A continuation of posts in a series of thoughts looking back on our life and experiences with the Advanced Training Institute and the Institute in Basic Life Principles (hereafter, ATI / IBLP)…
I want to say at the outset, that it wasn’t all bad — ATI / IBLP — for I cannot really accurately recount the good things we learned in the ATI / IBLP years in our family or the blessings we reaped from what we experienced. And I don’t want to belabour an increasing list of negative points or excuse some of the more egregious errors in the teachings and programs — this isn’t an airing of dirty laundry or a rant of yet another disgruntled ATI family indulging in mudslinging. But error is error and a whole lot of error causes a whole lot of problems — error begets error and down the way a bit, error causes an avalanche of problems.
Errors ought to raise red flags.
The have with me… and if you/your family was involved in the program, probably with you, too. It may seem a moot point to bring all this up, now, but actually, I’ve shared much of this in the past and stuff keeps resurfacing. And then there’s this strange unspoken cardinal rule that one doesn’t question the Institute or Mr. G. (Yep, and that oughtta be a red flag for ya!)
From our old AChristianHome.org website:
“Our family was involved with the various ministries of the IBLP and ATI for many years and we determined that some of the teachings, the errors of those teachings were destructive to our walk with the LORD and therefore no longer supported the “ministry” and the myriad of programs of, or associated with, IBLP. There were MANY, MANY benefits for which we are grateful but the erroneous teachings forced our decision. We no longer support much of the work of this organization—however(!) we DO support our brothers and sisters in Christ and pray the LORD’s will for them and do not seek to divide over this matter. We believe that the erroneous teaching leads to an erroneous view of the Word, the grace of God, His design, the sovereignty of God, teaching “character” [the Character First* program] to unregenerate souls, and the methods of lifting Scripture and its Truths and application and therefore do not endorse, as a whole, the ministry…”
And I linked to numerous articles (on the AChristianHome.org website) in the early days, some 10-12 years ago; many links are broken now, so the articles would require some searching — even then, I was reluctant to say much so I let other’s articles do the talking, so to speak. One of the articles I linked to was on the Personal Freedom Outreach site, an article regarding issues with the Institute and some ongoing communication Bill Gothard and his team. And over the years I’ve had communication with Don Veinot of Midwest Christian Outreach and the work dedicated to bringing error to light. Here’s a most recent article he’s written regarding some more current matters and past issues with the institute and with Bill Gothard.
If you clicked the last link and read the article, you’ll readily see why people are so reticent to say anything, to comment or to question the work of the institute. Just like hush money is paid to keep people quiet, sometimes “hush verses” are cited by different ones to insulate people/organizations from scrutiny. But lately, many have been speaking out and the mounting accusations have been increasing. And these must be taken seriously. Even today as I have written this, a turn of events has come about. Bill Gothard has resigned from the ministry he founded after allegations of abuse and sexual harassment. Here is Recovering Grace’s response to the resignation.
So, why talk about this whole thing any longer? Error. Truth. And the ATI/IBLP Institutes are carrying on. That’s why.
I wrote of some of the ATI /IBLP baggage in another post… here’s another bit of baggage—–careful here, there’s a lot that’s good—which is why, initially, one might embrace the teaching and become a loyal advocate. But watch…
What Are Basic Life Principles?
[the “seven non-optional, universal basic principles of life taught in the Basic Seminar.” ]
1. Design: Understanding the specific purposes for which God created each person, object, and relationship in my life and living in harmony with them. Thanking God for my design brings Self-Acceptance.
2. Authority: Honoring the responsibilities of parents, church leaders, government, and other authorities and learning how God works through them to provide direction and protection. Honoring my authorities brings Inward Peace.
3. Responsibility: Realizing I am accountable to God for every thought, word, action, and motive. Asking forgiveness of those I offend brings a Clear Conscience.
4. Suffering: Allowing the hurts from offenders to reveal blind spots in my own life, and then seeing how I can benefit their lives. Fully forgiving offenders brings Genuine Joy.
5. Ownership: Understanding that everything I have has been entrusted to me by God, and wisely using it for His purposes. Yielding my rights to God brings True Security.
6. Freedom: Enjoying the desire and power to do what is right, rather than claiming the privilege to do what I want. Regaining ground surrendered to sin brings Moral Purity.
7. Success: Discovering God’s purpose for my life by engrafting Scripture in my heart and mind, and using it to think God’s thoughts and make wise decisions. Meditating on Scripture brings Life Purpose.”
Pat answers. Neatly fit in a box answers. Formula in, success out. No need for any other material–just the booklets. It all seemed so biblical, seemed to be the Bible fleshed out, so to speak. There were so many biblical references, so of course it was a biblically based program! That was the hook. That was the draw.
But it was also the underlying problem, tension and reason we could never fully buy into the program and eventually had to reject much of it. So many of the biblical references were lifted and twisted to fit the neat packages, the neat boxes. And, in a fast moving seminar, you take in so much in such a short space of time, that discernment often lags behind as the screen shots keep changing… but you take home your Red notebook, mull it over, line it up behind Scripture and you begin to see… O, wait-a-minute, this isn’t in line with Scripture. But you press on trying to figure out how to make it fit. Kinda like the Emperor’s New Clothes. And then you can’t do it anymore. At least that’s where we were.
But, interestingly, there was more baggage to sort through when we no longer received our $675. wisdom booklets, newsletters and additional offers for more
slick New! exciting information and materials. There was a bizarre longing to belong— but it was a bad fit, it was something we didn’t even want — but isn’t it curious that we had that longing? This period of time was to last a couple of years for us, but when it passed, by the grace of God, it was incredibly freeing — so incredibly freeing. That baggage was so heavy and so confusing.
We didn’t exit the faith—no, not at all. We didn’t exit conservative homeschooling. Not at all. We didn’t walk away with nothing from all that we’d learned. We had gained a great deal and God, in His mercy, was continually rebuilding what He’d begun years earlier. We give Him glory.
But what to do with all the rules. The unspoken rules… the ATI village lore... I think these were the hardest things to grasp, sift through and sort through, to stop carrying and to reject! These were the inferred, unwritten regulations and rules. And then there were outsider’s interpretations of the ATI rules… sort of like rumors about the rumors and village lore. So then, ATI-ers were confused or maybe even duped into believing the rules really existed — many did, though, by the way — that’s why it was such a tangled web to know what was what. Seriously… these were some of the greatest bondage makers and some of the hardest to break. These rules were often not questioned — just accepted — publicly, at least. Sort of like the rule of never questioning the actions/activities of “ministers of the gospel” when the conduct is made public or when there is clear evidence of violations of scripture, etc., etc. See the dangers here? These are but a few of the dangers of following a man — instead of seeking the Lord.
If you’re carrying the baggage of ATI / IBLP… I pray for you—I pray you will have freedom from the bondage, freedom from carrying that baggage of legalism, fear, error, man-centered programs and from following after a man’s program instead of following after the Lord Jesus. I pray you will be set free—and be free to walk hand in Hand with the Lord and hear His voice. He says you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free. ♥