One of the best books I’ve read this year is 15 years old. The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse should be required reading for anyone involved in ministry. Reading through the stories was like a journey in to my own past. The authors do a great job of debunking the biblical misinterpretations that serve as the doctrinal foundation for abusive religious systems.
The book is very valuable in how it reveals the negative impact of manipulation and false spiritual authority. The authors truly understand grace and freedom in Christ. They demonstrate how the tactics and methods churches often use to get people to behave well ultimately damage them and bar them from the kingdom of God. To illustrate the different kinds of dysfunction in church leadership they use examples of the pharisees in Matthew 23.
I think it is excellent reading for anyone in spiritual leadership. The pressure to find religious success can sometimes tempt leaders to manipulate others in to commitment they wouldn’t make other wise. It could be a commitment to give money or time or behave a certain way. In this situation people can become pawns sacrificed for the greater cause. The people begin to exist for the ministry rather than the ministry existing for the people. The book provides an important reminder that each person has value and should be treated as such with full respect for their freedom in Christ.
The book confronts the religious systems that prop up spiritually abusive leaders. If you have been spiritually abused by someone this book will help you sort out your experience. If you are a spiritual leader this book will help you understand how best treat the a greatest asset the church has, its people.