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Ever since dedicating my life to serve teenagers and their families at the age of fifteen, I have encountered critics. Some have been kind and gracious, others have not, but all have greatly benefited my life and the ministry which God has entrusted to me. Therefore, I want to express sincere appreciation to each one of you who has taken the time to point out things in the Seminar with which you disagree.
During the first fifteen years of working with teenagers, they were my most outspoken critics. If something I taught did not make sense to them, they plainly told me so. That forced me to clarify and refine what I was teaching. The confirming results were lasting changes in the lives of young people and their parents.
When I reached the age of thirty, I set aside a period of time to seek the Lord and His further direction for my life. It was during that time that the manual was written out which became the textbook for the Basic Youth Conflicts Seminars.
I had no idea that in the years to come, millions of people would attend a week-long Basic Seminar. However, it would not have grown as it did without the assistance of those who have disagreed with me. Before the Basic Seminar began in 1964, I was given the opportunity to share its contents with the student body of a Christian college. The president of the college stated "We have never had such a positive response to any series of messages." He then asked if I would return the following year.
When I did, I sensed a reserve and coolness among the students that was certainly not there the year before. During the week I learned why. One of the professors who was out of town the year before, returned and was greeted with the enthusiastic response of his students to the seminar. He became a critic of the teaching to his students and others in the school.
I reported this to the president and we had a meeting with the professor. I asked him what he disagreed with in the teaching. He said, "Your chart on the development of reprobation." I asked, "What is unscriptural about this?" He responded, "I just think there is more to it than what you have described." Following the meeting, I restudied the chart and realized that there were two more important dimensions that were missing. I added them in, and that chart became one of the most vital parts of the Basic Seminar. I and multitudes of others have been benefited by this teacher and express gratefulness to him.
During the first years of the Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar, I explained to those who attended that the textbook was simply supplementary to the lectures. However, one day, a pastor who had never attended the seminar took the manual and wrote a twenty-two page critique of it. He drew many conclusions that were not in the teaching of the seminar. That motivated me to rewrite the entire textbook so that it would be more self-explanatory. I used his critique as my guide. That was in 1975. I and all those who have received the textbook since that time have this pastor to thank for its greater clarity.
I am also grateful for the precise wording that my critics have forced me to have. For example, I used to use the term "sins of the forefathers" to explain the negative influences that parents can pass on to their children. Several pastors reacted to this idea. This forced me to see that Scripture was not talking about the sins of the forefathers, but rather the iniquities of the forefathers. It was then that I discovered the difference between these two words and that has opened up significant Biblical truth with greater application.
Others have reacted to words or phrases I have used which have had different connotations to them than they did to me. Since these words or phrases hindered them and others from understanding and responding to the primary truths that were being presented, I have been able to change them in order to avoid unnecessary reaction. I am grateful for all of you who have helped me guide important ideas around mental roadblocks.
Over the years several of you have publicly challenged the foundational teachings of the Basic Seminar. This has forced me to do a deeper study in Scripture and discuss these teachings with many Bible scholars. The result has been a strengthening and expanding of the teachings. These have been passed on to alumni through their re-attendance at Basic Seminars and through supplementary birthday messages and booklets.
When the seminars began in 1965, I realized that the message would be clarified and expanded as we went along. That is the primary reason that we have kept in touch with alumni with annual birthday messages and supplementary booklets and encouraging them to re-attend Basic Seminars. As of this date, over 32 million birthday messages have been sent to alumni and 20 million supplementary booklets, all without charge. In addition alumni have re-attended the Basic Seminar over 5 million times.
During all these years, I have read every letter that has been sent to me and have made personal contact with as many critics as time will permit. In each case there has been positive benefit to me and this ministry. Therefore, I will continue to and welcome all the counsel, suggestions, or criticisms of the seminar message or ministry.
Copyright © 2002–2011, William (Bill) Gothard. All Rights Reserved.