From One Preacher to Another: An Open Letter to Bill Gothard (by Joel Rainey)

Joel Rainey is the Director of Missions at Mid-Maryland Baptist Association, an adjunct professor at Capital Bible Seminary and blogs at Themelios (Twitter – @joelrainey). 

Dear Bill,

I write this letter feeling very strange.  In light of the prescribed discipleship method of Titus 2, this younger man who could theoretically be your son feels a bit weird.  Nevertheless, after having read about the accusations of sexual harassment by multiple women who have worked under your authority, I feel compelled to express what I’m feeling right now to an older man who is supposed to model what it means to follow Jesus.

For many years (I’ve been in ministry for more than 22 years now) I’ve followed your work from a distance.  During that time I’ve heard you take bold stands and say some things I thought were very helpful to the church, and I continue to be thankful for those timely exhortations.  From the standpoint of general theology, you and I are basically the same.  You have advocated a few views over the years that, frankly, I thought were narrow, exegetically flawed and a bit goofy, but we both hold a high view of Scripture and an exclusive view of Jesus as God incarnate, who died on the cross as a substitute for sinners, rose bodily from the dead and is one day returning.  But honestly, I never got any closer to your ministry, and my reticence is overwhelmingly due to the strange way you seem to have been revered by your own followers–a way I discerned to be very, very unhealthy, but which you apparently demanded.  Now, it appears my reluctance was warranted.  I recognize that a single accusation does not, and should not automatically constitute guilt.  But the multiple women now coming forward more than warrants pulling the trigger on 1 Timothy 5:19-20.  Regardless of your intent, the net effect of your actions toward these women did not empower and equip them as followers of Jesus.  Instead, they departed from their service with you uncomfortable, afraid, and ashamed.  Such is never the result of a healthy, Biblically sound, God-honoring ministry.

Since hearing about this situation from one of the pastors in the network of churches I serve, many emotions have flooded my soul that I want to share with you, and with the world that is now watching to see not only your ultimate fate, but your reaction to these revelations.

First, you need to know that I am angry with you.  In the next couple of paragraphs, I’m going to be very rough on you.  I hope you will not stop reading, and that by the end of the letter you will know of my love for you as a brother, but you need to hear the following words. I am angry as a fellow pastor/minister. Your behavior has placed yet another black eye on our common profession and calling.  Occasionally, a situation arises in which I need to provide counsel to a young woman, and circumstances like this make her parents understandably concerned. You are now to the rest of us who serve as pastors what the 9/11 hijackers were to Muslims–someone who causes the rest of us to be viewed with high suspicion simply because we are pastors.  By your behavior, you haven’t just broken trust with your own followers.  You have also contributed to the growing distrust that the public now has of those of us in ministry.  The Gospel–which is what people need the most for healing, meaning and purpose–is kept from many because actions like yours have broken the trust between them and those of us who are the stewards of that story. To be honest Bill,  the most repulsive thing about what you did isn’t just the inappropriate behavior with young women, but that this behavior occurred in the context of an uneven working relationship.  You abused the power and trust of your office to satisfy yourself rather than serve your people.  And as the one with the power in the relationship, the blame for everything that has transpired rests squarely on your shoulders.

I am also angry as a father.  I have two sons whom I love more than my own life.  And yet if I ever discover that they have behaved as you have and taken advantage of a woman, they will experience a level of wrath from their father that they have never seen before.  Taking from a woman to satisfy yourself is what little boys do, and I want my sons to be men.  Real men don’t do what you did.  But my anger reaches its peak when I think, not of my sons, but my daughter.  I have to tell you Bill, if one of the young women you abused had been my Gracie, then it is highly likely I would be writing this letter from a prison cell, and you would be reading it through deeply bruised, bloodshot eyes from the confines of a hospital bed.  Yes, I recognize it would be wrong for me to react in that way, but maybe if you understand how incredibly angry I am–how unspeakably angry a LOT of fathers are at you–then perhaps you will also sense how the heavenly Father of these young women feel.  These young ladies–as followers of Jesus–are daughters of the most high God.  They are princesses who were placed in your care and pastoral stewardship, and you abused your authority to your own sick benefit.  Their Creator and yours is also very angry with you.  Public embarrassment and the potential loss of a life-long ministry should be the least of your worries right now.  If I were you, I’d be very, very afraid!

Second, I am brokenhearted.  You and I don’t agree on a few things, but one of the things I always appreciated about your ministry is that you were consistently clear when it came to Jesus.  But just as your words in the past demonstrated your strong affinity with Jesus and His church, your reprehensible behavior has tarnished both our Lord and His people.  Paul tells us in Ephesians 3 that it is through the church that the manifold wisdom of God is made known.  As the stories of your harassment of young women and abuse of power begin to spread, they will, in the eyes of the world, grant legitimacy to the charges of misogyny and chauvinism that are so often leveled at us all.  This is what people will think of when they think of the church and her earthly leaders–the exact opposite of the truth, which is that Jesus gave of Himself to give us freedom.  I am profoundly saddened when I think of the way the Gospel will be misunderstood and the church will be held in suspicion because of this.

Finally, I am hopeful.  I’ve read your doctrinal statement, and assuming that these words didn’t just come from your mouth, but also represent your head and your heart, that makes you my brother in Christ.  That means that we are both fallen men who have been redeemed.  From where I sit Bill, it appears that you have enjoyed a level of unchecked, cult-like authority for many decades.  If I had had that same level of unilateral control–if there were not other men in my life, both on my governing board and in my circle of friends, to get in my face, hold me accountable and give me a good swift kick when needed–I would be just as prone as you to abusing my authority in some way.  In other words, I write this letter fully acknowledging that at heart, I’m no better than you, and I’m incredibly thankful for other godly men He has put into my life to keep me on the right path.  We all still struggle with our own sense of self-importance, and are prone to make our ministries about ourselves rather than Jesus.

So as this situation continues to unfold, I hope you will see it as an opportunity to truly repent, and begin a process of restoration that includes full submission to others who oversee your counseling, accountability, and support.  The women you abused need healing, but so do you, because sin leaves all of us scarred, even those who committed it against others.  The great news of the Gospel is that God isn’t just a righteous judge who will one day settle all accounts and leave no injustice unpunished.  He is also a loving Father–YOUR loving Father, and He is able to heal even your own self-inflicted wounds.

I hope you see the deadly seriousness of what you have done, and I pray that it drives you headlong toward the Jesus you worked hard to preach over the years.  It is unlikely that you will ever again have the level of power and influence you once enjoyed, and given the gravity of your actions, I’d say that is appropriate.  But the hope of the Gospel means that you can still be used in powerful ways, primarily through a potent testimony of restoration, should you decide to take that long journey under the loving discipline of God’t people.  As angry as I am with you right now, I pray this for you nonetheless.

From one preacher to another,
Joel

Comments

  1. Roger Simpson says

    What is going on with Bill Gothard right now? Was he fired from his job at the ministry he used to run?

