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The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church Paperback – October 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers; Reprint edition (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764201379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764201370
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Johnson has been the senior pastor at Church of the Open Door in Maple Grove, Minnesota, since 1980. During this time, the church has grown from a congregation of 160 to 3,000 people. A much sought-after speaker, he is a graduate of Bethel College and received his theological training at Bethel Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. His Growing in Grace radio broadcast is syndicated internationally. David and his family live in Minnesota.

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Customer Reviews

A good read and more than that, very enlightening.
E. Moton
If you're just coming out of an abusive, opressive religious situation then this book is one of the things that can really help you to recover!
Joshua
I read this book several years back and need a new copy.
C. Evaul

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

132 of 136 people found the following review helpful By Lara McClintock on August 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
It's right on target. I've seen all of the signs of spiritual abuse in several churches I've attended, and I'm in a church now where the signs do not exist among the leadership (and it's easy to dodge the self-righteous members who do practice any of the bad signs... no church is perfect). The difference between churches that use manipulation and those that practice grace is like night and day.
The key to preventing spiritual abuse is balance. God has placed boundaries around ministers and laypeople alike which should not be crossed. When the "leaders" run roughshod over the church members' boundaries while misusing Scripture to protect themselves from legitimate criticism, something is wrong. Pastors cannot claim authority reserved solely for God or expect to control people in ways that only the Holy Spirit can do. God has rules for leaders to obey, and ways for laymen to confront leaders about sin.
I have to disagree very strongly with those who say that this book is anti-leadership or that this book causes problems in churches.
One of the examples used in the book is about a pastor whose congregation expected too much of him. Yes, some churches do place burdens on pastors that are too hard to bear; so this book is for wounded ministers as much as for wounded laypeople. Yes, we're guilty of expecting our pastors do do everything when God really gives ministries to every believer.
Van Vonderen and Johnson warn people who read the book not to use what they have learned as a weapon, but to take action only in the proper spirit. Of course, any time someone takes action in a church, real problems will become visible. My question in every case is: are those problems caused by those speaking out, or have they been there all along and are only now being exposed?
Read more ›
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79 of 84 people found the following review helpful By mary willits on March 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book was the best book I've read on spiritual abuse issues. It covers all areas: from being spiritually abused, why things go wrong in the churches today, how to recognize an abusive system, to recovering and returning to a right relationship with God, one of faith, hope, love, and grace. These are the things that build a relationship, and create change in our lives. It's not about rules, regulations, being obedient to leaders, and having people tell you their perception and belief of God's will for your life. That's why God gave us His Word, and we are to grow in a relationship with Him. He will do the work in us , we could not do ourselves. This book was the key to helping our family get our lives back together after having experienced abuse in a church. It not only validated us, but it is packed full of scriptures to search the truth out for yourself, to really look at what the Bible is saying, to whom, why, and to see Jesus's true character, and heart of God's Word. What a blessing! I noticed a person was sort of negative in their response to this book, and spoke of how we are to submit to leaders, etc. The Bible tells us to submit to leaders who speak the truth, who operate in the "fruits of the spirit," and who love (both saints and sinners alike). How can we get to the lost, and get them saved if we are to self-righteous to reach out to them, and love them enough to meet them where they are. Self-righteousness sends people away from God, not toward him. Legalism is based on getting right with God, not how to have a relationship with Him.Read more ›
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Ron Ravensborg on February 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Full disclosure is probably necessary at this point: I not only attend the church where the author (David) preaches, I work for him, too. I can attest to his personal integrity and his commitment to proper, evangelical Biblical exegesis.
This book is one of the top two or three on the topic, and I highly recommend it to others. It's insightful, timely, and has plenty of examples to help "shine the light" on bad situations. I know it's effective, too: we receive hundreds of messages every year from those who have read the book and now feel liberated to love God again.
In no way does the book encourge parishoners to villify their pastors, or go looking for occasions to "feel abused." It does, however, help expose an all-too-frequent phenomena of pastors who, in the name of God, abuse their authority to achieve their own destructive desires.
God Bless!
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Cathy Jones on January 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
"The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" confronts in an open and honest way--and deals with in a clear and straightforward way--issues that too many in the Christian community too often refuse to admit and face up to and deal with because these serious issues are not clean and pretty and tidy--they're dirty and messy and embarrassing; and it takes time and much effort to make healthy changes. It takes a lot of courage for anyone to admit to the truth (and uncover the truth) of what goes on "behind closed doors" in some churches (and families). Until these serious issues are first acknowledged, nothing ever changes or has the opportunity to make the necessary healthy changes. It takes integrity and courage and unconditional love to take a stand. David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen have written a tremendously courageous book. This book does not attack--it simply demonstrates the love and honor these men have for God and His principles and it demonstrates the courage these men have in standing up for those Biblical principles. This book, together with Mr. VanVonderen's other two books, "Tired of Trying to Measure Up" and "Families Where Grace Is In Place" are excellent resources for those who have been wounded by other Christians to receive hope and encouragement and the reassurance that not all Christians and not all churches are harmful--that emotional and spiritual healing can come about and the wounded can eventually be able to move on in life. We are encouraged to use wisdom and discernment and common sense. I recommend these books highly. Consider buying extra copies to give out to loved ones or friends who you know are hurting deeply because they've been wounded by the very people they trusted to love and care about them.
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