Book Review: "A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard & the Christian Life"
Authors: Don Veinot, Joy Veinot & Ron Henzel
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0971700923/sr=8-1/qid=1142277978/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-2504334-6304036?%5Fencoding=UTF8
January 9, 2006
Reviewed by Alfred Corduan
I posted this on Amazon.com as a book review. It reflects my research into the claims of the book thus far.
I am a friend of IBLP and think highly of Bill Gothard. I
have read the book . . . read it all the way through . . . with lots of notes. I
then contacted both Mr. Veinot and Mr. Gothard (Mr. Henzel, for the record, has
never responded to my emails . . . I thank the other two for the willingness to
make time in both of their incredible schedules for me).
I took several of the issues most pressing to me up with Mr. Veinot and attempted to validate them.
o I wanted clarification of charges of "immorality" against Bill Gothard, which is to me the most serious charge, repeated three times in the book. Mr. Veinot stated that 1) The documentation was in storage, and could not be accessed (the Los Angeles Times citation is incorrectly dated and no correction was ever given me), 2) He would not respond because a) He did not want to damage the ministry, and b) He would not do so unless a formal "court" of Christian leaders were assembled to deal with this, and, 3) Implied that he did not know the nature of the immorality. He sent me off to several other individuals who were to have known of this immorality . . . to this day none of these individuals have been able to even name the type of this alleged offense. I consider this unconscionable in the Body of Christ, especially with the alleged purpose of "not damaging the ministry", an interest that baffles me in the light of the damage such unsubstantiated allegations are causing. Mr. Gothard, for his part, emphatically and unequivocally denied any immoral involvement at any time.
o One entire chapter deals with an offended pastor . . . there are clear, obvious fallacies in the account, as anyone who experienced the opening episode of the matter can attest (I was there) . . . Mr. Veinot never responded to my challenges in these areas . . . at all. Bottom line is that they took one man's word with very little if any consultation with others who were involved. That things were handled poorly is likely . . . but there is much more to the story than alleged.
o Large emphasis is give to a young lady who, at that point, had a website up with allegations of imprisonment and other abuse. For the record that young lady removed the website some time back and, according to two other testimonies from those who know the situation, the entire essence of the matter was fabricated. Mr. Veinot was never able to produce any documentation to support her claims, even in the light of claiming to have verified it with others . . . he could not produce one corroborating witness when asked. His last response to me was suggesting I go to a forum of others who have problems with IBLP and see if I could find other stories. This I have done . . . and allegations of abuse and false imprisonment are simply not true (a public investigation into these charges concluded them to be "unsubstantiated" - http://www.wishtv.com/Global/story.asp?s=793028).
The bottom line is that "facts" in the book are NOT accurate. The dodging and weaving I experienced is ironic in the light of this same accusation repeatedly made against Gothard.
The authors also examine Mr. Gothard's teachings. Chief among the accusations is that Mr. Gothard teaches circumcision as a Biblical requirement for Christians today. Gothard published a single medical booklet in the 1990s recommending circumcision of infants based on his belief that this presents a number of God ordained benefits designed into the body, consistent with what many American Christians believed a few generations ago. Far from a mandate, it is a resource few in IBLP have ever seen. After several public challenges I have yet to find a person who recalls this topic mentioned in a seminar or other IBLP resource. Gothard subsequently clarified his convictions at http://www.billgothard.com/bill/news/circumcision/. For anyone who knows Bill Gothard and his ministry to suggest that he demands that all Christians - let alone those who are part of IBLP - be circumcised is simply dishonest.
I came with an open heart, prepared, as an active member of ATI, to undertake the depressing task of approaching Mr. Gothard directly on failures that needed to be exposed and dealt with. After several months of fervent attempts to bring key issues "to ground" so they could be taken up in this way I have come away very disappointed in the poor nature of the research here and lack of interest of the authors in defending it. I am frustrated with what I can only describe as stonewalling toward the goal of objectively clearing up their expressed concerns. On the accusations of immorality I went so far as asking them, in the name of the Lord Jesus, to either retract the accusations or defend them so they might be addressed. I was told that unless a grand tribunal of Christian leaders was assembled, they would not even name the type of the offense. I hit a dead end, and at this point have stopped trying (hence this public statement).
People tend to really like Bill Gothard's ministry or strongly reject it. His uncompromising positions on such things as divorce, music, authority, and morality are offensive to many in the modern church. The book has become the "Bible" for those that wish to dismiss him . . . accepted without challenge. I am not one of them. Those that want an objective evaluation of the man and his ministry would do well to look elsewhere.
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