Tuesday, January 25, 2005

X-ATI Students "Move On"
Responding to well-meaning and oft-repeated advice from ATI-supporters, dozens of ex-ATI students recently resolved to "get over it" and "move on" with their lives.

"It really doesn't matter that your spirits were crushed attempting to conform to a man-made system of spirituality," said one Gothard supporter, "or that your perspective of God suffered nearly-irreversible damage. What's important is that you break free from the chains of bitterness in your lives. I have an excellent diagram about that."

John, an x-er who was in ATI for 12 years, acknowledged how helpful this advice was for him. "Somehow, being told to 'move on' gave me an instant sense of freedom. I have new vision for life, knowing that ATI people still care about my well-being."

"Here I was sitting at home, just being bitter," said Megan, another x-er. "Imagine my excitement when I discovered that I could go on with life!"

These students, previously crippled by rage and judgmentalism, took the challenge and began to rebuild their lives. They joined healthy churches, sought gainful employment, moved into hip, downtown apartments. Several married and began raising families. Dozens are now leading useful and productive lives.

"Thank God those ATI folks were there to speak truth to us and rescue us from wasted potential," said John.

22 Comments:

Blogger Lightenup said...

New to this site. Have patience. I am just an X-ATI Mom that still has alot of hangups, thus the name Lightenup, which everyone in my family tells me I need to do. They do love me, but I feel at times that I have messed their whole lives up with my enthusiam for ATI and IBLP. I myself am dealing with knowing how to change my whole way of thinking since I went to my first Seminar when I was 12. 30 years and 8 kids later I am now waking up to alot of things. It is hard to separate truth from untruth in my thinking, but also in control of my family. Just confessing to all of you that I have alot of work to do in that area....changing thinking patterns. I do feel as though my husband has been hurt and is probably bitter towards the whole thing. I am learning how to lean in on Jesus and His Word rather than on what someone else has said. I would like to encourage you all that many of us parents were really trying to do the right things for you because we loved you. One thing that happens when I let my pride go, is that I have to be ok with making mistakes. Any of you kids can post back,but I would like to remind you that the grace you so want in your own life, is probably what some of us parents are looking for and trying to esablish in our lives again. It seems that I am starting all over. Sorry this isn't funny tonight. It actually feels hurtful in alot of ways.

1:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to write a few words about forgiveness and bitterness. This isn't a funny post, either, but I think there are things that need to be said about what genuine forgiveness really is. I apologize for the length but have been holding my piece here for days!

There is common teaching today among evangelicals that we are to offer what I will call blanket forgiveness to those who have trespassed against us. Look at any church conflict situation. The pastor preaches sermons on forgiveness, the church chairman admonishes all sides to forgive one another and go on, and absolutely nothing is resolved. If you look at these typical problems generationally, you see entire families who can trace their dislike and, can I even say, contempt, for one another back to a time where a member or several members of these families had conflicts that have been unresolved for decades. But the common solution is for there to be "forgiveness" offered and then you go on.

I would like to present this challenge. Does Christ offer blanket forgiveness to us? Does he say "I forgive you" and then move on? No, no, and no.
I John 1:9 says "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I believe this is the pattern we are to follow if we really want to resolve conflict, to live fruitful lives and to really love our enemies and want God's best for them.

Forgiveness requires genuine repentance first on the part of the offender. Then we are bound to forgive that person. Offering a blanket forgiveness to someone without their repentance never resolves the problem. We may believe we are moving on but in reality we are not and that is where I think bitterness occurs. We can trick ourselves into thinking the past is gone, but if genuine repentance never occured and genuine forgiveness never took place, there is still a seed of bitterness that can take root. You cannot look at that offending person and believe all is right between you. The act of forgiveness in this manner actually becomes an act that is all about you rather than about loving your enemy because true love would want that person to repent and be able to stand before you and, more importantly, before God, and seek forgiveness. When we offer blanket forgivness to others, we are forgiving in man's way rather than in God's way. We are allowing the offender the opportunity to continue in a pattern of irresponsibility whereby they can actully sin against another person and then accuse that person of "harboring unforgiveness" etc. without ever repenting of anything. Believe me, I think churches are full of these people and in my experience they are commonly in places of authority.

So, it begs the questions, what do you do if another person does not see the wrong in what they have done? And how do you prevent the root of bitterness from growing inside of you?

This is what I believe. We are told that if someone sins against us, we are to go to that person and confront them. If they do not repent, we take someone else with us and confront them again. If they still will not repent, we are to take the matter before the entire church. (I think this is either your local church if that is where the relationship is or the Church, the body of Christ, if the sin took place publically in that way.) At this point, I need to say that as far as IBLC us concerned, these steps have already been taken (and by people bigger than you and me!!!) and because they believe their ways are the correct ways, there is no way to proceed further in a public way.

