Welcome to MCOI, version 3.0

In our effort to serve you better, Midwest Christian Outreach Inc.’s website is growing again.

Give us a few more weeks, and we’ll have our revised print Journal archives, better-organized articles and a new online resource center in place to help equip Christians and challenge false teachings both within the Church and outside its borders.

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Sacrificial Love

by on April 17th, 2014

(This originally appreared in the March/April 1997 edition of the MCOI Journal)

I was raised in a Christian home but, in my teens and early twenties, I became very skeptical of Christian claims, the good book, and especially of God Himself. Looking back, I cannot say I really doubted the existence of God, although I think I made that claim. No, as I reflect on it, I did believe that He was there, but I did not like Him very much, or at least not the God I thought He was at the time. I can honestly say I did not know who I was rejecting, because I really did not know Him as I do now. I did not see Him as a Father, but as a judge; not as a friend, but as a powerful bully.

I truly enjoyed doubting God, finding supposed problems in scripture, discussing with my friends the deep and good reasons why we should not have to believe in God or, if He did exist, reasons to doubt He was good. It is strange to recall that all the while I doubted God, nevertheless, I thought my doubts were hurting His feelings.

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The Selfish Selfies of Self-Aggrandizement

by on April 10th, 2014

I’m worried about selfies, dear reader. I became worried about selfies when I realized I had begun posting my own. There I was about to sit down to a round of grading student essays. I chuckled because I was using one of my favorite geek toys, the Darth Vader pen. Before I knew it I had taken a picture of my pen with my phone (no small feat of one-handed dexterity, let me tell you) and posted it on Facebook. Here it is:

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There it is again. Just when I posted this to the Crux I felt the Chris Matthews tingle down my leg. Why?

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Is Jesus a Sinner According to Bill Gothard’s Teachings?

by on April 3rd, 2014

We often receive questions by mail, phone and email about Bill Gothard’s teaching on authority which at one time was “Chain of Command” and later renamed “Umbrella of Protection.” Obviously the latter sounds more benign than the former, but they essentially come down to the same thing. Who is the boss and who are the bossed? Due to the amount of questions we have received I thought it might be helpful to comment on his claims again. This is a modified and somewhat expanded version of a section of chapter 3 (The Emerald City) of our book A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life. In this chapter we discuss proper contextual understanding and demonstrate how Bill Gothard abandons, ignores and abuses context in an attempt to make his point sound biblical.

For instance early on in the Basic Seminar, on page 20 of the Basic Seminar Textbook, Gothard begins discussing his favorite subject of “authority.”

The essence of Gothard’s teaching of submission is not:

“getting under the domination of authority but rather getting under the protection of authority.”

According to Bill Gothard, authority is like an “umbrella of protection,” and when we get out from under it, we expose ourselves to unnecessary temptations, which are too strong for us to overcome. This is why Scripture, in his view, compares rebellion to witchcraft – “Rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft.” (I Sam. 15:23). Both terms have the same basic definition – subjecting ourselves to the realm and power of Satan.

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Say it Ain’t So, Mark

by on March 27th, 2014

I have always liked Mark Driscoll, pastor of the Mars Hill mega church. I read his Confessions of a Reformission Rev and I liked the angry young prophet who built a church in one of the most secular areas in the country. I liked his no-nonsense style. I liked him even more when he broke from the herd of emergent churches to take a stand on doctrine, so that there was a difference between the Mars Hill in Seattle (Mark Driscoll) and the Mars Hill in Michigan (Rob Bell) and it wasn’t just the size of their jumbo tron. I really loved the straight talk he gave young guys about putting down Call of Duty and stepping up to being more than “boys who can shave.”

So when I heard that Driscoll had been accused of plagiarizing at least three of his books, manipulating the book market  to get the coveted “New York Times Best Seller” label added to his bio, and authoritarianism at Mars Hill, I found myself uttering the words of the little boy in W.P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe who responding to Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Black Sox scandal by exclaiming: “Say it ain’t so Joe.”

