IBLP? A Cult?
Maybe the following link will shed some light:
I'll include some key excerpts below:
“Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Gothard’s heterodoxy is what it does to God. Not only does God plays little or no part in a believer’s life through omission, but Gothard actually teaches that God’s grace is bound to the limitations of our own abilities. It is not simply that God helps those who help themselves, but that God will not and cannot help anyone who is not already practicing the right principles.”
“Another part of the answer to why Gothard is so popular is, to put it bluntly, his personality is simply irresistible. This is not, however, in the usual way that one would expect. Bill is not an outgoing extrovert that wins people by impassioned speeches and a sanguine personality. If that were the case he might be easily seen through. Bill is a bit shy, a quiet man that one feels would rather not have to be speaking to thousands. He is doing it because he cares for you. His relaxed and gentle face, together with his quiet sense of humor, make one feel instinctively that Bill understands me. He has an atmosphere of quiet wisdom about him, so that anything he says tends to feel right simply because he has said it.
People are often surprised when they attend one of Gothard's seminars for the first time, for they come expecting Bill to be harsh and strict like his teachings, and instead he seems more like someone who's just walked out of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.
This is one of the reasons I said earlier that we cannot evaluate Gothard based on his results, for many of the seemingly positive results may actually be a direct effect of Gothard's skill at being a silver-tongued, scripture-quoting confidence artist, who is able to use his powerfully hypnotic personality to make people do what he says, for both good and ill.”
“… an almost universal tendency within human nature. At any time in history when cultural or spiritual factors create a situation whereby large numbers of people are desperate for a solution and need the stability of having a leader to follow, there will almost inevitably be someone who rises from the crowd to fill that void. At that point, it is crucial to see whether the leader gathers crowds to himself in order to point them to higher realities, leading them to Someone beyond himself, or whether he creates a system of dependence whereby his followers would be unable to function if he were removed. Does he teach people to look to him for the answers, or does he motivate them to find the answers for themselves and to follow their own convictions even when those convictions may differ from his own? Does he spoon-feed his followers the answer to every problem, or does he help them to hear the still small voice of the One who alone is the Answer? Does he present a concept of reality that is exclusive to anything outside a narrow orientation, a reality that does not stretch beyond the confines of his teaching, or a reality that is open-ended, expansive, dynamic, non-static and exciting? In practice, does he encourage people to put their trust in him, or in the Lord?”
“Two thousand years ago, Paul warned the believers at Colossi to beware of those who would deprive them of the freedom in Christ and cheat them of their reward through unnecessary regulations. These regulations, Paul said, had the appearance of false humility but were really nothing other than the striving of the flesh. "Therefore," wrote Paul, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations...according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. (Col. 2:20-23)”
For a book shedding more light on the ministry, check out
"I was in ATI for about 12 years, from age 10-22, very involved, lots of mission trips, Russia, Singapore, Character First, Children's Institutes and so forth. And I never rebelled, I was not one of those who hated the program and fought it while I was in it. I threw my heart and soul into being a good example for my siblings and embracing the standards and trying to live as I was taught. My family left the program in 2002, when I was 22, primarily because they could no longer afford the $600 annual fee. Since then, I have been soul-searching, searching the Scriptures, and re-examining what I was taught. It has been a long, complicated sifting process. To this day, my wonderful, godly husband of nearly 3 years, who grew up in a fabulous Christian family but NOT in ATI, cannot believe some of the things I grew up believing, or the culture my young life was based in.
It is especially now at age 31, looking back, that I see the very subtle dangers and heresies that I (and my family) fell for. Part of the danger is in the teaching, part is Mr. Gothard himself, part is in the culture... I truly believe, now, that it is a very dangerous organization. I would STRONGLY caution you to do your homework and be very careful! It is so easy to get sucked in, a bit at a time. It truly is like a cult." For the rest of the letter, you can visit her blog at the link noted above.
The true story of one whose life was damaged by ATI/IBLP: http://www.helium.com/items/795351-matthew-murray-and-bill-gothard
And another: http://nolongerquivering.com/2010/02/19/disciplining-to-death-no-greater-joy-ministries-and-child-abuse/
And yet another (an Alert graduate): http://www.wafb.com/story/8580617/warrant-man-killed-pregnant-wife-before-leaving-for-work?redirected=true and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaqbrMEmEoE
Years ago, the following was written by a pastor who was seeing too many people hurt by IBLP/ATIA: http://storage.cloversites.com/calvarybiblechurch/documents/Gothard_Paper_02.pdf
To read "Thriving Outside Of A Religious Noose"
in order, you will want to start at my
March 13, 2011 post and scroll up.