Was It All Wrong?

27 March 2014, 06:00



486861_14627055Okay, now we have left the legalist church/organization/teacher. Now what? Where do we stand? Do we throw out everything we learned? How do we sort out all of this? Does it all just need to go?

I have been getting a lot of these questions lately. Doug Phillips and Vision Forum are gone. Bill Gothard has resigned and the future of IBLP is in question. Churches and ministries and teachers that had all the answers suddenly don’t even have answers for themselves. At the same time, the message of God’s love and grace is being shouted from the housetops and people are hearing that it isn’t about their performance after all.

But we were immersed in the performance doctrines. We learned them throughout our lives. We judged others and ourselves by them. We grieved when we couldn’t measure up and wondered about those who didn’t even seem to try. We worked so hard to do well and sacrificed to go to the conferences, seminars and the right churches. We did what we thought we were supposed to do.

If we can’t trust the ones who spoke to us in the name of the Lord, who can we trust? Besides, it all came out of the Bible, didn’t it? We understand that it didn’t seem to work for the teachers, but shouldn’t it still work for us? Or is it all bad? Was it all wrong? No. But it was all touched by the error. It’s a little like baking cookies and putting in soy sauce instead of vanilla. The rest of the recipe is just right, but the mistake affects the whole batch. The strange taste can be found in every bite. The only way to move forward is to put together a new batch.

Yet, when you begin to bake the new batch of cookies, you find that most of the ingredients and proportions are just the same as before. The sugar was fine. The flour was good. The amount of butter, salt, and baking powder was just right. So much was right. If you can remember what the error was, you should be able to avoid it in the future.

Obviously, baking cookies does not compare with building a way of thinking about life and relationships and spirituality. But the error of legalism is usually confined to a few toxic teachings that affect the applications and effectiveness of the perspective. In fact, a simple wrong substitute might have caused the whole problem.

Many of us were brought up in an atmosphere of fear and shame. Sometimes it came from our parents. Sometimes it came from school or the community. Sometimes it was just the lie in our own hearts. We learned that condemnation was normal and deserved, even if we didn’t like it and tried to reject it. We learned little about real love, because whatever love we experienced was bound up by conditions and expectations.

What we know of the fundamental lie and the evil one who promotes it is that it stems from fear and pride, an unwillingness to rest in the provision and love of God. If I were to risk simplifying the lie, I would suggest: “I can and I should do it myself.” That lie has been cultivated into our humanity for all of history and is an integral part of our world. It should not surprise us when we see it everywhere, nor when we learn that we have been affected by it. Our parents lived in it as did their parents. The world’s thinking and most of the thinking of the church has been affected by it. The lie is everywhere. From Eve to the Antichrist, the lie has permeated our world.

So it also should not surprise us that we would naturally gravitate toward teachers and churches where the lie was just under the surface. We hate the lie. We hate feeling insecure and inadequate. Yet, those feelings are so familiar. It is difficult for us to accept teaching and influence that doesn’t have something of those feelings for us. But we don’t want it on the surface, at least not at first. We want to hear about love and acceptance, but we subconsciously look for performance and shame.

But that was the lie. Now we have discovered the truth! The lie was substituted for love. Shame and performance are not part of the good news. God loves us and sent His Son to be our hope. He has provided all that we need “for life and godliness.” What the Father has done for us in Jesus is enough. We are not condemned and no longer need to live in fear, shame, and inadequacy. Jesus is our hope, our righteousness, our life. The truth has set us free.

And now what? Now we go back to the building blocks of our faith and learn again. This time we will be watching more carefully. This time we know that the soy sauce smells and tastes different from the vanilla. We know that the lie will damage everything, so we will avoid it by prayer and wisdom. We will see that the Lord has invited us into a relationship because He loves us and He will give us all that we need for that relationship to be a lasting reality in our lives. We will remember His love for us and how it defines everything of our faith and lives.

Yes, it will be tempting to stay away from the faith altogether. My heart grieves for those who have tasted the recipe that included the lie. Now that they have spit out the vile thing they don’t want to taste anything that looks like it. We understand and sympathize. We have some of the same feelings. We will be much more sensitive to the taste in the future.

And, sadly, there are those who have grown used to “Soy-sauce cookies.” Some don’t know there is anything else. Legalism, with its shame and despair, is all they know. We have to be patient and gentle when they claim that their way is better than ours. They are wrong, and their hearts give testimony, but sometimes it all begins just by realizing that there is a joy they have been missing.

Much like we would if we were baking the new batch of cookies, we will remind ourselves of the former error as we rebuild our way of thinking about spirituality and life. We will be telling ourselves to avoid the lie. We will speak words of affirmation and truth along the way. We will tell ourselves and others about the love of God, the forgiveness of sin, the freedom of our relationship with Jesus, and the assurance of His faithfulness.

And if we smell the lie again, even in something we have accepted, we will search for it and get rid of it. We will denounce it over and over until it no longer affects our thinking. Then we will rest in the knowledge that the Lord has been with us and has guided us into the truth we need to experience His love and the joy of our salvation.

All that needs to go is the lie.

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.


  1. K March 27, 2014 Reply

    I don't believe it's that simple. Soy sauce in a batch of cookies is instantly detectable! You know something is wrong and you stop eating them. The lies and misuse of scripture from IBLP? This was like a flavorless poison. Undetectable. Until, years later, you realize it has seeped so deeply into your system and has caused so many problems that will take a very long time to recover from.

    When you finally recognize that you/your family have been ingesting this poison... you better believe you will question every ounce of the recipe that you trusted for so long.

    • Beverly March 27, 2014 Reply

      I loved this article overall (thank you, Dave!), but I also like what "K" says. To some extent a lot of us who grew up in the program don't know what an original batch of sugar cookies would even taste like. Once we figure out we're eating poisoned cookies, it takes us a lot longer to go through the list, ingredient by ingredient, to figure out which one was the flavorless poison. This is one of the greatest tragedies of spiritual abuse---everything becomes suspect, and to some extent, we can't even trust our own judgment on teachers or truth.

      For me, I had to start back at the beginning with who Jesus is and if I could trust him. ("Beautiful Outlaw" by John Eldredge has been very healing for me in understanding the humanity of Jesus, and how amazing he is.) Once I figured out I could trust Jesus and he is a "safe person" for me, I've had to lean on him for help in figuring out the rest of the basics. I still don't have everything figured out (do any of us?!), and there are still "triggers" for me in church on various words and subjects---and I'm a pastor's wife! But I take everything back to Jesus and keep telling him, "You've GOT to help me with this, because I literally can't lean on my own understanding and wisdom." Once you've been THIS deceived, it's hard to know how to trust any teacher again. I'm not sure that's entirely bad either, because it forces us to be Bereans and question everything to find the truth.

      And in the end, no matter how much I heal, I know there will always be things about this Christian life that I'll never fully understand. But I think Jesus is okay with my doubts and questions and emotional triggers, as he lovingly walks me through each one. When you walk with the REAL Jesus, there is no shame and no condemnation in his love for you.

      • Amy March 27, 2014 Reply

        I think you make a great point Bev... I think that is why it is especially hard for those who grew up in legalism, or adults who came to Christ through the seminars and had no previous experiences with walking with Christ. They have never tasted the real recipe! I came across Gothard's teachings as an adult (although obviously not a super mature Christian because I was still deceived for a while. The cookies seemed like they tasted pretty good!) The sifting and discerning is so much harder when it's all you've known! But great article... it addresses such a critical point... the greatest tragedy of false teaching is when it turns souls completely away from Christ. As the enemy knows, half-truths are so much more effective than blatant lies!

    • eva March 27, 2014 Reply

      Here's another example from cooking. I recently made a pie filling that called for vanilla and sour cream. I grabbed what I thought was the vanilla and poured some it. It turned out to be vinegar. I went ahead and tried it with the vanilla added. Since the sour cream covered up most of the taste of the vinegar I decided to use it. I can still taste the slight taste of vinegar but no one else has said anything. Sometimes this is how most false teaching is. The one who presents it knows but for those tasting it, while there might be a slight off taste the whipped cream and chocolate can deceive us into thinking the whole thing is good.

    • David Pigg March 27, 2014 Reply

      Thank you Dave,and thanks K for your comment.For K, if this is any help,I now have so much more light from over 10 years of material,including Ron Henzel's "A Beginner's Guide to Bill Gothard",Don and Joy Veinot's"A Basic Matter of Principles" and now the awesome websight "Recovering Grace".You can be under a strong delusion as in Gothardism and the Love of God can seem so far away.One must believe even after falling short,not measuring up,and this can be so subtly manipulated by pastors,parents,leaders in the church sort of giving silent assent to the condemnation and it's down to just you and "faith".There will be dark days,but God will take away the harshness.Jesus yoke is easy.He does not say learn a principle,He says learn of ME.Still after all these years I get back to the broken record.As far as I'm concerned of who God is ,K, make just the feeblest step out of that Darkness to Christ,which you have done and God sees you absolutely totally impeccable,pure,and inwardly clean.But become outwardly perfect through "mastering the rigors of that inward perfection of mind ,spirit and body",and no matter the appearance of outward perfection,remain a reprobate.Asfar as I'm concerned,if people want out of Gothardism,anybody's problem,including yours K is my problem.But in Gothardism your problem stays yours,with condemnation,rejection,and spurning.No wonder many have left and gone into the world.

    • AmandaH March 27, 2014 Reply

      K, yes. Poison. That is what we were given (and in some cases, force-fed the drivel). Your description seems much more fitting to my experience.

    • Andrew M. R. Kelly April 9, 2014 Reply

      On reading many of these comments I find myself asking how many folks here even knew the Lord from the beginning. Whoever said that our children are the responsibility of another man? Regardless as to what Mr Gothard did in his dealings with others, especially his staff, it seems as though we are blaming him for the whole of our own faithlessness in following a man. In the day of the Lord we won't be given that choice of an excuse. We will have to explain why we received the free gift of life and yet pressed the responsibility of walking onto another.

      • 'Megan' April 9, 2014 Reply

        Andrew, because born again believers are never ever deceived about anything at any time ever again once they get saved? I hope that's not what you believe. The deception was brilliant, subtle, and didn't happen overnight. That's not an excuse of course, but it is an explanation.

      • greg r April 9, 2014 Reply

        with clear 20-20 hindsight, you make several compassionless statements; and doubt their salvation on top of that. You probably mean well, Andrew, but not helpful, and it comes across condescending: you've never been deceived by a skilled liar, Andrew ??

  2. MatthewS March 27, 2014 Reply

    What I really like about this cooking analogy is that it resonates with my present experience of how there are so many elements of my Christian walk now that bring up unpleasant reminders. I find myself wanting to make a habit of Bible reading or prayer, for example, and instantly I wonder, is this the same legalism I left? If not, what's the difference? If these things are important, does it mean that Gothardism really wasn't so bad?

    I love how Dave's analogy here gets that sense of so many familiar ingredients, yet a very different end product.

    • Christy March 27, 2014 Reply

      Legalism says you "have to do" something like Bible reading and prayer so that God will be pleased with you and you will measure up.

      Love says I "want to do" this because I love Jesus and I want to spend time with Him and know Him more.

      I find that I still have many of the same kinds of things in my life that I used to, but the motivation behind it is completely different and so I am free.

      • Karah March 27, 2014 Reply

        Yes Christy! This is absolutely what I'm finding out.

      • Kristen P. March 28, 2014 Reply

        Same here.

      • DF April 3, 2014 Reply

        Sometimes we "have to do" before we get to "want to do". Love is great but we're a sinful people. If we always wait on the desire, we won't do for God. "If you love me, keep (to attend to carefully, to guard, to observe) my commandments." John 14:15. No mention of wanting. If you love me you will do it like it or not?

        • Nancy2 April 3, 2014

          I don't know. As I was waiting for God to call me, He gave me the desire through His love to know Him more. When I my love for Him increased I asked Him for a place to serve. He opened up the perfect opportunity that fit the talents He helped me learn. I joyfully responded. It was unbelievable to watch Him move in the lives of others. It was like being invited to a front row seat to watch His Almighty Power in action. Somewhere on RG I posted the situation about which I'm referring in a comment section.

      • Gail Moseley April 9, 2014 Reply

        But, for example, I want to be a person who reads the Bible often, yet if I am not disciplining my time, is it legalistic to decide(not "vow" with the implied judgment of a broken vow)to schedule it, and then do it, not because I feel like it at the moment, but because I am trying to be disciplined. (I, too,am having to examine all that I have been taught, not only in the seminar, but in churches and writings that have been influenced directly or indirectly by the same. Thankfully, I had a strong understanding of Bible doctrine "Before The Seminar," and am not questioning the basic tenants of Christianity.
        I have so many questions, and I hope I can find more answers at this website.

  3. Shelley Randolph Romey March 27, 2014 Reply

    While this may not be a perfect example (nothing really is) it makes a lot of sense to me. Some have eaten the soy sauce cookies all their lives and never knew the way the cookies were supposed to taste. Sadly, some have decided to never eat cookies again. Still others try to fix the recipe by adding other ingredients to cover up the taste. Legalism doesn't have to be the only bad ingredient. Sadly, there are many churches and teachers adding their own ingredients to make the recipe fit their own theology and justify destructive behaviors and teachings. The only way to fix the recipe is by testing each ingredient against the Word of God.

    If those who have been hurt can "taste and see that The Lord is good" they will wonder how they ever swallowed such sour teachings in the first place.

    Excellent article.

    • Anonymous March 27, 2014 Reply

      Shelly Randolph Romey: Yes, excellent article and your comments are excellent, as well. Thank you. That was very helpful to me.

  4. Kat March 27, 2014 Reply

    I was harrased sexually at 15 by a member of my church and a teacher. It cost me high school to report it. My pastor, when my mother and I went to him, put his feet on his desk and said "what do you want ME to do about it" in the "get lost" tone. I got into drugs, had two husbands abuse me, and fell into gothardism on line, then in gothard churches as a pregnant woman. I never needed to take the seminars, the acolytes who had were spreading the poison in women's email lists and forums, the in churches, just fine. Finally left husband 2 when he took up with our 17 her old babysitter. He never would go through with the divorce, even though he has 2 kids with her now. A couple of gothard church (or at least influenced by them) experiences later, I live with a wonderful guy, my daughter is grown, but has an incurable condition. I stay away from cur h stuff because this crap has permeated so many churches in some form....and yeah, its more than just soy sauce. Its splenda instead of sugad , its strychnine instead of flour, its snot instead of milk, its rotten eggs. I find one or more of these ingredients every time I try cookies shaped like churches these days, so I just quit eating them.

    • MatthewS March 27, 2014 Reply

      oh, yuck! Man, so much pain and wrong.

      I don't speak for Dave but I don't think for one minute he would ever trivialize those abuses and wounds. I think he's speaking about something else - I think he's talking about reconstructing a faith (or even a philosophical) system in a sincere manner, and picking through the theological and philosophical ingredients, wondering what the relationship is between individual ingredients and the tainted whole.

      The abuses you have experienced -- not soy sauce at all. One of the things that hurts when I read about your story here is the failure of people to see and care and stand with you. A lot of people chose not to stand with you when you needed it.

    • Anthony March 28, 2014 Reply

      @Kat... that is really awful... even hard to fathom the pain and even fear that it has caused you. I hope you haven't given up on finding a church. No one should ever have to go through all that! One compound fracture after another. It's hard to fathom your ordeals and difficult to express my sympathies to you. If you gotten through all that... then that's just amazing! May God Bless You! May God deliver you out of that dark dungeon. May an angel always be with you. If you haven't, you need to re-commit yourself to Jesus and let Him heal you and guide you and send you His Spirit to be your Protector and Comforter. I am glad you did not fall prey to BG!

    • "Gloria" March 29, 2014 Reply

      Kat, you are one strong lady. Can I just say my cookies would crack one's teeth to eat as well. I am so sorry. Crying with your pain and losses.

    • Another Kat April 2, 2014 Reply

      Kat, I am so sorry for what you have suffered. Yes, your sexual harassment should have been taken seriously and dealt with by the pastor. This was a classic abuse of power in addition to sexual harassment. And then to have the pastor refuse to take responsibility to protect the sheep under his care was clearly wrong!

      I took the Seminar in the early 70s. The principles were powerful in my life, I saw how the Scripture was applied, and I learned to hear from God and study the Word for myself, due in large part to the principles in the seminar. However, when Gothard began teaching against Rock Music, including "Christian Rock", I was terribly bothered. At first, I did not know why. It was not part of the seminar when we took it in the 70s. Most of what bothered me about these teachings was that it was not based on scripture. It was much more about opinions. I did not buy it, especially since God had done another work in me a few years earlier in the early 80s, freeing me as a music major from my legalistic refusal to study/enjoy particular modern styles of music after God had led me to a church that used some modern music in ministry. After that the Basic Institute became less and less a part of my life.

      The important thing is a relationship with God, (based on what the Bible REALLY says) and not adherence to rules, particularly man-made rules. Sometimes we have to go against established humans or organizations. Not easy.

      But I have learned through many other trials that I don't have time to go into, that no matter what, God can be trusted. Man will fail you, eventually, every time, no matter what ministry credentials or whatever. But our Lord is our Refuge!!

      In fact, I appreciate what one former pastor told me: "If you ever find me saying something that does not line up with Scripture, take Scripture every time." That told me that there is no human that is fail-proof, and my following must be to God. Leaders help a lot. But they are capable of going the wrong direction.

      I pray for our LORD's deep healing work in your life, and that you would become skillful in following HIM, and in discerning HIS truth, and that that He would protect you from rejecting HIm over the failures of people claiming to follow or represent Him.

  5. Paul VA March 27, 2014 Reply

    Its my observation that churches tend to be more and more inclined to include traits of Gothardism besides legalism and these common flavors make church a very hard place to trust after my experiences in ATI. Here are a few Gothard triggers that if I see in church and make me want to run:

    1) strong icon leader who is outspoken/magnetic, everything seems crystal clear to him, has narcissistic tendencies that get overlooked by those who have "bought in"
    2) weaker/smaller elder boards who don't stand up to this bigger than life leader
    3) programs that are "exciting" to keep everyone buzzed
    4) selective representation of Biblical facts to conveniently push an agenda
    5) value being assigned by level of buy in to the program not equal value based on grace
    I could go on...

    These ingredients in the cookies don't have to come from Gothard at all but they make it very difficult to enjoy the food offered at churches today as a recovering ATI kid.

    If you were raised on soy sauce cookies you tend to smell soy sauce in almost everything!

    • Sally March 27, 2014 Reply


      You are right on here.

    • Lori March 28, 2014 Reply

      Good points. (Sounds like the formula of a VERY famous pastor whom I won't mention by name.)

  6. Shane March 27, 2014 Reply

    I don't know anything about baking, but Soy Sauce Cookies changed my life. I started eating them and now in 5-7 days my colds go away and rock music no longer makes me want to tap my toes.

    • Kat March 27, 2014 Reply

      I gotta add here... I hate how they have ruined long skirts for me... and denim ones. I like them...especially as I don't look so good in shorts at my age, they are just comfy in hot weather... but I don't like looking like one of "the dress people" anymore. Maybe the short, peroxide blonde hair will prevent that. ;)

      • Sally March 27, 2014 Reply

        I've seen long skirts come back into fashion this spring. AND, normal people are wearing them with style. It can be a therapeutic thing.

        • Shane March 27, 2014

          Therapeutic? Interesting. Maybe I'll get one. :)

    • MatthewS March 27, 2014 Reply

      results may vary...

    • Jon Owens March 27, 2014 Reply

      Soy Sauce cookies convinced me to shave my God given beard. Gracious, what would I have done 2 thousand years ago and didn't have easy access to a razor....

    • Ryan Sapp March 27, 2014 Reply

      Me too Shane!
      The catchy rips of U2 no longer affect me and their agenda to help under priveledged children around the world now disgusts me!!!

      • Lori March 28, 2014 Reply

        'Might want to watch out for their COEXIST agenda...

        • Ryan Sapp March 28, 2014

          Like putting a bible verse in a bottle of beer...

  7. Shane March 27, 2014 Reply

    Great article. I think the cookie metaphor is great for what it attempts to show; everything Gothard teaches is not false. That is true and important to understand when dealing with a ministry, parents, friends, spouse, etc who wrong us. Forgiveness and the battle against becoming trapped in bitterness requires this disentangling battle. It's also helpful because he's not saying keep eating those bad cookies. It's ok to toss them.

    @K. I agree it's not simple with Gothardism or any cult. I think it's because the bad ingredient is one that actually pervades ALL the ingredients and it's a concoction of ingredients itself. It is legalism but not just legalism. It is also authoritarianism, pride, fear, etc. And it's concocted to counterfeit what your tastebuds like. And it does, sort of. Disentangling that mess is a difficult and lengthily process. The REAL ingredients taste foreign and bad at first. They're hard to trust. And they often look like what you were eating before.

  8. Mr. Buck March 27, 2014 Reply

    A book that can be very helpful in sorting this all out is "So you don't want to go to church anymore." You can order it from Amazon or the publisher. Website is:

    • Beth March 28, 2014 Reply

      Also you can actually read it for free on the website, it's an incredible book!

    • Carla B April 1, 2014 Reply

      Thank you for mentioning this book. I read it several years ago and found it very encouraging in the beginning of my own journey to freedom in Christ. It's an easy and excellent read.

  9. Matthew Voyer March 27, 2014 Reply

    This has been a very difficult article for me to read. Utilizing the analogy of the cookie, I would have to say that mine have not just been simply flavored incorrectly but burnt, and I do not think that I am the only reader that is now looking for something with more substance than a cookie.

    I understand the concept of emotional faith, but when one has been beat into believing another's concept of this type of faith, it is difficult to just think of it as simply a wrong ingredient in a cookie.

    • Christy March 27, 2014 Reply

      Matthew, I agree with you. A cookie seems a little too simple. Because it's a false idea of who God is, who Jesus is, what the Bible teaches. These are the biggest things in life! IBLP and many people involved in it falsely represented Jesus, often missed true salvation, and changed our loving Creator into an angry god waiting for correct performance.

