Summary: A discussion of spiritual attacks, sin, prevention of sin, forgiveness, repentance and restoration.
I have been aware of Beth Moore for a long time but other than one book that I started as an audiobook, and stopped because the content was inappropriate for audio, I have not read any of her books or done any of her bible studies. But over the past year or so, I have been increasingly impressed with her on Twitter. She is kind, but forceful. She interacts with a lot of people that I know or know of on twitter. And she has been increasingly important to conversations around race, gender, sexism, and sexual assault within the Evangelical world.
I decided I needed to actually read one of her books. A few years ago she temporarily made most of her books available for free on kindle. As I scanned through titles and descriptions to pick one, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things stood out because of my interest in the topic. I have written a bit on this and one of the few pieces I have been asked to repost on another blog was a piece I wrote about how we should approach John Yoder and others that have significantly tainted reputations because of their sin. Recent discussions about Karl Barth and his long term affair with Charlotte von Kirshbaum, his secretary and co-author of some of his work, brought this back up to me again.
As I got into When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, I think it is valuable, but not quite what I thought it would be. Beth Moore is talking about spiritual attack and what we can do to guard ourselves against it. In some ways I think this is similar to Richard Beck’s book Reviving Old Scratch. Both are trying to bring renewed attention to Satan as an actual figure of importance to Christian theology, but from very different theological perspectives. Beck is trying to remind a more progressive/mainline group of Christians that are fine thinking about Satan as an abstract idea or someone that is behind systemic evil that Satan is important theologically and actually to understanding both individual and systemic sin.
Beth Moore is trying to remind conservative Evangelicals that Satan does not just tempt non-Christians, but is Christians as well. She describes how what starts as a spiritual dryness or a lack of spiritual disciplines or a seemingly innocent exploration can become a full blown crisis of sin. I read Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory right before I started this book and Greene’s main character there is an alcoholic priest. The Priest does not blame the alcohol for his sin, but his pride. His pride led him to stop focusing on his spiritual disciplines and care for others and to think about himself. Eventually he became lazy in other areas as well. As things snowballed, he became a alcoholic, he also fathered a child. Greene’s description of the unnamed priest’s decent seems very similar to Moore’s concerns.