Stolen Treasures

11 March 2013, 05:00

Moderator

143

1228830_64857997A recent article on Recovering Grace, entitled “Moving On,” prompted me to think about the reason it is so difficult to move forward after being victimized by legalism. As I have worked with those hurt by legalism over the years, I have often heard stories about what happened five, ten, maybe thirty years ago. These folks still struggle against the lies they were told and the anger they continue to feel toward those who misused them. I have come to the conclusion that a great deal of the difficulty of moving on has to do with the treasures that were stolen.

Each of the following could be an article in itself, but let me just introduce the problems legalism created by stealing these treasures. You may think of more precious things that were stolen, but these are the ones that have come up most often as I have communicated with victims.

The character of God. Legalism presents an angry and vengeful God who wants to see us fail and then will punish us when we do. He rejects us when we sin and puts us into situations to test our faithfulness. He even punishes us for the things our great-grandparents did. But this is not the God of the Bible. Yes, I know the Bible speaks of the wrath against sin, but the message of love—forgotten by the Legalist—is the primary message of Scripture. God loves us and draws us by love. When the love of God is set aside and His anger becomes the focus, where do we go when we are afraid? The Lord may be a strong tower for His people, but the victims of legalism can’t run to Him and feel safe because they think He is angry with them. I have often asked parents this: “When your children sin, and they will, do you want them to run to God or away from God?” The character of the God you introduce is important. Stealing away the love of God and substituting an angry or vindictive spirit is damaging.

The message of the Bible. So many times people have told me that they simply cannot read the Bible anymore because all they see in it is condemnation. The message of love and peace the Bible brings was stolen from them and replaced by a system that almost always forced them to see shame in its pages. Not only was the Bible blamed for bringing the challenges of the legalistic lifestyle, it was a constant killjoy. “Because the Bible says,” was the refrain that supported every legalistic action, no matter how cruel. But the Bible tells us of the love of God. It was given to proclaim the message of His heart toward us—which is very good. Stealing the real message of the Bible is a great sin against both the believer and the seeker.

The new heart of the believer. How many times did we hear, “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked”? Victims of legalism are told never to trust their hearts, which meant never to trust their own judgment. Sadly that meant that they were only to trust the judgment of those above them, which opened them to all kinds of abuse. How can anyone go through life successfully and joyfully without the ability to trust their hearts? I remember, when I first understood the great error of this, asking why we should delight in the Lord. The Scripture says that if we delight in the Lord He will give us the desires of our hearts. But if our hearts were as wicked as we were taught, why would God give us those desires? Of course, we were told that He would change the desires of our hearts to the right thing, but that didn’t really help much. The truth is that the believer has a new heart, one which the Lord uses to communicate with us. When He connects to the new spirit in us, He connects to the new heart (See Ezekiel 11:19). But when legalism stole away our ability to look within and trust our hearts, it took away our opportunity to hear the voice of our Lord.

The love and joy of others. Legalism is a system of condemnation and comparison. It sets us up to put others down. If I can’t ever be good enough, I can at least be better than you. We learned to judge and condemn others, rather than to understand them. We learned to compare ourselves with them, rather than to listen and care. We learned to keep them at a distance just in case, rather than to love them. In legalism, we learned to mistrust God, others, and ourselves. But the Lord gave us each other for good. We learn love from each other and others give us an outlet for our love. Relationships are good. Yes, they can be difficult, but they are meant to teach us about ourselves and how to trust God. The message from the beginning, according to John (1 Jn 3:11) was that we should love one another. But legalism pushes us away from each other.

I have come to believe that those who leave legalism must rediscover these treasures. Some will seek them outside the faith. Others will stumble around trying to find them within different legalistic systems. But they know, in every part of their being, that the treasures are worth seeking.

So let me summarize what I have found.

God loves you. He has never not loved you and He has never stopped loving you. Nothing you have done has changed His love for you. All that He has done, through Jesus, has been because of His love for you.

The Bible consistently tells of this love, if you can look past the old legalist system to see the truth. I have suggested that people read through the book of John just for one purpose–to see the love of God. The message is very clear. From beginning to end, the Bible tells of God’s love.

Those who have come to Jesus have received from Him a new heart. It’s true! The old has passed away and the new has come. If you listen for God’s voice, you will hear words of love and affirmation. Never will He condemn or shame you; that’s another voice. Always He calls with a kind voice of acceptance. And you can trust that He will lead you, through your heart, because of His love.

Others are good for you. Yes, they struggle and stumble through life just like you do. They sin and they hurt people. But you don’t have to trust them in order to enjoy them or even love them. You are called to trust the Lord. He may lead you to people who are very different from you and you will learn from them. We were meant to live in relationship with many people and God expresses His creativity in the styles of their lives. Put away your expectations and let others fail. Then you will begin to see how God loves you even through others.

Whatever time it takes, seek the treasures. They are still yours.

Dr. David Orrison has been a pastor for over 30 years and is now the Executive Director of "Grace for the Heart," a ministry dedicated to proclaiming the sufficiency of Jesus Christ for all aspects of the Christian life. Dave has served in the Evangelical Free Church and in the United Presbyterian Church, and he holds a Ph.D. in Theology from Trinity Seminary. Dave has unique insights into the struggles of what he calls “performance spirituality,” as he has worked extensively with people who are unsure of their relationship with Jesus because of the burden of legalism and the hopelessness of a “works-based Christian walk.” David has lived in Loveland, CO for 25 years and is happily married to Alice. They have eight sons. David blogs on a regular basis at http://graceformyheart.wordpress.com.

All articles on this site reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of other Recovering Grace contributors or the leadership of the site. Students who have survived Gothardism tend to end up at a wide variety of places on the spiritual and theological spectrum, thus the diversity of opinions expressed on this website reflects that. For our official statement of beliefs, click here.

143 Comments

  1. Mercy March 11, 2013 Reply

    I love the image of seeking for treasure. It reminds me of the parables Jesus told about seekers who found valuable treasure.

    I totally agree that the message of God's love was stolen from me. I missed it. I mean, I accepted it with an intellectual acknowledgement, but it was meaningless compared to the condemnation and expectations that were emphasized instead.

    And I agree that the VALUE of what was stolen from us is why we are so adamant about not just shrugging and moving on. First, we must recognize that we WERE robbed. Second, we must restore those truths that were distorted by false teaching. And third we may feel obligated to warn others. Because the truth is just that important.

    • Dave March 11, 2013 Reply

      Mercy,

      Telling people that God loves them while shaking a closed fist at them just doesn't get the message of love across, does it? Especially when so little love was communicated in other ways.

      I really appreciate your comment that "we must recognize that we were robbed." One of the most important parts of healing after an offense is to admit that the offense was wrong. Think of how that was twisted in the BG message. Offenses against us were not only right, but we deserved them, brought them on ourselves, and God was in them to work His will. We could never just tell the truth - that the offense was wrong. We were supposed to see it as good. How can you ever forgive something that was supposed to be good?

      So, yes, we were robbed and we have every right to reclaim what was ours and we should warn others. It is that important.

    • esbee March 11, 2013 Reply

      "I totally agree that the message of God's love was stolen from me. I missed it. I mean, I accepted it with an intellectual acknowledgement, but it was meaningless compared to the condemnation and expectations that were emphasized instead."

      the above quote is me in a nutshell--- and even though I know the devil is the father of legalism- coming to lie, destroy and kill, it is so hard to function under grace when I have practiced legalism for so long.

  2. Wes March 11, 2013 Reply

    This is a great article. Thanks so much for sharing David. :)

    • Wes March 14, 2013 Reply

      Regarding some of the discussion on this thread...

      Key points from Grace Awakening by Chcuk Swindoll - "The Grace to Disagree...and Press On, Part 1":

      Reference: Acts 15

      Having a grace state of mind doesn’t mean life automatically becomes a superharmonious downhill slide. Embracing grace ...doesn’t change our address from the real world to Fantasyland. Even though we, in grace, pursue righteousness and peace and joy and commit to building up one another in love, we will still face conflicts on occasion. We will still have to live with disagreements. Human nature, being what it is, will occasionally get in the way. Opposing opinions will surface, family members will see things differently, and coworkers will clash, even when both parties desire to do the will of God. As people of grace, our goal is not to force everyone to agree but to press on in spite of disagreements.

      Key Points...
      1. Disagreements are inevitable. (Different views, opinions, etc.)
      2. Even the godly will not always agree. (Paul and Barnabus?)
      3. In every disagreement there's two ingredients:
      A) An issue revolving around principles of life, Scriptures, my experience, and my upbringing.
      B) Differing viewpoints depending on a person's personality.
      4. In many (if not most) disagreements each side has valid points.


      Bottom line: Christ wanted us to have unity NOT comformity to any one person or organizations ideas.

  3. Eliza March 11, 2013 Reply

    Very, very well said. Yes, these things are exactly why I am not willing to "move on" without dealing with the lies and finding the truth.

  4. WendyA March 11, 2013 Reply

    This is beautiful. Thank you. This expresses exactly what I lost. What I am seeking. Why I still hurt ... 17 years later, and I still hurt. Legalism stole from me the Jesus I had loved since I asked Him to be "my Jesus" at the age of five. Legalism built a wall of fear and shame between us. But I WILL tear it down. I WILL will get Him back. And I WILL warn others of what legalism, in whatever form it presents itself, will do to harm them.

    • Dave March 11, 2013 Reply

      Wendy,

      Jesus loves you so much! I believe that with all my heart. What a victory the evil one has when he takes that from us! It blesses me to read your determination to believe and enjoy His love again. I am praying for you.

    • Stéphanie March 25, 2013 Reply

      He IS tearing down that wall, Wendy. You may not see Him doing it, but He is. He keeps working at it even when you're tired or don't know how. How do I know? I didn't even know there was one. He's been revealing it as brick by brick comes down.

      He loves you!

  5. SaraJ March 11, 2013 Reply

    I kept wanting to pull out your points and show them to everybody I know, saying, "See? This is what's in my heart! This is exactly how I feel!"

    I have come to know the love of God much more than I used to, mostly through the people in my life who have loved me deeply and completely. But I'm still healing. Your post here definitely helps with that. Thanks.

    • Dave March 11, 2013 Reply

      SaraJ

      You are welcome to reproduce this as far as I am concerned. Anyone reading this may consider this permission. I would be grateful if you would include my name and website info, but please drop the more detailed bio info at the end of the article.

    • Jon March 12, 2013 Reply

      Dave this has been shared to http://www.worthychristianforums.com/

      Great article! Great reminders!

      • Dave March 13, 2013 Reply

        Thanks, Jon! I am honored.

  6. Timothy Baldridge March 11, 2013 Reply

    So true, several of these points were exactly the things that I noticed in my own life. Growing up, I couldn't bear to read Psalms and Proverbs. Every time I turned around, all I could see was a verse about how I was a fool, a rebel, or a reprobate.

    • Dave March 11, 2013 Reply

      That's right! And you probably had heard them so often that you rarely read them. The problem with rote memorization is that we don't stop to think about what the passage is saying. In fact, the more you understand the verse, the less you will be able to quote it verbatim because you will substitute ideas for words and mess up.

      I have a series of articles on my blog about the grid through which we view Scripture. It is very important to see that legalism has a certain grid and that grid (or perspective) actually obscures the idea of love and relationship with God. Seeing the love of God provides a grid as well, one which I believe opens up the truth of Scripture in new and wonderful ways. I continually have people telling me about things they never saw before but can see so clearly now. I certainly experienced this myself. All of Scripture flows and fits and makes sense when I focus on the love God has for me.

      • BeverlyB March 11, 2013 Reply

        Dave, Could you post that link here to those articles on your blog? I'd love to read them. I love how you say that the more you understand a verse, the less you'll be able to quote it verbatim. That makes me feel so much better! It's funny because the passages I love the most, I can easily explain and enjoy thinking about often (I try not to use the word "meditate" b/c of triggers!), but often I can't quote them perfectly. And the verses I can quote perfectly, I don't find as easy to meditate on. I know it shouldn't be that way, and I've always felt bad about it, but your explanation made sense to me. I really hate memorizing Scripture just to memorize it. But when a passage grabs my heart, I read it over and over, and soon I find the thoughts, ideas, and concepts permanently a part of my thinking. Sometimes the exact words follow in my memory, but not always, because my intent was not to memorize in the first place--just to envelop myself in the beauty of the passage, if that makes sense.

        • Dave March 12, 2013

          The series on the Grid begins here:

          http://graceformyheart.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/the-grid-when-the-bible-is-part-of-the-problem/

          and runs for seven posts.