But I also think that individuals have been deeply hurt by other individuals in the program. Maybe you became a "project" at headquarters. Have you ever thought that that person who treated you in that way might now carry the burden of having been a part of that way of thinking? You should seek them out and confront the sin. Remember, we are to love our enemies and loving them means confronting in humility and being willing to forgive should they repent.

However, this also leaves us with how to respond individually to those who will not repent. What I am reading here is to "forgive and just go on" and I don't think that is the Biblical answer. Again, forgiveness cannot be offered to those who will not repent.

Here is what I believe is the solution. Those of us who have been wronged by someone, either personally or by an institution as a whole, must maintain a spirit of forgiveness toward our offenders. We must pray daily for them and must always be willing to forgive them, should they repent. Many of us already have roots of bitterness toward others who have so deeply hurt us that we cannot even bare the pain of thinking about it. It is even more compounded when we look at the IBLP sitution because this is a group that has taught us all to forgive in an unbiblical manner and if we don't do it their way, we are still the bad guys!

I think we need to be sure to to be willing to forgive others if they repent, we need to confront when possible, and we need to remember that we are all frail and but dust. When I consider these things, it causes me to look at my own life and be sure to keep a clear conscience before both God and man. It prompts me to seek to be the one repenting and asking for forgiveness. I would encourage all of us to rethink how we have looked at forgiveness because the body of Christ is full of those who are crying out "You should forgive me" and when we say "OK" without ever expecting them to repent, we are furthering the spiritual abuse that occurs in far too many families and churches today.

One last comment.....I have spent a good deal of my life rejecting secular psychology.....in my hall of shame hangs a degree in psychobabble! However, I do believe that spiritual abuse is widespread and occurs in all sorts of churches and homes. Whenever you find those who are control freaks, those who cannot stand to see God working in someone else's life in ways that He is not working in theirs, you can be sure that spiritual abuse is not far off. I have stories....

In my own life, I have purposed to trust that a Sovereign God is control...He was in control yesterday, is in control today, and He will be in control tomorrow! When I look back at some of the things I have gone through, some terribly spiritually abusing things, I know that all has been for my good.
I would highly recommend reading the book "The Bruised Reed" by Richard Sibbes, who was known by his 17th centruy contemporaries as "The heavenly Doctor Sibbes" for his comforting, encouraging, and healing writings on what God is doing to those who have been so terribly hurt. (Banner of Truth Publishing)


Just some thoughts......
Karen Campbell
the-campbell@sbcglobal.net

5:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting... My parents are just now moving on from the ATI church they have been going to for about 20 years. Their new church has no fewer than 3 drumsets up front, they dance in the aisles, etc. They were shocked when they first visited, but after praying for direction, they really felt God was directing them to this church! It's been great to see them "move on" as well and leave The [ATI/IBLT] Village.

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there any ATI churches east of Atlanta?

7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Lightenup: I honor my parents for wanting the best for us; to them, ATI was the best they could get. It certainly looked more dynamic than the lackluster church we were attending, and the kids all smiled and spoke well of their own parents. I regret that they plunged themselves -- and us -- into it without really evaluating what was being taught. But my parents then let us move beyond ATI as we got older, which I think was an important step toward recovering a true relationship with God. It is IBLP, not our parents, that this site is laughing at.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it comical that one might confuse the frustration of being in a cult as oposed to "hating" my parents. I don't hate them I feel sorry for them. (more so myself:)Gothard appeals to down and out people going through problems especialy those to whom personal disciplin is a stumbling block. Being led astray by a man who chooses to interpret Holy Scripture in HIS(now I'm shouting)own way isn't angering, its sadening. Yes, I consider Bill to be a modern day Joseph Smith, somehow finding "new" truths? How is it that all those before William Gothard new Christ? My guess is that they didn't and are now in hell. Because he hadn't writen the 7 priciples to live by and they wouldn't have had a diagram for overcoming bitterness. Perhaps the program wouldn't need to deal with biterness so intensively if it didn't lead people towards it.

3:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wonder.......... what people would think if the identity of XATIGUY was ever discovered and revealed?

......cuz it could happen........and then the ATI police would shut you down......... but you could sue them for violation of freedom of expression and speech ...........

........ but wait...........you'd have to get a lawyer to defend you and th......... hey, maybe someone from OBCL that would take the case! Now THAT would be irony.

But you could "move on" after it was all over. ;)

11:04 PM  
Blogger Lightenup said...

