Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thirst for Wisdom

This morning (it seems like a long time ago) I wondered what I would write about today. Thursday is my day to search for wisdom. I began my search literally, using BibleGateway's keyword search. I quickly landed on James 3. There are 2 sections: "Controlling the Tongue" and "True Wisdom Comes from God".

The first section opens with "Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way."

The second section opens with "If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind."

There is certainly plenty of meat for today's meal. I decided to let these themes digest for a while and I wandered a way for a bit. My meandering on the internet, although not intentional for me, was resoundingly intentional for God. I won't bore you with the details, but within a few mouse clicks I was reading a post entitled "Believe God Not Beth Moore." {I'm not going to link to it, but if you're interested, I will e-mail you the link to any of the sites I'm referencing today.} That site led me to another site (as blog-surfing tends to do) and I found myself swimming in a sea of intolerance for Beth. I was disheartened and confused. Confused in part because it turns out that today's pursuit of wisdom involves vocabulary words. I looked up the following to make sure I was understanding what was being espoused.

apologetics: the branch of theology concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity.

hermeneutics: 1. the science of interpretation, esp. of the Scriptures. 2. the branch of theology that deals with the principles of Biblical exegesis.

exegesis: critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, esp. of the Bible.

ecumenical: promoting or fostering Christian unity throughout the world.

It turns out that there are a group of apologetics (not all of them, mind you) who take issue with Beth. With her style, with her presumptions, with...well, they have a long list. One of the apologetics sites is founded on 1 John 4:5. The entire scriptural section reads "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood." {The Bold is 1 John 4:5} Their focus "is to help expose the “unfruitful deeds of darkness.” (Ephesians 5:11)"

The most prolific critic, who authors a different apologetics site, has been published in a journal that he claims is one of the best apologetics journals available. At my request, he forwarded an electronic copy of the issue with his article and pointed me to the web site where I could order copies of the other articles (for $15) critiquing Beth's studies. The article he sent is lengthy (10 pages + 1.5 pages of references). I will take my time reading this, just as I spent time today on his blog trying to understand his concerns.

His fundamental problem with Beth Moore appears to be her claim that she is guided by God (Wait! I believe I'm guided by God). It also seems that she may not be 100% accurate (Revisit James 3:1-2. It took courage on my part to step out in faith and begin to write hermeneutics. A comment from the critic: "Poor hermeneutics is the norm for Moore as she has no sound exegesis of Scripture." I didn't know I was writing hermeneutics but I knew I was exposing myself to criticism.)

I personally credit Beth Moore with leading me to a much deeper and wider understanding of the Bible. My familiarity with the Book, my comfort with the Word, my thirst for understanding, my hunger for thoughtful dialogue all began with my first Bible study - "Believing God."

My foray today, my search for wisdom, led me to an awareness that self-appointed apologetics may not fit the webster definition of apologetics. These folks didn't seem to be drawing others to Christianity or defending Christian principles. They seem to be attacking someone who devoutly proclaims that Jesus is the Way, the only Way, to salvation. It also seems that folks who don't see Beth as misguided, aberrational, or worse, well those folks lack discernment. So I guess I'm caught in the criticism.

And what does all of this mean to me? You can't please everybody. The only one I aim to please is my Creator. I will continue to step out in faith and write what I believe to be true. I will allow the Spirit that is within me to guide me.

Father, may Your will be done.


Anonymous said...

And, thus, you make a decision, the choice to not believe the critics of Beth Moore. Good for you, ygw! Those active choices strengthen the reasons for which we make the choice. Also, being clear about who we believe - very important to this life, and our walk in faith.

How wise of you. BFF

Heidi said...

I've only recently heard of her so I don't anything about her. It's too bad, isn't it, that instead of being positive or sticking to that old saying of 'if you don't have anything nice to say don't say it at all' they're attacking her and, like me, they probably don't know her at all.

Good post. It reminds me to be careful of that high horse.

you gotta wonder said...

I'm still working my way through the "critiques" forwarded to me. I will refrain from responding because this does not seem like a person open to alternative opinions.

Being introduced to critics of someone I respect is an eye-opening experience.

Anonymous said...

I've seen Beth Moore speak at a Women of Faith conference - several years ago. Very compelling speaker.

Honestly, the level of analysis for her work and of the critiques is somewhere I don't go. Looks like a scholarly level - working on a degree in theology - have you been talking to Jeanette's Dad?

I digress. Sorry. I support you in all your Biblical study, ygw. I'm along for the ride, but can't offer much more than company. Barbara

you gotta wonder said...

@ Barbara, I've been thinking long and hard about pursuing higher education (literal and figurative). I'm intimidated by what I don't know, that's for sure. I can only attest to the thrill I get when I "discover" some connection in scripture.

I'm glad you're joining me on this journey.