      So many people have turned away from God, the real one, and the beautiful truth of the Bible because of how it was presented to them. Because of how it was twisted. Because of how they were lied to. It can feel overwhelming to try and figure out the truth.

    • AmandaH March 27, 2014 Reply

      "Looking for more substance than a cookie." yes.

    • "Emee" March 27, 2014 Reply

      @K, Kat, Matthew Voyer, et. al.: Would an analogy to drinking bad-tasting water (perhaps even one naturally laced with odorless, tasteless arsenic) be a more-satisfying comparison? For those who grew up drinking chlorinated, metallic-tasting water and were told it was 'good', then it's quite understandable why they'd A) have trouble believing the water could be a problem (especially when it's the only thing they ever knew!), B) (once drinking pleasant, non-toxic water) would never EVER want to drink the nasty stuff again, C) be extremely hesitant to drink every time water was offered to them [even though water's necessary for life], because of their fear that it could be the 'bad' water, and/or D) be quite concerned every time they heard someone touting the amazing benefits of metallic, arsenic-laced water!

      Re: the article, I really appreciated the conclusion: "Much like we would if we were baking the new batch of cookies, we will remind ourselves of the former error as we rebuild our way of thinking about spirituality and life...We will tell ourselves and others about the love of God, the forgiveness of sin, the freedom of our relationship with Jesus, and the assurance of His faithfulness...We will denounce [the lie] over and over until it no longer affects our thinking. Then we will REST in the knowledge that the Lord has been with us and has guided us into the truth we need to experience His love and the joy of our salvation." Thanks so much for writing this!

  10. Jeremy Richardson March 27, 2014 Reply

    although one may argue that it was actually a recipe for lo mein not cookies, and they got all BUT one ingredient wrong

  11. esbee March 27, 2014 Reply

    The cookie analogy is great but I found this site just after having my first hip replacement (march 2012) and reading through all the legalism on this site coincided with what I was going through with surgery.

    First I was born with hips that had a minor birth defect that over time and age got worse. Life events such as being active, exercising, tripping and falling, falling off a horse, etc made it worse. Not knowing what it was I tried different things, none of which worked so the end result it got to where I could no longer walk without a walker. X-rays showed severe bone on bone and arthritis and a doctor proclaimed "What are you waiting for?"
    Thus a both hips were scheduled to be replaced.

    After each surgery, I had to learn how to walk all over again, do exercises that would strengthen the hip muscles to hold in the new hip joints. As soon as I woke up from anesthesia, the nurses had me sit up and get up and walk just a few steps. Over the next 2 days, they set goals and showed me how to exercise, walk and yes it hurt every step of the way. It was a struggle, funny thing though, it was not the hips that gave me a problem, but the little side things not related to my hips that gave me more of a problem. (swelled uvula caused constant choking until it went down and a swelling from the needle in my back for pain was another irritation) I had to learn to use special tools to put on my pants and socks ( I no longer have to use them) and I had a goal- to ride my horse again---and that goal kept me doing the exercises, walking, and constantly striving to improve, go further and now- with new hips so I can do more than before.

    I bet most of you will get the analogy and how it relates to living a Christian life and walking in the spirit without me even explaining it.

    • esbee March 27, 2014 Reply

      if I may add now that I have reread what I wrote and in answer to the title "Was it all wrong?"

      Only the parts that needed replacing were replaced (hip joints). All my other parts were left along.

      so ina theological sense, God will replace the parts (beliefs) that need replacing. And He will teach you to walk all over again, using those new parts.

  12. Sunflower March 27, 2014 Reply

    I'm thinking here of the book, "Don't Waste Your Sorrows" (Billheimer). Our family was into the BG teaching for years with the expected results, including my being married to a narcissist and the abuse that goes with all that. I've been working on healing, and trying to discern the 'soy sauce and poisons' and all that, but lately God has changed my direction in thinking. If it hadn't been BG, it would have been another similar guy (or church). It's easy and somehow comforting to point at BG (shame, shame!) and the N husband, but I'm now learning that each of these experiences, when laid on the altar before God, shows up a need in me that I have to surrender. The insecurity, the fears, the shame, the codependency........ and so I take responsibility for these, repent of them, and call on His grace to mature me. So that I don't go there again, otherwise I will.
    And now, I truly am able to 'in all things give thanks'.

  13. Alfred Corduan March 27, 2014 Reply

    So . . . what exactly is legalism? We all understand that it is a term not found in Scripture . . . which makes it harder to be precise. I would allege that "I can't tell the good stuff from legalism anymore" might have something to do with that.

    Now . . . after an interaction between myself and David some time back I got special billing on his blog as the unnamed "legalist" that had troubled him that particular day. So ... I guess I fit the bill. (no pun intended :-) )

    So . . . how can I tell

    1) If I am a legalist . . . and
    2) How that is unscriptural?

    I am not playing dumb . . . because I find the term irritating. It seems to morph to be whatever somebody doesn't like about serious Christians. I am especially interested in David's comments, since he has focused a ministry on it.

    • greg r March 27, 2014 Reply

      @Alfred: I don't have time to post much today (N.T Wright is in town and speaking at a church event), but I would recommend two areas of fertile study: study the sadducees and Pharisees, what they did (and didn't do), especially why they kindled the wrath of Jesus. Second: study Galations, what got Paul so incensed and why. this would be a good place to start, imo, in understanding the problem from a NT point of view.
      You've no doubt read many dozens of posts/articles in this before , Alfred. has anything, ever, made a strong impression on you positively ?? As in, "yeah, that makes sense to me..."

    • Shane March 27, 2014 Reply

      Legalism= making up laws that are not in the Bible and/or using the laws in the Bible in a way they are not intended by God; namely to be righteous or gain blessings from God, and/or making wisdom into law.

      e.g. laws not in the Bible: "Christians should not adopt, listen to rock music, see rated R movies, don't were facial hair, etc. etc. etc.".

      e.g. using laws unlawfully: "'serious' Christians circumcise their sons, do not eat milk and steak, can measure God's blessing based on fertility and family size, abstain from alcohol etc. etc. etc.."

      e.g. of making wisdom into law: "it is wise for me to abstain from alcohol because I don't handle it well, therefore no serious Christian should imbibe alcohol."

      “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,* puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
      If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”
      (Colossians 2:16–23 ESV)

      ““Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him,but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”” (Luke 15:25–32 ESV)

      [Note: the elder brother; is pissed that his Father is throwing a party for the younger brother, he thinks the he should have the party because he has been obedient, he refuses to accept the Father's grace toward his brother, he misses the party.]

      Or you could work through the Galatians heresy to understand legalism.

    • Concerned Outsider March 27, 2014 Reply

      In response to your question Alfred, you can tell if you are a legalist if you post something that includes:

      "So . . . what exactly is legalism? We all understand that it is a term not found in Scripture . . . "

      "I am not playing dumb . . . because I find the term irritating. It seems to morph to be whatever somebody doesn't like about serious Christians." My assessment is that what you consider to be "serious" Christians is what most would called "Legalistic" Christians.

      I really respect your willingness to engage Alfred, and it seems that the Holy Spirit is at work in your life. I hope and pray at some point you will completely see the light, as difficult as that will be.

      • MatthewS March 27, 2014 Reply

        Good point. This may not be a helpful idea, but Alfred, I wonder if it would help if you would give a definition of what you mean by "serious Christian." What sort of Christian does that leave out, and what is the consequence of not being a "serious Christian," or what is the blessing of being one?

      • dreamer March 27, 2014 Reply

        Exactly what I was going to say. The fact that you consider some Christians to be "serious" is a big red flag to me.

      • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014 Reply

        A "serious" Christian is willing to do anything up to dying to see God's will accomplished, to build up treasure in heaven. A "careless" Christian basically lives for fun and fulfillment in this life.

        • MatthewS March 28, 2014

          Thank you for that summary statement, Alfred, it's thought-provoking and a helpful insight.

        • Beth March 28, 2014

          Not sure what this is worth but I know the time I was in ATI/IBLP I was told the most important thing was the rules - how I looked, authority, what I did, bible reading etc - and I never found God, I never felt a real joy in doing any of it. I only found God when I broke away from all the rules. I decided if this was what Christianity was then it sucked and I really hoped it wasn't what God was really like. I decided if there was a God out there I'd have to enjoy finding him or not find him at all. He created me after all, he made me to enjoy things, why wouldn't he make me enjoy finding him?

          In a way I was ready to do anything to find Him at that point but I knew all that other stuff I'd done hadn't found Him so I wasn't willing to do that anymore. I did find Him after walking away from all the rules. I'm really enjoying the warmth of actually wanting to peruse Him and know him and wanting to please Him and do His will. I don't HAVE to do anything but if I do love Him and have a relationship with Him then it does affect every area of my life.

          I guess in summary what I'm trying to say is, rules don't come first, actions don't come first, God comes first and if we really find Him then He's able to show us what He wants us to do (with His spirit and His word and actually even our natural desires a lot of times). To me a legalist is someone who pushes/values the rules over a relationship with Christ.

          I can't earn a relationship with Him by going by the rule book, just like I can't make the perfect relationship with my parents by following their rule book. If all I did was fit their mold then I'd completely loose my personality and relationship with them, I'd just be focused on what I was supposed to be instead of actually developing a relationship. I would much rather a relationship with my kids than a perfect rule follower I can't connect with.

        • Paul VA March 28, 2014

          Alfred, I think your use and explanation of this phrase "serious Christian" is telling. I think that would describe what most Gothard people including my parents really wanted to be. Gothard came claiming to represent a closer more direct line to God with greater insight and said "jump" and ATI families said "how high?" They would do anything.

          Rules overwhelmed relationship both with God and with others. When I was 16 and fought my parents tooth and nail because I didn't want to be the only high school kid at my church to wear a blue suit (or even a tie) to church my parents were going to take that battle to the end...how I felt didn't matter...it wasn't a factor...we were to demonstrate higher standards and if that meant I had to leave the home over the suit issue then so be it. In their minds we were a better family than the others because of our standards...that is legalism. Most of the ATI families I grew up knowing in the 80s and 90s had rage and disfunction in the homes behind the facade of being "serious Christians"...half of the families we knew then are divorced...and that is a big piece of legalism I think...it often is cover for spiritual bankruptcy at home.

          I hope better things for your family, Alfred. I think that Gothard was great at finding young people and families who would have been anybody's model family or kids that would have risen to the top in any program or job and then make sure they were wearing the Gothard uniform for all to see so that other families would make the false assumption that the principals are what got them where they are. Maybe that is your family...maybe you guys are just grace filled happy people and the anger and control isn't part of your daily experience. If that is so, I'm happy for you but I also want to warn you that your family may likely look back broken hearted that you were responsible for helping slip millstones on other poor families' necks. Families that don't have as many emotional resources and grounding in good theology to not swallow the poison of legalism deeper into their being...even if you don't give them the hard sell for Gothardism your parading your large happy family around with a testimony that is shared between Christ and BG will do great destruction on these weaker brothers and sisters. I'm really pleading with you here to preach Grace Alone, Christ Alone, Scripture Alone brother. A truly "serious Christian" will embrace the hard work of living in a life of faith with more ambiguity where he/she needs to tune into her consciousness prayerfully on issues like music, food, dress, contraception, adoption, circumcision rather than getting the "higher way" out of a perverted man's teachings.

        • Heidi Merkel March 28, 2014

          Establishing a 'casting' order for Christianity is a huge red flag for legalism.

        • Heidi Merkel March 28, 2014

          I just wanted to add:

          My pastor taught a great lesson on this last year when we went through the book of Romans. He said one of the reasons believers create catagories (serious vs careless) for each others is so we feel better about ourselves. So by saying you are a 'serious' Christian you establish yourself as better than anyone YOU consider, (and to be perfectly clear, it is YOUR opinion not Gods because he looks at the heart), and are walking a pride filled life.

        • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014

          Beth and Paul:

          I am sorry for what you went through. It is my opinion that we over-zealous parents are responsible for a lot of the misfires. In So. Cal. we were blessed with a very pragmatic leader who - with 14 kids - clearly communicated his conviction that family comes first, before ATI, Gothard . . . rules. They refused, on principle, to send their children to HQ for "ministry opportunities" and discipling. So we spent our sessions together talking about our families and needs, debating various "HQ" suggestions . . . and almost never viewing the video that was sent for that purpose. Not that we were disrespectful to Bill or the program - but we felt that the buck stopped with us, including ultimate success or failure.

          I remember a session where we had gotten a monthly mailing from HQ highlighting a certain family with 10 kids, traveling at one time the country in a motor home ministering, all playing musical instruments . . . and - the kicker - whose kitchen was vacuumed three times a day. EVERY one of our wives sagged - they felt they barely had time to clean up the messes. We had quite a meeting locally, nobody was happy - I wrote pointedly to HQ on that. That family turned out to be the Vollers, he was subsequently elevated to be ATI Directory, one year later enduring a terrible moral fall.

          When Paul uses the example of a soldier, of of an Olympic athlete, it is quite telling. That is serious. I think it is correct to prepare our children for that, a life of sacrifice and service. But there is balance. That is where we have often missed the boat, and I am not without fault. I am glad that the Lord has warmed your heart and is healing you.

        • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014

          That is goofy, Heidi So we are allowed to have a "serious athlete" but we don't have a corresponding "serious Christian?"

          There are plenty of serious athletes that are not all that successful . . . and there are careless athletes who do enjoy some serious success. But those remain exceptions. If you want to make a mark, you have to sell everything, restrict everything, endure years of rigid schedules . . . THEN comes victory. Paul says exactly that, comparing himself to an Olympian.

        • Heidi Merkel March 28, 2014

          Call it 'goofy' if you will but it's not up to Humans to establish who is serious and who is careless.

          I am not a missionary in Peru... does that mean Missionaries in Peru are more serious than I am because I only work with pregnant teens here in my home town? they have OBVIOUSLY sacrificed more than I will ever dream of "leaving behind"

          Serious athletes get serious so they can defeat one another which is exactly what legalistic Christianity is---defeating to one another. We are so busy figuring out who is serious and who is careless that the enemy wins. Unless there is some gross injustice, as there was in the Corintian church, it's Gods job to figure out how we measure up.

          I'm releaved I no longer live under the false measuring stick of legalism.

        • KH March 28, 2014

          I am rather put off with the phrase "serious Christian"! Years ago we had Major Ian Thomas in our church and he taught all week on "Abiding In The Vine". That to me is what true Christianity is all about, Abiding in Him, nothing more, nothing less. To say you are a "serious Christian" immediately puts down a brother or sister in Christ who may be struggling and needs to be lifted up, not placed into a caste system.

        • Concerned Outsider March 28, 2014

          Actually, establishing a 'casting' order for Christianity is not only a huge red flag for legalism, it is not Biblical. A casting order is much more akin with the works-based cult of Mormonism.

        • Mark March 28, 2014

          Alfred, this is all pretty new to me, too. I am still struggling with what in me is legalism and what is not. I'll give you an example:

          When I was a teenager, I didn't read the Bible, except at church camps and during church. After college, I joined a church that was very encouraging. They didn't tell me I should read my Bible everyday, but I started doing it anyway because I wanted to. After grad school, I joined a discouraging church. If I did things or had beliefs that were not in line with what the leaders thought, they would isolate me and make me feel like my understanding was flawed (without actually proving anything from scripture, mind you). After about two years in that church, I realized that reading the Bible was becoming a struggle. I didn't read it because I WANTED to, I read it because the church taught that if I didn't read the Bible everyday, I probably wasn't a Christian. In fact, my whole life became one big fat "redneck" joke. I wasn't a Christian because...

          Now, I'm starting to realize that when I desired to read the scriptures, that was grace and Spirit led, but when I used reading scripture as a measuring stick of my Christianity, it became legalistic. For me, the most clear indication of what is legalistic is whether I "want" to do something, or whether I "have" to do something, but there's more to it that I'm still struggling with.

          The soy sauce analogy really fits, but for me it was more like having the cookie dipped in vinegar. From the outside in, the vinegar began to permeate my walk, and I didn't realize it was happening. Now I smell vinegar everywhere, and I don't know whether it's me that smells like vinegar, or whether I come home from church with vinegar on my clothes.

        • Concerned Outsider March 28, 2014

          God's Will will be accomplished. Thankfully, He does not need our efforts to accomplish His will. Alfred, it's really all about God and living in His grace. Anyone who professes nonoptional legalistic doctrine (while never using the word legalistic of course) is wrong. Period.

          Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

        • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014

          We clearly have abuses. But we still have Paul telling us we need to be like a serious athlete . . . Right?

          1 Corinthians 9:24-27
          Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection:lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

          Explain what that is that isn't a characteristic of "legalism". Is this something you would notice in a person? Is "serious Christian" a characteristic phrase . . . Or would you have a better phrase. "I used to be a _____ Christian, but then I read 1Cor. 9 and then I was convicted and became a ______ Christian"

        • dreamer April 1, 2014

          __ "I used to be a _____ Christian, but then I read 1Cor. 9 and then I was convicted and became a ______ Christian" __

          Alfred, the Christian life is a process. We are continually growing in the grace and knowledge of our God and savior. Just because someone has gained new insights about the character of God over time doesn't mean that they were not "serious" about being a Christian before that time. I was a Christian before I read 1 Cor 9 and I was still a Christian afterwards. You might say after gaining insight I became a more mature Christian, but that does not mean I was just playing around before.

        • Shane April 1, 2014

          @dreamer- yes! And the marks of a mature Christian? Humility that comes with a maturing understanding of how sinful our sinfulness is and how utterly profound is the grace of God in Christ.

          The Apostle Paul toward the end of his life: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Timothy 1:15 ESV)

          The Apostle Paul's honesty about the process of growth: “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7:21–25 ESV)

          Paul at the end of his life identified himself (present tense) as a sinner and glories in the grace of God in Christ that rescued him. He does not glory in where he is compared to the others around him.

          There are probably lots of reasons Gothard has refused to repent and deal honestly with his sin over the years, but one of the certain reasons is that his view of the "serious" Christian won't allow him to admit full force the reality and consequences of his sin. This is legalism: inasmuch as one cannot admit the honest truth of their sinfulness they are relating to God as if His favor rests on how "serious" they are. Paul obviously lived a seriously driven life for the sake of the gospel, but underlying it was the deep knowledge of his worthlessness apart from grace. AND his growth drove his understanding of both sinfulness and free grace even deeper. That's the mark of maturity, not becoming some besuited icon of middle-class American Leave it to Beaver/Victorian cultural mores.

          The thing about it is I (and no one at RG that I've seen) is surprised that there is a sinner behind the curtain, but are begging that he will join the Apostle Paul in honest confession that he is a great sinner and desperately needs great grace. And that he/IBLP will abandon their false teaching.

    • P.L. March 27, 2014 Reply

      Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof...ever learning, and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth (n.b., they can't truly know it because they deny its power).

      That's a legalist. They trust in their 'ever learning' and their 'form of godliness', denying the transforming power of the cross. Sad.

    • LynnCD March 27, 2014 Reply

      Legalism has a root and range of meanings.

      1. It can mean attempting to earn salvation by keeping the Law, or by good works.

      Bill Gothard does not fit this category.

      2. It can mean following the OT law as binding on believers, contrary to the resolution of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, which instructed the new converts to not be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses, but rather they were to abstain from sexual immorality and idolatry.

      Bill Gothard does fit this category. He picks and chooses Mosaic laws to follow, usually claiming health benefits about them, but also saying about circumcision that it's the only moral choice.

      3. It can mean making one's scruples, scruples not expressly stated in Scripture, equivalent with NT teaching on how believers are to conduct themselves.

      Bill Gothard also fits this category of legalism. I well remember one of the women from ATI telling me about Bill telling the women it was evil for them to ride horses, for example.

      I'm sure there may be other usages of the term, but the first three are the most common usages, or at least, it appears so to me.

      I would not equate the charge of being a legalist meaning one is a "serious Christian." A "serious Christian" is a dilegent student of the Word and would repute both legalism and license. IOW - he or she would know what sin really is in the eyes of God. He or she would seek to turn from sin and do what is good. He or she would not define sin where God has not defined it, and would not seek to teach others to do the same, like the Pharisees and Judaizers did.

      • LynnCD March 27, 2014 Reply

        Regarding the "serious Christian." Someone can have personal scruples that he refrains from television or the internet, in order to have time for other pursuits.

        This is fine. It's when he starts preaching that others do the same, or they are not serious about the Christian life, that it gets to be the huge problem.

        • LynnCD March 27, 2014

          And if a person yaps at a person for his scruple about not watching TV, when the no TV watcher did not preach or imply the first person was a bad person for watching TV, that first person is very annoying, I agree. We need to respect the scruples of others. We need to know what the Bible does and does not say about the practical Christian life.

          But Bill goes WAY beyond just having personal scruples. He foists so many extra-biblical rules on people that he is indeed teaching legalism.

      • Mosessister March 28, 2014 Reply

        LynnCD, I agree Gothard does not fit into your category 1 above. However, I feel compelled to point out that the exclusivity that his "principles" foster creates a very real risk of teetering on the brink of your category 1. If Gothard's rules are not salvific, as he claims, then why do they matter so much that churches divide over them, that families are broken up because of them. It seems to me that the relative importance that IBLP adherents place on their extra-Biblical rules is problematic in and of itself.

    • Heidi March 28, 2014 Reply

      My pastor is doing a series on legalism right now which has been really helpful for me as I've been reading this site and sorting through the things I learned during 10 years in ATI. His definition of legalism is "Attempting through the power of the flesh or self-effort to achieve that which only the Holy Spirit can accomplish through the Gospel, namely Christlikeness."

      It's a mouthful but there is so much truth in it!

    • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014 Reply

      Greg R: Thanks for responding. Clearly the Pharisees, for one, obviously got some things right, or Paul would never boast of being one. So . . . I will need some help on what they did that made them “legalists” as you see it.

