piper's response been to this. Was he contacted to clarify what happened? If so what was it. This seems to be a very loaded and one sided, evidence lacking piece, that is very vague at best. Did Dr Piper actually say he endorsed Lecto Divinia? Present the whole story next time, otherwise you bomb your own credibility, and come across like typical media, not God centred, Church loving doctrine experts.

See to it that no one deceives you
Posted On: 01/15/12 02:15:01 PM Age 0, IN
Why do so-called Christians equate judging someone with being discerning? Apollos in Acts 18:24-30 was wrong about what he was proclaiming and yet Apollos did not become "unglued or hostile" towards Priscilla and Aquila who obviously were discerning when they criticized his teachings. They were being loving to Apollos and he graciously recognized their discerning spirit and corrected his errors. Why can't these self imposing teachers and pastors be as gracious as Apollos and accept discernment from others that have God's gift of discernment? Also, why does everybody then attack the discerners? God has placed them in Christ's body, His Church, for HIS reasons and not for an "open season" for damning them as the vast majority of "BORNAGAINS" (true-Christians) are guilty of committing.

Mystical vs Mystery
Posted On: 01/14/12 08:24:38 PM Age 0, CANADA
Regarding the first comment entitled "Sola Scriptura": Scripture is not general revelation- creation displaying God's glory is. The Living Word and the written Word of God are special revelation, in that they demonstrate and record God's plan of salvation to mankind. The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin based on this special revelation which He uses to bring these things to mind which we have heard at some time in the truth of Scripture. This is not a "mystical" experience in the usual sense of the word: it may be a mystery to us as to how this occurs, just as the virgin birth is a mystery, but it is not mystical. It may be a supernatural occurrence, but it has nothing to do with "mysticism".

Posted On: 01/13/12 08:03:56 PM Age 0, CA
As a 58 year old mother and grandmother I have watched the Passion Conferences for the past 3 years and love Louie Giglio's teachings and his heart for this generation of young people. I did not however, watch this particular segment nor Beth Moore's or Franchis Chan this year. My comment is directed to your comment about the phrase "a gathering of 18-25 year olds The Jesus Generation United for His renown. " This comes from one of Louie's life verses, Isaiah 26:8 "Yes Lord walking in the way of Your truth, we wait eagerly for You, for Your Name and Your Renown are the desire of our souls". To follow Isaiah's teachings is a good and worthwhile, for all ages. I listen weekly to Louie's teachings at his Passion Church and I direct others to as well. He follows A. W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God and one can learn from the teachings of God's Word and see his passion for Jesus. Tozer was called by many a mystic, yet not in the sense of your article. Discernment comes from the Holy Spirit and it is God's Spirit in us that allows us to know Him, as well as to discern the many out there who are falling away. I for one prayed for each of those 44,000 young people to go back home, filled with God's Spirit, a desire to know truth and make HIS Name known in all the world.

Not out to get Beth Moore
Posted On: 01/13/12 09:35:51 AM Age 0, IL
Beth Moore misquoted Scripture. The real Bible says "he will direct your paths," not "he will make your paths straight." Of course, I imagine she's using a Catholic version touted as Christian. All the "modern" English versions are from Vaticanus Alexandrian manuscripts - not good.

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