BIG BREAKING NEWS – NO LONGER SOUTHERN BAPTIST – Bible teacher Beth Moore, splitting with Lifeway, ‘I am no longer a Southern Baptist’ [#BethMoore] 03/09

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BIG BREAKING NEWS – NO LONGER SOUTHERN BAPTIST – Bible teacher Beth Moore, splitting with Lifeway, ‘I am no longer a Southern Baptist’ [#BethMoore] 03/09

For nearly three decades, Beth Moore has been the very model of a modern Southern Baptist.

Beth Moore loves Jesus and the Bible and has dedicated her life to teaching others why they need both of them in their lives.

Millions of evangelical Christian women have read her Bible studies and flocked to hear her speak at stadium-style events where Beth Moore delves deeply into biblical passages.

Beth Moore’s outsize influence and role in teaching the Bible have always made some evangelical power brokers uneasy, because of their belief only men should be allowed to preach.

But Beth Moore was above reproach, supporting Southern Baptist teaching that limits the office of pastor to men alone and cheerleading for the missions and evangelistic work that the denomination holds dear.

Then along came Donald Trump.

Beth Moore’s criticism of the 45th president’s abusive behavior toward women and her advocacy for sexual abuse victims turned her from a beloved icon to a pariah in the denomination she loved all her life.

Because of her opposition to Donald Trump and her outspokenness in confronting sexism and nationalism in the evangelical world, Beth Moore has been labeled as “liberal” and “woke” and even as being a heretic for daring to give a message during a Sunday morning church service.

Finally, Beth Moore had had enough.

“I am still a Baptist, but I can no longer identify with Southern Baptists. I love so many Southern Baptist people, so many Southern Baptist churches, but I don’t identify with some of the things in our heritage that haven’t remained in the past.”
– Beth Moore

Beth Moore recently ended her longtime publishing partnership with Nashville-based LifeWay Christian.

While Lifeway will still distribute her books, it will no longer publish them or administer her live events.

From 2001 to 2016, Beth Moore’s Living Proof Ministries ran six-figure surpluses, building its assets from about a million dollars in 2001 to just under $15 million by April 2016, according to reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

Beth Moore’s work as a Bible teacher has permeated down to small church Bible study groups and sold-out stadiums with her Living Proof Live events.

For Beth Moore, the Southern Baptist Convention was her family, her tribe, her heritage.

Beth Moore’s Baptist church where she grew up in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, was a refuge from a troubled home where she experienced sexual abuse.

“My local church, growing up, saved my life. So many times, my home was my unsafe place. My church was my safe place.”
– Beth Moore

As an adult, Beth Moore taught Sunday school and Bible study and then, with her Lifeway partnership, her life became deeply intertwined with the denomination.

Beth Moore believed in Jesus. And she also believed in the SBC.

In October 2016, Beth Moore had what she called “the shock of my life,”; when reading the transcripts of the “Access Hollywood”; tapes, where Donald Trump boasted of his sexual exploits with women.

“This wasn’t just immorality. This smacked of sexual assault.”
– Beth Moore

Beth Moore expected her fellow evangelicals, especially Southern Baptist leaders she trusted, to be outraged, especially given how they had reacted to Bill Clinton’s conduct in the 1990s.

Instead, Beth Moore said, they rallied around Donald Trump.

“The disorientation of this was staggering. Just staggering.”
– Beth Moore

Beth Moore, who described herself as “pro-life from conception to grave,”; said she had no illusions about why evangelicals supported Donald Trump, who promised to deliver anti-abortion judges up and down the judicial system.

Still, Beth Moore could not comprehend how he became a champion of the faith.

“He became the banner, the poster child for the great white hope of evangelicalism, the salvation of the church in America, Nothing could have prepared me for that.”
– Beth Moore

When Beth Moore spoke out about Donald Trump, the pushback was fierce.

Book sales plummeted as did ticket sales to her events.

Beth Moore’s criticism of Donald Trump was seen as an act of betrayal.

From fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2019, Living Proof lost more than $1.8 million.

After allegations of abuse and misconduct began to surface among Southern Baptists in 2016, Beth Moore also became increasingly concerned about her denomination’s tolerance for leaders who treated women with disrespect.

