Just to say thanks Gillie for the heads up on the read. Certainly read with a mixture of emotions. Saddened by the real effects on peoples lives. Staggered to know how far and wide this stuff does reach into the lives of many and that we are not the only ones to fall foul of these things. Shocked at the accounts, I did do some background on some of the accounts to understand the gravity of these different cults/abusive churches. Perhaps a little comforted to know we're not like Robinson Crusoe. Encouraged that we can learn from others past experiences how to discern and be wiser to these things moving forward. I also believe that the author is a Sociologist, so I was also enlightened that looking at these things from a sociological perspective provides a simple way of discerning and identifying the good from the bad culture that develops in churches and particularly the heart of those taking on roles of leadership and "care".
http://www.apologeticsindex.org/716-chu ... nline-bookChurches That Abuse — Online Book
The publishers of Apologetics Index have received permission from Dr. Ronald M. Enroth to post online the full text of his book, Churches That Abuse.
• Chapter 1: A View From Within
• Chapter 2: Fringe and Fanaticism – Abusive Churches Can Go Over The Edge
• Chapter 3: Abusive Churches Are Not New
• Chapter 4: Abusive Churches Misuse Spiritual Authority
• Chapter 5: Abusive Churches Use Fear, Guilt, and Threats
• Chapter 6: Abusive Churches See Themselves As Special
• Chapter 7: Abusive Churches Foster Rigidity
• Chapter 8: Abusive Churches Discourage Questions
• Chapter 9: Abusive churches make leaving painful
• Chapter 10: Abusive Churches Present A Warning
• Chapter 11: Abusive Churches Will Always Exist
• Online Book: Churches That Abuse — Introduction
• Notice & Disclaimer
• Contents / Audio Version
• Publishers Information
• Preface & Acknowledgements
Also online, the full text of the sequel, Recovering From Churches That Abuse.
While Churches That Abuse has now been out of print for a number of years, it continues to be of great help to — as the cover states — those hurt by:
• Authoritarian Leadership
• Excessive Discipline, and
• Spiritual Intimidation
Ronald M. Enroth is a leading scholar and national resource on cults and cultism whose special perspectives are heartily welcomed by both the secular and the religious society. He is professor of sociology at Westmost College and the author of many books on cults and the new religions including The Lure of the Cults and New Religions and Evangelizing the Cults.
The following description comes from the book’s front flap:
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. This important new book warns and informs readers about the “fringe” churches and groups that operate in this country—organizations and churches that are not necessarily characterized by doctrinal deviation but have particular traits that make them behavioral and sociological outsiders. It also helps readers identify and beware of abusive tendencies in more “normal” Christian churches.
Ronald Enroth identifies what is meant by “abusive churches.” Then, he describes abusive churches, using the ten identifying traits of control-oriented leadership, spiritual elitism, manipulation of members, perceived persecution, lifestyle rigidity, emphasis on experience, suppression of dissent, harsh discipline of members, denunciation of other churches, and the painful exit process. Finally he shows readers how to discern fringe churches and offers several “red flags” that can be discerned when convention churches drift toward the fringe.
Churches That Abuse tells who the abusers are, how their techniques operate, and what the consequences are for marriages, small children, and teenagers. Where most books stop after reporting problem areas, this one continues and offers suggestions for those helping victims of abuse. And it can be read beneficially by those who are involved in abusive churches and have no one to turn to.
– Source: Front flap, Churches That Abuse, by Ronald M. Enroth
Pastor Phil was in the stands watching his team participate in a church league softball game. The game was going great, but for some reason Pastor Phil asked the coach to substitute a number of men in the next inning. The coach complied but left the assistant pastor in the game. This evidently infuriated Pastor Phil. According to the (former) coach, “He called me with his bull horn to come to the spectator stands immediately. He was extremely angry and asked me why I had disobeyed him about the substitutions, pointing out that the assistant pastor was still in the game. Without any provocation on my part, Phil was attempting to intimidate me publicly before many people. I was stunned! His outrage continued for the rest of the evening as he attacked me and the team members.”
The following week Pastor Phil was unable to attend the ball game, but he gave orders to play the game “backward.” That meant the players had to bat left-handed if they were right-handed and vice versa. All field positions were switched so that everyone was playing in an unfamiliar location. Since the pastor couldn’t be there, he sent someone with a camera to videotape the whole game to make sure his decree was obeyed. The point of all of this, he said, was to “humble” the team because they were getting too proud from winning so many games. The team members were, in fact, humiliated and embarrassed.
The coach later confronted Pastor Phil and told him that he was shocked and offended by his behavior. “I pointed out that I had always done what he had asked in regard to coaching any teams, and that his sudden outburst of rage toward me was totally uncalled for. His only response was that I did not obey him and therefore was not submissive to him.” The coach learned later that most, if not all, of the team members had gone to Pastor Phil and apologized even though they really had nothing to apologize for.
Much has been written about battered wives and child abuse. Here you will read about battered believers and abused Christians
Sound familiar folks from within and ex xCF. You may be inclined to say "a bit extreme" but I know it strikes an all too familiar chord with me and it will with you. An example of the behaviors of a narcissistic megalomaniac (not a leader, pastor or messenger) from Chapter 1 A view from within, Churches that Abuse by Ronald M Enroth. True story, just like yours and mine. There is hope though. You don't have to endure it, you are free to leave but just like the battered wife you need to be encouraged and supported to get out of there and the abusive environment. There IS HOPE away from there. The first step is to know you are free to call it for what it is, not be silenced by fear. Don't suppress the FACTS of your abuse. RARELY DO THEY GO AWAY! Christ's work was to deliver you from this, not force you to submit to it because you have to endure the idea that this is "the fellowship of His sufferings". This is the abuse and oppression of man and not the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. If we aspire to truly follow Jesus Christ and participate in HIS SUFFERINGS then we MUST know the difference and not confuse the two.
For me, this describes BCF exactly. What do others think?
Churches That Abuse
by Ronald M Enroth
Chapter 1: Introduction
This book is about people who have been abused psychologically and spiritually in churches and other Christian organizations.
• Unlike physical abuse that often results in bruised bodies, spiritual and pastoral abuse leaves scars on the psyche and soul.
• It is inflicted by persons who are accorded respect and honour in our society by virtue of their role as religious leaders and models of spiritual authority.
• They base that authority on the Bible, the Word of God, and see themselves as shepherds with a sacred trust. But when they violate that trust, when they abuse their authority, and when they misuse ecclesiastical power to control and manipulate the flock, the results can be catastrophic.
• The perversion of power that we see in abusive churches disrupts and divides families, fosters an unhealthy dependence of members on the leadership, and creates, ultimately, spiritual confusion in the lives of victims.
As you read this book, 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 members’ lives are subject to scrutiny.
• Rules and legalism abound. People who don’t follow the rules or who threaten exposure are often dealt with harshly.
• Excommunication is common. For those who leave, the road back to normalcy is difficult.
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