Phil Johnson on Gary Ezzo and Growing Families International

In October 1997 the elders of Grace Church issued a longer statement regarding Gary Ezzo and Growing Families International (GFI). The statement was our response to many inquiries. Part of our intention was to quell a brewing controversy rather than to provoke a greater one. Unfortunately, the controversy grew rather than diminishing after our statement was issued, partly because of public discussion that has taken place on the Internet.

It was certainly not our intention to wage an open dispute via the Internet. The elders declined to publish the October statement on Grace Church's Web site, but we granted permission for the statement to be posted in a couple of Internet forums on Christian parenting where these issues were already under discussion. The mass of e-mail generated by the statement and its posting on the Internet has far exceeded anything we anticipated.

In the process, our statement has been dissected and critiqued in meticulous detail. Some, including Gary Ezzo, have challenged the accuracy of the way we represented GFI's teaching. For example, our statement included this charge: "GFI curriculum also teaches . . . that moms should never sleep next to their babies." Few would deny that GFI's teaching is strongly opposed to mother-infant co-sleeping. However, Gary Ezzo has pointed out a place in the GFI curriculum where he does state that moms may occasionally nap next to their babies. So our statement as it stands is inaccurate on that point.

Some readers also questioned whether all our quotations came from the latest editions of GFI curriculum. Upon checking, we learned that in some cases there were later editions where some of the quotations we cited had been revised or removed.

So in the interest of speaking the truth, we want to recognize these errors in our earlier statement, and we acknowledge that these had the effect of portraying GFI teaching in a worse light than if our statement had been free from such inaccuracies.

As the person who drafted the original statement, I take full responsibility for all its deficiencies, and I am eager to correct them. Since one of my complaints was that Gary Ezzo has made exaggerated claims against his critics, I think it only right to acknowledge my own failure in this regard.

Our statement also mentioned other concerns about the way Gary Ezzo has dealt with critics, and those comments broached issues related to Gary's personal character. Since our statement was released, Gary and I have had personal meetings, in which he has indicated a desire to rectify several of the character-related issues we raised. I wanted to give him time to do so, and when I informed the elders of Grace Church about my meetings with Gary, they agreed.

So we have removed the character-related issues from our public statement, and we are praying that the time will come when it might be possible to say that all those concerns have been fully resolved. In the meantime, as long as any hope of reconciliation exists, we think it prudent to say less, not more, in answer to those who ask about Grace Community Church's stance on GFI. It is my hope that our new, more succinct statement will minimize the strife and debate that followed in the wake of our earlier statement.