In 2018, Beth Moore wrote a “letter to my brothers”; on her blog, outlining her concerns about the deference she was expected to show male leaders, going as far as wearing flats instead of heels when she was serving alongside a man who was shorter than she was.

Beth Moore also began to speak out about her own experience of abuse, especially after a February 2019 report from the Houston Chronicle, her hometown newspaper, detailed more than 700 cases of sexual abuse among Southern Baptists over a 20-year period.

Beth Moore’s social media feeds, especially Twitter, where she has nearly a million followers, became filled with righteous anger and dismay over what she saw as a toxic mix of misogyny, nationalism and partisan politics taking over the evangelical world she loved – along with good-natured banter with friends and supporters to encourage them.

“I can get myself in so much trouble on Twitter because it’s kind of my jam. My thing is to mess around with words and ideas.”
– Beth Moore

Then, in May 2019, Beth Moore said, she did something she now describes as “really dumb”;

A friend and fellow writer named Vicki Courtney mentioned on Twitter that she would be preaching in church on Mother’s Day.

“I’m doing Mother’s Day too! Vicki, let’s please don’t tell anyone this,” Beth Moore replied.

The tweet immediately sparked a national debate among Southern Baptists and other evangelical leaders over whether women should be allowed to preach in church.

Beth Moore, who said she would not become pastor of a Southern Baptist church “to save my life,” watched in amazement as her tweet began to dominate the conversation in the denomination, drowning out the concerns about abuse.

“We were in the middle of the biggest sexual abuse scandal that has ever hit our denomination. And suddenly, the most important thing to talk about was whether or not a woman could stand at the pulpit and give a message.”
– Beth Moore

When Beth Moore attended the SBC&’s annual meeting in June 2019 and spoke on a panel about abuse, she felt she was no longer welcome.

“Things have only gotten worse since then.” The SBC has been roiled by debates over critical race theory, causing a number of high-profile Black pastors to leave the denomination. Politics and Christian nationalism have crowded out the gospel.”
– Beth Moore

While all this was going on, Beth Moore was working on a new Bible study with her daughter Melissa on the New Testament’s letter to Galatians.

As she studied that book, Beth Moore was struck by a passage where the Apostle Paul, the letter’s author, describes a confrontation with Peter, another apostle and early church leader, saying Peter’s conduct was “not in step with the gospel”.

That phrase resonated with Beth Moore.

It described what Beth Moore and other concerned Southern Baptists were seeing as being wrong in their denomination.

“It was not in step with the gospel. It felt like we had landed on Mars.”
– Beth Moore

Unwinding her life from the Southern Baptist Convention and from Lifeway was difficult. Beth Moore and her husband have begun visiting a new church, one not tied as closely to the SBC but still “gospel-driven.”

Beth Moore looked at joining another denomination, perhaps becoming a Lutheran or a Presbyterian, but in her heart, she remains Baptist.

Beth Moore still loves the things Southern Baptists believe, and is determined to stay connected with a local church.

Beth Moore hopes at some point, the public witness of Southern Baptists will return to those core values and away from the nationalism, sexism and racial divides that seem to define its public witness.< So far that has not happened.

“At the end of the day, there comes a time when you have to say, this is not who I am.”
– Beth Moore

Beth Moore had formed long-term friendships with her editing and marketing team at Lifeway and saying goodbye was painful, though amicable.

She would have hoped to spend 2020 on a kind of farewell tour but most of her events last year were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lifeway does have a cruise featuring Beth Moore still on its schedule.

“These are people that I love so dearly and they are beloved forever. I just have not been able to regard many things in my adult ministry life as more of a manifestation of grace than that gift of partnership with Lifeway.”
– Beth Moore

Lifeway will still carry Moore’s books and promote some of her events.

“Those events will likely be smaller, attracting a few hundred people rather than thousands, at least in the beginning. And she is looking forward to beginning anew.”
– Beth Moore

“I am going to serve whoever God puts in front of me.”
– Beth Moore

Bible teacher Beth Moore, splitting with Lifeway, says, ‘I am no longer a Southern Baptist’:
The famed Bible study teacher said she no longer feels at home in the denomination that once saved her life:
Religion News Service

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