I just read a blog today that was really interesting. Uneasy thoughts have been swirling around in my head for the last 6 months to a year about this particular topic, and the blog writer gave me some vocabulary in my thinking. I know many people who read this who will disagree, but I wanted to address it.
When people speak of women’s Bible study these days, the name Beth Moore is not far from their tongue. I have been to a couple of her conferences–one a pastor’s wives conference and one a Deeper Still conference last year. I did one study of hers about the tabernacle about 6 years ago or more in a small group. So, I am not a person who has read every one of her books, however, I am not naive about her either. She is a captivating speaker and writer. She is funny, engaging and very charismatic. Her love for God is obvious.
I do not see eye to eye with her theologically on some things, but I had not been too concerned. Most of the time I was not interested in doing her studies because, for me, my time with God just ended up being filling out blanks instead of pure Bible study, prayer, etc, and I did not want that “blank” pressure. In thinking about discipleship and teaching others, I am concerned that many people do her studies and yet do not seem any more biblically literate or mature than they were in the first place. I hear more of a Beth said this and Beth said that than bringing together the fullness of God’s word.
Millions of women are content for her (and/or others) to do the work of Bible study for them because they do not know what to do with the Bible by itself. The problem becomes that it is not just Bible study. Any writer interjects personal inferences, assumptions and experiences. I think a greater growth and worth would come from women actually learning to study the word, researching the historical context, cross-referencing, looking for context, etc. than merely looking for how the word applies to certain circumstances in their lives (devotional thought). I am not a Bible scholar (I want to be), but I am learning more and more with each book of the Bible that I study that there is so much more there than meets the devotional eye.
God is brilliant–everything fits together and is purposed in his word, and he shared it with us. I am going through the book of Hosea right now with a young woman that I meet with, and I am utterly amazed at the beauty of God’s character and purposes revealed. I am ashamed to say it, but I am just now learning the way Old Testament books work–that the history is before the prophets. So, I have been looking in 2 Kings to trace the kings and the history of the time of Hosea as I am reading through Hosea. It becomes fuller, and I rejoice in the gospel all that much more. Disciples are made, when they learn something and can do it on their own and teach it, as well. I have learned the most when I have been challenged the most. It’s like the old saying, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.’
I have a challenge for you…open the Bible and study it. It will be more work, but with hard work comes great reward. Ask the Spirit to ‘open your eyes that you may see wonderful things in his law.’ I bet you will grow more in the heart and mind and strength to love God, and you might be more apt to see devotional teaching that is “off” instead of just swallowing it.
If you look in Christian bookstores, you would think women are pink and fluffy and really into butterflies, and I challenge you to go beyond that stereotype. Challenge the women around you to dig in to God’s word–it is a feast. For a helpful guide to get you started–
How to Read the Bible for All its Worth and
How to Study the Bible Book by Bookby Gordon Fee.
I end by saying that I do not think that Beth Moore is the devil. I am uncomfortable with her approach to some things (see the aforementioned blog). I am very uncomfortable with her materials being the only Bible study you do–as I would imagine she would be, as well. I want to see women grow in knowledge and practice and love for God. His Spirit teaches us through his word, and we are called to grow in maturity through hiding it in our hearts, meditating and delighting in it. So, do it!