We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Analyzing Bill Gothard's IBLP Basic Seminar Textbook

While researching Bill Gothard and the Institute for Basic Life Principles in early 2001, I was loaned a copy of the Basic Seminar textbook.  This article is the analysis I made of the book, which I provided to the man who loaned it to me.
I have to state up front that the principles taught in this text are indeed good principles.  The premises of the lessons are generally to be commended.  The problem seems to be with the method of teaching, which revolves around a lot of erroneous ideas.  In my review of the text, I found the following problem areas were manifested:
1.  Misapplication of Scripture
2.  Poor teaching (this is just my opinion)
3.  Poor hermeneutics
4.  De facto claim of extra-biblical revelation
5.  Poor doctrinal teaching
6.  Superstition/mysticism
7.  Cultish teaching
8.  Lack of credibility
9.  Faulty logic
10.  Pop psychology
11.  Unbiblical teaching
12.  Personal opinion given Biblical authority
13.  Scripture twisting
14.  Legalism
What follows is a page-by-page analysis of the problems I found.  If these problems were corrected or eliminated, the text would be improved drastically.  Scripture passages used in this analysis will be from the King James Version since that is what Bill Gothard uses.  If you don’t have the book for referring to, then you won’t get the full gist because I did not cite the full page, rather I cited the problematic areas and discussed the rest.  Nevertheless, there should be plenty here to demonstrate the problem with this teaching without you having a book to follow along.  With that said, here we go!
p.2 Para. 5 says that "Scripture warns us to flee youthful lusts... and then cites 1 Thes. 
4:4 and 1 Cor. 6:18. Both of these passages address sexual immorality, which is not limited
to youth.  The passage referred to is 2 Tim. 2:22, which refers to lusts in general, not just
p.5  Item 3 discusses a "breakdown in a life relationship".  Included in Scripture application is 1 Cor. 11:28, 31. These verses have to do with the Lord's Supper only!  They have nothing to do with the subject at hand.
p.6  Introduction discusses what "God wants" in different areas. This becomes a de facto claim of extra-biblical revelation. How does Mr. Gothard know what God wants in these areas?  Where is the scriptural support for these statements?  In the same vein, he states authoritatively that "God is using these problems...", and says what God will do if we fail to gain benefit from said problems.
p.6  Second paragraph of the introduction states that "It is the process of solving our problems that constitutes the most meaningful chapters of our life message and becomes the greatest help to other people."  What is the basis of this claim?  Does not everyone have a different idea of what is our "most meaningful chapters?"  Perhaps this could be restated as "one of the most meaningful..."
p.6  Item 1.  "Grace is the desire and power to do God's will."  The passage in support of this definition is Phil. 2:13.  In all my years as a Christian, I have never heard of this definition of grace.  Grace is basically getting what we don't deserve.  God's grace is directed at us; it is not our "desire and power to do God's will."  The Scripture cited says: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do his good pleasure."  This has nothing to do with the definition of grace!  
p.6  Item 2.  "God requires that each of us maintain a periodic program of self-examination."  Then Gothard cites 1 Cor. 11:31-32 and Heb. 12:6.  Two problems are evident here:
1.  Where is the Scriptural support for saying that God "requires" us to "maintain" this "program"?  While it is true that God wants us to examine ourselves in comparison to His Word in order that we strive to be holy, there is no mention of a "periodic program" to do so.  The teaching of the Scripture is that our entire life should be one of self-judgment.  Again, Gothard is implying extra-biblical revelation to know what God requires.