    I followed the links to several web sites where various girls recount how they were abused by Gothard. However, I don’t see any statement by Gothard responding to the charges.

    • Anna says

      Bill Gothard has not been fired, and he has not stepped down. He is still the president of IBLP and its branches. The two places in which it is most likely a statement would be published would be http://www.iblp.org and http://www.recoveringgrace.org.

      As of yet, no statement has been made by Bill or by the IBLP board, although the published accounts of inappropriate behavior and harassment are not new to 2014. More information is also now coming to light which is beyond the previously published accounts of harassment, and which dates back to the early years of the IBLP (then IBYC) organization.

    • Lisa Joy says

      Bill Gothard can’t be fired (after the 1980 scandal, he re-wrote the by-laws so the board *can’t* fire him!) and he hasn’t resigned.

      There has been no statement from IBLP or from Bill Gothard as of yet.

    • Dustin says

      and you will never see one. He’s too self righteous a hypocrite to answer for these accusations. The only thing that will bring his sorry excuse for a man down is if he goes to jail…

    • Julie Terrell says

      No, he has not been fired. He set up his “board of directors” in such a way that he can’t be fired!
      You can read many accounts from my friends and myself on http://www.recoveringgrace.org/
      You haven’t seen a statement from Gothard because he still hasn’t made one! Absolute radio silence.
      Mr. Rainey, thank you for this. For those of us whom this man has wronged, someone speaking out on our behalf is so comforting. God bless you!

  2. Jake Barker says

    If what is published about this sack of manure, he should be at the bottom of a hole filled with dirt.
    Mark 9:42
    New King James Version (NKJV)
    Jesus Warns of Offenses

    42 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.

        • says

          I understand and identify with your sentiment Jake, which is what makes this a very, very hard situation. Balancing grace and truth is most difficult here, but if I can push back a little, Gothard isn’t a “sack of manure.” He is an image bearer of God–which is precisely why we don’t excuse what he did–because he isn’t an animal. He is a reflection of the glory of God. So we hold him to that standard, while continuing to treat him as someone for whom Jesus died.

          I don’t have a clear answer for how this is specifically done at every level, and truth rightly calls me out below regarding some of my own comments. Excusing it and/or ignoring it, claiming it should be handled “privately,” et al is unacceptable in light of the clear teaching of 1 Timothy 5. But we also cannot allow our anger to lead us to sin, or we too will be guilty of tarnishing the Gospel. Be straight with him. Express anger (because God is angry too!). Let him feel the weight of what he has done. Do your best to get the women he abused the resources they need to heal, and seek their good before his. But simultaneously, continue to hold out the hope of the Gospel, even to him. Tough, I know.

          • Jake Barker says

            Joel,
            Presuming that wikipedia is correct, Gothard was born in 1934. That would make him around 80 now. If he has been a minister for, how many years? How many women has he molested by the time this last one came out? There are a couple of points here, one, what purpose would being 70+ and molesting a woman do? Most men by that time (and I am 64) have little interest in sexual relations despite the ads for various medicines. Gothard has never been married from what I can find…..giving him the benefit of the doubt (and that is a stretch here), maybe he just needed a female hug……well, he could have found more appropriate age and marital status women to provide said hug. Maybe this just came about as he aged, we can’t find that he has Alzheimer’s but behavior like this does come with the disease as well as the possibility of rage and abusive physical violence. Given his age and possible physical/mental condition the ideal situation would be for him to just retire….either forced or voluntary. That may be the reason for no comment from his “official” website. However, I will continue to call perverts like him a “sack of garden fertilizer” if for no other reason than to keep Dave from washing my mouth out with soap ;) .

  3. says

    “I have two sons whom I love more than my own life. And yet if I ever discover that they have behaved as you have and taken advantage of a woman, they will experience a level of wrath from their father that they have never seen before.”

    I hope they never give cause to see your wrath.

    “I have to tell you Bill, if one of the young women you abused had been my Gracie, then it is highly likely I would be writing this letter from a prison cell, and you would be reading it through deeply bruised, bloodshot eyes from the confines of a hospital bed.”

    Understandable. Yet that would simply give another black eye (pun intended) to the office of pastors around the world.

  4. volfan007 says

    What did Gothard do? I haven’t heard anything about this. What did he do to these women? And, is it just allegations, or did he confess to doing it?

    David

    • greg r says

      dear volf: my pitiful comment here does NOT do BG justice , please check out recoveringGrace for first person accounts, and the commenters there are mostly ATI and IBLP grads, MANY have worked on staff at HQ and overseas , or both. They are not out to demonize, or “get Bill”, as much as share a sad, sad story; it’s a story they share, because their abuse us similar, if not always as severe as the list of 34 witnesses.
      work
      The gist of it: Bill had (has ???) a habit of “grooming” young girls (14 to 18) to work closely with him in a variety of roles, and it was common to “counsel” these girls, sometimes in the early am. (4;00 to 5:30) alone of course. He would do the same, at times later at night. During these counseling times, or just during work, he was known to hold hands, stroke hair, discuss intimate details of the sexual/dating past, and sometimes remove his shoe and rub his foot to theirs.

      That’s a quick fly-by, but I’ll say that “charlotte’s story” is much , much worse. Much of what he did were exactly the kinds of things that he taught his flock should never do, and sent young men/women home for doing much less.

      I don’t want to ramble on, the RG website does a much better job, check it out, today’s post (ruth’s story) is a heartbreaker, imo.

  5. William Thornton says

    Follow the links, brethren. I’m sure we will hear more.

    Gothard fell off my radar about 35 years ago.

    • Doug Hibbard says

      I hadn’t heard much about him since high school.

      He’s another one that manages to get mentioned as “a big influence on homeschoolers” that the entire batch of homeschoolers I interact with on a weekly basis don’t even think about him. I honestly thought he had retired or passed away until these allegations started bubbling up a few months ago.

      • Dave Miller says

        There was a time, 10 or 15 years ago, where home schoolers I knew would have probably burned Joel in effigy for criticizing Gothard. That statement WAS true at one time

        • Doug Hibbard says

          I know it was at one point, and may still be in some circles. It’s kind of like the guy at Vision Forum imploding: not everyone who claims to have a massive following really has one. Sometimes, he just has a really good press agent.

          Or it’s someone whose ‘books are on the shelf of almost every homeschool family.’

          Yep, because it was the first (or only!) book we found about homeschooling when we started. We bought it, read it, thought it was mostly useless but have this hesitance about throwing books away, so it’s on the shelf. Right beside a lot of other stuff we don’t use.

          I remember one lady who was part of the leadership of our youth group in high school was a huge Bill Gothard fan, but our youth minister wasn’t even willing to take youth trips to his stuff even back then. There wasn’t a Bill Gothard 8-track or filmstrip in our resource tub. But there was just a weird sense of legalism mixed with veneration when Gothard came up–so I never went with any of the groups that went to those weekends.

