Friday, August 28, 2015

The Tragedy that Is the IBLP

With all the discussion about the Institute in Basic Life Principles going on (that’s the branch of legalism that the Duggars belong to), I was reminded of the brushes I have had with this group.

Growing up, my parents occasionally used some of the material produced by the IBLP in our family devotions. “Character Sketches” combined life lessons from nature with Bible stories to teach kids positive character traits. Not a bad concept. I especially enjoyed the natural science and the artwork, with was outstanding.

Beyond that, we were pretty wary of the group. That caution started when a IBLP newsletter tried to promote the teaching that any family not cooking all their own bread at home was actively sinning. I am not sure if they had a deal with one of those bread makers or not. In any case, it was a terrible case of Biblical eisegesis and clear legalistic hogwash.

As an adult, I still have one of those Character Sketches volumes. A few years ago I decided to use it with my own kids. We went through nearly all the devotional material deriving teaching from the animal stories. However, after the first week, I quit using their Bible Stories. The retellings were hardly recognizable and the interpretation was terrible. I had to substitute it with actual scripture.

Then a realization dawned on me. Where was the Gospel in this book? Outside of a sidebar in the introduction that literally listed four verses with zero explanation, and a formulaic prayer that the reader was instructed to read ala magic incantation, there was no mention of the Gospel. The teaching of the IBLP is literally a religious self-help organization trying to teach people to overcome their sin problem in their own strength. There is token mention of the help of the Holy Spirit, but that is never really taught either.

It saddens me to think that so many believers have been led astray by this well-intentioned but false teaching. Even worse, I hate that fact that Christian celebrity culture has portrayed our faith in such a distorted way. Is it any surprise that a group telling men to overcome their sin in their own strength (and telling women that a lot of the men’s failures are women’s fault) is failing miserably? That is not the teaching of Scripture; not Biblical Christianity. It lacks the Grace. It is missing the cross.

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