Timeline Introduction

Introduction: Growing Families International [GFI] has been controversial within the Christian church for a long time. With the publication of Babywise, the Ezzos extended their influence into the secular world.

Purpose: To illustrate that the present-day controversy surrounding Ezzo is the consequence of longstanding patterns of behavior and questionable advice.

Why Read This? To avoid repeating history and to evaluate the Ezzos' suitability to provide guidance in infant care and parenting.

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Macarthur Comments on Ezzo's break with LHEF

John MacArthur comments on Gary Ezzo's break with Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship

On July 25, 2000, John MacArthur wrote a letter that he would like to be publicly available to those researching Gary Ezzo and his parenting materials:

The following is the 9-14-2000 revision of that statement and has been approved of by Grace's board of elders.

Gary Ezzo and GFI

Almost three years ago, the elders of Grace Community Church issued a public statement about Growing Families International (GFI) and Gary Ezzo. In addition to several concerns about the extra-biblical content of GFI materials and divisive tendencies in the GFI program, we also initially voiced some rather significant concerns about Mr. Ezzo's personal character.

Specifically, we reported that he had shown a pattern of resisting accountability, and that he was not always truthful. (We had become aware of several instances in which Mr. Ezzo twisted the truth, ranging from a false claim that he held a degree he had never really earned, to the spreading of false reports about our church in a manner that appeared to be deliberately divisive.)

Mr. Ezzo subsequently met with one of our elders and expressed a desire to rectify our major concerns about his character. He assured us that he was making himself accountable to a group of men he trusted--the pastor and elders of Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship (LHEF).

In the interest of seeking peace, we issued a revised and abbreviated version of our public statement. In that revised statement, the concerns we had raised about Mr. Ezzo's integrity and accountability were no longer expressly mentioned, pending further action on Mr. Ezzo's part to mitigate or allay those concerns. After the revised statement was issued, however, Mr. Ezzo made no further attempt to address the larger concerns we had raised about his personal character.

Recent events have greatly troubled us and reminded us of the difficult and often painful duty that is ours as overseers who must warn the flock about divisive influences (cf. Acts 20:28-32). Recently, we learned that Mr. Ezzo has been excommunicated from LHEF.

Only the barest details about what led to LHEF's discipline against Mr. Ezzo have been made known. We have nonetheless been able to verify that LHEF's discipline of Mr. Ezzo involves the very same issues we raised in our initial public statement: Gary Ezzo's lack of truthfulness and his refusal to be held accountable. It is not without significance that the men who have excommunicated him are the same men to whom he claimed to be making himself accountable. This has clearly become a pattern of behavior with Mr. Ezzo. LHEF is at least the third church Mr. Ezzo has left with questions pending about his character.

It appears rather obvious on biblical grounds that Mr. Ezzo's refusal to heed his own church's discipline disqualifies him from Christian leadership or public ministry in any context. After all, the first and most important qualification for those who would lead the church is that they be above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2, 10; Titus 1:6).

We believe Scripture demands that unrepentant sin in cases such as this should not be covered up or handled in secret (cf. Matthew 18:17; 1 Timothy 5:20). Regretfully, therefore, we also need to state that the concerns we initially raised about Mr. Ezzo's character were never satisfactorily addressed by him.

We are deeply saddened to have to make such a statement, but because Mr. Ezzo was once an elder in our church, we believe we have a particular duty to sound a clear warning to the church at large about an influence that continues to be divisive.

Board of Elders
Grace Community Church
Sun Valley, CA

Key Documentation

Excommunication Statement

Statement about Ezzo - Materials

Statement about Ezzo - Character

"The Cultic Characteristics of Growing Families International"
(originally titled "More than a Parenting Ministry")

(orginally titled "A Matter of Bias?")

Unprepared to Teach Parenting?

Babywise Publisher Plans Contract Cancellation

Media Alert

Guide to Abbreviations

GFI--Growing Families International, The Ezzos' for-profit company

CRI---Christian Research Institute, a leading Christian cult research and apologetics teaching organization

GCC---Grace Community Church, the large church pastored by Dr. John MacArthur where Ezzo was employed and from which he launched GFI. GFI materials that refer to Ezzo's "10 years as Pastor of Family Ministries in Sun Valley, California " are referring to this experience.

LHEF---Living Hope Evangelical Fellowship, Ezzo's place of worship after leaving GCC, pastored by Ezzo's friend and former GFI staff member Dave Maddox.

CT---Christianity Today, a well-respected monthly news and features magazine

GKGW--"Growing Kids God's Way", the centerpiece of the Ezzos' parenting curriculum, usually studied in weekly classes for 18 weeks.