The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God.

The Painful Truth About The Worldwide Church of God

(While I do not agree with Mr. Meyer's presumption that we all need churches, I do think that some people do, at least they think they do. And so his advice is good for those people. Take it for whatever it is worth to you.)
Ed

Reprinted here with Mr. Meyer's permission.


A Psycho-Sexual Analysis of Authoritarian
Worldwide Church of God Polity


by

William D. Meyer


 

How many progressive exiters err when they falsely normalize cultic church governance and then shun organized Christianity

It is distressing to hear from so many progressive but disillusioned Christians exiting the Worldwide Church of God that they now want nothing more to do with organized religion.

I believe this sad state of affairs springs from a tragic misunderstanding. Some of its origins seem to be rooted in the sexual misconduct of Worldwide Church of God founder Herbert W. Armstrong. He appears to have created within his church a form of governance that approximates the authoritarian structures typical within many incestuous families. Worldwide Church of God polity thus seems to mirror incestuous family polity.

Many Worldwide Church of God exiters remain in a mental trap because they continue to believe that the authoritarian governance Armstrong created in the Worldwide Church of God is typical of all churches.

But it really is not.

Authentically Christian Worldwide Church of God members often instinctively react against this sort of structure in the Worldwide Church of God when they begin to get a whiff of what it really is and begin to sense how it really works. Even when they wake up, these folks usually leave the Worldwide Church of God only after intense personal struggle. They wonder whether they are somehow turning their backs on God and God's true church. And they often suffer deep spiritual wounds both from their experience within the Worldwide Church of God and from the traumatic and isolating exit process.

Nevertheless, many of them still allow themselves to believe the claims of the Worldwide Church of God that its authoritarian structure, along with all its underlying theological assumptions, is typical of and normal for organized Christianity. So many Worldwide Church of God exiters run away from all organized Christianity in much the same way they ran away from the Worldwide Church of God.

This is similar to women molested by their fathers running away from all intimate relationships with men. These women often confuse the sick man who molested them with all men. They believe they cannot have a non-abusive relationship with any man.

Likewise many Worldwide Church of God exiters often confuse the sinful structures of a sick church polity with all of organized Christianity. They believe they cannot have a non-abusive relationship with any organized church or denomination.

The Jack Kessler letter

The widely distributed Jack Kessler letter has profound implications for those considering the Worldwide Church of God's current hierarchical polity. Posted on the Internet for several months and widely linked, the letter makes shocking allegations about the personal life of Herbert W. Armstrong and confirms earlier published reports.

Kessler, then and now a Worldwide Church of God lawyer, purportedly wrote this letter to the Worldwide Church of God's rump board of directors Dec. 30, 1981.

As an aside to his main point about abuses of church monies under Armstrong's kleptocracy, Kessler discloses Armstrong's admissions that Armstrong had an ongoing incestuous relationship with at least one of his daughters during his early ministry.

(These allegations have been published in other forums as well. These include former Worldwide Church of God elder David Robinson's book Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web and several issues of the John Trechak's Ambassador Report newsletter. They have been substantially -- though not directly -- confirmed by the transcript of a telephone conversation between member Ed and Worldwide Church of God headquarters staffer Carroll Miller. This is also posted on 's Internet website.)

 

An incestuous governance model

The implications of the incest allegations are staggering for anyone ever associated with the Worldwide Church of God and its authoritarian church structures.

We must painfully confront the fact that the sinful structures of family governance within many incestuous families seem to mirror the abnormal patterns and structures of church government within the Worldwide Church of God.

If the incest allegations are true, it would seem that Armstrong reproduced, whether he realized it or not, within his church a form of government that largely duplicates the sick internal dynamics of incestuous families.

The parallels seem to be more than coincidental. Families where fathers are sexually abusing children are often characterized by extreme isolation from the outside world. There is often an emphasis on both the patriarch's absolute authority and on the duty for everyone else in the family to maintain "loyalty," obedience and absolute submission to the father.