Thanks Karen. I think your right about forgiveness. "Trust but verify". Yes we can have a spirit of forgiveness, which is mostly for us not the offender. But, we don't throw ourselves back at their feet until we see true repentance and that the things they have repented for are verified. That's how we forgive 7 times 70. It's not about trust. We just learn to take responsibility for how we allow those who may be abusive, to tough our lives again.I have been reading in II Chron. lately about Mannasseh.(sp?) Not only did he repent but he went to great lengths to make things right. I agree about the importance of going to individuals who have been offensive with their prideful attitudes about being ATIers. But that means me. I have had to go back to others and confess my own pride when I was in ATI. And even now, I have to confess to my children when I have put what others (including myself)think, before what God thinks, in the decisions I am making.

12:09 AM  
Blogger TulipGirl said...

Lightenup, I'm still a young mama. My folks weren't really "into" ATIA, though the subculture we were part of was and we did attend a Basic seminar. But I have fallen for false teaching while being motivated to do the "best" and "Biblical" thing. So when you write about going back and confessing our own pride, working things out with our children--I really relate. I keep reminding myself that even though I see the mistakes my parents made, what came across stronger than that was their love and acceptance of me. And I'm praying that's what I pass on to my kids (in spite of my mistakes) and that God's grace will cover those mess ups. . . I'm just hoping this will encourage you with your kids and with where you are now. . .

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't want to talk to Leadership or see their faces again - Not to mention any names or anything, but I would much rather "blanket-forgive" them (as I have done) than to go and confront them. That confrontation could be a bit sticky.

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>i don't want to talk to Leadership..

Yea, what use would it serve? They've already had many other people talk to them who are in places on "authority". All they would do is tell you how horrible you are and how you need to change your attitude. They are so lost in their self-righteousness that it's best to "excomunicate" them.

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, this is getting to be like a Crossings post:) I'd like to just mention something I havn't heard much in X-ATI circles. I can say without a doubt that I don't like ATI and will probably never have my family join it or go to the seminars. I don't know if I will even homeshcool my kids but I know that my life is not ruined nor am I bitter and angry at it or my parents. My parents, being a first year family, chose something that looked well meaning and gave them hope in the face of a crumbling church and disapointing public educational system. They didn't go into it thinking they wanted to live legalistice lives or make their children live in fear of the world they grew up in. Yes, I went through hell sometimes because of that decision but I've moved on a LONG time ago and let go of any bitterness I had about it. No, I didn't need to go and talk to the leadership and get their apology nor have my parents asked for my forgiveness, you just move on and make the life you've been blessed with the best it can be. Yes, for some people you need closure, but my parents and many others aren't going to admit that what they've spent the last 20 years doing was a waste, becasue for the most part it wasn't. If you have to blame someone, don't blame your parents, blame the system and the devil who has deceived people from day one.

Movin' on to a better place

5:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Movin'
Its fine to say to blame the system and not parents. However, the system wouldnt have had ground to influence the children if the parents hadnt stepped aside and allowed it to.
There is an element of blame that goes to the parents. As a parent, I can recognize that there is responsibility that needs to be taken by the individuals who allowed atrocities to go on.
I have only met one X-ATI parent who recognized that the program was more harmful than good for most students.
Ultimately, it is each persons duty to work through the emotions and attitudes that accompany exiting ATI. I personally would have to say that the parents of the students will shoulder more of the blame than the 'system.' It is their responsibility to protect their children and to stop harmful activities when the harm is exposed.
Most didnt and still dont.

Blamin' those responsible....

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What amazing humor you have here! I grew up going to IBLP, homeschooled and still not quite sure how we were spared ATI. My dear Dad still is entranced with the themes of forgiveness and authority, although all his seven kids have eagerly escaped. (Worldly influences beyond his control, you know.) I want to suggest the most liberating essay I've ever read on this IBLP-panacea of forgiveness, The Politics of Forgivenss: How the Christian Church Guilt-Trips Survivors, by Fred Keene. Email me for the link. No, I haven't had the guts to show it to my Dad yet, although my husband threatens to do so. justpeachy607@hotmail.com

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After being somewhat involved with IBLP, I definitely don't think you can lay all the blame at one particular door. Many people have been hurt by IBLP, and this is wrong. But you know what? Many people have been hurt by Focus on the Family, too. And talk about an incredible ministry!! Focus is awesome. My point is that ministries are great to reap the benefits from, but the closer you get to the heart of the ministry, the more you realize that it is run--not by God, but by people. Human people. The kind with weaknesses and sins and shortcomings. And you are GOING to be disappointed, and some people WILL get hurt.

