Rethinking Gothard

Saturday, February 17th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Occasionally, I have epiphanies–not regularly, but not infrequently either. Sometimes they excite, sometimes they challenge, and sometimes I don’t know what to think. Today’s epiphany fall squarely in that last category.

I read something that describe Bill Gothard as a cultist and, on a whim, Googled “Bill Gothard” and “Cult”. I didn’t really agree with all the stuff I skimmed, but I did start to remember some of the stuff I heard at the Basic and Advanced Life Seminar. About how milk and meat shouldn’t be eaten together, and how a man shouldn’t sleep with his wife for seven days after her period ends. I thought of how Proverbs seemed to be the basis for about everything–and I realized that something was missing.

And the epiphany–“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Matthew 23:15

For years I knew I disagreed with some of what Bill Gothard said, but since I also agreed with some of it, I considered him to be okay. Now I wonder. How different is Bill Gothard than the scribes and Pharisees who were so interested in all their little rules that they missed the Savior standing right in front of their noses? Bill stands and gives tons of “princibles” from the “Sc’iptures” as to why we should not listen to rock music, not eat meat with milk, have sex in certain ways. He teaches all about authority and foolishness and discipline. He speaks of family planning and courtship models. But one thing I don’t remember him teaching on is the gospel, or the character of God.

The Scriptures are not a set of “rules” or even “principles” by which to live. They are a testimony of Christ. In John 5:39, Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” But what is the one thing that for all of his Scripture quotations Bill Gothard fails to talk about? He fails to speak about Jesus Christ.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay the tithe of mint and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law.” Matthew 23:23

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