It is "government from the top down."

And there generally are no meaningful checks or accountability, either internal or external, for the patriarch. This pattern continues either until circumstances reveal what is going on to the authorities or until some brave family member becomes "disloyal" or "negative" and goes outside the family to someone who can intervene.

A set up for abuse

Whether this tight, self-contained, authoritarian structure is found in the home or in the church, it is a set up for abuse and victimization. Indeed, the literature on sexual abuse does make connections between both sexual and spiritual abuse and between authoritarian governance within the home and within the church.

Some authorities suggest that fundamentalist, authoritarian churches are more likely than others to contain incestuous families. (There even may be a vicious cycle where incest encourages authoritarianism in the church and authoritarianism attracts abusive individuals to the church and encourages more incest and so on.)

All of this is good reason for rejecting the present Worldwide Church of God Church Governance Plan, which affirms and confirms the sick hierarchy that Armstrong engendered -- along with Worldwide Church of God ethics documents that aim to prop up the system by requiring all pastors to pledge loyalty to the headquarters hierarchy and ecclesiastical superiors. This, of course, would ethically coopt any pastors who might consider challenging the system in the future.

Those who now consider themselves to be real Protestants (or authentic, orthodox Christians) have to somehow work their way past this perverted patriarchal polity.

One must also wonder why a supposedly non-cultic church leader would want to wear Armstrong's mantle and carry on as if this patriarchal and absolutist "pastor-general" polity was somehow self-legitimating. Why wouldn't he just be too ashamed to do so?

 

The Plain Truth

The Worldwide Church of God's May/June 1997 Plain Truth magazine presents -- with no apparent sense of irony -- a generally well-done and helpful article on recovering from father-daughter incest. (There was no mention in the article of the credible public allegations that Worldwide Church of God- and Plain Truth-founder Armstrong was himself involved in an ongoing incestuous relationship. Nor was there such mention in the July/August 1997 Plain Truth's article on child abuse.)

It is also interesting that the pathology of father-daughter incest, described so well in the article, closely parallels the pathology of the Worldwide Church of God exiters' and would-be-exiters' relationships with the church. For instance, the anonymous Plain Truth writer says her father, when faced with the angry hurts of an older daughter who had halted the actual sexual violation, "believes I am being unforgiving and unchristian and that I will never be happy."

That's also essentially what the Worldwide Church of God today suggests to its exiters.

They are given to understand that because they have exited or are contemplating exiting over continuing authoritarian abuses (if the actual abuses can't be denied or minimized), they are "unforgiving" and therefore, if not actually unchristian, at least seriously defective. The moral and ethical burden is flipped around.

Somehow the victim is at fault for responding to the abuse -- instead of the actual perpetrator of the abuse, whether incestuous father or authoritarian church, being at fault.

Continuing with the article: "He told me I should be able to forgive and forget if I was a true Christian." Wow! That's almost exactly what Worldwide Church of God pastors today tell exiters and would-be exiters when the pastors are confronted about continuing abuses and cult-like governance within the Worldwide Church of God.

Further in the same article: "He feels it is my responsibility for perpetuating the sin by refusing to 'move on' while he has done that." This is also almost identical to Worldwide Church of God Pastor General Joseph Tkach Jr.'s actual advice in the March/April 1996 Plain Truth magazine to those abused by the Worldwide Church of God.

Misapplying Phil 3: 13 -- which Paul certainly never meant as an instruction for victims of religious abuse to just forget it -- Tkach in essence told wounded Worldwide Church of God members that they needed to forget it and move on.

Triumphalism

In a signed article titled "Forgive us our trespasses," Tkach confessed the Worldwide Church of God's legacy of spiritual abuse. "We exercised a strongly legalistic approach to church government. ... We don't minimize your spiritual disorientation and confusion. We earnestly desire your understanding and forgiveness."

