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Questions from the Mailbag
Recovering Grace has been receiving many questions via email and through comments on our site. This is an understandable result of the current series of articles running on Recovering Grace. To more efficiently answers these questions, we have prepared the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Q. What is Recovering Grace doing to pursue legal action against Bill Gothard?
A. The Recovering Grace team is aware of the legal issues surrounding these stories. It has been and continues to be in contact with lawyers and other organizations experienced with these situations. However, participation in legal action requires legal standing, and that standing is held by the individuals who tell their stories through Recovering Grace, not by the Recovering Grace team.
Q. What is the role of Recovering Grace in the lives of the individuals whose stories are told in the blog?
A. When we launched our website in July 2011, we did so with the express mission of helping people whose lives have been impacted by the teachings of Bill Gothard through the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) seminars and the Advanced Training Institute (ATI) homeschool program. This mission has been clear since day one, and these recently published stories of physical and emotional suffering at the hands of IBLP leadership have grown out of that overarching mission.
RG is, first and foremost, focused on healing and restoration for individuals who have been damaged by the spiritual abuse that is so prevalent in IBLP teachings and practice, and it is our desire that these individuals have the encouragement and counseling necessary for healing. We also hope to provide spiritual and emotional community support as they revisit difficult times in their lives and begin the journey to recovery in the love of Jesus, who gives grace to all men freely (Titus 2:11).
Q. Who is the person or people behind Recovering Grace?
A. The Recovering Grace Leadership team consists of nearly two dozen pastors, lawyers, teachers, professors, accountants, office managers, business leaders, and stay-at-home parents. Most share a common background of being raised as children in Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute. Likewise, most have attended Bill Gothard’s seminars and have served within the IBLP organization in some way. In addition to this leadership team, there are many others who volunteer in tasks such as writing and editing stories, answering emails, and providing advice, and counsel recommendations in support of the overall effort.
Q. Why is the leadership team anonymous? Why should I believe what they say if they won’t identify themselves publicly?
A. It’s important to note that not everyone associated with RG is anonymous. The ATI world is small, and although a person may be anonymous to someone outside of ATI/IBLP, they are not necessarily anonymous within it. For example, many of the girls who have shared their stories are not anonymous in the ATI world, and several have courageously posted their picture with their story.
While the RG Leadership Team understands that our anonymity may cause some to doubt the validity of our stories, we feel that this factor is outweighed by the distraction that would develop from our identities becoming the story. The story is about how errant theology led to sinful behavior, which led to systemic leadership failure at IBLP, leading to the disqualification of Bill Gothard as a minister of the gospel. We would like to leave it up to the reader to decide if we have made this case or not, based on the evidence and without the distraction of the personalities involved behind the scenes.
It has been well documented that Bill Gothard likes to shift blame for sin away from himself and onto his people. Gothard has intimidated and punished those who would hold him accountable while presenting a public image of humility and brokenness. It has become clear over the years that there is personal risk involved in holding Bill Gothard accountable for sinful behavior, and there are countless stories spanning decades of people who have been cruelly and harshly dealt with for even minor perceptions of “disloyalty” to him. One common tactic Gothard uses is to find some detail about a person and use that to silence and distract attention away from himself. Many examples of this have been observed firsthand by members of the RG leadership team, and, because of this, we have taken the approach we have.
Q. Why are you attacking a Man of God with slander and gossip?
A. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6
The term “attacking” presupposes hurtful motives. The motives of RG have been consistent from the beginning: we seek Biblical accountability for behavior that has had negative impacts on individuals as well as the entire Body of Christ. Our goal is redemption, not retribution. We desire healing, not hurt.
The accounts we share are not intended as “slander,” or even as “evil reports.” These are “reports of evil” that have been covered up for far too long. While many of the serious accusations will have an element of “he-said/she-said,” we believe that the evidence and the testimony of “two or three witnesses” shows that, at a minimum, Bill Gothard is “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” of behavior inappropriate for one who claims a “higher standard” as a minister of the gospel.
Please know that the Recovering Grace team anguishes over each of these articles and has fervent discussions on what to publish and what not to publish. We would ask that you pray for us to have wisdom concerning how to approach these very serious accusations.
Q. What are you “bitter” and “angry” about?
A. “Bitterness” and “anger” are common terms used in the ATI and IBLP worlds to dismiss those who would bring any concern forward. Ephesians 4:6 teaches us to “be angry yet without sin.” Any anger we communicate is anger at the sin and how it has damaged individuals, families, and churches the world over. The RG team consistently and carefully examines our motives to ensure that they are are pure in bringing these stories to the church for accountability. You will have to decide for yourself if we have met this standard.
Q. Why are you trying to destroy Bill Gothard?
A. We are not trying to destroy Bill Gothard. We have studiously avoided publishing anything we feel would be overly-sensational, as well as anything in which there is even a small doubt as to the credibility. For every story we publish, there are hours of prayerful discussion, in some cases spanning several months. It is our hope and prayer that Bill Gothard would repent, and that God could do a great work through Mr. Gothard in his remaining days. Both the world and the church could see a great testimony of repentance, forgiveness, restoration, and reconciliation. However, it is up to Bill Gothard to decide if he is ready to begin that process.
Q. Why don’t you forgive Bill Gothard? Aren’t his sins “covered by the blood?”
A. It is indeed true that the Grace of God is freely given, that we should forgive Bill Gothard for his sins (Matthew 6:12), and that “love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).” However, Scripture also commands us to “expose sin (Ephesians 5:11).”
The Bible is full of commandments to publicly rebuke sin:
- “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” Luke 17:3
- “Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” 1 Timothy 5:20
- “…correct, rebuke and encourage…” 2 Timothy 4:2
Bill Gothard has exhibited a 40-year pattern of refusing accountability for his sinful behavior, and, as we have previously stated, public accountability is the final step in the Matthew 18 process.
Q. Why don’t you handle this privately? You are bringing shame on the name of Christ by airing these disputes in public.
A. As we have documented on our site, there have been many attempts to do just this in the past. Bill Gothard has not only resisted these attempts, but, like the Old Testament kings, has “stoned and run off the prophets God has sent him.” In light of the increased public stories of moral failures among contemporary church leaders, we believe that greater damage is done to the Kingdom of God as the church fails to hold its members accountable, and we pray that our site will be a testimony to the world that Christians will not continue to turn a blind eye to sin in its ranks.
Q. Is Recovering Grace opposed to home-schooling, or affiliated with other organizations that advocate against home education?
A. The mission of Recovering Grace does not include advocacy for or against any schooling decision made by parents. We believe that education is a personal choice between God and the parents of the children involved.
Q. Why are secular organizations or those who stand against biblical theology supporting your site? Doesn’t that damage your credibility?
A. The Recovering Grace team does not necessarily endorse or approve any of the organizations that have written about or involved themselves in these recent allegations. It is understandable that people with opposing viewpoints and goals look on many of the behaviors described here with equal disdain.
Q. What can I do to help?
A. At this time, the best thing you can do is pray for healing for the individuals involved, as well as for Bill Gothard and the IBLP Board of Directors to have the wisdom to handle this in a godly manner while making the hard choices that God may be leading them to make. If you would like to donate to offset the operating costs of our website, send an inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Why are you publishing a standard “Q&A” instead of responding to my email?
A. We thank you for the continued prayers and emails of support. While we do attempt to promptly answer every email that comes in, the RG team consists of volunteers with families and day jobs, and they must focus their efforts where they can have the most impact. The volume of email and questions has increased greatly in recent weeks, and we determined that this format might be the best way to broadly answer some of the common questions voiced by the many concerned people in our readership.