Bill Gothard and the Civil Magistrate
A Debate

This letter and article was posted to the Vine & Fig Tree Mailing list:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 13:01:58 +0000
From: House of Armes <>
Subject: The Biblical Examiner - October 1992.html

Well, I found most of my old articles concerning this wolf.  This one is one of my favorites.  I most likely sent it to you over a year ago, but it is worth reading again.  Feel free to forward it to your lists.



From: "Paul & Stephanie Armes" <>
To: <>
Subject: The Biblical Examiner - October 1992.html
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 12:12:02 -0000
Organization: House of Armes

These are my comments as I read through the article.

I heard about the Gothard's Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts while attending Charles Swindoll's church. I believe I first attended a Gothard Seminar in 1977. I thought it was generally OK. My enthusiasm for it has grown steadily. I am now an enthusiastic supporter. I read all their materials and enjoy hearing about their projects at seminars and through the mail (I receive regular alumni and group leader mailings).

About the time I was introduced to the IBYC seminars, I became involved in the Christian Reconstruction movement. I eventually became a Chalcedon Scholar and had a regular column in the Chalcedon Report. I noticed many parallels between Chalcedon and the IBYC. The parallels between the two became more pronounced as the years went on. Both the CR's and the IBYC are committed to applying Biblical principles in modern life. Not all Theonomists agree with Rushdoony, nor will all Theonomists agree with Gothard. Both are pretty much in the same camp, however, with the difference being Gothard is much more practical and usable. Gothard encourages his students to apply even the OT laws on diet and sexual abstinence after childbirth. I understand he put a copy of Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law in the hands of everyone on his staff.

The Biblical Examiner
An Examination of Biblical Precepts Involved in Issues at Hand 

October 1992
Law Resource F (Booklet 52-Preliminary Edition)

A Short Analysis of Bill Gothard's Theology of Civil Government as presented in Booklet 52

Because of a few extremely obvious facts about Gothard and Booklet 52, I do not feel that it is particularly necessary to do a detailed analysis of his Booklet. Consequently, we are not probing the pros and cons of any "tax-resistance" movement; rather, we are examining Gothard's theology concerning civil government as presented in Booklet 52.




I have to admit I don't have "Booklet 52." I'll call world headquarters and see if they'll send me a copy.

Apparently this booklet is a response to the "tax-protest" movement. As such it expresses only one side of Gothard's view of the State, just as Rushdoony's criticisms of the tax protesters reflect only one side of his view of the State.

Opening remarks

The ministry

We might note that Gothard was invited to present his ministry in the old Soviet Union. This alone should cause those of us who love individual freedom, free enterprise and private property to view all his material with great caution, understanding that what Gothard presents is accepted by totalitarian governments. Even though we are told of the great changes taking place within the old USSR, we have not yet heard any evidence of increased individual freedom or of any property actually changing hands from the state to individual families; we have heard many reasons why the state must retain a controlled society. As we see from Booklet 52, the primary message Gothard will take into the old Soviet Union is one of submission to a civil government no matter how corrupt that civil government might be. It is commonly said that Carl Marx called Christianity "The Opium of the People." As we see from the opening remarks of Booklet 52, Gothard himself propagates an opium which will subdue the populace to ungodly authority.





Why must we view Gothard with caution rather than viewing Russia with joy for the work God is doing there?

Murder is illegal in Russia. Even socialists recognize the importance of some social order. It may be that God has brought Russia to the point where she is more appreciative of God's Principles than America is.



Must be Karl's brother.

Gothard's goal is to Christianize the Soviet Union. He is there and his critic is here. Let's see who has more effect on Russia for Christ.

Church & State mixed successfully (for the state that is)

Gothard's goal in submitting to authorities is, first, that the one submitting would become more like Christ, and second, to make the authorities repent and become more Godly.
Let me mention four points from a news article (The Indianapolis News, 8/20/92) about the city of Indianapolis considering a link with Gothard. These quotes will speak for themselves: "'They say that it's not a religion. Yet Gothard in his remarks kept referring to his ministry. How do you separate those two?'" said city Council member Frank Short. Second, "Lambart (representing Gothard) said the group does not promote religion or church, but simply deals with 'non-optional, universal principles of life.'" (This sure sounds suspiciously like paganism's "universal life principles.") Third, "'The concern within the social services community is that we help a person... without any sectarian overtones,' Beckham (Community Centers of Indianapolis) said." Thus, Beckham would let Gothard help if his "ministry" has no "sectarian overtones," i.e., if it does not promote the Christian religion above the Muslim religion.

The article concludes with this very interesting statement: "(Mayor) Goldsmith said he heard about the institute from some local ministers who told him of the group's work with schools and orphanages in Moscow. Officials there reportedly have sought the institute's help in bringing Biblical principles into their education system." Note: Gothard is trying to convince the city that he helps the community without any sectarian overtones. (I personally find it strange that one who claims to be totally Bible based emphasizes that he is only teaching non-optional universal life principles, and that he is not representing religion with sectarian overtones. Is this consistent with God's word? Why will he not say that he is teaching the law-word of God? I have been to the seminars: basic, advanced and pastor's. Furthermore, I have most of his material, and it is extremely well documented with Scripture and case history. Strangely though, his doctrine of the state avoids case histories of people like Daniel, the three Hebrew children and Policarp.)