      In Galatians I see Paul’s concern with their intent to become Jews, get under the law of Moses to complete the salvation that Jesus began. Since I eat pork and wear mixed material clothing I guess you can see that I don’t do that. I have had major contentions with a few folk that have come to me insisting that I do so . . . wearing the tassels, and caps and all.

      • Paul VA March 28, 2014 Reply

        Alfred: On your response about the Pharisees as positive: Wow. Oh my. Wow. The greek word skubala is used after that "boast" for how Paul looked back at being a Pharisee from the perspective of grace. skubala is often translated "loss" but Greek scholar Dan Wallace says it would be better translated literally as "crap" or even more strongly as "the S word."

        • greg r March 28, 2014

          NT wright has "trash"...JB Phillip has "mere garbage" well, so much for rigid rule keeping, eh ??
          More later, Alfred, probably, but seriously friend, you've always seen the sadduccees and Pharisees as more right than wrong ?? Just a little off ??? really....

      • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014 Reply

        Paul: You are so right . . . and so wrong. Here is the passage:

        "5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." (Phil 3)

        If Pharisee is dung . . . so is circumcised, Hebrew, Israel, Benjamin, zeal, and blameless in the law. Remember, same thing said of Zechariah and Elisabeth, hardly a bad thing, right?

        "5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord BLAMELESS. (Luke 1)

        You can see . . . these were normally very good things . . . INCLUDING the zeal of the Pharisee. They were the conservatives of that day, vs. the "liberal" Sadducees. He was on the right side of the fence on the topics of the day.

        • Paul VA March 28, 2014

          "white washed tombs"? Is that a good thing?

        • Nancy2 March 28, 2014

          Alfred, finish what you call Paul's boast...

          7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

          8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

          9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

          10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

        • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014

          So we agree - they were not 'bad' things, in fact, very good. Just none of them, nor any combination could get Paul one step closer to salvation. Not to genuinely pleasing God. Not that he wasn't striving hard for that . . .

          "10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

          12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." (Phil 3)

          Sounds like a pretty intense focus on his part. Is that legalism, to "follow after" hard so he might catch the purpose for which he was saved? To strive "by any means" to reach 'the resurrection from the dead'?

          As to "whited sepulchers", That was aimed at scribes AND Pharisees who were hypocrites. Not all Pharisees were bad, evidenced by Gamaliel, for example. Let's not throw out the ba ... nevermind.

        • Mark March 28, 2014

          Don't forget the intro, too: (Phil 3:1-4)

          "Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:"

          Paul is debunking an argument by the Pharisees. They are saying that their heritage and their adherence to the law are the vehicles for salvation. The Judaizers were saying that Christians were under the Mosaic Law - that they needed to be circumcised and practice the ceremonial law. Here Paul is saying, my adherence to the Mosaic Law is worthless, therefore yours is worthless, since my adherence is superior than yours. If A >= B and A=0, then what therefore is the value of B?

          Now, concerning the Pharisees, Jesus was not so positive, and the fact that you think they were overall good is concerning.

          Pharisees thought that their heredity would save them: (Matthew 3:7-9) "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham."

          Pharisees thought that their adherence to the ceremonial law (i.e. works) would save them: (Galatians 5:2-6)
          "Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love."

          Pharisees used obedience in the minutiae to appear righteous, but were unrighteous in the big things:
          (Matthew 23:23) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others."

          I think this last one strikes me the most about Gothardites. Sure, they tithe the mint and cummin (cover any bare skin, don't listen to rock music, don't watch PG movies, read their Bibles every day, and are otherwise outwardly righteous), but what about love and grace? I've met a lot of judgmental jerks that are outwardly righteous -- the ones who say I'm not a Christian if Sunday worship is not the highlight of my week, or that I shouldn't be wearing shorts/t-shirts to worship, or that drinking coffee in the worship service is disrespectful, or that my kids are too loud, are too distracting, are not respectful enough to other adults, that I can't disagree with the pastor because he has an M.Div and I have no credentials... I could go on. I'm a recovering judgmental jerk myself.

        • greg r March 28, 2014

          @Alfred; I'm easing out of this thread (I think), I think you've got your mind made up pretty solid. One last observation: there is only one topic of the day that is crucial: who is Jesus, is HE really the messiah ?? All the other 'rules' are static on the radio. through the real messiah, we are reborn, and gain access to the Father. rule keeping is what people settle for who don't know what to do with relationship. Enjoy the conversation with nancy2,mosessister, and others.

        • Nancy2 March 28, 2014

          Alfred, you know we do not agree.

          Paul is clearly saying all those Laws are counted as loss. He is calling his former life before Christ Jesus a loss. The Greek word is zemia meaning detriment. God used the Law to show us we are dead in our sinful nature. Jesus fulfilled the Law so that we might be alive in Him.

          Paul's zeal for the Law was replaced by a desire to know Jesus and the power of his resurrection. We are buried with Jesus in death and raised to walk in the newness of life. In the old life we were bound to the Law. In the new life we are covered by His blood, we are forgiven, we walk without fear of punishment and death, we abide in Him, we have been set free from the Law that condemns.

          Now it is time for me to cook dinner as my Sweetheart is on his way home.

        • dreamer March 28, 2014

          -So we agree - they were not 'bad' things, in fact, very good. -

          No, we do not agree.

          Paul WAS saying that those were bad things. He counted them as trash compared to gaining the knowledge of Christ. He said very clearly that those things were garbage. How can you seriously close your eyes to what is very plainly said in the Scripture?

        • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014

          If all of this is "trash" . . . why would he say this?

          "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? 2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. 3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?" (Rom. 3:)

          Much advantage . . . in every way? And that is simultaneously "poop"?

        • dreamer April 1, 2014

          Paul is saying that the Jews should have an advantage in recognizing Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law, because they were already familiar with the Law, unlike the Gentile. He is not saying that they are somehow more saved or more sanctified because they were circumcised or because they were Jews. Those things absolutely do not go hand in hand with salvation.
          I sense that maybe you are deliberately messing with us here, Alfred. You can't really believe that keeping the law is a part of salvation...can you?

      • eva March 28, 2014 Reply

        Alfred, I think you completely ignore the context of Phil. 3. Paul was NOT boasting about being a Pharisee. He was telling them to beware of "dogs, evil workers", etc. Those who were demanding that they be circumcised. Paul was saying in effect that he had done all those things but it was of no value to him in his knowing of the excellency of Christ. From a human point of view he had it all - at least all that was thought to be what was required in that day. But he counted it all--loss---dung---trash----garbage because it wsn't Paul's righteousness that would gain him the "prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." I can't believe you think that Paul was boasting. He was probably hanging his head in shame to think of what he had trusted in before he met The Lord on the Damascus road.

        • Gail Moseley April 9, 2014

          I just want to jump in, having read this far, and say I appreciate Alfred's honest questions. He's sort of where I am, or was, and am still figuring this out. His replies give the rest of you an opportunity to give im (and me, and who knows who else) answers you have already worked through. Alfred, thank you for your honesty and courage. The rest of you, thank you for your well-thought-out answers, your courtesy (at least so far--I trust it will continue) and taking time to answer. This is all thought provoking, and I imagine I am not the only one benefiting from this discussion.

    • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014 Reply

      Shane: [“Legalism= making up laws that are not in the Bible and/or using the laws in the Bible in a way they are not intended by God; namely to be righteous or gain blessings from God, and/or making wisdom into law.”] OK. Would this be an example?

      Don’t eat meat offered to idols.
      Don’t eat blood.
      Don’t eat animals that were strangled.
      Don’t have sex without the formality of a marriage license

      You will recognize these at the rules that Paul and all the apostles signed and sent to all the Gentiles . . . of which class I am. (Acts 15) Is that legalism?

      Paul said women should not speak in church . . . and should have long hair . . . or even have their heads covered in public. Again, are these “legalist” rules, as you see them?

      [“ laws not in the Bible”] What about laws that ARE in the Bible? Like about eating pork and such? And . . . communities and cultures constantly make rules apart from Scripture to obtain certain objectives. Am I wrong for telling my little children to not talk to strangers? Or for a church to vote to adopt a dress code to foster respect? Where do you draw your little lines?

      [“using laws unlawfully: "'serious' Christians circumcise their sons, do not eat milk and steak, can measure God's blessing based on fertility and family size, abstain from alcohol etc. etc. etc.."] That gets into Romans 14 stuff. What do we read there? “5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” And Paul even goes so far as to say, that when someone with scruple challenges us on something, we should comply with their concerns . . . because we love them. “ But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:” (1 Cor. 10:28) Is pulling away from something because another brother thinks it is bad . . . legalistic?

      • Mosessister March 28, 2014 Reply

        Alfred, the rule about eating meat offered to idols was made in the context of maintaining unity in the early church. The food rules were subsequently relaxed in Col 2, although Paul cautions in 1 Cor 8 and 10 that we need to be sensitive to weaker brothers and be willing to adhere to the rule on occasion. The rule about adultery is part of the Decalogue, and therefore universally binding. The fact that you have raised these as possible examples of legalism highlights the very real danger of living a life focused on following rules at all costs: we fail to see the intent behind the "rule," we are unable to separate the contextually-bound rules from the universal rules, worse, we sacrifice unity for the sake of "rules" that we CLAIM are not salvific in nature.

      • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014 Reply

        Mosessister: The word "fornication" in Acts 15 is not the Greek word for "adultery" . . . it is "pornea". So that is way broader than the command in the law. It is applied to all kinds of sexual things, the least of which is premarital sex. There are a lot of sex related things that you simply will not find a Bible law forbidding. For unmarried people, what about porn . . . prostitution . . . beastiality, sodomy, child molestation aren't in the decalogue - do you tell people that is inside "Christian liberty"? You see the problem. Are carefully followed and enforced rules in those areas "legalism"?

        If food rules are relaxed in Colossians, why does Jesus forbid eating idol food ... in Revelation?

        "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols." (Revelation 2:20)

        There is "pornea" again, which is NOT adultery . . . why would Jesus condemn a woman for teaching godly believers to exercise their Christian liberty . . . and to do what Paul says is "no big deal"? If teaching people it is OK to eat food offered in ritual to demons is sin, is teaching people to observe Christmas [which some believe was originally a pagan feast for a god] or have voodoo masks hanging on the wall or buy toys based on pagan gods is OK . . . also sin?

        • Mosessister March 28, 2014

          Alfred, I kind of think you are proving my point. There is often not a simple hard and fast rule to follow. We must look at the context, study the intent, tease out the universal principle, and seek the Holy Spirit's wisdom in how to apply it to our individual life. There are lots of contextually-bound apparent "rules" in the Bible, as well as a lot of obvious and not so-obvious universal ones. In the case where a rule or principle is not obvious, or universally accepted, to depend on another human being's interpretation and application deprives us of an opportunity for the human spirit to intersect with the Holy Spirit in seeking His guidance. There are Biblical rules and principles that we ought to follow, no question. I don't think anybody here is trying to "re-define grace as license" to do whatever we want. The problem is the focus. Are we sacrificing unity, are we sacrificing personal interaction with the Holy Spirit for the sake of following rules that we admit are not salvific, nor even universally binding? We are convicted of our sin by an encounter with Jesus Christ, by comparing our life to His and seeing how woefully we fall short. Not by comparing ourselves to humanly contrived "principles." Not by following "principles." It's the cart before the horse.

        • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014

          And you are proving my point, Mosessister. Because you talk at the beginning about the need to find "universal principles", then talk at the end about not comparing ourselves to them, I guess taking them too seriously. See the problem?

          And . . . I know you would agree that God burdens different ones differently. God burdened Jehonadab the son of Rechab to command all of his offspring to never drink wine or live in tents. It came from watching people get sucked into immoral lifestyles in the say of Jehu (2 Kings 10) . . . and he decided to "separate" . . . become their version of Amish. And hundreds of years later, God calls the descendents out to commend and bless them. (Jeremiah 35) NOT something He commanded to anyone else.

          Romans 14 is all about that. There is the one that thinks the meat offered ritually to demons is OK to eat, another that eats only vegetables. I know those that won't touch Christmas, having a conscience about it, that it still smells of the pagan idol holiday that once was kept at that time. Romans 14 says the one that "keeps the day" does so to the Lord, and the one who refrains does so for the same reason. He says that the "free" brother should not despise the "bound" brother, and the "bound" brother should not judge the strong "free" brother. BECAUSE . . . we are all the servants of Jesus . . .and HE will make us each to stand.

          The point is that if the "bound" brother is considered a "legalist" by definitions some hold, Jesus says THAT is OK. He just calls them (us?) by a different name: "Weak"

        • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014

          Goof: And, of course, Jehonadab commanded his descendents to LIVE in tents, not live in houses.

        • Shane March 28, 2014

          Alfred, yes legalism is sometimes a sign of a weaker brother. It is never a sign of a "better" way. Nor would Jesus say that's ok in the sense that the weaker brother is not encouraged to consider his freedom in the gospel. To "live in step with the Gospel". The stronger brother absolutely is called upon to love the weaker and to bend toward him in love.

          I think had Gothard sold his seminars as rules for the weaker brothers and sisters with an eye to encourage their maturity in freedom, well it wouldn't have gotten out of his garage. He sold them as principles to make one strong and wise. He fostered a whole ministry of immaturity.

        • Mark March 28, 2014

          The weaker brother argument is for a REAL weaker brother, not a contrived weaker brother. The whole argument is about Christian liberty.

          Paul says (1 Cor 8:4) "Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one."

          So, we agree that the idol is nothing, and food sacrificed to idols is no different than that not sacrificed to idols.

          (vs. 7) "However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled."

          So, there are those who don't understand that the idol is nothing, and would go against their consciences if they ate food sacrificed to idols.

          Now Paul talks about the relation between liberty and sin: (vs. 9-13)

          "But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble."

          But, as I said before, these are REAL people with REAL consciences. You cannot necessarily make the same argument for Christmas (how many people do you personally know who grew up celebrating Saturnalia?)

          The point is that when there are REAL people with REAL consciences, I should set aside my Christian liberty so as not to cause them to sin. BUT... if I take your point of view, there can be no Christian liberty, because I can always invent a fictitious weaker brother in every area of Christian liberty, and thus cause there to be no liberty whatsoever.

        • Alfred Corduan March 29, 2014

          And yet, stunningly, Paul signs an edict asking Gentiles to not eat idol meat (Acts 15) . . . AND Jesus condemns those that were teaching others to do so - in fact, JESUS calls this the "doctrine of Balaam":

          "But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication." (Rev. 2:14) Jezebel picked up on this:

          "20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols."

          Jezebel and the Balaam-doctrine people PROBABLY said: "Enjoy your freedom in Christ - Paul says so!". These guys, at least, were absolutely condemned for what they were practicing and teaching.

          It ALMOST seems like the weaker lot are actually getting some of it right . . . on occasion.

        • mosessister March 29, 2014

          @Alfred, “Because you talk at the beginning about the need to find "universal principles", then talk at the end about not comparing ourselves to them, I guess taking them too seriously. See the problem?”

          There are no problems, only opportunities to interact with the Holy Spirit. :>

          But perhaps there is confusion between the “means,” the “end,” and the “fruit” of the “end.” The end is grace, salvation. The means OF grace is Jesus Christ. The means TO grace are our encounters with Him, i.e. prayer, study of his Word, participation in Christian community. Our good works and deeds are the FRUIT of the end, the RESULT of grace.

          Some works are very specific and universally binding, i.e. the Decalogue. Others are more general, but still universally binding, i.e. the fruits of the Spirit. We have to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit in thinking about how to apply them to our specific circumstances. Others are specific but only contextually binding to specific people in certain circumstances, in which case we need to look for the underlying intent, the underlying general principle, that IS universally binding, again under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit.

          The problem with “Apparently-Rule-Centered” Christians (is that better than legalistic?) is the elevation of contextually-bound, often questionable, rules to the same level of importance as universally-bound rules, at the expense of unity. Additional risks are pride with success, guilt with failure, missing the point of the underlying principle. Again I observe that if a behavior is important enough to cause division/separatism, then it must be pretty close to salvific in someone’s mind.

          Eating food sacrificed to idols is the perfect example of a contextually bound rule. What are the underlying principles? Idolatry, unity, love. The “prophetess” Jezebel was guilty of leading Christians astray FIRST, which then CAUSED them to commit immorality and idolatry by eating food sacrificed to idols. It was a heart problem, not a food problem. In the Christian community, among people whose hearts were in the right place to begin with, there was freedom (Col 2), unless there was a weaker brother (I Cor 8) or a unity issue at stake (Acts). Totally different circumstances, totally different application of the general principles of love, unity, idolatry, all heart issues.

          As I have said elsewhere, why are we even talking about rules? Christ is risen, Alleluia!

          Hope your down time is refreshing, and thank you for the opportunity to further challenge my thinking on the errors inherent in “Apparently Rules-Centered Christianity.” :>

      • Shane March 28, 2014 Reply

        Yes the law of love means as we walk in faith and wisdom we abstain from things we are free to do for the sake of others and the gospel. However, there are circumstances where wisdom dictates we abstain and others where we don't. It's about applied wisdom. When you codify a particular applied wisdom it is legalism. This is why Paul says different things in different circumstances.

        Rom 14 is about a stumbling block not a scruple. How do I know if my decisions create a stumbling block? Paul doesn't actually say. He admonishes his readers to consider it and act accordingly. To say all Christians should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols because some my take offense is legalism. Paul, could have done this. He didn't. Now should anyone else.

        Paul does not create a new law in Acts 15. He is applying wisdom to the circumstance at hand for the sake of the gospel. Paul in dealing with women in church is addressing particular church situations and cultural settings.

        "What about laws in the Bible?"- the ceremonial and sacrificial laws have been fulfilled in Christ. Eat all the pork you want! To say otherwise is legalism. The point of those laws was to show that no matter how righteous they were according to those laws (i.e. the "conservative" Pharisees) they could never be righteous enough. Not even close. The best they could do is clean up the outside while inside they were a rotting stinking corpse. Hence, Jesus' statement that unless your righteousness exceeds theirs you will not see the kingdom of heaven. That's only possible by justification. Christ's righteous obedience imputed to us. I now have His record of righteousness and obedience to the Father. I will certainly one day hear the words "well done good and faithful servant" because I have his goodness and faithfulness in my union with him by faith.

        Telling your kids to not talk to strangers is not a matter of righteousness. It's applied wisdom. I assume you relax that as they move into adulthood? If you were to say that because you find that to be wise, therefore no good Christian should allow their children to talk to strangers- yes that would be legalism. A church can set a dress code if they wish, I guess. Sounds like a dumb idea to me. If the church says that certain dress=respect that would be legalism. Conformity to a law does not equal respect. To judge others for refusing their culturally conditioned sense of respect and dress would be legalism.

        I draw my lines around the notion that the Christian life is lived by faith in what Jesus has accomplished FOR me by his life death and resurrection. That I have already irrevocably been blessed (perfect tense, controlling verb, of one sentence-Eph. 1.3-14) with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" because of my union with Christ.

        Which, means I try to fight against my own flesh that wants to create rules for my children that are born out of fear rather than faith. It's a hard battle. It means I make the distinction about "house rules" over against God's law. It means sometimes I have a rule for my own comfort and control, and I repent of it to God and my children. It means that I step into grey areas and come to believe I've overstepped in some way and I repent and believe the gospel anew. It means that in some circumstances I answer a fool according to his folly and other times I don't (to be clear: not a backhanded jab at you). And when I get it wrong I repent and believe the gospel anew. It means that sometime I counsel a person to abstain from certain places or things until those things no longer powerfully control them, while I also counsel another person that they a free to participate in the same thing and give thanks to God. (Alcohol for example). It means that I will sometimes offend for the sake of the gospel and not offend for the sake of the gospel. For example; Jesus eating and drinking with sinners, which was highly offensive to the self-righteous legalists of his day.

        • Alfred Corduan March 29, 2014

          Shane: ["To say all Christians should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols because some my take offense is legalism. Paul, could have done this. He didn't. Now should anyone else."]

          Au contriare . . . he DID!

          22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul . . . "For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols . . . "

          Please . . . he DID! That was a letter to ALL Gentiles. For all the reasons you just decried . . . because it MIGHT stumble others.

        • Shane March 29, 2014

          "Antioch" is a specific place in a specific time. One of the first rules for interpreting historical narrative (Acts) it to understand it's *historical*. You'd have to have other reasons to expand this out to all Gentiles for all times. You don't. The Bible actually works against such expansion. You've actually quoted Paul in Romans and 1 Cor. decidedly not saying this is a law for all Christians and now you're jumping to Acts to have Paul argue with Paul. You're proof texting and it's not good interpretive method.

          You'd also have to account for the fact that Paul is an Apostle. That office is closed. Gothard nor you nor I have the authority to write the Bible. I hate to make this latter point because you'll likely seize on it and not really deal well with the other but it is a hole in your evaluation of Paul's role v. Gothard's.

          I said a bunch more than that care to address those things? I've already admitted (in the exchange on adoption) that you and I view the Bible very differently. In brief, I believe the gospel is the lens through which all the law and prophets are to be read (Luke 24, John 5). I don't know what you believe. I can guess but you've never said that I know. Our hermeneutical presuppositions (lenses) shape our all interpretations. You see Paul creating a law. I see Paul applying the gospel for the sake of the gospel-i.e. becoming all things to all people. I'd argue that my lens fits the context of the passage better and accounts for the rest of the scriptures better. I'm guessing you disagree.

        • Nancy2 March 29, 2014

          Please read this with a gentle tone as that is the tone in which I'm writing this. It is in no way intended to sound accusatory. I know that can be a problem on the internet and I don't want to be misunderstood.

          Alfred, have you ever worked on a mission field where people from two very different world views are being brought to Christ? Have you ever had to find a way to bring unity to that calling as to keep from hindering the work you have been called to do? Has the Holy Spirit imparted His wisdom to you to cover that circumstance to keep one group from being a hindrance to the other? Has the Holy Spirit ever given you a line to hold for the sake of furthering God's Kingdom?

