Bill Gothard (born November 2, 1934) is a Christian conference speaker and founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles. His conferences focus on "Basic Youth Conflicts". His solution is a conservative, authoritarian view of family life.
In 1964, Bill's alma mater, Wheaton College, invited him to design and teach a course based on his work with youth. The course was given the name Basic Youth Conflicts; two hours of upper-division undergraduate and graduate credit were awarded to students completing the course. Forty-six students, youth pastors, and teachers registered for that first class. The next year 120 students enrolled in Basic Youth Conflicts.
In the years that followed, Basic Youth Conflicts was offered in several new locations. Soon seminar attendance averaged between 10,000 and 20,000 youth and adults. Today, hundreds of smaller seminars are being conducted in cities throughout the United States and other nations.
Much of Gothard's teaching is consistent with Evangelical Biblical interpretation.
Gothard provides strong advice about family relationships. Wives are to submit to their husbands. Children are not to marry without their parents' approval. Particularly, daughters are to receive their father's blessing and live with parents before marrying.
Bill Gothard strongly criticizes contemporary Christian music.
A prominenent theme in Gothard's teaching is that God-given authority provides followers a spiritual "umbrella of protection", and that rejecting authority results in vulnerability to spiritual attack.
Controversies and criticism
Within evangelicalism, criticism of Gothard centers around two issues: (1) what critics consider legalistic teachings and interpretations of Scripture, and (2) concern about Gothard's application of authoritarianism in his own organization, particularly during a sex scandal in the 1980s. Examples of critics within evangelicalism are Christian watchdog group Midwest Christian Outreach, and Christian rock musician Steve Taylor who was negatively mentioned in Gothard's writings.
The number of Bill Gothard's followers is thought to be on the decline after another sex scandal in 2001. The second scandal took place on Bill Gothard's primary compound in Oakbrook, IL shortly before the group's annual conference in Knoxville, TN. Jim Voeller, a keynote speaker at the upcoming conference and the director of Bill Gothard's homeschooling curriculum left his wife and seven children after an ongoing affair with his secretary was exposed. Employees and volunteers serving at the compound in Oakbrook were asked to keep silent on the matter.
Acclamations and endorsements
Bill Gothard is highly praised by such men as:
-Sam Johnson, U.S. Congressman (Texas) and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel
-Dr. Bill Bright, founder, Campus Crusade for Christ
-D. James Kennedy, senior minister, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church
-Adrian Rogers, senior pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee
-Dr. Charles Stanley, pastor, First Baptist Church of Atlanta
-Bruce Wilkinson, author of the New York Times #1 best-seller, The Prayer of Jabez
-Pat Boone, entertainer and author
-Dr. Gary Smalley, counselor and best-selling author
-John D. Beckett, chairman and CEO, R. W. Beckett Corp.
-Byron Paulus, president, Life Action Ministries
-Jim Ryun, U.S. Congressman (Kansas)
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