- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 2 edition (July 18, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1499332858
- ISBN-13: 978-1499332858
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,006,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Schizophrenic Christianity:: How Christian Fundamentalism Attracts and Protects Sociopaths, Abusive Pastors, and Child Molesters 2nd Edition
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Fundamentalism claims to be the last remaining group of pure Christians. (I literally saw one Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church website that stated that Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches were the only true churches.) However, within their ranks are many leaders who have engaged in grievous sin, including adultery, prostitution, pornography, and even murder. Massi has uncovered 80 such cases, some of which she shares in this book. Based on my own research, reading, and experience, I would estimate that there are many more.
This book is especially focused on the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches. However, to some extent, it also applies to many outside of that specific movement, including the broader Baptist church and other conservative churches such as the Mennonites (my own background). The same tactics that de-humanize those with whom the IFB preachers disagree (allowing them to attack, discredit, and ignore those people) are also used by most conservatives, to some degree.
One thing I appreciated about this book is that Massi has not thrown out the baby with the bathwater. Unlike some other ex-fundamentalists I have seen, she does not challenge the inspiration and authority of Scripture, try to change God into a fuzzy teddy bear/boyfriend/genie in a bottle who doesn't care what you do, or fall into the error of liberal theology. Instead, she encourages people to leave behind the controls of men, follow the Bible, and seek a relationship with Christ.
A minor point that bothered me was the layout/typesetting of this book, which was rather amateur. However, while I saw a typo or two, the content was, for the most part, well-written and free of glaring grammatical and spelling errors (which quickly annoy me). Whatever problems there may be with the design, this book is still well worth reading. I highly recommend it.
The author rightly points out that the Biblical model for church polity is a plurality of elders, a practice that would provide mutual accountability. She also believes that the extreme independence of these IFB churches and their lack of accountability to other churches contributes to uncorrected sexual sin. Her own orientation seems to be Presbyterian. She believes that connections between churches which are found in some denominations would make abuses harder to hide and provide a vehicle for disciplining or excommunicating bad churches. There are, nevertheless, weaknesses in her argument. If such a connection between churches would solve the problem, how do we explain cases of sexual immorality being long hidden in churches that have such interdependence, such as the Roman Catholic Church?
The problem with Massi's views? She has a heart for the victims of sexual abuse but gives few concrete, realistic suggestions for fixing the problems. She writes: "Christian leaders must cross local church lines to purity Christian Fundamentalism." (p. 200) And just how is this to be done? We are often stymied by the principle that "every matter must be established in the mouth of two or three witnesses." (Mat. 18:16). Rumors and secondary sources (which she sometimes uses) are inadequate. To take Biblical or legal action facts must be clearly established. How can I know (except by hearsay) what the facts are in some church remote to my own? Our best defense would still seem to be the need for every believer to know and act upon the principles of Scripture.
This book would have benefitted greatly with more careful editing, an index (especially of names), and a much more relevant, extensive, and accessible bibliography. Lack of adequate footnoting was also a serious defect. Nevertheless, Jeri Massi has performed a signal service in demonstrating that authoritarian legalism fosters the very corruption that it claims to be able to overcome.
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