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Crumbling Foundation: How Do We Move on after Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard, our Spiritual Leaders, Have Failed Us?


How do we move on spiritually when we have based our lives around the teachings of spiritual leaders like Doug Phillips or Bill Gothard who have fallen?


photo credit: bittbox via photopin cc


With the recent scandals involving Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard, it is as if the spiritual rug has been pulled for some families. These men were so influential. People involved with ATI spent years homeschooling their children with ATI curricula, going to the yearly gatherings for ATI. Many families have been connected by ATI and now with their spiritual leader having stepped down, it makes one want to say, “now what?” Do we continue this homeschooling program? Do we leave? Where do we go? If this is wrong, what else is wrong? We’ve seen similar results with those who have followed Doug Phillips, his teachings and ideologies. My e-mails tell me this uncertainty is what many are facing right now.


David Auge sent me one of those e-mails and gave me permission to post it here as a springboard for discussion:


With both of my spiritual “leaders/role-models” growing up in a homeschool family failing morally within a few months of each other, how does one re-adjust one’s gaze on Christ and not become a cynic about it all? There are times where I just want to switch “sides” or not associate myself with certain groups. 

People always say, “it’s easier to follow people than ideas and doctrine” but is that just the vanilla response to this situation? We just move along as if nothing really happened?

Kevin Swanson’s whole gay Disney thing…the whole Lourdes is not a victim thing…the whole Bill Gothard public confession-that-wasn’t-a-confession thing…makes you want to throw that annoyingly embarrassing baby out…with that bathwater…and why not?


119 thoughts on “Crumbling Foundation: How Do We Move on after Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard, our Spiritual Leaders, Have Failed Us?”

  1. Julie Anne,

    You said: ” I wanted that “experience” and if I didn’t get that experience, I felt something was wrong with me.”

    That is exactly how they make you feel, too, that if you do not experience it, then you are not a Christian, because you don’t have the “GIFT” of the Holy Spirit, meaning, that you don’t have the Holy Spirit at all.  And that seems to be all that they concentrate on.

    I do believe in it, but there are phoney ones out there.




  2. Singleman,

    That reminds me of a few people that I know that insist on people saying YaHaVeh, instead of just saying God, or The Lord, etc.  And Jesus must be pronounced YeShua.  Also, the dietary laws as well.  Religion is so weird.




  3. A. Amos

    I realized I did not answer the last part of your question. I like to hear what other people base their beliefs on, because it is good to discuss. I think that the several verses I see in the new testament pertaining to elders, teachers, deacons, etc. clearly show there is leadership within a church. Now what that means to people differs based on denomination. I homeschool my kids, and thus, I have been thrust into a leadership position whether I like it or not. Am I lord over them? No!!!! In fact my 17 year old constantly convicts me of sins in my life by just being such a wonderful, humble kid and i constantly have to apologize to him.

    Similarly, if I ask a group of friends to my house for a Bible study, I am almost always, by default, expected to lead. Does that mean I know a more than the person sitting next to me? No, but somebody has to facilitate. I think of Cindy K. who has a heck of a lot of information on theology, doctrine, etc. She “leads” much of the conversation here because people are interested to see what she has to say. I don’t agree with everything she says, just like I don’t agree with everything my Pastor says, but we are free to disagree and still love Christ. My Pastor always tells us to be Bereans and not trust a word that he or anyone else says. Instead, we should read the Word and let the Holy Spirit show us His truth. That being said, there are times when we see a brother or sister that is clearly violating God’s law, like in the case of Doug Phillips, and we must step in and lovingly bring them to repentance. (Although, I think he is not a believer, so that brings up whole other issues). I am assuming you enjoy talking about this too, but sometimes it is hard to see if people are upset on a thread, so I hope that is not the case. I was actually thinking of you in church today because the pastor brought up several instances of how we are to be serving others and that leadership is no better than any of us. So that is the servant leadership par:) It’s weird how something you were just having a conversation about can show up in a message. I’ll put a link to it tomorrow. So, yes I think leaders should be qualified to lead by being humble, willing to listen, and willing to be admonished when they are in sin. And that is a requirement we all should follow! I think in some ways we are saying the same thing but in different ways? I would assume you don’t believe in anarchy?:)


  4. Singleman,

    You are of value here and I greatly appreciate what you have shared. I have done posts on singles and how they are sometimes marginalized. It makes no sense. Jesus was single. Duh! (I sometimes speak my kids’ lingo when it fits. Lol)


  5. Wow…a LOT of conversations on this thread.

    This was VERY encouraging for me. I’m 27 and was raised in both camps (VF and ATI) and have my own story in Recovering Grace (

    My parents will state strongly that they didn’t tell me how far to go down the rabbit hole but the whole, “look like me, check those boxes, now you are more Christ-like” appealed to me tremendously.

