Jesus the One and Only by Beth Moore

Jesus_the_one_and_only

One Sentence Synopsis

Jesus the One and Only is a Bible study workbook for an associated video series in which Beth Moore demonstrates that she is a poor Bible teacher who often mishandles the Scripture.

Rating:

1 out of 5

Recommendation:

Beth Moore’s repeated errors in Biblical interpretation, false teaching, and supposed personal revelation from God make Jesus the One and Only a Bible study to avoid.

Overview

This Bible study workbook, Jesus the One and Only, by prolific author Beth Moore contains discussion, teaching, and questions. There is an accompanying video series which has not been reviewed for this article. Most of the workbook and teachings in this Bible study are acceptable. However, there are a number of serious issues that make it unreliable. Therefore, it is not recommended, particularly for Christians who do not already have a strong Biblical background. Moore’s often faulty Biblical interpretations, poor methods of textual analysis, incorrect understanding of the historical canon of Scripture and the translation process, and non-Biblical personal revelation are all dangerous. These errors could definitely lead an immature believer astray. Jesus the One and Only is not recommended as a resource aid in studying the Bible. In addition, because Moore has demonstrated she is incapable of rightly handling God’s Holy Word, all of her works should be avoided.

Biblical Manuscripts and the Translation Process

In several places within this workbook, Moore demonstrates her poor understanding of the historical creation of the Bible and the translation process. This creates doubt as to the reliability of the canon of Scripture. For example, Moore writes the following regarding the canon of the Old Testament:

Old Testament Scripture, which included the five books of the Law and probably the Psalms and the Prophets (Moore, p. 50—emphasis added).

There is no probably about it. The canon of the Old Testament was completed long before the time of Christ. The entire Old Testament had been written hundreds of years prior to Christ. Before the life of Jesus, there was even a complete translation of the original Hebrew Old Testament into Greek called the Septuagint. Jesus referred to the prophets in Matthew 5:17:

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (NASB).

Jesus also refers to the entire Old Testament in Matthew 23:35 when He refers to the first (Abel) and last (Zechariah) deaths recorded in the Jewish ordering of the Old Testament.

One of the dangers of Moore’s teaching is that if the writing of the prophets were not part of the Old Testament then we would not have the fulfillment of those prophecies by Jesus such as the Messianic prophecies of Isaiah 53. It can also cause her readers to doubt the reliability of the Word of God.

In the next example, Moore is discussing the birth of Christ as recorded in the Gospel of Luke chapter 2:

We women could be tempted to picket the New International Version for leaving out one little detail that had a profound influence on Mary’s trip: ‘Mary … being great with child’ (v5. KJV) (Moore, p. 27).

This calls into question the reliability of the English translations that most of her readers would employ. The committee that created the New International Version did not leave anything out, they just did not employ the euphemism “great with child,” but rather said Mary “was expecting a child.” To suggest they left something out does a disservice to the translation and could again cause readers to doubt the reliability of the Scriptures.

Finally, Moore demonstrates her lack of understanding about the Greek New Testaments used in creating the various versions of the English New Testaments. In a discussion of Luke 4:18, she states the following:

“To heal the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1). Unless you’re using a King James Version, this phrase probably comes from the Isaiah reference. Some New Testament translations include it, while others don’t (Moore, p. 52).

First, the wording of the whole statement does not make any sense. In Luke 4:17-21, Jesus is reading from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. The phrase (with or without ‘to heal the brokenhearted’) definitely comes from Isaiah 61:1. She is correct that some New Testament translations include it and some do not. The difference, however, is not a matter of translation, but is due to the fact that some of the ancient Greek manuscripts used for creating the translations include this phrase and some do not. It is not a translation issue, but a function of selecting which minor variant of the various ancient Greek manuscripts to employ to create the English translation.

Non-Biblical Personal Revelation

As she does in many of her other books and speeches, Moore discusses in Jesus the One and Only the personal revelations that she receives from Christ. Moore insinuates that this personal revelation is on par with Holy Scripture:

As we study we may see several examples of Him [Christ] posing a question that only He could answer. Christ certainly uses that teaching method with me. Sometimes He’ll cause me to dig through Scripture for a question He seemed to initiate. Other times the question may come as a personalized whisper in my heart: “Beth, why are you acting that way?” Often my answer is “I don’t know, Lord! Can you tell me why?” If I really search His heart, sooner or later He’ll give me insight into my reactions (Moore, p. 40).

