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 August 12, 2014
The low-information evangelical, part 1

By Marsha West

We are told throughout the New Testament to judge, to test, to discern, to assess, to rebuke, to hold one another to account, to make moral distinctions, and to pronounce judgment when and where it is due. ~ Bill Muehlenberg

The phrase low-information voter (LIV) was made popular in the mid-1990s. Although the LIV is uninformed on the issues, he casts his vote. The LIV is often highly opinionated even when he has no idea what he's talking about. A popular conservative talk show host has labeled a segment of those who vote for liberals LIVs.

D. Edmund Wright expresses his disdain for the LIV in a rather harsh way:
    But forget low-information voters for just a minute; the malignancy that is really destroying this country is low-information people with high-profile power and/or influence. You know, people who would lobby for, comment on, advocate for, or vote on laws like ObamaCare without any understanding of its real-world impact. Such felonies are then carried out by low-information bureaucratic microbes with the power to destroy lives and businesses with impunity, and a political and talking-head class with the access and sway to codify these common malfeasances. Destruction of private property and liberty and these two concepts are not divisible takes place in government cubicles every minute of every day across the country. And why not? (Source  emphasis in original)
While reading Wright's rant against the organized left (and rightly so) it occurred to me that evangelicalism is dealing with the same sort of crisis low-information people with high-profile power and/or influence. So for the purpose of this piece I'll refer to them as low-information evangelicals (LIE).

Reminiscent of the LIV, the high-profile LIE does not understand the impact that his unorthodox view has on the visible church. When it comes to the Bible, the LIE has opinions on a variety of challenging topics. Even when his opinion is decidedly unbiblical, he presents it as the gospel truth. The LIE's arguments are often based, not on what God's Word clearly teaches but instead on esoteric experiences he's had or what he's picked up from LIE celebrities. As a side note, whenever I write a column for the express purpose of exposing a LIE-celeb's unbiblical teaching and even though I included an abundance of evidence to support the biblical view, the LIE rarely uses logical argumentation to contest the facts and win me over to their way of thinking. Instead he resorts to personal attacks. For example I'm often scolded for being unloving...ungracious...mean spirited...hateful...homophobic...judgmental...and far worse.

Facts are stubborn things. And the fact of the matter is that it's biblical to report on a high-profile Christian leader whose teaching is unbiblical. Much of the problem lies in the fact that oodles of LIE-celebs are unapologeticallyliberal in their worldview and their teaching reflects that. (For the record, "progressive Christian" is an oxymoron.)

Several influential Bible teachers started out as good Bible expositors but got off track when they became enamored with Eastern mysticism. Today the beliefs some Christians hold contain a good deal of New Age/New Thought ideas borrowed from Eastern mysticism. Bible teacher, conference speaker and founder of Living Word Ministries Beth Moore is one of those teachers.

Over the years Moore has gained substantial popularity with women, so much so that her resources line the shelves of churches and Christian book sellers everywhere. Because she's affiliated with the SBC her overt acceptance of "charismania" surprised a lot of people. For instance, at one of her conferences she shared a vision she supposedly received of "the church as Jesus sees it." Listen to this bombshell:
    You know what He [God] told me not too long ago? I told you when I first began this whole concept, He first started teaching it to me about five years ago, and He said these words to me: "Baby, you have not even begun to believe Me. You haven't even begun!"

    You know what He said just a few days ago? "Honey, I just want you to know we're just beginning." Oh, glory! That meant I had begun. Hallelujah!

    But He was telling me, "When this ends, we ain't done with this. Honey, this is what we do for the rest of your life." And He says those words to me over and over again: "Believe Me. Believe Me. And I hope it's starting to ring in your ears, over and over again, Believe Me." (Source)
Does that not make your hair stand on end? "He said these words to me..." is the same as saying "Thus saith the Lord!" Any discerning Christian will no doubt find Moore's alleged chats with God troubling.

Contrary to what Beth Moore believes, when the Lord allegedly speaks to her it couldn't be His voice she's hearing. How do I know that? Because the way in which she claims the Almighty communicates with her is unbiblical. How does God speak to us today? We are told in Hebrews that He speaks to us by His Son through His Spirit in His Word.

In 1 Thes 5:21 Paul commands us to "test everything; hold fast what is good." With this in mind, I challenge Beth's fans to test her teaching by the Word of God. Those who are open to the truth will discover that this Bible teacher is feeding her followers rotten fruit!

Erin Benziger has been warning of Beth Moore's shift into mysticism for quite some time. Erin points out that:
    Beth Moore has demonstrated time and again that she cannot properly handle the biblical text. And yet, she is a mentor and teacher to many women who look to her leadership and knowledge as a foundation for their own spiritual walk.