          These questions address the dynamics of how we move within our mission field. I would really like to hear your testimony of how the Holy Spirit has led you to further His Kingdom in a real life situation like the one Paul found himself in. I really am interested, because I think it will help clarify why you feel these verses are about the importance of upholding the Law as opposed to furthering the Gospel. I'm not being ugly. I have been in those situations, and I feel Shane is right when he says, "Paul is applying wisdom to the circumstance at hand for the sake of the gospel."

          One of the things that gets lost in all of this dialog is that those of us who live by grace are not using it as a license to sin. We love The Lord far too much to abuse His great sacrifice. That grace will become a license to sin is a common preconceived notion of many who hold to Mr. Gothard's principles for life. What is not seen is situations like Paul's where we are guided by the Holy Spirit to use wisdom as we enter the lives of others as to not become a hindrance to them embracing Jesus.

          Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

        • Alfred Corduan March 31, 2014

          Nancy2: I DO agree with you! :-) I am not interested in "upholding the law" as you say. But I am pressing the point that scruples, limitations on freedoms are the bread and butter of the very best. Paul wrote to ALL Gentiles to tell them to not eat meat offered to idols. The reasons are along the lines of what you are saying, but it remains true.

          Some would accuse him of legalism. He was not a legalist. NEITHER are those who have a blanket condemnation, say, for the use of alcohol among Christians, at least in our culture. "Legalism!" That can't even be placed as part of the law of Moses . . . it is an extra-Biblical rule that, nonetheless, has the intent and even authority of the Lord. Paul said, "You can, but watch out" . . . then said, "Don't!" Jesus backs it up, more extra-"Biblical" commands if we are tracking the "law". Yet . . . it is a command of the very spiritual to the less spiritual. "Don't eat!"

          And, Shane, it was way bigger than just Antioch . . . "Antioch and Syria and Cilicia". It was, basically, every place touched by the Gospel. Everywhere Jews and Christians resided together . . . which was, basically, everywhere.

        • Shane March 31, 2014

          You miss my point: It was a historical moment. An decision based on circumstance. It is described here in Acts. It is not a prescribed practice. In fact Paul in Romans 14 gives you the prescription:

          3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master* that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

          You have Paul arguing with Paul.

        • Shane March 31, 2014

          And your use of "basically" is imprecise, but you're using it to prove that it was "all" and "everywhere".

          If Paul's intent was what you infer then why doesn't he come right out and say it in Rom 14, which was written to mostly Gentile believers? Romans 14 is didactic in nature; Paul is teaching on the very thing we are discussing. Yet he does not say what you infer from Acts 15. He does not create a new law. He does not tell every Gentile the same things. In Romans 14 Paul actually works against what Gothard has done with: adoption, alcohol, cabbage patch dolls, rock music, women and pants, hair length, courtship, dating, being friends with the opposite sex, movies, television, schooling, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Gothardism is squarely in the sights of Paul in Galatians. I know you don't agree. I hope you at least pause at the possibility. This stuff is corrupt, and the Scriptures do not back his play, nor should you.

        • Mosessister April 1, 2014

          @Alfred, the edict from Acts 15 that was sent out regarding meat sacrificed to idols was distributed in roughly AD 39. Paul wrote 1 Cor 8 roughly 4 years later. Clearly, eating such meat was ok in certain circumstances, otherwise Paul would have reiterated the blanket prohibition. This is what Shane and others are referring to when they talk about context. There is clearly more going on beneath the surface of the two apparently contradictory passages.

        • greg r April 2, 2014

          @Shane and Mosessister: heard this before ? it reminds me of the Bill Gothard school of not-so-scholarly-hermenuetic

          Here in the colonies is this lawyerly saying “If you have the law, hammer the law. If you have the facts, hammer the facts. If you have neither the law nor the facts, hammer the table”.

          My point: he (and those like Alfred) use whatever is at hand to prove the point.... No NT verses ?? go to the OT.. Contrary NT verses ?? don't bring them up...go to something (anything) else.. No bible at all ?? go to 'science' or a scientific sounding anecdote.. No anecdote ??? hahahhaha, that NEVER happens, there is ALWAYS an anecdote: make one up if necessary. And that's how bill and friends approach the bible.
          This makes 'discussion' like a trip over a gopher city on a 1800's bedboard wagon, lots of jolts and sudden turns.

    • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014 Reply

      PL: [“That's a legalist. They trust in their 'ever learning' and their 'form of godliness', denying the transforming power of the cross. Sad.”]

      OK, that is wrong. But . . . Peter told us to give “all diligence” – which sounds like “Work really hard” – to add to our faith virtue . . . and godliness. (2 Peter 1). 8 steps to take us to genuine love. If you didn’t know it was Peter, would you think that “denying the transforming power of the cross?”

      • Nancy2 March 28, 2014 Reply

        The Greek word for diligence in 2 Pet 1:5 is spoude not ergasia. Spouse means "earnest care". Ergasia means "a working". You have the wrong Greek word translated into the verse.

        8 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.

        We take earnest care so that we will grow in the knowledge of our Savior The Lord Jesus Christ.

      • Nancy2 March 28, 2014 Reply

        PS. The goal of those verses isn't genuine love. The goal of those verses is to grow in the knowledge of The Lord Jesus Christ. That is why I referenced verse 8 above.

      • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014 Reply

        Nancy2: You can't get around the fact that it means "focus really hard". "ALL diligence". "Care a lot" to . . . add. That SOUNDS like a focused program to make sure we get from one step to another. It doesn't say to wait for God to do it . . . it tell us to do it.

        "5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity."

        That happens to be one of Bill's "8 steps to success". At every level he focuses on techniques that will help us "add" that. Who can forget the "Faith Journal", "Virtue Journal" and "Knowledge Journal". I don't know of anyone else who focuses on this direction in Scripture, to help believers do this. Is everyone so afraid of being called a "legalist" that we are willing to ignore clear Scriptural commands?

        • Nancy2 March 28, 2014

          And Galatians 5:22-23 explains where those attributes come from

          22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

          As we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit He guides us to exercise those attributes.

          As a person grows in their knowledge of The Lord Jesus Christ and prayerfully asks the Holy Spirit to guide them through their moment by moment interactions with others they will be guided to exhibit those very attributes. As a fallen person I would not even know the power of those attributes had The Lord Jesus Christ not exhibited them in His life. I can't carry them out without the Holy Spirit convicting my heart of their need in a situation. The "work" is being done by the Holy Spirit as He convicts my heart or brings the Word of God forward in my heart. I respond through trusting and obeying His prompting. The earnest care "diligence" is in listening to the Holy Spirit.

          I don't know what Mr. Gothard teaches on this subject. As I said before I'm not from an IBLP background although I've been to a seminar. I do know the purpose of verses 5-7 is found in verse 8. Plus verse 3 answers "For this very reason" in verse 5.

          3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

          1Cor 2 is very clear that it is the Holy Spirit that does the work of revealing Christ in our hearts.

          Alfred it isn't about whether or not one lives these attributes. I believe they need to be lived. Instead it is whether or not it is being done through walking in step with the Holy Spirit or trying to live it according to fulfilling a list. One way it is not work. The other way it is exhausting and feels like work.

        • greg r March 28, 2014

          Alfred, look me and the rest of the RG neighborhood in the electronic "eye" and tell us honestly how well BG was doing with BROTHERLY KINDNESS and CHARITY. This is where I so want to use my drywall vocabulary.... Alfred , are you high or something , what good does it do to parse bible verses and ignore the forest of a man who was a practiced liar and bully ? Whatever method bill was using, it wasn't working, was it ?

        • Nancy2 March 28, 2014

          Alfred "At every level he focuses on techniques that will help us "add" that. "

          Simply put. I don't need techniques to accomplish the fruit of the Spirit, or Peter's list that also has knowledge and virtue listed which can easily fall in unison with goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.

          Practicing techniques will never be a substitute for living in an obedient relationship listening to the Spirit.

          I'm not afraid of being called a legalist. I prefer listening to the Spirit as opposed to following a techniques list.

        • Alfred Corduan March 29, 2014

          Nancy2: ["One way it is not work. The other way it is exhausting and feels like work. "]

          :-) I know all of that . . . and yet "giving ALL diligence" sounds like work. On the edge of our seats, pins and needles.

          This also sounds like work:

          "10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

          11 LET US LABOR THEREFORE to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." (Hebrews 4)

          Or this:

          "12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. " (Phil 2)

          God is working . . . and so we must work, in fear and "trembling". Are you working out your salvation in "fear and trembling"?

          Balance . . . I am looking for balance. We ignore parts of the NT that confuse or trouble us to our own loss. When is the last time anyone at church preached on any of these sections in your church? Is there anything wrong with these passages?

        • Nancy2 March 29, 2014

          Once again, please read with a gentle tone. This is not written in anger although I'm aware it could easily be read in anger.

          Alfred, others are right when they say you jump from verse to verse instead of looking at the context. We do not view Scripture the same. I would not approach Scripture in a way that allows me to pick and choose to justify my desired position. All I have done is take the Scriptures you pointed to and placed them back in context. I am not someone who desires to argue

          You asked, "Are you working out your salvation in "fear and trembling"?" You assume others are avoiding Scriptures out of confusion and being troubled. You assume churches are not preaching on those subjects and therefore "What?" their members must be non serious Christians.

          What do you want me to say Alfred? You want me to justify my state and standing to you? Really? You want me to boast of all that I am fearing and trembling over? You want to examine my list of works? You want my confessions? You better rethink your right to ask and insinuate those statements. It doesn't show much "Fear and Trembling" in the context of Phillipians 2.

          I will leave our conversation with my favorite life verse.

          Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

        • Alfred Corduan April 1, 2014

          These are things I ponder . . . they are as much Scripture as your life verse. They don't go away because we have a hard time processing them into our preferred theology.

          I am hugely into context. In asking the question of whether I am in context, you never pointed out where I am not. That verse, for example, in Phil. 2 has everything to do with "God works" vs. "Me works". We are told to work our our own salvation BECAUSE God is working in us. I like that . . . that is balanced.

          The verse on laboring to enter rest is squarely aimed at believers, those already saved. The context is "ceasing from our own works", like God ceased from His after laboring 6 days. THEN he turns around and tells us to also "labor" to enter into that same rest, where we don't have to work anymore. Apparently there is work to be done before we get to "cease". And the apparent implications get even worse if we try to apply this to the unsaved, right? Work to get saved?

          So maybe Hebrews 4 and 2 Peter 1 have a connection. "Diligently add to your faith" . . . sounds like "Work it out", "Get to the goal".

        • dreamer April 1, 2014

          Now you are deliberately being ignorant, Alfred.

          -I am hugely into context. In asking the question of whether I am in context, you never pointed out where I am not. -

          Nancy and others have very clearly pointed out the context of the verses you quoted above. Context you were/are CLEARLY ignoring, just like you are now ignoring their earlier comments to say "but where am I out of context?" I feel you are crossing a line into being deliberately antagonistic instead of genuinely curious. Please forgive me if I have misjudged you.

    • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014 Reply

      LynnCD: [“Bill Gothard does fit this category. He picks and chooses Mosaic laws to follow, usually claiming health benefits about them, but also saying about circumcision that it's the only moral choice.”]

      I don’t think that is what he meant, whatever he said. But let’s be clear that I do not believe that circumcision is the only moral choice. That would be wrong.

      [“3. It can mean making one's scruples, scruples not expressly stated in Scripture, equivalent with NT teaching on how believers are to conduct themselves.”]

      Is there some wiggle room there? Some people teach that the Bible teaches Christmas is sin. That is from its pagan roots, offered to idols if you will. Paul seemed ready to tolerate that crowd, even signing a letter saying that Gentiles should not eat things offered to idols. Are we Ok with that? I mean . . . if someone is convinced that Cabbage Patch dolls are offered to the devil, would that be any different from the ones in Paul’s time that commanded their friends to not eat the food offered to idols?

      I appreciate your statements respectful of other people’s scruples. Even attempts to implement some rules to motivate a closer walk with Jesus. I think I agree fairly closely with about everything you said.

      • Dave March 28, 2014 Reply

        Alfred, I was caring for a family member in the hospital when this posted and wasn't able to respond before. Home now.

        I do appreciate your question and will readily confess that I use the dreaded L word too freely. It is one I have had hurled at me and have worked through with both conviction and careful introspection. I never considered myself a legalist and still have extreme difficulty believing that I could have been one in the past. At the same time, I am learning that, as I taught Scripture through the Gothard grid, people heard legalism from me. (Yes, I also accept and struggle with the inconsistency in that.)

        So, no matter what word I used in reference to you at one time, you are the only one (guided by the Spirit) who can identify the legalism in your heart. I don't remember the post you refer to, but I don't deny your charge. As I said, I am probably guilty of using the word too freely.

        A couple weeks ago I posted an answer to your question here, defining legalism from my perspective. I would be very interested in what you think of it. It may not fit the definitions in the minds and hearts of others, but it works for me. Here's the link:


        • Mosessister March 28, 2014

          Dr. O, I finally had time to check out your post on Is it Legalism? That was excellent! Alfred, you should go read that.

        • Alfred Corduan March 29, 2014

          Thanks, Dave. I will read it . . . and respond. Now I am going "off grid" a couple of days . . . but I will pop in and respond. And I really do appreciate your friendly and even meek response. I know what people think of me here . . . exhibit "A". If they only knew me . . . and my life . . . and my family. I have dealt with "hard Brethren" in my past that could suck every bit of life out of you. So I am not indifferent to the concern. Just concerned as to where and how the club falls. Obviously, I view Mr. Gothard far differently than most here in this area. But . . . let me read, digest, and respond.

        • Alfred Corduan March 31, 2014

          I finally got a chance to read you excellent piece, David. I couple of points:

          1) I do not believe a saved person can ever be lost. I also believe that the new nature God has given can't sin . . . which is why a saved person can't ever lose it. Sin comes 100% from the "old man", who still hangs around. Meaning we obviously do sin. But . . . God will in the end always see us as He saw His oft failing people (as spoken through Balaam):

          "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob,
          neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel" (Numbers 23:21)

          2) On performance, performance is proof to others . . . the "fruit". As has often been stated, we are "fruit inspectors". It is not inappropriate to question someone's salvation based on the lack of fruit to that end. Peter says, in fact, that if we are not diligently seeking to "add to your faith", we will ourselves forget we were saved.

          "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." (2 Peter 1:8-9)

          That does not mean we AREN'T saved . . . just that others - and we ourselves - start to doubt it.

          3) When we inspect fruit we must look for the "fruits of the Spirit" . . . not some external measure. The outside stuff is leaves . . . fruit looks like love, joy, peace . . . Not long hair, dresses, suits . . . and non-movie going.

          How did I do?

          I really like what you are trying to do.

        • Ryan Sapp March 31, 2014

          I'm confused. If youre saved by confessing Christ as savior and as you stated a Christian can't lose their salvation why do you need to inspect fruit to see if someone is saved?

        • Alfred Corduan March 31, 2014

          Not everyone that confesses Jesus is saved . . . right?

          "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)

          Same chapter:

          15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 YE SHALL KNOW THEM BY THEIR FRUITS.

          So, yes, since we cannot see the root, we inspect the fruit.

    • Lori March 28, 2014 Reply

      Alfred, you've asked a legitimate and very important question. I think you may find the following article (see link) very helpful. It answers these questions: "What is the believer's rule of life?" "What Part does the law have in sanctification?" "Is the key to living the Christian life found at Mount Sinai or at Mount Calvary?"

      Link: http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/doctrine/rulelife.htm

    • Mosessister March 28, 2014 Reply

      Alfred, I have found this set of definitions helpful, from the book cited below:
      **Class One Legalists**-declare what one must do to *obtain* God's favor
      **Class Two Legalists**-declare what one must do to *retain* God's favor
      **Class Three Legalists**-love rules so much they create new ones around Biblical ones, e.g. Talmud
      **Class Four Legalists**-accentuate obedience to the Law to such an extreme that other ideas shrivel up; dwell on the law of God until they forget the love of God; everything they preach is true, while the whole is oppressive.

      There is more in the book that you might find helpful, although it is an academic text, and mat be challenging for some. It is an excellent resource for learning how to apply the Biblical truth that we are saved by an encounter with Christ, sanctified by an on- Doriani, Daniel M. Putting the Truth to Work: The Theory and Application of Biblical Application. P&R Publishing, 2001.

      • greg r March 28, 2014 Reply

        @Alfred: that's a good list. Notice that there is SOME truth to almost everything that a legalist says, but the WHOLE SUM is way off. Keep that thought.

      • Mosessister March 28, 2014 Reply

        Sorry, I guess I hit enter too soon. We are sanctified by on-going interaction with the Holy Spirit, not by "principles." Highly recommend Daniel Doriani's book for serious study of expository preaching/teaching.

      • Alfred Corduan March 28, 2014 Reply

        Greg R: ["@Alfred: that's a good list. Notice that there is SOME truth to almost everything that a legalist says, but the WHOLE SUM is way off. Keep that thought. "]

        THANK YOU, brother! Now . . . who is going to help sort the bones from the chicken, the baby from the bathwater? Yes, I deliberately used everyone's favorite trigger word. My questions are real. A "serious Christian" has an inquiring mind that wants to know. WHERE do you draw the line? If find that "legalism" is not easily defined. It morphs into whatever irritates the person using it. One person decries sex rules as "legalistic" . . . like "no kissing on dates". Someone else, on the other hand, knowing a lot of people who formed unhealthy attachments to bad people through just such acts finds it essential to keep the young person safe.

        I once looked up the origin of an old phrase "If By Whiskey". Turns out a politician was asked if he was in favor of whiskey (during prohibition days). He said something along the lines of: "If by whiskey you mean that liquid which soothes the mind and soul after a long hard day, taking the edges off the day, allowing you to relax and prepare for the next day, I am in favor. If by whiskey you mean that liquid which caused men to beat their wives, squander their money, and molest little children, I am against it".

        Rules involving which (whiskey) are, BTW, a prime candidate for "legalism" charges and makes the point perfectly.

        • eva March 28, 2014

          There is no baby in the bathwater. It's a pig in a onesie trying to look like a baby.

        • Mosessister March 28, 2014

          Alfred, "Who is going to help sort the bones from the chicken, the baby from the bathwater?" Answer: the Holy Spirit!

        • Mosessister March 28, 2014

          Alfred, of course we will look to human teachers endowed by the Holy Spirit with supernatural wisdom to guide us. But Gothard's "principles" are so divisive and in many cases so questionable, that their endowment by the Holy Spirit is in question. If they are not salvific, then why are they so important that adherents feel compelled to separate from those who do not follow them?

        • greg r March 28, 2014

          You would be hard pressed to find a better answer than mosessister above, the one that starts "Alfred , you are kind of proving my point...." the last 8 to 10 lines of that post are pure platinum... reread and DON"T NITPICK (please..)
          this is not INSTEAD OF using human teachers, but the responsibility rests with us and the HS, and a wise teacher will not disturb, or usurp, that responsibility

        • Shane March 28, 2014

          I dont understand what you're meaning here: "Rules involving which (whiskey) are, BTW, a prime candidate for "legalism" charges and makes the point perfectly."

        • Shane March 28, 2014

          If I understand you correctly yes, rules involving which whiskey are in fact legalism. God endorses the good benefits of alcohol (e.g.Psalm 104, John 2, or Matt 26 to name a few) and warns against drunkenness.

          Mix in the civil law on drinking age and That's it! That's all! Everything else is your heart and my heart before the Lord. The Bible doesn't even define drunkenness, at least not to any certainty for every individual in every situation. I know this is scary! I know this creates grey areas! Thing is; God is the one who established it so. Mainly because the primary issue is not whether you get it right or wrong, but whether you relate to the good gifts of God as, well, good gifts of God.

          It is legalism to bind anyone's conscience beyond what the Scriptures say about this or anything else. This was at the heart of the Reformation. Rome had bound people to confessions and practices that are not required by the Scriptures. This is legalism. To say that the serious Christian should abstain from alcohol because of X...is legalism. To say that the serious Christian will home school their children because of X is legalism. Individual Christians may rightly abstain from alcohol or homeschool their children, but it inasmuch as it is done out of fear or pride it is sin. Likewise individual Christians may rightly send their children to public school and drink their whiskey, but inasmuch as it is done in fear or pride it is sin.

          These decisions are to be handled with wisdom in faith- this pleases God. Establishing rules that are not there in order to assure oneself or that others are being "good" Christians is sin. It's wrong. It's legalism. It is what has Paul so worked up with the Circumcision Party in Galatians. Circumcision Party=legalism. Judaizers= Legalism.

        • Ryan Sapp March 29, 2014

          If you are willing to eat a Big Mac meal with ammonia in the meat, formaldehyde in the fries, sugar and artificial sweeteners in the drink but not drink a glass of wine then you are a legalist.

          I feel like Jeff Foxworthy could have a whole new gig. You might be a legalist if....

        • Alfred Corduan April 1, 2014

          When you say things like that, Ryan, I call you either "naive" or "disingenuous". Ammonia, sugar, aspartame does not affect your ability to reason. There is a reason recreational drugs are illegal and alcohol consumption is regulated everywhere. It is because PEOPLE CAN'T HANDLE FREEDOM :-) Forget Christians in that context . . . Or are you one of those that believes that if you take all of the laws away, everything will just "work itself out"?

          "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." (1 Cor 6:12)

        • dreamer April 1, 2014

          -Ammonia, sugar, aspartame does not affect your ability to reason. -

          I think maybe you are the one who is naive, Alfred. Inhale or drink too much ammonia, and you will die. Eat or drink too much sugar at once, you will become buzzed and not be able to concentrate clearly. Sugar also feeds cancer. Aspartame is often cited as causing cancer, at least in lab rats.

          All things are lawful. Not all things are profitable.