This kind of statement, as far as it went, was certainly most welcome. However, what followed was not. Tkach then told his wounded readers:

"But we cannot live in the past. We must rise above our past. We must move on. [Emphasis mine.] We say, with the apostle Paul: 'Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.' (Philippians 3: 13-14)"

Despite Tkach's tendentious take here, what Paul is really talking about in this passage is Paul himself forgetting about his own legalistic, Hebraic religious accomplishments. Paul was, "as for legalistic righteousness, faultless," he explained in verse 6. That was what Paul was forgetting as so much rubbish in verses 7-11.

Though it is perhaps possible that Tkach may be speaking here of himself and others in the Worldwide Church of God ministry, his use of the passage seems more likely to be understood by Tkach's readers as Paul's instruction to abused Christians to stuff it in, forget it and triumphalistically "move on" with the Worldwide Church of God. So abuse is spiritualized away, and the burden of guilt is seemingly shifted from the victimizer to the victim.

Regardless of intent, this is a serious spiritual abuse.

 

Can't-talk rule

Regardless of what Tkach actually intended in his article, I have personally heard Worldwide Church of God sermons telling abused members "the time for mourning is over" and "we need to move on ahead." So this passage in Philippians has been misinterpreted into an implicit can't-talk rule for abused Christians. Only if they put all their wounds in the past tense -- at real psychological and spiritual risk -- can they be fully accepted under this interpretation.

The class of people responsible, even if unwittingly, for visiting the legalistic abuse on the members and friends of the Worldwide Church of God -- the Worldwide Church of God's paid ministry, including Tkach himself -- now finds itself in the curious position of trying to supervise the healing process. This creates a clearly identifiable conflict of interest.

The ethical problem that current Worldwide Church of God leaders refuse to face up to is that former abusers (read here, almost the entire Worldwide Church of God ministry prior to 1994) can rarely become the healers of victims of their own abuse. There is just an inherent conflict of interest between those two roles.

A formerly (we hope) abusive pastor-become healer will be tempted to minimize the full dimensions of the harm done to the flock. It may just be too threatening to face it squarely and openly -- because of personal guilt and shame and because of legal and professional threats to the pastor's own personal economic interests.

(The Worldwide Church of God still pays all full-time pastors directly from headquarters. This gives its pastors a powerful economic incentive to put loyalty to the hierarchy above loyalty to the flock and even above loyalty to Jesus Christ. Money really can be an effective motivator.)

So wounded Worldwide Church of God members need to look directly to Jesus Christ, who also suffered, (See Hebrews 2: 17-3: 1) rather than losing heart by looking to an ethically obtuse leadership at Worldwide Church of God headquarters to first somehow figure out how to heal itself and then heal the church membership. (See Hebrews 12: 2-3)

Help for healing

In my opinion, wounded Worldwide Church of God members really need to go outside the Worldwide Church of God system and its theologically confused and possibly economically blinded ministry to find help for healing. (See Matthew 15: 14; 23: 14-16)

Unless the current Worldwide Church of God leadership is willing to surrender enough control to bring in competent outside experts on religious abuse, internal attempts at promoting healing run by the current leadership may even compound the injury. Such attempts by Worldwide Church of God pastors are likely to end up serving more the interests of the institution and its shepherds than the interests of the wounded flock, in those situations where interests conflict.

And those interests do conflict significantly, just as the interests of an incest victim conflict with those of the victimizer -- even a repentant victimizer. So the Worldwide Church of God's shepherds could easily end up once again neglecting or psychologically feeding upon the sheep. (See John 10: 12-13; Ezekiel 34: 1-22)

 

Forgiving

I'm not advocating non-forgiveness. Forgiveness is essential, despite some of the secular literature on sexual abuse to the contrary. All Christians must ultimately forgive their enemies and their tormentors. But such forgiveness of those who have hurt us at the very core of our being is much more to the benefit of the forgiver than the forgiven.

A wrong that is unforgiven will continue to torment the heart of the victim. Sometimes until the victim is eaten away on the inside. So the forgiveness that Jesus patiently and gently leads us toward ultimately cuts the sick link that remains between the victim and the victimizer.

