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Debi Pearl Weighs in on the IBLP Situation

April 24, 2014

Whose side are you on?

On Facebook last week I read these words: “I just rejoiced to see that huge ministry fall and I helped.”

I trembled as I read this. Shock, disbelief, and then sadness enveloped me as I realized it was not CNN with all their exaggerations, deceit, mockery and twisting of facts that brought an end to a work God used to set thousands of people free from bitterness, it was not the Homosexual websites coming together to launch war against an old man accused of things done over 35 years ago, limiting his ability to defend himself. No, it was a “Christian” website that asked believers to speak out if they had been hurt in anyway, and spew their bitterness so many could share in the rock throwing. Yes, you read it correctly, it was a Christian website propelled forward by Facebook and Twitter that defamed a ministry that helped millions come to know the Lord.

Am I saying that the man God used to raise up the standard was perfect in all his ways? No! Am I saying the ministry was successful and without error? No! Am I saying I was a part of the ministry thus am struggling to protect it from gainsayers? No! I have no connection to it.

What I am saying is that God raised up a man, a fallen sinful man, and used that man to pull together thousands of believers for a greater good. What I am saying is that someday soon we will all stand before the throne of God to give an answer. All of us. The man. The folks on the website that rejoiced in the fall. Me.

I would much rather be the man who put his whole life into doing a work for God than on the side of those listed on the website that choose to rejoice over the man’s downfall and the destruction of his ministry that God used so effectively to eliminate bitterness in the lives of so many—the same bitterness that now pervades his critics so completely.

This attack was not initiated to right an ongoing wrong or to establish justice and purity; the critics have unwittingly joined the last-days, Satanic attack on God’s people to denigrate the very name of Christ.

Millions of souls are left hanging untold, unreached, undone. God calls those to cry out in the wilderness to give them the light. So now, another voice has been quieted. And in its place I hear the rejoicing from foolish ones thinking they have done well. Yes, I tremble for them.

Whose side are you on?

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

92 comments on “Debi Pearl Weighs in on the IBLP Situation”

  1. After knowing your outspoken stance regarding sexual abuse, I'm honestly shocked to see this response from you. There are dozens of women who have come forward with testimonials of their own misuse by Bill Gothard. Those that I know of personally are not bitter, hating individuals, but women who love the Lord and are seeking Him. I'm sure this is not your intent, but your statement seems to indicate that one can spend so long doing Christian work that they are no longer accountable to do right.

    Have you read Recovering Grace yourself? It's not bitterness and spite, but seeking to show grace to both offender and offended.

    Praying for all touched by the situation.

  2. Thank you for sharing your heart on this matter with IBLP. I attended a Basic Life Seminar many years ago, when I was only 25 and learned so much from it. What I have learned has been invaluable in my life and growth in Christ Jesus. I am very saddened by what has come out about Mr. Gothard; however, I am angrier at the Christians who have delighted in destroying this man. I've always heard the saying, "Only Christians shoot their wounded" and how true that is. I've never understood why, as Believers, we expect God's Grace for our own sinfulness yet we refuse to extend that same Grace to one another. How can we be effective for the Kingdom and the Kingdom work when we are so intent on acting like the world? I will be praying for IBLP, Mr. Gothard and all those who are and have been connected with this ministry. I will also be praying that God will convict the hearts of all those who have sought to destroy God's work through that ministry.

  3. Thank you, Debi, for writing this article. We have had acquaintances of ours who have participated in the website in which you referred and have seen some sad consequences from their bitterness. It grieves me to see this ministry defamed because it pointed us back to God's Word for training our children and showed us that His Word was applicable to all of life.

  4. I don't rejoice that a ministry is falling but this article is flat out full of lies. To say that he is being held accountable for things that happened 35 years ago is flat out wrong. He has continued to surround himself with hand picked young women until he was recently forced into resigning. To say that he has led millions to know God is not true just because millions have sat through his seminar, a seminar that teaches salvation of the soul by works in direct contradiction to the gospel Michael Pear teaches. To say he has freed thousands from bitterness completely ignores the thousands of his students who are now atheists because of his "ministry". This ministry has a record of locking people in "prayer" rooms for day, weeks, and even months at a time, leaving them isolated and with only two very skimpy meals a day. Some of those people being as young as 9 and 10 years old. This ministry is known for overworking and underpaying under age children while telling those youth not to tell their parents the truth of what was going on. This ministry is known for blaming female victims of sexual abuse and forcing them to repent because "obviously it is the girls fault and she must have done something to seduce him" while protecting the perpetrators. This ministry is known for telling overweight female volunteers to stay in their rooms during conferences because they don't reflect the right image for the ministry. To say you have no connection to IBLP is a lie considering your daughter served in one of the training centers and you housed a couple of the orphans that IBLP brought over from Russia. To say, "This attack was not initiated to right an ongoing wrong or to establish justice and purity; the critics have unwittingly joined the-last days, Satanic attack on God’s people to denigrate the very name of Christ," is completely wrong. Those of us who have been hurt by this "ministry" have to stand up and say enough is enough because the damaging behavior IS STILL TAKING PLACE! The wrongs that have been taking place for the last forty years have never stopped. Yes, some who have been hurt are very bitter and not responding very well to all of this, but if you knew everything that was done to us during our time with IBLP you might have a little more grace toward the victims and not accuse them so vehemently. There are no "sides" here, only TRUTH. The truth will set us free and those of us who do have direct connection with this ministry (about 25 years for me) will continue to tell the truth no matter how much the rest of our brothers and sisters in Christ don't want to hear it. Telling the truth does not make me bitter. I'm now finding out that so many of the things I was brought up to believe were lies not found in the Bible and it does leave me confused and struggling but I keep turning to my Saviour. I don't have the strength to keep myself form getting bitter but his grace is sufficient and I will keep turning to Him and letting Him wash me with His Word. Please, understand when someone appears to be rejoicing over the fall of this ministry that there is a lot more to it than how simply you make it sound in your article. I'm surrounded by broken people and broken families because of Bill Gothard, people I love deeply. He does not preach the gospel of the Bible! By their fruits ye shall know them. The fruit of this ministry has come to maturity and it is clearly rotten.

