“A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." Bertrand de Jouvenel
We ended yesterday’s post by recommending four excellent books on Spiritual Abuse and Recovery, which we have personally read. Now let’s take a look at some of the outstanding resources available on the internet. It’s obvious from just a Google search that spiritual abuse is a HUGE problem.
Jeff Van Vonderen’s website
Jeff Van Vonderen, who co-wrote The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, has created a website to help those who have been spiritually abused. You can find it here.
He begins by defining Spiritual Abuse.
“Spiritual Abuse (spir’-i-choo-el a-byoos’). Wouldn’t it be great if it was as simple as looking it up in a dictionary? But nothing about spiritual abuse is simple. Those who have experienced it, know it is powerful enough to cause them to question their relationship with God, indeed, the very existence of God. And it is subtle too! The perpetrators of spiritual abuse are rarely ‘Snidely Whiplash’ sorts of characters who announce that they are going to drain your spiritual energy. They may be people who seem like they are seeking to guide you to the deepest levels of spiritual maturity.
Spiritual abuse occurs when someone in a position of spiritual authority, the purpose of which is to ‘come underneath’ and serve, build, equip and make God’s people MORE free, misuses that authority placing themselves over God’s people to control, coerce or manipulate them for seemingly Godly purposes which are really their own.”
Be sure to check out all the information this Spiritual Abuse expert has included on his website.
The Apologetics Index is another great resource, which you can access here.
This website features the following quote from Ronald Enroth, who wrote Churches That Abuse.
"Sociologists looks for patterns in human behavior and in social institutions. As you read the following pages, a profile of pastoral and spiritual abuse will emerge. Abusive churches, past and present, are first and foremost characterized by strong, control-oriented leadership. These leaders use guilt, fear, and intimidation to manipulate members and keep them in line. Followers are led to think that there is no other church quite like theirs and that God has singled them out for special purposes. Other, more traditional evangelical churches are put down. Subjective experience is emphasized and dissent is discouraged. Many areas of member's lives are subject to scrutiny. Rules and legalism abound. People who don't follow rules or who threaten exposure are often dealt with harshly. Excommunication is common. For those who leave, the road back to normalcy is difficult." Source: Churches That Abuse, by Ronald Enroth."
Be sure to scroll down and peruse all of the resources that are listed on this website.
There are even websites that specifically address church abuse, such ChurchAbuse.com – Promoting Recovery from Spiritual Abuse. Here is the link.
If you go to this website, you will find some of the same resources we recommended yesterday, along with other useful websites.
In order to determine whether you are in a healthy church, we recommend that you take a 12 question survey called “Is Your Church A Safe Place?” which you will find here.
You will be asked questions such as:
“Does your church tightly control the flow of information within its ranks?
Is leaving your group to join another church equal to leaving God?
Is your spiritual leader intolerant of questions or critical inquiry?
Do former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances?”
At the bottom of the survey you will find this grading scale:
“If you answered "no" to all of the above 12 questions, your church is very healthy. If you answered "yes" to three or more, your church is showing signs of being unhealthy. If you answered "yes" to six or more, your church is very unhealthy. If you answered "yes" to eight or more, your church is more than likely a full-blown authoritarian cult.”
We would love to know how your church rates! Record your scores in your comments!!!
Also, there are some riveting videos and articles at this website, and we hope they will help those of you who have been spiritually abused to get on the road to recovery.
Another interesting website for those who have been spiritually abused is called Battered Sheep, which you can find at this link.
Here is how this ministry in introduced:
“Battered Sheep Ministry is a place of encouragement for sheep who have been wounded and victimized by authoritarian and legalistic churches.
This ministry was born out of personal experiences that we have been through in a couple of authoritarian/legalistic churches. As a result of our experiences, the Lord has given us a burden for people, especially those who are going through painful trials.”
At Battered Sheep, you will find articles, stories, letters, resources, and links that will be of great encouragement if you have experienced spiritual abuse. I love this website!
If you suspect you are in an abusive church, please utilize these resources! They will be a tremendous help to your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Lydia's Corner: Numbers 19:1-20:29 Luke 1:1-25 Psalm 56:1-13 Proverbs 11:8