        • greg r April 1, 2014

          @Dreamer: Alfred , among others, is in a tough bind here. Reg. alcohol, there just isn't any blanket prohibition biblically: verses that are strongly against drinking are strongly against drunkeness. We just as well should outlaw tastey fried food, what with all the obesity around, it would make as much sense.
          In the absence of biblical support , you have to go to alleged 'health' reasons, but the problem here is that there is no shortage of SUPPORT for SMALL amounts of some alcohol (especially red wine). So what's a legalist to say of someone who drinks a glass of red wine, daily ?? This describes multiple thousands, if not millions, of bible believing, professing believers.
          Puts the legalsist between a rock and a hard place...and I say this as someone who does NOT feel like someone who chooses to abstain is 'missing out', but neither is the glass-of-wine-a day- person either.

        • Shane April 1, 2014

          I, for one, believe Christians should abstain from all forms of currency. Because as we all know the greedy will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor.6). So in order to avoid all appearance of greed and the risk of greed that comes from being around money then Christians should just avoid it altogether.

          And since some do not understand the freedom married couples have to engage in sex, and because some still seek it out selfishly in marriage; not wanting to cause someone to stumble, married Christians should abstain from all sexual activity.

          Then when you consider all the damage that's been done by people abusing their "freedom" regarding money and sex I believe we should avoid it altogether. It's just too dangerous!

        • greg r April 1, 2014

          Shane , you r hilarious...but don't buy the supersized auditorium for your 1st church... :))

        • Ryan Sapp April 5, 2014

          @dreamer, Greg r, Shane

          I think you guys get my point. The serious Christian has a serious problem when you start talking about the rules they live by vs the hypocrisy of those rules. I don't think Alfred gets my point but oh well.

    • Samuel Lundmark March 28, 2014 Reply

      This is an interesting question. "legalist" and "serious Christian" are both undefined in Scripture. "Judaizers" and "true followers of Christ" would be more appropriate terms.

      Here is the thing:

      Gentiles are instructed to not become Jews and Hebrews 12 instructs Jews who follow Christ to not go back into Judaism and clearly describes why those saved out of it should not go back.

      Gentiles are become the children of Abraham through Christ. The children of Abraham by circumcision must be grafted back into the vine through Christ. If we avoid the one door of Jesus Christ, we are both thieves and robbers.

      Pointing to other "more authentic" or "more important ways" than through Jesus Christ is error.

      As far as the Pharisees "getting something right" for Paul to lay claim on the title--red herring. Paul was exemplifying to his audience his credentials--not his correctness. Paul WAS credentialed and at the top of THE FORMER GAME. God's will was was Jesus accomplished when he put away the old and established the new by his blood. Paul in no way would be violating that or implying that the Pharisees had something right via his reference. It simply would not be logical to conclude such.

      • Aila Hillberg March 28, 2014 Reply

        Excellent explanation of Paul's point, " Paul was exemplifying to his audience his credentials, not his correctness" This is why we always need to study the Word in context.

    • Dave March 28, 2014 Reply

      (I posted this below in error. It should be a primary response to Alfred's comment.)

      Alfred, I was caring for a family member in the hospital when this posted and wasn't able to respond before. Home now.

      I do appreciate your question and will readily confess that I use the dreaded L word too freely. It is one I have had hurled at me and have worked through with both conviction and careful introspection. I never considered myself a legalist and still have extreme difficulty believing that I could have been one in the past. At the same time, I am learning that, as I taught Scripture through the Gothard grid, people heard legalism from me. (Yes, I also accept and struggle with the inconsistency in that.)

      So, no matter what word I used in reference to you at one time, you are the only one (guided by the Spirit) who can identify the legalism in your heart. I don't remember the post you refer to, but I don't deny your charge. As I said, I am probably guilty of using the word too freely.

      A couple weeks ago I posted an answer to your question here, defining legalism from my perspective. I would be very interested in what you think of it. It may not fit the definitions in the minds and hearts of others, but it works for me. Here's the link:


  14. Nancy2 March 27, 2014 Reply

    Please don't hate me, but there are real very delicious Soy Sauce Cookies

    Soy Sauce Cookies
    Main Ingredients

    2¼ Cups All-Purpose Flour
    1 Egg
    1 Cup Brown Sugar
    ¾ Cup Unsalted Butter
    ¼ Cup Corn Syrup
    2 tsp Soy Sauce
    1 tsp Baking Soda
    ½ tsp Cinnamon Powder
    ½ tsp Ginger Powder
    ¼ Cup Powdered Sugar (Garnish)

    If you bake then you will notice that although most cookies contain salt these do not. The salt is omitted to make the cookies palatable. Soy sauce is not a good substitute for vanilla. But soy sauce is a good substitute for salt.

    When I read the blog I thought about how legalism has substituted the power of the Holy Spirit in one's life. Relationship is replaced by rules. When holding up a set of rules life does become too salty. Salt is leaven just like yeast.

    Galatians 5:1 1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

    2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.

    3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

    4You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

    5For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.

    6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

    7You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?

    8That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

    9“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”

    10I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.

    • Brumby March 27, 2014 Reply

      Wow - and I thought my recipe for Choc Chip cookies containing cinnamon and lemon juice was crazy! Boy was I wrong! :)

      • Nancy2 March 28, 2014 Reply

        Love you Brumby! I want to try your cookies. They sound interesting.

  15. AmandaH March 27, 2014 Reply

    Perhaps for some, BG's teachings were a mere fly in the ointment. But for many of us, those erroneous teachings permeated every aspect of our lives. There were no other "ingredients" to balance things out.

    If we continue with the cookie analogy, my ATI/IBLP experience was more akin to having been given "cookies" in which the proportion of ingredients had been greatly altered (for that - altering - was exactly what BG did with the Bible). Imagine being given "cookies" whose ingredients included 2cups of baking soda, 1 cup of flour, and 1 top of sugar (instead of the usual 2c. flour, 1c sugar, 1tsp baking soda ratio). And then be told "these are REAL cookies." So, our path to healing is much more complicated and involved than simply switching out one ingredient.

    Maybe this is going too far, but if anyone is going to a church that is one ingredient away from BG-esque teachings,it's probably time to find a new recipe.

  16. Ryan Sapp March 27, 2014 Reply

    Timely article.
    Dawned on me that the rule book for successful living refered to in prior post was actually the Bible. Never heard it refered to as that. I thought it was...nevermind.

    If the bible is your rule book for successful living I think you have the whole message wrong ( I am not a Christian apologetic, at all) what I believe, I have lived through. When you view the bible as a Guide to Success, you miss the point and that Albert is how I think you know you lead a legalistic life.

    What do you do when your life isn't successful or you've made a mess of it? What constitute success? No failures? The perfect life, marriage, kids and career? In the end bill taught that if you follow his "principle for success" you would be successful, your kids would be wonderful missionaries, your marriage and sex life would be amazing, God would prosper your business and your family would be a light set on a hill.

    Life is not about success, it's about failure. The rulebook dehumanizes our condition, turns us into do's and dont's robots. You have to put on that everything is ok. I actually really appreciate hearing some of the comments from those who feel their lives are so messed up, abusive husbands etc etc...but you know what, they are rebuilding (messed up would be their term). When life becomes about rules and not connection to others it's legalistic. How do you ever expect your family, friends and anyone to have any kind of real relationship when they have to be perfect?
    Anyone can deal with success, how do you deal with "failure". Let me clarify, I don't believe in the word failure in our personal life but you get the just of "not perfect"

    I lived that life growing up, principles/standards were the most important thing in life. I didn't know any better. They were definitely something to judge others by and your life by.

    We are a country and people of second chances. If you can't love people exactly where they are and accept yourself exactly where you are then that is legalism. We all bought into the lie. Those that understand what I'm saying have gotten out. Relationships are so much more fulfilling than being "right."

    • Ryan Sapp March 27, 2014 Reply

      Written on my Iphone, sorry Alfred, great time to blame auto correct or admit I maybe make mistakes;)

      Alfred, I admire your zeal and passion. we are all on our own journey. You are not on mine and I am not on yours. I wish you the best. On my journey I have come up with a new life saying. "Enlightenment is a
      b!?ch". Can I say that? As I have seen mindsets, beliefs and patterns in my life that needed to be changed I had no option but to act on what I now knew and change no matter how hard or how painful. Incredibly painful but the rewards have been abundant. (I didn't do it for the rewards, I did it because I couldn't deny doing it, I was enlightened...:))

    • Christina March 27, 2014 Reply

      Whoa. I am really bad at communicating my thoughts but something jumped out at me in your comment, Ryan, so I'm gonna try :-) "Life is not about success, it is about failure." Yes! We are failures redeemed by a loving, gracious God. I think the church of today has forgotten that our "claim to fame" is that we are rescued daily from our sin by Someone who loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for those who didn't deserve it one bit. We try to put on a good show and hide our struggles from everyone but all it does is turn the world away because they know we aren't perfect (perhaps better than we do ourselves). Thanks for that point :-)

      • Sally March 27, 2014 Reply


        AMEN. I have been pondering the very same thing. If we can DO LIFE on our own well, what is the need for grace? How can we as believers share the GRACE of God if we don't use or need it often enough to know "how to apply".

        The Bible is full of people who blew it but that God loved anyway. THAT is the point. We are more than a problem of being imperfect but rather we are created by a loving God, who knows our weakness, and loves us JUST THE SAME. THE SINNER AND THE SAINT ARE LOVED EQUALLY. THE SINNER IN HIS SIN - CHRIST STILL DIED FOR US. THE SAINT, WHEN WE MESS UP IS STILL LOVED. EQUALLY.

        Love thinking this. It is worth jumping out into the streets about to shout it from the roof tops, the Creator of the universe LOVES ALL HUMANS THE SAME. He is not a respecters of persons. :)

  17. Brumby March 27, 2014 Reply

    This comment is a random pondering - me thinking aloud, I suppose... I recall BG stating that the ability to create and understand analogies was indicative of one's future success in life. I don't know if he said it in the Basic Seminar (tapes) or not - it seems like that's where I recall hearing it. I've remembered that statement all these years. I remember being so frustrated in ATI homeschool as I fumbled through a book of analogy after analogy, and being completely wrong and flabbergasted about each and every one.

    • esbee March 27, 2014 Reply

      Do you mean those things where if something is like something else then a whichit is a whatchamacallit?

      If so, then do not worry, I did not understand them until I was assigned to teach a higher order thinking skills class to 7th graders--- I was in my 40's. (I do not know about my students, but I certainly got smarter and my IS zoomed!)

      Scientific research, (yes, former Gothardist legalists, it is OK to use those two words together and to actually delve into learning what others have researched and probed) shows that the human brain develops in a certain way according to age and that certain parts of the brain develop before other parts...that is why kids see things as literal (tell a 5 year old you are feeling blue and they will literally look for the blue on your skin). As the brain matures they can start understanding intangible things. And if I may preach a little, that is why kids should not be exposed to certain things, like all the sex/violence, etc on TV and movies today, because is does mess with their minds. The wrong part of the brain develops in the wrong way before its time. Kind of explains why some kids can shoot up a school without any remorse.

      I also remember helping a Gothard family homeschool. The ATI lessons in how to diagram a sentence where waaaay beyond me and I had gotten A's in public school English. Long involved sentences were broken down into so many parts and pieces and each had a very long useless name according to its place in the sentence and this was for 5th grade level. I gave up and started teaching the kids what I knew they could grasp (nouns, verbs, etc) because trying to explain it was losing them and me! Can you imagine a mother never having gone beyond high school trying to teach that to her kids.

      • esbee March 27, 2014 Reply

        ARGH---I gotta proof read my I Q zoomed!

        • Brumby March 28, 2014

          @esbee: Lol, I thought that you meant IQ, so no worries! :) Thanks for your reply - I really appreciate it. Reading your response reminded me of how over my head a lot of the teachings were in the Wisdom Booklets and the other textbooks we used. My learning style didn't mesh well with the high-level reading skill required and the blue and gray scale layout in the booklets. Makes my head spin just thinking about those days!

      • Jeff Gill March 28, 2014 Reply

        I don't know if I did the same book as the one you are referring to, but I totally loved the ATI English grammar text/exercise book I worked through as a teenager. I helped me actually GET how our language works. I've since learned that grammar is a much more flexible beast than was presented in that book, but it gave me an excellent starting place.

        I have to say, I really liked the analogies too. There was a project in one of the journals to find a whole list of different types of analogies in the bible. I really enjoyed that project. I also argued a lot with my mom over the analogies I thought ATI got wrong in the Wisdom Booklets.

        One more thing I liked was the way that Bill Gothard saw connections between seemingly disparate things. The idea of using the bible as a starting place for studying all different subjects is kind of nifty. It doesn't lead to the most orderly process of learning about things, but it does (or did in me, at least) foster a joined up kind of thinking that is very useful in real life in all its category-defying messiness.

        I don't homeschool my kids, and one of the things I've noticed, especially in high school is the siloing of knowledge. My son really struggles to see any connection between what he learns at school and the rest of life. For me, the line between education and life was always pretty blurry.

        Please understand that I am really really happy that Gothard has resigned because [deleted swear words about all kinds of Gothard horridness]. However, I guess my family wasn't so thoroughly mixed into ATI that I was able to separate some of the good ingredients from the bad. And I'm in the cookies and the metaphor is crumbling.

    • Cyndi March 27, 2014 Reply

      Yes, there was even a little text book on analogies. I remember all this too, Brumby.

      • Brumby March 28, 2014 Reply

        @Cyndi: That must have been what I was working on. I remember a book of nothing but mindless analogies...! :)

  18. LynnCD March 27, 2014 Reply

    Good post for discussion, Dave. I agree with the comments about the first batch of cookies being a minor distasteful "oops." For those hurt by false teaching it is not as easy as just dumping the first batch and putting in the right ingredient the next time.

    The bad ingredients in the first batch of false teachings just don't taste bad, they wind up being ingested, digested, and permeating the very hearts and minds of those swallowing the false teachings. Probably especially so the young children raised on such teachings.

    Even what is good about the teachings can be perceived and felt as bad for years to come. For some, for example, those who were shamed or abused at the TCs, there can be post traumatic stress or depression, or anxiety or a combination of the above for some time to come, and they don't even want to think about reading their Bibles or being around other believers, which are two very good "ingredients."

    I think the original teaching on design as taught at the Basic Seminar was pretty good. But following Gothard's teachings and seeing his actions is, as someone once said, like taking a ride on a Mobius strip. Because you have his teaching on design at the basic seminar, and then you have him insisting on having skin tags removed, telling girls how and how not to do their hair, and many other means of micro-managing appearances, including telling girls who may have needed to lose a few pounds to go into hiding when dignitaries from other countries were around. etc., etc..

    Another "Mobius strip," mentioned here already, is Gothard's teaching that a man's morality will dictate his theology and philosophy. Of course, by that standard, Gothard's teachings are condemned.

    The bad taints the good inside the hearts and minds of battered sheep.

    It will take a whole lot of "detox," plus a lot of real loving, plus proper teaching on grace and faith, including modeling of the same, to help the many who are still hurting.

    Just my 2 cents. Thanks for the thought provoking article.

    • LynnCD March 27, 2014 Reply

      P.S. I can't imagine having a man play footsie with me, hold my hand, gaze into my eyes, and then listen to him supposedly teach about God's principles for living at a Basic or Advanced Seminar. It wouldn't matter how many good ingredients were in the batch, and if the mistakes were minor.

      The spiritual damage would be so vast I would be confused for a long time to come.

  19. JoJo March 27, 2014 Reply

    I understand the frustration at Gothard, the frustration at parents....but when do you quit dwelling on the past and move on? I mean I've learned things from Gothard that I agreed with and others I did not. At the end of the day it's my responsibility ?!? I'm just saying!

    • Ryan Sapp March 28, 2014 Reply

      Bill is definitely not responsible for every persons woes on this site. When you realize you have been led down a mirage path and sacrificed so much for one mans agenda I think it is healthy to "voice" your feelings and thoughts. It's part of the healing process. He has affected many people's lives. Many are on the path to recovery. I think there are many people who don't or haven't commented yet. Don't be surprised if you see more. Its not as easy as clicking your heels together.

    • LynnCD March 28, 2014 Reply

      JoJo, the answer to this question is as individual as each person's fingerprint is. Those who only had a peripheral involvement with IBLP through attendance at the Basic Seminar once or twice would never be able to relate to being shunned and sent packing from a TC for nothing, or being used to fuel someone's sensual needs, for example. I agree with Ryan - don't be surprised if you see a lot more people speaking out.

    • Brumby March 28, 2014 Reply

      @JoJo: On a personal level, I have "moved on." Because my family of origin is still entrapped in the snares that BG has laid, I still have a tie to ATI and am concerned for them. If it were just my parents, I wouldn't mind so much, but this is about my remaining siblings (all over 18 now). I take great interest in hearing the stories and experiences of other former ATI students, because these documents support and validate my own experience and thoughts about ATI. I am interested to watch the new developments with BG's resignation. What may be "the past" for me, is still the present and unfortunately the future for many others.

      In addition, my abuse did not happen at the hands of BG himself, but indirectly through my parents. My assertion is that far more than 34 ATI students have been abused. I would wager that thousands of children have been abused in various and multiple ways indirectly by BG. While I survived with enough courage and brain cells remaining that I was able to leave and live my life independently once an adult, not everyone does. I know/knew of many ATI students that are over 18, depressed, discouraged, single, unemployed, and lacking any confidence whatsoever. Frankly, this is sad. I feel there are too many broken people and too much obviously incorrect with BG's system to simply overlook and pass off as and I quote you: "At the end of the day it's my responsibility"

      The stronger should stand up for the weaker, those with a voice should speak for those who don't have one, adults should advocate for children. This is basic empathy and compassion 101, and applies to everyday life. At the end of the day, yes, adults are responsible for themselves. In our society, adults are supposed to advocate for children though. Somebody has to take responsibility for them, because they can't and aren't allowed to do so for themselves. At 14, I began to keep a log of my abuses, because I knew that I had to have a case if I called for help. Otherwise, I'd be dead meat! My parents "cleansed" my room one day, and discovered my log. Out of fear, I never wrote down anything ever again. I had no voice. I was in survival mode.

      If I were still at home in ATI as a teenager, I would not be allowed to use the internet unsupervised, let alone look at this website. I wouldn't know RG existed. I would still be and feel alone in my dark world of no privacy, no style, no dreams, no higher education, no hobbies, no friends, no dating, no driving, no coffee (that's the worst one! :) ), and no Coldplay (that's for you, Bev :) ). For me, it stunk [sensored] to be in ATI at my house!!! These examples represent the lighthearted tip of the ice-burg of what I experienced. Indeed, I was psychologically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually abused. I will not be describing those in any detail here.

      So, JoJo, I can't help but stay concerned for ATI families and their children, and hope the best outcome possible for each and every one of them. I know that there are many parents in ATI that love their children a LOT and do not abuse them. I do not implicate all nor even most of ATI parents. But I can't help but assume that there must be more parents like my own still in ATI, with other children growing up like I did. And I shudder for them.

      • 'Megan' March 28, 2014 Reply

        What Brumby said. I've 'moved on' very much so from my life in ATI (except that sometimes I discover all over again just how ensnared I was with various teachings.. I feel that I will probably spend the rest of my life weeding the bad teachings out that I didn't even know I'd taken in..) but aside from all that, I have moved on. I'm involved for my family's sake, and for other families I care about who are still entrenched in the lies. That is why I speak up. To fight lies with the truth. It's not really about me.

    • A J L March 28, 2014 Reply

      I asked myself the same question for years, then I purged religion from my life and thought I was over my past. I went to grad school three times to prove that I was more than just a baby maker as I had been told my whole life, buried feelings of inadequacy and guilt, avoided my parents who still won't acknowledge the hell that I went through at the training centers in the name of god... It wasn't until I had my son three years ago that I was forced to realize that my emotional state is not healthy enough to raise another human being and that my upbringing did not prepare me for the decisions that will have to be made in his upbringing. This has caused me to delve into my past. You see, those of us who were immersed in this lifestyle during the formative years are trapped in a state of arrested development. It is not a choice, it is an effect of being told that we are not capable of making decisions because of our gender or status in the rank and therefore never learning how to make decisions. Being forced to stand apart from the world, therefore never learning how to form relationships or genuinely care for others. Led to believe that love is strictly conditional and will be withheld based on our actions. Taught to fear everything and trust no one. We learned to judge others and accept judgement of ourselves without question. Speaking of questioning, we are to accept authority without question regardless of the abuse that occurs, otherwise we will invoke the wrath of god. Girls are trained to submit to men, educate themselves in the art of changing diapers and scrubbing toilets because that's what we were made for. We were raised to believe that there is only one way, one opinion, one path and that those not of this belief are not worthy of our time or attention. those of us who chose to go against the establishment have no hope of getting back into favor. As an adult, to hear these things it sounds trivial and easy enough to take or leave. It's an entirely different thing altogether to be raised with these ideals and have them engrained into the fiber of your being. I can see the problems, analyze them, even talk myself into believing that I have overcome them, but at the end of the day I still struggle with basic life skills that those who were allowed to develop into independent free thinking adults typically do not struggle with. So yes, I would like to just get over it and hope to someday do so. If you know of a quick fix feel free to share.

      I will say that reading that there are others out there with the same struggles has helped me tremendously.

      Ryan, I think I know you, I used to be anna jones...

      • Ryan Sapp March 29, 2014 Reply

        I think Bills teachings were very degrading to woman, almost made them second class to men. I wish you well as you continue to identify the false mindsets that were imparted on you without your knowledge. Good to hear from you. You can always send me a FB message if you'd like.

