November 19, 2008

Beth Moore: Deuteronomy 7:6-9

We are in week 8 of the Beth Moore Bible study, "Living Beyond Yourself," at my church. It hasn't been an easy study for me to be involved in because it so frequently jumps around different books of the Bible, sometimes to the neglect of context. On page 139 of the study, question 1 asks the student to read Deuteronomy 7:6-9 and respond. "Which of the following represent reasons God chose Israel?" The possible answers are "Because they were a mighty nation; Because they were the fewest of all peoples; Because they were a holy people; Because they were His treasured possession." Unless this is a teaser question, it seems to me that a 5th choice is missing: None of the above.

Deuteronomy 7:6-9 affirms that Israel is a mighty nation, fewest of all peoples, a holy people, and God's treasured possession. But none of these things were true about Israel in a way that caused God to choose them, so to say God chose them because of any of these things is erroneous. At one point in time, Israel was a promise to Abraham, they didn't exist except as his offspring multiplied.

So what is Deut 7:6-9 saying? In fact, it is saying exactly the opposite of Beth's question. The answer is in verse 8, "but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping His oath that He swore to your fathers."

I don't claim to know Hebrew, but the English is plain enough here. Statements that are true about Israel in this passage do not necessitate that they are causes.

1. "You are a people holy to the Lord..."
2. "The Lord your God has chosen you to be...His treasured possession" emphasis on "to be," indicative that holiness was not a cause.
3. "It was not because you were more in number...for you were the fewest." Be careful here, this is not a causitive statement, it is emphasizing even further that there is nothing mighty about Israel apart from God's love.

If this was intended by the editors to be a thought-provoking question, then it might work, but the wordsmiths aren't satisfied with this use of language as it clouds serious truths about God and His covenant relationship with Israel.

Please don't be too quick to beat up on me for being critical of this study. There are other areas of concern that I have with it that I have not publically addressed as of yet. To excuse the flaws of this study because it is 10 years old misunderstands the role of editors in publishing, but more importantly, it prevents women from getting the best training in Bible study methods and application.

I disagree with Beth Moore on many things, but they have more to do with method as she often draws conclusions with little rigor. I certainly am not judging her intentions or motives, I believe her to be a woman who sincerely loves the Lord.

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deborah said...

I agree with you, Sarah. This is an example of why I don't spend time on Beth Moore studies.

reademandweap said...

I recently took part in a Beth Moore study at our church. I enjoyed it and her--don't have any critique of her intellectual rigor or lack thereof but am wondering since you have some good points of argument whether you have approached her with these in any way. Maybe to encourage a correction in a future edition, should there be one, of that Bible study you mentioned...
Am thinking of that place in the New Testament where Priscilla and Aquila mentored (right word?) Apollos or someone (no Bible right here to consult but you will know) who was teaching/preaching what he knew but which was not the whole gospel. Imagine Beth has grown a lot in 10 years. Sure seemed humble-hearted in the study I took (on the Psalms of Ascent) and if she truly is she will be teachable.
Just a thought