Tag: spiritual abuse
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 …
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.
Recovering From Churches That Abuse deals with the road back from spiritual abuse, healing for families who hurt, and re-entry for survivors of cults and sects. It also provides guidance for pastors and counselors.
The key to understanding the phenomenon of abusive churches is within the human psyche -- the desire to control others and to exercise power over people. That has always been a part of the human experience and it will continue to be.
All of us have been exposed to the temptation of power, whether as parent, spouse, teacher, or worker. It has been said that human nature is always ready to abuse its power the moment it can …
The stories in this book point to the need on the part of Christians for discernment. At what point does biblical authority turn into spiritual violence? When does a church cross the line between conventional-church status and abusive-church status? What are some signals or indicators that a given group is headed for the margins?
Dr. Ronald M. Enroth:: "Leaving a restricted and abusive community involves what sociologists call the de-socialization process whereby the individual loses identification with the past group and moves toward re-socialization, or reintegration into the mainstream culture. There are a number of emotions and needs that emerge during this transition process. How one deals with these feelings and affective experiences has a significant impact on the overall healing that is required.
Many have described the aftermath of abusive-church involvement …
Dr. Ronald M. Enroth: "Virtually all authoritarian groups that I have studied impose discipline, in one form or another, on members.
A common theme that I encountered during interviews with ex-members of these groups was that the discipline was often carried out in public-and involved ridicule and humiliation."
While mainstream evangelical churches have always encouraged a life of holiness before the Lord and urged moderation in dress and other aspects of life-style, authoritarian churches demonstrate an excessive focus on such concerns. The restricted life-style and limits on personal freedom that follow are just other examples of the need to control that all abusive churches exemplify.
If life-style rigidity is a characteristic of most abusive churches, the role of subjective experience is equally crucial in understanding how …
The spiritual elitism of abusive churches can be seen in some of the terminology they use to refer to themselves:
"God's Green Berets," "God's End-Time Army," the "faithful remnant," the special "move of God." As one ex-member put it, "We believed we were on the cutting edge of what God was doing in the world. I looked down on people who left our movement; they didn't have what it took. They were not faithful to their commitment. When everyone …
People have always struggled with the same needs-to be accepted by their friends and family, to find their way to God, and to make a contribution to their world. Humanity's fear of loneliness and hope of salvation were no less real to people in the previous century than they are to us today. Unfortunately, there have also always been charismatic figures ready to take advantage of those most afraid and most hopeful.
One nineteenth-century religious community, in particular, …
It has been said that commitment without careful reflection is fanaticism in action.
In Chapter 2 of his book Churches That Abuse, Dr. Ronald Enroth describes a church where people -- thinking that they were placing their allegiance in the Word of God -- were actually placing their allegiance in a man and his interpretation of the Word of God. That is crucial to understanding why people were so easily deceived.
They thought that they were …
When does a church cross the line between conventional church status and fringe status? What is the nature of the process by which any given group devolves into a fringe church or movement? What are some of the signs or indicators that a given group is becoming abusive of its members and is headed for the margins? When should a member consider bailing out?
Churches That Abuse answers these and other important questions about abusive churches.