I don't know what kinds of public service projects "The Biblical Examiner" [TBE] is involved in. Gothard is involved in many, and has worked with the mayors of dozens of cities. There are many public officials who are anxious to apply Biblical principles to their cities, but are afraid of being victimized by the ACLU and a "SLAP suit" ("Strategic Litigation Against Public entities: a suit which is not expected to be litigated, but results in a public entity reversing a Biblical direction to avoid inevitable legal expenses). Those who are actually involved in shaping public life are aware of these realities. I suspect TBE is not. Anyone who has tried to get Biblical Law applied under the modern myth of "separation of church and state" knows how delicately one must tread. TBE's criticisms are the same criticisms that resulted in prayer and Bible reading being removed from public schools. Horace Mann proposed a non-sectarian but Christian education. Catholics and Protestants both said, "If it isn't my sect, I want no sect at all." Now, 150 years later, both groups sadly realize that non-sectarian Christian education would be better than Godless or Marxist education.

To equate Gothard's Biblical Law approach with New Age paganism is egregiously slanderous.

Note that the Indiana officials and the Moscow officials are both aware that Gothard is a Bible-based organization, but that he does not push one particular church denomination. Gothard is as wise as the serpents (Mark 10:16). To call Gothard a wolf is a clear violation of the Ninth Commandment, and only reveals disturbing ignorance of political realities in a post-Christian world.



Gothard does not avoid Daniel. In fact, Daniel figures prominently in Gothard's analysis. If I recall, Daniel is on the cover of Gothard's book on "Standing Alone" (that is, standing against the Humanistic State). See the photo of Daniel in the Advanced Seminar Textbook at page 272, and the discussion at page 348, under the caption, "How Did Other Jews Respond to Wicked Rulers?" (describing how "Jews suffered similar oppression and persecution at the hands of some of history's most brutal despots."

Peak of Personal Piety

There is a conspicuous absence in Gothard's seminars of any practical application of God's law into society. They deal exclusively with what we could call, "Personal Piety": how the individual can be more spiritual. It is worth noting that the institute, "which claims to have been host for 2.3 million people nationwide in its week long character-building seminars (ibid)," has had no apparent influence upon society. This means that about 1% of America's population has been "Gothardised." One would think that this would have a significant influence for godliness in society in general, but what has happened to the abortion rate?

There is a "conspicuous absence" of conformity to reality in this paragraph.

Many Reconstructionists spend all day criticizing the State, while their own lives are a mess. Gothard believes that society will be changed from the ground up.

But Gothard has also met with hundreds of public officials such as legislators and mayors, and has convinced many of them to begin implementing Biblical Law in their communities. He has well-organized and well-attended legislator's seminars, an extensive program to work with mayors of American cities, and "Gothardites" are taught to cultivate relationships with public officials, pray for them, and give a Godly mentoring witness to them so that they might begin implementing God's Law.

During my sojourn at the Catholic Worker, I had the opportunity to meet Jerry "Gov. Moonbeam" Brown. He told me he met with Bill Gothard and was so impressed he resolved to implement Gothard's character program in Oakland public schools. This is a remarkable opportunity. When students are taught to behave in a Godly way, they tend to ask "Why?" Not all Oakland teachers will be able to give a correct response, but many will. This is clearly a victory. How many public officials have been introduced to Biblical Principles by "The Biblical Examiner?" How many have been persuaded by TBE to move in a more Biblical direction? Gothard has clearly effected more Theonomic change than TBE ever will. I don't know of any organization that is having more practical Theonomic impact on society than Gothard's Institute in Basic Life Principles. If this fact is largely unknown even to Christians (to say nothing of the mainstream secular media), it is because Gothardites work for Theonomic results, rather than self-glorifying PR.

Gothard is a "stealth" Theonomist. Go to his seminars and hear accounts of people involved in the programs who are "bringing people to Christ" through these secular-sounding outreaches.

In the 50 years from 1875-1925, Christianity saw a dreadful shift in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Until the advent of millenarianism, the Holy Spirit was seen as a world-changing force; millenarianism reduced the Holy Spirit to little more than a person sent by God to change the individual, to make the individual (not society) more holy. The millenarian goal was two-fold: to make the individual more "godlike," and to be totally uninvolved in making society more "godlike." Clearly, the millenarians needed a Bible message other than conquering the world for Christ according to Mat 28:19, 20, through the application of God's law, so they developed a 'mystic message' summed up best by Pastor F.M. Ellis in 1890: "Our best service towards the spiritualization of the church will be found, I am persuaded, in our becoming personally more spiritual." (See endnote 1.) Those of us who have been to the seminars know that their entire message is summed up in these few words: making the individual personally more spiritual (a commendable goal if it is not separated from society). It is true that Gothard's first priority is for those who attend his seminars to get their own lives in order. He would have them apply Biblical Law to their own lives before they go around pushing it on others. Excuse me for thinking this makes sense.

It is simply erroneous to compare Gothard to pietistic spiritualists. Gothard is politically active and encourages his students to work with public officials to implement Biblical Law in society. I repeat, Gothard's organization and followers have effected far more political change than TBE, I suspect, and even more than many organizations that are Reconstructionists on paper only.

Gothard does not separate individual sanctification from society. (I notice this article has virtually no supporting documentation from the voluminous corpus of Gothard publications. It's all "logical inferences" from a few isolated statements in a booklet discussing the tax-revolt movement.)