  20. ChrisM March 27, 2014 Reply

    You can't just leave out the legalism in your cookies and substitute grace. If it were that easy, this site wouldn't be necessary because it would be a snap to undo all the damage. We naturally gravitate toward legalism because it appears to provide us a way to do what is right by ourselves. Bill just capitalized on that fact, that natural bent that we as sinful flesh follow. God always calls us to His righteousness, but we cannot be or do right apart from dependence upon HIs Spirit. Grace is not a pass. God still calls us to be poor in spirit, to mourn, to be meek-- all stuff that is impossible apart from walking in His Spirit. His calling is very high, but He also provides the grace to answer His call. He conforms us to His image by His power as we cooperate.

    One of Bill's teachings that I internalized "as gospel" 40 years ago was the concept that ideas form the beliefs which determine our attitudes that produce our words and deeds, for good or bad. I was just wondering today, "Is that really true?" I remember his telling a story of how he'd visited a mental institution and counseled a woman there that way so that she was soon able to turn her life around and became mentally well and restored to a normal life. Of course, ideas have consequences, but is that Christianity or the principle of the power of positive thinking?

    • Shane March 27, 2014 Reply

      "ideas form the beliefs which determine our attitudes that produce our words and deeds, for good or bad."- if it were that simple then you and I and BG and everyone would actually live out what we think. What can be so frustrating about my own life (cf Rom. 7) is that I actually do things against my own thinking sometimes good sometimes bad. This is one of the reasons Jesus (the Bible) drives so hard for the heart. The heart is the command center of our being. It is what drives our thoughts, will, and emotions. It is also why grace is so necessary. It is the only thing that transforms the heart.

      I've grown to disbelieve most of Gothard's stories. However that is not why I say; mental illness is a real physical reality, that needs real medical attention, and Christians should not live in such fear of it. I'm not directing this at you. I know what I thought when I lived in Gothardworld and I know the harm that can come when the church doesn't understand humans are body and soul; or better embodied souls/ensouled bodies. We should encourage a good oncologist when someone has cancer and a good therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist when someone is struggling with mental illness. I know this freaks many Christians out, but as I've said before brain chemistry is a real thing. Some of the affects recounted by those deeper in the cult of Gothardism or those here who have recounted other abuses are more than spiritual matters.

      • "Emee" March 27, 2014 Reply

        @Shane "We should encourage a good oncologist when someone has cancer and a good therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist when someone is struggling with mental illness" Very true!

        • Lori March 28, 2014

          I think psychology and psychiatry can be very dangerous. If more Christians knew the roots of these fields,they would tread with much more caution. Please see the following informative video: "Psychology and the Church"


        • LynnCD March 28, 2014

          Lori, psychiatry and psychology can be dangerous if ungodly counsel is given, or if a wrong medication is prescribed. Likewise they can be agents of healing. Same goes for ministries that call themselves Christian ministries, such as IBLP would do.

          To make a claim that because something may have started off on the wrong foot, therefore it's still bad and should be avoided is a logical fallacy. Bottom line is, Christians need to rightly divide the Word of Truth, so that whether they hear some teaching from a secular source or a Christian one, they will be able to sort fact from fiction.

          I am of the opinion that counseling, psychology, and psychiatry can be good tools for emotion and mental wellness.

        • Mosessister March 28, 2014

          Christianity and Psychology: Five Views (edited by Eric L. Johnson, Spectrum Multiview series) is a good resource for sorting out the different nuances in the spectrum of Christian psychology practices. I agree with LynnCD. While there is much error in secular psychology, there is much good that can be done through the practice of psychology that is Christian, that is submissive to Biblical precepts.

        • Shane March 28, 2014

          @Lori- I watched all six of the videos you linked 1) out of respect for your request and 2) because I certainly don't have all my own thinking about psychology psychotherapy and sin and grace worked out. 3) because I believe the Berean endeavor is to engage folks that challenge my already held views.

          There are a ton of unsubstantiated claims in this piece, and it plays on people's fears of Freud and all those "secular humanists". I get it. There are problems out there in psychology, and as LynnCD pointed out there are problems with Christian ministries. That does not negate the whole field and it's usefulness. I have seen cases of ministerial malpractice; where a pastor sought to 'biblically" counsel someone they were unqualified to counsel. They need a trained therapist. The results can been and are often devastating. It's akin to the paramedic thinking he/she knows all that's needed for cardiac episodes. With that attitude they only know enough to be dangerous.

          I would encourage you to be a good Berean and not trust those on the video simply because they talk like experts. Their claims that nothing about psychology is scientific is false. I saw fear mongering and playing on suspicion and ignorance.

          Anyway, I know you don't know me or have any reason to listen to my admonition, but if you're interested start with this article and then check out the mental health grace alliance site and see if there's not a valid Christian perspective offered.


        • LynnCD March 29, 2014

          I know this thread is few days old, but I wanted to follow up with an example of how psychology in practice has helped one of my children.

          One of our daughters has delayed auditory processing speed as tested on some useful metric developed by psychologists, and I know she also had and still struggles with word finding difficulties. The formal label was ADD.

          The psychological practice we went to for help did not want to medicate right off the bat, but rather try a program known as "cognitive retraining." That is a series of exercises, done at the computer, which is designed to build working memory, increase auditory and visual processing speeds, and much more that I can't list here.

          In short, our daughter went once a week to work on exercises at a computer, which were monitored and adjusted at the guidance of a licensed counselor, under the auspices of the child psychologist. These were not computer games -- this program has been tested against a placebo of computer games and only the ADD children working at the program made progress -- but mental and tactical exercises that get more and more difficult by shortening the time to do them, and by adding in irrelevancies on the screen, and auditory distractions in the headphones.

          The exercises can be tiring and frustrating for the children, so the counselors asked me to think of a pleasant reward each week to end the session with.

          Our daughter made progress in every area. She is not on medication, although for her sense of well being I might suggest that as a brief trial when she is older so she can sense if it would help her. But for now, she's getting As and Bs in school, and doesn't seem to want it.

          I am learning as much as I can from functional and integrative medical doctors (some who *gasp* believe in evolution!) about the latest in nutrition and ADD. Our daughter runs cross country in the fall, does swimming in the winter, and runs track in the spring. Although she's not bound to be a musician, we have her in an extra curricular choir. All these activities and nutrition work together with the cognitive retraining and I can see that she's making progress.

          Well, that is a testimony to what is out there that is useful and can be helpful, in the field of psychology. And in this particular practice, the counselors get together after they know the child's history and personality and value system, and they try to figure out which one of them would be the best fit to be that child's counselor. It's not as though what happened at all was trying to convert our daughter to some secular religion or something that I know many people steeped in Gothard's teaching would think. They were just trying to help the brain God gave her get better at hearing and seeing, and processing and remembering what she sees and hears.

    • greg r March 28, 2014 Reply

      @ChrisM: in my understanding, things do not happen so "linearly" if that's a word. Our ideas don't happen in a vacuum. We also have appetites and desires, which pre-exist our ideas. We also are not three distinct parts, body-soul-spirit:we are more like a bowl of spaghetti, with soul noodled, physical noodles, mind noodles all combined together. It is foolish to try and parse them individually.
      Bill started with a false idea and then built on that. And as usual, proof texted to prove his point. And also as usual, life (us included) are way more complicated than his neat little explanation.

  21. Anthony March 28, 2014 Reply

    I am sure it wasn't all wrong. It seems like most of the 'twisting' he was doing was behind the scenes. If it was done in a public seminar or forum, then it needs to be corrected or removed. Only way to know is to rely on the Scriptures & the Spirit to guide you to the true solution. I don't think you need to throw it all out & start from scratch. Do you throw a baby out with the bathwater? I think one option to try & correct all the material is to have volunteers or group(s) of volunteers (preferably pastors/ministers, Bible students) who have extensive Bible background to review seminars/forums/classes or other public presentations and make notes as needed then present it to the board. At the same time have groups of volunteers start reviewing publications (especially anything in print), audio CDs & DVDs(?) & any other officially published print, audio & video (ie. EmbassyInstitute.org). Also, his own website or have him post a statement on his homepage or take down his website. Now that he is on the run (and most vulnerable)... now may be the time (to strike while the iron is hot) to correct any errs that have been published or that he has presented. Personally, in my opinion, I don't think it's that big of a problem that warrants discarding all his works just because of a few rough spots. I believe most of the material can be corrected & those that cannot, then maybe include a carefully worded statement be included in the published material or posted at the beginning of each session or presentation as to the mis-quoted or mis-represented Bible references. But before you do that, you need to have a lawyer (a Christian, obviously). Obviously, this is copyrighted material so you really can't edit it or remove it. If you start removing, then in most cases you will have to remove it all... you can't pick or choose or add to it or reproduce parts & pieces of it. Eventually, it will all have to be replaced or left as-is. Technically, it's still 100% his material, right? So he can yank the plug on all of it but then he'd be hurting himself because of copyrights, he will either work with the board (not on the board) as to how he wants his material presented and work out the financial rights unless it was done at the time the corperation was formed. He is entitled compensation under the copyrights unless he had previously forfeited the rights to the corperation. I think it would be prudent to work with him. It will affect alot of people & do more harm than good if he just yanked his material. This is far from over right now as far as the corperation goes. I guess it will be played out in the next arena... the courts.

    Eventually, I think the rough spots can be ironed out. It took years to put it together and so it will take years to fix. It may mean removing Bill gradually from recorded seminars & have his successor re-record wherever it is necessary. I hope or imagine that his successor will be a minister? Well, since this was all of a sudden (and no backup plan - not good!) that it may take some time to re-record & replace all of the seminars, etc. New leader usually means change anyways. If the board doesn't,want to let the new leader present the material in his/her (oh, forgive me! :-) ) style & interpretation, then there may need some changes on the board.

    People are now calling it a cult. They are wrong! No one is being held against their will, unless someone says otherwise... yeah, he used other means to produce a sense of captivity. Yeah, there may have been what most call 'brain washing' but actually he just used intimidation, mis-interpreted or mis-quoted, 'twisted' verses and verbal abuse or strong/emphasized statements. Fear is the result of it all. Fear starts in you. Bill can't give you the Spirit of fear. We make it up if we choose to allow it. If we would just reject fear as God teaches us to, then part of the battle is won. It's obvious that he picked teens & early 20s because most people of that age are more vulnerable than adults as they are more open to learning life concepts as they are trying to form their lives & so they are more open to the world which is full of deception, corruption, etc. We have to be aware at all times of our surroundings and to what we are doing, what we are listening to, etc. Bill is really not that far off base about music, movies, etc. Whatever we listen or we see, it is retained in our brain and can or does affect our future actions or behavior. You may, or eventually, see it in your dreams... dreams are bits & pieces of everything we have seen or heard. The bits & pieces are assembled in the brain to try & make sense which is what the brain does best. However, no matter how hard the brain tries, dreams just don't make sense or you have bad dreams. Gothard teaches us that whatever we allow in our brains will appear in our thoughts, dreams & behaviour... so, you see, Gothard does present good material & does leave an impression. Now it's a manner of what you do with it... do you reject it or do you accept it? Either way, if a certain issue or statement is troubling you, use the Bible and/or pray to the Lord for His direction or answer. Also this is where the Holy Spirit comes in and helps you to interpret it so you understand or convicts you. If the Spirit is trying to convict you, then there is something wrong.

    Bottom line, most of Gothard's material really is good and sound advice & what you choose to do with it is up to you. God also gives us a Spirit of discernment which helps us to decide on what we accept or don't accept. It's not much different than Sunday School class or the Sermon. Do you just accept these 100% or do you pick & choose. I hope it's the latter. You don't or can't accept everything at face value. If you do, then you are leading yourself to problems, etc. Your mind is designed to accept/reject/solve at the moment your brain sees or hears it. That's why Gothard teaches you that the more you memorize the Scriptures, the more it produces good thoughts, dreams, etc.

    Personally, you have the choice whether you want to accept or reject his material. We can try and stop him and/or his material but what good would that do? Consider this... Is this material doing more harm than good? I'll leave that for you to answer. What happens if you take the material away? There will be nothing and you have closed a big channel that is spreading the Message of Jesus Christ & the Gospel around the world.

    So what is doing more harm to the Body of Christ & Sinners?

    • Anthony March 28, 2014 Reply

      BTW, I am neither for or against BG... I will let justice, grace & mercy decide. This site has enough material that speaks for itself, if it's all true. I just hope there isn't any fallicies here. Slander is just as bad, if not worse, than the sins itself. Slander usually causes more victims and ruins personal lives. Slander is revenge and revenge is sin. So when you start publishing truths, you better hope to God that it is 100% accurate!

    • "Emee" March 28, 2014 Reply

      @Anthony, you wrote, "People are now calling it a cult. They are wrong! No one is being held against their will, unless someone says otherwise...I will let justice, grace & mercy decide."

      I'll be one of those 'someones' to explain why I believe it is a cult, even though my experiences were mild compared to some of those shared on this site. [My parents joined ATI when I was too young to be able to discern things for myself and homeschooled me (K-12) using Gothard's curriculum. Following his principles and recommendations, my social interactions were limited to those who thought like my parents--even after I was a teenager, thinking for myself was severely frowned upon, and asking for the basis of my parent's beliefs led to superficial answers as well as accusations of rebellion. While still I child, I was further indoctrinated in Gothard's teachings via his Children's Institutes.]

      Although many definitions of cults exist, this is one of the shortest I found (from the Cult Information Centre; http://www.prem-rawat-talk.org/forum/uploads/CultCharacteristics.htm):

      "An organization having these 5 qualities can be defined as a cult:
      1. It uses psychological coercion to recruit, indoctrinate and retain its members
      2. It forms an elitist totalitarian society.
      3. Its founder leader is self-appointed, dogmatic, messianic, not accountable and has charisma.
      4. It believes 'the end justifies the means' in order to solicit funds to recruit people.
      5. Its wealth does not benefit its members or society."

      If you've read the other testimonies and articles on this site, I think you'll quickly see that most (if not all) of the above qualities have been seen in Gothard's organizations (since he's the founder, I'm calling them his even though he's currently not at the helm).

      Gothard's teachings have definitely caused more harm than good in my own life, particularly through his doctrinal heresies (https://www.recoveringgrace.org/category/twistedscriptures/). I believe what he teaches is NOT of Christ, but is instead a false gospel; so the only appropriate response is what Paul himself advised in Galations 1:6-9. However, I will continue to pray for his repentance, and for God's mercy and grace on all those he affected.

    • Brumby March 28, 2014 Reply

      I was a minor forced to practice ATI for 10 years. In addition, my parents were abusive. I didn't believe I would even live to be 18 to get out and create a life of my own. My concern is not for the legal adults choosing to follow and share beliefs with BG, but for the children who don't have a choice. I personally don't mind if IBLP and ATI survive this scandal and continue to have followers. People are entitled to their own opinions and beliefs and lifestyles. My issue is that the children of ATI may not only be experiencing spiritual abuse, but other abuses in their own homes, especially putting themselves at risk when they do not comply with BG's notions. It's absurd that a child be labeled a "rebel" if he doesn't agree with the rock music teaching, wears fashionable clothing, or isn't interested in making EXCEL or ALERT part of his "5 year plan." If parents want to stay in ATI, fine, but don't abuse your kids!

      [end of rant]

    • Nancy2 March 28, 2014 Reply

      Anthony, you say don't throw the baby out with the bath water, but Galatians 5:9 says “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” How would you take the yeast out of the beard when you need unleavened beard? After it is mixed in you can't.

      We can do as Dr. Orbison has stated. We can get rid of the bad dough and look at the ingredients and recipe to see where we got off track. Then after examination of each ingredient and the recipe we can diligently construct the cookie as was intended by the Person who provided the recipe.

      • Nancy2 March 28, 2014 Reply

        Auto-correct is frustrating. Bread not beard.

        • greg r March 28, 2014

          lol....hard to correct a beard also.....

      • Nancy2 March 28, 2014 Reply

        Dr. Orrison sorry about the name misspelling. Auto-correct knows Roy Orbison, but not you.

    • eva March 28, 2014 Reply

      See my comment to Alfred..... There is no baby in the bathwater. It's a pig in a onesie trying to look like a baby.

    • greg r March 28, 2014 Reply

      @Anthony; this won't be a long reply, but I find your 'review and save what you can" plan to be a colossal waste of time. Why bother ?? there is a LOT of great teaching out there, across MANY denominations. Why 'salvage' something that is so tainted with graceless morality ??
      this might not be your bottom line, but mine is : the BG package wasn't, and isn't,the gospel. So our time is better spent with building the Kingdom thru the gospel, instead of doing disaster relief on Bill's lists of 'shouldas'...

    • Ryan Sapp March 30, 2014 Reply

      You said:
      Either way, if a certain issue or statement is troubling you, use the Bible and/or pray to the Lord for His direction or answer. Also this is where the Holy Spirit comes in and helps you to interpret it so you understand or convicts you. If the Spirit is trying to convict you, then there is something wrong.

      Regarding your statement that Bill is not that far off about music, movies etc. I prayed and The Holy Spirit told me Bill was way off about music and movies.

      You should back check your theory before you throw out religious jargon.

      • Nancy2 March 30, 2014 Reply

        An unsaved youth once asked my son "Do you know of an example of where the unsaved expressed the emptiness of their life. Just because you as a Christian think they should be unhappy doesn't make it so." Because my son listens to rock music he could easily point to a couple of different songs.

        Ben Folds Evaporated
        Here I stand,
        Sad and free.
        I can't cry,
        And I can't see
        What I've done.
        Oh God what have I done?

        I poured my heart out.
        I poured my heart out.
        It evaporated.

        Blind man on a canyon's edge
        Of a panoramic scene. "

        And Roger Clyne
        "There ain't no moral to this story at all
        Anything I tell you
        Very well could be a lie
        Been away from the livin'
        I don't need to be forgiven
        I'm just waiting for that coal black sun-cracked soul of mine
        To come alive"

        I am sharing this because not all people are in the same place in their walk with Christ. We don't all share the same temptations. What one person sees as an "evil" another sees as a message from their mission field.

        By the way, the youth identified with the "Blind man on the canyons edge of a panoramic scene". He felt like in not seeing the dangers he was lost to the beauty available.

        If we freely walk in the newness of life, no longer fretting about ourselves afraid we will have 'hidden sin' in our lives, but instead loving the lost and desiring them to know our Wonderful Savior, then we are walking in the newness of life. Worrying about our own temptations keeps us from looking out from ourselves and see we have been called to Him for the purpose of loving those who do not know Him.

        May I never stop listening to the cry of those lost without Christ Jesus.

      • Shane March 30, 2014 Reply

        @Nancy2- this is a great story. One of the things I've found most refreshing about "secular" music is it's honesty. Honesty about brokenness, human passion, love, beauty, beauty in the midst of brokenness, doubt, and yes greed, pride, lust, etc. in other words, human longings. Your son followed the pattern of Paul quoting the pagan poets to point his hearers to Jesus. I think that makes it biblical but I'll have to check the red book. (Yes, sarcasm sorry to those bothered by it:) )

        @Ryan Sapp- your post reminded me of a Pedro the Lion song. I don't normally recommend "Christian" music but I think you'd appreciate it. It's called "forgone conclusions". Btw for anyone else here that may check it out. It is rock music and has a cuss word. So if that will offend you please don't listen to it. (Not sarcasm at all!)

        • greg r March 31, 2014

          then again, if you are against all cuss words, stay away from your bible, there are a few in there also..

        • Ryan Sapp March 31, 2014

          Brilliant choice. Those who attend your church are so fortunate to have a progressive thinker who loves Jesus. Legalism is a dying breed. It will die out through attrition. If you have to ask if you're a legalist you are so out of touch with yourself, how you're perceived, and the world around you that it is impossible to survive as the rest of culture progresses. That's a topic for a whole other thread though.

  22. marty March 28, 2014 Reply

    This is a sermon by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt that I highly recommend, (it may have been posted already). I listen this sermon at least twice a year. Marty (a former ATI dad).


    • mfs March 28, 2014 Reply

      This sermon was helpful for us as we were leaving a messed up "church" that had similar cult-like characteristics, although much smaller and different issues. We recommend it to everyone, especially those that have been hurt by "the church".

      • marty March 29, 2014 Reply

        I also thought there was a lot in this talk that addresses and is applicable to what is being discussed here.

        An over simplistic test to good vs. bad teaching is this; overall, does this teaching put the emphasis on what I am doing or on what Christ has done. Like a wind directional flag always lets us know which way the wind is blowing, ultimately, good teaching will point us to Christ and His gospel. I Cor. 15

  23. Alex S March 28, 2014 Reply

    God started my journey of healing from legalism back when I was a high school ATI student. I argued with my parents about the definition of grace and the law-keeping being pushed in the Wisdom Booklets. Now, about 10 years later, I'm finally getting to the place where I can venture back into the OT without bad memories flooding back. All that to say, ideas are powerful, and ATI didn't just give me cookies. It tried to be my diet, it wanted to be my diet. After being on a diet of legalism for so many years, it's no wonder it's hard to even appreciate the truth of grace. It just tastes off.

    I've seen ATI advocates go to great lengths to defend ATI on here, but I have one thing to say to you: The cake is a lie! Soylent green is people! You may not be able to taste it, but consider why that might be the case.

  24. Anthony March 28, 2014 Reply

    I see your points and they seem to be valid. I am sorry if you became a victim of it.

    There is sufficient evidence here... the truth is out. I say 'let the chips fall where they may'... or better put... 'let go & let God take control'. I am sure God will take care of the problem as He sees fit. No need for us to judge or take up grievances here.

