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formergothardite

Lessons from the Wisdom Booklets

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Meh
formergothardite

I know a lot of people have wondered what exactly the Wisdom Booklets taught. Recovering Grace is doing a series discussing parts of them. 

http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2015/10/an-ati-education-chapter-1-under-the-umbrella/

 

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Authority is the foundational principle of Gothard’s worldview

The second night of the Basic Seminar is a deluge of charts and anecdotes about teenagers in rebellion, broken relationships, and people drifting in search of God’s will. Their problems can always be traced to the fact that, somewhere along the line, they didn’t listen to, or flat-out rejected, their God-given authority.

 

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Later, while studying Wisdom Booklet 15, a family learned more about God’s ordained structure of authority in the home. According to Gothard (who had exactly zero experience in marriage and raising children), it’s the husband’s role to develop the long-range vision for the family and lay down broad commands to accomplish those goals. His wife then implements these commands by creating “laws” for the household. There are dire consequences for a couple who doesn’t function this way:

… Many husbands have acknowledged that their motivation for spiritual pursuits can be quickly destroyed by negative attitudes or lack of enthusiasm from their wives.

When a husband gives a command to his family and the wife fails to work out the proper procedures to carry it out, many consequences may occur.

First, the father may attempt to give the laws himself. Very often, however, he is not sensitive to the needs and responses of the children; thus, he may be too harsh or demanding. The wife will then try to compensate by being more lenient than she should be, and the children will sense a divided authority.

Meanwhile, when the wife does not fulfill her function in the family, she will feel inadequate and inferior. She may try to compensate for these destructive feelings by withdrawing, reacting, or looking outside the family for her approval and fulfillment. (WB 15, pp. 615-616, first edition)

 

This article points out how all these teachings lead to the idea that no one can question Bill Gothard because questioning him is like questioning God. 

http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2015/10/an-ati-education-chapter-2-is-it-just-me/

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The Wisdom Booklets are the foundation of Gothard’s homeschool curriculum. There are 54 of them, and at a glance, they’re pretty impressive. They’re based on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7). Each booklet uses one or two verses to springboard into discussions of language, math, medicine, law, and history. With pictures and graphs and illustrations, each page seems to illuminate how God’s word permeates every aspect of our lives. It was an ambitious undertaking, and Gothard’s presentation is excellent

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He issued a “Parent Guide Planner” with each booklet, but the planners provided very little practical help in teaching the concepts—especially since parents were supposed to teach the same material to all of their children, regardless of age.

Back in my student days in the early 90s, families were expected to complete one booklet each month, and eight or nine over the course of the school year. Once a family finished all 54, they started back over with the first one and went through them all again.

Gothard made a big fanfare over families who completed their Wisdom Booklets—especially those who made it through the whole set. One favorite tactic was to have families testify about how God sent them troubles and trials that exactly matched what they were studying in that month’s Wisdom Booklet. So studying about the eye meant that they discovered their youngest needed glasses. While learning about God’s provision, their van died and God provided a new one without their having to go into debt for it.

 

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Although it was mostly invisible to outsiders, there was a real, heavy pressure within the ATI culture to uphold the standards. For instance, Wisdom Booklet #18 admonishes:

If an observer can find any inconsistency [in a godly Christian’s life], he then has a reason for not accepting that standard for himself. He concludes, “If it doesn’t work for the one who has it, why should it work for me?”(WB 18, pg. 737, first edition.)

Therefore, very few people dared to admit they had problems with the material.

 

The Wisdom Booklets were set up to train people, even the parents, to doubt themselves and their ability to make decisions so that they would follow Bill without question.

 

http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2015/12/an-ati-education-chapter-3-thou-shalt-not-trap-the-eye/

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“Ye are the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”

According to Bill Gothard, this verse clearly directs women to avoid clothing with “eye traps” that might attract a man’s lustful attention. 

 

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At first glance, it might not be clear how “ye are the light of the world” has anything to do with how a woman could “trap” a man’s lustful attention by what she wears. Well, for the record, the verse also applies to lasers, the Crusades, and the authority structure in the home. It’s all laid out in Gothard’s Wisdom Booklet 15, which children from age five to twenty-five studied together with their parents.

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In Wisdom Booklet 15, Gothard informs his followers that “apart from your words, your countenance can be the most effective means you have to show the love of the Lord Jesus Christ to others around you. In fact, your face can actually cancel the effect of your words, so powerful are its expressions.”

