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In hindsight, David R. Bryen’s thesis is remarkably accurate on many counts. Published in 1975 and titled “An Evaluation of the Theological, Hermeneutical and Psychological Assumptions of the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts,” this 126-page document was an unprecedented analysis of Gothard’s teachings. Why was Bryen so well aware of the dangers of Bill Gothard’s teachings during the earlier IBYC years?
Bryen explains in recent correspondence what made him choose Gothard’s teachings as the subject of his thesis:
“…I woke up during that IBYC when [Gothard] announced to 20,000 that an 8 year old’s molestation was God’s inoculation against sexual sin. I was appalled that I was the only one in the auditorium that stood to object to such a perverse understanding and misuse of the Bible. But the shock made me start to think rather than just blindly believe.”
Bryen’s conclusions foretold what many Gothard followers would come to understand through personal experience during the next 35 years. Written with a technical approach, the thesis parses Gothard’s theological and hermeneutical issues quite well and guides the reader logically to a proper conclusion. Thus, the reader discovers the frightening underpinnings of what is now the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP).
We welcome our readers to comment on the insights that stand out, but we will mention four to get you started.
Page 29 – “Thus the tendency [of Gothard’s theology] is to relate to God primarily by obedience to principles rather than through a relationship to a loving Father.”
Page 41 – “The seminar shows a serious lack of diligent research both Biblically and culturally…”
Page 101 – “…the seminar is training in conflict avoidance.” (emphasis in the original)
Page 110 – “Gothard’s appeal to submission is an appeal to his own idea and understanding of God’s relation to man, not an appeal to submit personally to God.”
Republished with the author’s permission.
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