2.  1 Cor. 11:31-32 in context is about the Lord's Supper.  This is just one area where we should judge ourselves, but this verse cannot be used as a "proof text" in reference to Gothard's subject.
p.7  Item 3.  It is hard to know where to begin with this one. Gothard tells us that "The best and first response we should have to our conflicts is to read through Psalms and underline every verse which has new meaning to us.  Then begin memorizing and meditating on these verses."  I would think that the best and first response would be to seek God's will in prayer.  Doing as suggested in the Psalms would take a long period of time, and will not necessarily bring any new insight.  This reeks of superstition. 
He then says that our next best step is "to read the chapter of Proverbs each day that corresponds to the day of the month..." - as if that will have any bearing on the issue one has at hand!  What if my problem is employees I am supervising and the day of the month is the 5th; I will read about avoiding prostitutes!  This is mere superstition and mysticism.  Then Gothard says that the 3rd step would be to read biographies to see how they may shed light on our circumstances.  While this is a valid idea, the Scriptural support, Heb. 12:1, has nothing to do with it!
p.7  Item 4.  "The very foundation of the church...is the family."  This is wrong - the foundation of the church is Christ!  This whole section has no Scriptural basis for any of its claims.  Gothard says, "It is God's intention...", again implying extra-biblical revelation.  The implication is also that God desires the family unit to stay together regardless of the problem.  How does that correlate with what Jesus said in Mat. 10:35-37?  What if the problem with the family unit is the fact that only you are the Christian and the rest are Mormons or pagans?  Gothard also states that, "The senior head of the family - grandfather or father - should be the one to call this meeting."  Once the man has left home, he is the head of his own household and the grandfather has no say in the matter.  Only the father is the "senior head" of the family!  This idea of the family unit above all, with a hierarchy based on the grandfather, is very cultish.
p.11  Anecdote about the students is unsubstantiated.  Not only that, it is inconceivable that all of "the most attractive and popular students" (by whose standards –Gothard's?) on any campus would be aware of their need for salvation and then accept Jesus, as is implied from the anecdote!
p.11  The principle about how attitudes are formed is good, but the Scriptural support is not.  John 5:44 in context has Jesus talking to the Jewish leaders about their attempts to persecute him to the point of seeking to kill him.  Jesus is reproving them for seeking their peers’ honor in their persecution, but not recognizing that they should be seeking the honor of God.  II Cor.10:17-18 has to do with Paul's teaching about the Gospel vs others' teachings of the Gospel; no one was to take credit for someone else's work, nor to glory in their own work in this area, but to glory in the Lord.
p.12  Item C.  The "Application and Related Scripture" of 1 Sam. has nothing to do with "excessive shyness."

p.13  Item G. "Floating Bitterness".  The application scripture of Eph. 5:29 has to do with how a husband is to love his wife!  It has nothing to do with bitterness held in.
p.13  Item I. "A person who appears superior is actually person who inwardly feels inferior but is trying to narrow his field of compassion."  Gothard gives no basis for this judgment.  This may or may not be true of individuals, but to say it as a blanket judgment is a logic fallacy of overgeneralization.  It is also so much psycho-babble.
p.16  Item K.  There is no Scriptural support for the claim that our physical differences are specially designed by God for proclaiming His message through us; what about all those unbelievers who are not proclaiming His message?  1 Cor.1:27, 29, 31 have to do with the cross of Christ and its foolishness as understood by the world; it has nothing to do with how God uses personal traits.
p.16  Item L.  While this claim, that our appearance, etc, may be affecting the reputation of God (i.e., our witness of Him), may be somewhat true, the Scriptural support, Ex.4:11-12, has nothing to do with the matter.  That passage is about God's instructions to Moses to go to the Pharaoh.

