(Catch up with the start of this series Answering [Bill] Gothard defenders, part 1.)
More questions for ‘Anonymous’
Alas, should have known one of the above comments had a delay in appearing. Anonymous, if you’re still about, it seems I answered your latter points first. But perhaps it was better that way — those seemed to be more important.
Argumentum ad hominem?
I do note, joining some of the others here, that you haven’t attempted to show why I’m wrong according to Scripture, which is something I would be more eager to hear if indeed I’ve missed something. Rather, questioning-the-source and he’s-a-nice-man just aren’t fitting defenses — especially when you’re inconsistently forgetting to do the same with me. Again, I’ll go through, hoping to offer firm yet friendly suggestions for things you might have missed, not just because I’m a Nice Guy, but because the truth of Scripture is at stake here.
1. Quoting from the article “Taliban Dan:. . .” by Sarah Posner, hardly gives this author credibility. Sarah Posner writes for RD (Religion Dispatches). Here’s a bit from their “About Us” page:
“Religion Dispatches is an online magazine devoted to exploring the intersections of religion, values, and public life, nationally and globally. It aims to provide a platform for expert, critical exploration of religion in the contemporary world for a general readership. The goal of RD is to inform public debate by analyzing and critically engaging the role of religion and values on the most vital issues of our time. This will involve bringing a wider spectrum of perspectives into the conversation, especially voices that have been marginalized in most media, and increasing attention to progressive expressions of religion and values.”
This is not a publication aimed at glorifying God—simply analyzing (from a worldly perspective) religion and it’s affect on society.
I knew that already. But that does not mean Gothard isn’t responsible for saying what he said, which denied what Scripture was really saying. In my column, I did allow for the possibility that Gothard said more than what was quoted. However, regardless of her intent, that reporter pricked him, and he failed to bleed Gospel. He also directly contradicted what Jesus was saying about “the servant of all.” This had nothing to do with women secretly ruling the world through “submission.” What He said had everything to do with His male disciples leading through servanthood of others, emulating His own humility, becoming lower than all so that He might later be exalted above all (Philippians 2).
2. Sarah Posner also writes for The American Prospect, among other publications. The American Prospect is, according to the Google description: a “Monthly magazine covering politics, culture, and policy from a liberal perspective.
Is guilt-by-association a Biblical way to discern?
I checked through the article to see if its author treated all Christians that way. Surprisingly, she didn’t. Witness the quotes from other Christians, Don Veinot and Ronald B. Allen, whose rebuttals to Gothard are repeated fairly. They’re not being attacked along with Gothard simply because all claim to be Christian. The author, though admittedly a liberal, is fair. To follow an ad hominem approach without (or even before) dealing with the actual material is neither Biblical nor fitting here.
‘He’s only human’: not an excuse for not discerning
3. Of course there’s going to be sin in the camp—Bill Gothard is human, as are those women and men writing and blogging.
My objection is not to the presence of any “sin in the camp” (Old Testament metaphor) or whining about how Bill Gothard Should be Perfect and Isn’t. My objection to his, and many of his followers’, steady pattern of twisting Scripture to fit spiritual, moralistic Systems, and trusting some unknown Other (if even that) to take care of all that trifling Gospel stuff.
I know some of these women. By and large, they are writing under their husband’s oversight, and have no overt desire for power over others (as in the pyramid scheme model mentioned.)
That’s good to know. Yet in this case, then, it’s Anecdote versus Anecdote: your Anecdote that some women are indeed “submitting” from the heart, while others say they have known women who do it the exact opposite. Rock versus rock — no one wins. Thus my primary objection was not anything like “all women who claim to believe this are hypocrites” (although that’s true in too many cases to be coincidence). My primary point was instead: Gothard himself is inconsistent with his own profession to believe the Gospel, and has twisted this Scripture.
If they are out from under authority, perhaps those select individuals are in sin. By casting the stone does this author assume his own sinlessness?
This is a misapplication of the John 8 passage about the woman caught in adultery (itself a matter of some debate!). Even if accepted as part of the original book of John, this in no way overthrows Christ’s and the apostles’ commandments to be discerning, even if they themselves are not perfect. The apostle Paul knew of his flaws, yet opposed the apostle Peter “to his face” because Peter was clearly in the wrong (Galatians 2).