          Looking at this, what a chaotic train wreck for the young people involved here. And I have a couple of names specifically to pray over on this one.

          Folks, when you see someone that promotes his way, and his way only, of following Jesus as the panacea for the evils of the modern world, he’s probably got snake oil.

        • Doug Hibbard says

          Of course, I know some homeschoolers that would burn anyone in effigy if they were doing science experiments on how fast effigies burn and whether or not the relative wickedness of the personae affected the burn time.

          All kidding aside, there is a difficult undercurrent in homeschool realms to make heroes of helpers, saints of heroes, and idols of saints. And we all know that nobody likes their idols messed with–there are good folks who would be aghast at the vehemence that their followers have in following them. How much worse it gets when it is a leader who is not worthy of the respect he gets, and then builds it into something worse.

          My prayer in all this is threefold: first, for healing and help for the women involved; second, for appropriate repentance for Gothard; third, that I don’t let my desire for approval drive me to sinful directions.

          • Don Owens says

            Doug, It is not just homeschool groups that make heros and idols of their gurus. Every religion has this tendancy…ever read the history of Mormonism, and hundreds of other cultic groups? Read the book, “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism”, …as long as the world contains charasmatic leaders, there will be impressionable people who will follow them…in all walks of life. It’s a human flaw to idolize someone you think has made a difference in your life, not a homeschoolers’ flaw. I could give you many examples of this same kind throughout history, in groups where homeschooling was never even heard of. And I would say also that the guru’s flaw here is not a desire for approval…rather it is a drive to control. And that is a human tendancy that we must all fight against.
            I think Joel’s letter to BG is wonderful. I hope he took it to him and personally read it to him. Thank you.

    • says

      35 years ago I was born and Gothard didn’t show up on my radar until 10 years later. Unfortunately, not only did he get on my radar, his influence and his ATI program (cult) greatly changed my family and wrecked my childhood/teen years. Though I never had the chance, thankfully, to work with him so did not experience his abuse first hand, I did experience what thousands of students suffered by being a part of his cult. The sexual anise allegations are serious. So are the other methods he used to abuse his position of power and the destruction he encouraged in so many families.

      • says

        Sexual abuse. My phone keeps trying to correct abuse into anise which is highly laughable since I think using anise is abuse of my taste buds. Sorry about that.

  6. volfan007 says

    I googled Gothard. I saw the allegations against him. If the allegations are true, and they look like they are, then it’s just sad….really sad. William, I’m like you. I haven’t heard anything out of Gothard in years.

    David

  7. Roger Simpson says

    I found a website “BillGothard.com”. Evidently it is either Bill Gothard’s personal website and/or it is the official website of his organization.

    In any case there is no mention Gothard leaving (either voluntarily or by being fired) from his ministry. I ask again, has Gothard, or any member of the Board of his ministry, made any statement since January 1, 2014?

    The most recent update on BillGothard.com is in 2013. So there is nothing up there that interacts with the most recent developments.

    The only recent information regarding Gothard is coming from websites that are exposing Gothard’s long trail of abuse.

    • Anna says

      The official IBLP (Institute in Basic Life Principles) website is http://www.iblp.org. As of yet, there appear to have been no official statements since 2014 by Bill Gothard or the IBLP board.

      RecoveringGrace may be a helpful resource for those who want to know what Gothard teaches and what he has done, for those harmed by Gothard’s teaching and actions, and for those who have not kept up with Gothard and the reach of his organization(s). http://www.recoveringgrace.org

    • Lisa Joy says

      “I ask again, has Gothard, or any member of the Board of his ministry, made any statement since January 1, 2014?”

      No.

    • Lee C. says

      No statement has been released yet from Bill Gothard or the Board. The website that is bringing his false teachings to light is recoveringgrace.org, and is compiled by former students of his homeschool program (ATI).

      The membership of ATI has drastically diminished in numbers, and the purchasing of IBLP materials has also dropped off sharply, in the last 15 years.

      The point of Recovering Grace is to expose those teachings which contradict Scripture, and to show how Bill set up a culture that supported his personal failings without question.

      • Steve says

        Bill typically spends the first several weeks of the year holed up in a cabin in Michigan to “get a vision for the year” or whatever.

    • Dave Miller says

      He actually had some wise and biblical advice. Unfortunately, it was intertwined with a lot of extrabiblical and even unbiblical stuff.

    • Chief Katie says

      Bill,

      I believe you are talking about http://www.gfi.org/. Growing families International. Mr. Ezzo who runs the organization has been the subject of dismissal from two local fellowships that I am aware of. The first was John MacArthur’s ministry. His honesty was challenged and many parents felt their children suffered from Ezzo’s extreme feeding schedules for babies as young as a few weeks old. The web has much to say about this. As a teacher, my opinion is that this program is barbaric, unyielding and even cruel.

      • says

        My wife and I used Gary Ezzo’s book “Growing Kids God’s Way” as a guideline when we were new parents. Like any material, it remained as simply a guide. I heard of others whose children suffered from malnourishment due to the parents’ slavish devotion to an absolutely precise schedule without permitting extenuating circumstances (medical conditions, unique children, etc). While I know absolutely nothing about Ezzo’s personal experience in the local church, we think he had some really great guidance for parents.

        Guidance…not mandates.

        • says

          We used it too, and also kept the “Guidance…not mandates” thought in mind.

          Some of the things they taught were really good, and as much flak as we took from the “feeding schedule” and “nap time schedule”, all 4 of our kids were sleeping soundly through the night by 2 months and waking up happy. You should have seen the change in attitude of my mom. She absolutely hated the idea of “scheduled feeding/naps” when we first started. But, after 2 months, when our first was sleeping through the night, and seeing how rested my wife and I were, and how happy our daughter was, she started to praise the method with her circle of friends. That was quite a thing to behold.

          Unless you have experience with waking up with little ones during the night, I can’t even tell you how awesome 8 hours of unbroken sleep with 2 month old kids are. ;) The first night our first daughter “selpt through”, we woke up in a panic because we thought something was wrong with her. hehe

          So, we kept the nap/feeding schedule going for all four of our kids, and it worked with all of them.

          I now tell people “Take a look at this book. There’s good and not so good, but take a good look at the nap/feeding scheduling. As far as your baby is able, do that…If that’s the only thing that you get out of this entire book, it;s worth it!” :)

          • says

            Amen and amen.

            We took flak from our extended families, but our chubby, healthy 2 month old who slept 8 solid hours nearly every night was proof that we were on to something. As well, the philosophy that we all answer to authority – kids included – was valuable in instilling a respect for those above us.

  8. says

    Notice the difference in tone from this article to other stuff going on elsewhere in SBC related blogosphere. Turns out one can confront serious issues with a person/ministry without using derogatory and hate filled language. Imagine that! That is not hypocrisy, that is doing our best (as flawed sinful human beings who sometimes fail) to display Christ Jesus in our life and behavior.