Forgiveness is really a declaration of independence -- from the victimizer.

By turning over the victimizer and anything the victimizer owes us to God, we sever the hold that the victimizer continues to hold over us -- even if we have largely suppressed our anger below the level of consciousness, where it continues to boil and fester and eat away at us. That is why Jesus insists that in order to be forgiven ourselves, we must ourselves forgive those who have harmed us. (See Matthew 6: 12-15; 18:35; Colossians 3: 13)

Forgiveness extended to others ultimately means freedom for ourselves -- not only from God's wrath toward our sins but also from the internal wrath that an unforgiven victimizer continues to wreak within the very soul of the unforgiving victim.

But it may not mean trusting

Yet as the anonymous Plain Truth writer has so aptly stated about forgiving her abusive father, "that doesn't mean I can trust him again." Forgiveness and trust are two very separate questions.

We must forgive in order to become healthy. But we need to be somewhat cautious about whom we trust in order to remain healthy.

Forgiveness also does not mean forgetting, at least for human beings. Nor does it mean that we deny our past, submerge our anger or give up the right to confront the abuser. In fact, honestly facing our painful past, owning our anger and actually confronting our abuser, where appropriate, seem to be an essential part of the healing process.

Forgiveness really means admitting just how badly the abuser hurt us -- but then turning him and the full dimensions of his harm to us, as well as any right we have to exact revenge, over to God. So we surrender the abuser into God's hands.

"Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord." (Romans 12: 19 NIV)

 

My own difficulty in forgiving

With great personal difficulty, I have forgiven one of my tormentors from my decades-ago Worldwide Church of God past. This man -- even though he really didn't understand the harm he did at the time and I think really does not fully understand it today, even though he has many very good and winning qualities -- caused me no end of spiritual and personal pain. Despite our having essentially no contact for two decades. Until I forgave him.

First I confronted. I sent a letter -- which was received but not responded to. (He later said he might have been scared.) Then I left a phone message. After two or three phone messages, he called back. We talked for about an hour. I explained how I'd been hurt. Though I'm not sure he really understood how he'd done that much damage, he apologized.

I told him I forgave him.

Then the dam broke. I began weeping on the telephone. Something from deep within me was released.

I have since stopped having a knot in my stomach whenever I think about him. Though I had prayed about him and my betrayal for years and had repeatedly placed the whole matter in God's hands, it took actually saying the words, "I forgive you."

So I have forgiven, with Jesus' help, just as he has forgiven me. And I have received from God much more than I gave up to God by forgiving.

Forgiveness is a profoundly powerful act of self-liberation that God's healing help and graceful guidance nudges us toward. It is inescapably intertwined with God's liberation of us.

Forgiveness cuts us free from the captive thinking that gives the abuser continuing control over our inner life. Forgiving -- but not necessarily forgetting -- cuts the chains and sets us free. I still don't want to be in a dependency relationship with this man. I don't think he really understands the sins of the system he still upholds, I don't have to trust him. But I must continue to forgive him -- for my sake even more than his.

Forgiveness can't be demanded

However, our abusers cannot insist that we forgive them. They have no right to demand it or instruct us about it or manipulate our feelings about it. They can ask for it, but they can't demand it. For forgiveness to be real forgiveness, it must be totally voluntary.

But at some point -- after admitting and facing the painful past, adequately expressing our anger and even confronting our abuser -- we Christians must freely choose to forgive.

When we do, we demonstrate that our Christ and his love are more powerful than the abuser and the abuse visited upon us. This is why it is so critical to thankfully recognize that we have a suffering savior. We have, thank God, a crucified, humiliated Christ who loved us enough to enter into very similar experience so our brokenness could be healed by his.

This is what Luther called a Theology of the Cross. He contrasted it with the Theology of Glory that resonated with the power and perks of the princes of the Roman Catholic Church, but not with the suffering subjects of that sinful system.

