Southern Baptist/SBC

Bye-Bye Beth: What Beth Moore’s Split with the SBC Means

It was the shot heard round the world online Christian neighborhood I hang out in. (I’m sure most of the actual world couldn’t care less.) On Tuesday, March 8 – in a hit piece from RNS (Religion News Service) that came thisclose to libeling everyone who has ever biblically called for her de-platforming – Beth Moore announced she had broken ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, and flounced out the door, smearing the institution that made her what she is on her way out. Classy.

What does this mean for Beth? For you? For Southern Baptist churches? For the SBC?

For Beth personally…

For Beth, personally, it means she no longer has to keep her church membership at a Southern Baptist church. A few months ago, when Beth mentioned that she was looking for a new church, I figured she was probably looking for something much less biblically restrictive than her Southern Baptist home church (which already plays fast and loose with the Scriptures by allowing Beth – a woman and a false teacher – to preach). Something progressive. Politically correct. A church that would fit Beth’s unbiblical worldview on whatever the hot political / social topic du jour might happen to be, be it Critical Race Theory, egalitarianism, social justice, the perversion agenda, abortion, and so on. A social media follower, who knows which church she’s trying out, described it to me, and it sounds like she found the progressive church I imagined she would be looking for.

It also means, assuming she doesn’t tie herself down to a publisher or other entity that places restrictions on her (you know – expects her to act, speak, and teach like the Christian and Bible teacher she claims to be) that she will feel much freer to clearly express exactly what she thinks about those hot topics.

Anyone who has followed Beth on social media for any length of time knows that she can be cryptic at best, and borderline incoherent at worst, when expressing a significant thought – especially a thought on a controversial issue. Which has likely been due, at least in part, to trying to walk the tightrope between expressing her true thoughts and not crossing the line with the powers that be at LifeWay (an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention).

This was abundantly clear during the Open Letter to Beth Moore debacle two years ago. Beth clearly did not want to (and indeed, never did) come right out and flatly say that homosexuality is a sin. Yet because of her financial and contractual relationship with LifeWay (which has a policy and history of dropping authors who affirm homosexuality), she could not come right out and say that homosexuality is not a sin (which, I’m sure, disappointed her homosexual / homosexuality-affirming fans). I have suspected from the day it happened, that LifeWay somehow forced Beth into publishing her final statement on the matter as well as her month-long Twitter hiatus which immediately followed. It will be interesting to see whether she spills the tea about things like that or keeps them to herself. Personally, from a writer’s perspective, I’m very curious to see if she has used this cryptic style of writing as a way to veil her true thoughts just enough to pass LifeWay’s “smell test” and will now feel free to speak clearly and forthrightly, or if “cryptic” is just the style of writing with which she feels most comfortable.

But the darkest, most devastating consequence of this move for Beth is that she is purposefully casting off the last vestiges of biblical restraint God’s common grace has, until now, provided her. You see, there are still biblically faithful people, processes, and provisos in place in the SBC that have acted as guardrails for Beth, keeping her from careening over the cliff of sin and rebellion she’s been so desperately gunning for. The RNS article shamefully makes it seem as though a bunch of petty meanies have long been picking on poor little Beth, and she’s (once again) a victim, pushed out by heartless bullies who just wanna keep a good woman down.

That’s not the case at all.

Beth is not leaving the SBC because people were mean to her for not liking Trump, or for speaking out about abuse, or for taking a stand on racism. That’s just the window dressing diversion she has created as she makes a break for it out the back door.

Beth is leaving the SBC because she chafes at Scripture’s rebuke of her sin.

And in the SBC – even as biblically off track as it is in so many ways – she meets that rebuke at every turn. Beth is leaving because she wants to go somewhere where she can openly sin in peace, with nary a flicker of conscience or whisper of reproof to plague her.

And that’s an extraordinarily dangerous place for anyone to be.

Time after time, God sent Moses to warn Pharaoh. Time after time, Pharaoh hardened his heart. Finally, God gave Pharaoh over and hardened his heart, and Pharaoh cast the last vestige of godly warning and influence out of his presence for good. There was no turning back.

