By Apprising Ministries special correspondent Bob DeWaay
Beth Moore denies that she promotes approaches to prayer that have Eastern overtones. The issue arose from her participation on the Be Still DVD which has been critiqued on this site by Ingrid and then Brian Flynn. Brian and I viewed a segment of Beth Moore on that DVD. We found disconcerting her poor understanding of Exodus 33:7-11, the passage she uses as her proof text. In her discussion of Moses’ tent of meeting she proposes that each believer can have their own tent of meeting where they can go to have two way conversations with God.
Commenting on Exodus 33:7-11, Moore states: “It says all of them could have approached, but as Moses approached they would stand back and watch.” Then she implies that people are just standing back when they could have their own tent of meeting with God. Then she claims:
“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” That is part of contemplative prayer. When we sit back and realize that it is not just that we have something to say to God, it’s that God has something He has to say to us . . . I want to be in that tent of meeting.
Every believer, according to Moore, can have a private non-literal tent of meeting in which God will come and speak to him or her.
This claim introduces serious theological problems. Let us first examine the claim that it was God’s intention that every Israelite enter the tent of meeting. This is simply false. Moses was uniquely the mediator of the Old Covenant. God chose to speak His authoritative words to Moses alone. God said that it was good that only Moses heard God’s voice: “This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well’” (Deut. 18:16, 17). In context Deuteronomy 18 was about prohibiting divination. God spoke to them through Moses and promised to send a future prophet like Moses; and when God sent that prophet, they should listen to Him (that prophet was Jesus; see Deut. 18:9-19; other passages in the New Testament claim Jesus was the one Moses predicted). Several Old Testament passages show that God spoke to Moses alone directly (Deut. 5:30, 31; Exo. 19:21-23; Exo. 20:19-21; Deut. 34:10).
When Moses’ unique role was challenged some very bad things happened to the challengers. In Numbers 12, Miriam and Aaron said this:
“Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well And the Lord heard it” (Num. 12:2). God called them out to the tent of meeting, and the cloud came down to the doorway of the tent. The result was, after God spoke about Moses’ unique role, Miriam was leprous (see Num. 12:2-10). In Leviticus 10, Nadab and Abihu tried to do things their own way and they died. In Numbers 16, Korah started a protest movement that denied Moses’ unique role and all who participated and their families dropped directly into Sheol (Num. 16:1-33). For good reason the people stayed at their own tents when Moses entered the tent of meeting—they did not want to die! Moore’s claim that God wanted them all to enter and receive personal revelations from God is false.
The New Testament makes it clear there is only one legitimate tent of meeting: Christ. Jesus, Peter, James and John ascended a mount in Mark 9; and Jesus was transfigured. During this event, Moses and Elijah appeared and were talking to Jesus. Here, three people who were God’s authoritative spokespersons, stood on one mount. So Peter determined that they should build three tabernacles (tents of meeting). Why? So they would have three places they could go to enquire of the Lord. But what happened? “Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This My beloved Son, listen to Him!’ And all at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone”(Mark 9:4b, 5). The phrase “listen to Him” alludes to Deuteronomy 18 and shows that Jesus is the prophet Moses predicted. God provides but one tent of meeting—Jesus Himself. And that tent would not remain pitched on earth (John 1:14 says Jesus “tabernacled” among us).
The book of Hebrews elaborates on this. God has spoken through Jesus Christ in full and final revelation (Heb. 1:1, 2; Heb. 2:1-3 tells us that His apostles gave us Jesus’ authoritative words). Jesus is our High Priest who passed through the heavens and sits at the right hand of God where He carries out His mediatorial role. Hebrews 8:1, 2 claims that the true tabernacle is in heaven and was pitched by God, not man. This claim is repeated in Hebrews 9:11, 12. The entire book of Hebrews is about Christ’s unique role and warnings against apostasy for those who think they can come to God by some way other than Christ (in their case going back to the temple in Jerusalem and the earthly high priest and the blood of animals).
Hebrews also tells us the only way to draw near to God: through Christ who is in heaven and can only be seen by faith (Heb. 10:22; Heb. 11:1). All believers have the privilege of access to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). But there they find help in their time of need—not new, personal revelations.
The New Testament promises that if we come to God on His terms through Christ in prayer, He will listen. It does not promise us our own new words from God. The contemplative prayer movement wants what God is not offering: a way to feel closer to God and gain personal revelations. God has offered His Son so that we may draw near to God, not feel near to God. Many who are on the road to Hell feel near to God. Many who are truly saved sometimes do not feel near to God. There is nothing in Hebrews that promises we will feel near to God. To draw near is to come to God through faith in Christ and His once for all shed blood, and abide by faith in the terms of the covenant. To draw near is to have access to the throne of grace in prayer.
Beth Moore teaches error on the Be Still DVD. She claims that in the Old Testament God wanted each person to enter the Tent of Meeting; this is false. The tent of meeting that Moses entered was a precursor to the Tabernacle. Only the high priest on the Day of Atonement could enter the holy place in God’s presence and even he could do so only under the terms God revealed to Moses. Moore claims that we can each have a tent of meeting; this is false. There is one tent of meeting, it is Jesus Christ who entered the heavenly tabernacle and sits at the right hand of God. God commanded us to listen to Him, not to seek new information from God that He has not already spoken through Christ and His apostles. Moore wants to distance herself from mysticism, but her own words dangerously mislead people. Rather than pointing people to illicit tents of meeting not ordained by God, she should have pointed them to Jesus, the mediator of the New Covenant, the blood atonement, and the throne of grace. Being dissatisfied with what God has provided is very dangerous, as certain individuals in the Old Testament discovered for themselves.