    In recent months, Moore participated as a speaker at the Unwrap the Bible conference, which was held at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church. The event was hosted by Women of Faith ministries, and also featured such dangerous teachers as Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, Lisa Harper, Sheila Walsh and of course, Victoria Osteen. Nearly 11,000 women were in attendance at this event. 11,000. That is a tremendous number of women who were exposed to deceptive and erroneous Bible teaching. These are women in your Bible study and in your church. These are women who will now take the principles they learned and will begin to influence other women and girls within their church. This ought to be of no small concern to those who love and revere the Word of God. (Source)
Before I move on, I should mention that I don't enjoy tearing down the powerful magnetic personalities professing Christians revere. My purpose for taking aim at Beth Moore is to get undistinguished LIEs (ordinary folk) up to speed on her unbiblical teaching. Sadly, some undistinguished low information evangelicals (u-LIEs) assume that popular pastors, teachers and best-selling authors would never steer them wrong. But nothing could be further from the truth!

The Undistinguished LIE

The u-LIE learns Scripture in a variety of ways: (1) Best-selling "Christian" books; (2) Blog posts; (3) Religious TV programs; (4) "Christian" radio/podcasts; (5) Trendy market-driven/seeker sensitive churches; (6) Family and friends (some of whom are nominal Christians at best and Bible illiterates at worst.)

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that the u-LIE who utilizes the above resources won't learn anything worthwhile. He will! In fact it's a good idea to gain knowledge from mainstream Bible scholars/theologians/apologists/bloggers and ministers of the gospel; likewise from TV, radio/podcasts of solid Bible expositors. But we must see to it that those from whom we learn, including LIE-celebs, continually guard against error. As I said above, when someone's theology lands outside of the pale of orthodoxy it's appropriate to challenge what's being taught and to (gasp!) "name names." How else will we know who to be wary of?

Christians must never lose sight of the fact that false teachers are deceptive and evil. And by the way, anyone who's exposed as a wolf or wolverine must swallow their pride and repent of their sin against God. The objective is restoration.

What has resulted from all the abysmal teaching in the Church? U-LIEs have accepted liberal/progressive theology. Likewise, they're up to their eyeballs in aberrant/heretical movements such as liberal/progressive/social justice; emergent/emerging; word-faith/health & wealth/name-it-claim-it; New Apostolic Reformation/Dominionism/Latter Rain. Moreover they've become easy prey for the Kingdom of the Cults. How does one avoid becoming ensnared by the wiles of the devil? By becoming a Berean! (Acts 17:10-15)

Christian Mysticism

Thanks largely to Christian mystics such as recently deceased ordained Baptist Minister Dallas Willard and Quaker Richard Foster, many u-LIEs have been introduced to spiritual formation. Sounds biblical, but I assure you it's not. In a nut shell, spiritual formation,
    encourage[s] believers to incorporate a wide variety of extrabiblical spiritual practices, such as contemplative prayer, silence, meditation, creative expression, and yoga. In fact, some of the most popular methods of spiritual formation have been lifted from Catholicism, new age mysticism, or other religions and rebranded with biblical-sounding terminology. (Source)
Ken Silva cautions that involving oneself in mysticism can lead to a "denial of the Reformation and the acceptance of apostate Roman Catholicism as a viable form of Christianity."

Both Willard and Foster, as well as Rick Warren, John Ortberg, Ruth Haley Barton and Tony Campolo have encouraged believers to read the writings of Roman Catholic Trappist Monks such as Thomas Merton, Basil Pennington, William Menninger and Thomas Keating to name a few. From individuals like these, Eastern pagan practices have been introduced into mainline Protestant churches, likewise independent, nondenominational, charismatic and Pentecostal churches.

Because of books penned by Catholic monks, an increasing number of u-LIEs embrace the idea that God speaks to His people in much the same way that He spoke to the patriarchs and apostles. And this is the primary reason Christians boast that they hear directly from God.

LIE-celebs and u-Lies who are exposed to mysticism will say things such as: "I had a word from the Lord" or "God said (this or that)..." Or "God told me to do (this or that)..." And "I have received revelation knowledge." Anyone who makes these claims is saying that God speaks directly to them! The danger in thinking this way is that when God doesn't "speak" to a professed Christian, she worries that He's silent because she doesn't have enough faith, or she has a "hidden sin" in her life because if she didn't, God would speak to her; or perhaps the Lord's silent because He's angry over an act of disobedience...and the list goes on.

The Silence Is Not Golden

The aforementioned monks, or Desert Fathers, allege that by engaging in a prayer method called The Silence they've been able to achieve a profoundexperience with God. "We enter the silence to consciously experience our oneness within the one Mind, God." The idea of experiencing oneness within the mind of God comes, not from the Bible, but from Eastern mysticism. It makes no sense for God's people to borrow from a corrupt religious system that God despises. Listen to Isaiah 2:6:
    For you [God] have rejected your people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of things from the east and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines, and they strike hands with foreigners.
The Desert Fathers have so little discernment that they not only participate in recycled paganism, they encourage others to go that route! Willard and Foster and other LIE-celebs know full well that they're "striking hands with foreigners" and they do it anyway!

Being that the Lord condemns paganism, His people are to have nothing to do with it. No dabbling! Steer clear of anything to do with mantra meditation. Methods such as contemplative prayer...centering prayer...breath prayer...are forbidden! Even though this will ruffle some feathers, my advice is to steer clear of "Christian" yoga. "Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them." (Eph 5:11)

Part 2, coming up!

used with permission of Marsha West

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