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January 27, 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 than 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."

Read the rest of the tongue-in-cheek post at X-ATI Guy.

It seems, sadly, that a lot of our Christian journeys started at the Strait Gate, we found ourselves on a cultic path that imitated the Way. We find ourselves bruised by the shackles of legalism and false teaching.

Even after we are once again on the narrow path that we walk by grace through faith to the Celestial City, it's easy to question ourselves, our faith, our discernment.

It's not simply a matter of "moving on. . ."


Update: Related blogging this week can be found at Batesline, BloggyBlog,
KITW here, here and here, Discount Geek and Reasons Why.

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Comments

In my Christian, I've had several cults try and indoctrinate me, including Mormons, International Church of Christ, some charismatic groups and several MLM schemes.

Sometimes I think the element of my personality that makes me reject them has done more harm than good. I, nor my wife, haven't attended church in months, and have no plan on starting up again.

I hate how fake and faux-smiley people are with you.

I hate the modern church music, with meaningless repeative lyrics to which I'm expected to happily sing along.

I hate the uber-emotional sermons I have to sit through where I'm talked down to like a baby and I walk away from with no insight at all.

I hate how my Pastor gets paid $100,000.00 for giving cheap sermonettes and "being there", when there are some damn good hard-working lawyers in my city who don't make that much. I hate dropping a tithe in the offering plate and thinking that it's only going to buy the Pastor's kid a Playstation.

I hate how important church decision, such has hiring a assistant (female!) pastor, and buying a permanent church site, are made by random memes floating through an inarticulate mob and crammed down the throat of everyone who thinks it un-pious, or at least not important enough, to objection to.

I hate how everyone there thinks that have their "spiritual life" together, yet seem haunted by a nameless fear and latent guilt from which they're supposedly liberated. I hate how all the big questions go unasked, let along unanswered. I hate how, whenever I ask the question "How do I improve myself? How do I make my life better?", I made to feel that I'm begging the question of whether I even should.

Yes, I'm a Christian. Yes, I believe in God. Yes, I believe Jesus died for my sins. Yes, I have the Holy Spirit in me. But every Sunday I go to church, any church in this city that I've visited, I regret doing so. I feel as estranged from everyone in there as I would if I were from Timbuktu.

Posted by: Protagonist at January 28, 2005 06:17 AM

In my Christian, I've had several cults try and indoctrinate me, including Mormons, International Church of Christ, some charismatic groups and several MLM schemes.

Sometimes I think the element of my personality that makes me reject them has done more harm than good. I, nor my wife, haven't attended church in months, and have no plan on starting up again.

I hate how fake and faux-smiley people are with you.

I hate the modern church music, with meaningless repeative lyrics to which I'm expected to happily sing along.

I hate the uber-emotional sermons I have to sit through where I'm talked down to like a baby and I walk away from with no insight at all.

I hate how my Pastor gets paid $100,000.00 for giving cheap sermonettes and "being there", when there are some damn good hard-working lawyers in my city who don't make that much. I hate dropping a tithe in the offering plate and thinking that it's only going to buy the Pastor's kid a Playstation.

I hate how important church decision, such has hiring a assistant (female!) pastor, and buying a permanent church site, are made by random memes floating through an inarticulate mob and crammed down the throat of everyone who thinks it un-pious, or at least not important enough, to objection to.

I hate how everyone there thinks that have their "spiritual life" together, yet seem haunted by a nameless fear and latent guilt from which they're supposedly liberated. I hate how all the big questions go unasked, let along unanswered. I hate how, whenever I ask the question "How do I improve myself? How do I make my life better?", I made to feel that I'm begging the question of whether I even should.

Yes, I'm a Christian. Yes, I believe in God. Yes, I believe Jesus died for my sins. Yes, I have the Holy Spirit in me. But every Sunday I go to church, any church in this city that I've visited, I regret doing so. I feel as estranged from everyone in there as I would if I were from Timbuktu.

Posted by: Protagonist at January 28, 2005 06:43 AM

I have much to say about Mr. Gothard and this post so instead of taking up a lot of comment space here, feel free to following this link http://myblogginess.blogspot.com/2005/01/bill-gothard-and-moving-on.html

One thing I will say here is Tulipgirl and others who are blogging about a fulfilled Christian walk...you are helping to reconnect people to their "first love", whether you realize it or not.