Let me ask another obvious question: "Do alumni of the seminars develop a desire to do more practical work for the Lord by implementing the law-word of God into society, or do they come out with a desire to see the seminars grow, a desire to get more people to go to the seminars and a desire that their pastor had been there?" I used to have a desire to see Rushdoony's meetings grow, to get more people to Rushdoony's meetings, and wished more Pastors would attend Rushdoony's meetings. So?

In my experience, Gothard Seminar alums become more active in implementing God's Law in society.

Who is on the Lord's side

Whose side is this man on, the Lord's or the state's? Booklet 52 will clearly show that, although his foundation (basic universal principles of life) appears totally Scriptural, he is working against God's sovereignty and for the state's. Thus he is placing the "principles of God's word" under the control of the state, not under the control of the Spirit. Obviously, the ministry is to make the individual more "holy" and more "docile" to the state. Is it any wonder that those in civil authority not only welcome him into their midst, but invite "his ministry?"

What a slanderous question!



This is nonsense.

The fact that Gothard has persuaded many public officials to begin applying Biblical Principles and be willing to buck the ACLU and the NEA is an encouraging work of the Spirit.

Booklet 52

Now let us look at Booklet 52: in his opening remarks, Gothard makes a statement which reveals his theology of the state; it destroys all his arguments for submitting to ungodly civil government:

The mind-set for such a statement ["There is no license without control, and there is no control without license.'] is based on the perception that government is inherently evil, and if not actively resisted, it will destroy its citizens.

In other words, Gothard insinuates that government (the state) is inherently good, and it is not necessary to "actively" resist it because it has no desire to destroy its citizens (he deals particularly with its Christian citizens). However, only those who deny that all men are sinners will fail to admit that Civil Government is made up of fallen sinners. And if those fallen sinners are not redeemed by the blood of Christ and made into new creatures through his regenerating, converting work, they must be considered inherently evil. Because of the above article in the News, we will refer to this theology as "Gothardism."

I certainly have criticisms of some things Gothard says. I am a pure anarchist who believes that the State is evil and should be abolished. The Biblical Examiner would, I suspect, disagree with this position. TBE would stress that the State is "God's minister" and is "a divine institution." The TBE pot is calling the Gothard kettle "black." I am not impressed.

Even though the State is evil, I believe the Bible calls us to respond to it as pacifists. We do not return evil to the State for the State's evil to us, but rather we do good to the State. We do not resist the evil one (Matt. 5:39). We reject revolution.

What does it mean to say that a non-Christian civil magistrate "must be considered inherently evil." This borders on the paranoid. And I say that confessing that I and many other Reconstructionists have bordered on the paranoid for many years. Politicians respond to peer pressure. If a non-Christian (but conservative) politician has good relationships with Christians and he wants to maintain those relationships, he can be persuaded to pass an anti-sodomy law, no matter what the homosexual lobby says. Such an unsaved politician need not be considered "inherently evil." If all Christians call this politician an inherently evil Moloch-worshipping anti-Christ, guess who isn't going to care if Christians get their views implemented? The Bible says to honor politicians, even Nero. Gothard agrees.

Let's follow Gothard's presupposition on this point. (Yes indeed!)

I. Bigger is Better

First, if Gothard's presupposition is true, then the bigger the government, the more good it can do. The logical conclusion of Gothard's thinking is to centralize: unite all nations into a one-world government so it can do all good. One of the most important callings of the church is to decentralize both the church and the state, civil government. (Chapter 3, Christianity and the State, RJ Rushdoony, Ross House Books, PO Box 67, Vallecito, CA 95251. Note that denominations work to increase the centralization of religion, and socialism works to increase the centralization of government. Thus, denominations, as a rule, openly promote socialism. The Reformation fought to decentralize both.)


This is absolute nonsense. Read the big green book on government which Gothard puts out for his Law School, which was written by Reconstructionist Herb Titus (if I'm not mistaken). The limitation of government is pervasive. The accusation of "bigger is better" is as slanderous as it is unfounded. The fact that this critic has gone to multiple seminars and claims to be well-read in Gothard publications evidences chronic closed-mindedness.


This critic should be less critical of Gothard and more critical of the Reformers, who fought against the decentralist non-magisterial reformers.

II. Divine rights of the king, i.e.. sovereignty of the state

Second, postulating that the state is inherently good, insinuates that the state is god: this is the basis for the divine rights of the king (which seems to flow like an undercurrent in Booklet 52):

Matthew 19:16, 17, And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God..

In other words, god (the state) has decreed that abortion is legal; therefore, the word of god is good and must not to be challenged in the streets, in the courts or in any "civil disobedience." Even though Gothard may condemn abortion, his condemnation is not consistent with his opening presupposition that government is inherently good and will not harm those who are doing good (ask the millions of unborn babies if the state is doing them good. Or maybe they don't count as "anyone").

This is bizarre.








It is important to note that Gothard does not define good or evil in Booklet 52 by the word of God; rather, he defines good and evil, in the context of his quotes, as the word of the state. The abortion situation alone shows us that civil government has reversed the definition of good and evil [Rom 13:4]. Civil government now pays people to do evil, murder, obscene 'art,' &c;. How can anyone with even the vaguest familiarity with Gothard accuse him of not allowing God to determine good and evil, but rather giving the State the place of God?!?

This is uncharitable in the extreme.

Because of its importance in our argument, we will quote one of Gothard's points which makes his belief in the basic goodness of the state obvious:

Presupposition: 4 'Government must be actively resisted, otherwise it will oppress citizens, especially Christians.' Such a conclusion is based on fear. It is contrary to the basic presupposition of Scripture which states that God controls government. As long as Christians do good, they need not fear any government official.. (Romans 13:4, 6).