    1. I appreciate your letter Debi. I have no idea concerning the honesty of those individuals presenting their claims against Mr. Gothard. I do know that I was upset and disappointed to see a reference on their website made concerning our family's experience with the Russian ministry as evidence against Mr. Gothard. We were not consulted in regard to the use of this as evidence against Mr. Gothard. The story was misrepresented. It makes me wonder how many other stories were altered or exaggerated and like ours might have been told without even contacting the individuals
      . I hope that Mr. Gothard does not believe we were a part of this lie. I am forever grateful for the truths our family learned through the seminars and literature. This is not to say that we agreed with everything in the ministry but there was so much that we gained.

  5. Whose side am I on?

    I am on the side of the victims of this Fallen man (as you aptly wrote). It's easy to pass moral outrage on people who celebrate the exposure to his sin, but it hard to fathom the depths of hurt/disillusionment/confusion/satanic attacks that his moral discrepancies have caused innocent young girls (as young as 16). I pity the father who raised his daughter to be pure before the Lord, and allowed her to work for a ministry that took great strides to protect people from moral impurity, but unbeknownst to him, became a victim because the founder had his own hidden moral struggles. I pray for that father and his daughter.

    1. We all pray for that child and father. Really. No one is defending Gothard's sins. There is opportunity here to correct and hold Gothard accountable while improving a ministry and allowing victimes and families to have their say in healing themselves and this ministry.

      There are three issues here: The victims/families, Dr. Gothard's correction and restoration process and the possible renewal of an international ministry. We have heard the accusations. Action has begun for correction. Let us begin the rebuilding of lives, families and a ministry. It is possible in Christ.

      1. I hope he can be restored to peace in Christ, but the light has now been shown that he has not been above reproach for about 34 years and cannot be restored to leadership as "above reproach". This may be the ultimate test of whether the IBLP ministry has ever been of God. He must decrease if Christ is to increase by anything produced through his ministry after the teaching has been openly tested in the light of the Word of God. For forty years he has refused such accountability.

  6. Deb,
    I agree with your article. I was involved in ATI with the family who started the Hate Campaign Website. The mother and son team propelled this to everyone who walked with them during their ATI days, encouraging us all to join in their reputation slaughter, and posting her site on all of our facebooks. This started a few years ago, and my gut instinct reeled with sickness at the reputation slaughter through the media. I rejected the invitation, and her friendship. Her mission was one that was vicious, dangerous, and has completely consumed her life, as much as her promoting ATI days of old.
    I know Bill personally, I grieve for him and with him, knowing he never imagined his life would come to this. I saw this coming in the beginning of this website, because those you once worship, you will also hate and wish to destroy. These people worshiped Bill instead of the God of scriptural Principles. Bill was a voice in the wilderness, but they made him a god in their own eyes. They lifted him up, and their houses still crumbled, and so the fault was Bills also. As the families grew in outer appearance, their inward hearts and souls could hide secret sin, which caused a crumbling application in their own lives, transferring to their children. If the Father does not do his duty to cleanse, purge, purify, sanctify, and search the scriptures daily for his own soul, how can his children turn out any better than the father, actually falling a little further away. The blame falls to Bill, ATI, not the head of the home. Satan knows that to spoil the household, bind up the father, and all are his captives.
    I have seen Bill as man, who likes original root-bear in glass bottles, frozen grapes, and peanut m&m's, who gave his life for the Lords service, and as Moses who lead many, his punishment was great upon his shoulders, even unto death.

    1. Jeanette,

      I'm sorry to hear that you think these things about my mother, my father, my family and me. I find it painful to be judged so harshly by someone that I don't recall ever having met.

      Just to clarify the record publicly:

      • My mother has never been a part of the recovering grace ministry, although she has been a big supporter of our vital efforts to share the truth.

      • I am only one of over 20 members on the recovering leadership team, a group of Godly folks consisting of several pastors, teachers, lawyers, stay-at-home moms, and other professionals. We view this as a calling, not as a "hate campaign."

      • I don't hate Mr. Gothard. We have exchanged several phone calls over the past year, and I think he would say the same about me.

      • Our house has not "crumbled." My father is still in full-time ministry (going on 25 years now). My brother is in full-time music ministry. I finished two seminary degrees and am teaching music full-time and serving in ministry in a local church. My sister and her husband are active in church leadership at their church. I'm not sure what part of that could be defined as crumbling.

      Thanks for reading.

      1. Thank you for your interesting contribution to this blog. How would you suggest this ministry change in order to serve God with more honor? Is your only answer the complete end of IBLP/ATI/Embassy Institute/ALERT/etc, etc. Is there anything you think is of value and worthy of transformation?

        I look forward to an answer to my question for in your thoughts lay the potential for transformation for any ministry which may have gone astray.

    2. Seriously, seeing Jeanette's words makes me wonder, even more, how much control Bill Gothard had over his victims, considering that the issue crept heavily into her own family. 🙁

  7. Amen! Amen! I, my husband and 11 children's lives have been transformed, freed from bitterness, our marriage saved and countless other blessing in our lives because of the work that God did though this man, because this man allowed God to work though him. Because the damage that a few bitter people did there will be a whole generation that will be brought up that know not the 7 non-optional Bible Principles that this man of God used to save 1000s of marriages, bring countless unsaved soles into the kingdom of Christ, restore 10s of 1000s youth to a better relationship with their parents. In times like this more than ever before the Church needs the teaching that this ministry taught with the onset of the attack against the Church. My friends at the end of the day we all lose.

