Yogi Berra is known for what are called Yogiisms, which make me smile. One of his observations on baseball was, “Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical.” Another is “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise, they won’t go to yours.” One of my all-time favorites, though has to be “Its DÃ©jÃ vu all over again.” Watching Bill Gothard’s repeat performance of non-repenting repentance is a case of having DÃ©jÃ vu all over again. We have seen this before. In the early 1980s, in the midst of a sex scandal that was in the national news, Bill Gothard met with the Board of the then Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts for about 12 hours. The board members would ask Bill, “Did you ever…” (there were a number of accusations), to which he would respond, “I never…” Witnesses and evidence would be brought forth, he would confess that indeed he was guilty and by the end of the meeting, he resigned. That resignation, however, was short-lived. In less than three weeks (about long enough for a nice vacation) he returned to the helm, and the blood-letting of those who had attempted to hold him accountable began. His response at that time was not unlike what we read about Diotrephes in 3 John 1:9-10:
I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.
More recently, accusations of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual conduct have been made by well over 30 women, most of which are posted on the Recovering Grace website. On March 5, 2014, Bill Gothard again resigned from what is now known as the Institute in Basic Life Principles. Julie Anne, in her blog Bill Gothard launches new accountability ministry/program: Total Success Power Teams gives a timeline of these recent events, including his reason for resigning as:
…that he wanted to follow Matthew 5:23-24 and listen to those who have “ought [sic] against” him.
It needs to be noted that Bill Gothard is good about “confessing,” provided it is either non-specific or, more importantly, doesn’t render him unqualified for ministry. His resignation in advance of the board taking any action or even deciding what action to take eliminated his having to submit to authority. Submission to authority is one of his core teachings but something which he has never applied to himself. The board decided that Gothard had not done anything legally actionable but, to my knowledge, has not commented on his lapses in morality or honesty, but then, since he had resigned, there was perhaps, in their view, no need to do so.
As Bill launched his new ministry it seems he did so using the IBLP mailing list. If that is so, did the IBLP Board give their permission for him to do so? If not, did the interim president, Tim Levendusky, provide the mailing list without the board’s permission? If the board did not give their permission and Tim Levendusky did not provide the mailing list, will IBLP hold Bill accountable for stealing the mailing list? If it was provided by Tim Levendusky without the board’s permission will they hold him accountable? In their June 17, 2014 public statement, they said:
… the Board unanimously agrees that Mr. Gothard is not permitted to serve in any counseling, leadership, or Board role within the IBLP ministry.
Are they now endorsing his new ministry, and if so, since the ministry is about accountability, why didn’t they simply bring him back on as IBLP’s president? If they are not endorsing it, why are they not publicly stating they are not endorsing this new venture? I must confess I am bewildered why an organization that puts itself forth as teaching holiness and holy living is turning a blind eye to these unrepented of moral lapses. We and quite a number of others have called on them in an Open Letter to:
… to biblically evaluate the core teachings and claims of the IBLP materials in partnership with a doctrinally sound and apologetically qualified seminary
Although Bill Gothard responded, to date, IBLP has been silent, and Bill’s response was demonstrated to be less than honest.
This brings me to a few questions. Since Bill Gothard has lived unaccountably for decades and is unrepentant for his lack of integrity and moral lapses, on what basis would anyone view him as now qualified to lead or begin a new ministry, especially one about accountability? I am not saying Bill Gothard would never be qualified to be in or lead a ministry. As I have said in the past, the message of the Christian faith is repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. However, the first hurdle must be crossed: repentance. Sadly, that is the one Bill Gothard continues to refuse to do.Ω
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