This opens another interesting question. Then as today, we must honestly observe that there can be many authentic Christians who find themselves doing their Christianity within abusive and sinful church systems.

But we really do have freedom in Christ. So where there is the opportunity, we have the right to exit such abusive and sinful systems for healthier churches, after making reasonable attempts at reform to try to make the old system better.

Because we have choices and freedom, we can also sometimes accept levels of risk in our ministries that we just could not if there were no other fellowships to go to.

 

False normalization

The problem for Worldwide Church of God exiters, even after they deal with forgiveness, is that they often normalize their abnormal experiences. This often happens without even realizing it.

One can take the boy out of the country, but one can't always take the country out of the boy. Likewise, we can exit the Worldwide Church of God's continuing cultic church control system, but still carry the cultic thinking right out the door with us. It can continue to do untold harm even years later, unless confronted and dealt with.

The sad truth is cultic thinking is portable.

Just as abused women sometimes believe all men are "like that," Worldwide Church of God exiters often allow themselves to believe all organized Christian churches are "like that." Both beliefs are wrong and can have tragic results if not cognitively challenged and then emotionally exorcized.

All men are not "like that."

Nor are all churches "like that." When we begin to correct faulty thinking, the door then opens toward repairing unhealthy feelings and altering maladaptive behaviors.

The Worldwide Church of God's pastor-general form of organization is profoundly abnormal and aberrant -- based as it seems to be on Armstrong's incestuous history and mirroring the organization and internal culture typical for many incestuous families.

We can accurately call the Worldwide Church of God pastor-general system a perverted polity. It clearly violates the New Testament's mandates for mutual submission, for viewing the church as a brotherhood and for non-lordship church polity. (See Ephesians 5: 21; Matthew 23: 8; Luke 22: 25-26) We can also confidently speak about its sinful structures. There is, of course, a wide range of church government styles not incompatible with scripture -- all of which would maintain a meaningful accountability for church leaders.

But structures that contradict the mandates of the Gospel and that cause or allow abuse of the little ones coming to Christ can and should be spoken of as sinful.

The incestuous model is not the norm

Those Worldwide Church of God members who choose to reject the sinful structures and exit the system should understand that an incestuous model of church government is not the norm within organized Christianity. This is no more true than the belief that all fathers are child molesters or that all men are abusive of women.

There is healthy Christianity outside the Worldwide Church of God. And thank God there is so much of it! There are also healthy Christian organizations outside the Worldwide Church of God. And thank God there are so many of them, with so many different styles of non-authoritarian governance.

Very few churches duplicate the sinful structures of authoritarian hierarchy found within the Worldwide Church of God -- though we must sadly acknowledge that there do exist outside the Worldwide Church of God a number of authoritarian and unhealthy denominations and congregations and parachurch organizations. Some of them even have very orthodox-sounding theologies. (Good resources on this question are Ronald Enroth's books: Churches That Abuse and Recovering From Churches That Abuse.)

Ultimately a church's orthodoxy must be confirmed by its orthopraxis.

Another way of saying this is that a church must practice what it preaches. If it preaches the Gospel, it should be expected to live by the Gospel. (If it talks about a priesthood of all believers, it should have a priesthood of all believers -- and not a hierarchy.)

Otherwise its witness is at least partially false and its claims need not be taken very seriously by either the world or by the larger Christian community or by its own members.

 

Taking a break

It may be necessary for some believers exiting the Worldwide Church of God who have been badly wounded to take a therapeutic break from organized religion for a while. This may involve weeks or even months.

It may also involve competent and sympathetic non-Worldwide Church of God pastoral counseling or even more in-depth counseling from a treatment center like Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center in Athens, Ohio, which specializes in recovery counseling for former cultists and maintains its own Internet website. (The literature on cult exits indicates that taking some time off to clear one's thinking and assess where one has been and where one is going can be a healthy choice in some circumstances.)