He goes on to use words like “shining” and “glowing,” and explain that a sad face directs attention to yourself and away from God. By this time, most of us were drawn in. We sensed a connection between “light of the world” and “bright countenance.” From there, it was an easy step to “we should direct attention to our faces, where we show Jesus’ love to others.” And then we found ourselves taking fashion advice from Bill Gothard.

 

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Eye traps

This catchy little phrase meant a great deal to ATI girls. It referred to anything about our clothes that drew a man’s eyes away from our faces. Since Jesus said that any man who lusted after a woman in his heart committed adultery with her, it was up to us women to make sure we didn’t stir up that lust.

 

http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2015/12/an-ati-education-chapter-4-the-law-of-grace/

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If a woman doesn’t cry out when she’s raped, God holds her equally guilty with her attacker.”

Bill Gothard states this outright in Wisdom Booklet 36; hundreds of people, most of them well-meaning Christians, read and accepted it. I was one of them.

 

 

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In Wisdom Booklet 18, he addresses the charge that he taught legalism.

First of all, he defines legalism as, “A violation of God’s intent for a law by misapplying the law.” (pg. 737, first edition) That’s a classic Gothard definition—twelve words that sound good but make no sense whatsoever without another hundred words to explain them.

 

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If anyone said that Christians didn’t have to keep Old Testament Law, or God didn’t specifically command women to avoid “eye traps,” or that he didn’t speak only through authorities, Gothard reminded us:

“The most obvious way to despise a fellow Christian who is seeking to live by a stricter standard is to call him a legalist.” (pg. 738, first edition)

To dare to think of Gothard as a “legalist,” then, was to reveal my own inferior faith and petty disdain.

 

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After 47 pages of trying to follow his logic—while also “studying” God’s laws for harvest schedules, the French Revolution, algebraic equations, and how the Jewish months corresponded to the development of a baby in the womb—well, we just accepted it all.

This last quote really describes a Wisdom Book. It is just a mishmash of different stuff. 

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quiversR4hunting

@formergothardite I just started to read these today.

The author of the series is Sara Roberts Jones. A blurb about her at the end of each article (I am on article 3)

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Sara Roberts Jones spent her teenage years under the teachings of Bill Gothard. Her debut novel, The Fellowship, explores spiritual abuse and the search for grace. She blogs at SaraRobertsJones.com

and about the Author section:

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Sara Roberts Jones spent six years under the teachings of Bill Gothard, and fifteen years unlearning those teachings. She and her husband homeschool their four children with a strong emphasis on grace and cultivating their individual giftings.

 

Edited by quiversR4hunting
included "about the author"

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older than allosaurs

This was not our family's kind of thing at all, but when I skimmed through these pieces I realized I had heard bits and pieces of this "wisdom" growing up. The odd pearl must have filtered out into the culture, or maybe I picked one up in a laundromat or something. Anyway, parts are weirdly familiar.

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BackseatMom

Terrifying.

Also, serious question, how does a man without a wife or children rise to such prominence in a completely family-centric religion? Who could ever take this permanent bachelor seriously?

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Meh
formergothardite

http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2015/12/an-ati-education-chapter-5-we-the-people-under-authority/

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Rejecting your God-given authority doesn’t just affect your personal life. It can destroy a whole nation. I mean, just look at the French Revolution!

In Wisdom Booklet 18, Gothard spends several pages discussing the the 18th century French Revolution. He chose as his “chief cause” the fact that many intellectuals of the day had rejected God in favor of Deism and atheism.

 

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Gothard explains, “All government authority is ordained by God (See John 19:11). The proper picture of authority in any relationship is established when that authority comes from above (God to government, parent to child, and husband to wife).

The wrong picture of authority clearly illustrates Voltaire’s concept of vox populi vox dei, “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” During the French Revolution, chaos and anarchy were the tragic by-products of wrong attitudes toward the origin of authority.”

He follows it up with another chart (Gothard loves charts) on the same page showing the progression of France from absolute monarchy to absolute dictatorship. (In retrospect, I’m not sure what this chart proves, since the end result is pretty much exactly what it starts with)

 

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Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity’ was the battle cry of the violent masses during the French Revolution. The people of France experienced a horrible decade of anarchy and bloodshed because they violated Scriptural principles of governmental authority and attempted to establish a democracy that made every citizen a law unto himself.” (pg 770)

 

4 minutes ago, BackseatMom said:

Also, serious question, how does a man without a wife or children rise to such prominence in a completely family-centric religion? Who could ever take this permanent bachelor seriously?