Intentionally or not, it certainly appears that Gothard is saying that if the government speaks, its words are good and should not be feared or resisted by the people of God. Thus he sets the government up as god, the source of good. Therefore, to remain consistent with his theology, Gothard must say that because the government spoke by its fiat word that abortion is good, its word must be good and submitted to accordingly by the child of God. To reinforce his contention that the state's fiat word is basically good, he quotes with no restrictions in presupposition 6, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him... For so is the will of God..." (I Peter 2:13-15).

Even Rushdoony disagrees with the tax-resistance movement. TBE's criticisms of Gothard apply in every respect to every argument Rushdoony (and virtually every non-anarchist Reformed commentator) would offer in opposition to the tax-revolt movement.

Gothard is correct in stating that Christians need not fear the State. God is sovereign over the State. Fear does not build bridges. Gothard has had more results in Christianizing the civil magistrate than TBE has.

I have never met a single "Gothardite" who would say that if the State says abortion is legal, it is therefore morally good. I doubt that TBE has either. TBE is slanderous and illogical.

This verse is quoted with no restrictions as to whether or not the ordinance of man is according to the law-word of God. This unrestricted quote, when combined with his opening presupposition and presupposition 4, clearly tells us that Gothard is replacing God's law-word with the government's law-word --- he gives to the civil government the authority of God and actually places the civil government over God because God can only be obeyed at the sufferance of the civil government. Gothard's theology (Gothardism) makes civil government god incarnate in the flesh and walking on earth among man. He sounds far more like Socrates, Hegel, Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau &c;., than he does a man of God (ibid, ch 4. "Vox populi, vox dei, the voice of the people is the voice of God," pg. 18. "The State is the Divine Ideal as it exists on Earth." Hegel, quoted on pg. 43). Gothard is clear; this critic is paranoid and closed-minded. Gothard says we must obey God rather than man. But Gothard is correct in his interpretation of 1 Peter 2. If the State does not require us to sin, the State must be obeyed.
Furthermore, we are faced with this startling fact from Gothardism (the state inherently is good) --- the state not only has the right, but it has the responsibility to intervene with license, regulation, taxation and control into every area of life, thought and action (the family, education, church, even recreation, &c;.) if there is to be any good in these areas. Everything must be conformed to the wishes of the state because the state in inherently good; salvation is of the state! His theology of the inherent goodness of the state explains why he insists that education ministries (home and church schools) must contact and submit to the state school board, i.e., submit to the state's authority (confirmed by personal phone conversation with Gothard by Bill Cosby, presently the college administrator at Baptist Temple College. Also, Gothard personally stood against Pastor Sileven and his men in their stand against state control of their church education ministry: thus, he personally interfered in the internal affairs of the Faith Baptist Church and undermined its pastor). The basic goodness of the state is paganism in one of its blackest, most subtle and deadliest forms; it gives sovereignty to the state over both the family and the church. The word of God militates against any doctrine which undermines God's sovereignty, Psalms 24:1; I Cor 10:26, 28. God is at war against all who would seek to touch what is His, II Sam 6:6, 7; II Chron 26:17-23.

.. unbelief on the part of rulers is not a ground in itself for civil disobedience, as long as the state is a terror to evil doers and the protector of the just. When it is hostile to Christ's work and seeks to hamper or destroy it, 'We ought to obey God rather than men' (Acts 5:29). Also, when the state becomes a terror to good works, it has ceased to merit our obedience. As a minister of God, the state must be 'a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil' (Rom. 13:4).

"Our Lord both recognized the existence of the state, and also its demonic lust for power apart from Him (Luke 22:25-30). Christ called His disciples and appointed unto them a Kingdom, the Messianic Kingdom of God (Luke 22:29-30). This was not a realm to surrender to Caesar. Indeed, He called the realm of the ungodly state 'the power of darkness' (Luke 22:53). Paul calls attention to the ungodliness of civil government outside of Christ (I Cor. 2:8; 6:1). This realm is to be converted and placed under Christ, not Christ under anything of man. For the Messiah to be under any human power was for the apostolic age unthinkable. Conflict between Christ's church and the Caesars was thus inescapable." (Ibid, pgs. 68, 69.)

Thus we see that Gothard is very subtly, unknowingly or knowingly, exalting the state to the place of God by insisting that the state in inherently good; this was the sin of the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:4ff.

The reasoning of TBE is riddled with fallacies.
Let me conclude this section with this quote from RJR:

An analogy to the present can be made. I find, whenever I speak, churchmen, as they hear of the persecution of Christians, and enrichments on religious freedom in the United States, are quick about asking if it is not about time to resort to arms! I find it imperative to emphasize civil obedience. I stress the fact that a very, very large number of church members do not vote; very, very few ever contribute to a political campaign, and fewer are active in politics. When the means of peaceful solutions can readily give us the victory, to talk about suicidal violence is morally wrong. We have a battle to wage peacefully in the courts and in legislative bodies. (Pg. 101.)

I must add that I have also found his observation to be true. In our attempt to retain some measure of freedom in our county, we have not been supported in any tangible way by the Christian community.



This statement by Rushdoony largely parallels Gothard.

