What I’m writing about these days isn’t sensational and isn’t unique to me. It’s not isolated and it’s not rare — at least not in homeschool and/or conservative Christian circles. It’s probably going on all over the place to one degree or another. Most everyone who’s been caught up in a particular group/movement/method comes to a day of reckoning and has to unpack the baggage they’ve intentionally or unwittingly picked up and carried as their own along the way. And it’s in the unpacking that some things — some ideas or ideals — are seen for what they are: good or bad — valuable or harmful, truth or lies.It’s my hope that the unpacking of some of the ATI / IBLP baggage will be a freeing experience — that it will be an encouragement to other women to be done with wondering if you’re doing the Christian walk right enough or — if you’re in, or formerly in, ATI: whether you’re good enough, charitable enough, hard-working enough, orderly enough, diligent enough, attentive enough, thorough enough, bright eyed enough, smiling enough, industrious enough, virtuous enough, resourceful enough, wise enough… or any other enough of the 49 character qualities. I’m not mocking character qualities — seriously, I’m not — but if the source of character is anything or anyone but the Lord Jesus, then it’s just flesh. It is walking/operating in the flesh. It’s just like what Eve did… it’s wanting to make self wise and using personal resources and personally determined logic or reason to attain a desire — and in the case of
most lots of ATI families, usually the desire is meet the ideals set by the Institute… superior appearance, accomplishments/achievements, the appearance of goodness and righteousness, honour and purity, etc., etc., all the while personally battling (unbeknownst to others) inferiority, lack of accomplishment, lack of measurable achievement, failure, incompetence and depression.Giving the World a New Approach to Life? No need to try and do that any more. One man — one man alone did that and that man was/is Jesus. He alone is the only “new approach” we need for life. ATI and IBLP boasted of “giving the world a new approach to life” over and over again. A group of people following the standards of a man will not succeed in giving the world anything but *another* approach of behaving/believing and that other approach will likely lead them away from, or will inoculate the ‘followers’ against, the Truth of the gospel.
If this sounds like a critical, bitter rant, believe me, it’s not. And I’m continually stopping to assess what I’m saying so that this does not become something of a mudslinging session. I desire, above all, to be faithful to the Word, to sound the alarm, as it were, to a parallel society that uses much scripture, pat answers and formulas to enforce and require adherence to particular behaviours and beliefs and one that fosters a false sense of spiritual ‘security’ that is based on works, appearance and surperior ideals instead of shedding light on the Scriptures and exhorting the simplicity of walking day by day in the faith of the Lord Jesus, in light of the Scriptures by grace, because of the finished work of the Cross: our salvation, redemption, sanctification and continued daily guidance of the Holy Spirit because of that finished work and our relationship with Jesus, our Lord.I want to be very careful in this series of articles to encourage a faithful and sincere walk with the Lord—-and not to encourage throwing away *everything* you’ve believed to be true. Sift it out, examine it, weigh it before the Lord, but don’t walk away—leaving *everything* of faith behind you. Take the hand of the Lord and seek Him to guide you into all Truth and be willing to lay down the burdens you were never meant to carry.
The different components, unscriptural teachings, formulas, programs, diagrams and charts in the ATI / IBLP baggage may take years to unpack, examine, sift and discard. Seriously. Years. I’m only going to touch on a couple of pieces of that baggage today.
One of the heaviest pieces to unpack is the gravest burden of all — the weight of works. Works look very different in different people, situations or in practice or expression. But it’s a heavy one, I tell ya! Unpack and leave that one!
For by grace are you saved by faith; and that, not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
And surely not to be overlooked is this other heavy piece of baggage—probably the most egregious, really and this is the baggage of misunderstanding the doctrine of grace. You really gotta take this one out, examine it, and throw it away if you’re carrying this one. You get the definition/understanding of grace wrong and you enter into a quagmire of misinterpretation and application of what is anything but grace!
ATI Grace defined: the power and desire to do God’s will. But that’s not grace at all — that’s not what God’s grace is. That grace is like self-created pixie-dust, a lightsaber or whatever other imagined or self-willed tool, action or reaction is — but whatever it is, it isn’t the grace the Bible refers to — it isn’t the Grace of God which has appeared to all men. Get that wrong and you miss the precious gift of the Lord Jesus… His grace manifest in your life through redemption in Him — not by works of righteousness which we have done, but by His grace, He saved us; when we deserve(d) wrath, it was/is His merciful grace that saves us, it is His sovereign work in us, through us, round about us, carrying us, working all things together for good for us… His favour, His particular presence, that we can know Him — this is the grace of God in Christ Jesus. This is what Jesus gives us, works in us, does for us.Other erroneous teachings… the chain of command. You gotta dump this baggage and study what God really says about authority. And who our authority is/authorities are. Those images in the booklets and on the screens from the overhead projector are still indelibly imprinted on my mind—-and I keep having to unpack them, take them out and look and them through the lens of Scripture to see what God really says, what He really intends for me and how dangerous it is to swallow error laced truth. Makes a real mess of things. But, by the grace of God and His mercy we can sift through all this and walk with Him.