Same reason people take birth control advice from the Pope. 

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BackseatMom

Does he explain his abstaining (publicly, anyway) as a holy act? I thought (though I could be incorrect) that the elevation of the celibate lifestyle wasn't embraced by most protestant strains (with a few notable exceptions). 

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cindyluvs24

I'm sorry, I'm still on that whole "when the husband gives a command...."  thing.    A command????

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Meh
formergothardite

In a way it was considered a "holy" act because he claimed he had someone he wanted to marry, but his mother didn't approve, so in following his own teachings, he never married and lived at home with his mother. He was willing to sacrifice marriage and family to not defy his authorities, and like the RG posts show, respecting authorities is a HUGE think in IBLP.  

Now, I am 100% sure that whole story is bullshit that he made up to explain why he never got married, but people did admire him for it. He also used to teach that young people should devote part of their 20's to working in IBLP instead of marriage and people who did that were to be respected for delaying marriage to "serve God". 

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apandaaries

This is making me want to pull out my (purchased used!) Gothard materials.  He really does love charts.  I think it's because it's easier than writing yet another page of nonsense.  I went on a bit of a used book buying spree a few months ago, and was fascinated by all the blank pages throughout his books.  I think people were supposed to take notes, but given the near-pristine condition of most of the used texts I bought, it seems his audience was of the 'smile and nod' variety.

16 minutes ago, BackseatMom said:

Does he explain his abstaining (publicly, anyway) as a holy act? I thought (though I could be incorrect) that the elevation of the celibate lifestyle wasn't embraced by most protestant strains (with a few notable exceptions). 

Never followed Gothard but learned a lot from other sources.  I believe he claims that some people are given the gift of chastity/celibacy, and he's one of those called to walk that special path in life.  How he can then claim to tell families how to best conduct themselves is another good question, and for that I cannot even begin to imagine a response. 

Edited by amandaaries
riffles

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Meh
formergothardite

The reason he can tell give marriage and child rearing advice is because these were not his ideas(this is what he claimed), these were Biblical Principals. It wasn't coming from him, it was all God. 

2 minutes ago, amandaaries said:

How he can then claim to tell families how to best conduct themselves in another good question, and for that I cannot even begin to imagine a response. 

 

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apandaaries
4 minutes ago, formergothardite said:

The reason he can tell give marriage and child rearing advice is because these were not his ideas(this is what he claimed), these were Biblical Principals. It wasn't coming from him, it was all God. 

 

But of course. Who better than a childless, celibate man to guide and instruct families?  :my_angel: Such strange choices that God makes; good thing we know better than to question those in authority.  

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Gimme a Free RV
4 hours ago, amandaaries said:

I believe he claims that some people are given the gift of chastity/celibacy, and he's one of those called to walk that special path in life. 

...in stocking feet so he could easily play footsies with his young, pretty (Satan-targeted), female interns and secretaries.

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Guest

I've often wondered if BG did propose to a woman and get rejected.  It would explain why he founded a cult basically dedicated to subjecting and punishing women.

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Jingerbread

54 booklets.  Any reason those couldn't be rolled into a few books?  Is it 54 just to try to sound impressive?

7 hours ago, formergothardite said:

The reason he can tell give marriage and child rearing advice is because these were not his ideas(this is what he claimed), these were Biblical Principals. It wasn't coming from him, it was all God. 

 

I want to see him and Erika Shupe get into a throw-down.  If it's on Pay Per View, I'll pay to watch.

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apandaaries
2 minutes ago, Jingerbread said:

54 booklets.  Any reason those couldn't be rolled into a few books?  Is it 54 just to try to sound impressive?.

I'm always curious about that.  He's got a 7 fetish, so 42, 49, or 56 would make sense as an end point, but instead... 

Have you examined his materials?  There's a lot of repetition and ridiculousness, so tying it in with holy-numerical importance would help elevate the material.

 

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Jingerbread
51 minutes ago, amandaaries said:

I'm always curious about that.  He's got a 7 fetish, so 42, 49, or 56 would make sense as an end point, but instead... 

Have you examined his materials?  There's a lot of repetition and ridiculousness, so tying it in with holy-numerical importance would help elevate the material.

 

Maybe he meant to write more, and couldn't?

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AmazonGrace

Can they charge more for 54 booklets than, say, 5 books?

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Childless

Yeah, Gothard totally got rejected.  Those booklets sound like they're written by someone trying to get revenge on an entire group for being slighted by one member of it.  He really is a sad and pathetic individual.

