Most churches have a women’s ministry. The goal is usually to encourage spiritual development while offering a way for women to come together on a regular basis for fun and fellowship. Many women’s ministry leaders agree that one way to meet these goals is to facilitate a Bible study or host a Christian book club.
There is a good chance that the go-to authors for these types of events are either Beth Moore, Lysa TerKeurst, or Priscilla Shirer. All three authors have gained immense popularity in churches of every denomination throughout the country. The problem is that these particular women’s Bible teachers might actually be doing more harm than good, as they not only embrace, but teach fake Christian, New Age concepts, such as contemplative prayer, meditation, and automatic writing.
In a recent meme on Twitter, the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa TerKeurst posted, “When is the last time I just sat quietly with a pen and paper and asked the Lord to help me think?”
Some people would call this a form of automatic writing. According to Clare McNaul, a self-proclaimed spirit medium, “Automatic writing, the process of getting into a relaxed state of mind and putting pen to paper, is an excellent way to establish a deeper connection with your higher mind and the spirit world.”
Automatic writing is also called trance writing as those who engage in it often go into a trance while quickly writing whatever comes to mind. Christians may think they are receiving messages from God, but in reality, they could be communicating with other spirits.
Helen Schucman used automatic writing for her famous book, A Course in Miracles. During the seven years it took her to write the book, she claims she was channeling Jesus the entire time. Considering the book is full of mysticism, Gnosticism, and New Age psycho-babble, this is highly doubtful.
Many Christians believe that there is nothing wrong with journaling thoughts as long as they are in a prayerful state and communicating with God. Doing this, however, is not how the Bible states we are to pray and communicate with Him. Christians are never to empty their minds, instead they are to fill it with truths about God, which come from the Bible.
Another women’s ministry leader that uses automatic writing is popular Bible teacher, speaker, and author, Beth Moore. She has made references to the idea that it was God and not herself that wrote her book, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things.
Moore states that God wrote each chapter of the book on her heart and when the message from His was complete, “God compelled me to ink it on paper with the force of the Holy Spirit.” It should come to no surprise that Moore recommends the Jesus Calling books by Sarah Young, which have been criticized for being written with automatic writing.
Besides her questionable writing practices, Moore embraces and teaches contemplative prayer, which is another practice that involves emptying the mind in order to hear God’s voice. According to Moore, “A true lover of God once spoke about practicing God’s presence. To me that’s such a part of contemplative prayer.” Brother Lawrence, an apostate Catholic monk, was the “true lover of God” she was talking about.
Along with embracing contemplative prayer, Moore often describes how God gives her extra-biblical revelation, usually through a dream or a vision.
On her blog post titled, “Why Beth Moore and Not Me? The Danger of Claiming to Receive Direct Revelation” Erin Benziger writes, “Any claim that is made, then, that God continues to speak outside of His Word and deliver direct, personal revelation is one that must be considered with great seriousness. After all, if God always speaks with authority, then such revelations must be perceived to be as inspired as Scripture. Any private prophecy, voice, dream or vision that is claimed to be from God must find a place in the back of our Bibles and our Bible ‘reading plans’ must be extended to include these words. Mustn’t they?”
Popular Bible teacher, speaker, and actress, Priscilla Shirer is another women’s ministry leader that embraces contemplative prayer. Known for her role as Elizabeth Jordan in the popular movie, War Room, Shirer is the daughter of Dr. Tony Evans who teaches Christians to “listen for God’s voice.” In her book, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God Speaks, Shirer quotes many contemplative mystics, including Brother Lawrence, Jan Johnson, and Dallas Willard.
Most Christians would say that the Bible is God’s most valuable way of communicating with them. Shirer disagrees. “I believe that the still small voice— or the interior or inner voice, as it is also called—is the preferred and most valuable form of individualized communication for God’s purposes.”
Bud Ahlheim, a writer for the Pulpit & Pen Discernment website says that Christians need to be very careful when engaging in New Age practices such as contemplative prayer. “Chasing a mystical voice, rather than relying on God’s revelation in Scripture, is a maneuver that can quickly mitigate the faithfulness of an authentic believer.”