Notice in that quote that there is no real difference between Scripture and whispers in her heart. Both are authoritative to her. And, what does it mean to search the heart of Jesus? It may sound spiritual, but it is not Biblical. Moore goes on to encourage her readers to listen to God whispering in their hearts and again places these new revelations on an equal footing side-by-side with His Holy Word, the Bible:

I feel He’s speaking to you about a few things just as He is to me. Take time to listen as He whispers in your heart and through His Word (Moore, p. 64).

We are told by God Himself that His Word is adequate to prepare us for every good work.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB).

Moore’s dependence on and encouragement of non-Biblical revelation implies that the Scriptures are not sufficient to equip us for all good things. While the Holy Spirit may provide special revelation at times to some individuals, the Biblical record shows that it is not normative. The Bible does not teach that we should expect to hear whispers in our heart (whatever that means).

In another example of non-Biblical revelation, Moore relates the following story of a woman who approached her during a speaking engagement in Louisiana:

With obvious anointing, she told the story we’re about to study, then she said: “I don’t know you Beth. I have no idea why God sent me with such a message to give you, but He told me clearly to say these words to you: ‘Tell her that her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much’” (Moore, p. 91).

She later continues regarding this story with:

He simply sent a woman to deliver His word—that I was forgiven. He whispered to my spirit, “Now, My child, be at peace.” Oh, how I would love to be that woman to you today. Allow me to pull up my chair right in front of you, look you in the eye, and tell you what He told me to say: “Your many sins have been forgiven—for you love much.” Go in peace (Moore, p. 95).

In this case, Moore has placed non-Biblical revelation above the written Word of God. The Bible was not sufficient to convince Moore that her sins were forgiven, but this stranger who claimed to get a new word from God was able to. Now, Moore wants you to trust what she says about your forgiveness rather than point you to the God-breathed words of the Bible for that assurance. This is dangerous. Furthermore, Moore appears to be suggesting that our forgiveness is based upon our love and is, therefore, earned. We should heed the warning of Scripture found in 2 Corinthians 11:13-14:

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (NASB).

Trust the Bible, not messages from Beth Moore or anyone else no matter how spiritual or even Christ-like they may sound.

False Teaching

In this first example of false teaching, Moore is evaluating Colossians 3:24 which includes the phrase “from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.” She then provides the following interpretation:

Every hour you do your job as working for the Lord gets punched on a time clock in heaven. You, sister, are getting paid by God Himself for the hours you work as unto the Lord. I’m not being cheesy. Our future inheritance is real, and it far exceeds minimum wage. You possess a heavenly bank account in which He is making divine deposits for every moment you work as unto Him. As you partner with Christ at your job, you will be more efficient. No matter whether your new efficiency increases your earthly dividends, it most definitely will increase your eternal dividends where moth and rust cannot destroy or thieves break in and steal (Moore, p. 67).

Here is the fuller context of the passage from Colossians 3:22-24:

Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve (NASB).

First, Paul is specifically writing a word of encouragement to slaves. Even if we choose to interpret this as a general directive for all people to serve the Lord when we work, there is no description of a heavenly bank account, punching our time clocks, or divine deposits from the Lord. Paul writes of the inheritance that will be received. An inheritance is given from a father to his children. It is not a wage that is earned.

In discussing the story of the Pharisee and the sinful woman from Luke 7:36-50, Moore writes:

Of all the commandments the Pharisee had kept, she rather than he observed the most important one [love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength]. The exquisite beauty of loving Christ is that it makes it impossible to keep only one commandment (Moore, p. 95).

First, we can never keep any of the commandments! Not even one! Moore writes about “all of the commandments the Pharisee kept” and how for us believers it is “impossible to keep only one commandment.” Wrong. It is impossible to keep even one commandment perfectly, let alone more than one.

Moore also teaches her own version of the prosperity gospel. She typically makes it clear that God does not promise us either wealth or physical health. However, at other times she teaches that we can be healed of mental, emotional, or spiritual problems. For example:

Many people sincerely love God, but I don’t think anyone stands to appreciate the unfailing love of God like the believer finally set free from failure. This captive can undoubtedly testify: He sent forth His Word and healed me (Moore, p. 53).

Despite Moore’s claims here and in other works, God does not promise healing in this life. Christ died to set us free from the bondage of sin and death; not to overcome our failures or other similar problems:

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death (NASB, Romans 8:1-2).