          As far as rote or verbatim memorization, have you ever noticed that Jesus never seems to get a Scripture quote right? It fascinated me that scholars had difficulty determining what passage He was quoting from time to time. He combined verses and made word changes. Why? Did He not know? I finally came to the conclusion that He wasn't about getting the verse word perfect. He was about understanding.

          I have nothing against memorizing Scripture, just don't substitute memorizing for understanding.

        • BeverlyB March 12, 2013

          Wow, I really liked your "Grid" posts--they really resonated with me. And I kept clicking through and really liked your "Beyond the Bible" posts as well. That is something God has been teaching me a lot lately--how to listen to Him and truly build a relationship with Him. That's something that was sorely lacking in all our previous training through IBLP--at least in my experience.

  7. lilly rose March 12, 2013 Reply

    I found the article on toxic people in ministry very helpful. As I have found when one can put ones' experiances into defining words it frees the soul and you can say yes! that's it that is defining the feeling I experianced that I had no words for so I could not express it. I could not take it out and look at it and feel it and mull over it and then decide what to do with it. Such as forgive and begin to let it go and move on and heal or warn others with words of exactly what snare lies there. I also saw somewhere that there are other similar articles on toxic people but I cannot find the articles did Dave write them all? Thankyou!

    • Dave March 12, 2013 Reply

      I didn't write the recent article on toxic people in ministry, but it was very well done. This is a topic close to my heart, however, and I write about narcissism every Friday on my blog. The link between narcissism and legalism has amazed me and has helped a great deal in my understanding of some of the things that happen in churches. I invite you to check out my "It's Narcissist Friday!" articles. There are well over a hundred now.

  8. Erin Pascal March 12, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful article! It is very inspiring and encouraging to read blog posts like this. It is indeed very difficult to move on if there are things that were lost along the way. It keeps us occupied while we are trying to move forward leaving us thinking about the past instead of thinking about where we are walking and the road ahead. Thank you for these reminders and tips. May God bless you.

  9. Alfred Corduan March 12, 2013 Reply

    To the author: Appreciate your comment. I guess I will dive to the bottom line - do you believe in an eternal hell that real people go to and where they will spend forever in unimaginable torment? If you do, then you know that even the love of God has its limits. Hard limits. "Don't you dare" limits. If sin has that ability to destroy(perish), that raises the issues up from "don't hurt my feelings" to "do whatever you have to help me get it right".

    Do you believe we are in a battle with eternal stakes? Things we are to literally wrestle with demons over? (Eph. 6:12) A battle where a moment's carelessness can result in unimagined death and destruction?

    Do you believe God is at times “angry and vengeful”?

    If you don't, well, that is also worth knowing.

    • MatthewS March 12, 2013 Reply

      I think you could say that Paul expressed a hard limit in Galatians 5:

      2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.


      Same verses from The Message:

      2-3 I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law.

      4-6 I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.

      • David Pigg March 12, 2013 Reply

        This comment is awesome,Matthew.And the above article is awesome.Generally people believe scripture is light,but true light can only come from Jesus; therefore can the difference between Gothardism and Christ, after all is seen through Truth [and only Jesus is the Way, the Truth,and the Life],be seen as darkness in comparison and at contrast to Christ,this and only this after the testing down here of all things by the fire.

      • Alfred Corduan March 12, 2013 Reply

        Matthew: Amen. Of course, Paul circumcised Timothy after he wrote these words . . . must be some balance and context . . . somewhere.

        Anyway . . . tough standards look like unreasonable "legalism" . . . until you are in a war with people trying to kill you and those you love. The life and schedule of a combat soldier demands severe talk and action. For example, is PTSS a reasonable or unreasonable result of someone laying down their lives for those they love? Avoidable or unavoidable? If a soldier complains of PTSS to you, what do you tell him? My brother-in-law died ... PTSS was complicit at several levels.

        • MatthewS March 12, 2013

          Paul circumcised Timothy, but not as a compromise to make the "Jerusalem party" happy. Against the pressure of their "higher standards", he refused to allow Titus to be circumcised.

          I'm sorry to hear about your brother-in-law; that leaves a hole.

        • Alfred Corduan March 12, 2013

          I know . . . there is "circumcision" . . . and then there is "CIRCUMCISION". No arguments on intent.

          Thank you.

    • Dave March 12, 2013 Reply

      Seriously, Alfred, this is the bottom line for you? The doctrine of hell? The battle against evil? The bottom line for me is the simple truth that God loves me.

      Yes, I believe there is a hell. I don't think Scripture tells us enough to know as much as some claim, but I certainly agree that we ought to do what we can to call people from their natural journey toward hell's suffering.

      I do not believe that hell is an illustration of the limit of God's love. The whole message of the gospel is God’s provision of a way to escape the normal and natural progression of the individual toward hell because of sin. If God did not love us He could easily have allowed us to continue on our way without giving us His Word. He wanted us to know of His plan and His love. No one goes to hell because of the bad things they do. They go to hell because they choose to ignore the amazing offer of salvation in Jesus.

      It is not proper theology to say that “sin has that ability to destroy,” at least in a current or present sense. Scripture says that sin has already destroyed and all humanity is already perishing. When we tell the gospel, we give a message of the gift of God’s love. Any message that sounds like “shape up or else,” is not the gospel of the Scriptures.

      Are we “in a battle with eternal stakes”? Yes, and I am thankful to be a conqueror over death and sin and hell in Jesus. We are, in fact, more than conquerors because of Jesus. We are sons and daughters of the King, His by love, and the kingdom is ours by inheritance. We stand in victory over the powers of darkness because Jesus has covered us with His armor. But there is no danger to us. No, “a moment’s carelessness,” which can happen to any of us, will not result in “unimagined death and destruction” to us. Why? Because Jesus is our only hope and He is our sufficient hope.

      Is God “angry and “vengeful”? Let’s see, toward us, the children of His love, the people of His blood? No. Toward the world He died to save, the people He says He loves? No. I believe God is angry toward sin, that He will take vengeance on the evil one who promotes sin even among God’s people, and that the natural consequences of sin (which include eternal hell) are sufficiently dreadful to provide both warning and retribution for those who remain in sin.

      Alfred, just a word. You and I have communicated before, through some long and equally unfruitful discussions on the Yahoo Gothard Discussion Group several years ago. I plead with you to allow this group (RG) to continue to have the wonderful fruit and ministry it has had for so many. If your challenges and agenda have the effect of pushing away some young and seeking heart because they see the same kind of bondage and fear from your words, then, by your system, may the consequence be on your head.

      DaveO

      • Alfred Corduan March 13, 2013 Reply

        Dave: Seriously, Alfred, this is the bottom line for you? The doctrine of hell? The battle against evil? The bottom line for me is the simple truth that God loves me.

        The severity of the issues with which we are dealing with changes the discussion. If real people need to be snatched from a hopeless torment in a short period of time, then our comfort level, even for a paltry 70-80 years - is insignificant by comparison. Like a furious man suing his neighbor for letting his dog poop on the lawn while a neighborhood nuclear plant is teetering on explosion. People have killed neighbors for stuff like that. In the light of the impending meltdown, that same neighbor would, however, "move on" without a glance back.

        And I could not disagree with you more on the importance of the battle post-salvation. I mean . . . The wrestling with demons is followed by careful instructions on armor. Clearly we stand to get seriously hurt if we mess up. Do you see it differently?

        And . . . Why does Peter tell us to "give ALL diligence" to make sure we make it from faith to virtue, then knowledge, the self-control, then endurance, then godliness, brotherly love, and finally love? (2Peter 1:5). Sounds like there are serious consequences for not doing so. For not making the effort.

        . "be ye holy, for I am holy" (1Peter 1:16). I know what you are going to say . . . But allow me to point out that this is written to believers . . . And "be" is in the present continuous tense in the Greek. It cannot be properly translated other than "be becoming holy".

        ATI is an attempt to take these things as seriously as God says. Win the lost at any cost while learning soldier disciplines to not miss any objective for our mission on earth. That is what has drawn many parents to make enormous sacrifices to make it happen. I will be the first to admit that it fails of perfection, maybe seriously. But . . . How long do we need to focus on every dog pile discovered on the way before "moving on"? Even longer term issues, real consequences of mortal combat, become badges of honor in that light. You see? Perspective changes everything. In the light of the enormously consequential war in which we at all participating at what point do we redouble our efforts to make up for lost time and stop looking back?

        I do not mean to be harsh or insensitive. I am sure that i am. The wounds sustained are in some cases not trivial. But to make a lifelong career of taking ATI and Bill Gothard down . . . I don't understand that. We have "bigger fish to fry". Within the next 100 years we all here will be giving account of ourselves before God and the entire assembled universe. The real Enemy is still loose. And his name does not start with "B"

        • Chris Symonds March 13, 2013

          No offense Alfred but you only serve to prove Recovering Graces point and those who walked away from IBLP and its erroneous teachings. When you change the meaning of the doctrines pertaining to salvation as Bill Gothard has, and then apply a noose of bondage to others through a bunch of rules based on the process of eisegesis. you can understand why many want this man exposed.

        • Dave March 13, 2013

          Before I give any answer to Alfred, I need to apologize to the members of this group. I was surprised and disappointed to see Alfred’s name come up in the comments because he has, in my mind, a long history of supporting BG and side-tracking serious and helpful discussions. From October of 2005 to March of 2006, Alfred wrote over 200 comments on the Yahoo Gothard Discussion Group, according to my research. I assume he would have continued at the rate of 40 per month, but the leadership blocked him. I had several long threads of discussion with him at that time, most of them pulling us away from the real discussion of the group as his comment does in this thread. We became deeply involved in historical theological terminology, particularly regarding Calvinism and Augustinian grace. I found him to be distracting and frustrating. Please forgive me if I seem harsh toward Alfred.

          I believe this group (RG) has a wonderful and very important ministry and I know how fragile some of the seekers are when they come here. To ask a question or make a statement on a board like this can be frightening and to get answered by challenges such as those given by Alfred could easily chase someone away. Some here are very strong and able to handle his ideas. Others are not so strong and the old fears rise up easily. In fact, people like Alfred are one of the reasons it is hard for some to move on. They find grace, but meet with these intense questions and intimidating confrontations, and pull back into the shadow in fear.

          Alfred, do you see how demeaning it is for you to refer to the pain of others as “dog piles”? Do you simply not care? Have you read the stories here? I have not gone back through the archives of this group to read your previous comments, but I am appalled at your insensitivity right here. Many of these young people had to go through a great deal of pain, rejection, and self-loathing before they found their way out. Some are still in that process. I have communicated with too many who have simply abandoned the faith because of the pain they suffered through their ATI years. You sin by dismissing their issues as “dog piles.”

          You may remember from our past discussions that I am not a Calvinist. Nor do I believe that we can lose our salvation by insufficient or evil works. I have no intention of entering that discussion with you here. Instead, I would rather address something you say at the end of this comment. You suggest that it is unworthy to “make a lifelong career of taking ATI and Bill Gothard down.” I am not sure to whom you refer, unless it is just another demeaning statement to my ministry and the ministry of RG. But you fail to see reality. I know there are some who are angry at BG and leaders of ATI, including parents. Most of us are way past that. I won’t speak for the folks here, but I know that my heart is about communicating the love of God to people who are hurting. I don’t care about BG or ATI. If you read my blog you will see that I never mention either of them (except for one recommendation of this site). They are, at best, examples of leaders and organizations that can bring people into bondage. I am not doing anything actively against them, nor do I see that here. Instead, I help people deal with the suffering and shame they went through and the losses they experienced. I help them find their way out of the anger and condemnation into God’s grace. There are many organizations who damage people in this way. To think that we could “take them down” is silly. Yes, I wish they were gone and couldn’t do the damage they did, but I know others would rise up to take their places.

          So, I made a reasonable attempt to answer you civilly. I asked you to consider the damage you could do here. Again, I will ask you to stop trying to subvert the very real and substantive conversations RG allows. Use your website, speak through your ministry, support ATI, whatever. But please find it in your heart to believe that some have been hurt and need to heal. Respect them and let them find love.

        • MatthewS March 13, 2013

          It is quite enlightening to me how easily I internally accept being dismissed when I read Alfred's description of dog poop, and how affirming it is to have someone like Dave stand up to that and call that out as being so insensitive.

          Why not use the image of the Marines' "no man left behind" (in terms of not deserting the wounded) instead of comparing people's deepest wounds to poop on the lawn? A person does not compare things that matter to them to poop on the lawn. Jesus did not say, "your problems: get over them!"

