What is Spiritual Abuse?
“Spiritual abuse happens when a leader with spiritual authority uses that authority to coerce, control, or exploit a follower, thus causing spiritual wounds.”
– Ken Blue, author of “Healing Spiritual Abuse.”
Among the most-visited pages within Apologetics Index, those dealing with various aspects of spiritual abuse — sometimes called religious abuse — rank very high.
It is a subject many visitors contact us about, and one we frequently see in face-to-face counselling.
Religious abuse can take place in every religion or religious movement. But this website deals primarily with spiritual abuse that occurs in Christian churches and movements.
However, much of the information we provide and refer to also applies to followers of other religions — including religious movements that are considered to be, theologically, cults of Christianity.
Spiritual abuse rarely occurs on purpose, as those involved generally start out with the best of intentions.
However, it is not harmless. Dr. Ron Enroth says:
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 honor 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.
– Ron Enroth, Churches That Abuse, Zondervan, 1993, p. 29.
Ken Blue lists seven symptoms of abusive religion, based on the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:
see rest of this story here at ApologeticsIndex.org
Apologetics Index Updates...
Throughout this week we will be updating our ‘old style’ entry and list of research resources on abusive churches and spiritual abuse.
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