    1. Susan,
      It's too bad that we no longer have the Bible, God's own Word, to tell us how to know Him and worship Him. If we don't have the Basic Seminar to tell us those 7 principles, we'll never know how to live! However did the Christians from the past 2000 years and those in other countries without access to the BS manage? That comment was highly sarcastic, but I did so to point out the end result of your statement. While I am grateful for numerous scholars out there who have invested their lives into teaching and helping people better understand the Scriptures, the only thing a person truly needs is Christ and His Own Word. To elevate the writings of any man as necessary to either salvation or walking a Christian life is idolatry.

      1. Well said. Well said. The Bible is all we need. There is MUCH idolatry in ATI as well as other Christian organizations. No man should be lifted up, but Christ. If he taught 7 non optional principles from the Bible, then all we need is the Bible to learn those. Not the works of man.

    2. Here is a non-optional principle for you to consider, Susan: "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." - Matt. 15:8-9

      1. The teaching of the precepts of men, as biblical doctrines, is the source of much of the heresy in the church. One should accept the doctrines of the Bible and not try to use the Bible to prove their own doctrines.

  8. Thank you for not joining the "thousands" of scorners. I am sad when websites are created to destroy and possibly distort the work of other human beings who are created in the image of God. I have worked in a nursing home before and I know how the corruption of human flesh goes. It is difficult to overcome its fallen nature as a whole.


  10. I think the thing that doesn't sit well with me is the lack of spirit of restoration... which, I believe, is of Jesus. When something is so large, as it is over the internet, so many are involved that are just bystanders. Offences can accrue just by virtue of association to a certain article. The rift then is not just between the ones wronged, but between those who share a particular viewpoint. In that, I do agree that the enemy is loving the discord.

  11. Debbie, how would you handle it if I was your daughter? Or if your daughters went through what I lived through? All I want is victims to find healing & their voices.

  12. Debi, totally disagree with you. I think people who have been hurt are releaved that things are coming out on the open. How would you and Mike respond if it was one if your daughters that got groomed by Bill Gothard in his emotional control. You need to have a little more understanding and compassion to those who got very hurt by iblp ministry and especially by Bill Gothard himself.

  13. "When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy" (Proverbs 11:10). Enough said!

  14. Thank you Debi. We have been a part of ATI for 9 years and it has been a wonderful experience. Our daughter has participated in many different parts of the ministry and never experienced the bad. We are very saddened by all this. Very saddened. Mr. Gothard shouldn't have put himself in the situations he did and he should be held accountable for what he has done but to rejoice in it is just wrong. I find hope in knowing Jesus is perfect and one day He will return and all will be made right.

  15. "Another voice has been quieted."

    But Bill Gothard opted to resign. Are you disagreeing with him, and saying he was lying when he admitting to wrongdoing? This part of your post just seems ironic to me....

  16. Amen!! I agree!! Makes me wonder if we even love the brethren which is a sign of salvation!! (1 John 5:1-2) 1 John 5:16 If any man SEE his brother sin....what shall we do...PRAY for him!! Not gossip about him, but pray for him!! How many of the people talking actually SAW anything?? Sad days we are living in when we do not really care about one another!! Thanks Debbie, you are right on target, AGAIN!!

  17. May we walk circumspectly not as fools redeeming the time as the days are evil. My wife and I recently endured and awakened a year long bewitchment of sorcery and witchcraft being active against our marriage and work in Christ on the Islands. We to this moment stand steadfast and unmovable as a couple in Christ hallelujah! Ellie my wife recently of her own accord realized she had left the faith which brought her to understand Jesus in a way like never before. W

  18. It is correct to challenge a ministry with error and you do what you can to bring correction. But when child abuse is the issue, when abuse is encouraged, supported and it is, as you insist, the norm of the ministry, why not call the police? I don't get it? There is honor even among Christians, right? There is a way of order, law abiding, Christ-honoring. The internet has allowed for defamation, malicous unfounded statements to be spread, perpetuated, often without challenge and regardless of facts/truth. That does only damage to the Body of Christ.

    There is a problem. There needs to be resolution. Is it by locking up the criminal? I hope so, if that is what is needed for Gothard, the parents who followed him in child abuse and his board who allowed, even encouraged child abuse, as you assert, as a life style. If criminal action is not warranted, then what? If deep correction is possible, then what?

    What would satisfy you who accuse? How would you like to see the ministry change? Are there some positive changes you can see the ministry making that would turn the organization into a more positive force for Christ? If you could have real influence with the Board, what would you say? This is your time. You have opportunity. Use your influence for God's glory.

  19. Disagreement about theology is different than the accusation of child abuse and molestation.

  20. God bless you, Debbie. You are "right on". Eternity will tell all . . . The devil has come to 'kill, steal, destroy". The Lord uses even him for His purposes. When God gave Israel into the hands of the Babylonians for a spanking, they were brutal and proud. The Lord came back to straighten things out. How we can sit and rejoice over men of God falling down is unconscionable.

      1. @Alfred: Debi wrote above

        I would much rather be the man who put his whole life into doing a work for God than on the side of those listed on the website that choose to rejoice over the man’s downfall and the destruction of his ministry that God used so effectively to eliminate bitterness in the lives of so many—the same bitterness that now pervades his critics so completely.

        This attack was not initiated to right an ongoing wrong or to establish justice and purity; the critics have unwittingly joined the last-days, Satanic attack on God’s people to denigrate the very name of Christ.