          By contrast, Jesus was this:
          “Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
          the one I love, in whom I delight;
          I will put my Spirit on him,
          and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
          He will not quarrel or cry out;
          no one will hear his voice in the streets.
          A bruised reed he will not break,
          and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,

          till he has brought justice through to victory.
          In his name the nations will put their hope.”

          It is in line with God's justice to shine the light on those who have abused in his name. It is not in line with the character of Jesus to tell people their deepest wounds are dog poop. But I am grateful to the Lord for letting you use that expression today - in a weird way, this is a very healing experience for me!

        • Alfred Corduan March 13, 2013

          "I was surprised and disappointed to see Alfred’s name come up in the comments because he has, in my mind, a long history of supporting BG and side-tracking serious and helpful discussions. "

          Ouch. I guess the usefulness of my comments depends on what your objectives are. I am just in the middle of a separate discussion where a long time contributor here was longing for an "ATI person" to answer to the charges put forward. ATI supporters are easy to get rid of . . . there are few as foolish as I am.

          The "Metochoi" Yahoo forum . . . Met started privately demanding more from me, not less, i.e. the effort invested was not good enough. Papers in support of some positions that would have required a lot more time than I had - as though there was any question of what I supported, and why. Felt like harassment. I told him to remove me if it wasn't good enough . . . and he did. His message to the assembled group was that I had decided to "move on" :-) Again, I am not hard to get rid of.

          Having said that . . . I really don't mean to be harsh. Seriously. I cry a lot more than you can imagine. A valid concern, and I will back down.

        • MatthewS March 13, 2013

          "I am just in the middle of a separate discussion where a long time contributor here was longing for an “ATI person” to answer to the charges put forward."

          Just out of curiosity, are you referring to David's invitation to discuss some of the twisted Scriptures with him?

        • David M March 13, 2013

          I agree with Metochoi's sentiments. I wish to see more of Alfred, not less. It's very informative.

        • Dave March 13, 2013

          Please understand that I do not speak for RG here. I speak only for myself and my own sensitivities. I would love to hear Alfred justify his "dog pile" comments.

        • Alfred Corduan March 13, 2013

          I have "Dave" and "Dave M" . . . The Daves. :-)

          "Dog Pile". I never cease to be amazed at how comments can float out of context. In this analogy, Gothard blunders are "piles of dog poop" . . . not the reactions. The reactions are natural . . . but . . . in another context you get over the poop and move on to save yourself and your family.

          Again . . . you can hold me to it. I don't intend to be insensitive. Call me on it. I have children of my own. The youngest is 4. I have a long way to go yet. I would long for your prayers, not curses.

        • Alfred Corduan March 13, 2013

          Yes, Matthew (as I read the rest of the thread) . . . I was referring to Dave M :-)

        • Dave March 13, 2013

          Alfred, have you read the section on RG called “Sexual Abuse”? What would you call those offenses? Blunders? Dog poop? To say that the “reactions are natural” but the offenses are just “blunders,” minimizes the evil of the offense and puts the burden on the victim. After all, they could learn to see it as God’s best for them, right? Isn’t that what we were taught to do?

          Just get over it. Is that what you say to these people? Don’t over react. It is just dog poop in the yard. It was just a blunder. Can’t focus on that. Yes, I think you do need to be held to this. You have betrayed your heart here. Do you even believe the stories you read here?

          And who is cursing you? Not me. Not once. I would love to have you see the truth. Until that day I would really like to have you stop hurting others. There is some good in hearing the Gothard perspective, but the cutting remarks and dismissive attitude need to be exposed.

        • MatthewS March 13, 2013

          I appreciate Dave vocalizing this. Frankly, Alfred, I think you owe this group an apology for that "curses" remark.

          This is my perspective: When someone calls you on your words, you play the victim as if you are being attacked and "cursed" even, but when others bare their soul and expose deep wounds you have little to no empathy. It should be the other way around. Be willing to accept honest feedback even if it's unpleasant and express indignation against abuse and empathy for the wounds of others.

          And just for comparison: the hundreds of comments you have left here, Alfred - would even 5 of those be allowed on any IBLP page if written in the same tone but against them? RG has gone infinitely above and beyond IBLP in playing host to your dissenting views. You are not a victim here.

        • Alfred Corduan March 13, 2013

          Dave: if you ask if I have read the section on "Sexual Abuse", you are not working very hard.

          And, for the record, I have a son on staff . . . 10 years . . . A daughter in Taiwan . . . We live 45 minutes away, do get out there from time to time. I have 7 vulnerable daughters that I love deeply.

          One of the problems with different "camps" is that each repeats and affirms the prejudices of their group. Jesus said that we get to be like children calling to the opposite "camp" in the marketplace . . . "I played you a tune about grace or about 7 Principles of Success" but you didn't dance" or "I wailed to you about abuse or about Cabbage Patch Dolls, but you didn't cry". That is which we need to take the time to understand before we fire off. If that sounds like it is in part a self indictment, you are right.

          I am violently opposed to violation of sexual boundaries of any kind. But if you are going to accuse Bill Gothard of abuse, you better do better than footsie and making sandwiches. I made my sentiments pretty plain, including behavior that made no sense, even if I could not call it "abuse". Young ladies have a right to feel uncomfortable with prolonged handholding. [and I understand this was the topic of one of the sessions in Big Sandy last year, Mr. G speaking, mea culpa] I also offered in comments to facilitate anyone going directly to Mr. G on any such issue. "Facilitate" meaning I go along, if desired. I am no "insider" contrary to what you may think, but I do have contacts. This rises to the top of things I care about. You will also find my comments in under Veinot's book review section. I spent the better part of a year pursuing the "beef" in comments on immorality they made in the book. My own book review is on Amazon as well as my web site: http://www.corduan.com/book_review.html.

        • BeverlyB March 13, 2013

          Alfred, Just out of curiosity, if you heard that Bill Gothard was frequently told of physical and sexual abuse happening in ATI families and did nothing to report it to the proper Gov't authorities for the sake of minors still in those families, would that change your opinion of him at all? What IS his official policy for requiring himself, his staff and personnel to report any alleged sexual abuse of minors to the proper Government channels? Also, does he have an official policy for screening potential employees/volunteers who are working with underaged children and who may have sexual crimes in their past history? Most organizations have this in place. The Institute didn't have anything of the sort when I was there years ago. I'd love to hear if they have one in place now, as well as firm policies for reporting alleged sexual abuse. Since you seem to know Mr. Gothard, I would really love it if you can ask and let us know what he says. It would set my mind at ease to know that things have changed.

        • "Hannah" March 13, 2013

          Please don't apologize. We, the constituents of former ATI students, appreciate your words. I do feel that those who come here to argue and not to engage in actual dialogue, are basically trolling. That does bother me that some would do that. However, I also support that RG allows anyone to comment. So yeah... Let them show their true colors.

          I, for one, found your defense very healing.

        • Alfred Corduan March 13, 2013

          Beverly: I presume the Institute has proper screening in place . . . They certainly screen far more intently than about any other organization I know. And with fear and trembling . . . What exactly are you referring to with "It would ease my mind to that things have changed"? The implication is that staff are sexually abusing kids under their care? there was his brother back in the 1980s with a series of secretaries . . . And Mr. Voller, the ATI director and his young secretary in the '90s. Boy, if you could have picked that out of their resumes, you have the oracles of God. To this day I have heard nothing but that these were first time offenses. Do you know of anything I don't know?

        • BeverlyB March 14, 2013

          All I'm saying is that every other Christian organization and church I've worked with runs background checks on any new staff who will be regularly working with under-aged children on a regular basis. This is very standard policy in ministry these days. I understand that in the 80's and even the first part of the 90's it might have been a little more foreign, but this is 2013. It's necessary. Anyone can have the appearance of goodness and answer all the questions right on an application or in an interview. That's just one concern though.

          My other concern--and this is my biggest concern--is that back when I worked with the Institute, there was NO policy for how Gothard and staff should report alleged sexual abuse within ATI families to the proper government authorities. And so sexual abuse has gone unreported for years (as many have shared on RG about sexual abuse within their ATI families). Many time these children came and appealed to Gothard personally, and after asking a few questions, he sent them back home to their abusers, and didn't take their abuse claims seriously. THAT is what concerns me the most. I would truly love to hear that he has policies in place now where he will take any claim of sexual abuse very seriously, that he doesn't just take the word of the alleged abusers (often the dad or brothers in the families), but that he reports the claim to the proper authorities. As a pastor/counselor figure, there are requirements for him to report these claims as he hears about it. I guess that's my biggest concern as a former student, and now as a parent myself who works in Christian ministry. I'd love to hear that he's under the authority of the government now, and is expressing concern for these many, many victims. I would hope that as a parent, these things would concern you, too--and I'm sure they do. From what I've heard, it sounds like you're a very loving parent, so I'm not doubting that at all. I would just like to hear that things are different now.

        • Alfred Corduan March 14, 2013

          "It is quite enlightening to me how easily I internally accept being dismissed when I read Alfred's description of dog poop, and how affirming it is to have someone like Dave stand up to that and call that out as being so insensitive"

          It was insensitive . . . I am sorry.

        • MatthewS March 14, 2013

          Thank you, Alfred. I appreciate you saying so. I know it's especially threatening to admit something like that in a group where you feel outnumbered. I appreciate your courage.

          Here is my concern. You have made hundreds of comments here, and there is a track record of years at other forums, and your analogy that people's problems are like poop on the lawn vs. the "real problem" of the nuclear meltdown is not a jarring exception to the spirit of those comments. I am concerned that this is not a word-choice mistake, but that the words betrayed your heart, how you really feel. You are completely entitled to feel that way, of course, but the question would be if that feeling is coming from "flesh" or from "Spirit" (Gal 5, Eph 4)?

          May the Lord to stir in your heart and give you his heart for the smoking flaxes and bruised reeds, the wounded, the vulnerable and the oppressed.

        • Wes March 14, 2013

          Matthew: "I appreciate Dave vocalizing this. Frankly, Alfred, I think you owe this group an apology for that "curses" remark.

          This is my perspective: When someone calls you on your words, you play the victim as if you are being attacked and "cursed" even, but when others bare their soul and expose deep wounds you have little to no empathy. It should be the other way around. Be willing to accept honest feedback even if it's unpleasant and express indignation against abuse and empathy for the wounds of others.

          ***And just for comparison: the hundreds of comments you have left here, Alfred - would even 5 of those be allowed on any IBLP page if written in the same tone but against them?*** RG has gone infinitely above and beyond IBLP in playing host to your dissenting views. You are not a victim here."

          I would agree with Matthew this is very well written and thought out.

          In particular the comments about dissenting comments on any IBLP page written in the same tone against IBLP/ATI/BG.

        • Alfred Corduan March 14, 2013

          Matthew, it is equally hard to be continually summarily dismissed. Like folk on the other side have never suffered . . . Or surely not to the same degree. You have no idea.

          But, there is no excuse for harshness. Or poop. It hurt others, i am sorry.

        • MatthewS March 15, 2013

          it is equally hard to be continually summarily dismissed

          Alfred, I believe that I have been careful not to summarily dismiss you but even to show concern for you as a person.

          Brother, in 300+ comments you have acted like a bully to people. As soon as you get called out on it, you play the victim. You should do what many of us have done: take a deep breath, go see a counselor, get some real help.

          I really appreciate you showing a softer side. But hear me: I wish that instead of implying a request for sympathy for yourself, you would have expressed concern for others. This is just so, so lacking in your approach, even now.

          As I have said before, I pray for you and I do care about you as a person and I hope good things for you.

        • "Hannah" March 14, 2013

          Thank you, Alfred. I don't think anyone is saying that those still in ATI, have not suffered. Quite the contrary, actually.

        • Alfred Corduan March 14, 2013

          Wes, it is nice to have something approaching a civil conversation with you. Thank you.

          "In particular the comments about dissenting comments on any IBLP page written in the same tone against IBLP/ATI/BG"

          I know a bit about the page. I know who is running it (not my son, BTW). I know that not everyone is in agreement that it is a great idea. Bottom line, an official "ministry" page may not be the best place to have dissent and dirty laundry aired . . . Right? Different expectations. I mean . . . I can't even join a group called "We like Mr. Gothard" without trolls chasing it down and making it a place I don't want to be. Metochoi's group had over 600 people talking about "dirty laundry" . . . I have no idea what the assembled numbers here are. Ain't it enough? I am committed to respecting the admins here . . . I appreciate the opportunity to correct some things i have said that are out of line.