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Four is Enough

I must give people too much credit for being able to think clearly. HOW do people accept this? I mean, I know that people who are drawn to cults need something they're not getting IRL, but..

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SledCat

Celibacy is considered a great "gift" in fundie circles, too. If you are unencumbered by the flesh, that frees you up to be a great teacher/leader, etc. Of course, none of this actually applied to Gothard.


Looks like an interesting series. I have to say the "teenagers in rebellion" phrase instantly gets my back up. I can't tell you how many times this was applied to me, and kids in my circle. Usually for very minor reasons. What resentment it caused.

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tumblr

54 books at the recommended 9 per year is six years of schooling. If you start at 5/6 your child is finished by 11/12 and can either start learning to be a good homemaker or a manly trade. It also makes it easy for children to start later in life but still finish schooling in a timely manner. 

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Anonymousguest

I have had someone tell me that the reason we can know his ideas come from God is because he wasn't married or had children. Because we know it's not coming from his own personal bias. She said something like "where else could the wisdom be coming from?"

 I'm actually really thankful for that woman, she showed me the crazy parts of ATI right when I was first interested and really seeking something. i really wanted some  to follow whenwhen it came to raising my kids. But she introduced me to the Pearls, and I was so shocked and horrified I actually took the book and spoke to our pastor about it. He asked that the book not be read and followed. Eventually it lead that family and a few others who were starting to get involved with ATI to leave. She was the one to give me the information on having aI vbac, and she told me about the rules regarding the timing of marital relations. I've never heard that kind of blatant openness from any o ne else involved with ATI, so I'm sure she wasn't supposed to tell me all that. But I'm glad she did. 

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Cleopatra7
20 minutes ago, tumblr said:

54 books at the recommended 9 per year is six years of schooling. If you start at 5/6 your child is finished by 11/12 and can either start learning to be a good homemaker or a manly trade. It also makes it easy for children to start later in life but still finish schooling in a timely manner. 

I guess that would explain why all the supposed adult Duggar offspring seem to be mentally stuck around 11/12, regardless of their chronological age. It would also explain why James was doing multiplication flashcards at 14 or so, and why Joy was shown doing third grade spelling words when she was twelve. Yet, pre-Joshgate, Mike Huckabee was assuring us that the Duggars had something to teach the country about education. This entire "curriculum" is pure educational neglect.

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Spent
Shoobydoo
On 12/30/2015 at 5:05 PM, formergothardite said:

In Wisdom Booklet 18, Gothard spends several pages discussing the the 18th century French Revolution. He chose as his “chief cause” the fact that many intellectuals of the day had rejected God in favor of Deism and atheism.

You mean like contemporary American intellectuals such as the founding fathers?

On 12/30/2015 at 5:05 PM, formergothardite said:

The people of France experienced a horrible decade of anarchy and bloodshed because they violated Scriptural principles of governmental authority and attempted to establish a democracy that made every citizen a law unto himself.” (pg 770)

This part confuses me. America also started out with a revolution, but was ours okay? Do they think America's government is evil because people can vote, or is it okay because that's the "governmental authority" this country "started" out with? Is every amendment added after the original constitution invalid because their addition implies the government was doing things wrong? Or is the constitution itself invalid because it wasn't ratified until five years after the Revolutionary War ended? Were we supposed to be a monarchy instead? George Washington kind of put the kibosh on that one. George Washington questioned Gothard from the past. :pb_lol: Heck, if George Washington HAD agreed to become king, it would have been chaos because Washington had no children by blood, and both of his adopted children died before he did. We'd have had succession issues barely 20 years into our existence.

 

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Rhetorica
On 12/30/2015 at 4:59 PM, BackseatMom said:

Terrifying.

Also, serious question, how does a man without a wife or children rise to such prominence in a completely family-centric religion? Who could ever take this permanent bachelor seriously?

Answering here as someone whose family was devoted to Gothard's teachings (although not in ATI), it was because Gothard made a big deal of claiming these were not HIS ideas, but God's clear teaching in the Bible. He explicitly said that seminar attendees should not quote him, but quote the Bible. It's a clever rhetorical move because in the broader world of fundamentalism, who can argue with GOD SAYS? My Dad does the same thing. He doesn't disagree with people because he disagrees with them. He disagrees with them because they disagree with GOD!  (Doesn't sound anything like a megalomaniac at all. /sarcasm)

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