III. The basic good of man

Third, any premise that government is inherently good must be built upon the premise that man is inherently good because government is made up of men. Government is made up of literal people; it is not some abstract idea. It is made up of people who are born with a sinful fallen nature; that nature is not inherently good. Remarkably, Gothard here has no concept of the sinful nature and total depravity of man. Of course, with this concept missing from Gothardism, he must assume that man is basically good; no man sins willingly because he basically desires to do good. Not only is this theology blatantly contrary to the word of God (Psalms 5:9; Romans 3:10- 17), but it flies in the face of obvious facts. (What, may I ask, does Gothard think makes up civil government? Is government a figment of someone's imagination? Is Pastor Sileven's prison imaginary? Were the bullets used against Randy Weaver at Ruby Creek, Idaho, imaginary? Maybe the people at Waco are not really dead.)

This line of argument is embarrassing. Without knowing anything about the TBE ministry, I suspect Gothard has had far more impact for the Christian Reconstruction of society. This insulting and slanderous paragraph is utterly unjustified.
An ungodly theology supposing an inherent goodness of the state and man results in the worship of education as god; if one has enough facts and knowledge about a subject, he will make a decision for good and godliness regardless of his relationship with the Lord and His word. Not only does education become the means of salvation for man according to Gothardism, but also the environment becomes a means of salvation. If man is inherently good, then it is his environment which makes him sin, or maybe his parents or a friend. Because man is his own god (inherently good), sin must originate in someone or something outside of himself. What did Gothard do with the doctrine of original sin and total depravity? (Note that faith in the inherent good of man, thus the state, is an outgrowth of the present prevalence of Arminianism: belief that unregenerate man has the power within himself to chose good apart from the working of God's Spirit.) This argument would get this critic diagnosed as clinically paranoid.
IV. God blesses evil?

Fourth, based upon the premise that government is inherently good, we might be led to pray that God would preserve something which should be judged and destroyed. (See I Timothy 2:1-2.) Even our own Founding Fathers warned against such an assumption:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (All the Declaration of Independence should be read for the complete context of this quote.)

Thus, how can a professed Christian be right with God and pray for the prosperity of a humanistic state which is totally against justice (as defined by the word of God), and is working to destroy all vestige of Christ and Christianity? How can a Christian pray that a tyrant prosper, other than prosper in salvation and in Christ?

I agree with Gothard and disagree with the Founding Fathers


The Roman Empire was predicted to fall. It was doomed. Paul said we should pray for it

1 Tim 2:2   For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

I would argue that no State in the history of the human race has ever been "totally" against justice. And yet I am an anarchist and believe every State should be abolished. The TBE critic is simplistic in his analysis of the state and its revolutionary and sinful character, and slanderous in his analysis of Gothard.

V. Christian's response to evil

Fifth, is the Christian's responsibility toward civil government restricted to "pray for those who are in authority over us, so that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life," or does his responsibility include active resistance against wickedness wherever it is found?

False antithesis.
Consider the law of the bystander, Ps 50:17, 18; Pro 24:10-12; Ro 1:31, 32; I Tim 5:22 (note Pro 28:17 prohibits protecting in any way those who willfully do violence to others. A Christian especially must hold the violent accountable). There is no such thing as an innocent bystander according to the word of God; the person who stands by and watches the threat and/or misuse of his neighbour's life and/or property without acting in the neighbour's defense is as guilty as the one who does the evil toward the neighbour, Deut. 22:1-4; Lev 5:1 (And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity; clearly this law requires us to take action when lawlessness is taking place within our realm of knowledge).  

"Protecting in any way?" So if I see a child surreptitiously reaching into the pocket of a stranger, I can shoot the child dead?

This critic is filled with overstatement and overreaction.

Notice Luke 10:30-37: should the Samaritan have intervened if he had seen the thieves acting against their victim? According to Gothard, if the thieves had been those in authority, all the Samaritan could have done was pray about the situation and then aid the victim. The word of God makes no distinction concerning the source of evil against the neighbour: another neighbour, a lawless person or the civil government. The law concerning the bystander is developed further in Deut 22:23-27: it takes for granted that the woman, if she were an unwilling partner in the sin, would have cried out and a person within hearing distance would have helped her.  

This is a mischaracterization of Gothard.

Note what the Lord established in Deut 22:23-27: A) someone with more strength, power or force uses his superior force against another. B) the one being harmed cries out. C) someone hears that cry for assistance. D) the one hearing the cry of distress takes action and comes to the aid of the victim.  
God clearly tells us that the faithful Christian must speak and stand against any evil which he sees, no matter what the source of the evil, or he is partaker in that sin. The "Christian" society which will not stand against wickedness in high places deserves the disastrous results because it is partaker in the evil. Notice that Deut 19:18, 19 places the same punishment upon the false witness that the false witness sought for the one he witnessed against. The one who witnesses an evil act as a bystander and takes no action in defense of the victim is a false witness; he does not respond according to the word of truth. The silent bystander will have done to him what he permitted to be done to the innocent by remaining silent. This law reaches farther than the individual: when the society holds its peace as the innocent is "raped," it will reap the same.  
Observe Gothard's statement under his first presupposition: "It is our responsibility as Christians to pray for those who are in authority over us, so that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life. (see I Timothy 2:1-2.) It is God's responsibility to control the hearts of those who are in authority..." It is not my intention to place words in Gothard's mouth, but we have no choice but to take his words for face value. So what did he say?