  25. BeautyforAshes March 28, 2014 Reply

    My dear brothers and sisters, I used to be just one in the massive sea of navy and white. My family as a whole and each individual in my family have been terribly hurt, devastated and abused from the ATI/IBLP "Approach to Life." I have been silently reading on this site for days and days now, and each time I do I feel like I'm peeling away another layer of my heart, like an onion. Another layer of my life that I had just shut down and tried to move past. But I see now that I need allow myself to absorb and address what I went through and claim the light and truth over the darkness and bondage. I am sure I will be posting more in the future because I need to clarify my thoughts instead of sitting here in silence when my heart is screaming out, needing to be acknowledged. When I hold these rules that we clung to up to the light of the loving Savior, I can feel his sadness at our vain attempts to be "good enough" when He shed His precious blood to do that for us, once and for all.
    I am urging those who like to brush this aside as though we are exaggerating and need to "move on" to realize that if you did not live this from childhood, you cannot possibly understand our perspectives. I do not wish to be in "victim mentality" and wallow in self pity for one second of this beautiful life God has blessed me with. But I do need to see this system for what it was, acknowledge what happened, and speak the truth in love so as to warn others of its dangers and aid others in their healing.
    THANK YOU, Recovering Grace Team. If I don't like delving into this and going through the darkness of the past, I'm sure it can't be a super fun thing for you to do. So thank you for doing what needs to be done to bring light out of the darkness. I feel peace when I remember that Jesus said, "I AM THE WAY. I AM THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER, BUT BY ME." So why did we ever think we needed an additional "New Approach to Life" when HE IS the LIFE? The TRUTH will set us free. HE IS THE TRUTH. The truth is being told here, thank goodness.
    Pardon the pun, but the rules and principles have built a stronghold, brick by brick in each of us. God's love, power and truth can break it down and we can walk away in His freedom. Yay!
    I'll stop for now, but thank you for your help and please, everyone who hasn't been through this, in the words of BG himself, Ahem, "Please be patient with me, God is not finished with me yet." ;)

    • Sally March 28, 2014 Reply

      Nicely said.

      My brother died a year ago and I didn't really "get" how people let their life stop because of something like that. I do "get it" now and see we are so complexly made that reordering thoughts and beliefs are no easy fix.

      I sort of feel there is a death in this situation. The death being, exposure to truth that shows bg teachings were such a lie. I see many here going through the various stages of grief from this "death" and it takes time and forces us to reorder our way of life and of thinking.

      The biggest thing for me is that I unknowingly sought a King rather than having the one true God be my Kind and guide. Hopefully, I can learn enough and put safeguards up so I don't get sucked in anything like this again.

      I would like to let you know that you are welcome and encouraged to take the time needed to heal and grow. God made us and knows these things take time.

  26. Monte Harmon March 28, 2014 Reply

    Bad theology leads to false religion, idolatry, and damaged lives.

    Gothard based his teaching on extra-biblical foundations and the resulting religious system harms the most vulnerable and is falling apart. (Among other things his unbiblical views led directly to his mishandling of the situation with his brother and his own struggle with the God given need for earthly companionship.) Seeking to find value in such a unbiblical system is not much different that fishing in the sewer.

    And even if you did find one fish in a hundred that could be cleaned and wasn't sick and diseased, why fish in the sewer when there are so many clean streams and of course the water of life itself, the Bible?

  27. Tangent March 28, 2014 Reply

    I haven't read the other comeents yet, so I may be repeating a point already made. Soy sauce is not harmful, but the lie is pernicious and leads to death. The lie is toxic.

  28. Dave March 28, 2014 Reply

    (I apologize for being out of touch when this posted. Just brought a family member back from the hospital yesterday.)

    One of the few things I remember from preaching class is to beware the distracting illustration. Sometimes an illustration connects too well and takes the reader or hearer away from the point. I suspect the cookie illustration (which works well for some) is one of those. If you don't like it, just disregard it.

    The post was written for those who are wondering about what they believe. Is the Scripture God's Word and reliable, like BG said? Do we need to throw that out? Were we wrong to think that the Lord actually cared about the things of our lives? How much of what we believed do we need to get rid of? My point, perhaps made with limited success, was simply that much of the belief system taught by Gothard was right. Gothard believes the lie and taught the lie. Get rid of that and much can stay.

    Now, I should also say that I see a difference between a belief system and a thinking system. That even seems to be a Scriptural distinction. There was a great deal of wrong thinking taught and practiced by Gothardism. The thinking is what brought in the lie and twisted the truth to fit the lie. But what was true and right in the belief system is still true and right.

    Please believe that I never intended to minimize the damage done by the wrong thinking and the doctrinal lie. The suffering RG has revealed and so many of us have experienced is very real and serious.

    I would be quite willing to correspond with anyone who has further questions. Just contact me through my email link here. And I should be better able to respond to specific questions or concerns here.

    • Beverly March 29, 2014 Reply

      Thank you, Dave! I agree that no illustration can fully capture the pain and disillusionment of Gothardism. The journey out of spiritual abuse is a difficult one filled with land mines and triggers. One person might find one illustration helpful, but the next person feels themselves emotionally spiraling over the same illustration. And for some, the reaction is varied from day to day, and what might trigger one day is fine the next. This is typical of spiritual abuse recovery.

      The journey out of spiritual abuse has many similarities to soldiers returning home from war with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Every loud noise is interpreted as gunfire, and triggers a fight or flight scenario. For many people, the Bible itself is the gunfire, and the mere thought of it or hearing a quotation of verses produces the same fight or flight internal reaction. At the beginning of the healing journey, this reaction is often more severe. As a person finds healing, the severity of reaction should lessen, regardless of where they end up personally in the area of faith. It's easy to assume that the "fight and flight" syndrome is something everyone experiences, and we begin to think it's normal behavior we will always have to live with if it has been predominant in our own experience with religious subjects. But that is not the case, and healing IS possible with the help of a trusted friend, pastor or professional counselor who can help you work through the spiritual trauma. I would encourage anyone who is still having an intense "fight or flight" reaction to pursue healing with a safe person (like a professional counselor) who understands spiritual abuse/trauma recovery.

  29. grateful March 28, 2014 Reply

    The Bible does tell us there are wheat and tares in the same field; as well as sheep and goats; parable of the wedding feast (Matt 13:24-30, Matt 25:32-34, Matt 22:1-24)

    The Bible does tell us to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5)
    Is the book of 1 John (1 John 1:5 – 2:6)legalism?
    - Do you walk in darkness? (entertained by evil?)
    - Do you recognize sin in your life; do you care?
    - Is confession a part of your walk?
    - Do you keep His commandments?
    - Motives
    - Is your heart toward the Lord?
    - Do you seek to walk after Christ
    - Do you have hatred or bitterness toward a brother?
    - Do you love the world and the things in the world?

    If you are born again, your motives/drive will be toward the things of God (Romans 8 - There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.) A Christian, by (new) nature walks after the Spirit. I don't think its legalistic at all to expect fellow Christians to pursue holiness in their lives - it is part and parcel with being a Christian, and we should hold each other accountable.

    • grateful March 28, 2014 Reply

      Addendum: Just want to clarify:

      we are not condemned because we walk after the spirit (that is works). It is like a flower blooming, the process cannot be stopped. We are no longer condemned *and* we walk after the Spirit because we are in Christ

  30. esbee March 28, 2014 Reply

    "Okay, now we have left the legalist church/organization/teacher. NOW WHAT? Where do we stand? Do we throw out everything we learned? How do we sort out all of this? Does it all just need to go?"

    Ever been through a tornado? I have! Two of them IN THE SAME HOUSE!
    The first in 1982 hit our house and the second one in 1985 also hit our house. In fact our house was the intersection point for them. (Thanks, God! But we heard you the first time!) Even though the house sustained thousands in damages, the things that were near and dear to us survived without harm----our pets, my art, my horse who recently passed away at age 32.

    We still had to pick up the pieces, ours and others. And it was picking up one piece at a time, deciding what to keep and what needed to be thrown away.

    We have since moved but still live in the area where tornadoes might strike. (NO MORE GOD- PLEASE- 2 IS ENOUGH!) We could move to another state but where ever you go there are natural disasters of some kind or a govt that is unfriendly or gangs or something that is dangerous.

    And to continue the cookie analogy- Yup, those Gothard Full of Chip cookies tasted awful. Now try some Good God cookies. Here is the recipe---no amounts are given and not all ingredients have to be used to make the recipe taste good---what and how much you use is between you and the Master Chef.

    1. Laugh---silly jokes, comedy movies or other things that make yhou laugh (I laughed my head off at Young Frankenstein, Weekend at Bernies and Despicable Me)

    2. Explore God's creation outside, walk, bike ride, ride a horse, watch a thunderstorm at night, etc.

    3. Read (I loved The Chronicles of Narnia and Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place but read about anything you want to learn about, the human body, astronomy, mechanics, etc.

    4. Get a pet (I prefer the kind you can cuddle) but anything that is not human. Refer back to walking- a dog makes a great companion for walking.

    5. Gather with friends (mixed genders) at a place that is not church. Have a good time yucking it up. You do not have to talk solely about God.

    6. Help those who need it and cannot pay you back. (Pay an electic bill for a needy family, but do not tell them who did it.)

    7. Repeat #1 often.

    8. Learn a new hobby, painting, model making, playing an instrument, learning a new language, etc.

    9. Take time for yourself- believe it or not, this is not a sin, this is essential for recharging your batteries to be able to face daily responsibilities.

    The ingredients in this recipe are actually endless. I have just listed some of them.

    I am not adding religious things to this recipe like prayer, reading the bible or going to church, because most survivors of legalism have had more than enough religion out the wazoo with poor results. Besides, He will make Himself known in any of these ingredients you choose to make your new cookie batch.

    • Nancy2 March 28, 2014 Reply

      I have been through several hurricanes. I remember the first time feeling like the whole scenario was all wrong as it spawned a tornado that smashed my neighbor's barn, went a mile down the road and blew out the windows of my son's school and continued to damage part of the medial center across from my husband's business. Before that I thought when disasters happened our family would be huddled together in a Red Cross shelter. Never thought we would be in separate locations, yet witnesses to the same threat.

      Since my naive 20's, I know the value of your list Esbee. Cleaning up the Gulf Coast over the years has been an act of love moved along by laughter and the vision of desiring other's to know joy. Yes the ingredients we are given are endless. He creates them new for us each day.

  31. Patrick March 28, 2014 Reply

    The Cooking illustration is good. The Bible uses leaven. A little leaven, leavens the whole lump. Baking bread always smells nice, but the Gothard system is the leaven of the Pharisees and it stinks of death. The leaven has permeated the entire batch.

    We need unleavened bread from Jesus.

    When we are coming out of the prison and being unchained, we have a Helper, the Holy Spirit. He sets us free and shows us Jesus over and over again. He guides us and encourages us in the truth.

    Our eyes need to be opened to see Jesus..
    Our heart healed from the pain and confusion...
    Our hands and feet set free to walk...
    and He works with us individually.

    Jesus said, 'Come unto me'... not unto principles.
    Take my yoke.. the yoke of the New Covenant not the one that 'neither we nor our forefathers were able to bear' and Jesus said learn from Me which means we will be untaught, retaught, and taught again. The lies will be untwisted and the truth will be spoken only as the Great Shepherd can speak it.

    We will see Jesus not set of principles. It is like starting over and that is a good thing. He told us to ask for eye salve so we can see clearly. It is a seeing of Him correctly.

    I needed to learn that Christ is my righteousness, not a righteousness of my own derived from the law or from Gothard's principles, but one that comes from believing in Him. Christ is my life. Not trying to do principles. There are times when I remember being in the labor camp of this legalism, but I won't go back. There were times when I stopped doing and that was good.

    It takes time for this process and helping each other hold fast to the Head of the Church.
    There is a time to tear down and a time to build up. There is nothing savable in the gothard system.
    Jesus is our Rock upon which we build not the sand of the so called principles.

  32. R Sullivan March 28, 2014 Reply

    I respectfully suggest that Recovering Grace hold articles like this one to a higher standard--consistent with many previous submissions.
    Dr. David Orrison may mean well, but his premise is simplistic and bordering on banal. The article is overwhelmed by rhetorical questions, vague pronouns and unnecessary conjunctions. If this is an attempt at
    a grace and discipline apologetic, it falls gravely short.

    • grateful March 28, 2014 Reply


    • Mosessister March 28, 2014 Reply

      A site like this has the very difficult task of being all things to all people. I once heard a sermon from Max Lucado that made me think he was a superficial idiot, frankly. (I am cerebral, so I am usually looking for intellectual stimulation in addition to good expository preaching.) Then, some years later, I heard him preach again, at a time in my life when I was experiencing a lot of pain. He really ministered to me then. What serves one group of people on one day may not serve the whole group, but that's ok! This is a great, practical article that provided an analogy that obviously many found helpful and thought-provoking. It has certainly generated a ton of good discussion.

      Articles more to your taste are for another day.

    • Jim K. March 29, 2014 Reply

      While you may not need the article, someone else might. What may come across as trivial and banal to one person may be healing balm to the next. What may satiate your taste for a grace and discipline apologetic may sound like incomprehensible theo-babble to someone who is hurting and needs just a gentle touch in simple terminology.

  33. mfs March 28, 2014 Reply

    Although we weren't in ATI or IBLP,(we have friends that were), we were in an abusive church with personality cult leader, no elders or accountability and neglect (even abuse) of the sacraments, lots of similar characteristics. It has been a long process healing, but by the grace of God, we are now in a healthy church that preaches Christ and Him crucified, the Law and the Gospel in the proper categories. We are free from fearing man, and free to fear God. A book that helped, along with many others, was When People are Big and God is Small, also Christless Christianity by Michael Horton. Here is a hymn that has powerful theology and special meaning to us, especially since we were taught in that messed up place to doubt we were even saved and doubt that our sins were forgiven. (It's an old hymn that's been re-tuned by Indelible Grace)

    TEXT:William Cowper
    MUSIC:Kevin Twit

    To see the Law by Christ fulfilled,
    To hear His pardoning voice,
    Changes a slave into a child
    And duty into choice.

    1. No strength of nature can suffice
    To serve the Lord aright
    And what she has, she misapplies,
    For want of clearer light.(Repeat chorus)

    2. How long beneath the Law I lay
    In bondage and distress
    I toiled the precept to obey,
    But toiled without success.(Repeat chorus)

    3. Then to abstain from outward sin
    Was more than I could do
    Now if I feel its power within
    I feel I hate it too.(Repeat chorus)

    4. Then all my servile works were done,
    A righteousness to raise
    Now, freely chosen in the Son,
    I freely choose His ways.(Repeat chorus)

    ©1998 Kevin Twit Music (ASCAP. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

  34. pat March 28, 2014 Reply

    I found the responses to Alfred very thought provoking. I've been reading this blog for a short while as we use the ATI materials in our homeschool. I have been a Christian and loved Jesus my whole life. I'm pretty sure every Christian battles obeying in the flesh from time to time as I have. I'm sure we're all tempted at times to obey apart from Christ. I'm sure we are all tempted in pride and thinking we're better than others. But the question is whether or not we hate that temptation/sin and fight it and repent (again and again if need be) or do we live in it. Having said that, I really feel that because I do love Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit obey His commands in faith and love, I have been encouraged by the Wisdom Books. I have come to understand in a way that I never learned in church, Christian school or Christian college, how to surrender every area of my life to Christ. I WANT to surrender. I WANT more of Him and less of me. I can totally see how a less mature Christian (in this area, even if they are stronger in other areas) may use these as rules to follow in the flesh. But when I go through them with my children I am very clear that many of these things are ideas or examples of what others do or have done and not God's law. Principles, if you will. As we all agree (I think) we could all look the same on the outside and some of us can be obeying out of fear while others are obeying out of love. So what I wonder is, do you think one can be using this curriculum while walking in the Spirit and looking to Him for discernment and application while another may be using it as rules and regulations to try to earn God's favor? AND, is it always a leader's fault (if we apply their teachings legalistically) or can we take personal responsibility for following a man rather than God? I know leaders have great responsibility because their followers may be young in the Lord or immature, but does everyone agree that we can follow men to the degree that their teaching is consistent with the Bible but where their teachings are not in line with God's word we must take personal responsibility and reject their teachings? I'm wondering what the commenters think, not trying to make a point.

    • Sally March 29, 2014 Reply

      I will share from my own experience. We have gone through all of the wisdom booklets and our children have served in some of the centers.

      From our experience, some of the materials are excellent, some are problematic and some are very "over the edge". It was hard for me to discern sometimes in the day to day mode of teaching with all life's distractions to know sometimes where each fit. And yes we have the responsibility to discern truth. The major problem we found is that to be part of ATI and attend conferences and serve if you do not 100% enthusiastically while smiling comply (I will say 100% again for effect) you are looked at as "less" zealous for God. My time serving with my children was the saddest time ever being around christians. Everyone was stiff, formal and acting perfectly. There was no 'Joy of the Lord and sharing of testimonies' as each of us were struggling to be "100% enthusiastic while smiling all the time to show our depth of love for God. I came home so disillusioned that I didn't make the cut at loving my Lord enough.

      There are spiritual principles that Bill uses that in 1980 his own college came out and said hey was taking liberty with. It was Wheaten College. Other seminary (I believe) graduates cautioned the same to which Bill ignored. It is one thing to make an appeal to get your point across it is a sad lack of accountability to ignore a multitude of Godly advice and press on.

      So, while there are great things in the booklets they are riddled with error or over reaching liberty and it is difficult to sit down and need to be SO aggressive to be sure what you are reading is truth.

      • Shane March 29, 2014 Reply

        @Sally- you make a great point here.Gothard takes liberty/license with the Scriptures. The assumption that because he constructs a set of behaviors that are narrow and strict he has been serious with the Bible is a faulty assumption. I'd say it's legalism. Legalism is concerned with the a strict behavioral performance not necessarily a strict treatment of the Bible; this is why there can be no freedom even where the Scriptures obviously allow for it. This is what Jesus says to the Pharisees in John 5. "You search the Scriptures (the OT) because you think that in them you find life" (a true premise) but they fail to find life, why? Because they don't find Jesus. The scriptures speak of him.

        @Pat- I think people are more and less insulated from the error in Gothard's teaching for various reasons. Alfred said somewhere up there that his small group abandoned the program at places because he (wisely I would say) saw they were doing emotional harm. However, I believe that they are constructed from a faulty view of the gospel, of wisdom, of the Bible, or freedom, or the human person, of holiness, etc. Therefore I could not endorse them in the slightest. This is not because I think everything in them is wrong, it's that the error is exactly what Paul is addressing in Colossians 2 when he says they "have an appearance of Godliness but are of no value against the flesh." The error is "baked in" and it pervades the whole thing.

    • Alex S March 31, 2014 Reply

      I was raised in ATI. My parents had gone to the seminars and internalized the teachings before I was born. My parents wanted better for me than they had, and they felt BG's teachings were the ticket. I sense you want the same for your kids and are honestly convinced that ATI is what will best serve your family. It will for a time.

      However, when your children begin to grow up and move from childhood to adulthood, that's when they (and possibly you) will realize that BG's teachings only work if you're bunkered down at home, only associate with people you agree with, and turn a blind eye to the lost of this world. Basically, the teachings are nice if you can control everything, but they fall apart the moment they encounter the real world that isn't pretty, doesn't fit nicely into x number of steps, and cries out for someone to love it. You and your kids won't be equipped to love it - you'll have been conditioned to judge it and try to fit it into your mold.

      If you want to ground your family in the truth, I'd recommend going through the series How People Change by Paul Tripp and Tim Lane. The Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) has many bible-based, Christ-centered publications that will prepare you and your kids to face the brokenness of this world with Christ-like love, one that develops relationships with people vs. carpet bombing them with lists, character qualities, and commands of "Christ".

      Look through the Gospels and you'll see the dirty little secret of ATI - Jesus had many harsh words of rebuke for the outwardly-religious crowd, and only compassion and a call back to the Father for the hopeless sinners this world is still teeming with.

      • Ryan Sapp March 31, 2014 Reply

        Great post from someone who has lived the system. It's so obvious that it's been a 30 year test trial and the results are in. The placebo was actually much more successful. I commend you for you inner strength and drive to get out and see it for what it is.

        • Alex S April 2, 2014

          Thanks for the encouragement Ryan! All the support and openness here on RG has been such a blessing to me as I've sought healing from the Lord. 21+ years under such a system as BG's can't be recovered from overnight, but Jesus has me on a journey that is rough but good because I'm learning about who he really is!

          All that to say thank you! Means so much not to walk this road alone!

  35. Shane March 28, 2014 Reply

    A helpful article for those thinking through how to relate to the ceremonial law of the OT as Christians. Doesn't deal with everything but helpful:


  36. TJ March 28, 2014 Reply

    I believe that BG is the ghostwriter for Alfred.
    The word principles is found twice in the KJV.
    Ironically in Hebrews 5:12 it is referring to the difference
    between the correct use of Scripture and a
    mistaken one. In Hebrews 6:1 it teaches the
    foolishness of trying to be saved by good works.

    • Vivian March 29, 2014 Reply

      For the record, Alfred's a real person... I know his daughter slightly.

    • Ryan Sapp March 29, 2014 Reply

      I confess...I am the ghost writer for Alfred

      • KH March 29, 2014 Reply

        Best thing I have read all day!

  37. BeautyforAshes March 29, 2014 Reply

    Thank you, Patrick for your comments. Absolutely beautiful! Sally, I agree that our time of involvement also lacked JOY! We were shackled by a sort of oppression of meeting up with the standards or making sure we were holding them even higher for people with "less" of the righteousness we had implemented. Especially at conferences and training centers. It was so cold and rigid and the list of do's and don'ts was SO LONG. I remember being frustrated at getting disapproving looks or being corrected if I did something completely normal or innocent in the real world but totally against the rules at the training center. I remember asking why they don't print a list of the rules and hand it to each student upon entering a TC - I meant a FULL LIST including every tiny infraction that could be made. (It would have been as thick as a phone book.) But the way it was, you knew general rules and then got in trouble for breaking tiny rules you didn't know existed until you broke them. (Like the invisible electric fence referred to in an article on RG.) So it was like walking on eggshells.
    For someone (ahem, Alfred) who is still trying to figure out what legalism is, here's a small example:
    The Bible tells us, "Sing and make melody in your hearts unto the Lord." but there was a human addition that I heard more than once at training centers that you are not to sing by extending a note without vibrato. The vibrato must immediately accompany the note being sung, for to extend a note without vibrato is SENSUAL.
    Hence, we have just turned singing to the Lord to following more rules so as not to be sensual, as a person as decided it can be. So it is not longer focused on praising the Lord but following the red line and wondering as I'm singing if I'm doing something wrong.
    There was even a woman in leadership at one of the training centers who refused to stay in the room and listen to anyone who sang with an extended note without vibrato. I remember this making quite an impact on my teen mind.
    And listening to music with a beat was said to be so of the devil, my poor sister was terrified to go into the grocery store where it was played and felt dirty and needing to beg for cleansing from God every time she did. (And she ran in and out of the store as fast and panicked as she could.) Also, she'd hold her hands over her ears if my dad was changing the radio stations (in our huge, ATI Clunker VAN!!!) from one preacher to another and he had to flip past rock stations in the meantime. She had a look of utter panic on her face.

