Unhealthy, authoritarian leadership encourages people to place their pastors on pedestals. This is illustrated by the comments of one ex-member of a church located in a major mid-western city. "Little by little this man became the standard by which we all sought to live. The wisdom that poured forth from his lips left us in awe."An ex-member of an east-coast fringe group commented that her tiny church was believed to be the full expression of God and had the mind …
Tag: Ronald Enroth
Chapter 1 of the book, "Churches That Abuse," by Ronald M. Enroth. An introduction to the problem of abusive churches and spiritual abuse. The entire bestselling book is available here, courtesy of the author.
Dr. Ronald Enroth, Professor of Sociology at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California, is a recognized Evangelical Christian authority on the subject of cults, new religious movements, and abusive churches.
Many themes and issues have emerged from these stories of people recovering from churches that abuse. These are often more implicit than explicit.Thinking through these issues in the following terms may be helpful to victims of abuse and those who seek to counsel them.
The testimony of Recovering From Churches That Abuse is that battered believers can recover. But is rehabilitation possible for churches that abuse? Can a spiritually abusive system be changed? The answer is yes, even though in reality many churches do not experience significant change. But some do answer these calls, and as evidence Dr. Ronald Enroth cites two groups described in Churches That Abuse.
The message of this book is that "mending" is possible! There is hope. You can trust again. However, it is important to understand that although there are some common aspects to the process of recovery and healing, the route is different and can be more tortuous for some than for others according to their personalities and the special problems they encountered in the church.
"When a member leaves an abusive church or is forced to leave, he walks out with virtually nothing. He leaves a part of himself behind; the years he has invested are gone. You need to deal with loss and bereavement, confusion and anger, and finally, acceptance of. that loss. Many fail to accept it and move on. They need to understand that their significance is not in what they had, but it is in their relationship with Christ. They have …
Recovering From Churches That Abuse: "The most important thing in my recovery has been the need to get the proper balance between the heart and the head. In the Christian life, the mind is not something to be subjected to the heart. It is false to say you cannot know or understand the Word of God unless you have the proper inner attitude, or unless you surrender and submit, and that only when you get to that place will God …
Many of the people Ron Enroth interviewed for his books, Churches That Abuse and Recovering From Churches That Abuse were undecided whether to leave an abusive situation or stay in the hope that their presence might make a difference. But by remaining in an unhealthy environment for whatever reason people help perpetuate a system they have experienced as destrucive. Those who are contemplating leaving an abusive situation need to make a complete break and flee.
Colleen's story will help us to understand two concomitants to spiritual abuse. First, like many members of abusive churches, Colleen had a personal history that predisposed her toward victimization. Second, her experience demonstrates the essential need for help from competent counseling and caring Christians in the process of recovery.
The problem of not being understood is common among victims of spiritual abuse. As a result, the victims feel guilty, misunderstood, and even rejected. Christians who want to be helpful to those who have come out of abusive experiences must be sensitive, nonjudgmental, and accepting-even if they find it difficult to understand how something so bizarre could happen to another Christian.
What aspects of authoritarian churches are hurtful? What happens to members when they decide to leave or are dismissed? Are they likely to end up in another abusive situation, or are they able to find a "normal" church? What about those who find it impossible to return to church, any church? Is it possible to break the cycle of spiritual abuse? Can people find true freedom in Christ after years of bondage in performance-based lifestyles? These are some of the …
Recovering From Churches That Abuse highlights the stories of people who have experienced various levels of spiritual abuse and have achieved varying levels of recovery.
Chapter listing for Recovering From Churches That Abuse, by Dr. Ronald Enroth
The great value of this book lies in the fact that it a) will help victims of spiritual abuse obtain spiritual and emotional healing, and b) provides valuable information to counselors, pastors, and others who are helping these people.