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Exegeting Bill Gothard
A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life
Don Veinot, Joy Veinot, and Ron Henzel
21st Century Press, 384 pages, $16
A Matter of Basic Principles is the latest volley in a protracted conflict between popular seminar speaker Bill Gothard and an apologetics ministry known as Midwest Christian Outreach (MCO). Gothard's ministry, the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), is based in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, and MCO is only seven miles away in Lombard—but the two groups are worlds apart in their understandings of Christian faith.
Gothard has attracted previous controversy in his ministry, especially after his brother confessed to sexual affairs with various secretaries of the Gothard ministry, then known as the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (CT, Feb. 6, 1981). Gothard's IBLP came under fire in early 2002 amid reports of excessive discipline at its Indianapolis Training Center for troubled youths.
Midwest Christian Outreach has been researching and critiquing Gothard's ministry since the early 1990s, when it began receiving calls from residents of Oak Brook and another Chicago suburb, Hinsdale, who expressed concern about how Gothard's ministry was treating young people.
Gothard's Basic Youth Conflicts seminars have attracted more than 2.5 million participants since the mid-1960s. One of the primary conflicts between Gothard and MCO is whether the apologetics ministry is accurate in calling Gothard a legalist. Gothard heavily stresses submission to godly authority, referring to it as an umbrella of protection from worldly temptations. A Matter of Basic Principles also quotes Gothard's teachings that all Christian men should undergo circumcision and that uncircumcised men are more promiscuous ...1