Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Simple Book Review: "Healing Spiritual Abuse: How to Break Free from Bad Church Experiences" (1993) by Ken Blue

Healing Spiritual Abuse: How to Break Free from Bad Church Experiences (1993)
by Ken Blue

Are you discouraged from questioning the decisions or teachings church leaders make? If you do little or no volunteer work for the church, do you feel like a second-class Christian? Does your pastor insist on being addressed by a title such as “Dr” or “Pastor”? Do you hear many broad, vague appeals to “surrender fully”, “yield completely” or “lay it all on the altar”? Do you give (or tithe) out of guilt rather than joy? If you nod down your head to any two of these questions, then you may be a victim of spiritual abuse.

As fulltime worker in student ministry who work among student leaders especially and ministers and churches inevitably, I can identify with all of these questions. Almost all of students and youths that I talked to have gone through bad church experiences that have left them feeling like failures and wounded spiritually. Most of them eventually get over it (since there is no perfect church), but there are few of them (including my two good friends) have avoided church altogether. They were very committed Christians once but no more. The fact is, the most committed believers are often the most vulnerable to abusive religion.

Abusive leaders, according to Jesus in Matthew 23, take for themselves authority and power based on position and office. Abusive leaders oppress and manipulate men and women by tying up heavy loads – religious laws and regulations – and never try to help them. The abusers multiply loads of religious to induce guilt and shame in their followers in order to control them. Abusive leaders do everything for show. They take exalted titles, demand special privileges and use words deceitfully for self-promotion. Abusive leaders major on minor issues (clothes, movie and TV programme, etc.) and minor on major issues (love, mercy, justice, etc.). Abusive leaders slam the door of the Kingdom of God by denying the work of Christ by teaching that it costs something to get. Abusive leaders are very authoritative because of their own low self-esteem and insecurity. They feel threatened, so they maintain control over others. Blue Ken writes extensively about these abusers, who their victims, how they victimized others and why they do it.

In contrast, Ken Blue writes, “healthy leaders shun honorific titles and are effective in caring for the needs of God’s people. It is by servant leadership that the nonabusive leader exercises influence.” Healthy leaders lift people’s burdens off and directing their followers to Jesus Christ for rest. They spent no time or energy on their image, live simply and transparently before people. They stand ready to put aside religious protocol when it conflicts with real human need. They open wide the door of the Kingdom of God and proclaiming that it is all free to us by grace through faith in Christ alone. They know God’s forgiveness and lavish acceptance through Christ and so able to love, accept and serve others from that “position of strength.”

There are ten chapters of this book:
1)    An invitation to Freedom
2)    The Seat of Moses – the Power to Abuse
3)    Sniffing Out the Yeast of the Pharisees
4)    Heavy Loads
5)    They Do It for Show
6)    Majoring on Minors and Missing the Point
7)    Who Gets Hooked and Why
8)    Healed by Grace
9)    Healthy Church Leadership
10) Healthy Church Discipline

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