    I was raised in a church that stressed a LOT about the judgment/justice of God. I would (like Martin Luther) mentally (not physically lol) flog myself on a weekly basis (each Sunday) over my sins.

    This week’s Sunday school we went over when God had the Levites slay 3,000 children of Israel after the Golden Calf incident. That face of God was the one I was the most familiar with growing up.

    I understand what you all are saying, love Jesus, follow Jesus, Jesus Jesus Jesus…and I know in my mind and heart that is the right answer.

    In my logical mind…sometimes it all seems too easy and I have to do some more research to understand it all…

    I was that guy who would take a passage out of Scripture that was controversial or politically incorrect and try to figure out why it’s there and I used to know a bunch more on all the tiny issues, (thx to the NCFIC movement for making me dig deeper into doctrine-this is actually a legitimate thx…having to understand why people believed certain things the way they did really helped me to grow in the Word).

    I dunno, I guess I’m just one of those guys who had to understand the “why” something was there in the Bible and that need to know has gotten in the way of the basic nitty gritty of it all – Jesus and I’ve sorta replaced him with parachurch organizations to fill that need to feel like I was on the road to sanctification.


  6. “My parents will state strongly that they didn’t tell me how far to go down the rabbit hole but the whole, “look like me, check those boxes, now you are more Christ-like” appealed to me tremendously.

    I was raised in a church that stressed a LOT about the judgment/justice of God. I would (like Martin Luther) mentally (not physically lol) flog myself on a weekly basis (each Sunday) over my sins.”

    I totally understand this. My family was and still is very into rules and appearances and I could never live up to their standards. It makes it worse when they represented God as someone who was very into rules and appearances. The abuse mixed with a misrepresentation of Scripture brought me to tthe point in my adult life when I said, if this is who God is, then I cannot please Him and I don’t want to be a Christian anymore. Thankfully, God used that to show me a true relationship with Christ.
    My question to you is “How do you honor and respect your parents despite them not recognizing your pain and hurt?” This has been very hard for me and I am very fearful of them. But, a lot stems from them denying any abuse that happened to my siblings and I. Instead, we are told how difficult we were as children:)


  7. loveoneanother,

    Just remember back at the beginning, with Adam and Eve.  They were in ignorance of Good and Evil, when in the Garden.  Satan tempted them to GET KNOWLEDGE. 

    Remember, God said to them, “WHO told you that you were naked? (Genesis 3:11)”  Satan didn’t.  He only enticed them to find out what the rules were (to get knowledge of good and evil), to wit:

    Genesis 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

    Satan enticed them to get their eyes opened to the rules.

    But God did not want them to know, for he said to not eat of it.




  8. Hi loveoneanother

    Thanks for the well written and thought out comments.
    And, explaining where you’re at with “Leaders.”

    Sounds like you are in a good place right now. With Jesus… 🙂
    In your Spiritual Life, and where you fellowship. That’s nice to hear. 🙂

    You write…
    “I am assuming you enjoy talking about this too, but sometimes it is hard to see if people are upset on a thread, so I hope that is not the case.”

    Yes – I enjoy talking about these things.
    I now feel they are vert important for His Body to talk about.
    Especially when most of The Spiritual Abuse is by leaders, church leaders.

    And – Nope – I’m NOT up-set ar all. I’m glad you took the time to explain.

    I was pretty much with you, agreeing with you, for a long time.
    Much of this was taught to me, and I inturn taught, in The Religious System.

    But, when I started over, after the Spiritual Abuse, I saw things differently.

    Like Lorreta said @ APRIL 25, 2014 @ 3:19 PM…
    “…after my de-toxing I basically had to start all over again from “square 1″ , rebuilding from scratch my life with Jesus outside the System…”

    I’ll just leave you with a few verses for now, that helped me see differently.
    And this is also for others, who are today, outside The Religious System…
    And are wondering about this conversation about “Leaders.”

    It was after I left The Religious System of today, tore up my papers, and walked away from “Church Leadership,” that I realized Isaiah, had prophesied about my “Leadership skills.” And the “Leadership skills” of the rest of todays “Church Leaders.” No really… 😉

    Isa 3:12 KJV
    …O my people, *they which lead thee* cause thee to err,
    and destroy the way of thy paths.

    Isa 9:16 KJV
    For *the leaders* of this people cause them to err;
    and they that are led of them are destroyed.

    Some legacy todays “Church Leaders” are creating for themselves…

    I’m in agreement with King David…

    The Lord is my Shepherd. 🙂

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}


  9. And – loveoneanother

    Have you considered the ANT?

    The ANT is small and insignificant – Or is it?