    • Timothy Baldridge March 13, 2013 Reply

      It's a very logical thought process, but one that flies in the face of more humanist beliefs that many Christians have: Christ died for sins, once for all. He died once, 2000 years ago for every sin I ever have or ever will commit. He then called me with irresistible grace so that the glory in salvation would not be mine, but His. Now, being part of a devine plan for salvation, being chosen by the Almighty God, why would I take it upon myself to assume that any act I commit could derail that plan. That is arch-humanism! The thought that I could be more powerful than God!

      So I'm not sure about the author, but yes, I believe in hell and eternal damnation. But that is reserved for sinners, not those chosen by God, of whom he says "no man may pluck them out of my hand".

      • Dave March 13, 2013 Reply

        Thank you, Timothy! You are right on. It is what Jesus did that saved me and what Jesus did/does that keeps me. Paul says he judges no one and he doesn't even judge himself. (1 Cor 4:3) No believer has to worry about Alfred's idea's of falling short because our righteousness is a gift from the Lord who loves us. And no unbeliever has to worry about Alfred's assessment because they are already condemned by their unbelief.

    • "Hannah" March 13, 2013 Reply

      I don't understand your comment, Alfred. Sin has nothing to do with whether one goes to heaven or hell. Well, it would, if anyone could be perfect enough to avoid hell. But since we all sin, it is a common denominator of the human race. Therefore, God created another way. This is the Gospel message, that "Whosoever will", may come, without regard to how many "don't you dares" that they have done. If the blood of Christ is not powerful to forgive all of those "don't you dares", then it is not powerful enough to save any one of us. The only "don't you dare" that God is concerned about, is failure to trust in Christ alone.

      I believe I've expressed this caution to you before, but it startles and concerns me to see you flirting with that line of, "Jesus + [anything]". The only "don't you dare" is unbelief, and you are blurring that line.

      • "Hannah" March 13, 2013 Reply

        Oops, this was supposed to go further up. Pls disregard. Or rather, regard under the appropriate comment.

    • "Hannah" March 13, 2013 Reply

      I don't understand your comment, Alfred. Sin has nothing to do with whether one goes to heaven or hell. Well, it would, if anyone could be perfect enough to avoid hell. But since we all sin, it is a common denominator of the human race. Therefore, God created another way. This is the Gospel message, that "Whosoever will", may come, without regard to how many "don't you dares" that they have done. If the blood of Christ is not powerful to forgive all of those "don't you dares", then it is not powerful enough to save any one of us. The only "don't you dare" that God is concerned about, is failure to trust in Christ alone.

      I believe I've expressed this caution to you before, but it startles and concerns me to see you flirting with that line of, "Jesus + [anything]". The only "don't you dare" is unbelief, and you are blurring that line.

      --------------

      • "Hannah" March 13, 2013 Reply

        Ok, for some reason it is showing up in the wrong sequence. This comment is a response to you initial questions to Dave. Sorry for the mess.

      • Alfred Corduan March 13, 2013 Reply

        Ok, just found this.

        I agree as far as getting to heaven is concerned, Hannah. But what do you make of the other sections quoted? Because I am tired I will cut and paste:

        Why does Peter tell us to "give ALL diligence" to make sure we make it from faith to virtue, then knowledge, the self-control, then endurance, then godliness, brotherly love, and finally love? (2Peter 1:5). Sounds like there are serious consequences for not doing so. For not making the effort.

        . "be ye holy, for I am holy" (1Peter 1:16). I know what you are going to say . . . But allow me to point out that this is written to believers . . . And "be" is in the present continuous tense in the Greek. It cannot be properly translated other than "be becoming holy".

        Or . . . When Jesus tells us to hate our families and even our lives to follow Him.

        Luke 14:33 "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."

        What happens if we don't "forsake everything" for Him? Anything?

        Is there anything short of missing heaven that is bad enough that we will cry over on that final day? He wipes tears away . . . What tears?

        • dreamer March 14, 2013

          Why does Peter tell us to "give ALL diligence" to make sure we make it from faith to virtue, then knowledge, the self-control, then endurance, then godliness, brotherly love, and finally love? (2Peter 1:5). Sounds like there are serious consequences for not doing so. For not making the effort

          _____________

          You keep saying this.... can you please tell us where in Scripture it says there are serious consequences for not doing so, and what those consequences are? I'm not saying we shouldn't do it, but I am wondering where these consequences you keep talking about are mentioned or even are hinted at.

        • Alfred Corduan March 14, 2013

          He tols us:

          2 Peter 1:8-10
          For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
          Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure:for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

          Consequences: barren, unfruitful . . .blind, nearsighted, not sure he's saved or, worse, sure he is not saved . . . And, finally, falling. Falling off the wagon, falling into sin, falling from grace . . . . everything we all collectively don't want. All for lack of investing "all diligence" in a program of character development to get beyond just faith.

        • "Hannah" March 14, 2013

          I believe you and I have had this exact conversation, before, Alfred. I believe what it boiled down to, then, was a different understanding of the passage, especially as I read it in various different versions.

          Your version, "Work hard, or you're screwed," to paraphrase, is not consistent with my understanding of the whole of Scripture, therefore, I do not stop there with my understanding of the passage. As I read it in different versions or delve deeper into the meaning, I get more of a sense that "be diligent" (your "work hard") may have more of a connotation of "be careful" or "pay attention", and such a meaning is more consistent to me. The admonition that, if we don't grow in our faith, we are shortsighted or blind, is certainly true, and I believe I had a similar shortsightedness which kept me blind and unable to grow in my Christian walk, for many years. In effect, I blocked the Holy Spirit from a continual working in my life to bring these things to fruition. Surprisingly, finding and understanding grace, was the key that undid the blockade. I don't share this because "I've arrived," but because it was a discovery that revolutionized my Christian life, from top to bottom.

          That's in a nutshell, without getting into another lengthy debate on the same passage. I am not a Greek language scholar, and do not wish to debate words with you, ad infintum.

        • "Hannah" March 14, 2013

          Alfred, I am still confused as to why you think this passage has anything to do with whether one goes to heaven or hell, as per your initial questions to Dave. Do you believe we are saved by grace, but can only keep it via working hard, ie, your interpretation of "giving all diligence"? That's the only way I can think to resolve your conflicting statements, and the pointed questions you asked Dave over whether he believed in hell.

        • "Hannah" March 14, 2013

          I mean, your statements indicate that you believe both in salvation by grace, and in getting to heaven via works or good behavior. And I don't know how you resolve the two, if you say you don't believe in Jesus + anything. When called on it, you always say that salvation is by grace alone, but it's as though that isn't *really* what you secretly believe, and it's not the first thing that came out of your mouth. You jad to think about it and be coached a bit, before "remembering" the right answer.

          Please, understand, I dont wish to attack your beliefs or lack thereof. I'm just genuinely perplexed, about what you truly believe.

        • "Hannah" March 14, 2013

          I am specifically referencing the 2 Peter passage in this discussion, if it wasn't clear.

          I have never condoned Christians living in sin.

          I do believe certain ideals are worth aiming for.

          But to my mind, that is not the whole story. I believe the Holy Spirit changes a life, not a believer's effort. I think a believer is responsible to cooperate with God, and let God perform the transformation. That's just imo.

        • Alfred Corduan March 15, 2013

          I too am having exasperating technical problems. I have about had it with iPad keyboards and their helpful autocorrection.

          I would never imagine that you believe in "anything goes" Christianity. Neither do I believe that heaven is attained by other than salvation, the new birth received only by faith in Jesus, executed only by His blood. In fact, I believe that the "new man" that God creates in us "cannot sin"(1John 3:9, 5:18), which leads me to conclude that a saved person is incapable of losing his salvation. Obviously somebody is sinning when I still sin . . . And Romans 6 tells me that this is the "old man", technically dead, but still lurching around, zombie-like. Two different people inside one body. Good Alfred and bad Alfred. Good Alfred looks like Jesus and will dance with Him forever . . . Bad Alfred is already dead and will disappear when Alfred dies.

          So all of this diligence is not to try to keep out of hell. It has to do with HOW I enter heaven. And with whom. And how miserable i am while on earth. The stakes remain very high.

          What do you make of this:

          1 Corinthians 3:15 "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss:but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.". Barely saved . . . In, but just. See that it says that we would "suffer loss"? How can you "suffer loss" if you are in heaven forever?

          I believe that we, ourselves, will have more or less there, not all the same. One way to look at it is our ability to enjoy it all. I know some people have "red/green" color blindness, where red and green looks the same. Others have "blue/yellow" color blindness. I have a dear friend who has both, everything is shades of gray (ouch). Now, imagine one of each group -and you- standing in front of the Grand Canyon. Would anyone not enjoy the sight, be happy, find it awesome, not want to come back?

          Nope. What is the difference? The color-blind know from the comments of others, especially you, that there is so much MORE they could enjoy if their vision were better.

          How big of a tragedy to spend forever knowing how much even better it might have been if we had only "given diligence"? I don't think for a minute we will mope in heaven . . all of those tears He will wipe away. But it does add some serious motivation to our short remaining time on earth

        • "Hannah" March 15, 2013

          It's really pretty simple. I believe that works done in our own human effort will be burned up. Because the man in this passage, did bring something to the table, he brought a load, in fact! It just wasn't a profitable load. But I don't believe it affects the question of heaven or hell one way or the other.

          My understanding of the other passage you cite, is that a spirit-filled Christian does not *wilfully* sin. If not that passage, there is another passage that speaks of the *willfullness* of it. That makes it a little different angle for me. Because there are a load of sins we can commit, that don't fall under the "willful" category. And one can walk im the Spirit, or one can try to do it all via human effort. I'm actually not much for the "old man" analogy, because he was pretty thoroughly defeated. So I prefer to simply recognize that I am an imperfect human, still living in an imperfect human body. As such, I will unwittingly hurt others, at times. This is all just my opinion, as best I understand it at face value, and in harmony with my understanding of Scripture, in general.

          And I dont for a moment believe it affects our ability to enjoy Christ for eternity. There will be regrets for "what could have been", what *should* have been. But we will not be denied the fullness of fellowship. Which is the true hope of heaven, that of ultimate reuniting in relationship to God.

          If you don't believe that one's works have to do with getting to heaven, why did you ask Dave whether he believed in heaven or hell? I'm still confused.

          I think the difference between you and I, is that I see unmerited favor as amazing, overwhelming, a love that I cannot help but respond to, and a precursor to the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in my life. On the other hand, you see unmerited favor as [yawn] no obligations, therefore I have an excuse to sin. I felt that way for years, before I had a very personal encounter with the living God. And now my life is divided into two portions, before and after that experience. It was really nothing more than a realization about the truth of grace, but what a difference it made! And no, that was not my point of salvation. I had been saved for decades, but was significantly hampered in Christian growth, for lack of that one understanding. That's my story.

        • Alfred Corduan March 15, 2013

          Hannah:

          If you don't believe that one's works have to do with getting to heaven, why did you ask Dave whether he believed in heaven or hell? I'm still confused

          I asked because I read statement after statement that seemed to assure the reader that God is not going to be angry with them no matter what they do . . . Also that God will never stop loving them no matter what they do. Now the latter is true if they are saved . . . But there is overwhelming proof that God also gets plenty angry with His own children and spanks severely. The only way to define a God who does not ever cut off His love is to define a Universalist God . . . I.e. no real hell. Everybody gets into heaven. If not, then the unsaved will face a God without mercy and love. And to tell them otherwise is the greatest of crimes. If that section has any warning in it, I failed to see it.

          I asked the question because I see lots of folk today who declare that God's endless love will win over all sin, saving everybody. I asked because I wanted to know where he was coming from.

        • Alfred Corduan March 15, 2013

          On the other hand, you see unmerited favor as [yawn] no obligations, therefore I have an excuse to sin.

          Not at all. Even remotely. You know my working definition, yes, fundamentally consistent with what Mr. G teaches, but also what Calvinists teach, only without the "irresistible" part . . . Grace is enablement to actually live like God wants . . . Power. Once accepted, it carries us. While so we live without sin, in victory. For the unbeliever it is the actual faith and ability to trust Christ. I love God's grace. It saved me - by letting me trust Christ and though faith connecting me to the blood of Jesus. . . And it now enables me to live like Jesus wants.

        • "Hannah" March 16, 2013

          That's why I specified, "unmerited favor" vs saying "grace" (although you know that I perceive them as one and the same). That is what I am perceiving, by your comments, as your impressions of our definition.

