I'm not critical of Beth Moore, but I am of us. My feelings towards Beth Moore are like my feelings about eating out. I have this ambivalence: I'm glad she's around and that she's speaking and passionately propounding the beauties of Scripture, I'm also troubled by how easily her Bible studies become our bible studies.
Last week I felt tired and uncreative almost every evening. When 7:30pm rolled around and both Fincher bellies were empty, the last thing I wanted to do was scrounge around in the fridge for some suspicious smelling leftovers. Mostly, I opted to eat out, because it was made-up, served-up and cleaned up and over with in about a 1/2 hour. Since, we have to eat, let's go out. Panera is a lot simpler than home-made paninis.
Don't get me wrong, I love eating at home (even if it's just a microwaved meal with carrot sticks). The home-cooked meals offer me a chance to customize, to notice the details, to present the food and to make sure it's really good for us. Though with our schedules it's becoming more rare (One of the things I miss on the road is cooking our own food, yet when I get home, where's the time?!) when I cook our meals, both Dale and I can sigh with contentment afterwards.
There is a dying tradition of mining out the good foods at the market, feeling the tomatoes for their quality, smelling the melons for their ripeness, then lugging it all home, unloading, putting away. Then, a few hours ahead of your hunger pains peeling, dicing, paring, simmering, sauteeing, baking, cooling, slicing, serving. Eating is just the last part of a longer process.
Eating out all the time is like doing another person's Bible study all the time. Sometimes we need to eat-in.
There is a dying tradition of mining out the old, old stories from Scripture, of poring over long passages at a time, or of meditating on one verse for a half an hour, wondering what one word means and cross-referencing it with your concordance or looking it up on Bible Gateway.com to see what other versions say, of getting caught up with what one passage means and following it like Alice followed the white rabbit, losing all track of time. Few people set aside hours to read Scripture, if we're really disciplined we get 20 minute chunks a day, or 2 hours of frantic filling the the blanks the day before Bible study. But if we do spent this type of time with Scripture, we will get a satisfied feeling in our souls. This food was something we dug for, something we found, a first person, un-mediated experience of the God we want to know better.
I'm an old-fashioned believer in the goodness of the process. That when I take time to cook, the eating is better. That when I take time to be with the Triune God, he will show me something about the passage that will be a long-term satisfaction, lasting me through the weeks. I'm not saying don't listen to Beth Moore anymore than I'm swearing off eating out (though I have in the past and it was a good season). What I am saying is that if we rely on a Bible study to find out about God and never approach him one-on-one, we might miss the quality of Scripture, just like we miss the quality of a home-cooked meal.
Once in a while we need to shop and cook and eat for a meal at home. It will be a lot more work, but we will be glad we did. Once in a while we need to meet God as our only Bible study companion, no book, no list of questions to guide us, no video to propel us. We might get frustrated that we're not in and out in 30 minutes (home-cooked meals usually take a good 1-2 hours) or that we cannot find the right measurement tool (we may get stumped with the mysterious places of the Bible--that happens to me every time I study it). Regardless we need to do it. Why? Because Bible studying shouldn't always be an eating-out experience, with pre-packaged, mass-produced bullet-points and meditation questions. God can customize for us better than that.