    Proverbs 6:6-8 KJV
    6 – Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
    7 – **Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,**
    8 – Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

    Guide – 07101 qatsiyn
    KJV – ruler 4, prince 4, captain 3, guide 1; 12
    Thayers – chief, ruler, commander, dictator, ruler (of one in authority)

    Overseer – 07860 shoter {sho-tare’}
    KJV – officers 23, ruler 1, overseer 1; 25
    Thayers – official, officer./

    Ruler – 04910 mashal {maw-shal’}
    KJV – rule 38, ruler 19, reign 8, dominion 7, governor 4, 81
    Thayers – to rule, have dominion, reign, cause to rule, exercise dominion.


    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    If not now? – When?

    One Voice – One Fold – One Shepherd – One Leader

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}


  10. loveoneanother

    And, I’m very sorry to hear about your challenge with your parents and how they presented Jesus to you, and the abuse.

    I know this hurts…
    “My question to you is “How do you honor and respect your parents despite them not recognizing your pain and hurt?” This has been very hard for me and I am very fearful of them.”

    I can understand a little, my parents, my family, my wife, disowned me…
    When I became a believer… sheesh – go figure…

    I could tell you what seemed to work for me.
    It was a hard time. A dark time.

    Today, I can give thanks for all things.
    But then – Just Pain, and Doubt, and Fear, and lot’s of Tears…

    The benefit was – I got to know Jesus – Had NO place else to go.
    It sounds easy when I write it now – But it wasn’t easy then.

    But, In my opinion, for what is worth…
    You do sound like you now have a good foundation in Jesus, and His Love.

    The only enCOURAGEment is…
    Just hang on to Jesus. Learn to hear His Voice.

    When He, Jesus, tells you – You’re okay – I love you just the way you are.

    You’ll know you’re Okay – And His opinion is the only one that matters.

    Jesus loves you this I know…

    Be blessed…
    And continue to be a blessing…


  11. Thanks A. AMOS, that was very sweet. So sorry to hear about your wife and kids, that sounds absolutely terrible. I’m glad that God is merciful enough to show us who he truly is when we seek him.


  12. Ed,

    I like the sayng “ignorances is bliss” because sometimes the more you know, it is hard to stomach that knowledge. I look at my dog who is so happy to see me, even if I have only been away for a moment. She lives in the moment. It is the same with little children who have not been burdened by the cares and evil of the world. I think that is why Jesus says to come to Him as little children. Just trusting, loving faith. Just as my dog doesn’t worry about if I’m going to put food in her bowl, God wants us to be able to live in the moment and trust for his provision. Those who have been blessed to have ultra – loving fathers probably understand this love and provision well. He wanted Adam and Eve to remain innocent and worriless. Satan wanted to take this away. —Hey, just writing this out makes me feel better.
    Thanks Ed!:)


  13. goosemon

    You write…
    “to fill that need to feel like I was on the road to sanctification.”

    Yeah – that road to sanctification is filled with a lot of pot holes. Ouch!!!

    Yup – Me too..
    “now you are more Christ-like” appealed to me tremendously.”

    Yup – Me too…
    All I had to do was try harder, pray more, give more, read the Bible more…
    Always, more… more… more… To NOT sin – To Please God…
    Always trying to become gooderer and gooderer, betterer and betterer…

    Always looking at myself – And seeing what I’ve done wrong…
    And NOT looking at Jesus – And seeing what Jesus did for me…

    Today I’m looking at that word “sanctification” differently…
    From what I was taught in The Abusive Religious System”

    Started seeing that **WE, His Sheep, His Disciples..
    ARE sanctified – by ONE offering – HIS own blood…

    1Cor 1:2
    Unto the church of God which is at Corinth,
    **to them that ARE sanctified in Christ Jesus,**
    called to be saints, with all that in every place
    call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

    Heb 2:11
    For both he that sanctifieth and they **who ARE sanctified** are all of one:
    for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

    Heb 10:14
    For by ONE offering he hath perfected for ever
    **them that ARE sanctified.**

    Heb 13:12
    Wherefore Jesus also, that he might
    **sanctify the people with his own blood,**
    suffered without the gate.

    Think on these things for awhile…

    You are free to be ye, just the way you ARE goosemon.

    Php 4:8
    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
    whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
    whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,
    whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue,
    and if there be any praise,
    **think on these things.**


  14. loveoneanother,

    You get it!!  I sure wish that others got it, too.  The rules are a barrier to faith. 

    However, the religious experts, which never cease to amuse me, will say that the rules enhance faith, give meaning to faith, etc.  Those are some strange so-called experts.




  15. Ed

    Me too

    “I never like “organized” religion. I never liked “organs”.
    Now, if we had guitarized religion…Rock and Roll!”

    🙂 😉 😉



    Truthfully, Honestly, Sincerely Yours And Faithfully Recorded & Submitted,

    Tony Cisneros
    2011 (& Possible 2015) Candidate For City Treasurer
    City Of Chicago
    State Of Illinois
    United States Of America


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