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Spiritual Abuse Titles Spiritual abuse is the mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining or decreasing that person's spiritual empowerment.

 
 
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Old 08-13-2008, 03:13 PM   #1
Igzy
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Default Signs of Spiritual Abuse by Steven Lambert

As posted at:
http://www.slm.org/trtdigst/articles/abuse.html

The Signs Of Spiritual Abuse
By Steven Lambert, ThD


Are you one of the many loyal and sincere church members who faithfully and cheerfully attend, support and participate in a local church, but have a nagging, persistent inward "thought" that "something is just not right here?"............

Then, you begin realizing, somehow, somewhere along the line you began losing your joy, your zeal for the Lord. It used to be you could hardly wait for the services and to be involved; now it is drudgery to go at all. You used to have such a light and blissful feeling as you worshiped the Lord in the services; now you just go through the motions, feeling heavy, staring placidly toward the platform, sometimes wishing you were somewhere else.....

"What on earth has happened to me? What's wrong with me?" you ask yourself. "Is it just me?" Then, you begin to look around the room and study other long-time members. You compare how they are now to how they were when they first came. Is their life, as it should be, appreciably better, or have they and their family experienced an inordinate share of tragedies, seemingly inexplicable difficulties, and reversals? By and by, you begin to realize that many of the other members have lost their "first love" too, their zeal, their enthusiasm, their joy in serving the Lord, and that, though Christians, like everyone else, certainly experience adversity, many of these members' lives have been on a gradual, downward spiral, instead of advancement and blessing.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? If so, don't think you're alone—it's repeated several times every week by multitudes of sincere, faithful, and trusting believers. They've had this inward intuition for quite some time that something was just not right at their church or in their group, but just couldn't put their finger on precisely what it was. The teaching "sounded" right, all the right things were being said, good things were happening, many members were being "used" in various "ministries" of the church. Still, this nagging sense something is awry persists........

The following are some of the common signs and symptoms, or common characteristics, of authoritarian abuse manifest in hyper-authoritarian groups, churches, networks, and ministries....

1. Apotheosis of the leadership — exalting them to God-like status in and over the group;
2. Multi-level authority/government hierarchy;
3. Absolute authority of the leadership;
4. No real accountability of the leadership to the corporate body;
5. Hand-picked sub-leaders, based on their demonstration of submissiveness to the ultimate leader rather than on the basis of their leadership skills, spirituality, and anointing and appointment by God;
6. Pervasive abuse and misuse of authority in personal dealings with members;
7. Paranoia and insecurity by the leaders;
8. Abuse, misuse, and inordinate incidence of "church discipline;"
9. Personal materialism, covetousness, and self-aggrandizement by the leaders;
10. Members and/or sub-leaders must make a "spiritual covenant," sometimes a signed covenant agreement, pledging their total commitment and financial support to the leadership and church/ministry;
11. Partitioning of the group into smaller groups that are led by internally "raised up" lay-leaders who have not been anointed or appointed by God for leadership within the church;
12. Financial exploitation and enslavement of the members;
13. Inordinate attention to maintaining the public "image" of the ministry;
14. Doctrinal demeanment and devaluation — the requisite of espousing and teaching "sound doctrine" is demeaned and devalued;
15. Theological incompetency by the leadership, especially with respect to the rules of hermeneutics and Bible exegesis employed in the formulation of doctrine, giving license to twisting and adulteration of Scripture in order to provide proof-texts for unorthodox and invented doctrines;
16. Spiritualism, mysticism, and unproven doctrines;
17. Abuse and misuse of prophetic giftings as a means to dominate and intimidate;
18. Devaluation, disallowance, disregard, and displacement of the true Fivefold Ministry within the church;
19. De facto legalism, or works mentality, and its resulting loss of the "joy of salvation," though "freedom" is forever preached from the pulpit and the church is constantly touted as being a "safe church" by the leadership;
20. Esotericism — hidden agendas and requirements revealed to members only as they successfully advance through various stages of "spiritual enlightenment," i.e., unorthodox, unproven indigenous doctrines;
21. Isolationism — corporate and individual, especially with respect to exposure to outside ministry sources;
22. Performance-based approval and promotion system of members predicated on "proven" "loyalty" (i.e., submission) to the leadership;
23. Devaluation, suppression, and non-recognition of members' bona fide God-given talents, abilities, gifts, callings, and anointing, as a means of subjugation;
24. Requiring members to perform menial tasks, such as cleaning toilets, setting up chairs, and acting as the leader's personal valet or slave, as a supposed means to humble them and teach them to "obey their leaders;"
25. Constant indoctrination with a "group" or "family" mentality that impels members to exalt the corporate "life" and goals of the church-group over their personal goals, callings, and objectives;
26. Members are psychologically traumatized and indoctrinated with numerous improper fears and phobias aimed at keeping them reeling in diffidence and an over-dependence or co-dependence on their leaders and the corporate group;
27. Corporately, there eventually develops an inordinately high incidence of financial, marital, moral, psychological, mental, emotional, and medical problems, including sudden deaths and contraction of "incurable" and "unknown" diseases;
28. Lack of true personal spiritual growth and development, especially in terms of genuine faith and experiencing the abounding grace, forgiveness, goodness, blessings, kindness, and agape-love of God;
29. Members are required to obtain the approval or "witness" of their leader(s) for decisions regarding personal matters;
30. Frequent preaching from the pulpit regarding not getting out from under the "spiritual covering" of the leadership;
31. Members departing without the prior permission and blessing of the leadership leave the group under a cloud of manufactured suspicion, shame, and slander;
32. Horror stories frequently told by leaders about individuals or families who left the group without the prior permission and blessing of the leadership, and the terrible consequences and curses they suffered as a result;
33. Departing members often suffer from various psychological problems and display the classic symptoms associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
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