According to Gothard's statement and because he places no restrictions upon his statement by defining good and evil according to God's law-word, if the perpetrator of the evil is a person of authority, all the bystander can do is pray: pray that the evil rapist will have a change of heart (in the midst of the act?) and pray for the victim that she will have the grace of God to give her peace in the ordeal. A logical result of the belief that the state is basically good (Gothardism) leaves no room for the bystander to pull the rapist off the woman if he is a person of authority. After all, that person is a god! (Where are the "Women libbers" when we need them?)



This is juvenile analysis.

Clearly, the law of the bystander demands every Christian to do more than just pray for the evil doer and his victim. It requires action and speaking the law-word of God against the evil, or the bystander is as guilty as is the evil doer. Gothard has an entire book on how to speak the Law-Word of God to evil authorities, with the goal of getting them to repent and cease doing evil.
VI. Authority, its basis and response to

Sixth, because Gothardism embraces the sovereignty of the state, we must mention the issue of authority: when is it proper? when is it improper? At a later time we will develop the following in more detail, but for now we will only give a brief outline. First we will examine the basis for authority, second, the proper response to all authority:

1) The basis for all authority is given in the fifth commandment, Honour thy father and thy mother, Ex 20:12. This word (commandment) is not referring to our relationship to our fellow man as summed up in Lev. 19:18 (love them as ourselves), but is referring to "those who are the representatives of God. Therefore, as God is to be served with honour and fear, His representatives are to be so too," Keil. "The fifth word directs honour to parents as (in the language of Luther) 'the vicars of God,' and hence implies similar reverence towards all God's representatives, especially magistrates and rulers," Edersheim. This commandment "lays the foundation of all social ordinances of life," Oehler. "By the parents also is meant all that have authority over us," Geneva Bible, marg notes. Accordingly, this word deals primarily with proper respect for authority.

But by father and mother we are not to understand merely the authors and preservers of our bodily life, but also the founders, protectors, and promoters of our spiritual life, such as prophets and teachers...; also the guardians of our bodily and spiritual life, the powers ordained of God..., since all government has grown out of the relation of father and child, upon which the prosperity and well-being of a nation depend, from the reverence of children towards their parents. (Keil.)

I agree with all this.

So does Gothard.


Proper attitude towards any and all authority (God, civil, occupational, ecclesiastical &c;.) falls under the fifth commandment (which continues the thought of the previous 4). This proper attitude is developed in the home. Thus, when the home is undermined, all authority is undermined. When the children refuse to recognize godly authority in the home, and when the parents refuse to enforce godly authority in the home, anarchy must result in the street. To protect from the resulting anarchy, a totalitarian police state must also develop. All the laws in the world will not prevent the anarchy in the street which started in the hearts of the parents and children by denying the personal binding of God's law. The streets will only be reclaimed as the heart of the home is reclaimed under God's law.

This is why Gothard seeks to reform us before we go out and try to reform the State.





When one compares Moses' words of Deut 5:16, (Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.) with Paul's, 1 Timothy 2:1, 2, (I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be given for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. Note though that Paul was killed at the hands of the civil authority), he will recognize a distinct connection made between civil and parental authority; both carry a blessing for those who give proper respect to either and both. If either is undermined or ignored, both will be undermined or ignored; conversely, if either is upheld in a godly manner, both will be upheld.  
Paul develops his doctrine concerning the civil government (as well as all authority) from the fifth commandment, Rom 13:1-7. Thus civil government is out of control because the father of the family, and hence his family, is out of control. Paul relives the concluding 5 commandments almost verbatim, Rom 13:9. He does not regive the fifth commandment as such, but he builds the first 7 verses on it; note v. 7, Render therefore to all their dues:.. honour to whom honour. This clearly refers to honour thy father and mother.

A conclusion here is that when one denies proper authority in any area, he has violated this command.

Gothard works to bring Reconstruction to society by working first with families.
2) The proper response to all authority: We cannot deny that all authority is of God for God is indeed the One who raises up one and puts down another, Daniel 4:32. But God's law tells us that the ones in authority have no power to command their subjects to do anything contrary to the law of God, Exodus 21:8. In other words, authority has no authority outside of what is given to it by the law of God, and that includes sacrificing the children to Moloch (as required when Gothard requires his homeschoolers to operate under the local school board. See RJ Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, V. I, pp. 30-40). Gothard's homeschoolers not only homeschool, but they have a positive relationship with and impact on local authorities. IMHO those authorities have no Biblical right to demand anything from homeschoolers, but we have a duty to submit to those Lawless regulations, unless they require us to sin. To accuse a Gothardite homeschooler of sacrificing his children to Moloch is unspeakably slanderous and trivializes the Word of God. I am appalled at TBE.

Homeschooling Gothardites deserve our support.

When it tries to exercise authority outside God's law, it forfeits any requirement of obedience by its subjects. Any other position than the one just stated says that a wife must commit adultery if she is so commanded by her husband or that a father can sell his daughter into prostitution (forbidden, Lev 19:29). Moreover, note seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her, v. 8. The implication is that obedience which was "won" by deceitful means is forfeited upon knowledge of the truth. The man persuaded the woman to come into his home with the promise that she would be either his or his son's wife. He failed to deliver his promise, so she was free, v. 11. Consequently, when allegiance is gained by any authority (civil, family, church, occupation, &c;.) by fraudulent and deceitful means, allegiance is forfeited when the truth is ascertained. The State has no right to expect anything from anyone. But we still have a duty to obey the State. I call this position "anarcho-pacifism." Neither the State nor the Mafia have any Biblical right to exist, but whenever either of these demonic powers make a demand on us, we do not resist unless they order us to sin. God does not prohibit us from (i.e., define as sin) filling out a form for the local school board.