To compound the error of promised healings in this life, Moore also incorporates another idea commonly found in the false prosperity gospel teachings. The idea is that if we give everything to God it will be multiplied and returned to us:

Christ can perform astounding wonders when we bring Him all we have…I want you to hear something loud and clear: no matter what your “only” is, when you bring all of your “only” to Jesus, it’s huge! When we bring Him everything we have, He multiplies it beyond our wildest imaginations. On the other hand, we can surrender Him “some” of our lot and it can dwindle to virtually nothing (Moore, p. 117).

There are no such promises in Scripture. While she does not explicitly call out multiplying the money we give, neither is it denied here.

Finally, Moore occasionally teaches a man-centered theology in which people are pretty good, and God loves us. He loves us even more when we do good works:

[God] loves us. At times He actually delights in us … When God sees human cooperate with His good work and fulfill what they were created to be, He still sees something very good. Perfect? No. Respectable? Yes. When the Father sees a human who is prone to selfishness, pride, and arrogance humble him or herself and tremble at God’s Word, He esteems that person. Hallelujah! Oh, how I want to be someone God could respect! (Moore, p. 80).

Should we strive to do good? Of course! However, even our righteous deeds are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) when compared to the righteousness of God. Even Jesus himself said that “No one is good except God alone” (NASB, Mark 10:18).

Poor Biblical Interpretation Methods

One of Moore’s most common errors when interpreting Biblical texts is the use of allegory. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines an allegory as “the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence; a symbolic representation.” The Bible sometimes uses allegory. Moore improperly and repeatedly allegorizes Scripture by taking historical accounts and making them symbolic in order to apply them to our lives. Often this twists the meaning and undermines the historicity of the accounts. For example, Moore takes the account of Jesus’ healing of the paralyzed man from Luke 5:17-26 and allegorizes it:

Obviously Christ had an important point to make concerning healing and the forgiveness of sin in Luke 5:17-26. Whether or not sin has ever made you physically ill, couldn’t we each say that we’ve been somehow paralyzed by it at one time or another? One situation involving sin in my past literally paralyzed me with fear. Would you like to know how I found healing and began to walk as a healthy believer again? I finally “heard” Christ say, “Friend, your sins are forgiven” and accepted His gift of grace. Christ’s forgiveness caused me finally to be healed from the crippling fear that resulted from sin…I would still be paralyzed except for the trust God presented to me out of this exact Scripture (Moore, p. 71).

This undermines the impact of the real, historical account in which Jesus not only healed a paralyzed man, but forgave his sins! Jesus was demonstrating He was God because only God can forgive sins. Allegorizing this to being paralyzed with fear misses the impact of the account. This was never meant to be an allegory about us being paralyzed by fear.

In a similar abuse of Scripture, Moore allegorizes the account from Luke 8:27-39 of Jesus driving the demons out of a man who had been living in the tombs:

I wonder how many people are living their lives “in the tombs”? … I know a woman who is still so oppressed by despair that decades after the loss of a loved one, she still lives “in the tombs.” In no way do I minimize the horror of her loss, but I despise how the evil one has used it to minimize her life (Moore, p. 104).

Again, Moore twists a real, historical account of an event in the life of Jesus into an allegory about you. The Bible is not about you or me. It is about Jesus. Here is the complete account from Luke 8:27-39:

And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs. Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.” For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert. And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss. Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons implored Him to permit them to enter the swine. And He gave them permission. And the demons came out of the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country. The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened. Those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed had been made well. And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear; and He got into a boat and returned. But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying, “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him (NASB).

In this historical narrative, Jesus is shown to have authority over the demonic realm. The demons recognize that (1) Jesus is the Son of God, (2) that He has the power to torment them, and (3) that their ultimate fate at the hands of Jesus will be to be cast into the abyss. Jesus then claims divinity for Himself when he tells the man to “describe what great things God has done for you.” Notice that the man then proclaims “what great things Jesus had done for him.” This is an important, historical account demonstrating that Jesus is God in flesh. Yet, Moore turns it into an allegory about you.

Summary

As noted in the overview, Jesus the One and Only is not recommended as a resource aid in studying the Bible. Moore’s repeated errors in Biblical interpretation, false teaching, and supposed personal revelation from God make her a dangerous teacher.

References

Moore, Beth. Jesus the One and Only. Lifeway Press. Eleventh printing, April 2007. Paperback, 238 pages. ISBN10: 0-7673-3275-X.

New American Standard Bible, Lockman Foundation, 1995.

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