For further study on this issue, I have provided an audio clip of Beth Moore’s tent of meeting claim, followed by an my exposition of Scripture from the Old and New Testaments explaining the true significance of the tent of meeting and warnings about unbiblical techniques: HERE.
The original for Part One is here.
My latest article set off a storm of protest. In the article I claimed that Beth Moore misinterpreted the significance of the tent of meeting. My specific claim was that Jesus Christ, the mediator of the New Covenant, provides the only way for us to draw near to God and I pointed to many sections of Scripture to establish that claim. I also claimed that we can only come to God through Christ’s once for all shed blood and discussed many other important aspects of the gospel to complete the discussion.
For that some called me “vile, despicable,” and labeled me with other invectives. Evidently, Christ and the blood atonement are too controversial to post on a site that espouses a “Christian Worldview.” But note this: not one protester gave Biblical evidence that I was wrong about my description of the person and work of Christ. Not one. Has our evangelical movement come to the place where our people no longer tolerate the gospel?
The firestorm came because I dared question some teaching found on the Be Still and Know That I Am God DVD. To make sure I was not being unfair, I reviewed transcripts of the DVD. I used word searches to find terms related to the gospel. Here are the results: Blood = 0; Atonement = 0; Repent = 0; Believe in Christ = 0; Gospel = 0; Resurrection = 0; Faith = 4; Faith with God or Christ as the object = 0; The Cross = 1; Sin = 1. The gospel cannot be found on the DVD. The mention of sin and the cross once each were in a section about being in God’s presence that does not explain the gospel.
What’s my point? If someone saw the DVD in a store (promising in its title to explain how people can know God) and bought it hoping they could learn how to come to know God, they would never find out. They do not find out about Christ’s pre-existence as God and with God. They do not find out about His virgin birth or sinless life. They do not find out that God’s wrath is directed against their sin and that if they do not repent and believe the gospel they will end up in hell. They do not find out about Christ’s death on the cross providing the blood atonement that will avert God’s wrath against their sin if they put their faith in Christ. They do not find out about Christ’s resurrection and ascension into heaven. They do not find out about Christ’s mediatorial role, His intercession for believers at the right hand of God, or His role in providing access to the throne of grace. In short, they find out NOTHING about how to know God. There is no gospel message on the entire DVD.
I assume that those featured on the DVD know these facts. Some of the people who responded to my article told me Beth Moore knows these facts. Perhaps Richard Foster and the others do as well. That leaves us with this question: How could such a group of evangelical luminaries put their collective talents together to produce a DVD about knowing God, and fail to tell anyone about the only way to truly know God—through the gospel of Jesus Christ?
The second question is this: Why, when I tell people these facts as I did in my last article—why do I invoke such a massive angry response? Paul rejoiced even when people with “selfish ambition” preached the true gospel (Philippians 1:15-18). Whatever people might imagine my motives to be, the article contained the truths of the gospel. I can only conclude that many contemporary Christians consider the gospel itself to be of little importance.
Is the gospel important enough to proclaim to everyone everywhere? It seems that the passion for gospel preaching has been severely eroded in the church. James Montgomery Boice discussed this shortly before he went to be with the Lord:
Very few people have anything like a Christian world- and life-view today, and we are discovering that—in a secular and increasingly hostile culture—mild evangelical consensus statements are inadequate. For all its apparent strength, evangelicalism has become weak at the center, and the result has been the surrender to the world’s wisdom, theology, agenda, and methods described earlier. Instead of reducing our affirmations in this way, we need to recover and proclaim the gospel of grace—a robust, full-orbed theology with a transcendent view of God and informed focus on the doctrines of his grace. (Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Gace?; page 37).
To turn this situation around, we must expect more out of our Christian leaders. Too often, when people become popular within evangelicalism, we quit expecting them to clearly proclaim the gospel. And worse still, we chastise anyone who points out that the gospel is no longer being preached. If we allow this to continue, evangelicalism will be “evangelical” in name only—not in substance.
A few years ago I wrote an article about the demise of gospel preaching in our movement HERE . Since 2002 the situation has only become worse. When the early apostles were brought before authorities, dignitaries, or any audience of lost people, they preached the gospel. They did not tell any of these lost people, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” They told them about the person and work of Christ, including His resurrection, and the need to repent and believe. They did not promise people reduced stress; they promised eternal life for those who embrace the message of the cross.
This is the description on Christianbook.com for the Be Still DVD:
Be Still is an extraordinary film that demonstrates contemplative reflection as a vital part of our everyday lives and as a remedy for the ills of the frenzied, fast-paced modern world. Featuring interviews with some of today’s most highly respected authors, educators, and ministers, Be Still examines the importance of silent, reflective prayer as a way to truly be open to receiving God’s guidance. This remarkable film also features a useful “how to” section that shows how contemplative prayer can be used by anyone at anytime to better one’s life and reaffirm that which is truly important.
The DVD offers supernatural guidance and reduced stress. This is not what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers. It is no wonder the gospel is missing from the DVD; who needs the gospel to have a less hectic life? People are buying these DVD’s at their local market and coming home lacking the information they need to find salvation. This is a tragic situation. The DVD promises guidance but ignores the only guidance that eternally matters, the guidance that the Son of God came to earth to give us – the gospel for the forgiveness of sins so that we can be reconciled to God and experience eternal life with Him.
The original for Part Two is here.