1. Our duty to obey the State is not earned by the State, it is required by God. Nor can the State do anything to "forfeit" or annul our obligation to God. 

2. Our obedience to the State is not obedience to the State, but obedience to God. Our obedience to the State is part of our strategy to abolish the State.

(Gothard would agree with #1, but not #2.)

If the father, who is the God-ordained authority over the unmarried girl, sells the girl into prostitution, must she go? Gothardism says yes because the father is the God- ordained authority. But the law-word of God says that the father's authority stopped when it overstepped the limits of God's law1; the book of Daniel clearly bears this presupposition out. If we follow Gothardism to its logical conclusion, we must say that Daniel was a sinner for continuing to pray in disobedience to the king's decree (was not the king raised up by God?); furthermore, the three Hebrew children were sinners for not bowing to the state's image when the music sounded, and the OT prophets mentioned by the Lord Christ who stood against evil in high places were sinners, Matthew 23:34-37. This is absolutely slanderous. Any sensible Christian who has any knowledge of Gothard's positions would simply stop reading The Biblical Examiner at this point.
TBE is unreliable.


TBE seems to be incapable of following Gothard logically.

On p. 35 of the Basic Seminar Textbook, Gothard says that "Daniel was willing to be killed rather than cease his worship of God to worship the king (Daniel 6:12-16)." Gothard says Daniel was right to disobey the king and to "Suffer for not doing what is wrong."

We must not stop with the Old Testament; the Book of Acts records the persecution of the early church for not obeying those in authority when they ordered the first preachers to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. In fact, all the apostles (except John) met a violent death at the hands of the authorities because they would not submit their obedience to their God (Christ) to any authority except God's. On p. 35 of the Basic Seminar Textbook, Gothard says the "Disciples were to proclaim the Gospel even when forbidden by government officials and religious leaders (Acts 4:19)." They were to disobey the authorities and "Suffer for not doing what is wrong."
We must also consider the martyrs of the very early church. How can anyone read the history of the early church and think that the civil government is inherently good and intent on protecting Christians? One example of a civil government's attitude towards Christians when it is in the hands of fallen men is found in this account of Justin's martyrdom:

In the time of the lawless partisans of idolatry, wicked decrees were passed against the godly Christians in town and country, to force them to offer libations to vain idols; and accordingly the holy men, having been apprehended, were brought before the perfect of Rome, Rusticus by name. And when they had been brought before the judgment-seat, Rusticus the perfect said to Justin, "Obey the gods at once, and submit to the king (i.e., the emperors)." Justin said, "To obey the commandments of our Saviour Jesus Christ is worthy neither of blame nor of condemnation."

The confrontation between the perfect and Justin ends thusly:

Rusticus the perfect pronounced sentence, saying, "Let those who have refused to sacrifice to the gods and to yield to the command of the emperor be scourged, and led away to suffer the punishment of decapitation, according to the laws." (The Martyrdom of the Holy Martyrs, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 1, pgs. 305- 7.)


I don't know anyone who thinks this.
Gothard certainly doesn't, or he wouldn't be teaching his students "How to Appeal" and "How to Stand Alone."

Gothardism says that the martyrs who refused to submit their faith to the Roman emperors were sinners, and thus Rome rightly beheaded Justin for his sin of rebellion against the "higher power." (In my confrontation with a local "Gothardite pastor" over a state marriage license, I found this to be precisely his position although he did not openly say this.) Gothard does not "openly say" anything that this critic says he says. This critic is way out of line.
Obviously then, the laws presented in the NT passages dealing with the inner family relationships apply to all relationships concerning all authority: civil, ecclesiastical, occupational, &c;. Cf. Col 3; Heb 13:7, 9, &c;. The key is Eph 6:1, Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

That is, as far as their commandments agree with those of God, and no farther. No parent can have a right to require a child to steal, or lie, or cheat, or assist him in committing murder, or in doing any other wrong thing. No parent has a right to forbid a child to pray, to read the Bible, to worship God, or to make a profession of religion. The duties and rights of children in such cases are similar to those of wives; and in all cases God is to be obeyed rather than man. (Barns' Notes, Eph-Col, pg. 116.)

Gothard has a book on "Standing Alone," that is, resisting authorities who command us to do evil.

See also the book on "How to Appeal."

We see from the fifth commandment that the relationship to all authority is established in the home relationship to authority. Thus, when any authority extends any requirement inconsistent with the command-word of God, that authority has forfeited all requirement of obedience before God; furthermore, it is sin to obey any ungodly command. This is a sloppy statement of the Biblical principle. The command to turn over one's income to the State is an ungodly command. No one has the right to put a gun to his neighbor's head and say "give me your money." But God says to give him the money.
VII. Godly attitude

Seventh, we must admit that any defiant attitude by a Christian toward another, whether the other is in authority or not, will cost the resister the power of God, II Timothy 2:24-26 (read the account of the martyrs; their godly attitude is evident). Evil must be resisted no matter what its source, and meekness must be the basic part of that resistance. "Meekness in not mousiness!"