p.17  Item B. "Exercise the "Prayer of Faith.'"  What follows sounds much like the Word Faith teachings.  Ps. 90:10 has nothing to do with a "sickness unto death," Rather it discusses how long a person lives.  
p.17  Item C.  Gothard tell us to "Attach new meanings to old 'defects'," and then gives us three ways of doing so.  Under item 1,  although the cited passage's statement that we belong to God is true, it is not a way of giving a new meaning to an old defect.
p.17  The remainder of this page is very much like the self-esteem gospel propagated by Robert Schuller.  Too much time is spent on self-image.
p.18  "Any concealment of scars or defects must be done on the basis that it detracts attention from communication of inward qualities."  Is this a Biblical injunction? If so, where is the Scriptural support?  If this is Gothard's opinion, it should so state.  I have a different opinion, and that is no one should be overly concerned about self-image to the point they must try to cover up "scars and defects".
p.20  Item 3.  Gothard says faith is "visualizing what God intends to do."  This isn't even a dictionary definition of the word, let alone a Scriptural definition!
p.20  Bottom highlighted box.  Gothard is a believer in the false interpretation in reference to "Lucifer." 
p.29  Illustration 1.  I question whether a 21-year-old girl who is not living at home is any longer under her parents' authority.  She should certainly seek their advice, but she is no longer under their roof or authority by law, and I would like to see it defended from a Biblical standpoint! This illustration should have used a younger age in order to claim Biblical teaching vs personal opinion.
p.37  Again, there is given personal opinion as far as when parental authority ends.  There is no Biblical injunction as to how long one is under his parents' authority.  In paragraph 2, Gothard says, "The parental 'chain of responsibility' ends when they delegate that authority to someone else - as in marriage or the ministry."  The FACT of the matter is that when one is an adult (whatever age that may be) and moves out of his parents' home, the parents no longer have responsibility or authority over them.  This does not negate coming to parents for counsel, but there is no authority to require adherence to that counsel.  The parents do not "delegate" their authority to someone else; they release it.  What authority takes over depends on the area authority is needed, but there will always be the ultimate authority of God.
p.39  Last header is "Underlying principles required to answer questions from God's perspective."  This becomes an implication of knowing what "God's perspective" is.  This also applies to the statement, "God is communicating important information through both of them."  God may not be communicating at all!
p.40  The first question is not answered by "But he must learn that..."  Yes, we must be under authority our entire life, but when does the parental authority end? The implication is that it never ends.
p.40  The last question's response assumes only "deficiencies in the son or daughter," when, in reality, situations as described may be due to deficiencies in the parents' character.
p.48  First box across.  Heb. 5:13-14 is quoted as support for clear conscience, but it has nothing to do with it.  This passage is discussing how the recipients were lacking in their grasp of the Word; that they should be teachers by now but they are still in need of the basic teachings.  That heavy teaching (strong meat) is only for those who are mature in the word.
p.49  "LIGHT OF CHRIST - The Light of Christ is an awareness of the basic qualities which God wants to develop within each life."  I believe Mr. Gothard will find that the "Light of Christ" is much more than that.  The Light of Christ is the revealed nature of God, the truth of God, the Gospel of God.  The International Bible Commentary states that "Christ's coming has shed light on the darkness of the human situation."  Gothard's definition of the "Light of Christ" is not supported by his use of John 1:9, nor is it supported elsewhere Biblically.  An awareness of what our basic godly qualities should be is enlightened by the "Light of Christ", but that is not what the "Light of Christ" is.
p.50  The anecdotes about single incidents being the reason teens were unable to witness strain credibility.  What a coincidence that both incidents were a year old!
pp.51-52  The incident about the hit-and-run driver and the past reason for him running also strains credibility.
p.54  The anecdote using Ps. 32:1-4 for support.  The psalmist is not saying that because he did not confess his sin, his mouth was dry.  What he is saying is that his "strength was sapped" (NIV), his "vitality was drained away" (NAS), his "strength shriveled in the summer heat" (GWN), his "vigor waned" (Tanakh, The Jewish Bible), his "strength was dried up" (RSV), he was "turned to ruin" (Beck), he "became thoroughly miserable" (Septuagint).  
pp.57-58   This anecdote is another stretch in credibility.
p.62   In the course of the anecdote, we learn that the writer took a "personality analysis test," and all accepted of its results.  This belief in the results of  psycho-babble is supported by Gothard, and is not supported scripturally. Those tests are indeed of the world, and are based on ungodly methodology.
p.77  Second paragraph.  The subject is whether one's parents will allow him to seek forgiveness.  Scriptural support for action to take after parents' refusal is Numbers 30:3,5.  This passage has to do with vows taken by a woman; if the person in authority over her does not intervene, her vow stands, but if the person over her rejects the vows, the vows are void.  This has absolutely nothing to do with the subject at hand.
p.79  Para. 3. "Forgiveness looks at the wounds of the offense as God's way of drawing attention to the offender's needs."  While this may be the result in some cases, there is no Biblical support for the claim that any "wounds of the offense" are "God's way of drawing attention to the offender's needs."  The cited Scripture (Acts 16:16-18) does not support the claim.
p.80  Para.4.  "Only God has the right to punish."  This is not true.  Parents have the right to punish their children, the state has the right to punish criminals, etc.
p.81  In the right column it is stated, "...so he would never again have to bear the humility of poverty.  Yet this is the quality of heart God wants each of us to have throughout life.  'Blessed are the poor in spirit...'  (Matthew 5:3)"  "Poor in spirit" has nothing to do with the "humility of poverty"!!!!!
p.82  "BONE HEALTH":  The cited Scriptures (Ps. 32:3; Pro. 12:4; Pro. 4:30; Pro. 15:30; Pro. 17:22 and Ezek. 32:27 have nothing whatsoever to do with the claim!  This interpretation of literalness is absurd.  And I doubt that Gothard can find medical evidence to substantiate the claim that "bitterness has a direct and devastating effect upon our bones."
p.83  Item E.  "The sins of the parents are visited to the third and 
fourth generations of those who hold hatred in their heart."  
This is a misquote of Deut. 5:9.  The quote is in reference to those who hate God!  
It is in the context of idol worship!

