If nothing else, the phenomenal growth of Gothard’s seminars in the early ’70s was news — the kind reported in newspapers and magazines — and there was no shortage of Christian periodicals then that were qualified to scrutinize Gothard’s message from a biblical perspective.  But few did.
     One magazine, however, did a fairly good job when you consider the groundswell of support Gothard was enjoying and the fact that he was still a relative novelty on the North American evangelical scene.  In November 1973 Eternity magazine (which ceased publication many years later) devoted three articles to the appraisal of Gothard’s seminars — one by its managing editor, one by a Christian psychologist, and one by a pair of youth workers.
     While two of the articles gave the Basic Seminar a positive overall evaluation, all the authors cited problems with Gothard’s method of biblical interpretation.  The lead article by Robert T. Coote cited “Two disturbing tendencies,” one being “the recurring impression that Gothard manipulates his biblical texts and oversimplifies the ambiguities of human experience,” and the other being his “tendency to be simplistic and careless with biblical contexts” (Eternity, November 1973, page 38).
     Psychologist Paul R. Keating had trouble with some of the “nagging implications” of the seminar.  Gothard’s emphasis on “the total quiescent acceptance of what is” (page 33) ignored all those Bible passages in which stalwarts of the faith such as Abraham and David actually argued with God.  Even Jesus asked if “this cup” could be taken from him, but Gothard heaped reproach on these legitimate expressions of our humanity.  Keating also felt this emphasis would discourage people from “struggling to subdue the forces of evil that plague our world.”  He further observed that “aspects of Gothard’s teaching seem a shade ascetic.”  (Only a shade?!)  He wrote: “His ‘living in’ Scripture via memorization and meditation, along with his life of separation and dedication and investment in service and godly sensitivity, carry the seeds of frustration, despair and failure for those minimally endowed with fortitude.  For the overly scrupulous who are plagued by the guilt that they haven’t quite made it, will greater efforts appease or aggravate their sense of failure?  And how many of us, in this necessarily busy world, can gear ourselves to the almost contemplative existence suggested by Gothard’s orientation?”