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      Even while in his mid-20s and writing his thesis, Gothard was laying the foundation for the elaborate and distorted doctrine of meditation he would make one of the hallmarks of his Basic Seminar. 

     Meditation is an important spiritual discipline in the Christian life, but not the most important one as Gothard makes it out to be.  The Bible reserves that role for the active, practical discipline of Christian love (see 1 Corinthians 13).  Meditation is but a fruit of a healthy relationship with God, not its root.  Actually practicing God’s word merits higher approval from Him than either hearing it or meditating upon it (see James 1:22-25).  While this emphasis on contemplation is in perfect harmony with Keswick mysticism, it is out of keeping with the emphasis of Scripture. 
     Gothard presented a fairly well-developed doctrine of meditation in his thesis, but he added even more extraordinary elements to it in his Basic Seminar.  For one thing, in the Seminar he elevates meditation to a hermeneutical (i.e., interpretive) principle.  Only meditation, he says, can help us arrive at the proper application of Scripture. 
     Gothard uses his doctrine of meditation to defend some of his more strange teachings.  He simply claims up-front that they’ve been “confirmed by meditation” — or, if he wants to sound really spiritual, “by prayer and fasting.”  In this way he attempts to lift such teachings above the possibility of refutation, and for Institute insiders it is a very effective way to buttress his authoritarian control.  They don’t openly oppose him or challenge him on anything ... not if they want to remain in the Institute, that is ...