Teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men (Matthew 15:9) -- By: Ann Marshall

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 09:1 (Spring 2003)
Article: Teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men (Matthew 15:9)
Author: Ann Marshall

Teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men (Matthew 15:9)

Ann Marshall


I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.1 (Jude 3b)

Is Bill Gothard a heretic or a misguided Scripture pretzel- twister? Is he a Gnostic mystic or a New Testament “Mr. Fix-it”? Is he an Evangelical rabbi or heir to Norman Vincent Peale? Could he be called a Catholic, Seventh-Day Adventist, and Charismatic syncretist? All are true—save one!


This article is a discussion and critique of a most interesting book, A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard & the Christian Life, by Don Veinot, Joy Veinot, and Ron Henzel,2 in which the authors sound an alarm concerning the ministry of Bill Gothard.

Of Gothard’s myriad teachings, several are of particular interest to those of the Dispensational Free Grace persuasion. We will examine his definition of grace and revelation, as well as his system for Christian living, which he bases on seven non-optional principles at whose zenith is his concept of authority, named “the umbrella of protection.”

It will also be valuable to note his prescription of Mosaic laws and Old Testament customs for the church today and to look into

his hermeneutical method (unfortunately mostly derived from anecdotal evidence), which is the wellspring of many muddled interpretations. Lastly, we will look at the inner workings of his ministry and how it holds sway over people’s lives.

On my starting this analysis, trepidation crept in: the gravitas of joining a chorus of those pronouncing judgment on a man’s thirty-five-year ministry gave me pause. However, this type of judgment is given scriptural precedent by none other than the giants of the faith—Peter, John, and Paul. Indeed, we must make any ruling on one’s teaching solely based on accuracy of scriptural interpretation, not on the heart of the teacher.

The apostle Luke instructs all believers to be like the Bereans and hold a teacher’s doctrine up to the light of biblical truth. Correction in love with a view to restoration seeks to stem the tide of trickle-down delusion. One must put aside wariness and understand what is at stake, for large numbers within the church and society have been profoundly influenced. The examination of Gothard’s ministry has wider implications for all believers and teachers: how incorrect doctrine harms people and how...

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