    I find great issue with the comment that has been recorded that BG said, "Christians can't handle freedom." Says who? Says you? So you imprison us with a bunch of rules instead? No thanks. I prefer what my dear Lord said, "If Christ shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." He wouldn't offer us freedom if we couldn't "handle it." I am His child and will stumble, but my goal is to abide in Him and Him in me. My goal is to LEARN OF HIM and in doing that, to become like Him, and in becoming like Him, obeying is just natural and out of love!

    • eva March 29, 2014 Reply

      That's weird about the vibrato. Maybe it was sensual to BG and he couldn't handle it. I still can't believe we ever went to TWO seminar's. I would have thought we might have learned our lesson with number 1 but no we went to several as well as the advanced. Almost got into ATI but the beard thing turned us off of that.

    • LynnCD March 29, 2014 Reply

      Bill Gothard says, "Christians can't handle freedom."


      Bill Gothard can't handle HIS self-imposed rules!

      BeautyforAshes, although we were never in ATI, you captured the feeling of living under all these Pharisees' rules, which I experienced also for a time. Thank you for writing of your experience, telling us what was required of you, and telling us how it felt. You hit the nail squarely on the head.

      Since someone else posted a hymn here somewhere, here's something I wrote a few years ago, after escaping the bondage of legalism:

      These silly rules are but a trap
      They never can erase
      My sin, these filthy rags just slap
      Those Sacred Scars of Grace

      In pride unstopped, so full of self
      I strive to make sin less
      Yet what I count as gain is pelf
      In bondage I regress

      On God alone I must depend
      All pride confess, forsake
      These hellish bonds my God must rend
      This legalism break

      Christ broke my bonds! He set me free!
      His work, not mine, I sing,
      Whose suffering at Calvary
      Accomplished EVERYTHING.

      "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."

  38. BeautyforAshes March 29, 2014 Reply

    LynnCD, your hymn is beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

  39. Ryan Sapp March 29, 2014 Reply

    I googled and called Dr. Boring yesterday. That's just the kind of stuff I randomly do. I was curious to talk to him in generalities about the institute. His wife answered and was very sweet...at first. Told her my background and she offered to get the Dr. She was gone for a bit and came back and said he was not available. We know what happened there. She did talk to me though. Told her I was just curious why he resigned ie: work was to busy, the current situation took more time than he expected. I didn't mention or say anything that would offend her. She said they had no comment and that if they answered everyone that called it would take all their time. I said well if that's the case have you ever thought about making a statement that just said we found the current situation to be more than we expected and we need to focus on our business and family? She said she didn't believe in social media and that it was part of the problem. (I was thinking, it is part of Bills' problem, you are right). Said they loved the institute and were just hanging out with the Bates and Duggars last weekend. I got the feeling there was nothing left but empty koolaid packets. She was nice to me as long as I was using the language from the "insiders", we all know that language.

    My takeaways and things I forget about:
    1. When you are with the institute you are completely cut of from the outside world. Out of touch with society, culture, music and anything outside your comfort zone. I lost over a decade of knowing what happened in the world around me and I forget people still live like that.

    2. Any internal investigation will produce nothing. Example; imagine if Alfred were on the board. I'm sure the board is comprised with MEN just as entrenched or even more.

    3. Came across as very defensive, secretive and falsely accused. Shocked though that Dr Boring had his wife do the dirty work. Typical though for the male dominated, shovinistic, authoritarian institute.

    All I was really looking for was: We love Bill and the institute we just weren't ready for this type of time commitment and visibility. We hope the allegations aren't true.

    Constructive relationships and conversations with those inside the walls of the institute to those outside would be helpful. Instead I get the feeling those inside treat those outside the same way I have seen over and over in my lifetime whether it's David Koresh, the Mormans, the polygamist,or any other strict religious group you can think of. I see a very common thread. ( I changed out cult for strict religious group in deference to my Morman friends).

    I wish I could talk to her more but I forget that just because I am open minded doesn't mean everyone else is. Probably just ruined my shot to talk to her again, oh well. I kinda liked her and felt compassion for her.

    • mosessister March 29, 2014 Reply

      @Ryan Sapp, "That's just the kind of stuff I randomly do." That made me laugh out loud. I love it. Thank you for the insights, and the reminder that those on the inside really do live cloistered lives. It makes me wonder how they interpret the Matt 28:19 command to "GO, and make disciples!"

      I am fairly active on Twitter, and I've been amazed at how little interaction there is from both pro and con iblp-ers. But perhaps it is also a bit generational. I'm old, and my generation (and obviously most of that generation of iblp-ers) hasn't embraced Twitter as a whole. And hopefully most 20-30-somethings are completely clueless to the existence of iblp. LOL.

      I will say that Twitter can be a pretty powerful tool. I'd love it if some of the commenters here would wade in. My Twitter handle is @mosessister. :>

  40. DanKel March 29, 2014 Reply

    I am a little late to this party. Please forgive me if my comments have already been stated elsewhere. While my involvement with IBYC (later IBLP) is fairly limited (I attended about a half dozen seminars), my adult life has been peppered with what is being described here as legalism. I am reminded of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, who stated, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["hard-core pornography"]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that." Legalism is much the same way. It is very difficult to define but very easy to spot once you understand it!

  41. Untrained March 30, 2014 Reply

    Can you imagine taking 'take care of the widows and orphans' and morphing it into 'adoption is wrong'. That is messed up.

  42. Mosessister March 30, 2014 Reply

    @DanKel, You make a good point. It is part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to illumine such things. Once you see it, wow, everything looks different.

    The problem with a leader doing all the thinking for his followers and creating astronomical lists of rules to cover every life situation is the followers never get an opportunity to interact with the Holy Spirit, to learn and exercise discernment, to develop critical thinking skills. The result is the deafening of "ears to hear," the blinding of "eyes to see," sadly self- evident from some of the discussion here. :(

    • LynnCD March 30, 2014 Reply


  43. Mamaraye March 30, 2014 Reply

    Something I have been thinking about for a few weeks...once you start to add anything to Jesus Christ and his sufficiency for our salvation and our life, both here and in eternity, where do you stop? Once the "recipe" has been tweaked, who gets to say where to stop? Without exception, every cult I have ever studied or read about or had experience with has followed the same non-creative path...Jesus PLUS...you name it.

    It is so freeing to begin to understand the completeness of what Jesus did/does for us, and how he gives us the grace and faith to respond to him in love, not law. But we can be so afraid of true freedom. Jesus sets us free, in every cell of our being, and that can be a hugely unsettling truth. Even though our hearts may know he is all we will ever need, our heads and our pride say, "But surely it cannot be that simple?"

    John 6:28-29 says "Then they said to [Jesus] , 'What must we do, to be doing the works of God?' Jesus answered them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.' " (ESV)


    "The gospel sabotages any notion of legalism or performance-based acceptability with God. The only thing we bring to Jesus is our need. All we offer is the admission that we have nothing to offer." (p. 1419, Gospel Transformation Bible, notes on John 6:22-59, ESV)

    The older I get, the more I appreciate the truth that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Compared to the burden of sin or the yoke of legalism, there is NO burden in abiding in Jesus. This isn't Cheap Grace or Easy Grace, if there even is such a thing. This is Grace, period. Jesus did it all. It is all done. I can do nothing to cause him to look on me with more favor. He already looks on me with a love huge enough to go to the cross in my place. If that doesn't make me fall at his feet in adoration, whatever will?

  44. Mark March 30, 2014 Reply

    Alfred, I refrained from posting about meat sacrificed to idols for a while, but I think more and more it represents the divide between grace and legalism, but in order to get there we need to understand more about the passage. Here is an excellent article on the passage: http://www.spiritandtruth.org/teaching/Book_of_1st_Corinthians/14_1Cor_8_1-13/1Cor_8_1-13_Notes.htm?x=x

    Here is the crux of the argument:
    "Those who have the greater knowledge and spiritual maturity are the ones who should accommodate to the less mature by abstaining from activities that might harm the faith and life of those who are weaker. Paul already stated that eating food sacrificed to idols does not make believers better or worse in God's estimation (1 Cor 8:8). But here Paul explains that this behavior can cause harm to others. It can be a stumbling block to the weak (1 Cor 8:9) and it can lead them to injure their weak consciences by doing something they believe to be sinful (1 Cor 8:10). The harm this can cause is very serious (1 Cor 8:11), and being the cause of such sin means sinning against Christ Himself (1 Cor 8:12). Paul tells them that, rather than cause an immature brother to sin, it was better for them to forgo their Christian liberty in these cases (1 Cor 8:13)."

    Read this over and over because it's not where Gothardites come from. The Gothardites claim a SUPERIOR conscience and SUPERIOR knowledge. They claim that their superior morality allows them to impose restrictions on the weak. That's the opposite of what Paul is saying. Gothard would never argue that it's okay within Christian liberty to celebrate Christmas, but because there are weaker Christian brothers struggling from the pagan roots of Christmas that celebrating Christmas would cause them to sin. Gothard says that Christmas itself is sinful, making it an argument of sin, clear and simple.

    Now, we need to differentiate between the weaker brother argument and the sins of Balaam and Jezebel. The argument in 1 Cor 8:13 is between two Christian factions. One that has knowledge that meat sacrificed to idols is within Christian liberty and does not have a strong association with the temple, and the other that has escaped from pagan temple worship (sacrifices to pagan deities and temple prostitution) and still has a strong association with the pagan system. In this case, Paul deals gently with the first faction - saying that their knowledge is true, but that they need to deal in love towards those who have the strong association.

    Balaam, on the other hand, used his knowledge to put a stumbling block in front of the Israelites. Balak hired Balaam to curse the Israelites, and Balaam was prevented from delivering that curse by God. Instead of go home in defeat, however, he hatched a plan to put a stumbling block in front of the Israelites:

    (Num 25:1-3) "While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the Lord was angry against Israel."

    (Num 31:15-16) "And Moses said to them, “Have you spared all the women? Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the Lord."

    So, there's a difference between simply eating meat sacrificed to idols as a matter of Christian liberty, and eating meat sacrificed to idols for the purpose of luring your weaker brethren back into a pagan system of fornication and idolatry. The latter is the sin of Jezebel and Balaam - they both conspired to lead the church away from God.

    Now to deal with the grace and legalism. It is gracious and loving for those who have knowledge and who have the informed consciences to set aside their Christian liberty for the purpose of helping those around who have weak consciences not to stumble. What is not okay is for people to pharisaically turn every area of Christian liberty into sin. That's legalism and I think that's what happens with Christmas, alcohol and Cabbage Patch Dolls. In fact, as I said before, I can invent a weaker brother argument for every area of Christian liberty.

    Trying to tie meat sacrificed to idols to fornication is a red herring. Yes, they are both tied to the pagan temple rituals, but they are completely different matters.

    • greg r March 31, 2014 Reply

      Weirdly enough, it seems to me as if the 'weaker brother' is given the keys to the ecclesial car... the stronger brother just has to go for the ride , as in ALWAYS. What kind of messed up situation is this ? Wouldn't it make some kind of sense for the weaker brother to at SOME point....oh , I don't know...like.. grow up ?? Instead, the 'weakness' becomes a trump card: in most circles , this would be known as 'manipulation' or perhaps 'coercion'. Weird.

      • Mark March 31, 2014 Reply

        I have yet to meet a weaker brother. I have met lots of people who tell me I should do our not do something because of the theoretical possibility of someone being a weaker brother in some area, especially alcohol.

  45. Nancy2 March 31, 2014 Reply

    "Wouldn't it make some kind of sense for the weaker brother to at SOME point....oh , I don't know...like.. grow up ??"

    greg r, I have said those words 10,000 x 10,000 times. No exaggeration. Come to think of it I think I've gotten in trouble a few times for those very words. I've been accused of being Cain, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

    I was never good at helping other's feel comfortable in their weakness. My last Bible study was on "Pray Your Intimidation". All the women were praying to overcome this fear and that fear and I was praying don't let me cause others to fear.

    Yep, that statement is a little too close to home.

    • greg r March 31, 2014 Reply

      making changes to accomadate a weaker brother/sister is one thing: that's called helpful. Using that weakness to get what you want from others is called 'not helpful' and controlling. The only thing worse is to slap a verse or two on it and spout "Thus saith (BG) the LORD'.

      • Nancy2 March 31, 2014 Reply

        Exactly! We do what is needed to become approachable. It gives us the opportunity to serve others where they are.

        In my Bible Study it didn't take long to figure out why many of their prayers where centered around their fears. Someone in their life was making them believe they might do something to warrant a negative outcome. Some of the most fearful were the sweetest most kind and gentle women you could ever meet. The Lord taught me how to tame my bull in life's spiritual china cupboard, and He taught them (according to them) how He will never call them to something that He hasn't already prepared them to do. He doesn't want them to live by another man's CAN'T. It was an amazing time of fellowship.

      • Leslie March 31, 2014 Reply

        I remember many years ago a woman in our church who always wore skirts. This was before the days whe skirts were a "sign of holiness". During Bible study someone asked her why she always wore skirts. She said she ran into a man from the church at the grocery store one day when she was wearing pants. He told her that he thought Christian women should always wear skirts. Because she didn't want to offend a weaker brother she never wore pants after that. Still doesn't.. While I admire her sweet meek spirit, I can't help but feel she was being manipulated and controlled.

        • Shane March 31, 2014

          I don't think that's a "weaker" brother but a jerky brother.

        • Mark March 31, 2014

          Exactly, Shane, the weaker brother is one who is coming out of a lifestyle of sin and is asking you to not do something that might lead them back into sin, not a holier-than-thou Christian trying to impose their personal morality on you.

        • Mamaraye April 1, 2014

          My understanding of the whole "weaker brother" thing changed dramatically years ago when I read the book Lifestyle Evangelism, by Dr. Joe Aldrich. That is where I first learned the phrase "professional weaker brother." It made me laugh out loud! A professional weaker brother is just a legalist in euphemistic clothing.

  46. Shannon Wehr March 31, 2014 Reply

    Alfred, good to see you again! I would be interested in hearing what you think of the latest developments in IBLP. Though I don't defend Bill as you do, I want to say in your defense that I can see your frustration in trying to balance the grace of God in our lives and the outward works and obedience that manifest true salvation. I, like you, get disillusioned with how many commenters here present their perspective on the Christian life and how it is to be understood and practiced. It's as if the extreme works formula-based emphasis of Gothard has caused them to resort to the other extreme of all grace and no responsibility. Often claims are made that no one should exhort and admonish anyone else to good works, that only God can see the heart (yes, and that is even more scary than what anyone can see on the outside!), that there are no Biblical levels of Christians (yes, we all enter through Christ and there the ground is level) when the Bible clearly represents levels: mature Christians, carnal or worldly-minded believers, babes who can only drink milk, those who were "more noble" (the Bereans), etc. James condemns hearers of the Word only as deceived and calls us instead to be doers. Works are an integral part of true Christianity. If we love Him, we will obey His commands. There is a balance of grace and works and true salvation must include both. It is a balance I will continue learning about and striving after for the rest of my Christian life. The Bible clearly teaches that if the heart is right before God, the outward actions and behavior will show it. What needs to be avoided is following a list of man's rules instead of God's commands.

    • dreamer April 1, 2014 Reply

      No one is saying that Christians should not do good works. We are saying that, unless those works are motivated by a heart changed by God, the works are meaningless. Works do not go "hand in hand" with salvation. Works are the FRUIT of salvation.
      Also, there is a difference between true good works (i.e.- what God calls each of us individually to do to further His kingdom) vs. doing what you think makes you look like a good Christian to the rest of the world.

    • LynnCD April 1, 2014 Reply

      "I, like you, get disillusioned with how many commenters here present their perspective on the Christian life and how it is to be understood and practiced. It's as if the extreme works formula-based emphasis of Gothard has caused them to resort to the other extreme of all grace and no responsibility."

      This is slur. Meaning, your accusation lacks specificity, is a broad brushed take on commenters here, and is an extremely disparaging comment. It is my opinion that extremely disparaging remarks ought to be referenced by examples. Can you provide quotes to demonstrate your view of the commenters here?

  47. Shane March 31, 2014 Reply

    Here's an article on Romans 14 and the Strong and Weak that I've found helpful. Maybe some of you will as well.


  48. Ryan Sapp March 31, 2014 Reply

    I know your post was for Alfred but actually I am on the opposite side of the fence. I will bend you mind a little.

    As for credentials I bet I have memorized more scripture than most. Every book ever printed for AWANA... thousands of verses, chapters and whole books of the Bible with ATIA, homeschooled and graduated in ATIA, waking at 5:15 every morning for family wisdom searches, oldest of 8 kids the example and leader of the younger siblings, read the whole Bible countless times, once I read the whole bible in a month. Been on mission trips all around the world, Russia, Papa New Guinea, Indianapolis for years and various cities in America.

    I don't think you could call me a carnal Christian or even a "babe" when you look at experience or rule following.

    Now where the rubber meets the road I haven't been to Church in years, not an ounce of interest. Won't call myself a "Christian". Why? Partly because of statements and mindsets like yours. I will put my current "carnal" life up against yours any day of the week and compare the differences we are making in people's lives starting with my kids on to my siblings, parents, friends and general good deeds to people I don't know all coming from a "nonchristian" person. Why do I do them? Because that's who I am.

    Now the next level. Take my friend Dallas. Without a doubt the sweetest, most sincere human I know. Raised Morman. He's gay. Please google Red Fred Project, (please everyone google it, it will change your life and make you cry). He has made a significant impact and changed THOUSANDS of lives because of his heart.

    On of my favorite quotes of all time from Jim Valvano. He said this whole riddled with stage 4 cancer. He only lived a few months after this statement.
    “To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.”

    Please think about my comments and ponder them. You can also judge me for my nonchristianity.....that would be par for the course.

    My days are very full,


    • Shane March 31, 2014 Reply

      Please google Red Fred Project- Beautiful!

    • Shannon Wehr March 31, 2014 Reply

      As stated in my original comment, experience and rule-following are not the only and final proofs of genuine salvation.

  49. Shannon Wehr March 31, 2014 Reply

    Ryan, why should your post surprise me or cause me to re-think what the Bible says? I will stand right up and agree with you that there can be found many wonderful sweet giving people that are not believers in Christ while sadly there are many Christians whose "good works" don't measure up. However, the Bible teaches that though a person may lead an exemplary life, if he is not trusting in Christ's righteousness to attain heaven, all his efforts towards eternal life are worthless. Not to say that that person's life here is worthless or that all the good he is able to do or accomplish has no effect in this life, simply that once he dies, all of those good deeds will not earn him a place in God's kingdom. Maybe that is not important to you. I choose to believe the Bible and you seem to imply that you choose not to. Each person is given a choice. I judge no one for their non-christianity. That is for Christ to do. I was talking to those who identify themselves as believers.

    • Ryan Sapp March 31, 2014 Reply

      I appreciate your comments. I accepted Christ at 8 and was baptized at 12. Once saved always saved, right?
      I don't do what I do to get to heaven. The thought never even enters my mind. I do it because it's who I am. I understand where you're coming from. I'm not looking to argue. Just want you to challenge your mind and beliefs and know that there is so much more than being a "serious Christian"

      Had one of my best friends die today at age 48. I am going to love those in my life and worry about who's right, wrong and serious to God.

      • Shannon Wehr March 31, 2014 Reply

        I do not believe 'once saved, always saved' but rather that he who is faithful to the end gains the prize. Neither do I do what I do to get to heaven, but from the love Christ has graciously and completely undeservedly granted to me. I owe Him all as a humble slave that He has redeemed from the Devil's bondage to His and I am eternally grateful for His pardon and forgiveness of all the wrongs I do Him. I will join you in loving others, but from what I believe the Bible says, that includes snatching brands from the burning. You and I both are given the Scriptures and in them we are warned by God Himself who is right, wrong and serious.

  50. Ryan Sapp April 1, 2014 Reply

    Millions of people have died through the centuries at the hands of those who use the bible as a moral high ground to judge who is right, wrong and serious. Sadly you prove my point over and over.

    One thing I have really appreciated about RG are those who really lived IBLP and the legalism and have come out have a real spirit of acceptance and love because they know how unaccepting and calloused legalism can be.

    What a shame it would be to live your whole life trying to please God and once you die to find you weren't serious enough or didn't do enough to get into heaven. Like I tell my Morman friends. The God you have excerpted from the bible is egotistical and narcissistic. I don't believe that is the God of the bible or a God anyone cares to follow in 2014. Once again if we start discussin theology everyone comes from a different place. ( BTW my Morman friends use that argument against evangelicals. There is one bible why do you have hundreds of denominations that believe different things).

    My only point. Challenge your view of God. Have an open mind. You might find he is more loving and accepting and less judgement than you thought.

  51. Frank April 14, 2014 Reply

    Early on in this discussion someone talked about the misuse of scripture. The misuse of scripture does not nullify scripture. It is still the Word of God. What denomination hasn't had at least one scripture out of balance? We need to use our heads and use scripture to interpret scripture.

    Let those who have sinned confess it and forsake it. Each one of us will stand before our maker. If we judge ourselves, we will not be judged. Yes, that also goes for Mr. Godthard and each and every one of us.

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