        • "Hannah" March 16, 2013

          Have you checked out RG's statement of beliefs? There is a link under every article. Maybe that would answer some of your questions.

  10. Grace March 12, 2013 Reply

    This article was so helpful. I have many times said that I felt robbed. You put in words exactly what I have felt for the last 2 years and didn't know how to express. Thank you!

  11. "Hope" March 12, 2013 Reply

    Loved this post! I identified with all of the points, and especially with the point "new heart of the believer". Focusing on the verse that says "my heart is wicked and deceitful" indeed makes it very difficult to trust that I can really hear God's voice. So many times I've also heard preachers say - "God's will is the opposite of your natural inclinations." While this is sort-of true in some contexts it negates that I have the Holy Spirit working in me both to will and to do of His good pleasure. My desires are many times God-given desires that He wants to use in the process of guiding and directing me. What freedom and joy comes when I embrace the desires He has given me and seek to pursue what I know in my heart that He has for me instead of second-guessing His voice because it lines up with my desires.

    • Dave March 12, 2013 Reply

      I remember one lady speaking up in church to tell everyone that the way she determined the will of God in her life was to figure out the thing she really didn't want to do. That would be God's will for her. This was what she had gleaned from BG teaching. No wonder these folks struggle with accepting the love of God!

      • "Hannah" March 13, 2013 Reply

        It wasn't just a "gleaning". He says it, outright, and it is in print in his materials.

  12. Chris Symonds March 12, 2013 Reply

    One observation I have made is the comparison between the god's of Homer's epic poems and legalistic thinkers.

    The Greek god's were small, petty, cruel characterizations that emulated the worst human traits. They were heartless and cruel and perceived us as toys to be played with at their whim and wish. This is how I see the legalist. They have traded the God of mercy, compassion, grace and forgiveness for a cheap cut out that only serves pride and works.

    Ultimately where there is legalism their is only frustrated works and continual judgement. There is no forgiveness, only continual striving to please the law giver and their petty version of the god they serve.

    It is a good thing that these little gods don't exist. Although sadly many caught up in legalism strive to serve a god that doesn't exist rather than the God of the bible.

    Legalism is the enemy of grace through Jesus Christ.

    • Dave March 13, 2013 Reply

      Chris, this is a very good comment. I have had to think about it a little because it links so well to what I write about narcissism. I won't take the time to go into it here, but I think you are right on about legalists making little gods to serve. The amazing (and Scriptural) realization comes when we see that those little gods look just like their makers!

      "Legalism is the enemy of grace through Jesus Christ." Absolutely right and I would add, "because legalism is idolatry."

      • Chris Symonds March 14, 2013 Reply

        Dave I have started following your blog on narcissism as I have had to deal with a few in my time both through my work and my personal relationships.

        I like your comment here ' The amazing (and Scriptural) realization comes when we see that those little gods look just like their makers!'

        Atheists and humanists accuse us of making God in our own image, Narcissus worshiped his own refection, legalists idolize the rules they make however they also worship what these rules reflect: themselves!

        The true God we worship as revealed in scripture is not an anthropomorphism in the sense of idolatry. We describe God in human terms however where all false religion diminishes God's image and elevates man, the bible does the opposite.

        • Dave March 15, 2013

          Chris, that's right. My writing about narcissism came out of my experiences with legalism. I say that the two are linked in a process of "image addiction." The narcissist projects an image of what we are supposed to think about him, and he supports that image with boasting, comparisons, and lies. The legalist does the same thing. All to look good.

          But here's a question: Can someone honestly worship the true God while striving to service and worship an image?

          I am often asked if narcissists can be believers? I reply that I don't know. I believe Christians can commit all kinds of sin. Yet, I wonder why a narcissist would be a believer. Aren't believers supposed to set aside images, whether of themselves or others, reject them, as they worship the Lord alone?

  13. BeverlyB March 13, 2013 Reply

    I've been doing a lot of thinking and study lately on the topic of love for God vs. fear of God, and it's been eye-opening for me. I think what started it was spending a lot of time in 1 John and thinking through the themes of God's love and how that impacts us:

    "As we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world. Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that his love has not been perfected in us." (1 Jn 4:17-18)

    If we are truly a child of God living in the love of God, there is no place for fear in our lives--especially fear of God. There is an "awe and wonder" that the Bible calls the fear of God, but as believers that awe and wonder should never drive us away from him, but rather towards him as we are compelled forwards by His love to know Him better! Jesus used the phrase "Do not fear!" over and over in Scripture, and if you look at His life, he never taught those who loved him and were closest to him to be afraid of him. The Pharisees were afraid, and those who hated him were deeply afraid of him. But those who loved him were welcomed into an intimate relationship with him. I'm not a theologian, but as I've looked through the New Testament, I see no example where fear is appropriate in the life of a believer who is being led by the Holy Spirit--especially a fear of God or of his judgment for not doing or saying things correctly.

    We know that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and when we look at him and his life here on earth, we see God perfectly shown to us. From what we know of Jesus, if we were walking beside him right now, would we see him ready to strike us for our faults or for getting things wrong? I don't see that in Him--His life overflowed with love and grace, even to those who least deserved it, like the woman caught in adultery. I believe we see the heart of God most clearly in this example as Jesus tells her, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." No condemnation, no threats. Just love--but a love that strangely compels us to leave sin and follow him.

    I believe that as long as we are tied to fear in our relationship with God, we will be unable to fully and completely love him. Our relationship with God is often compared to a marriage relationship in Scripture. Is any marriage completely healthy where one partner is afraid of the other? No, the best relationship has complete openness, honesty and love between the two. And in the best relationship, even correction is given and received in love, without fear of losing the other person's respect or admiration. The more I think about it, the more I believe that this is what Jesus desires in our relationship with him--this level of intimacy, honesty and unfettered joy.

    One more thought--The temple veil represented a healthy fear of God and separation from God. It was torn in two when Jesus died on the cross. That is more than symbolic--that is Jesus' open invitation to never be fearful of God again, but to walk with Him in a relationship that is full of bold love and confidence.

    • Alfred Corduan March 13, 2013 Reply

      Beverly: There are some that believe that the "fear" in 1 John 4 is the "fear of man", i.e. the natural fear and revulsion we have of sinful or even harmful people. The fear of what would happen if we run up to a stranger's house in the middle of a party and start yelling and pounding on the door. A fear which goes away when we see that the back of the house is in flames.

      "Perfect" is telos, also translated "mature". Same word as "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matt. 5:46) The context being to love your enemies.

      Fear has a place, which it would not have if love kicks it all out without regard to what kind of fear it is. Proverbs 28:14 "Happy is the man that feareth alway". In Psalm 19 we read that "Fear of the Lord" is "clean, enduring forever".

      • BeverlyB March 13, 2013 Reply

        I appreciate your perspective, Alfred, and I'm open to correction on this. But I'm wondering if you can give me an example from the life of Jesus where he taught or encouraged those who loved him most to be afraid of him? Or where he encouraged them to keep him at arms' length out of fear? Even in Revelation 1:17, when John's natural inclination upon seeing the glorified Christ was to fall at his feet in terrified fear, Jesus' first response was to reach out and touch him, and say, "Don't be afraid!"

        • Alfred Corduan March 13, 2013

          This is not "correction". Just perspective. "Terror" is not of God . . . hopelessness . . . despair.

          Jesus said: "And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." (Luke 12:4-55)

          This is in the context of the 144,000, future:

          "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." (Rev. 14:6)

          Also future - this is immortalized in part in "The Messiah":

          Rev. 11:15-18 "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name . . . "

          Balance . . . all in balance.

          This is specifically about Jesus . . . mind you it is the reaction of the unbelievers, not His command . . . but you can't help but think it is with God's approval:

          Revelation 6:16 "And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:"

        • BeverlyB March 13, 2013

          It's interesting, because in the passage you mentioned in Luke, the context is for us to fear what God is able to do to unbelievers. But immediately following that verse, Jesus talks about the sparrows and how he knows each one; and then how each hair on our heads is numbered. And he finishes by saying, "So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows." (Lk 12:6-7) So if you take the first verse out of context, it might appear that Jesus is saying to be afraid of God, but then he immediately calms his disciples and basically says, "But don't be afraid--you are known by God, and you are loved." It's interesting... I think that if God desired us to have any form of fear in our relationship, Jesus could have come right out and said, "Be afraid--be VERY afraid!" Instead, He gives the command, "Don't be afraid!" over and over, and calms our fears.

          Yes, unbelievers have every reason to be afraid of God. But if we're walking in right relationship with Him, and His Spirit lives inside us, we have no reason to hold onto any fear in our relationship with him. "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God's own children, adopted into his family--calling him "Father, dear Father." For His Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us we are God's children." (Rom. 8:14-16)

          And because we are his children, and because the veil was torn, Hebrews 10 says, "...we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. This is the new, life-giving way that Christ has opened up for us through the sacred curtain, by means of his death for us. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's people, let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him...."

          I believe that God calls us to love Him with a bold love full of confidence in HIS righteousness, and that once we are His, holding onto any kind of fear keeps us from loving Him fully and being able to entrust our whole hearts and selves to Him (1 Jn 4:18). When I began to think about this--to really think about it--it started changing my relationship with God. I saw that a lot of my walk with Him was filled with fear (fear of saying the wrong thing in prayer, or not being in the right position for prayer, or doing the wrong thing, or missing His clear guidance, etc). But as I've begun thinking more on the depths of his love, and his many commands to not be afraid, I've felt a freedom and love for Him that I've never known before! His love is truly amazing, but I think as believers, sometimes we just can't get past our own fear of God to fully grasp His amazing love for us.

        • Alfred Corduan March 13, 2013

          Beverly: I really don't have a big issue with snything you are saying. He did say "my friends", which I think you were referring to. Yes, He keeps saying "fear not". That is His voice to us when we are afraid. We certainly can't obey that section if we are afraid of the devil, or any Peyton. Maybe that is that whole point. Fear God in the sense of worship.

      • "Hannah" March 13, 2013 Reply

        I'm always entertained when Alfred tries to explain Greek words.

        • Alfred Corduan March 13, 2013

          What entertains you about it, Hannah? Or would this be just another derogatory comment I guess I am getting tired of?

        • "Hannah" March 14, 2013

          Yup. Derogatory. Guilty as charged.

          We all know where you got that illustration regarding the "fear of man", yet you try to make it into a "school of thought". Well, sure, it's a school of one man's thought, but I've never heard it anywhere else! It's like you just pulled the "of man" part out of thin air!

          If you really iah

        • "Hannah" March 14, 2013

          Yup. Derogatory. Guilty as charged.

          We all know where you got that illustration regarding the "fear of man", yet you try to make it into a "school of thought". Well, sure, it's a school of one man's thought, but I've never heard it anywhere else! It's like you just pulled the "of man" part out of thin air! ... Or out of a Gothard seminar.

          If you really wish to continue explaining Greek words to us, might I suggest reading a book on proper exigesis, first? I mean, just start with one book! Otherwise, you are giving the actual Bible and language scholars among us, too much entertainment.

        • "Hannah" March 14, 2013

          I am having all manner of technical difficulties, it seems. Note that I am not one of the Bible or language scholars who frequent the site. But neither do I try to explain Greek words, other than very rarely, and usually as a direct reply to Alfred, and after consulting with my language-scholar husband.

        • Chris Symonds March 14, 2013

          I agree with you comment
          " Well, sure, it's a school of one man's thought,"

          That man's whole process of interpreting scripture is called eisegesis where one isolates a verse or word at the expense of is context.

          The family who went through IBLP training that I lived with for a time used to regularly pray a hedge of thorns around their home for protection.

          Here is the context: Pro_15:19 The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain. I would invite Alfred to explain how this prevails over the blood of Christ

        • "Hannah" March 14, 2013

          I am sorry, you said, "there are some that believe...", not, "there is a school of thought". I apologize for reading it wrong. Although it still seems strange to me that you didn't just say, "Gothard believes..." and then shared the burning house illustration. Because it was just quite obvious where you got that.

        • Alfred Corduan March 15, 2013

          Thanks, Hannah. Your comments imply that I haven't taken the time to research . . . But I have. So that gets irritating . . . I have taken a Greek course, I have the helps on my shelf . . . And iPad. :-) I appreciate a suspicion of half baked scholarship . . . But the best thing to do with a pseudo-scholar is to call him on it.

          My opinions really are my own. There is a reason I am not on staff at HQ, never been invited to assume any role. I know Mr. G would cringe at half the stuff I say. I do not in any sense speak for him. So . . . Make me back up my suggestions, evaluate them on their merits. Call me on my Greek . . . But please don't dismiss me just because you happen to have heard the same thing from Bill Gothard.