        You have spent many hrs over at recovering grace, Alfred, do you want to let these comments stand ?? Any corrections or additions ?? That's how you would characterize RG ??

  21. Thank you Debi for speaking truth! I was blessed by your article more than you'd know...

  22. I think what Debi is trying to tell us is that we should not rejoice in a leader's fall.

    Having being scammed by a Christian leader, I can identify with the accusers if truth be in them about the situation. I stumbled over what happened for a short time and as a result, I still feel true righteous anger for what this leader did but also realized i should have never lifted high a fallen human-expecting them to be sinless. That spot belongs to God.

    On the other hand, I do tremble at what my own personal sin has caused my other brothers and sisters to stumble on at one point in their walk.

    We all should take heed lest we fall. Sin starts with a tiny thought.

  23. Dear Debbie, thank you for a righteous Godly answer. I too am so saddened by the attack on this man.

  24. Unexposed abuse in the name of Christ is what defames God's name and gives unsaved people a reason to badmouth Christianity. Exposing frauds and showing God does not stand behind them actually gains respect.

  25. Well said, Debi. I have personally meet Mr. Gothard and been involved in ATI for a few years. The ministry greatly blessed me and my family and has made a difference in our life for Christ. I think many people are forgetting the commands of Christ to go to our offender to resolve our issues and then to forgive. I know of the website referenced earlier and what bothered me the most about it was how willing they were to wallow in sins committed against them and gossip about them (which is unbiblical) instead of leaving it at the foot of the cross. Undoubtly many of the accusations against Mr. Gothard will be found to be inaccurate, there are always exaggerations of the truth during times like these.

  26. I've never spoken out on this issue before, but have been affected by it a great deal. No, I'm not on twitter or facebook about it, and no, I'm not on recovering grace's website like most of my siblings.

    Maybe we are in the last days. I agree that we don't wrestle against flesh & blood... However, aren't we supposed to bear one another's burdens? Aren't we supposed to pray for one another? Aren't we supposed to restore one another in a spirit of meekness, considering our own selves?

    My wife and I have been greatly blessed by NGJ for many years. I think Debi may want to reconsider the fact that there are many of us that aren't like the person that apparently was joyous over seeing the "ministry" of Gothard fall. However, we may have been hurt very deeply and are struggling with how to seek healing without becoming a gossip and busybody and further festering a spirit of bitterness.

    I grew up in a large family that regrettably was a part of ATI from the 2nd year of it's existence. ATI & Gothard preach a gospel of perfect works "with God's help" of course. We don't need perfect works with God's help, we need Jesus. Speaking of the last days, all of this is one huge distraction that is getting us off track.

    There isn't time enough to tell the first and second hand accounts of multiple BLATANT hypocrisy that have occurred to me and my immediate siblings inside of ATI. 30 years later, there is still confusion over how to relate to the Holy Spirit, confusion over doctrines of Grace, confusion over how imperfect we still are - big shocker! 🙂 One of my frustrations with the entire "ministry" is: There is NO room for the Holy Spirit to lead. There are 17 steps to this, 7 principles to that, etc. No, I'm not charismatic, I'm just opposed to a clinical approach to God.

    Praise God a friend who heard my heart on the matter suggested I read an old book written about Gothard, called "A Matter Of Basic Principles" by MidWest Christian Outreach's Don & Joy Veinot. As a married young man of 22 with 2 kids in diapers I consumed the book in one day and realized with tears in my eyes that my Jesus already "batted a thousand" for me and the struggle, and pressure to be perfect was gone. Just love God & enjoy him forever. It's a great read for anyone struggling with all the great-sounding, um, "stuff" that Gothard has promoted nearly the last half-century. You can get a copy on Amazon used for around $9.

    Veinot's book outlines and documents the numerous attempts of bringing accountability and asking for clarification regarding issues that were prevalent probably 20-30 years ago to an acceptable resolution. His conclusion is that ATI isn't a "cult", but that Gothard is a very mis-guided brother who is unwilling to reconcile and be held accountable to any people other than his cherry-picked board. It appears to me that Gothard's walk vs. talk has caught up with him.

    In a recent "apology" by Gothard which amounted to 9000 words saying I'm sorry you were offended with me, there seemed to many triggering catch phrases designed to deflect the issues, and "study the underlying issues" etc., etc. Somehow, it seems a simple, "I'm sorry, I was wrong." would have certainly gone further and been a beginning of showing that he cares.

    Debi, please consider this: More than 2 or 3 witnesses have brought accusations regarding Gothard. (1 Tim 5:19) Read Veinot's book; honestly, I would say 2 or 3 thousand witnesses countless times for 30 years would probably be low. Gothard cannot be above the accountability of God's word, or we might as well call him God.

    As a young man, I heard Gothard say first hand not to even make eye contact with girls, and he sent many many boys home from his headquarters for infractions of similar rules. Now there are many stories circulating about him touching, caressing, playing footsie, stroking, etc but according to his "apology" his "intentions were good"??? Give me a break! What part of an old man playing footsie with a teenage or 20-something attractive young lady sounds NON-sexual to you?? He very sternly disciplined students for much less without considering their "intentions". He's just plan wrong. Wrong teaching, wrong emphasis, wrong hypocrisy, wrong to not have accountability! I'm not on anyone's side, but I'm reminded of 1 Corinthians 13. Love rejoices in the TRUTH. If your daughters were the ones stroked, petted or fooled with, whose side would you be on?

    A few years ago I recall having read articles in NGJ magazine by Mr. Pearl about Mr. Gothard. I formulated a letter to send to Mr. Pearl that I never ended up sending. I'm a little surprised that Debi's review on IBLP is so strong of an exhortation that assumes Mr. Gothard has just made a few mistakes but helped the world so very much. I can't say that I have seen Gothard's ministry effectively help "so many" (as Debi put it) overcome bitterness. What I have seen, is countless numbers of people realizing that the "gospel" Gothard preaches isn't working and they don't know what to do about it and where they went wrong.