    • cb scott says

      SVMuschany,

      You comment kinda confuses me based upon some of your comment I have read elsewhere recently. And truthfully. . . some of those comments really surprised me.

      So surprised was I that I wish you would get my email address from Dave and send me an email. I would like to dialogue with you, if you are willing?

      • says

        Feel free to email me, I have tried to improve and watch my speech but I know I am not perfect and am always open to correction if needed. sv_muschany(at)yahoo(dot)com

  9. Bart Barber says

    All will be shocked to hear this coming from me:

    This just goes to show the impotence of legalism. Gothard’s movement exemplified honest-to-goodness legalism. A friend of mine from Baylor (who turned out to be a pastor) put it well. He had been to some Gothard IBLP conferences. He said,

    “When facing a tough decision, sometimes I ask myself, “Would Jesus do that?” And if I answer, “Well…I think Jesus might actually do that,” then I ask myself, “Would Bill Gothard do it?”

    “NO! Bill Gothard would NEVER do THAT!”

    As it turns out, it sadly appears that Bill Gothard would do more than you might have thought.

      • Greg Buchanan says

        Hey, I resemble that remark…

        But it was after attending Golden Gate B.T.S. in Scottsdale, AZ.

        Yes, I was at the Fiesta Bowl.

        Yes, it was sad.

        :)

      • volfan007 says

        Dave,

        ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha….

        (notice that I did the “ha ha ha” thing, instead of emoticons in honor of your wishes, Dave)

        David ;)

  10. Tarheel says

    That’s right, my bad. I’m familiar with Dobson.

    I vaguely remember some stuff about Bill Gothard…Obviously wasn’t impressed. Never used any of his stuff….checked my books and found a lone book….I opened it and it creaked…. Lol.

    I agree with you Joel on so much you’ve written here about allegations against prominent pastors/leaders and the influence that thier obvious sinful activity brings on the rest of us…especially if its unrepentant and essentially covered up and condoned by a loyal caggle of brethren.

    Unfortunately, that list is getting way too long.

    Has Gothard started the all too typical attack the messenger campaigns?

    • Lisa Joy says

      His followers sure have!

      Since the beginning of “Recovering Grace,” the site and its authors have been dismissed by the Gothard loyal as “bitter” and “rebels.” Those terms were used within the Institute as ways to shame young people into following what they were told by parents and other authorities without questioning or resisting.

      Now that these stories are coming out, some former followers are seeing the truth. Others steadfastly cling to their worship of Bill Gothard. They seem to perceive the Recovering Grace staff and authors as rebellious 13-year-olds, instead of the 30-something and 40-something adults that they are!

      As yet, no statements have been made by Bill Gothard, IBLP, or any members of the board.

      • MK says

        I would point out that those are not the only options…. Embrace Recovering Grace and denounce Gothard or be a hopeless Gothard worshipper who drank the koolaid and can’t see past the end of their legalistic nose. Another option might be, oh I don’t know, wanting to hear the whole story before rushing to judgment???

        So far, these are only allegations. One sided. Sensationally written. And, signed “anonymous.” Why should I throw BG under the bus because a group of disgruntled former students has the avowed purpose to “take him down.” Scripture tells us that the one who presents his story first seems right until the other one presents his story. As for me, I am waiting to talk to the man myself before deciding guilt or innocence. I care about having good judgment and to me, deciding a matter before both sides are presented is not evidence of good judgment.

        Does this mean the allegations are not extremely serious? No. Does this mean I don’t think BG could have possible done those things? No. Does this mean I wish to protect him regardless of his possible “crimes”? No. It just means that I will suspend judgement until the rest of the story is presented.

        The End.

        • greg r says

          MK: consider the following
          1)the allegations are by 34plus witnesses, whose stories span 30 plus yrs, and are eerily similar. They are corraborated (not by eye-witness DURING the sexual impropriety, of course, you think a sexual predator is that stupid..?) by dozens of others who state various stories that “fit” the MO of the 34plus.
          2)I type “plus” because that number is growing, if that makes this sensational… well, I guess it is, but is it believable ?? How many more witnesses would that take for you , MK ??
          3) search into this and find out how easy it was/wasn’t to get Bill’s explanation of his brother Steve’s sexual escapades’. If he covered up for his brother Steve, you think he won’t for himself ??
          4)they are one sided, yes, because as someone said in one of these comments, Bill is “lawyering up..”. Oh, … and fasting…. wonderful. Bill could, and can, respond whenever he wants to: so far ..crickets. Is that because all these charges are absurd, and not worthy of a reply ??
          5)if you want to get a feel for the veracity of these claims , a great place to start would be today’s post at recoveringGrace emtitled “Ruth’s Story”. It’s written by her husband Larne, someone who himself worked for Bill as his jet pilot for a little under two yrs. Read that and tell me these charges are frivolous….. or stand at a (comfortable) distance and throw stones at those who have suffered abuse for decades… and others suffer (we don’t know what, it may well still be going on)

          I’m not a former staffer or ATI parent, I’m just a christian who has lived long enough to know when something reeks, and when someone has played the “mighty man of GOD” card. Hope this helps.

  11. William Thornton says

    Gothard has maintained a large following over the years without a publicity driven celebrity machine. The whole system has a cult-like feel. Many conservative SBC churches in my area were big on his IBYC conferences in the 1970s (in my mind-of-mush, impressionable days I attended a couple of times). His teaching is rife with legalism although many people found them helpful, even profound. As a pastor, I knew to avoid any Gothardites that might wish to be youth leaders.

    • Christiane says

      there was something about ‘keeping secrets’ among his followers that does point to a cult-like thought-system

  12. Andy says

    Sorry if I’m missing something here, but in what kind of world is it good, proper, and helpful to post an open letter like this? If Joel Rainey does not even personally know Bill Gothard, is there any grounds at all for posting an open rebuke like this? It seems any of the following would be better:

    1. Read the News about Bill Gothard, grieve at another fallen minister, but feel no need to address it yourself.

    2. If you feel compelled, write a PRIVATE letter to Bill Gothard with these concerns.

    Again, perhaps I’m missing something…but there seems to be ZERO good reason for posting an article/open letter like this.

    • says

      Glad to answer Andy.
      1. I did read, and I did, and still do, grieve, but not only for Gothard. I grieve mostly for the women who were the victims of his abuse, and for the body of Christ, whose testimony is marred by such action.
      2. Gothard is a very public figure who has done something that is also now very public. Best as I understand 1 Timothy 5:19-20, those sins are to be answered publicly, not privately.

      I do not know Bill Gothard, but I do know many who have suffered at the hands of predators inside the church. When this sort of reprehensible behavior takes place within our ranks, the world looks to see if we will deal with it in righteousness, or ignore it because the guy who committed it happens to agree with us. Every charge of misogyny and chauvinism that has ever been leveled at any of us gains legitimacy every time we are silent about this kind of evil. So the aim of the post was to seek to model how to do that–balance grace and truth, be redemptive but straightforward, and where needed, harsh. And we do this publicly for the same reason Paul mentions in 1 Timothy 5–to demonstrate to the body of Christ and the world that they should be afraid of sin. And to let the world know that we really do take this sort of thing seriously.