          On fear . . . Fear and worship are close cousins. That is obvious . . . Commands to fear God and explicitly to not fear people . . . And definitely not to "fear" other gods. This is not a small issue in Scripture. So . . . There really is no argument about eliminating fearfulness in general. This is a little more on my list of things that grab my attention as I am in heavy debates with close friends (pro-IBLP, BTW) that have become Universalists, telling me that God will save everybody in the end . . . That there is really no reason to fear God either, since He is duty bound to figure out how to get us all into heaven. They like 1John 4 to prove that fear of any kind is consumed by love. Which probably made my opening comment a hit harsher that it needed to be. It is kind of cool these days to completely de-claw God so He is safe. Not wise, not safe at all. I seem to be finding more blance here than among some of my Gothard-friendly friends.

        • "Hannah" March 15, 2013

          I didn't dismiss you because I've heard the same thing from Gothard. I was dismissive, because, to my knowledge, he is the *only* Christian leader who uses that illustration.

          What if the verse just means fear, period? I do believe that love overwhelms fear. On a different analogy, I may be afraid to die, but I would willingly give my life to protect my son. Without hesitation. I would throw my body across his, to protect him. It has nothing to do with a fear of man, but it does have to do with fear. I believe that love swallows fear, period.

          And I have never been out to "de-claw" God. But I also have enough trust in him, that I am not afraid of him.

          I believe you when you say you've researched the Greek words, but it still appears you are taking it through a grid of Gothard. In short, your exigesis is almost as bad as his. Again, I am not a Greek scholar and am not qualified to refute the particulars for you, without outside influence. But thankfully, I am learning to recognize these sort of errors, for my own well-being. When someone says, "the Greek word is...", I no longer automatically accept it as gospel.

      • Will Hunsucker March 15, 2013 Reply

        Alfred, re: 1 John 4,

        The whole immediate context alone, vv.7-20, is addressing a 'perfect' or mature love between believers.

        This love as it matures,

        1) Is a natural response to God's love for us in Christ(vv.9-11);

        2) Demonstrates the truth of the transforming Grace of an Unseen God to the surrounding world(v.12);

        3) Gives us assurance that our relationship with God is growing and maturing(vv.12-13);

        4) Gives confidence as we consider the Judgement Seat of Christ, taking away fear - because as we grow in Love for those around us, we reflect Christ's love and in doing so, do his will. Our confidence is a result of the working of His love in our hearts and lives. (vv.15-19)



        As far as I understand this passage, and the whole question of what motivates our Christian life, a maturing love for each other (and for God) motivates us to seek to love God and others more, and removes fear as a dominant motivation.

        Fear of punishment "...is more a motivation to not do evil than it is to do good or to serve God. A boy might clean his room because he fears a punishment if he doesn't clean. But when the threat of punishment is removed, so is his motivation.

        In this negative sense, fear is the most immature of the motivations because it comes from an immature or undeveloped love:

        There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.

        But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)

        Since perfect love casts out fear of judgment, love is evidently the superior motivation.

        (The Christian’s Motivation for Serving God - Dr. Charlie Bing)

        • Alfred Corduan March 15, 2013

          Will: no argument, except that fear of the Lord stands alone elsewhere as a virtue. In fact Psalm 19 tells us it lasts forever, unlike things which we are told in 1 Cor. 13 drop away when "that which is perfect (mature) is come", i.e. love. Point being it is not "fear" but WHAT we fear. Which is, I think, exactly what you are saying. Fear of the Lord(high), not fear of punishment (low) and certainly not others who can harm us.

  14. "Hannah" March 13, 2013 Reply

    This was beautiful and very healing. Thank you.

  15. FaithR March 15, 2013 Reply

    This was just what I needed to hear today

  16. MatthewS March 15, 2013 Reply

    Love being reminded of how good and loving God is.

    In my home growing up, the hammer and chisel diagram was used to explain that even if my parents were out of line and over-reacting in anger, by the time that reached us kids, it was as if sent straight from God for our own good. This makes God out to be an angry, petty, selfish abuser who torments children as a relief-valve to vent his own steam. The children in homes like that are told to try harder and to have a better attitude in hopes of measuring up, but the game is rigged, they can never win. It's a daily routine of being forced to fail, then being punished for the failure, then being punished for failing to respond to the punishment just so...

    I have to keep walking away from that image of God like the false religion that it is, and walking toward the God who loved me and was willing to bankrupt heaven (in a manner of speaking) to build a bridge to me.

    • Alfred Corduan March 15, 2013 Reply

      Matthew: I do not agree with the notion that God sends our parents to angrily pound sin out of us. Anger like that IS sin. But you would not deny that God uses it and can turn that which is evil into a blessing, right?

      Psalms 76:10 "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain."

      Hebrews 12:9-10 "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence:shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.".

      • MatthewS March 15, 2013 Reply

        Alfred... for once in your life, brother, put down the defense attorney persona and just express some freaking COMPASSION!

      • MatthewS March 15, 2013 Reply

        Alfred - you misrepresented David's invitation to discuss Scripture with him on a different thread. You said that he was longing for someone to answer the charges, a misrepresentation of his invitation which hurts your credibility with me. But here you are, messing with this thread.

        My request of you would be that you pull back from threads like this and put your efforts over on those threads with David, hashing out some of the Scriptural issues at stake. That could well turn out to be iron sharpening iron on both sides, and we all go home the better for it.

      • Eliza March 15, 2013 Reply

        Alfred, believing that God can use everything for good and therefore I should accept evil AS good destroyed my ability to see God as loving. I saw Him as just waiting to step in to punish me in some way, no matter how hard I tried to do right or how pure my motives were. He would always find something wrong and punish me for it.

        This belief did NOT come from my parents, as they did not abuse me. It came from ATI.

        Evil is EVIL. Period. Full stop. End of story. Evil (including angry discipline and abuse) damages people. It destroys relationship with God. It destroys relationships with people.

        Does God give beauty for ashes and redeem us and comfort us? Absolutely!

        That in NO WAY excuses evil. I know you will say you agree with this. But your comments seem to indicate otherwise.

        It is perfectly ok to get angry at evil and abuse. Anger motivates us to take action. As long as the action we choose is a Godly one, anger is not wrong. Once I understood this, I was finally able to stand against evil and abuse. Like God does. Jesus got angry at hypocrisy and even called names. And not nice names either. He called a spade a spade. He called an abuser an abuser. He called a hypocrite a hypocrite. I refuse to stand by and watch abuse happen anymore just because "God will use it for good." And that right there is called "moving on."

  17. Dave March 15, 2013 Reply

    Alfred and all,

    Just for the “fun” of it, I went through all the comments on this post. I had to be out of town yesterday, and I appreciated the new discussion. But here’s what I discovered. Out of 92 comments, only 28 had anything to do with the post, the rest were exchanges either with or based on Alfred’s comments. (I might have missed some because more were added as I was writing this.) While I do understand that those exchanges have value, they also are a distraction from posts that could be helpful. The words of agreement or clarification on a post are part of what a seeker needs for understanding and connection.

    Alfred, you simply don’t seem to understand (or care?) that you are communicating your disdain for the struggles of those who write on this site. My question as to whether you had read the section on Sexual Abuse was somewhat rhetorical, I really didn’t care if you had. My point was that there are stories of pain there and in several places on this site. But when you responded with your claim that you had read the sexual abuse stories and then dismissed them, I have to say that I was very disappointed. You portray yourself as a man of compassion, but you exhibit very little.

    Understand that I have only gone through the comments you have made on this one thread, not all the others. Yet, here I have seen you suggest that we have to raise the “issues up from ‘don’t hurt my feelings.’” We have already talked about the “dog poop” comments, but you have confessed only that they are “insensitive” not incorrect, “harsh” but not invalid. At first you said that our reaction took your words “out of context” and that the errors of BG ATI and HQ were “blunders” rather than offenses or abuses. You say that you are “violently opposed to violation of sexual boundaries of any kind,” but then you say that the things in that section of the site are not abuse in your mind and you dismiss them as “footsie and making sandwiches.” Yes, I realize those words were used, but when you use them we hear a demeaning dismissal of concern. Like: my goodness, girl, you said it was just playing footsie; what’s the big deal? (Notice the word “like.” I am not saying that you used those words.)

    When you answered Beverly, you said that the actions of BG’s brother were with “a series of secretaries,” then you say, “To this day I have heard nothing but that these were first time offenses.” That doesn’t make sense, but it does betray an attitude. You consistently minimize the offenses attributed to BG or the Institute and thereby put down those affected by those offenses. Later, you call these accusations “dirty laundry.” I know that’s a popular expression, but it is still a put down.

    You wrote, “Metochoi’s group had over 600 people talking about ‘dirty laundry’.” And that’s all you saw there? Met’s group challenged the theological doctrines, the very foundation of Gothardism. A great amount of time was spent discussing important issues of perspective and theology. You were involved in some of those threads. But now you say that it was about “dirty laundry”?

    And you say that we “have no idea” how BG people have suffered. Good grief, almost all of us were in the program. We faced the same questions and dismissals and derisive mocking that you and your family have experienced. I doubt that you have any particular corner on being “continually summarily dismissed.” I lost a great deal simply from having been associated with BG. We all suffered loss from the outside, it was the loss from the inside that really disturbs us. “You have no idea,” you say. I have to say it: Get over yourself.

    It has been my experience (and I have a great deal) that dedicated ATI people exhibit an inability to listen to and connect with the hearts of others, particularly those who disagree with them. There are many ideas of doctrine and Scripture interpretation that make for worthy discussion and much of it happens here at RG. I think that’s right and healthy. We need to have our ideas challenged. But if one side dismisses the other’s views as sinful or stupid or immature, that is not good discussion. Then, when one dismisses the people who hold those views as carriers of “dirty laundry,” that goes too far.

    Alfred, I am sure that I have given you some little tidbit to which you can respond or some offense to which you can feel hurt. You are welcome to point those out. But please think about what I have said. When you fail to believe or value the pain of others, you add to that pain.

    • Chris Symonds March 16, 2013 Reply

      I have a principle of my own. I have in the past debated atheists, agnostics, skeptics, narcissists, Muslims, Universalist's, Armininans, Calvinists, Charismatics, Evangelicals, exclusive Brethren, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and everyone in between on Yahoo chat for nearly 8 years or so.

      The thing I learned is when you realize the person you are talking to believes they are right and cannot hear anything you say, or when there is no meaningful exchange of dialogue, it is time to walk away and not talk to them any further no matter how much they try to get your attention.

      Many people are simply not interested in an exchange of ideas on truth they are only interested in being right. When someone believes they are right and know all there is to know or give the perception they know it all and have you figured out as well (in their own mind). Your only real option is to shake the dust off your feet and move on.

      I do realize that a lot of time and energy goes into replying to Alfred not just on this thread but many others. It may appear that his discussion on this thread detracted from the issue at hand.However if you look at his whole motivation and the apparent demeanor he presents, then look at the subject matter you submitted Dave; he validates what you wrote.

  18. Wes March 15, 2013 Reply

    I'm the 100th comment! And DaveO I just want to say thanks for your heart for the Lord and heart for people. You are an encouragement to me that there are people outside of ATI/IBLP who can really "get it" regarding the pain caused by said organizations and their teachings.

    I would say 70 out of 100 comments are either from Alfred or responses to Alfred. Interesting point.

  19. Alfred Corduan March 16, 2013 Reply

    We need to have our ideas challenged. But if one side dismisses the other’s views as sinful or stupid or immature, that is not good discussion. Then, when one dismisses the people who hold those views as carriers of “dirty laundry,” that goes too far.

    Boy, does that apply to everyone except me? What about summarily dismissing people as legalists, from whom one must separate ones self? Your attitude is the epitome of dismissiveness,

    On sexual abuse issues . . . My wife had a trusted relative monkey with her as a 5 year old. That trauma still rattles though our lives. About a week or so before my brother-in-law died of a heart attack mostly from effects of PTSS he disclosed that a close family friend (male) had heavily abused him as a minor, perhaps single handedly spinning his life out of control. Same individual went on to crash a burn after -years later - getting involved with another male who subsequently committed suicide, blaming the abuse. A sister got propositioned as a minor by a family friend while camping. I know what abuse is. I have read the stories of ATI kids traumatized by family members and I want to cry. Please see if you can find any dismissiveness in my comments.

