As Bill Gothard comes under increasing scrutiny for his personal behavior, some are beginning to talk about how his teachings enable and encourage such behavior. Case in point: Wade Burleson has written an excellent piece called, “Bill Gothard: His Umbrella of Protection Teaching Provides an Umbrage for Perverted Behavior.“
Burleson has been a strong voice warning the church that “the major problem with American evangelicalism is an infatuation with spiritual authority.” I encourage you to read Wade’s blog for his incisive perspectives and critiques. You can find it in our blogroll for regular access.
Back to Gothard, Burleson, who has a long personal and family history with Gothard and his organization, finds his teaching on the “umbrella of protection” the most worrisome of his teachings. He quotes Bill Gothard:
By honoring and submitting to all authorities in your life, you will receive the privileges of their protection, direction, and accountability. If you resist their instructions and move out from their jurisdictional care, you forfeit your place under their protection and face life’s challenges and temptations on your own.
Furthermore, Gothard teaches that this is rebellion, akin to witchcraft (1Sam 15:23), moves the person out from under the protection of the “umbrella” and leaves him or her exposed to Satan’s attacks. Burleson notes that Gothard takes this to the point where such a person is subject to God’s judgment. Wade Burleson comments:
I would propose to you that any Christian who constantly vocalizes his “authority” over you and demands your submission to him for “your umbrella of protection,” is actually a man who casts a large shadow in terms of his own perverted and immoral behavior. In other words, he who is most concerned that another person “obey” and “submit” to his authority is actually showing indicators of personal moral failure.
How ironic. Those Gothard sought to keep in the shadow of his umbrella of authority are the very ones who have come out into the sunlight to expose his perversity.
I’ve been saying this more and more lately: with today’s media culture, churches and Christian organizations are not going to be able to hide their foolishness and abuses any longer. The people of the light, and especially those leaders who “shepherd” them from dark thrones will finally be subject to the light they claim to represent.