I don't have all the answers. In fact, I don't know if I have even a answer. But I do know that at the end of the day, it is my sincere hope and desire that more people will be able to stand up and say "God used IBLP in my life for good," than people who carry wounds from fellow 'Institute Christians'.

2:02 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm...Why blame? Why forgive? and why for God's sake should anyone have their frontal lobe removed?

Why do we find ways to excuse our REAL pain with forgiveness, praying for wrong doers on a daily basis and glossing over sometimes blatant evil?

"Moving on" means more to me than a denial based forgiveness. I like what someone said above, We forget that people are human. And in that humanity there is both good and bad. (And I'm not speaking theologically - since I choose not to get hung up on that system either.) I do not condone horrible human behavior as acceptable through blanket forgiveness, nor do I have a constant need to confront evils or be someone else's conscience.

If the system whatever it is, happens to be whacked, can't we just call it that? And I mean that with the greatest of respect. There are many well meaning people that have simply made choices in varying degrees from absolutely great to fricking deplorable.

Someone else above in the thread called it silent rebellion...hmmm. I both agree and disagree. If you are justifying or condoning a dysfunctional system then yes silent rebellion works, but rebellion implies an authority/system that is justified in whatever actions it takes and/or was granted power by the masses. There is a rebellion against the system itself and also a rebellion against the masses or against the flow or against the herd instinct.

In the ATI mindset, rebellion is always bad or is it?? Case in point... the original story about the Macabees which celebrated their faith in God and "Standing Alone". The Macabee story morphed and on second print was a lesson on generational sins told once again with a VERY different bent (about the time of "civil disobedience" - we don't want any liabilities from people getting ideas from the Macabees) - if you disobey the authorities that God has placed in your life - even if its an invading army - then your children and your children's children will all be killed by the sword.

I learned an important lesson with the reprint of the Macabees (which may have been later removed altogether - I'm really not sure). Let's rewrite history to make it serve our own purposes. How many people were burned at the stake - were they really just improperly refusing God's authority? How about when you read Fox's Book of Martyrs? Did Peter get crucified upside down for no reason?

The lesson that I learned at 15 years old - 3 years into this "great" homeschool program was that people make mistakes, people change their minds to suit their own selfish programs, people will try to label me whatever suits their current fancy.

I believe to this day that my mom had a mental breakdown when I was 15, (perhaps as the result of the news that horrible things had happened to me as a female and her feeling like a failure?), and I all but raised my younger siblings. At 23 I left my family really expecting to never see them ever, ever again. I was (no surprise) labelled rebellious. My parents - emotionally disconnected as they were - made their choices and I made mine, which were honestly the best that I knew how to make. It can be labelled whatever, but I made choices deliberately and take responsibility for those choices.


I wish that I could tell you that things were all better - they are OKAY. I accept the humanity that my parents and others have CHOSEN to embrace. I have taken lessons from the good that I have seen in people. One of my friends told me when her kids were about 10, that she knew that her kids would grow up and have issues with the way she parented and knew that it wouldn't be easy to hear, but promised them that she would say, "Let's sit down and talk about it over a cup of coffee". (She also knew that it wouldn't be easy to hear, but she wanted to absorb that pain from her children and be able to have mutual respect.) After 25 years, I have to say that I get a tear in my eye everytime that I hear of ATI parents who say they feel the pain of the program...

If ATI taught me anything - I would have to say that it taught me that I don't want to have an attitude that I am superior to others (or closer to God than others, or better or lessor based on gender, etc, etc,) Nor do I want to be the Judge of the Universe chasing down the evils of the world or looking to enforce the sentence on evil doers. Personally, I can no longer hang my hat on a "system" - whether that be IBLP, the church, the family or even theology, perfection or standards. Evil lurks in those places as much as anywhere else. People have the ability to make bad choices AND they do. Those choices, good and bad, affect me and I GET TO CHOOSE HOW to respond.

What system you subscribe to, tells you how you should respond, i.e, forgive, forget, pray. How we think about things impacts our choices and outcomes. Somehow in life, I don't feel like I ever had the option of keeping a pretty little pretense that everything is perfect. I like life raw and unedited.

When my mom and I had the opportunity to briefly talk about some of this I realized that we will always have differing perspectives. While it helps her to hear me say that the grace of God carried me through the "stupid stuff", she would like to go back and change it and do things differently so that it can be perfect like it "should be". My own perspective is that I wouldn't change it - I know that its made me who I am today. It has made me grow since I have embraced it honestly. Pain while not welcomed or excused can be a good teacher.

Honestly Flawed

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