      • Andy says

        1. I realize you likely have much more Theological training than I do, but it seems that 1 Timothy 5:19-20 refer to accusations against elders in a local church setting. It seems a stretch to see it as a call to publicly rebuke every famous person who sins.

        2. Is it then our (yours, mine, every christian’s) responsibility to write a public rebuke letter to EVERY public figure who has a moral or ethical failure? Have hundreds (or thousands?) of other public Christian figures failed somehow to obey 1 Timothy 5 by NOT writing a letter such as yours in this instance? Have you written a public letter like this about every famous christian who has sinned publically? Do you feel that you should have?

        3. It seems that this type of public calling-out combines 2 things that might better be separated: The rebuke TO the offender, and the public commentary. So perhaps a person might feel the need to address the offender, and can do that easily in a private way….and on the other hand, there may be a need to discuss the kinds of things in his ministry that can lead to this kind of power and blind following, so as to warn ourselves away from it….I suppose I see these as two different needs.

        • says

          Thanks for the questions Andy. Gothard, though not a local church pastor, is an ordained minister operating under church authority, and who functions in a way most would not distinguish from that of a pastor. He isn’t just a famous Christian–he is viewed as a religious leader very much like a pastor.

          Is it our responsibility to always write a letter? Probably not, and discerning the appropriateness of that is more an art than a science, and more a matter of prayer than a static set of principles. So I can only tell you how I arrived at the decision to pen this post. I heard the news, read the reports, thought of the damage that has been done in secret over the years by this man, then prayed long and hard about whether I should respond. My ultimate rationale was pretty simple: I’m a pastor whose ministry is negatively affected every time something like this happens, and I’m a pastor who knows of many abuse situations that have occurred in the North American church over the years. I came to the conclusion that a public rebuke from one pastor to another would be one way to remind all of us of the serious consequences when a faith leader does something like this, and it would also speak to the victims of said abuse, and let them know clearly that we will deal with these things and not simply sweep them under the rug. I preach nearly every Sunday to a considerable number of women, and I want them to know that I take their protection, and the responsibility to provide pastoral care in a safe environment seriously.

          In short, we’ve said nothing for too long about this particular issue. I felt strongly that it was time to say something. You may still disagree and that’s OK, but hopefully this at least explains what I was thinking.

          • Tarheel says

            For what it’s worth, I think you’re totally in bounds for doing this the way you did it, Joel. You didn’t in the spirt of righteous grievance and indignation….and it seems to come from a place of love.

            Andy,

            If we as ministers don’t call out “our own” then we are tacitly condoning the action, or at least hypocritically looking the other way for all the wrong reasons (we like him, insolated clansmanship, etc…)

            Let me use an extreme example….I often, as do many others, criticize the Westboro crowd. I do so openly and loudly….one reason I do this is becaus they tout both the name of Christ and the denominational term baptist. I contend that they are actually neither He’s a fraud and. Cultist who is going to bust hell wide open, so to speak.

            I think its important to do this kind of thing for several reasons…among which is simple aspect of credibility. If we don’t defend our cred against those who would claim and misuse it….we all lose “street cred”, so to speak.

            Paul, Peter, James and loads of OT we’re very public in calling out sinners…especially if they particularly defamed the name of God.

            I think a minister behaving as a sexual predator for years in a cultish atmosphere rises to that level.

            Also, Jesus won’t exactly private in his calling out religious frauds publicly.

          • Andy says

            Tarheel,

            I agree that the tone and content of the letter was quite appropriate…it is the placement of the letter on a public forum I am questioning.

            If what you say is true:

            “If we as ministers don’t call out “our own” then we are tacitly condoning the action, or at least hypocritically looking the other way for all the wrong reasons… ”

            Then certainly I am in sin for not writing this letter to and about Dr. Gothard. Certainly My senior pastor is as well, or at least I should urge him to write one as soon as he is made aware of the situation. If I feel no need to write public rebuke letters to every famous minister who falls, does it mean I and the majority of those like me are thereby condoning there actions?

          • Lee C. says

            Plus, Bill sits under no pastor or local church fellowship. He recognizes no greater [church] authority than his own.

          • says

            Andy, I cant speak for you or your Senior Pastor. I can only explain what I was compelled to do as one who serves more than 60 churches. Whether you decide to speak publicly is between you and God. My only point in responding to your question was to contend that it is totally appropriate, in light of 1 Timothy 5, to address this publicly. That isnt the same as saying everyone should. I wouldn’t put that on you or anyone else. But I did feel compelled to take action along this line myself. Thanks again for the questions.

          • Don Owens says

            Andy, BG has been rebuked privately by many, many who were the appropriate ones to do so over the years. He, as most control type personalities tend to do, has refused to accept rebuke, turn everything around and accuse the rebuker as the one who is in the wrong. He has a long history of this. It is hard work, and those who approach him get discouraged, go away and get on with their life. Recovering Grace is the first one to stick with it for any length of time. I am hoping that more pastors who have the same godly attitude demonstrated by Joel’s letter will join forces to present a united front –united voice to him and convince him that he must step down and go away, before more damage is done to the cause of Christ, the Gospel, and Christ. Please don’t try to second guess these godly people who are finally getting together to make him accountable. Pray for them.

          • Tarheel says

            Andy, I didn’t ean very time, and everyone….as not everyone knows about very situation, etc….

            but I do mean that we as ministers should not ever be viewed as knowing about open an unrepentant sin in “one if our own” looking the other way or being silent when it suits us.

            That’s all I’m saying.

            Unfortunately, just that happens a lot.

          • Tarheel says

            Or even worse…defending defiant, open sin. I’m not saying you’re doing that.

            (sorry for the typos…my iPad doesn’t put in every letter I type, and sometimes auto correct plays evil tricks on me.

  13. says

    I also attended a Bill Gothard seminar or two way back in the 1970s. About 15 years ago I attended a preacher’s funeral where Bill Gothard turned out to be the one preaching the funeral sermon.

    I’ve also known some Gothard disciples through the years. I’ve seen some Gothard disciples who were rebellious and that gave their pastor trouble. Also, some “holier than thou” attitudes. I agree with some previous comments that He has some good biblical material, mixed with some wrong personal views. Like some other preachers, Gothard could present his own interpretation as though it was simply what the Bible says, and if you disagree with him, you are disagreeing with the Bible and with God.

    My view has been, a little Bill Gothard can do you some good, a lot of Bill Gothard can get you fouled up.

