Personal Story: I am a Spiritual Abuse Survivor


A spiritual abuse survivor shares her personal story

A long-time reader recovering from spiritual abuse recently shared her story with me and has given me permission to share it with you. She is choosing to remain anonymous. It is very well written.  I’m going to issue a trigger warning for content related to:  spiritual abuse, spanking. This story is intense, so make sure you are exercise caution if you are easily triggered.


Responses to Lawsuit Filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries





I am a Spiritual Abuse Survivor

by Anonymous

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I am a spiritual abuse survivor.
I am a spiritual abuse survivor.
I am a spiritual abuse survivor.

That six-word sentence is very hard for me to say. When my therapist asked me to write that down on my paper, I didn’t know the wave of emotions those six words would have on me. Am I really, truly a spiritual abuse survivor? That sounds so serious. So big. I struggle to grasp it. Sure, abuse can be physical, emotional, and verbal. I get that. But spiritual? Come on, that sounds pathetic.

Yet, here I am. Four short months from turning 30 years old. I can hardly sit through a church service without breaking down crying. My shoulders and neck often ache when I leave the service because I have sat so tense. In almost every service, I get a strong feeling to run. Run outside to get some fresh air because I can’t breathe. Run and just sit in the van. But I will myself to stay in my seat. My hands tremble and I squeeze them so tight my fingers hurt. My heart pounds and my emotions come in waves. I can’t stop it.

I know it’s ridiculous and I tell myself to stop – that I’m being over dramatic and stupid.
But I can’t stop.
No matter how hard I try.
I leave the service feeling exhausted.

Is this church ok? How can they be when they are not the traditional setting I’m used to? I’ve been warned my entire life about churches like this. I think of the pastors and leaders on the platform. What are they hiding? If I give them my heart and support their ministry, when will I get hurt again? Not if, but when. I don’t think I can take another rejection. I don’t think I can pour my all into a church and people, only to have them throw me away when I have questions. To disown me like I’ve never existed. I contemplate whether I even want to go to church anymore. I am so tired.

Four months from 30.
I have spent nearly 30 years of my life in church.
Nearly three decades. 1,549 weeks.
I have served in every way you can imagine, I have served my entire life.

Cleaning church buildings, doing church laundry, teaching many Sunday Schools, door knocking every weekend, decorating rooms, running and serving in VBS, singing with praise teams and choirs, playing musical instruments, being in church productions, helping plan services, using my artistic abilities, being a Children’s Director, working in the nursery, being a director in AWANA, and more. And what do I have to show for it?  After three decades, I have been rejected by almost everyone I’ve known in church.  I can count on one hand the church people, outside of family, who have stayed in contact with me on a regular basis. Less than 5 church people after 30 years. Sound devastating? You’re absolutely right.

You need to understand that church is all I’ve had most of my life. Growing up in an Independent Fundamental Baptist family, I was homeschooled and sheltered from the world.

There were no close, outside friends.
No play dates.
No sleepovers.
I was either at home or at church.

My church consisted of 20 people (my family of 4 included). I can still see the pastor up at his wooden pulpit. His black suit, white shirt and thin tie. I can still see his beady blue eyes, pointed nose and thin lips. The comb lines in his greasy, parted hair. This man reeked hatred. I can see him screaming at us with his veins bulging in his neck, face beat red and spit foaming at his mouth. I watch as the foam falls out of his mouth and onto the floor. I can see him pounding the pulpit, finger-pointing as he threw his tantrums like a toddler. I remember the time he completely lost it and cursed from the pulpit. I remember him walking on the backs of the pews just to intimidate. I can also remember him in the kitchen with my dad talking about my habit of biting my nails until they sometimes bled. His advice? I need more spankings. Like I hadn’t got enough already.

This man believed in breaking the child’s will. You spank until the child is completely conquered. He would say that when the child opens their mouth to cry and just air comes out – you got through. Horrific. I can remember sitting on pillows the next morning during school because my behind hurt so bad. I remember seeing the bruises after I got out of the shower. Blue, green and yellow. I remember getting the paddle broken on me and feeling relieved until the pastor supplied us with a new one. A piece of molding about 2 feet long. I remember getting spanked by my mom and waiting until my dad got home to get spanked again. I was told that I was spanked because I was loved. I hate those memories.

This man formed my first 12 years of life. His beliefs, ideology, standards and convictions were shoved and pushed into my brain. According to him, I was a worthless sinner who didn’t deserve anything from God. He would remind us how we were like “menstrual pads” in God’s eyes. Disgusting and worthless. God was just waiting for me to mess up, and then He would strike. Maybe it would be the death of my family. Maybe a house fire. Maybe a car accident.  God would use whatever it took to get my attention, and it would be all my fault.