pp.83-84  The whole subject of what one generation passes on to 
another is a non sequitur logic fallacy.  It does NOT necessarily 
follow that strictness and leniency alternate in generations.  There 
may be examples of such cases, but it would be a fallacy of 
overgeneralization to claim those cases are indicative of what will be.
p.84  I find it extremely difficult to believe that a mother overcorrects her children just because she did not have her parents' approval to get married.  This is another non sequitur fallacy.
pp.86-87  The claim that we will automatically have the same attitudes that we condemn in others is pure psychobabble.  One can determine not to be like a parent and definitely do so!  I determined that I would not be like my father in his sexual immorality and three wives - have I become like him?!?!  Absolutely not!!!!  This is another non sequitur.
p.88  There is no Biblical support for the idea that every offender is raised up by God to teach us something.  Did God raise up the rapist just to teach something to the woman who was raped?  Did he raise up the child molester just to teach the molested child a lesson?  This is totally absurd!  The Bible does teach that God will use the situation for our good (Rom. 8:28), but that is not the same as saying that He caused the situation.  Gothard is claiming to know the mind of God.
p.90  The flow charts all seem so nice and tidy, but they are not necessarily what happens in real life.  While I can agree with the generalization in steps 1 through 3, step 4 is not always the response.  Personal experience has shown that sometimes the response is one of added danger because the person will be convicted of their own misbehavior and will then slander you to their friends.  This would definitely end this flow chart's tidy  sequence. Overgeneralization!
p.94  "These irritations are God's way of increasing our sensitivity to the needs of other people..."  How does Gothard know what "God's way" is?  Does he have Scriptural basis for this claim?  As previously stated, there is no evidence that all irritations are instituted by God for our benefit, but he does use them as such.  Gothard's claim is that God is the one who institutes all irritations (I agree that He will bring some adversity into our lives for testing, etc,. but it is a non sequitur to say that all irritations or offenses are instigated by God.  That would be close to saying that God causes people to sin!  This whole teaching section becomes a house of cards built on the faulty foundation that claims God causes the adversity.
p.96  Item 2 uses the 1 Cor.11:31,32 passage again.  Gothard obviously likes this passage, but he never uses it in context! It has nothing to do with the lesson at hand.
p.98  Para. B: "Those around us tend to reflect the attitudes and character deficiencies which we have.  Since we are already sensitive to these deficiencies, they become doubly irritating when we see them in someone else."  This is pure psychobabble.  Where is Gothard's source for this claim; i.e., what is the empirical evidence? If I am working with someone whose entire philosophy is hedonism and nihilism, does that reflect my philosophy and attitude?  Absolutely not!
p.99  Nice little chart depicting irritations and the quality that is to be produced in us, assuming by God.  It is obvious that Gothard has this all figured out, but it is also obvious that none of this is necessarily true!  It would be better if the irritations column was answered by "Quality that can be produced" instead of "Quality to be produced."  The latter implies knowledge of God's intent, while the former just states a possibility based on our responses to the irritations.
p.100    "Anger is the opposite of meekness.  We cannot have both in our life."  This is definitely not true.  God gets angry, Jesus displayed anger during the cleansing of the temple.  There is such a thing as righteous anger.  Anger is not the opposite of meekness; to say this is to say that Jesus was not meek.  It can be an opposite response, but that doesn't define it as an antonym.  "Either we have one as our basic nature, or we have the other."  This is also not true, and it is an example of the logic fallacy of bifurcation; we have been given an "either/or" standard.  It is possible to have one or the other as a basic character trait, but that is not the same as  saying everyone has one or the other trait.
pp.103-105  We have here a nice little perfectly-packaged anecdote to show how God will take care of anything dedicated to Him.  The only problem with this is it's not true!  God CAN take care of the girl's clothing, but that doesn't mean that He will take care of them.  Gothard seems to be saying that we shouldn't defend personal property rights; that everything belongs to God and it is His job to defend those rights.  Yes, everything belongs to God, but He has made us stewards.  It is up to us to care for what has been entrusted to us, and that includes defending our right to do so.  How we do it should be the topic of discussion.  How the girl acted in her defense of property should be the learning angle.  Just dedicating her clothes to God doesn't guarantee that they won't be destroyed!
