Beth Moore Pits Jesus Against Paul. Is This The Road To The First SBC Woman President?

Cody Libolt
For the New Christian Intellectual
7 min readMar 6, 2019


On March 4th, Beth Moore tweeted the following (image above):

Somewhere along the way, Denny, we have to reckon with the fact that we — myself included — went too far. We put limitations on women that exceeded what Christ demonstrated. We did it instead of wrestling with the tension between the Gospels & epistles. We’re watching a backlash.

In case you’re concerned that this tweet from Beth Moore isn’t saying what it appears to be saying, here is the full context of the discussion:

Denny Burk is the President of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He tweeted a criticism of a book Girl, Stop Apologizing. He called the teaching “both exhausting and damning.”

So far, so good.

Beth Moore responds:

I think the larger conversation that needs to be had is the vacuum that conservative Christianity left for women…

Hmm. Alright, Mrs. Moore, let’s talk about the errors that you see within conservative Christianity and its approach to women and ministry. That’s not really what Denny Burk’s tweet was about, but we can talk about your thing too.

Denny Burk responds graciously:

Great question. Why are Christians so open to self-help moralism at odds with gospel principles?

Now, it might just be me, but I am seeing a little push-back in this reply. Read: “Thank you Mrs. Moore. Anyway, let’s try to stay with the subject, please.”


Beth Moore is back:

We all agree on Christ’s call to deny ourselves. Absolutely. No arguing with that. Fact is, there’s no other way ultimately to find joy and freedom. But we must not confuse that with denying what Jesus called women to be part of, who He called us to be & what He invited us to do.

Beth Moore lays down a solid statement about Christ’s call to deny ourselves as a way to ultimately find joy and freedom. Well said. But it is somewhat confusing what this has to do Denny Burk’s concern about a watering down of the gospel with moralism. There is a connection. We’re not sure what it is.

At this point we are definitely having more than one conversation. And the major point of contention seems to be this: What conversation are we actually having? Are we talking about a specific “Christian” self-help book? Are we talking about woman’s roles?

Beth Moore goes on. (Now, hopefully to this point you’ve found the saga entertaining. But prepare yourself — this drama is about to take a tragic turn. Here is where the tweets become *problematic*.)

Beth Moore:

Somewhere along the way, Denny, we have to reckon with the fact that we — myself included — went too far. We put limitations on women that exceeded what Christ demonstrated. We did it instead of wrestling with the tension between the Gospels & epistles. We’re watching a backlash.


Yikes and a half.

Tension? Between the Gospels and Epistles? As in — You are concerned that they do not teach the same thing?

Teachable Moment:

When there is a catch-phrase found within Christendom on the tongue of nearly every preacher, yet not found within Scripture — in either word or concept — that is rarely a good sign.

“Healthy tension” is one such phrase.

“Healthy tension” is a concept used by people who do not know how to think in principle. It is a short cut to saying, “These two ideas are both true at the same time, and it’s a bit mysterious to me how they work together without contradicting each other. Also, I am too imprecise and ill-trained to care whether my phraseology has epistemological consequences.”

In many churches, we hear of “healthy tension” on a weekly basis. We may hear that there ought to be a healthy tension between “truth and love.” Or between a love for sound doctrine while still leaving room for the moving of the Holy Spirit.

You may hear that there is a healthy tension between two different teachings found in the Bible. Both teachings are true, but they seem to “pull against one another.” It reminds us of the way a kite flies: The wind pulls it up, but the string ties it down — thus it flies steadily. Or it reminds us of the tension of a tightrope strung between two poles. If you’re planning to walk that tightrope, you better hope there is “healthy tension” in the rope.

But these are only analogies. And analogies are not a means of thinking in principle. People who know how to think in principle understand that it is preposterous to speak of there being “tension” between two true principles or propositions.

If a man loves his wife and he also loves his children, he would never speak of there being a “healthy tension” between those two facts. Or if he loves God and his neighbor, he would not call that a “healthy tension.” There is no contradiction between the two. They are not mutually exclusive.

Today’s preachers speak of “healthy tension” when they are confused as to how two things could co-exist. But does this phrase honor God? Would we speak of a “healthy tension” between Jesus’ divinity and his humanity as if they were in contradiction? Would we speak of there being a “healthy tension” between the members of the Trinity?

Jacob Brunton has written to explain this error. See his article: “The Insanity of Balance.”

Also see the video: The Sin of Moderation.”

The TL;DR from the above resources is this:

You don’t balance moral principles. They are black and white — yes or no — right or wrong.

But let’s get back to the Beth Moore tweet saga.

What is is wrong with Beth Moore’s tweet?

It is not merely that she ascribes to the questionable idea of “wrestling with tension.” It is worse than that. She is not referring to some kind of tension between principles like truth and love. She is referring to what she sees as a tension between the Gospels and the Epistles — between Jesus and Paul.

This is how a lot of bad things get started. (Ever heard of “Red Letter Christians”?)

To be as charitable as possible, let’s “steel-man” Beth Moore’s argument. Perhaps all she intends to say is that there are instances in the Gospels of women taking a prominent role in telling people about Jesus. The Samaritan woman at the well tells her town. The women at the tomb are the first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection.

True. Fair points.

But where is the “tension” that Beth Moore sees? Perhaps she sees the role of women in the Gospels as being incompatible with the role Paul describes for women in the churches —

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Tim 2:12) seems to be the kind of passage from the Apostle Paul that may weigh heavily on the soul of one of America’s least silent female Bible teachers.

The main concern about Beth Moore has never been whom she teaches. It has always been what she teaches. But there is enough concern enough to go around.

How does Denny Burk respond to Beth Moore? Here is how the discussion seems to wrap up:

Once again, Denny Burk takes the high road: He professes agreement that we should uphold Scripture as our standard. Solid move. Then he reminds Beth Moore that he affirms the Danvers Statement which outlines the orthodox Protestant vision of women in ministry.

And that’s that. The discussion grinds to a halt.

Some will see an unresolved dispute underlying the public statements between these two significant Christian voices. There is what is said, and there is what is left unsaid. There was some give and take. In the end, Denny Burk named his premise. That ended the discussion.

But what about the unnamed premises of Beth Moore? In these, there is, as we have said, concern enough to go around.