    My parents aren't perfect. I certainly hope I'm 1/2 the dad my dad was to me. What God gave me in my parents was their desire to see me memorize scripture. And I did. Between my friend's suggestion of Veinot's book and the Holy Spirit reminding me of the truth of God's word, I have joy. I have freedom. I have love in my heart for Mr. Gothard. I can smile! Praise God!

    1. I agree with your comment so much, Tim H. I was also in the homeschool curriculum with ATI. I actually like so much of what I was taught. It has helped shape who I am, but there was so much emphasis on works. Looking a certain way, never letting any weakness show. It was as if God only accepted the perfect rather than in my weakness He is strong. Those who needed help couldn't ask for it for fear that they would be treated as "worldly" or as an outcast. I didn't read "A Matter of Basic Principles" for so long because I didn't want to listen to gossip (that's what I thought it was). When I finally read it, I realized it was filled with truth of what God's Word really says in comparison to what they were teaching at IBLP. I looked through my ATI/IBLP materials on my bookshelf and was able to see it. It was as if a huge burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I am so thankful that God put it in my heart that I should read that. As to those who think you should never speak out about a "Christian's" wrong doing, here is a verse they should think about. I know at first people will do what I did, and say that he doesn't teach anything wrong, but I plead with you to take a closer look and see for yourself. Look at the accusations that others are saying about his teachings (not necessarily his lifestyle, but what he taught) and decide for yourself it they're true.
      Romans 16:17-18
      17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

      18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

    2. Tim H. has stated his response so well and so thoroughly that I have very little to add, except to say that I strongly encourage you, Debi, to read the book Tim H. suggested, "A Matter of Basic Principles." It is a well-documented defense of those who speak out against Gothard's abuses. Speaking out against a "gospel" that is in no way Biblical, and speaking out against sexual and other kinds of abuses should not be labeled as "bitter." How can we honestly encourage a victim to "Yell and Tell" if she is blasted with the bitter-card every time she does? Should she not "Yell and Tell" if her abuser is a well-known, charming, seemingly humble minister? I suppose the "good" her abuser has done in other areas of his life makes his abuse of her acceptable? I agree with the response from Bethany; I'm shocked to see this response from you. Please, read what is well documented before you make a final decision and falsely dismiss victims who've already been abused by those they should have been able to trust.

    3. Tim, maybe eight years ago my husband read that book as well and God used it greatly to reveal who Mr. Gothard really is as well as to cause him to re-examine much of the (false, unbiblical) teaching he received through the institute. My husband was sent home after several years of working at ATI/IBLP for 'defrauding' a young woman, or in other words, she developed a crush on him and he made the mistake of talking with her on a trip. Very confusing and embarrassing for him at the time, but in hindsight what a gracious act of mercy from God to sever ties with this cult. Many godly people were involved and misled, but at this point with all the new information, how can any Christian-- who loves the light of Christ and hates evil deeds done in darkness--stand by this man?!

  27. Dear Debbie,

    Thank you for saying something that needs to be repeated again and again. Truly, the Lord only gave us one commandment, that we love one another. And 1 Corinthians chapter 1
    3 tells us what that looks like.

  28. Matt. 18: 15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
    16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
    17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.


    Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
    32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

    There is a way that God has prescribed to handle sin within our ranks. No one is or should be defending a perpetrator of sexual, or any other kind of sin. The Bible, in many other passages as well, clearly instructs us on how to handle every situation of sin from believers and non-believers. None of those ways involve a free-for-all open forum where anyone who wishes may interject either their experiences or opinions for all to do with as they will.

    Prov 26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

    The point is to bring people to the knowledge of the Truth, both perpetrators and victims. When we do it God's way there is healing,justice, restoration, salvation and forgiveness all in one, perfectly balanced, just as Christ is.

    1. Well said.

      What a contrast. Clear articulation of God's Word vs. bitter gossip in judgment (at best).

      When I hear the critics, it comes to mind that they either didn't pay attention to BG's teaching on gossip or didn't go to the seminar.

      Though it was about 40 years ago that I attended the seminar, BG's definition of gossip was so telling. Here it is to the best of my recollection (after 40 years): Gossip is telling the truth about someone when that truth casts them in a bad light when the one telling isn't a part of the problem or part of the solution.

      From the first time I heard it, I felt it was an excellent definition.

      So, I think all would be aware of my surprise to see so many people gossiping about BG (giving them the benefit of the doubt and not accusing them of libel), seemingly oblivious to the self-indictment that they should realize that everyone who went to the seminar recognizes about the busybody critics who have absolutely no authority or responsibility in the matter, yet feel compelled to badmouth. I wonder who taught these people their Christian behavior and standards? I wonder do they really think their condemnation makes them appear righteous? Will help assure justice? Is needed? Is valuable? Is pleasing to the Lord? Do they really think that condemning (even the guilty) is part of the message of the gospel?

      1. Gary, if you feel that this is gossiping to enteract on this Christian site, why are you here? Why are you reading this?

        Lily, are you adding to Gods word to say that it is accomplished by 2 or 3 witness, not two or three thousand? What if 2 or 3 thousand issues exist? 2 or 3 witnesses times 2 or 3 thousand issues would be... Hmm, lots of witnesses.
        Just good for consideration y'all.