But staying permanently away from organized religion will keep the Worldwide Church of God exiter away from those healthy churches and healthy spiritual supports and healthy Christian friendships that could very much hasten and heighten the healing process. Healthy churches can also serve as an antidote to the tendency to normalize distorted thinking and cultic theologies that are still with us, even though we may no longer physically be in a cultic church structure.

Staying permanently away from all organized churches is for a believing Worldwide Church of God exiter no more healthy than staying permanently away from all men is for the incest victim.

Some caution can be healthy

A degree of caution and wariness may be normal and even healthy for both. It may lessen the chances of revictimization for both the Worldwide Church of God exiter and the incest victim.

Jesus calls us to spiritual health and wholeness. (See Luke 4: 18-19)

Jesus explained his Gospel in terms of freedom for the enslaved, sight for the blind, release for the oppressed and really believing the proclamation of God's acceptance and grace. For God truly does accept and favor the victim.

God truly loves both the confused Worldwide Church of God exiter and the frightened incest victim.

He loves, favors, accepts and heals both. But even with God's love, we must allow God's healing power to touch us and change us, and we must allow him to lead us.

Ultimately God's grace and acceptance must lead us into healthy relationships with other Christians. And this means -- at some point, when the healing process is well underway -- re-establishing ties with healthy, non-abusive, non-hierarchical, authentically Christ-centered churches.

They won't be perfect churches.

And they may not even have a theology we totally agree with in every particular. But they will be healthy and authentically Christian. It is in these healthy and normal and healing church relationships that we can encourage other believers and be encouraged ourselves, all the more when times are tough and we see the Day approaching. (See Hebrews 10: 24-25)

 

Checking out other churches

We should exercise due care and discernment to make sure the new church relationship is non-toxic, non-hierarchical and non-abusive in its internal culture and structure. (See Ephesians 5: 21; Luke 22; 24-26; Matthew 23: 8-15) One of the worst things that could happen to a Worldwide Church of God exiter is to jump prematurely into another congregation or denomination that replicates some of the authoritarian and therefore abusive features of the Worldwide Church of God.

Good questions to ask when looking at a church include:
Whom does the pastor account to? Exactly how does this work? What does your church teach about church authority? What does your church teach about the role of women in the home? What does your church teach about the role of women in the church?

Often authoritarian beliefs about church polity will be reflected in authoritarian beliefs about subservience of women at home and in the church. They tend to be linked.

If you get funny vibrations about the one, ask careful questions about the other as well. (Good resources on the women's question are Patricia Gundry's books Woman Be Free and Neither Slave Nor Free and Ruth Tucker's Women in the Maze.)

As we exit the Worldwide Church of God, we must also leave behind cultic Worldwide Church of God thinking and notions about church polity that contradict the scriptures. We must not normalize the abnormal and aberrant Worldwide Church of God church organization and its inevitable abuses as typical of all organized Christianity.

"Disorganized Christianity"

In a sense, we might choose to call a brotherhood-sisterhood form of church governance -- as is found in congregational denominations such as the Baptist Church and the Disciples of Christ -- a "disorganized Christianity." Especially if the term "organized Christianity" pushes negative hot buttons for us.

The absence of central authority creates a more free-wheeling atmosphere, makes pastors and denominational or convention officials accountable and minimizes opportunities for spiritual abuse. Yet these churches get along just fine, even with a "disorganized" congregational polity. And, especially with the Baptists, we note no essential barriers to church growth and vitality.

Are the words "organized Christianity" a barrier? Then choose the "disorganized Christianity" of congregational denominations that attempt to closely follow the scriptural non-lordship, accountability and brotherhood-sisterhood mandates and that effectively protect the flock against abusive shepherds.

However, this is not to say that Worldwide Church of God exiters could not do well in churches with presbyterian or episcopal polity. The key is that the presbyters or bishops must in some meaningful way be accountable and answerable to the people of God. Bodies like the Lutheran Church, Presbyterian Church and the Methodist Church also have real downward accountability mechanisms. But they may not be as attractive to battered Worldwide Church of God exiters as the congregational denominations.

