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William W. Gothard Jr.
November 2, 1934
William W. "Bill" Gothard (born November 2, 1934) is an American speaker and writer. At the age of 15, he gave his life to helping teenagers and their parents live their life in Christian principles. Much of his reputation comes from his efforts to finish that goal. He founded the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) in 1961. He has also spoken at conferences, and has written many books.
Gothard was born the third of six children to be born to William and Carmen Gothard. His father was the manager of an engineering firm. He later served with several ministries. When Gothard was in the 5th grade, he says that God brought made him know of his need for a personal Savior. Shortly after beginning to believe that Jesus was his savior, he and his family joined a fundamentalist church. Gothard received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible from Wheaton College. In 1957 he also got his Master of Arts degree, in Christian Education.
He worked with gangs, church youth groups, high school clubs, youth camps, and families that had problems. He later wrote out seven principles of life he believed were not optional. In 1964, Gothard was given youth work in the LaGrange Bible Church, in suburban Chicago. Also, Gothard's Alma mater, Wheaton College, let him design and teach a program 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 over one hundred students joined the class.
Gothard started an organization in 1961 called Campus Teams, which in 1974 changed its name to Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts. Later, in 1989, the name changed again to Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). Gothard is now the president and a board member of this organization. In the 1970s they started the Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar (also called Basic Seminars) across the United States. More people came, averaging between 10,000 and 20,000 people at each seminar. In the early 1980s the seminar attendance began to get smaller. Today seminars keep being held around the world and have an alumni base of more than 2.5 million.
In 1984, under Gothard’s leadership, a homeschooling program, the Advanced Training Institute of America was founded. He is the author of many books. In 2004, Gothard received his Ph.D. in Biblical Studies. Gothard is not married, and has no children.
Gothard's teaching focuses on seven "life principles", 49 character qualities, and 49 commands that Jesus gave. He views the Bible as the word of God and teaches that while there is only one interpretation of scripture. However, Gothard's use of the Bible has met with criticism. On his website he states "the goal of my teaching is to provide Biblical principles and concepts of life to guide people in their choices."
Gothard tells people not to listen to "un-Christian" music, including all popular and contemporary Christian music. He is in favor homeschooling; IBLP publishes its own homeschooling material. He has discouraged the use of contraceptives or other family planning.
As a part of the IBLP, Gothard organized the Medical Training Institute of America (MTIA). The main purpose of the ministry is to "train men and women to assist families in making wise decisions about health care issues." The Medical Training Institute of America is not a medical school and does not give degrees.
A group called the "Personal Freedom Outreach" (PFO) has criticized Gothard in several ways. Such as say that Gothard's views and his interpretations of Scripture are legalistic teachings, and that IBLP and such are "cult-like". Gothard was also accused by some of being contemporary for not practicing what he preaches about conflict resolution, and for his "quiverfull" teachings that married Christians should have as many children as possible. Even when Gothard himself is not married and has no children, even into his 70s.
Don Veinot claimed in his critical book on Gothard that Dr. Ronald Allen, a conservative evangelical, went to a Gothard seminar in 1973 and wrote that "In this seminar, I was regularly assaulted by the misuse of the Bible, particularly of the Old Testament, on a level that I have never experienced in a public ministry before that time (or since)."
Books that he wrote
- Basic Preparation for Engagement
- How to Evaluate Music ISBN: 0-916888-05-3
- Men's Manual, Vol. 1 ISBN: 0-916888-04-5
- Nuestro Dios Celoso/Our Jealous God: El Amor que no me deja ir/The love that doesn't let me go ISBN: 0-7899-1215-5
- 'Our Jealous God ISBN: 1-59052-225-7
- Rebuilder's Guide ISBN: 0-916888-06-1
- Research in Principles of Life: Advanced Seminar Textbook ISBN: 0-916888-11-8
- Rewards of Being Reviled ISBN: 0-916888-30-4
- The Power of Crying Out ISBN: 1-59052-037-8
- The Power of Spoken Blessings ISBN: 1-59052-375-X
- The Sevenfold Power of First Century Churches and Homes ISBN: 0-916888-18-5
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