    2. What part of "tell it to the church" and "if he does not listen to the church" does not sound like a free-for-all open forum? It appears to me that the church is finally weighing in. The question is whether he will ever listen to the church. Read the history and understand that many of the victims approached the wrongdoer without success. I am troubled by Debi's categorical judgment of Gothard's critics. I do appreciate the moderator allowing contrary viewpoints in these comments. I am a father who believes he was misled by false teaching for which decades of offered correction was persistently refused. I do need to know the truth. I would appreciate the Pearls honestly evaluating Gothard's "non-optional" principles in light of Scripture. I suspect that the thousands of others put together by Gothard could use the help as well.

      1. 1 Corinthians 14:40
        Let all things be done decently and in order.

        1 Tim 5:19 -20
        Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear

        ..."tell it unto the church" is accomplished by the witness of two or three, not two or three thousand. It is enough that it came out and everyone knows it. After that it is up to him and the families to to reconcile.

        Matt. 5:23-24

        Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.


        Mark 11:25
        And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses

        "if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." This is accomplished with

        1 Cor 5:11-13
        But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

        The Word gives us clear instructions on how to deal resolve issues.

        2 Timothy 3:16
        All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

        Public flogging is not part of the Christians arsenal. I understand the need for justice but we must seek God's justice, not our own, or the worlds which, sadly, has invaded our churches and our minds.

        James 3:14-18
        But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

  29. What a wonderful, well thought out response to this "BITTER BRIGADE" happening on this so called "recovering grace"...Your comments are very much appreciated! Proverbs 10:12 The Lord richly bless you and your family!!!

  30. My family was once a member of ATIA. I remember a friend of Mom's refusing to speak to her because she said Mom was involved in a cult, that was over 20 years ago. I personally felt Mom would have done anything, and I do mean anything, to please Bill Gothard, she had a blind trust in him almost worshiping him instead of God. It was scary. That was her own problem though. There was never anything taught that I disagreed with, or at the seminars that seemed odd. Only a Pentecost family would have thought it normal in the advice for dress, hair, etc. Other then that it was all very Biblically based.
    I don't know what happened, Satan will try to tempt any authority for God to ruin God's kingdom. It sounds as if that happened here. This is the first I'm hearing of it, but I wanted you to hear from an old insider just how these mothers, and possibly fathers followed him blindly. If it all really happened Bill needs to be punished of course. I pray it will open the eyes of everyone that we as parents are the ultimate protectors of our children. Your books clearly teach this, I am so glad for your teaching on this subject. We are the only ones who can truly protect our children, even a few minutes alone with someone can change our children forever, never think someone is incapable of temptation.
    My response doesn't have to be added to the list of responses unless you think it will help. I just wanted you to hear my side of the ministry. A strong Godly leader + dysfunctional Christian families can eventually equal a huge mess if Satan is allowed in further. My family was a mess, I have since then found the real God and am healing. Thanks for listening. -Meredith Thacker

  31. Mr. Gothard should be sent home from "the headquarters" since he is obviously no longer meeting "the headquarters" high standards. He has sent students home repeatedly from "the headquarters" for much less for years.

  32. Thank you for the Biblical, Godly manner of handling this. Some 30 years ago, we attended a Gothard conference. It was life changing and enabled us to look at the Bible differently and set excellent boundaries in our lives. I remember sitting in the conference and hearing God speak clearly, "What are you going to do with what you've been given?" It was not Mr. Gothard asking the question, it was The Lord. Through the years we've weeded out the errors, but there are still excellent principles that are exceedingly useful in everyday life. It's all about Grace ... God's Grace ... But by His Grace there go I.

  33. I was raised a christian. My denomination regualrly moved pastors to avoid the type of idoltry somne of you describe. I do remember one lay pastor though who did an incredible work in our area. That was before it came out that he was seducing married women. I was a child at the time and didn't find out about it until later. I have no experience with ati or Mr. Gothard but my experience is that when a wrong has been committed especially by someone in power

  34. "I’ve never understood why, as Believers, we expect God’s Grace for our own sinfulness yet we refuse to extend that same Grace to one another."

    Well said.

    It's a marvel that people who claim they're recipients of the grace of God and claim they believe the Bible don't really believe what it so clearly says in Matthew 7:1-5 and after guaranteeing judgment upon themselves never seem to ever come to grips with the plain teaching of Jesus regarding judgment.

    It's weird... and it's sad.

  35. Millions of souls are left hanging untold, unreached, undone...

    This is a most puzzling comment. If Bill doesn't reach these poor souls, they are left to wait and languish ??? Why 'left hanging', are there no other means , and many would argue more gospel faithful messages than Bill's ? Is God wringing HIS hands because HIS key guy is on hold ?? Would Debi, or someone who understands her, step in and explain this ?

  36. Dear Debi,

    That was very well said! Thank you! Thank you for shining the light of truth on the reality of the situation. Thank you for speaking truth in love.

    Jennifer Selberg

  37. On the issue of Bill Gothard the thing that sticks in my claw is not so much the effect of his actions although it is a deplorable breach of trust. My issue is a with the doctrine Bill has taught and developed over the last 40 years or so. The thought keeps coming to my mind that there is a massive lack of discernment regarding true and false teaching within the church today. I could quote dozens of passages of scripture to support my argument against Gothard, IBLP/ATI but Hosea 4:6 is the one that sticks out most.

    Look at the spirit behind the Judgement of Israel that Hosea spoke of. Look at Gothard's harsh legalistic doctrines, the self righteous attitude and total lack of grace. Gothardism leads to salvation by works. Israel may have prostituted itself by lack of morals Gothardism by comparison teaches salvation through outward appearance and piety; both land wide of true grace and forgiveness.