{{{Candleman98}}}

Posted by: Candleman98 at January 28, 2005 08:46 AM

>>"It's not simply a matter of moving on..."

That's so true, TulipGirl. I think one of the most important things that I've learned about growing up in Christ is that growth is a process, and that's the way God wants it. Crap is dealt to everyone, whether through orgs like ATI, far-from-perfect churches, or sinner parents. We can't get away from it because you can't get away from sin. But I love that its part of God's plan of redemption for us to have ups and downs, including doubt, anger, codependency, imbalance, bitterness, etc., so that we can will recognize his grace, and know freedom as it gradually comes.

And yet --the fact that God makes all things new doesn't excuse anyone from the pain that they (we're all included) bring to others.

BTW, TulipGirl, I heard from Joe Missionary that you and I have the same alma mater. Interesting. I wonder if we know each other...

Posted by: Sandra at January 28, 2005 05:13 PM

There's a reason its called the 'narrow road'. It's tough, treacherous and filled with pitfalls and enemies. I am reminded of the path the Hobbits took in LOTR:ROTK (the last movie) straight up the mountain, led by an crazed creature to certain doom... even before getting on the road the sights allure and draw us away, and on the road there are spiders and orcs and things that will cause us pause.

But the Christian walk isn't supposed to be like that, we're told by the shucksters and frauds. It's supposed to be a life of smiles and success, at least that's what we're taught from the 'seven keys to success in Joshua'...

No, the Christian life is like a dangerous drive through the mountains, where scary dark tunnels prevent us from seeing what's ahead and the sunlight rarely peirces through... we can trust God in the sunlight, but in the tunnel is where we really learn to trust and where we grow. So while we cherish the moments in the sun, we must yearn as much for the tunnels and love them too.

If we're focused on the good-times, or ways of preventing the tunnels, we're probably not on the path and have fallen for the cheap imitation that promises freedom through bondage and happiness through abandoning our Savior.

Great posts btw.

Posted by: M Burke at January 28, 2005 07:19 PM

Hi! I finally made it to your place (no fault of mine... it is for some reason restricted from where I work).

My opinion is that, the imperfect human beings that we are, we need the Church, as something to organize our life around, as a believers' support system, and (added by the Orthodox in me) to partake in the Sacraments of the Church. That said, I totally agree that many existing churches and denominations fall short of these expectations and are unable to provide this kind of support to a believer. This is very sad and my heart goes out to Protagonist - I agree with a lot of his comments, but not the last one! Personally, I consider myself blessed in that my local church has never failed me yet. It is a great fit for me, and I plan on continuing to be a member.

I hope everyone here finds a church after his or her own heart!

Posted by: Goldie at January 28, 2005 07:21 PM

We (Ron & I) could totally relate to what Protaganist posted. Sad to say, but true.

Posted by: Andrea at January 29, 2005 05:37 PM

Goldie, I agree with you. I fervently believe have to have the church to be able to thrive as Christians. I have seen in my own life how this is true.

I'm glad you have had such a positive experience with your church, but even if they're not like ATI, they will fail you at some point. But you sound as if you are putting your faith in Christ instead of your church, so when they do fail you, you will take it in stride. I mean, they're people. Of course they will fail you eventually. You will fail them too. But if you are all following Christ, you should be able to have healthy conflict.

Posted by: Sandra at January 29, 2005 06:14 PM

I had no idea what ATI was so I had to check it out. When I saw the name Gothard, something clicked and sure enough that was the speaker at a seminar dh went to long before we were married. I've never read the materials but now I'm curious about the kinds of errors that Ladger may have picked up from this seminar.

Posted by: Andrea at January 30, 2005 09:28 PM

Hey, I'm one of those X-ATI students. Many of my old ATI friends are now disillusioned about life because they followed the Gothard teachings hook, line, and sinker - many of them made major, life-changing decisions because of ATI!

"In the multitude of counselors, there is wisdom." Whenever you rely on the teachings of one man alone, you'll fall into a trap. I could go on and on about the problems with ATI, but I won't.

In a way, I'm glad for the ATI background so, hopefully, I won't make the same mistakes my well-meaning parents did.

Amy

Posted by: Amy at February 1, 2005 11:17 PM


 
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