    Of course, these views are separate from the present controversy.
    David R. Brumbelow

    • Lisa Joy says

      Bill Gothard, through his homeschooling program “ATIA”/”ATII” (Advanced Training Institute of America, later Advanced Training Institute International but more commonly called simply “ATI”), actually taught that ATI families shouldn’t go to church to learn from the preaching, but to “minister” to other families. As an impressionable young teen at the time, this teaching negatively affected my attitude toward church for many years. When a young teen is told that she is wiser and more Godly than her pastor, it’s very difficult for her to then listen to any preaching or teaching that is in opposition to Mr. Gothard, even when that preaching or teaching comes directly from the Bible! She begins to believe that she really *is* wiser than her pastor, even though, thanks to Gothard’s teachings, she never attended college and certainly not seminary!

      Regarding the teachings of Bill Gothard, a friend said it best: “All that is good is not Gothard, and all that is Gothard is not good!”

  14. NS says

    “And as the one with the power in the relationship, the blame for everything that has transpired rests squarely on your shoulders.”

    Thank you!!!!

    I had an interesting conversation with an admin of his Friends of Mr G group who said this was being handled the wrong way as it was “giving enemies of God a chance to blastpheme” and the verse about “going to a brother who has wronged you”

    But this point you made is what changes the dynamic. Brothers are on equal footing. By placing himself in a position of authority over these women – he holds a much graver responsibility. This entire thing reminds me of this parable.

    “But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.”

  15. volfan007 says

    Like Brumbelow, I attended a few Gothard seminars a long, long time ago. He is legalistic. I never liked his STRONG opinion that people should not use birth control…that a Christian couple should have as many children as they possibly could have, and train them for Christ. He made it sound like a couple were sinning for using birth control….AND, he didn’t have any children! AND, even worse, he wasn’t even married!! And, he was gonna throw all that at a Christian couple? On top of that, I know some couples, who adopted his view, and some of them had 7 to 9 children….which, there’s nothing wrong with having 11 children….but, Gothard did influence a lot of people to have as many children as possible.

    One good thing about Gothard….he could draw good. I liked his chalk talks, where he would draw things….he was pretty good as an artist.

    David

  16. jtilson says

    Guess I am too simple minded. But what is the difference here in this article and the one entitled Not My Business by Dave Miller back about December 5th. I just don’t see the difference.

    But again I am simple minded so help me please.

  17. Jennifer says

    Pastor Joel here has done the right thing!
    For those who are not involved or not familiar with IBLP/ATIA, will not understand that a public letter is what is needed!
    I was in BG homeschool group and since getting out, have learned the works based grace is dead wrong! The time for private anything with BG is long gone. People have gone to him in private, written to him, called him, and he always excuses himself and makes it the other persons fault. He changes out his board every time they don’t agree with him and he is under no ones authority but himself. This is just wrong! He has publicly done harm, he needs to publicly confess. And the more that comes out publicly, the better.
    The book “A Matter Of Basic Principles” explains it really well.
    It is time for BG to step down and stop telling the world how to live a righteous life, as he definitely does not know how to do that!

  18. says

    I recall my parents attending Gothard’s seminars in the Houston area years ago. They would come home full of ideas and changes that we needed to make as family. All the youth whose parents had attended would commiserate together about whatever it was our parents were doing. I cannot recall anything my mom and dad said or did, I just remember dreading the next Gothard seminar.

    Eventually, either he went away or my parents stopped attending. I suspect it was the latter: my folks have never been her0-worshippers or easily given to elevating a single person above all else.

    And that, I think, is the key: refuse to elevate a person or a philosophy above the wisdom of the Spirit’s guidance.

  19. AndyB says

    Just wanted to answer a couple questions. First IBLP has not responded officially to any of the accusations. Bill Gothard is on his 6 week “Fasting and Prayer” trip to one of their locations in Watersmeet Michigan.

    However, a friend of mine talked to George Mattix today and the board at IBLP has hired an outside legal team to assist with the investigation. But there has been no official response.

    I worked for Mr.Gothard for about 10 years (1993-2003) at various ministry centers. While I never saw anything amiss it did concern me how much time he spent alone with young girls contra his very good advice on how to treat secretaries.

    The good thing here, is that God will not be mocked, Bill Gothard will reap what he has sown. Eternity may be the only way we truly know the extent of what has been going on with Gothard over the past 40 years.

    From a pastoral perspective between this and the Vision Forum thing late last year. There is a very large significant group of homeschoolers that just had their world rocked to the core. There very well may be some in your churches that are realizing they were pointing to keeping Gothards/Phillips “standards” as their foundation of holiness and justification before God. I used to be one of them. And there are many many of them out there that may be open right now to a fuller understanding of how we should look to Christ and what he did instead of us and what we do.

    Keep praying for them. We all are in need of daily grace.

    • Don Owens says

      Uh, no, I don’t think so…”large, significant”… “world rocked to the core”? Maybe some, but I know very many of them, and of any group I know, homeschoolers know how to “eat the fish, and spit out the bones”. Disappointed, yes, about the same as you would be if your pastor was involved in an infidelity. HS’s are a very independent, level headed bunch of people, and most have a belief that all men have feet of clay. I doubt very much that many of them looked to the teachings of these two men as their “foundation of holiness and justification”. I personally know many Christian families who have been helped by these two men’s teaching…they are sad, but hardly “rocked to the core.” No need to make it worse than it is. Instead of piling on, folks, just pray for this situation.

      • JH says

        Don, don’t presume to know who is and isn’t affected by this ministry. Your arrogance is disturbing. Don’t try to minimize the damage done to many families by some of these teachings just because you apparently know all of the homeschoolers that haven’t, and don’t, follow Gothard. On another note, I do agree that prayer is needed for this situation.

      • AndyB says

        Don,

        Maybe large and significant is overstating the case. But it includes tens of thousands and pretty much everyone I’ve ever known in homeschooling circles. Obvious your mileage may vary.

        But, no this is vastly unlike “same as a pastor involved in infidelity”. As the author of this article states in the second paragraph.

        “But honestly, I never got any closer to your ministry, and my reticence is overwhelmingly due to the strange way you seem to have been revered by your own followers–a way I discerned to be very, very unhealthy, but which you apparently demanded.”

        All my life experience with Gothards ministry going on 25+ years since my first seminar says the author is correct.

        I would say the followers the author has noted and the people I know will indeed be “rocked to the core”.

      • Don Owens says

        So sorry to misinterpret you. My *genuine* concern was that the statement: “…a very large significant group of homeschoolers that just had their world rocked to the core” indicated that the writer was claiming for himself that: “…you apparently know all of the homeschoolers that haven’t, and don’t, follow Gothard.” I’m concerned about the broad sweeping generalities I am reading not only on this site but on other sites as well. This issue is about one man and one man only…his guru mentality which has led him to distort Scripture, and harm people. There is no sense to this “piling on” homeschoolers and homeschooling that I am reading. And btw, you don’t know me, I am not arrogant in this matter, and I know and have known large numbers of HS’s, inside and outside of the Phillips/Gothard circle. Again, Joel’s letter is excellent, I hope BG and his allies get to read it, and I have been praying that other pastors (esp those formerly supportering of BG), and former IBLP upper staff do the same thing. Hope that clears thing up.