    For anyone who lauds Bill Gothard's achievements without testing him to scripture verse by verse and have not found him to have taken serious liberties with the text, for those who have followed him without researching his claims; and finally for those who have placed him on a pedestal without ever critiquing his theology the word of God has this to say of you
    Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

  38. Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

  39. Thing is, when you examine the stories closely, most of them don't add up. A court of law would laugh at them. The problem is, many read them and believe them. It's like a typical peer dependency

  40. So called Christian service isn't necessarily Christian service...depending on the specific denomination... for example, you look at the Statement of Faith of the radio show Recovering Grace was on, you discover that that specific denomination believes in baptism in order to get saved... a works based faith... yet Recovering Grace criticizes Mr. Gothard for teaching a works based faith, which he doesn't. A wise Christian will recognize Recovering Grace's stories and theology is wrong.

  41. I notice there is an open letter to IBLP leadership regarding Mr. Gothard's teachings and his clarifications. Thing is, there is a counter response, showing they are not really listening to him. Someone should create an open letter that anyone could sign saying we believe and accept his apology, and affirm his teachings as not being legalistic, etc.

  42. I am eyewitness to Mr. Gothard saying the exact opposition of what some of the things he is accused of saying... for example, he has always said the minute anyone says not to tell your parents, to tell them. I have many other examples. Recovering Grace frequently distorts what Mr. Gothard said and taught. I should know, i have read and also have heard him with my own ears.

  43. Christian service- what is it?? It isn't necessarily being a preacher or music minister or teacher, especially if such a teacher condones Christian Contemporary Music. Christian service is not being conformed to this world (in music, dress, entertainment, etc). Romans 12:1-2 says presenting ourselves to be holy, not conformed to the world is our reasonable SERVICE.

    1. So it is legalistic for Recovering Grace to preach that a believer needs to be baptized....but it is not legalistic to say Christian Contemporary Music is wrong. WTH?

      "Old hymns" were one time contemporary. Most of the tunes were developed using the secular style of music at the time. You may have a particular taste in music, but that doesn't make other music bad. The "world" does not sing praise to Jesus.

      By the way, I am not connected to either side of this controversy.

      Wondering if Debi has weighed in on the Vision Forum issue.

      1. It would only be legalistic if they are requiring it as necessary for salvation or as a means of pleasing God.

        Actually it was usually "secular" songs that borrowed from "sacred" music for several hundred years.

        Debi has not commented on the Vision Forum issue.

        1. If I listen/play what is considered contemporary Christian music then that is not pleasing to God according to 90's ATI Student's comment. Is God only pleased when I sing an old hymn from 1800? I like the old ones too. And don't get me wrong, there is some crazy punk rocky "Christian" music out there that people will mosh pit to in "worship".

          So I am curious what is considered too contemporary or worldy about some music? Is it the instruments used? Or is it the lyrics?

          My church will do a mix of contemporary and old stuff, but, all God honoring.

  44. Is there any way to unsubscribe from this awful thread?

    I can not find an unsubscribe button and am sick to death of the excuses made by "christians" for a supposedly godly man who has been inappropriate and a hypocrite.
    I don't mean to be ugly, but as a child I was a innocent victim of this organization and it's teachings this disgusts me beyond belief.
    Kudos to those of you who, like me, survived and are speaking out.

  45. I agree 100% THis is being viewed by many as a witch hunt for Gothard.

    We all know leaders fall short---we all do!!!

    Would they do this to King David who did two terrible sins?

    THere are no legal charges against Gothard at all!!!!

    People are hurting the cause of Christ!

    Forgiveness and recovering Grace should be our desire for Gothard and any Christian.

    Christians really can make us look bad to the World.

    Gothard has submitted to others and is getting counsel and direction lets leave the rest up to the Lord.


  46. 30 years ago our Gothardized church went through a split. There were 3 pastors and during one brief discussion about the situation with one of the pastors he kept asking me "who's your pastor? I should have said "Who's my God?" as it is not a matter on being on one side or the other but Who is God in all of this.

    Splits and divisions are not new. They go waaaay back in our church history. Guess what? Whatever issue divided Christians 100's of years ago does not matter as they have all gone to their heavenly reward.

    Now as to the Gothard matter---which is here and now and concerns something much more serious than carpet color---God is not mocked, He will bring justice. Many may have been helped by Gothard teachings but that does not justify those who were hurt and those who became atheist because of the legalist teachings.

  47. The enemy of souls is at work to tear down everyone but especially leaders. It is a serious thing to stand in a position of trust. Those who stand on the mountaintops face the fiercest winds. IBLP dared to speak many truths. While I did not agree with every usage of Scripture, truth is truth whether we choose to believe it or not... the It's still truth even if the messenger falls or turns away from it. The IBLP message was always to go and check out the Scripture for yourself. I know there were many groupies who followed the man and not the message. He was put above being a common man so they got what you get when you idol worship someone - disappointment, disallusionment and disaster spiritually, morally and every other way. Every Christian has a responsiblity to find out what is in God's word, live a life above reproach. Those who know of sins but do not hold sinners accountable, share the guilt. Scripture gives step by step instructions for reclaiming the wayward one, and that should be done in humility and love. Scripture is clear, sexual sin should not be allowed amoung belivers. So many spiritually immature were horribly damaged. No one helped them, they were taken advantage of. They misused their trust. Took advantage of their innocense. Jesus is graffic with what He thought should happen to those that cause a little one to stumble - that a millstone should be tied around his neck and cast to the bottom of the sea (Matt, Mark and Luke). Horrible, horrible that this ever occured, more so that it continued unchecked for so long. Praise the Lord He will heal the wounds, but the ugly scars may remain until Jesus comes.

  48. I read with interest all the developments in the IBLP--when I was a teen it was IBYC-- but since I had read a yahoo group on Gothard's deviant teachings, not much surprised me.