My personal recommendation to Worldwide Church of God exiters would be to exercise caution about completely independent congregations. In some cases, the lack of external accountability allows pastors to take on too large a role in the life of the church.

Worldwide Church of God exiters must create new mental constructs of what healthy Christianity is, based upon the testimony of Scripture, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and contact with authentically healthy Christians outside the old toxic faith system.

This means finding and joining healthy, normal Christian churches.

 

Hope for healing from God

When we humble ourselves under God's mighty hand -- by seeking his help, direction and wisdom within a healthy church system where elders and pastors and denominational leaders don't lord it over their charges, where all are clothed in mutual humility and appropriate accommodation to one another -- God will lift us up. He will do it through the loving care of Jesus, our faithful chief shepherd. (See I Peter 5: 1-7)

This is because he truely cares for the anxieties and anguish of everyone who has been abused. God truly loves the wounded Worldwide Church of God exiter. ... Jesus really loves you.

Borrowing an interpretation from Wellspring's cult-recovery experts Ron and Vicki Burks (authors of the book Damaged Disciples), we turn to Joel 2. (This is the prophesy that Luke uses to set up his history of the explosion of the church upon and into the world in the book of Acts, quoting from Peter's Pentecost sermon.) When we turn back wholeheartedly to the Lord, rending our hearts and not our garments (in mere external religious forms), God will turn and bless us.

He will repay us for the wasted years, the years the swarms of locusts have devoured -- hungry ecclesiastical locusts named Herbert, Ted, Stanley, etc. etc. etc. -- until everything green was stripped from many of our lives. (See Joel 2: 12-14, 25-27) "And my people will never again be put to shame." God will repay us the years the locusts devoured and never put us to shame again.

Then reading again from I Peter 5: 10-11, also in the Revised English Bible, "After your brief suffering, the God of all grace, who called us to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you on a firm foundation. All power belongs to him for ever and ever! Amen."

William D. Meyer
Geneva, Ohio

 

Further resources for recovery from spiritual abuse

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church, by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen, Bethany House, 1991.

When God's People Let You Down: How to Rise Above the Hurts that Often Occur Within the Church, by Jeff VanVonderen, Bethany House, 1995.

Damaged Disciples: Casualties of Authoritarian Churches and the Shepherding Movement, by Ron Burks and Vicki Burks, Zondervan, 1992.

Breaking Free: Rescuing Families from the Clutches of Legalism, by David R. Miller, Baker Book House, 1992.

The Authoritarian Personality, by T.W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel J. Levinson and R. Nevitt Sanford, Norton, 1969.

Manana: Christian Theology from a Hispanic Perspective, by Justo L. Gonzalez, Abingdon, 1990.

Freedom from the Performance Trap: Letting Go of the Need to Achieve, by David A. Seamands, Victor Books, 1991.

 

Further resources for recovery from sexual abuse

Healing for Damaged Emotions: Recovering from the Memories that Cause Our Pain, by David A. Seamands, Victor Books, 1991.

If Only: Moving Beyond Blame to Belief, by David A. Seamands, Victor Books, 1995.

Helping Victims of Sexual Abuse: A Sensitive, Biblical Guide for Counselors, Victims and Families, by Lynn Heitritter and Jeanette Vought, Bethany House, 1989.

Women, Abuse and the Bible: How Scripture Can Be Used to Hurt or Heal, Catherine Clark Kroeger and James R. Beck, eds., Baker Books, 1996.

The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse, by Dan B. Allender, NavPress, 1995.

Christians in Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse: Escaping the Shadows, Seeking the Light, by C. Brewer, HarperCollins, 1991.

Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse, by J.J. Freyd, Harvard University Press, 1996.

Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches, by C.H. Heggen, Herald Press, 1993.

(c) 1997, William D. Meyer. All rights reserved

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