    In the light of that when you suggest to me that ATI young people are being abused by Bill Gothard I get a tad angry. I have stepped forward to do whatever is necessary to address any issue that is put forward . . . That is anything but dismissive. But to demand that I join in lumping -sorry- public prolonged handholding with some of the stuff my family has gone though is over the top. This is a public record of grievances . . . Those are accusations that carry any number of legal ramifications let alone practical ones for me. Yes, I have every responsibility and right to address them in an appropriate manner without others crying foul. I can do this without being insensitive, and I can ask forgiveness when I have crossed that line.

    And I am a 40 year veteran of most of what IBLP has to offer. If I choose to call stuff that we have dealt with "poop", I suspect I can. You can tell me that this offends you and I can defer to your sensibilities and refrain from using terms like that, especially the implication that what you have experienced is unimportant.

    I believe you to be a quality, honorable man. Hopefully, for the good of all, you can acquire a small amount of respect in return. I will redouble my efforts to keep the discourse pleasant and profitable for all.

    • Chris Symonds March 16, 2013 Reply

      Alfred I feel for you and your family mate I really do, I think though you may have burned some very meaningful bridges here. That is just my opinion.

    • "Hannah" March 16, 2013 Reply

      So, in operation, you are a puritan and we are seperatists? Ie, you still believe there is hope for purifying the organization from within, whereas we feel that the corruptions and misuses are so rampant, that we must throw it all out and start over. I can somewhat understand. We were all puritans, before we became seperatists. I still don't think you "get" what some of us have been through, but thank you for trying.

      And honestly, I have yet to see anyone on these pages equate sexual harrassment (ie, prolonged hand-holding, playing footsie) with sexual molestation (what you describe as having occured in your family). So in that sense, it isn't "lumped together". I think what disturbs some people, is that you don't seem to recognize sexual harrassment for what it is, and that this is anathema in the workplace, especially as concerns minors. Apparently, Gothard failed to recognize it, too. As best I can figure. That's a real problem, especially when you actively hire minors.

      • Dave March 16, 2013 Reply

        Hannah, I think the thing that concerns me even more than the definition of sexual harassment is the fact that such things were truly anathema for young people at the Institute. When a young lady is told that holding hands is part of the process of giving away her heart and that she should be very careful only to open herself to her future husband, then Mr. X does it to her himself, she has been violated. Her trust in Mr. X has been betrayed and the confusion that enters her mind about the whole definition of purity and keeping her heart is his fault.

        When Mr. X also "fails to recognize" deceptive business practices when he does them and he "fails to recognize rebellion against authority when he does it and he "fails to recognize" spiritual abuse when he does it, it seems fair to say that Mr. X has a problem. He is, in fact, a hypocrite.

        Hugs, holding hands, spending time late at night, playing footsy, sitting close in the car - these are the kinds of things that were strongly forbidden, as so many have pointed out on this site. If a leader such as Mr. X does them, there is a violation of moral standards.

        I don't see that Alfred understands that at all.

        • Alfred Corduan March 16, 2013

          May I hold hands with my own daughters, or even granddaughters, nieces, or is that inappropriate? I see my daughters holding hands with friends, and I confess it does not bother me.

        • "Hannah" March 16, 2013

          I think that, if you ran a business, it would be a bit inappropriate with your female employees; don't you agree? It's questions such as the one above, that make me wonder whether you understand appropriate boundaries in the workplace.

        • Heather March 16, 2013

          don't change the subject Alfred. Dave was speaking of unrelated males who are not in a position to behave with this kind of fatherly or grandfatherly affection. But since you like subtly changing the subject, how bout this? Are you ok with a homeless man or politician doing the same with your daughters that you have 'asked permission' for?

          friends or siblings holding hands isn't sexual, I hold my baby sister's hand, and it doesn't turn either of us on, or make either of us feel dirty. There is the difference.

          Even the most ignorant and sheltered girl has a gut feeling when she's being treated in a subtly sexual way, even if she doesn't understand exactly what it is. I would know.

        • Kevin March 16, 2013

          Alfred, this really is disturbing me that you don't understand what constitutes sexual harassment. This is not subjective and not open to interpretation.

          Behavior that would get you fired from a secular job—and expelled from an organization that Gothard himself set the rules for—is simply not acceptable.

          When it makes the girls who are unwanted recipients of that attention uncomfortable, it is not acceptable.

          When it takes place in girls' private rooms, it is unacceptable.

          When it takes place in the dark in a van, it is unacceptable.

          You ask: Is it acceptable for you to hold hands with your daughter, or grand-daughter? Are you kidding? Are you really trying to equate the two? I gave my daughter a hug and a kiss tonight, and told her I loved her. I did not do this to my secretary or to some girls in our youth group. The difference between familial and professional is the EXACT problem here. Perhaps that is why you are having a rough time seeing a problem; you see IBLP as a family more than an organization, and within the family you don't see an issue with it.

          But can we PLEASE be real and stop equivocating by equating sexual harassment with familial affection, or with sexual molestation?

          Sorry... haven't posted in a while, and hate to break the silence with a topic like this, but I'm simply incredulous at the ethical gymnastics I'm reading in this thread.

        • Alfred Corduan March 16, 2013

          We must all give an account to Jesus for our actions and words. Who loves us deeply and died for us.

          IBLP and Bill Gothard's relationship with hs staff isn't remotely like a "business" setting. In fact, those that come on board sign up for a 24x7 Discipleship program. His perspective is that parents are placing their young people under his "pastoral" care. If you have been on staff you can confirm this. He views them as "his" kids for that time. Changes the dynamics completely.

          This is my last comment on this tangent.

        • "Hannah" March 16, 2013

          He can view them as his "kids", all he wants to. It still doesn't make sexual harrassment okay, or legal. No matter how much he *feels* they are his kids, they aren't.

          Curious, Alfred, have you ever sat through an employer-mandated sexual harrassment training?

        • "Hannah" March 17, 2013

          For the record, while I myself was never sexually harrassed by Gothard, I was never his child, and he never had the right to assume such a position of authority and familiarity over me.

          And that is the point at which abuse happens, in any relationship: the point at which one person disregards the other's boundaries, and assumes privileges and power, which were never rightfully theirs.

          The book, "Boundaries" may give more perspective, in that regard. I know it was the first voice that told me I had a right to my own person, and that I could stand up against someone overrunning my personal boundaries.

        • David M March 17, 2013

          Wait a second...this seems to be a acknowledgement (a bit offhanded though it may be) by Alfred that these sorts of things being reported do happen - at least things which even Alfred recognizes would normally be considered inappropriate. That's an encouraging step forward Alfred!

        • Chris J. March 17, 2013

          Alfred, I'm trying to understand what you just said. You are saying is that because IBLP is a 24/7 discipleship program, BG assumes becomes a family/father figure to an ATI student when an ATI student becomes an IBLP staffer/volunteer. Because this is a discipleship relationship, rather than a typical employer/employee relationship, BG is permitted to show the same physical affection that may be appropriate for a father to show with a child. This same affection includes playing footsie in a dark car, caressing a young woman's hand, and asking intimate personal questions, etc.

          Thus, because this conduct does not physically injury the ATI student, and because it arises out of a ministry/discipleship context, the conduct is not abusive and does not constitute sexual harassment, abuse, or otherwise inappropriate behavior.

          This behavior, when committed by Gothard is excusable, even though it would otherwise be inappropriate/abusive 1) in an ordinary workplace context, 2) when displayed between non-related persons where there is a simliar difference in age, 3) when displayed by someone with a similar authority relationship, 4) girls are taught that this type of affection causes them to "give their hearts away" and should be avoided and 5) is not permitted by other ATI staff members/volunteers and 6) any other ATI male student who engaged in the same behavior would be quickly sent home in shame.

          The ministry context changes the dynamics completely.

          Am I hearing you correctly?

        • Shana March 17, 2013

          I am a bit shocked to read Alfred's dismissal of predatory grooming behavior. Youth trained to instantly obey those in authority as the leading of God, are perfect pickings for sexual predators. The very fact that those in leadership positions in the IBLP organization are given such power over the youth that participate in the organization, should lead to a "higher standard" in how they interact with other peoples children and young adults. I would think that this combination of obedience to authority and viewing leaders as father figures would be very attractive to sexual predators.

        • MatthewS March 17, 2013

          I completely agree. Predators are fishermen looking for easy prey. This makes for a very attractive pond.

          In addition, Alfred is sending a message to victims and future victims that they will not be heard when they finally come forward with their stories. Perhaps there is some benefit to him revealing here in public that this is the kind of response victims in IBLP can expect. One gets the sense that it's not just Alfred but an institutionalized attitude.

          I hope that people realize that the presence of RG means that there are people who are willing to take personal risk in order to stand with the exploited and speak the truth to the oppressors. (The ideal case being that the oppressors confess and forsake, and do what they can to help restore what they took; they probably need help too for their own wounds)

          Above and apart from IBLP, and to speak to the broader issue of sexual abuse in the church as a whole, this article gives a sense of the right response: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/132930-innocence-lost-helping-victims-of-childhood-sexual-abuse.html

          Also a good link here: http://www.churchsafety.com/topics/kids/children/childsexualabuseresponseplan/cs11.html

        • Shana March 17, 2013

          Thank you for the links MatthewS. There was one other aspect of Alfred's response that I found disturbing. A young child may want to hold the hand of those responsible for his or her care, but small children are not those sent to live and work in the training centers/headquarters unless they are going as a tag a long to parents working in the facilities. The discussion is implying teens and young twenty somethings. What an infantilizing idea, to think of young adults holding a leaders hand as if he/she were a parental figure, and they were very young children.

        • Alfred Corduan March 17, 2013

          Whenever this has come up elsewhere, well, the posts explode. Trying to keep with the spirit of what the moderators are asking, I am not going further on this secondary topic here. If they feel differently, or want to open another thread, they can let me know.

        • Heather March 17, 2013

          Alfred, what you just did is what most people call a cop-out. Your refusal to carry on the conversation seems to be an unspoken acknowledgment that we are correct in our assessment of BG's behavior to young women, secondly, you pull what looks like a martyr complex with your statement, "I'm just trying to keep in the spirit of what RG wants' etc.. It honestly sounds like, 'poor me, just trying to do the right thing.'

          This is getting old, very fast Alfred. You are not here to determine the truth, or else hundreds of witnesses to various wrongs would have convinced you by now. Gothard himself used to say, "Are you asking these questions so you can determine the truth, or are you asking them so you can argue your position?" Hundreds of comments later Alfred, and it seems pretty obvious what you are trying to do on RG.

        • "Hannah" March 17, 2013

          "If you think of them as your children, then the laws about sexual harrassment in the workplace, no longer apply."

          Alfred, it seems you do not comprehend, how reprehensible is your "anything goes" position.

        • Alfred Corduan March 18, 2013

          Boy . . . Let's be clear. The moderators have privately requested me to avoid letting side issues derail the purpose of a comment thread. This is exhibit "A". I assume they read my responses . . . Should they wish me to dive back into this topic here, I am more than happy. I await further direction. In the meanwhile, maybe I can start on DaveM's column.

        • Administrator March 18, 2013

          Alfred is correct---we, the RG Admins, messaged him and respectfully requested that he discontinue conversation so that this thread can stay on topic. We also ask this of everyone else. This thread has been derailed long enough, and we ask that any further comments pertain to the original article or they will be removed.

          Just a reminder: We have an entire section on Recovering Grace that deals with sexual abuse, and would encourage any further comments or questions to be posted under articles there: http://www.recoveringgrace.org/category/when-the-umbrella-breaks/. If anyone has a personal story they would like to share with the RG Admins, please e-mail us: support@RecoveringGrace.org. April is Sexual Abuse awareness month, and Recovering Grace will be returning our focus to this critical issue soon.

        • MatthewS March 18, 2013

          It's cool of you to honor that request, Alfred.

        • Kevin March 18, 2013

          I like the idea of keeping the discussion on the topic at hand, as much as possible. Thanks to the RG moderators for moderating, and thanks, Alfred, for receiving that request graciously.

    • Alfred Corduan March 16, 2013 Reply

      Hannah: "Purify within". Yes, I do believe that IBLP and Bill Gothard are worth "saving". The definition of harassment is significant to me with 11 kids in the program and two full time engaged in IBLP activities. What do you think I would do if anyone started behaving inappropriatly with one of my daughters? Especially given the background I described?

      Chris: contrary to what you may believe, I do not want to burn bridges. I want to repair them. There are a lot of significant people on this forum.

