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Oh, how we love our gurus

If you blog about certain topics, it is guaranteed you will raise controversy.  Issues like homeschooling, spanking, worship music, and youth ministry are a few that generate a lot of nasty exchanges.

Over the past two days, Tim Challies reviewed Debi Pearl's book Created to Be His Help Meet.  I was homeschooling when this book came out, and I was shown a portion where she discussed what a woman was to do when her husband cheats on her.  I was turned off by that one section and decided I wasn't interested in that book.  When the controversy surrounding the Pearls' child rearing methods arose, I was very glad I had stayed away.   The fact that people like the Pearls isn't really all that surprising.  They are definitely dead set against worldly parenting and marriage models, and sometimes,  people want something radically against the world.  What I always find troublesome is the extent to which people will defend their personal gurus.

Whether it is Debi and Michael Pearl, Beth Moore, Ann Voskamp, or anyone else we care to attach ourselves to, sometimes, people get so vehement about their defense that one is almost afraid a hand is going to come right through the screen and grab her throat.  I wrote some posts about Beth Moore a few years ago.  I dared to write words that didn't express what a darling she is.  I received hate e-mails for years.  I only recently got rid of the posts, because frankly, I was tired of people still (after more than five years) coming after me about it.  You don't dare question Beth Moore because she has changed a lot of lives.

I don't question whether or not someone has had her life changed by Mrs. Moore's teaching.  What is troubling is the complete lack of willilngness to even consider evaluating things.  When an author or public figure generates polarization like that, I prefer to stay away from dialogue about that person.  I did make a few comments in Tim's posts, but I don't know why.  Debi Pearl's supporters insist that anyone who doesn't agree with them simply doesn't understand, or is mean.  One person even called upon Tim to reconsider because, apparently, Jesus is waiting for Tim to do so.

When we began homeschooling in 2000, my husband and I accepted an invitation to become part of a study group using Gary Ezzo's parenting methods.  The couple who ran it are a very godly, loving couple, and they were strong supporters of the Ezzos over the years.  My husband and I agreed to go, and we became immersed in the world of Ezzo parenting.  There were quite a few families we knew who were also Ezzo-ites.  Most people have the biggest issues with the Ezzo's baby material, but their other parenting material is also problematic.  I'm not here to do a point by point analysis.  If you want to look around the internet, you'll find plenty of information.

My husband and I finished the 16 week program, but as time went on and we tried to live out those principles, we began to see things we didn't like.  We also heard a lot of criticism about the Ezzos, but we didn't listen to it.  When our church hosted the Ezzos for a conference, friends of ours told us bluntly that we should not attend, and they began to tell us some things about the Ezzos that we didn't know.  Their baby had suffered from extremely low weight gain while they utilized the Ezzo Babywise material.  When my friend took her baby to the doctor, he said to her, "Feed this child!"  Their story about their experience with the Ezzos and some of the negative press about him was troublesome to us.  When we went to the couple who was teaching this material, and who had arranged to have the Ezzos come to our church, they told us the criticism was just jealousy, meannnes, and that we should ignore it.  That was when we really should have stopped and thought.  When we are encouraged not to investigate something thoroughly, we should be careful.

I don't remember what it was that happened at that conference specifically that made me wonder what we were doing, but sometime after that, I realized that there was a lot of spiritual pride being fostered in the Ezzo parenting circles in my church and even in my own life.  We were Ezzo parents, and we were proud of the responses we got from our children.  Our kids said "Yes mommy," when we asked them to do something, and our children's impeccable manners were a sure fire manifestation of a changed heart.  Not.

As I had my eyes opened a little, I began to see that I was wrong about a lot of things.   When I look back now, I realize I was not willing to question this parenting guru I had become attached to.  Instead of fixing my eyes on Christ, and working through the issues, I went straight for automatic results.  We often do that when our kids are young because we just want them to be good kids.  The better goal is to have a transformed heart, even if it does mean we struggle with a child who simply wants to go his own way all the time.

It is natural to have favourite writers, preachers, and bible study leaders.  I admit to having a preference for a few individuals out there.  But if I am not using discernment in evaluating those people, they are becoming almost like idols to me.  If I refuse to even consider evaluating, I am being foolish. 

The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving (Prov. 14:8).

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice (Prov. 12:15).