        • says

          We have three children, one of whom we educate at home, and there isnt a single Got hard resource in our home. Never has been. Our educational decisions for our children have never been about ideology, but instead, what is in the best interest of each of our children? Your point is well-taken that “homeschoolers” are not all alike.

  20. Jim Hedrick says

    Recovering Grace is a ministry of healing to masses of good folk and their children who were spiritually abused standing innocently under the Gothard umbrella of legalism. I am aware of a family of 13 who are in various stages of dealin with Gothard’s theology. The father priest of the household holds to Pelagianism and is triennial of his narcissistic theology of ruling himself,wife and remaining young uns at home. Strong law keeping without a strong DEPENDENCY on the grace of God in Christ Jesus will destroy law keepers and their flocks. It is not all about keeping God’ s rules. It is about the free grace of our sovereign God of love. Saving sinners. Read some of the freed GOTHARDite testimonies. Beware of legal living and Rev. Legality.

  21. Sarah says

    Thank you for not mincing words.

    Thank you for helping to shed light on the evil of this dark cult (in the name of god). May more people speak out for justice!

  22. Christiane says

    some thoughts . . .

    when ‘scandals’ emerge, looking for patterns in all practices that enabled the sin to occur and flourish . . . I think that is what the Church is obligated to do:

    to take responsibility for ‘dropping the ball’ and allowing situations that looked away, or did not ‘listen’ to victims, or worse called the victims ‘liars’.

    Without an examination of the Church’s role in the tragedy, just casting stones at a perpetrator won’t be a thorough enough effort to protect the innocent.

    This is not a ‘criticism’, but a general observation that the whole Church must never, ever abandon its duty to protect and shelter the innocent from predators.

    In a specific case of someone raised to ‘prominence’ in the Church, once they have demonstrated a weakness in a certain sin area, to continue to allow them in the hen house without supervision . . . the guilt becomes extended also to those who permitted access unquestioningly . . .

    it’s a complicated issue, with the innocence of the young sacrificed to the hero-worship of those people consider ‘in authority’ and beyond supervision or limits . . .
    we know how it happens, there are enough ‘cases’ . . .

    our response?

    God bless the people who are ‘watchdogs’, who look out for the protection of the innocent, and point out predators when the Church has failed to do its job properly. These people are in the role of guardian angels for our young.

    The whole Church has work to do and the examination of only one ‘case’ at a time without connecting the dots is not good enough anymore.

  23. dr. james willingham says

    David committed adultery and murder, and as he demanded that the fellow who stole the one little ewe lamb fourfold he paid fourfold for each sin. I have a sermon on the subject, Payday Today, a take off on R.G. Lee’s Payday Someday. Dr. Lee was dealing with sinners who sin; they pay some day. I was dealing with believers; they pay today and pay and pay and pay. I knew of one preacher who led such a life style and today he is without an opportunity to serve, a wife, and a child. God has a way of getting a rebel’s attention. I remember saying to the fellows who fired me, as they admitted, “We could find nothing wrong with you,”(believe me, they tried). I replied, “Well, brethren, we will meet in eternity.” They are all there. One died in 10 mos., the second in 12 months, and the third in 10 years. It will be 8 years this coming December, since the last one died. God does not seem to be any hurry to take me out of the world to meet them. Besides, I have forgiven them. There is no winning in a game like that. The only person I hurt was me, when I kicked a tree in frustration and anger. The tree looked on in sympathy, evidently not feeling any pain, but my foot howled. Recently I advised a fellow not to try and get even. God can take care of that as He determines what is best.

    • says

      James, This isn’t about revenge. But it is about calling a leader to account as 1 Timothy 5 would commend, both for his own good, for the spiritual and emotional good of his victims, and for the protection of any who might have been his victims in the future.

      Revenge? Never. Acting like pastors who want to protect their people from predators? You better believe it!

  24. says

    I have no skin in this game. Many years ago I went to a Gothard seminar. I never took away from it that the teachings were “mandatory” – and I certainly did not accept all of Gothard’s opinions. I certainly found nothing wholly “legalistic” in the Basic seminar – though everyone is entitled to their perspective on the issue. Like many Gothard fell off of my radar – I still have a few books, but have not “creaked” them in years. Some of what Gothard taught stuck such as his teaching on authority. His teaching on music I discarded in the light of Psalm 150 – and having dealt with many of Gothard’s disciples over the years (not so much Southern Baptists but others) I can see how “hero worship” can deal a body blow to any member of Christ’s family.

    My main issue over the years has not been with Gothard per se, it has been the visceral reaction of his opponents and enemies. And yet I note that this reaction is the nature of being human: we highlight the weaknesses and sins of our opponents, yet ignore the same in our associates, friends, and theological allies. Here is hoping that the open letters and the castigators of members of the Body of Christ are even handed – not only for our adversaries but our friends as well.

    Rob

    • Christy Bell says

      I disagree that Gothard’s opponents are “castigators of members of the Body of Christ.” On the contrary, the “Recovering Grace” folk are devoted to DEFENDING the Body of Christ from false doctrine and the abuse of false teachers. Please look at the link to “Recovering Grace.”

    • greg r says

      Rob: you really dont’ get it. Bill Gothard WAS the “associate, friend, and theological ally” , and much , much more (that is, seen in a much more POSITIVE light) than your description. And then the blinders came off (slowly…. and for some, of course, the hero worship continues). In other words , the most “visceral reaction” has been from those who have been mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and if you count Steve Gothard PHYSICALLY, raped. Yeah, that tends to get some visceral response.

      Read Joel’s post again, sounds like he would make these responses seem tame if Bill, or Steve, had done their evil on his daughter Gracie…

      I side more with Joel, if Bill had even “just” emotionally defrauded my daughter, my first “matt. 18″ moment would have been a front kick, slightly less than waist high. I’d fill in the fine theological details later. Darcy, on SG had the best response to your kind of reasoning, she said “Two words: Bull-whip….millstone..” Best response I’ve read, though I”m NOT saying to apply these in the most literal sense, but the kind of systemic sin we are talking about , from the highest of levels, should get that kind of response… especially the millstone part.
      Rant over.

      • says

        Greg, By the time she is old enough to date, my little girl will know exactly where a young man’s “off button” is. Though I’m happy to pound on anyone who would try to take advantage of her myself, I will ensure that she is able to handle herself. And I don’t care who he is, I will have equipped her to turn him into a soprano for the rest of his natural life.

        • greg r says

          booo-yah , well said: two words, bro KRAV MAGA… this does not take the place of GOD’s provision, but if you’re going to carry a sword, sharpen it, and know which end hurts….

  25. says

    My goodness – you misread my intent.

    I really have no love for ministers who take criminal advantage. Give them no quarter and put them in jail. Many a sinner has reconciled themselves to God under such circumstances, when all has been lost and all they have left is themselves and God. If the accusations are true, then Bill Gothard will receive the consequences for his sin like all sinners before him. God is not mocked, nor will anyone escape the consequences of their actions.