p.106  The "root problem" is not even suggested in the scenario, so it is wrong to jump to that conclusion without more evidence.  Perhaps Gothard had more information that was withheld?  In the absence of additional information, it appears Gothard has made an "argument from silence."
p.112  Gothard is making the mind, will and emotions all separate entities.  The problem with this is that the mind is the thinking part of the person, and the will and emotions are all thinking processes.  We should just be discussing the mind.  Then it appears that Gothard is saying the physical part of man is what is sensual.  The physical is only controlled by the mind and has no sensuality in and of itself.  It is the mind which dictates whether one is sensual or spiritual - the psychological part directs the physical part.  My body is merely a machine powered by the computer of the brain.  This teaching, that the physical part of the body is the sensual part, is gnosticism.
p.116  Item 10, discussing frustration.  The two verses cited - James 1:8, 15 – have nothing to do with the discussion.  Although verse 6 discusses double-mindedness, it is in the context of faith, not sexual immorality.
p.123  Under "A".  The passage cited, Eph. 1:13-14, has nothing to do with where Christ's
spirit dwells.
p.123  Under "B".  Gothard again divides the mind into other parts rather than activities of\
the mind.  Then he identifies the soul as the three parts; mind, will and emotions.  I believe
the soul is that which makes us persons - it is our entire personality and thought 
processes. In a sense, it is the mind or psyche.  The soul is the life portion of who we are,
whereas the spirit is that which is eternal and in communion with God.  (See
Holman Bible Dictionary for an excellent analysis of "Soul".)
p.124  Item "B", second and fourth statements.  There is no Biblical mandate for Scripture memorization and meditation during fasting.  This is Gothard's personal opinion.  There is also no Biblical support for the claim that  "Fasting is most efficient when practiced regularly one day a week."  This is also a personal opinion.  What about the Biblical examples of fasting 40 days straight?  There are certainly examples of fasting for other than regular one-day fasts.  And by what standard is the "efficiency" measured?
p.124  Last paragraph.  This may not be right, but I don't believe "God created the evening as the beginning of the day.  'The evening and the morning were the first day.'"  I see one of two understandings here: 
1  The "evening and the morning" were the concluding parts of the previous day so as to begin a new day of creation.  Henry Morris, in The Genesis Record, says, This same formula is used at the conclusion of each of the six days; so it is obvious that the duration of each of the days, including the first, was the same.  Furthermore, the "day" was the "light" time, when God did His work; the darkness was the "night" time when God did no work - nothing new took place between the "evening" and "morning" of each day.  The formula may be rendered literally: "And there was evening, then morning - day one," and so on.
2  The phrase is not in chronological order; it only states that there was an evening and a morning on the same day.  At any rate, there is no Biblical justification for saying that the evening was created first.  The object of saying the day began at evening is to give support to the example of one person's fasting habits.  This is not a Scripturally-mandated method.  A person could choose any other time of the day to begin fasting, and determine his own activities during such time, none of which has to include any of the activities itemized here!  At any rate, it would have been nice if Gothard had identified the source of this anecdote.
p.127  The circled paragraph states that when a person fasts for over three days he "quickly experiences a great decrease in sensual desires and soon has a great new alertness to spiritual things."  No evidence is given for this claim, and it is not a given that someone fasting gains "a great new alertness to spiritual things."  Without medical evidence to support this claim, it becomes nothing more than Gothard's personal opinion taught with Biblical authority.
p.129  Although I find this whole outline to be hokey, I don't have any real problem with it except for the next to last paragraph where Gothard states, "When we resist these impulses by internalizing Scripture, especially Psalms, we soon build spiritual patterns equal to the sin patterns."  Gothard seems to think there is some sort of magic in particular parts of Scripture.  Why "especially Psalms?"  There is no Biblical basis for this particular claim.  Can it help in the claimed area?  Yes, but Gothard makes it appear as a guarantee.
p.130 This is another one with a difficult place to start!