I was guilty of being foolish and lacking discernment.  When we read any books we must use discernment, and we also need to be willing to honestly evaluate who we are reading because every writer is a sinner and can be wrong.  Any responsible Christian writer will not even flinch if people choose to evaluate his material.  Any Christian writer who puts himself or herself in the public eye should expect people to evalute.  If we don't want to be evaluated, perhaps we should remain silent.  When writers whine about how mean people are being, I just want to say, "It comes with the territory, doesn't it?"

Christ, not our gurus, should have our utmost loyalty.  He is the Word, and the Word is inerrant, sufficient, clear, and inspired.  Everything we take in needs to be filtered through that lens and if it comes up short, we need not feel guilty about setting it aside.  To become caught up in someone's teaching without even considering its merits and claiming that we dare not evaluate seems to me to be a clear case of being wise in our own eyes.  By all means, be loyal, but don't wear blinders.  If we're afraid to have our views challenged, is it because we're afraid of being wrong?

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Reader Comments (9)

Thank you for bringing this up, Kim. I didn't read the comments on Tim's articles because I haven't read the book and knew enough to know I wouldn't ever be reading it. But, I've seen some of the comments on Facebook threads. It constantly amazes me that when we dare take on someone in the cult of personality, that person's followers come after us with such a vengeance and yet they claim WE are the mean-spirited ones. I've learned that it's a clear warning sign about that teacher when his/her defenders spout such vitriol (and give no Scriptural basis for their defense).

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Excellent post, thank you. I have read most of the Pearl's books (TTUAC was handed to me when we decided to homeschool). Take with a grain of salt. As I have learned more about grace, though, the less any of that appeals to me.

I would love to read your Beth Moore posts. The church we left when we became Reformed was a huge Beth Moore worship center. Groupies would be the kindest way to describe the attitude and atmosphere. I have attended two of here teaching conferences, and done a couple Bible studies. Ehhh. Give me True Woman any day.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaula

I wish you had not deleted the Beth Moore articles!! : ) I'd like to have read them, as Beth Moore is not my cup of tea either. My problem is more with her style. She..."shout talks" and I somehow feel like I am back in high school listening to a cheerleader. Her speaking style grates on me severely. I am more of a serious, analytical learner...not an emotional/relational learner...which I think puts me in a minority with how many women learn. I can relate to why you deleted the articles. I once posted on my facebook that Beth Moore was not my style (it was a vague remark and I did not attack her or anything), but my goodness- it set off a fury!! HOW COULD I NOT LOVE WONDERFUL BETH MOORE?!?!?! I mean really...does everyone have to like the same thing?? I don't expect everyone to love JI Packer and CH Spurgeon like I do...

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLLM

I'm sorry you deleted your posts about Beth Moore. I found them to be most helpful and encouraging and agreed with what you wrote. They were good posts. I'm glad I copied them at the time now that they are gone and have used them to help other women regarding her teaching.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

Good article Kim. Thanks for being so candid. The trap we stuck our foot in in the 70's was Bill Gothard's Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts. Thankfully we weren't there too long ....but long enough to do some things we still regret to this day.

July 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

I really like the idea of "fixing our eyes on Christ and working through the issues." Truly, Christ is the only perfect man, and we should never expect perfection from our "gurus." It's hard to do that - I'm an all or nothing kind of girl, and it's taken training to take the good and analize the bad. Thanks for this perspective.

P.S. I would have been interested in reading your posts about Beth Moore. I have done several of her studies at a local church, but also have reservations about them. Sorry you had to take them down.

July 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Wow. Great post! (found you through TulipGirl's Ezzo Week series) This is such an important thing for all of us to remember! I've witnessed this way too much in the lives of our friends and family and also seen the temptation in myself to swallow everything that is said by a teacher/preacher/author that I respect. I will definitely be sharing this! And to second all the requests you've gotten so far I'd love to read your Beth Moore article too! I totally understand wanting to take it of after 5 yrs of people getting mad at you. Would you ever email it to any of us interested people? :)

July 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

Rachel, I actually don't have the drafts, anymore, either. I used to do all my posts in Word, and then post them, but that was on my laptop which bit the dust three years ago, so I don't have them.

July 26, 2012 | Registered CommenterKim

Could you please e-mail the post that you took down on Beth Moore?

March 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDarrell

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