    Bill Gothard is not the first nor will he be the last Minister of the Gospel to be guilty of sexual sin. We can run through the list of fallen Christians who have been in the limelight of public notoriety, who in the next instant were made low because they did not yield themselves to the Spirit of Christ in the moment of temptation but gave in to their own desires. I personally believe that it is the public notoriety itself which causes pride in the Minister’s life which leads to being brought low. Paul complained about his “thorn in the flesh” whose main purpose in his life was to keep him humble and subservient to the will of the Holy Spirit.

    No, my main complaint is that those who would gloat the most of the fall of the Christian leader would be his adversaries, not his friends. No one I imagine here shed a tear for the demise of Jim Bakker – but how many have penned open letters in SBC circles to Paul Brooks? His multiple scandal(s) at FBC Raytown included all sorts of destruction to the Body of Christ local and universal – yet the crickets are chirping and continue to chirp. He was held accountable by his church ultimately – after much destruction and misery (and silence) by others who could have spoken up both in Missouri and elsewhere.

    I really have no qualms with Joel’s letter. I continue to be amazed at the double standard in Christian circles = support and love your friends who sin, yet question and condemn with severity those you don’t. That is all I was attempting to say.

    Rant answered.

    Rob

    • greg r says

      I’m kind of dim witted, maybe it’s the large taco salad I had for lunch. I’m not sure I see evidence (so far) of the double standard you are talking about, though it might be there. If anything , the christian world has largely treated the Gothard thing just as the FBC Raytown thing (sadly: crickets…) there have been only a few major internet posts by major sites (patheos, wartburg watch, a few others) but mostly silence, and maybe people want to err on the side of caution.
      There will be much (foolish) gloating eventually, both within and without the body of Christ: enemies to the cross, and enemies to the type of christianity that they THINK BG represents. Like I said, sad, because BG is really you or me…well, esp. ME, when placed in the right prideful soil , and allowed to grow in the dark for a few decades. In fact , I think I”d have turned out more like Steve: full blown sexual stalker, if you gave me all his privileges, and no real supervision/accountability.

      Kind of rambling on here… btw: I did shed a tear for Jimmy Bakker when I saw his confessions, he seemed genuinely contrite, and gave no half-baked excuses, or at least that’s how I remember it.

      May we look to the LORD , and ourselves, and see this matter straight, and others (FBC Raytown) like it. We are all jars of clay.

      • Don Owens says

        Rob & Greg, Thank you for your honesty and humility. You have both expressed very eloquently that we can condemn wrongdoing and at the same time have a humble awareness of our own inclinations to sin. We ministers are more susceptible than we realize. Neither our particular theological position or all the good work we do can give us an inoculation against even the very sins we preach against. Paul’s words: “…lest that when we have preached to others we ourselves…”. Thanks, brothers!

    • Tarheel says

      Rob, I think you’re right.

      I don’t know anything about the situation of which you speak with Paul Brooks…but I have seen more than enough wagon circling on this and other blog sites when it involves someone the commenters have either a relationship with or a particular affinity for.

  26. "Sad" says

    Joel – I heartily commend you for the passion in your open letter. You may find this bit of news that came out tonight – 02/27/2014 of interest:
    http://www.worldmag.com/2014/02 /bill_gothard_placed_on_administrative_leave
    I would encourage pastors like Joel to contact IBLP and light a fire under them to insure that they do not let Gothard skate like he did after the 1980 scandal. Enough is enough.

  27. Janice McKenzie says

    I sent all this to my sister who has been involved with Gothard and her reply? We are not to judge! I want to bang my head on the wall. I agree with the writer: if one of our girls came to me telling me that Mr. Gothard laid a finger on her inappropriately, the pictures you’d see of him would show sucken eye sockets because I would have scratched out his eyes. That would be just the beginning. I ask you, where is the rage from these parents? The leadership? Just look at the list of men on his Board through the years. Why is Gothard and brother Steve not in prison? Every single person who protected Gothard ought to go for jail for aiding and abedding (pun intended). But, what a sorry, sordid mess. Read about Bob Jones University, and lawsuit against CJ Mahaney and Soverign Grace. Read StopBaptistPreditors…created because the SBC won’t deal with the issue. We homeschooled and we learned early on there was a whole sick non-Biblical teaching about submission. We have 3 daughters you do not want to mess with and we are proud of them. — Those poor girls. My heart weeps for them and their parents. What on earth were those parents thinking? There is no king but King Jesus and this leadership worship must stop.

  28. Joe Spair says

    If these allegations are true, then Bill and others that obviously knew should be in jail. This is a sad reminder that Judas types are still very close to Jesus’ work and Satan sure knows when to use them to cause doubt on all people that love the Lord. Those that can, must act now or they share his guilt. I vote jail time and all funds be diverted to helping those he injured. The chances of him being innocent after what has been revealed is zero. I am grieved as a Pastor but not surprised.
    Pastor Joe

  29. LJG says

    Joel, Thank you for such a godly response to the news of this leader’s fall. I appreciate what you said about the levels of accountability that are in place in your life. This gives assurance to your flock and it’s so essential. Quite a number of people have benefited from the IBYC’s teachings, which were life changing to us as new believers. We are grieved also, but as you implied, this is a result of a power without accountability. What you have shared is affirming and refreshing. Thank you so much. It helps to hear both correction and redemptive words from you and I believe this response will bring healing to the body of Christ.

  30. Dan Edds says

    Well stated. The perspective of how Bill has impacted ministers and their important healing work is one that is often overlooked. Bill’s failure is not just an individual moral failure, but one that blights all of evangelicalism. Unfortunately, it is not just Bill. Thirty five years ago several evangelical leaders traveled to Bill’s headquarters and attacked the staff for our rebelliousness. They included the president of the southern baptist conference, Charles Stanley, John MacArthur Jr., and executive leadership of Bob Jones University. All of this because we dared to ask the question: ‘Bill, how is it that several women can tell you directly about the sexual abuse and harassment of your brother (Exec. VP, which included fondling and sexual intercourse), and you do absolutely nothing? In fact, when asked how he could claim he did not know, his response was “I have learned to put these things out of my mind”. And what was the response by our notable evangelical leaders: the executive VP of Bob Jones University said: “when this sort of thing happens at Bob Jones University, we shove it under the rug and keep right on going”. And John MacArthur’s only comment was: “you cannot muzzle the ox” (meaning you cannot silence the Lord’s anointed). All this while we were getting kicked out of our homes and apartments and/or getting fired for no reasonable cause. The simple fact is that 35 years ago evangelical leadership could have done something, but they were more interested in protecting one of their own. The other truth is the fat honorariums we paid for speaking at our staff conferences and giving them a ride in one of our corporate jets just bought their own collusion

    The result is thirty five more years of more sexual abuse and harassment and more cause for our secular society to laugh and Christians in general and evangelicals specifically.

    It was a disgusting display of abuse, collusion, and corporate duplicity.