1  Gothard says, "God's Spirit then desires to transform our souls by taking sections of Scripture through the mind, will, and emotions in the following steps."  First, although God does desire to transform us (and that can be supported Scripturally), Gothard is claiming to know the mind of God by claiming that God wants to transform us by "taking sections of Scripture through the mind" in Gothard's four steps!  (Gothard still has the problem of separating the mind, will and emotions into three distinct items, but, as said before, the will and the emotions are actions of the mind.)  At any rate, the cited text, Rom. 12:2, does not support the claim! The text just tells us to "be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind."  It does not tell us that God wants to take "sections of Scripture through the mind, will and emotions" in any particular steps!
2  Gothard says that if we picture "each important word" (what constitutes "important" and who makes that determination?) of the passage we are memorizing, and then list "what should be evident in our lives but isn't," and then ask for these qualities, "they will come true for us."  This seems to be a form of superstition - picturing and writing lists.  Strictly speaking, John 15:7 was addressed to the disciples at the last supper and may not be applicable to anyone else.  Even if it is applicable to all believers, the idea that one must "visualize," and then have the qualities sought after given to us, seems very close to the "name it and claim it" of the Word Faith movement.
3  Gothard defines meditation as his four steps ("memorize," "visualize," "personalize," and "harmonize"), and then he makes the bold claim that this is what God is referring to in Joshua 1:8.  He further claims that this "is the ultimate activity by which we gain moral freedom" - without  providing any basis for this claim.
pp.134-136  Gothard tells an incredible story of how his high school and college studies and grades depended on how faithful he was to "meditating" on God's word.  It seems if he was doing good with his Bible reading he would then do good in school; if he neglected his Bible reading, he would do poorly in school.  This is a logic fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc.  It also sounds very superstitious, and misapplies Joshua 1:8.
p.136  Gothard implies that one must vow to read the Bible daily, and then he gives a caution before making such vow.  Why is a vow necessary?  Can one not just purpose to read daily without making a vow to do so?  This is adding to God's requirements.
p.143  "STEPS TO TRANSFORM YOUR SOUL" is the premise of this section.  "Determine areas of personal character deficiency and find large sections of Scripture relating to them."   Why "large sections?"  Then we are to take these "sections" through the steps of "memorize," “visualize," and "personalize".  These steps are the same as on p. 130 except this one lacks "harmonize."  This section also defines these three steps as "meditation", whereas on p.130 we needed "harmonization" included to be called "meditation."  What gives?
p.145  "One of God's greatest problems in using words to communicate His ideas is our inability to comprehend the thought concepts behind the words."  Is this God's problem or our problem?  The problem is not that we have an inability to understand God's words, the problem is our inability to understand the original languages in the same manner as which the writers intended.  God has no problem - we do!
p.146  "God delights to hear His own Word, especially when we are using it to express our own desires and emotions."  Where is the Scriptural support for this claim?  Does Gothard have a personal audience with God in this matter?
p.146  Gothard makes the claim that all of the Psalms were written by David, but that is not true.  He also claims that Psalms "expresses the very heart of God" without giving any Scriptural support for this claim.  His final claim on this page is that "God will allow certain situations in our lives to expose us to new sections of this spectrum [of emotions recorded in Psalms]."  Again, there is no Biblical support for this claim.
p.147 Is all personal opinion expressed as Biblical injunction.
Beginning at p. 148 Gothard claims there are three "basic aspects of the ways of God."  This implies knowledge of God's ways, of which we have only a small understanding through Scripture.  His ways are not our ways, and indeed are higher than our ways (Is. 55:8-9).  The idea of "birth of a vision,' "death of a vision," and "fulfillment of a vision" as God's way is read into the Scripture by Gothard.
The section on friendship has a lot of areas on which I would disagree, but since Gothard doesn't present it as anything directed by Scripture, it becomes a matter of personal opinion.  A lot of it revolves around the psychology of "visualization."
In the future I will post my analysis of the Advanced Seminar textbook, as well as some analysis of “Character Sketches.”