VIII. Christians have failed

Eighth, we must say in defense of Gothard that he rightly points out that oppressive taxation is upon us because the Christians have failed in their duty before God. We must agree that unless there is a Christian revival in a nation, there is no chance of bringing oppressive civil government under control. A government only reflects the attitude of the people. When the King and His law is rejected, ungodly kings and laws will take their place, 1 Sam 8. If every man is his own god, civil government will be its own god. The obvious problem is that civil government has the power to enforce its claim, whereas the individual does not. Furthermore, even though armed resistance will not change men's hearts, and only resistance armed with the total of God's law-word will bring about lasting Godly change in civil government, there may well come a time when armed resistance is the final form of self-protection, Lk 11:21 (why did the Lord command His followers to take with them a sword even if they had to sell their garments to buy one, Lk 22:36?)

This is why Gothard puts the emphasis on "personal piety" before reformation of the State.








Jesus did not command his followers to buy a sword. Nor did He command them to chop off their hands. Read more here.

This nation was founded with and by a Calvinistic Christian population committed to the sovereignty of the Lord God Almighty; therefore, there can be no return to the Constitution as it was originally meant without a return to the Christian presuppositions held by the population for which the Constitution was written.  
In closing

Let me close with this reminder. We did not probe the pros and cons of any "tax-resistance" movement; rather, we did examine Gothard's theology concerning civil government as presented in Booklet 52, and found evidence that Gothard's attitude toward civil government (that it is not inherently evil and fallen) is a denial of the fall of man and a promotion of the divine rights of kings. Therefore, Gothard is a statist of the most dangerous kind because he introduces his brand of statism with apparently sound Biblical doctrine. Consequently, by necessity all of his doctrine must be viewed with suspicion, if not with great alarm.







Yeah, right.

This is appalling logic. The Reformers were clearly wrong in teaching that the Papacy is the "anti-Christ" (WCF Should we view all the rest of the Confession "with suspicion, if not great alarm?"

Everything touched by man is inherently evil; everything which man touches is naturally fallen, thus the necessity of regeneration and the law-word of God to direct us in each and every area, Romans chapter 7. By the way, God has not given us some "not-optional, universal principles of life;" rather, He has given to us His command law- word to live by. This is goofy.

Human beings are created in God's Image. As such, they often show "the work of the Law written on their hearts" (Romans 2).

May God enable us to base everything upon the word of God, and see past the many religious sounding humanists and statists. Yes indeed.
(Endnote 1.)

For the millenarian, however, the traditional doctrine of the role of the Holy Spirit was hardly a suitable expression of his view of the spiritual world. The Spirit was at work within the Church, the Christian had traditionally affirmed, and with this statement the millenarian would not have quarreled. But the millenarians did not expect the Church to triumph in this world, and many of them felt that the Church was apostate, adulterous, and ruined. This kind of attitude toward the Church naturally involved the millenarian in some reassessment of the Spirit's role in the world. This can be seen, apparently, in the consistent emphasis upon the Holy Spirit as a person and not a force, noted already in the Niagara creed. Churches for these millenarian believers (and, of course, for many nonmillenarians as well) were reduced to loose associations of individuals, and the Spirit's work was similarly seen as a person-to-person activity. F.M. Ellis, a Baltimore Baptist minister and one of the speakers at the millenarian Bible conference on the holy Spirit held in Baltimore in 1890, concluded in discussing the Spirit's role in the Church, "Our best service towards the spiritualization of the church will be found, I am persuaded, in our becoming personally more spiritual." For the historian this personal spirituality rings with associations from the mystical tradition of the Church; and in that tradition the quest of the believer for sinless perfection and the problem of antinomianism had never been absent. Thus, the millenarians, though developing in part out of a desire to escape from the antinomian tendencies within the holiness revival of the 1850s, found themselves drawn back into the movement for personal sanctification.
The Roots of Fundamentalism, Ernest R. Sandeen, Baker Book House, pgs. 177, 8.

Furthermore, the conference was organized by A.C. Dixon, who was to become the pastor of Spurgeon's London Tabernacle in 1910. No doubt Spurgeon rolled over in his grave.

I have to say to you, go forward in actual work, for, after all, we shall be known by what we have done. We ought to be mighty in deed as well as word. There are good brethren in the world who are impractical. The grand doctrine of the second advent makes them stand with open mouths, peering into the skies, so that I am ready to say, "Ye men of Plymouth [obviously a reference to the 'soon coming return of Christ' developed in the Plymouth Brethren movement], why stand ye here gazing up into the heavens?" The fact that Jesus Christ is to come is not a reason for star-gazing, but for working in the power of the Holy Ghost. Be not so taken up with speculations as to prefer a Bible reading over a dark passage in the Revelation to teaching in a ragged-school or discoursing to the poor concerning Jesus. We must have done with day-dreams, and get to work... Brethren, do something; do something; do something. While committees waste time over resolutions, do something... It is time we had done planning and sought something to plan. I pray you, be men of action all of you. Get to work and quit yourselves like men. Old Suwarrow's idea of war is mine: "Forward and strike! No theory! Attack! Form column! Charge bayonets! Plunge into the center of the enemy.".. C.H. Spurgeon, Lectures to my Students, second series, Baker Book House, pg. 36.

['Document Archive']   ['Home Page']   ['The Biblical Examiner']

Gothard is doing much to reconstruct society according to God's Law. Can the same be said of The Biblical Examiner?




Part Two of this debate is here.

Christmas Conspiracy


Vine & Fig Tree

Paradigm Shift


End The Wall of Separation
Mailing List

Enter your e-mail address:
Browse the Theocracy Archive
An e-group hosted by

Vine & Fig Tree
12314 Palm Dr. #107
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
[e-mail to V&FT]
[V&FT Home Page]