The following comments were received after our recent article, Is BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) Heading in the Contemplative Direction?. We have used substitute names for these women (all who have been personally involved with BSF), so as to protect their privacy, but the letters are real letters from real people. Many of these women are BSF teachers and leaders.
Comment #1: After attending the last few weeks of BSF this Spring, I also received the newsletter with list of recommended books. I wrote to the director of BSF a month or two ago regarding this, but have not received a response. One illustration I gave was of Willard’s book “The Great Omission,” which I had read. Mary Ann
Comment #2: Thank you for sounding the warning on BSF International after their May 2010 magazine quoted “The Message” and promoted several emergent/contemplative books on their reading list. I have been in BSF for 7+ years and I was shocked by the current magazine. No one else seems concerned. I am horrified. I am also a Discussion Leader and was told at the Retreat this year in Louisville, KY that we were in for “big changes” by the new Director Susie Rowan. Please stay on top of this story as I see BSF slipping down a deceptive slope and I seem unable to do anything about it, even after sounding the alarm to our Teaching Leader and Substitute Teaching Leader here in _________. God Bless everything you do! Cynthia
Comment #3: Being that we have corresponded in the past I just wanted to share a few comments with you. Thank God for LHT! It took me years to find you but each Newsletter is an encouragement to us in ways you can’t imagine. I was totally alone in my thinking (and wasn’t aware of Lighthouse Trails) when I quit BSF about ten years ago. I went to leaders to discuss my concerns, no one could see my point of view. It started out with the original study questions which were challenging to everyone and our answers should only come from KJV. Then came the “new” studies, our reading could be from different versions of the Bible (one gal brought her old Catholic Bible). The questions, in my opinion, were full of “how do you feel” and “what do think” kind of wordings. Each question was worded in such a way “our” feelings seemed to be more important than WORD. The study seemed to make the Bible-up to our own interruption. It was just getting started!! I appreciate your article. On Jim Wallis, I am given to understand he was Plymouth Brethren. I believe he might have been the disgruntled Jim Wallis from the Detroit Michigan area. We grew up PB and his belief system is sooo contrary to the teachings we grew up with. My Grandfather was a lay minister in the Plymouth Brethren and he would have taken Wallis down in a mega second, if he were alive today. I cannot believe how many have fallen away from the truth we were exposed to in this non-denominational church. I know we all fall short and most of us are too worldly but starting a neo-religion based on pagan practices, just breaks our hearts. Keep up the (good) GOD work!! In Christ. Kathy
Comment #4: Thank you for your article re. BSF. I hope they will respond soon. I see the hundreds reading the recommended books, and then coming to Isaiah (next year’s study) saying that Isaiah’s vision was just as the contemplative prayer and visions. Rachel
Comment #5: I quit attending BSF back in 2000 because it was very ecumenical. Since attendees were from various churches we weren’t allowed to speak the truth as in the Word of God if it would offend any church (i.e. Catholic, Mormon, etc.) … Each person in the group was supposed to give their opinion on what they got out of the scripture being studied, not what the truth of God’s Word was. It reminded me of the dialectic method. Laura
Comment #6(shortened version): I have been involved in BSF for a very long time…and am currently entering my __th year of leadership. I could never imagine my life without BSF….until this past year. I have noticed the questions being “watered down”….with more of “what do you think…rather than what does the Bible say type of questions. Within the organization, there has been an increased awareness and concern about decreasing attendance ….especially of the younger generation. When I attended the retreat this past year, we were told that plans were in place to correct that problem. We were told to “LOVE” the members more because the younger people are needing more love….
We were told at the retreat that they were going to change the “stigma” that BSF has had about being so rigid….. that wherever there were “barriers” between the rules and members, that those barriers would “come down.” The rules and routine for the various groups would be different to be “relative” for each setting. The younger groups would have different, more “comfortable” routines than the older ones. The goal was to be more appealing and attractive to compete with other less-rigid studies that are out there. It was clear to me that BSF was taking initial steps down the Emergent path.
There were 2,000 leaders at the retreat I attended. I would say that more than 1/2 of them were brand-new leaders….and yes, many were very young. I was appalled to see body piercings, tattoos and THE MESSAGE being used by several of them. This was my second retreat and it was totally different than the one I attended 3 years ago. This one was more of a tribute/commercial for BSF and the new director, Susie Rowan. The cheering and ovations were astounding as the organization was in promotion of itself and it’s leadership. …
I alerted my Teaching Leader of my concerns…but was abruptly brushed aside. The majority of our local leadership circle are among the many who were taken in by the deception that I believe was taking place at the retreat and within the organization itself. I was told by my Teaching Leader that I need to “love” more and not be so critical. (As a side note…I was also told that I could no longer tell anyone that Beth Moore twists Scripture! I always reserve my personal opinions for time outside of BSF…but it was very clear that I shouldn’t even be pursuing that truth on my own time.) …
I have planned to remain in leadership through this next year because the study of Isaiah is a new one. I am very interested in seeing the changes that will unfold. I have no doubt that this will be my last year though…if I even last that long! I can no longer promote the study…I will not invite anyone anymore. I have no doubt that the introduction of the quote from The Message and the endorsed books are trial balloons..and that without resistance, they will be ushering in the end of a great, 50+yr old Bible Study.
