Original draft 30Nov11.
Though I was never involved with ATI, I have a great deal to say about Bill Gothard's teachings.
When an elder at our new church in a new state after a cross-country move to a new town invited my husband and me to attend a Bill Gothard Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP) conference, we had never heard of the man. In fact, we did not learn a single thing about the Shepherding/Discipleship Movement until after we left it. We were probably more interested in developing social ties with those who invited us, and we didn't realize that we were being groomed for leadership in their cultic tradition. The church required all leadership to attend IBLP, and it just so happened that at training session was scheduled just a month or so after we showed up for their midweek home meetings. This couple offered to take us along with them on the 40 minute drive for the first four sessions. In hindsight, I believe it was part of the love bombing they used to pull us in. I don't think that couple would have gone out of their way had they not wanted us to take over their cell group meeting.
I found it so interesting that I never heard Gothard and his resources ever referenced formally from the pulpit or even in training sessions or leadership meetings. And equally interesting, whenever there was an issue or dilemma with conduct with a member, everyone had a well-worn big red book or two at hand as well as some Gothard fact sheet or photocopied character summary. Then to learn that IBLP attendance was required to graduate from the seminary? Though the church was tied to the already disbanded Christian Growth Ministries who formally taught the practice of shepherding, Gothard's materials provided what effectively became procedure manuals. The church followed all of them well, though you never heard Gothard mentioned or his system promoted outside of private counsel. And if a friend wanted to encourage you through a personal problem, more times that not, they would give you a copy of a Gothard summary or a list of Gothard's step-by-step, Extra-Biblical remedy to all of your ills. It took quite a few years and interest for me to see the definitive pattern.
For those who are working through issues with Bill Gothard's teachings to reclaim what Scripture clearly says, apart from Brother Bill's novel twist on things which were a part of that era of shepherding when he first came on the scene, read here, but I hope that you will spend a great deal of time reading at the Recovering Grace website.
It is Gothard-specific, but it will be helpful for anyone who has been affected by the teachings of any shepherding ideology or cultic Christian experience. Those exiting complementarianism, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Great Commission Ministries or a host of other such groups will find much helpful, instructive and validating info at Recovering Grace.
In honor of their efforts, I dedicate this index to the contributors of at the Recovering Grace site.
The Gothard Index
As I tend to write more overview pieces about Spiritual Abuse here on this site, it seemed time to write an index of posts about Gothard. He provided what became the backbone for my understanding of shepherding. Most of the articles mention Gothard directly, but some will discuss only problems inherent to Gothard's shepherding mindset. Some of the titles are listed redundantly based on subject overlap.
Gothard On Forgiveness
Teachings Concerning Marriage (hierarchy and proper conduct)
Contrasting Gothard's Teachings Concerning Marital Hierarchy Against Judaism
- The entire series considering Rabbi Maurice Lamm's book would be very helpful reading, though the posts that specifically mention Gothard are also listed below. Gothard derives many of his views and mandates from the apocryphal writings, but his theories are far more stringent that the practice of Orthodox Judaism
- See “Old Covenant Legalism” post list
Authority of Parents
- Archive of all posts concerning Mutigenerational Faithfulness (posts especially pertinent to Gothard listed individually below)
- The Selfish Sin of Shyness (concerning discipline)
Concerns About Authority
- Concerning Blind Obedience (includes Lydia Schatz and the Pearl Method)
- *Notable posts worthy of specific mention in this series*
- Part VII: There But for Grace (a personal experience)
Young Women, Molestation, and Rape
- Ron William's Strange Woman Sermon (very similar to Gothard's doctrine about Dinah's failure to “Cry Out”)
Problems with Bible Study After Spiritual Abuse
- See “Cognitive Dissonance: How Gothard “Gets Ya” posts (below)
Homeschooling Elitism, Neotribalism, and Xenophobia
- Getting Your Ticket Stamped (alternatives to college, especially for girls)
- Retreat to New Zealand? (concerning Geoff Botkin, also noting that Gothard speaks of moving all homeschoolers to New Zealand to be where the sun first rises per Psalm 50)
Grace: Gothard's Twisted and Aberrant Redefinition of the Term and Doctrine
- In Response to Gothard's Letter to ATI Alumni, November 2011
Old Covenant Legalism
- See “Authority of Parents” and “Contrasting Gothard's Teachings Concerning Marital Hierarchy Against Judaism” posts list
Having No Rights and the Sin of Offenses to Facilitate Milieu Control
- Forgiveness and the Path of Denial (Denying conflict which thwarts forgiveness discussing the denial of personal rights and punishment as a process of perfection)
Gothard On Forgiveness
MANIPULATION and SPIRITUAL ABUSE
Cognitive Dissonance: How Gothard “Gets Ya”
- Understanding Cognitive Dissonance (especially Part II about milieu control)
- See “Problems with Bible Study After Spiritual Abuse” post list
Manipulation of Language
- See “Grace: Gothard's Twisted and Aberrant Redfinition” post list
Gothard as an Example of Aberrant and Cultic Christianity
The Shepherding/Discipleship Movement (history and development)
UNDERSTANING PATRIARCHY and DOMINIONISM
The Patriarchy Video Lecture (2008, 1 hr in length)
IMPORTANT OFF-SITE LINKS
Midwest Christian Outreach
- Bill Gothard's Evangelical Talumd Series
Other Great Sources of Info on Gothard (read and follow their links, too)
- Dark Secrets from Bill Gothard's Training Institute (series of articles from Channel 13 in Indianapolis, IN about child abuse at the training facility)
- Don't forget Recovering Grace!
Gothard and Michael Pearl Collaborate to Disown Vision Forum
(You know your doctrine is way off when these two join forces to disavow you!)