When a person repeatedly hardens her heart against God’s admonitions and commands – come they through reading His Word, circumstances, or the call of faithful Christians to repent – God’s time of forbearance with that person eventually comes to an end. Perhaps he takes the person’s life, or perhaps He takes away His restraining hand and turns her over to a reprobate mind, to “do what ought not to be done,” but continued contumacious sin comes at a steep price.

For Beth’s sake, I dearly hope I’m wrong, but I fear this is what may be happening in the spiritual realm while we sit mesmerized by the trappings of the temporal realm.

For the average Beth Moore fan…

Beth’s average fan isn’t going to see much of a difference in terms of her availability. LifeWay’s publishing arm will no longer be publishing her materials, but LifeWay Retail will still be selling them in their online store. LifeWay’s conference division will no longer be hosting and platforming Beth’s conferences or other live events. But I’m sure Beth has other publishers (maybe Zondervan or Thomas Nelson?) and conference promoters lined up around the block – probably in a bidding war – to offer her their services. So, she’s not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, you may see an increase in the availability of her materials and conferences, depending on how much (if at all) she felt her contractual obligations to LifeWay may have been holding her back.

But you’ll probably begin noticing some much more important changes. I’m not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but here’s an educated guess based on observing Beth’s ministerial trajectory over the last twenty or so years: You’re not going to see a sudden uptick in holiness, humility, and obedience to Scripture. With God’s gracious hand of restraint via the SBC cast off, what you’re going to see is a continued downward spiral – now at breakneck speed – into sin, heresy, and rebellion. More preaching to men1. More yoking with other false teachers. More Scripture twisting. More CRT. More liberal politics. More social justice. More “God told me…”. Clear approval of homosexuality, and maybe even abortion at some point, too.

If you’re still a Beth Moore fan, I urge you, for the sake of your own spiritual well-being, to divorce yourself from her immediately. This is not going to be pretty.

For the discerning Christian…

Some have jokingly speculated that Beth’s announcement of her split with the SBC will be followed by her heeding John MacArthur’s admonition to “Go home.” I can’t see that happening. As I said, if this move affects her availability at all, it will most likely make her more prolific. And even though she is in her 60’s, I would be very surprised if she voluntarily retired any time soon.

You will have to continue to warn your friends and loved ones about Beth, though this shift of hers may prove conducive to that in a couple ways:

  • With this being a hot story for the moment, some of her followers, and some pastors, are beginning to ask questions. “Why would Beth want to leave the SBC?” “I’m seeing Beth Moore’s name trending online and people saying there are biblical problems with her. What are the issues I should be aware of?” That’s an open door for you to lovingly explain and present evidence for Beth’s false teaching and sinful behavior. (Need a little help? Use my article Living Proof You Should Follow Beth (No) Moore.)
  • As mentioned above, Beth will most likely become much more open about her false teaching, sinful behavior, and approval of others’ sin. The average evangelical in the pew may not understand the reasons that, say, extra-biblical revelation or preaching to men is unbiblical, but they know homosexuality is a sin. They know Christians are supposed to be 100% against abortion2. And so, if Beth stays on the trajectory she’s on and begins to publicly take an unbiblical stand on these things, it may be easier for you to point to, and for her followers to grasp these polarizing issues as reasons they should stop following her.

For Southern Baptist Churches…

In terms of the availability of Beth’s materials, I wouldn’t think any church who has a purchasing relationship with LifeWay would see much, if any difference when they log on to place an order. The main difference in availability will be for churches that simulcast or purchase blocks of tickets to her live events. They’ll no longer be able to do this via LifeWay. They’ll have to go through whatever platforming agency is handling her event sales. It shouldn’t be too much of an obstacle for any church or women’s ministry that’s determined to keep following Beth, unfortunately.

I had hoped that for Southern Baptist churches Beth’s departure would serve as a wake up call to spur pastors to vet Beth more carefully and stop allowing her to destroy the women of their churches. And, perhaps, for a few, it has. But if comments like this one

…from Ed Litton (a presumptive nominee for SBC president at the 2021 annual meeting) are any indication, most will remain willfully clueless and derelict in their Titus 1:9 duties.

The impact Beth’s departure should have on the local church is to get pastors and church members alike to start thinking critically – not just about Beth, but about the authors of all the materials they use and about the issues the SBC is currently embroiled in at the national level. Because each SBC church is autonomous, there’s a tendency among a large swath of church members (and even some pastors) not to pay any attention to what’s going on at the national level.