The presence of sin does not invalidate a ministry. It simply makes that ministry a product of humanity, like every other.
This is a straw man, Anonymous, though my guess is that you didn’t mean it. Your assumption that I’ve argued “Gothard / anyone else sins, thus we reject them” is flawed. Read the above for a reminder of the true reason I objected. And a true believer, even who is accomplishing good ministry elsewhere, should want to seek gracious correction and change accordingly. Sorry, “we all sin” is no excuse. God’s Word calls all believers to seek holiness in the Spirit, even if we are not actually perfect until the resurrection and New Earth.
If this premise were valid, we would have to disestablish or debunk every Christian institution in existence.
Fortunately, no one here has argued that premise; it exists only in your perception. I do wonder, though, why is it that you have (by accident, I’m sure!) “projected” an expectation of perfect teaching on others here?
Twisting Scripture: the real issue
4. The author admits he doesn’t know the rest of the quote.
And has also clarified to say that Gothard here not only missed some other trivial, optional teaching about how Christ is actually the greatest Servant — Gothard actively said something opposite. Even if he scrambled to cover up later, that would have been a self-contradiction as well as a Scripture contradiction. Let us not argue from silence either way. The fact remains: Gothard was pricked, and failed to bleed Gospel. This is understandable for a “baby Christian.” For a popular Christian leader, an elder, it’s inexcusable.
Being a published author, I know that it is dangerous to pull out random quotes from arbitrary sources. That’s just plain poor journalism.
Quite an accusation there. Refer to the above about Gothard’s overt contradiction to Scripture, regardless of whether he corrected himself later. Prove he did do that in that interview, and I’ll issue a correction. The only real objection that could be made is that I’ve misunderstood what he said about women being the real top dogs on Earth because of all their “submission.” So far I haven’t seen that defense attempted.
5. I have spoken with Bill Gothard, and he is not the man this author represents him to be. Of course if you call him on the phone and put him on the spot about a particular issue, and then isolate his comments, you can misrepresent any person in any desired light.
How he speaks in person and whether he is a Nice Guy is irrelevant. I’m sure Joel Osteen, Bart Ehrman and many others are very decent fellows — that doesn’t rule out them being false teachers who need correction.
Another straw man, though: I did not say he’s a rude chap, based on that interview. I said he twisted Scripture. Still that point has not been addressed. As for “it was taken out of context” type defenses, show me the real context, what exactly I’ve misread, to strengthen that charge.
I have friends who know this man well, and know him to be humble, winsome, caring, and personable. He is human and fallible, but no power monger or mind controller.
Again, My Anecdote versus Other People’s Anecdotes. Rock doesn’t beat Rock. I haven’t argued with Anecdotes. But Paper — Scripture — beats everything in this little game. Gothard twisted Scripture. Sadly, game over — unless he were to repent and change. Even more sadly, this has been a pattern.
What he knows of husband-wife relationships and parenting, he knows from extensive study of scripture—a pretty reliable source.
Twisting of Scripture, ignoring simple hermeneutics and the Gospel narrative, as demonstrated in this column, on this site and in other sources (available upon request).
The very sentiment they quote—they mention that he laughed—being light hearted about it—that was his way of trying to lift up a segment of humanity that is often trodden on.
That is only opinion, and again, another Anecdote that doesn’t apply. Lifting up the Downtrodden is a great sentiment — just like Following Authorities or Respecting Your Parents. But do NOT lift these things above the most Downtrodden One of all, the Greatest Servant. Gothard did that, and it was stepping out from under the “umbrella” of Christ’s authority.
Not because he puts any emphasis on that idea, but because he was called and cornered with a specific question about this topic.
Another opinion, which I do hope you’ll revise — not offering Alternate Interpretations or Anecdotes, but showing, from Scripture itself, what I might have gotten wrong and how Gothard is actually right that “being a servant of all” is more about women’s submission than about all Christ’s disciples and especially Christ Himself.
Though I know these latest comments of mine have carried a more-firm demeanor, I still mean them in love and caution, and wish we had the chance to discuss these matters more personally and with a background of relationship and trust in other ways.