Anonymous said...

With all the mishandling of Scripture and making up things, I wonder why people take him so seriously. If doctors must be competent and know the subject at hand, as well as other professionals like civil engineers, why is it that Christians take teachers that handle the Word poorly seriously.

Steve Bricker said...

I purchased one of Gothard's texts at a book sale and read it through. There is enough truth to keep you engaged though the logic and surrounding premises are faulty. In my mind I kept going "Yes...Well?...No...But...Yes...How?"

Anonymous said...

Wow, Glenn, thanks for doing all of this work. Somehow I dodged the bullet of the IBLP seminars even though I had many friends that went and encouraged my attendance, even offering to pay. There was just something about it that raised red flags. Now I see why. I'm so thankful that the Lord protected me at the time because I lean toward legalism as it is, so it would have really affected me. The people I know that are really into it are people who were raised in non-Christian homes but now love the Lord and are desperate and fearful for their families, wanting things to be better for them morally and spiritually. Too bad that Gothard is such a poor Bible teacher.

ali said...

I too have been blessed that I have not been exposed to Bill Gothard or his works.

I also send thanks for your thorough work on this troubling area within our denominations.

072591 said...

CC: I suspect that he reason people by into these things is because they can then point to someone who holds their personal preferences as doctrine. "See! I told you offering is supposed to be last, just like God commanded!"

Anonymous said...

I am currently researching the Gothard concept of Death of a Vision---can you tell me where it is correct scripture wise and where it goes off--- Would you happen to know which Gothard materials have the key facts on this idea? Is this one of the non-optional principles? (there are so many, I forget which ones are optional and not miss God's blessing if I choose not to do them.)

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


I am not familiar with Gothard's "Death of a Vision" teaching. But since almost all of his teachings abuse Scripture to support them, I would assume the same for this idea.

I'm not sure if you are serious or being sarcastic with your last statement, so I'll just say that you won't miss any blessing from God if you refuse to follow ANY of Gothard's false teachings.

Boat Living said...

Wisdom is known by her children. Bill helped a lot of people, I am one of them. Those who relied on bill's wisdom were wrong. We r all to read the bible for ourselves, not rely on someone els's insight. read Micah 7:5

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Boat Living,

Whether or not a teacher helps a lot of people is irrelevant when it comes to them being a cult leader of false teacher (Bill is both). Mormons help a lot of people in many ways, but I'd not want to praise them for that!

You are 100% correct that those who relied on Bill's wisdom were wrong; he has led to many people astray, and has caused irreparable harm to many others.