“Say it Ain’t so Mark.”  And just like that Billy Graham is still the only pastor to appear on CNN who didn’t have a scandal attached to him.

This is the lenten season. So perhaps it will be instructive to reflect on what this saga of sin and repentance can teach us.

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Bill Gothard’s 21 Steps to Conflict Resolution

by on March 20th, 2014

Since Bill Gothard resigned I have had a number of emails and phone calls asking if I thought his resignation is genuine or if he will return or try to return to the helm anytime soon? It is a good question. This week IBLP issued an official IBLP Statement Regarding Resignation. The statement leaves the door wide open for Gothard’s return while announcing the appointment of Dr. Tim Levendusky as the interim president. Will Gothard return? Honestly, I do not know. In making in informed guess, we need to know something about the person and how they have acted in the past as well as how they handle this sort of conflict. I went back to the archives and pulled out the list of “Bill Gothard’s 21 Steps to Conflict Resolution” which our friend and Advisory Board member, Pastor G. Richard Fisher (Ret.) developed and we had included in our book A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life. Any who have attempted to confront Bill Gothard in the past will recognize these steps:

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Random Thoughts on Bill Gothard’s Resignation

by on March 13th, 2014

The last few weeks have witnessed changes in Bill Gothard’s titles and positions at his various ministries. A few weeks ago when the news hit the Internet, Oak Brook College of Law Distances Itself from Bill Gothard and IBLP many were caught off guard. Within days new headlines read Bill Gothard placed on leave by his board after abuse allegations. This past week Bill Gothard Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Investigation and at least 2 Board members have resigned. The story made the Chicago Sun-Times as well as national media. Many have contacted us to see what we think. I have to admit, I have reservations. Some are surprised initially when I say this. Wasn’t our book A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life written to bring him down? The answer is, no. I am aware that Gothard loyalists are convinced that we have some personal animus against Gothard. We don’t and never did. We were concerned about this teachings which also led to his behavior. The book was written to correct both. Our work included numerous meetings and attempts at correction as well as placing ourselves under review and scrutiny of a number of nationally known leaders, many of whom wrote endorsements for the book. Others, such a Dr. Norman Geisler, acted as a moderator in some of our written material and meetings with Bill Gothard and leaders in IBLP. The message of the Christian faith is about repentance and restoration. The first part of which is obviously, repentance. Including the events surrounding the 1980s sex scandal until today repentance has been absent from Bill Gothard. The women who have come forward are in many ways standing in the place of the Prophet Nathan as they tell their stories. Unlike David who, when Samuel pointed out his sin said, “I have sinned against the Lord.”(2 Samuel 12:13) Gothard has ignored all previous attempts at correction and now claims to want to listen to those who have “ought against him.” As we pointed out in our book, after a very long session with the Board of Directors 12 or 13 hours) over the events in the early 1980s, Bill resigned. That lasted for all of a week or two and he returned. How do we measure the honesty of his claims to want to listen to his accusers? The old cliché, “what you are doing speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you are saying,” comes to mind. He hasn’t listened for over 30 years. I find no compelling reason to think that at 79 years old this will change. So unfortunately, I think this is far from over.

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What is Wrong and What is the Solution?

by on March 6th, 2014

Today I want to revisit N.T. Wright’s four questions that serve as boundary markers for the Christian worldview. Here’s what I wrote in my last post Who and Where We Are:

In Wright’s New Testament and the People of God, Tom (that’s what his friends call him and we are friends–well, I’m one of his 5,000 or so Facebook friends.) presents a series of questions that are intended to to showcase the dramatically different worldview of Christians in the first century from the pagan world of the Roman empire and traditional world of Judaism. These questions are quite similar to Ravi Zacharias’ four questions (origin, meaning, morality, and destiny). Wright’s questions are 1) Who are we? 2) Where are we? 3) What is wrong? and 4) What is the solution?

The questions of who and where we are are questions about origin and meaning. The early church, according to Wright,

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