      • Chris Symonds March 16, 2013 Reply

        Alfred this will be the final time I acknowledge you. I am not saying this on behalf of anyone else on this site I am stating my opinion and the conclusion I have drawn regarding you and what I think of IBLP and ATI. What I am doing is not because I think what you say is invalid or derisive. I think you have minimized how serious the effect of Bill Gothard's teachings have been on many of us here. So although you say your intention is not to burn bridges and there are a lot of significant people on this site; you clearly have you feet planted in two camps and your words tend to say otherwise.

        I am baffled as to why you come to this site. You are clearly a supporter of Gothard's. There are many of his ideas you clearly endorse even though they have no biblical foundation.

        As Dave March and others have pointed out you are highly insensitive to what others have endured through IBLP and ATI. You say you are not but your words say otherwise.

        It is easy to invalidate others experience because your own is different, that doesn't make them wrong and you right. I think the fact that there is a fair amount of consensus among us about Bill Gothard's and many other Para Church movements. This validates their concerns and raises questions about Bill's teaching and practices.

        People should be warned and guarded against those who step outside the churches authority and go Maverick. I live in Australia and even here the effects of IBLP and ATI mirror the concerns of those on this site. What I am saying is the fruit is no different here than it is there, that of itself is serious reason for concern.

        IBLP does produce narcissistic, judgemental, legalistic, insensitive, unfeeling, robotic clones that think God's grace of itself is not enough. They appear to be unable to empathize with others human condition so although they genuinely want to help others, they only end up tying others to a prescriptive bunch of guidelines and rules that imply success. In many cases the relationship is co-dependent where both needs the other to validate their experience.

        When this doesn't happen the victims then have burning coals poured on their heads in the form of guilt. Many are crippled emotionally and spiritually feel defeated and walk away altogether. Why? Because there is no grace or mercy in Bill Gothard's system. There are no checks and balances and no accountability. There is an atmosphere of secrecy and cover up. In other words no trust, no transparency and no accountability.

        I have been involved with other churches and Para Church movements who hold the same mentality as IBLP called group think. It is a highly dangerous dynamic that causes an insular view of its own practices. So because there is no external scrutiny allowed, it is self validating but it is not authentic.

        It is a breeding ground for false doctrine, subtle mind control and hidden aberrant practices. All I can say is you are walking around with blinkers on you have a serious case of spiritual tunnel vision.

        • "Hannah" March 16, 2013

          Well, Chris... For someone who did not grow up in ATI (if I recall your story, correctly), I think you pretty well nailed it! Your descriptor of the program, that is.

        • grateful March 17, 2013

          very well stated - guard "against those who step outside the churches authority and go Maverick." - Amen, brother. Acountibility is huge on all levels (can I get an amen from all the men out there?)

        • Wes March 17, 2013

          Wow Chris. I completely agree with what you've said. Thanks for sharing and putting into words what so many of us feel.

      • Sheila March 17, 2013 Reply

        Alfred, no one would find it inappropriate for you to hold hands with your daughter or grandaughter. In fact as you age, we would expect them to hold hands with you, (helping you across the street, etc. at least I would hope so.)

        But I have a serious question for you. . . . would you want Bill Gothard holding hands with your daughters, or grandaughters? Would you want him stroking their hair, gazing into their eyes for hours creating an emotional bond? Playing footsie in the back of his van? Or sitting beside him with his thigh pressed up against hers? Would you be okay with that? Do you find his behavior appropriate?

  20. Dave March 16, 2013 Reply

    Thanks again to everyone. I have to be out of town for a few days and, by the time I return, the discussion will probably have moved on. There are still a few things I could say :) but if the thread has stopped, I will not start it again.

    You are welcome to contact me directly, through my website contact link, and I will answer when I return.

    May God richly bless each of you with an understanding of his love that sets you free, wipes away your tears, and releases you from all fear! Believe in the depths of your heart that His only motivation toward you is love - because it's true!

  21. Chris Symonds March 17, 2013 Reply

    thanks guys yes it is true I didn't grow up under Gothardism I was only introduced to its views about three years ago. I met a young lady through a family who endorses IBLP but sadly because of it we were separated. In God's grace I met another very wonderful young women who also grew up under this system but questioned it and walked away. She has some very deep wounds that she is slowly healing from. My own story may be told here one day if I am invited to do so. I am amazed at the parallels between my own experience and yours under Bill Gothard and his teachings. I pray for you all that God will heal the wounds and show His loving wonderful Grace to you all.

    • "Hannah" March 17, 2013 Reply

      Sure, anyone who has been influenced by Gothard, may submit an article. When you feel ready. There is an email address for submissions. No need to wait for an invitation!

  22. Lynn March 17, 2013 Reply

    Hey, DaveO!, Thanks for the article. I know I'm jumping in late, and there have been a lot of tributaries in this long thread.

    One thing that extra-biblical rules being touted as biblical (my definition of legalism) does, when a person comes out of such teaching, is to cause doubt and uncertainty, and anger, and frustration, which takes a long time to recover from. There is also embarrassment over when one may have looked down one's nose at others who may have had a closer idea of the idea of biblical freedom. There is an uncertainty as to where lines really should be drawn.

    For those who are believers, there is also tremendous fear - anxiety of the Lord clobbering us one if we, for example, decide to go see a movie. Now, I am long past that fear, and so I went to see the movie version of "Les Miserables." For years I did not want to go to see it, on account of the title. I found it to be pretty much in line with what you are talking about w/respect to the utter failure of Pharisaic legalism, and the truth that mercy triumphs over the law. It is a story of the merciless legalist hounding Jean Valjean, who stole bread to feed the starving, to the point where he felt compelled to steal silver from a priest in order to feed himself. The priest forgave him, and gave him the silver, and told him to live his life for God. And he did, raising a prostitute's child, sparing the life of his tormentor when he finally caught up with him, and more.

    While I do not recommend the movie for anyone under the age of 13 or 14, it is an illustration of the devastating effects of sin on the human race, and of the power of God to work good even in the midst of these circumstances. And it points to the hope of heaven after this life is over. But it's primary theme is the HUGE contrast between legalism and grace. Your post reminded me of the movie. "Good stuff," as Met used to say.

  23. Amanda K. March 17, 2013 Reply

    First of all, thank you so much, Recovering Grace, for creating a safe place for us. And thank you to the many people who are able to speak the truth, clearly, intelligently, answering the tough questions that some of us cannot muster up the words for. Having been raised in ATI and spending a few years living both as a student and as a family in training centers (ITC, OTC, ELMS) I have had firsthand experience with Mr. Gothard's teaching and ministry and the damage that it can do. I wasn't harassed by Mr. Gothard in any way, though we had some questionable interactions (he met me alone in a room to discuss some things late one night, something he himself is adamantly against... told me one day to promise him I would never cut off my glory (hair)...etc.). But reading this thread, hearing specifically Alfred's comments... I feel compelled to post (along with so many of you) that these very ideas (i.e. Mr. Gothard was just treating these young people as daughters...) is the very excuse that allows these atrocities to continue in an organization claiming to be (superiorly) Christian. During my post EQUIP practicum at ELMS, I was counseling girls who had been victims of sexual abuse. I was 18 at the time. Strangely, I began to realize that I had also been a victim of it myself. Because it had been excused for so long as appropriate behavior (since he was my biological grandfather), I and others had made excuses on his behalf. I found out that similar things had happened to a few other family members. The (fundy, ATI) church we had been in for all of my teenage years (the pastor was basically a surrogate father as my father had left when I was 6) basically dismissed the allegations. My grandfather was a conservative Baptist. Perhaps we were blowing things out of proportion? Did the victims "cry out" (otherwise they were consenting...??) etc... etc... The leaders of the training centers talked with my mom (our family was residing in the OTC) who was verging on a mental breakdown (it was her father). None of the leaders reported it. None of them recommended that we report it. They made it mandatory that my mom attend every meeting at the OTC (for therapy?? and how was this their authority?) and so many other appalling things.
    We finally found a way to leave the training centers tried to piece together what was left of our lives. To make a long story short(er), we did report it to the police dept. but weren't able to prosecute him as none of us had the physical, emotional and mental stamina to take the stand and relive those events to detectives and judge and jury... We warned the rest of the family and ensured that we stayed away from him (as we suspected it might happen again). Found out a few years ago that he was inappropriately touching another grandchild. My sisters and I finally banded together and called a Detective in personal crimes and began to tell our story. After more than a year of testimonies and trial (one of the hardest years that I have endured), he was sentenced.
    For 18 YEARS.
    Only for the crimes against my sisters and I. There are several other victims that have come to us, unable to give their own accounts for various reasons. And much because people make the same excuses (just fatherly behavior) or the victims are guilted into taking some of the blame (how were you dressed? did you cry out?). Or afraid to "destroy someone's reputation". And the cycle continues.
    Thank you RG, thank you Hannah and Chris and Dave and all of you standing up for those who feel that they don't have a voice or a listening ear.
    And thank you, Lord for bringing beauty out of ashes. You truly make all things new.

    • Eliza March 17, 2013 Reply

      Amanda, thank you so much for sharing your story! I'm sure it wasn't easy. You are very brave.

  24. Administrator March 18, 2013 Reply

    Just a friendly reminder: In an effort to keep our discussion focused, all comments going forward should pertain to the thoughts from the original article. Any future comments that are unrelated will be removed. Thanks for understanding!

  25. Lauralea March 25, 2013 Reply

    I've been through a lot of this in the past 6 months and have learned a lot of the same things you did!
    The phrase "Legalism is a system of condemnation and comparison. It sets us up to put others down. If I can’t ever be good enough, I can at least be better than you." YES. YES 10,000 over.

    I deeply wronged someone whose family used to be in IBLP. They claim they've left and rejected it and even mentioned stopping by here and liking the articles at one point. They're nice people. Then you do something wrong. Cue judgmentalism, assumptions, pride, and legalism to the hilt. I lied to them about myself, and then lied about lying. It took me a few weeks to apologize fully, I tried to make up for it and tried to hide it some more. That was October. By Christmas, things in my life were straightened out and I experienced a huge personal revival thanks to the grace of Jesus. But now, the last few times I've emailed about what God is doing or just asking for reconciliation I'm met with silence. They sent an email to an email I had deleted, and when I imported that account's information several months later, I was able read it. It said "We forgive you... BUT." It hadthe incorrect assumption that implied they thought I wasn't saved at all!

    I try to comment encouragingly on her blog and it's not approved. She stalks out my blogs for hours a day and sometimes pins vague sounding pins about the situation. She said in one pin "Moving on is something God has called me to do in order to live effectively for today." She blogged about "called to be faithful" the other day about how we are supposed to serve our families and be faithful to Christ in that way where he has us, taking slight offense at those who "lift up" missions work as better. I had just blogged a week ago about missions work and how the Lord is leading me into missions- I'm overjoyed so of course I'm going to celebrate a little! There is still a lot of implied shame and guilt at me. That "I'm better" attitude.

    I struggled with shame for months. I doubted my salvation. I felt guilty, though I was completely freed from the past sin I had confessed to the Lord. As if I were at emnity with God or like He wouldn't accept me until my friends had. I thought they were such amazing people, godly people. Looking back, I could see a rhythm I'd not noticed before all throughout the friendship. Their family was not built on Christ. It was built on rules and how well everyone could treat each others. That's why I felt so bad about not pleasing them. I could see the past ways they had dealt with people. Gracelessness. I should have seen it coming.

    While she may think she is trying to corner me, or show me mercy by forgetting entirely about me and leaving me to my so-assumed reprobate attitude, I've come to the conclusion it's only hurting herself. Eventually her self-centeredness will run out, or she will stay insulated in her bubble of rules and expectations. I know I am not perfect. For one thing, it's chased me into the arms of a Savior who says forgive, reconcile, and win your brother. It's challenged me to show her some grace. I'll keep commenting to uplift until she blocks me (she would cry "I'm not a project! You're the problem!") If she were to see this comment, she would think I'm trying to "stir up"- the classic "keep calm and shut up" tactic. While claiming I'm selfish and prideful, it is amazing how blindly people don't see their own faults. It may be only my side of the story, but the evidence is there. The more I read about Gothardism, the more their actions all make perfect sense.

    I've found it is AMAZING to just find other people who agree with you, see the same behavior through eyes of grace, and be willing to try to extend that grace to her and her family as well. I've learned so much about legalism and IBLP just from this spat, I wouldn't choose to go through it again but what I've learned is priceless. I've concluded that I have a new heart, and now it's thriving! I have nothing "old man" to hide or be ashamed of because the cross crucified it. I pray someday my friend will experience the same revival I have.

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