So I imagine, first of all, that a sizable portion of Southern Baptists don’t even know Beth has left the SBC, because they don’t make any effort to keep up with what’s going on in their own denomination3. Also because of that, many of the ones who do know are likely baffled by the issues she’s citing as reasons for leaving, and what is and is not the biblical position on those issues in this hot, chaotic mess.

Southern Baptist churches should take this situation as a Providential Gibbs slap…

…and henceforth stop being so lax about false teachers and so uninformed about current events in the SBC.

For the Southern Baptist Convention…

Beth’s departure isn’t going to change the Southern Baptist Convention in any noticeable way that I can think of. Some have observed, “Well, at least this puts the issue of her being elected SBC president to rest.” I don’t think there was ever much chance of that happening. Not that she couldn’t have been nominated. Not that people wouldn’t have voted for her. I just don’t think she would have accepted the position. It’s a lot of work, and she’s already monumentally busy. Plus, she doesn’t strike me as someone who enjoys administrative work. (I guess that’s one thing we have in common.)

While they will still earn revenue by selling Beth’s materials, LifeWay lost a chunk of change when she decided to take her publishing and live events contracts elsewhere. And the sad and shameful thing is, that’s all they’ve been concerned about all along. Money.

LifeWay didn’t care about Southern Baptist women whose spiritual lives they crippled by the thousands through Beth Moore’s false teaching and ungodly example. They didn’t care about the Southern Baptist churches they sowed division into by peddling Beth’s poison to them. They didn’t care about the discerning Southern Baptist women who have been forced out of their churches and spiritually abused by Southern Baptist pastors, pastors’ wives, and women’s ministry leaders deceived by Beth.

And you know who else LifeWay didn’t care about? Beth. They didn’t care enough to look into her teaching, her beliefs, and her behavior, compare them to Scripture, and go, “Something is off here. This is not the fruit of someone who is saved, much less of a sound teacher. We love this woman as a soul created in the image of God, and we’re not going to help her continue down this road of destruction. She needs the gospel. She needs Christ. And for the sake of the judgment she’s going to face, she doesn’t need to be teaching anybody.”

But, no, they were making money off of Beth, so they just kept building her empire. Why let a little thing like her eternity get in the way? The time came to choose between serving God and mammon, and they picked mammon. They sold Beth’s soul for thirty pieces of silver.

Strong words? Not nearly as strong as they’ll hear when they have to answer to God for caring more about money than they cared about the priceless soul of this precious woman.

I pray God uses Beth’s departure to graciously open the eyes of those at LifeWay and in SBC leadership who have been complicit in encouraging Beth in her false teaching and in gilding the chains that bind her to her sin. I pray He mercifully puts them on the ground in the sackcloth and ashes of repentance, that they might be forgiven. And I pray that they would then reach out to Beth again, this time with a call to turn from her sin and believe the gospel.

Beth Moore, and those in SBC leadership who helped make her what she is, have played no small part in creating, contributing to, or paving the way for the morass of unbiblical issues festering in the SBC today: CRT, women preaching, false doctrine, false teachers being made into celebrities, political posturing, maneuvering, and intimidation, pride and impenitence, and much more.

May Beth’s departure be an opportunity for the SBC to examine itself against Scripture and right the ship.

Indeed, may we all take this opportunity to examine our denominations, our churches, the teachers we learn from, and our own hearts.

1A few have speculated that now that Beth is no longer beholden to the Baptist Faith and Message (the SBC’s statement of faith) which disallows women from holding the office of pastor, that she may decide she wants to pastor a church. If they mean a typical, existing church, I find this extremely unlikely. From Beth’s position and perspective, becoming a pastor would be a huge step down. It would mean less money, less celebrity, more responsibility, and more accountability. I don’t see it happening. But, I guess anything’s possible.

2Beth has not made any pro-abortion statements yet that I’m aware of, but I sense that, as with her devolving unbiblical stance on homosexuality, this is coming. Even before leaving the SBC she had already adopted the liberal “I’m pro-all of life” mantra.

3Yes, I’m aware that the SBC isn’t technically a denomination, but a voluntary cooperative of autonomous churches. But if it looks like a denomination and often functions like a denomination, it’s going to get called a denomination sometimes.