    I have only been to one institute.
    Maybe it was due to sitting all week when I was 8 months pregnant, but I don't remember anything from it except feeling uncomfortable (we were working in a children's home and they paid for it), oh, and the discussion in the bathroom after the talk about CCM--. I remember trying to calm my husband down when the Scriptures Gothard used to support certain things were so obviously taken "out of context" that he got really steamed. (My husband has a PhD in OT and especially didn't appreciate the rampant Scripture twisting he heard!)

    Anyway, in response to the current flak. We need to remember Jesus had the most caustic and least "compassion" towards the religious hypocrites of his day.

    From the accounts, Bill Gothard falls into that category.

    We are to be "wise as serpents". I just feel badly for those who were actually hurt by this man. I wish so many Christians weren't so succeptible to "hero worship". They'd be so much better off and much more able to think clearly when reading Scriptures.

    As to his abberrent beliefs, there was an active yahoo group for years where they discussed his "unique" beliefs in detail and examined them biblically.

      1. Thank you for the measured consideration given by most to an issue plaguing the Church today. Dr. Gothard's ministry and teachings are representative of many para-church Christian organizations. The lack of accountability is a consistent problem, resolution of conflict often is not allowed because power structures protect the 'leader' above the Body.

        Thank you for providing a forum for Christian exchange, Debi and NGJ.

      2. When i read it, just as the Recovering Grace website, the writers are twisting the term legalism. That is a major theological error. Hence, if a person isn't legalistic, than many of the writers are wrong. The accusation at the ITC was investigated by the authorities and found to be inaccurate. Some of the material presented about the 80s scandal (same as on the Recovering Grace website), have been found to be inaccurate. Hence, the inaccurate information destroys the credibility of the whole book.

  49. It is interesting that Bill's Cabin: Uncovering Sin on RG has been clarified by Gary Smalley and most of it never happened... this totally discredits the entire website RG (Recovering Grace).

  50. Hi Debi!

    I am a fan of your ministry, and of your entire family, and I appreciate all of the work that you do!
    With that being said, I was actually really disappointed with your view on the IBLP situation. I completely understand being upset with a response such as “I just rejoiced to see that huge ministry fall and I helped.” and I agree that that is not the appropriate reaction to the situation...
    However, I would hope that if you HAD been familiar with the IBLP materials & teachings, that you would have been as relieved as I am that "the man" is no longer able to spread these UNBIBLICAL teachings. For me, it is way beyond the scandals that he is being accused of. I have always been upset with the huge following that he has because so many of his teachings are his personal opinion being taught as God's Word. Personally, I feel that his teachings are the complete opposite of what you and Mike teach.
    Even before the news of any scandal got out, I avoided his teachings like the plague. So, yes, I am relieved that he has finally been "found out". I think that his teachings have hurt many more people than he has helped...if he has actually helped any. I am scared for anyone who has become saved under this mans false teaching.

  51. The book A Matter of Basic Principles is filled with inaccuracies and also doctrinal errors. Since i was an eyewitness to much of Mr. Gothard's public teaching, i can say it is very inaccurate and not worth reading.

    1. Unless you are Mr. Gothard, and just pretending to be "90's ATI student", You weren't there in every case / letter / phone call that was documented in "A Matter of Basic Principles" and neither was I. I did work at one of the training centers and I do have many friends and family who were involved in many different duties and roles at many locations for a large number of years & and they have told me first hand that the book is accurate as far as their first-hand knowledge takes them. Seriously, if HALF of it is true, it's waaay too much. Burden of proving any inaccuracies of the book rests on you.
      Out of the mouth of two or three witnesss.... How about thousands of witness for dozens of years. Yep, there's a problem here. When books are written about your failing to be held accountable, doesn't that indicate a problem?? Come on people, it's obvious!!

  52. Our daughters were in hindsdale on several occasions, being very bold young ladies, they didn't want to serve in the ministry.. And they told him their opinion .. Trust me.. They let you know what they think and sometimes bluntly...
    So their stays were short.. They confessed to me that ,Mr.G was nothing but respectful .. So ,we were very shocked, and so were our daughters...

  53. Dear Debi,
    Thank you for your stand for the Truth.
    It gives me Joy to know that God is the Judge. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God. God's man will be vindicated and restored. The bible warns us that Iniquity will
    Abound in the Last Days and the love of many will wax cold. I see this everywhere. Some have departed from the faith.
    Jesus warns us that we will be falsely accused. I stand with The Lord Jesus on this.
    Those of you who are so out spoken against Bill Gothard....
    Remember what happened to Aaron and Miriam, when they judged Moses.

  54. "God bless you, sister, for speaking out! The only thing that surprises me about this whole affair is how surprised some people are that Bill Gothard would have some flaws. He is currently trying to restore his relationship with the people who reviled him. Who does that? Show me one single leader who does. Show me **one**. We urgently need the message of Bill Gothard's seminars now more than ever. Here was a guy that chose to dig a little deeper, to explore the darker more difficult recesses of the human heart while others were content to ski on the surface. Guess what! You look deeply into the heart and you discover a lot of junk, and those who criticize Gothard would have much more credibility for me if they showed they understood this, and if, like Gothard, they viewed exposure of sin as a means of healing and restoring rather than destroying. In fact, for me, aside from legitimate criticisms his critics bring to bear, the greatest criticism of all is that he may have contributed to the narrow, prissy attitude of some of his critics. Get a life, folks. Learn to shout your own sins from the rooftop, not just the sins of others. We are all lepers on the road to Emmaus."

  55. Amen Debbie...amen..I just happened upon this article and was so blessed by it. All you said is true. We need to be so careful in how we respond to this. God bless you>

  56. Simply put:"He that is without sin let him or her cast a stone at Bill"and Beware,lest your sins find you out.Pray for those that are fallen not condemn them.So be it.