The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse
by David Johnson, Jeff VanVonderen
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Breaking the Silence on an Abuse Within the Church That Leaves Christians Feeling "Used," Manipulated and Shamed.
Churches are meant to be safe places where spiritual leaders help and equip the members for the work of service. There are some churches, however, where leaders use their spiritual authority to control and dominate others, attempting to meet their own needs for importance, power, intimacy or spiritual gratification. Through the subtle use of the right "spiritual" words, church members are manipulated or shamed into certain behaviors or performance that ensnares in legalism, guilt and begrudging service.
This is spiritual abuse, and the results can be shattering. Deeply ingrained spiritual codes of written and unwritten rules control and condemn, wounding believers' spirits and keeping them from the grace and joy of God's kingdom. Believers find themselves enslaved to a system, a leader, a standard of performance that saps true spiritual life.
This is a message for Christians who feel they are spiritually abused and for those who might be causing it. Authors VanVonderen and Johnson address these important themes and point the way toward freedom:
What are the abusive spiritual dynamics that can develop in a church?
How do people get hooked into these abusive systems?
What are the marks of false spiritual leadership and their impact on a congregation?
What are the scriptures and doctrinal concepts that c
About the Author
David Johnson grew up in a Christian home, the son of a Baptist Minister. There were great benefits to growing up in the church, but they were not all positive. Along with the life, and truth, and purity&151;there was death, and lies and hypocrisy. At a relatively young age he began to wonder why, if its called good news, it didn't feel that good. Johnson vividly recalls the pattern of being 'yelled at' to tell people the good news of Jesus. It struck him that if it really was good news, "why did they have to yell?" Everything, including evangelism felt like a weight.
Early in his High School years, brokenness in the form of serious family issues, invaded his home. Johnson's initial fear of the trouble was that his parents response would be to add even more weight & try even harder to look good and right. Instead, his father discovered grace and the weight in their family was lifted. For the first time, "how things looked" was not what mattered most and how things really were could be discussed and dealt with without fear.
Johnson entered the ministry with a deep desire to bring that liberating grace to people who has been weighted down by a system of religious performance. In the process, he discovered that the issue was bigger and more wide spread that he had ever imagined. Recently he discovered a name for it&spiritual abuse.
Johnson's education includes a B.A. in Psychology from Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Further education followed at Bethel Seminary and Trinity Evangelical School, Deerfield, Illinois. While attending Trinity, he served as the Senior Pastor at the Melrose Bible Church, in Melrose Park, Illinois. Johnson is presently Senior Pastor at Church of the Open Door of Crystal, Minnesota.
David and his wife have 4 children. They make their home in Minnesota.
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