Thank you for your incredible ministry! You have NO IDEA how welcome your article was to me! I was beginning to think that I was just imagining things…and basically that’s what I’ve been told by my leadership too. God bless your work! Come Lord Jesus! Theresa
Comment #7: I want to thank you for your article about BSF moving in a contemplative direction. I have been involved with BSF for several years, joined leadership this year, and began to have the very same concerns. They were compounded when my mother (who is a leader in a different class) attended the retreat this past February. Many of the leaders there were utilizing The Message as their Bible “translation” and many of the talks seemed to be leaning toward a contemplative slant. Thankfully, my class is blessed to have a woman leading who is greatly grounded in the truth and sees the same concerns that I do. Nevertheless, I think it is important to send the warning out about BSF. Your article expressed every one of my concerns to the letter. (I also have concerns about their newest move into China with the apparent blessing of the Chinese government, but that is another issue). Thank you for your dedication to the Truth. Blessings, Jennifer
Comment #8: I find it very interesting that BSF is recommending Eugene Peterson, or Dallas Willard at all. If Jane Roach (second in command at BSF Headquarters) is still in their ranks, there has to be some internal friction going on down in San Antonio. She often spoke at BSF Retreats (conventions) and was critical of any kind of worldly practices in the church. Having been a BSF Discussion Leader and Assistant Class Administrator, I can tell you that BSF gives NO interviews, and flies totally under the radar. They are nearly invisible on the internet as you’ve probably noticed. Their philosophy is to give out NO information so their reputation remains untarnished.
Having been an insider, I can tell you that while the fellowship seemed great when I was young in the faith and naive, there was a strong unspoken pressure that bore down on those in leadership. When the time came for me to step out of BSF, I found it very difficult to do so even for valid reasons. BSF told their leaders they couldn’t leave BSF unless God had called them to a different ministry. Family concerns didn’t seem like reason enough. Now that I’m an outsider, it occurs to me that there is a degree of mind control exerted on the participants through their rules, signed agreements (for those in leadership), dress code, etc. They even subtly mention legal action for those that copied their materials or imitated their class structure. Not remembering what I exactly signed when I became a Discussion Leader and Assistant Class Administrator, I’ve been leery of exposing them too much for fear of reprisals. An example of this control is seen in the tiny print at the top of each of their lessons that are handed out weekly to class members, “BSF notes are provided for the personal use of class members during their active participation and must not be loaned or given to nonmembers.” These notes are free to the class members, yet BSF doesn’t want them to be shared.
And their control extends into the very structure of their weekly lesson questions. They ask questions in such a way as to either assume the answer or steer the class member, who is quite often a new or non Christian, toward their viewpoint. This is especially evident in their Romans study. The materials were compiled from James Boice’s four book series on Romans. Boice was a personal friend and I believe a BSF Board member when the Romans study was released as a new BSF study in 1998. He was personal friends with the then BSF General Director, Rosemary Jensen. Rosemary Jensen was facing forced retirement from BSF because she was turning 70, but insisted on the Romans study before she was dismissed. James Boice died two years later of liver cancer. BSF is currently about to unveil a brand new study on Isaiah which makes me wonder what they will teach concerning the return of Christ and the Kingdom. BSF’s founder Wetherell Johnson held to the pre-trib rapture position, but BSF has stayed neutral about the timing (infant or believer’s) and mode of baptism. This is probably more info than you wanted, so I’ll just close…. Thanks for all you do! Blessings, Elaine
Comment #9:I’ve been reading Lighthouse Trails for years & very much appreciate all of your very well researched information. I believed in the Lord Jesus in May 1999 at 50 yrs of age. It is truly a miracle. God is so faithful. I started attending BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) in Sept of 2002. When I received the BSF Magazine in May, I was very disturbed with the quote from the Message & the recommendation to read a book by Dallas Willard. I thought this place would be the last stronghold which had resisted all this mystical stuff. I have made copies of articles about the Message & Dallas Willard (withBiblical quotes) to send them & really was waffling on sending them…not knowing how to put all my worries into words. Never in my life did I expect to read about my wonderful BSF in relation to mysticism. It breaks my heart. But I will send them tomorrow & write a letter expressing my concern. My teaching leader in _________, is so wonderful. Please print an article if they answer you & I will let you know what they say to me. Thank you for your diligence. I’m hoping that BSF will take a letter seriously that is written by someone who has attended for 8 years & learned so much Biblical Truth. Glenda