My pastor would scream about hell and about us missing the rapture because we had a head knowledge of salvation and not a heart knowledge. “What a shame to miss heaven by 18 inches.” he would say.

I would be terrified.
I would go to the altar and silently beg God to forgive me.
To please not leave me after the rapture.
I would wake up some nights and think that I was left behind.
That God took my family to heaven and not me.

He would show us movies of people being left behind and getting beheaded by the antichrist. Christians who were burned alive and tortured for their faith. “God doesn’t play around,” he’d say. “You’re either all in or all out.” I reverenced this man. I thought of him and his family so highly that I honestly couldn’t imagine that they would ever have to go to the bathroom. How could people so perfect and close to God have such vile things come out of their bodies? Brainwashed? You betcha.

This mentality stayed with me into the next churches over my teenage years and adulthood. They were all Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches. I still didn’t have friends and my life still consisted of homeschool and church.  I remember at 14 going to the altar and repenting over my Frank Sinatra tapes.  Throw in Barbra Streisand, too. Why wasn’t I happy with just hymns? Patch the Pirate? It was my flesh. The flesh liked that music, but no more!

So I got rid of my tapes for the first of a several times. Fundamentalism ruled my life. My 14th birthday present was a book called Basic Theology by Charles Ryrie. I memorized huge portions of scripture for church. I went to fundamentalist summer camps where they pounded you with their standards from morning until night. No matter how far you came in your spiritual life, you were still so far from where they said you needed to be. It was never enough. The rules list was so long. It’s sad to think that the more they yelled, belittled and guilt tripped me, the better I thought the church was.

I met my husband in these types of churches. The rules list for courtship applied here too. The pain of our courtship was very sad. I hate talking about it even 10 years later. 2 years into our marriage, we decided to leave. We lost every one of our friendships and relationships, except one. I was told I couldn’t be around their kids because I wore pants. I was asked how a woman wearing pants could even be saved. We were told we were blinded by Satan. We would lose our kids, marriage, and God’s blessing. The threats and warnings seemed endless.

The church we decided to go was still IFB, still traditional, but much more lenient. After spending 6 years there and serving in every capacity we could, we recently left. Why? Because even though it was much less strict than we were used to, it became very abusive.

No matter how much we did, it was never enough.
Never enough serving.
Never enough money given.
I was called awful names.
We were shunned.

I was a Children’s and AWANA Director with 130+ volunteers under me. They all deserted me. Like I’d never existed. People who I did life with.  People who I babysat for. People who I visited in the hospital and bought gifts for. People I comforted and cried with. People who I had given my whole heart to. When we left, one of the pastors looked us square in the eyes and told us that the church would be able to see how spiritually mature we were if they heard we told anyone why we left.

The church has always been my identity – and I’ve lost it.
So here I am.
4 months from turning 30.
Standing with broken pieces of my heart scattered around me.
I am a stay-at-home, home-schooling mom (that changes next year), and I have no church home.
My family has no church home.

For the first time in my life, I am not serving in a church and I feel so guilty. I’m wonder if God’s going to punish me. I hurt. The church has left me with gaping wounds. Huge, horrific, deadly wounds. I am sometimes amazed that I still go to church. “The church is a hospital for the wounded,” I’ve heard. I disagree with that. In my experience, the church shoots their wounded. They beat you to a bloody pulp with their expectations, demands of service and unspoken rules, and as you lay there bleeding, they kick you and tell you to get up and keep going. They say, “Real Christians serve even when it hurts. Who are you serving – people or God? You need to give your all.”

Right now, I don’t have anything more to give.
Right now, the only I can do is will myself to stay in my seat and not run out of the door on Sunday morning.
Yes, I am a spiritual abuse survivor.


126 comments on “Personal Story: I am a Spiritual Abuse Survivor

  1. Yes, you certainly are a spiritual abuse survivor. And my heart goes out to you.

    These are the kinds of stories that make me want to swear – and believe me, I know all the words to use. I’m that kind of girl. I am so angry at what was done to you, anonymous. You DID NOT deserve it, not even one little bit of it. The thing is, if that’s the kind of god – the petty, fear-inspiring, malevolent being – that men want people to be following, then I say STUFF IT. (and you’re free to use other words, if you like)

    That pastor you described had – and probably still does have – problems. Huge ones. In fact, I have no problem telling you – and everyone reading – that’s he’s probably a psychopath. Yes, really. Somehow he found a job where he could hide – it’s maddening and deplorable that it was religion which provided him with the mask he needed
    Please know that you are not the person with the problem in this story. Again, my heart goes out to you and I am terribly sorry this happened to you. I wish you all the best as you go forward with your life – the trouble-free one that you deserve. You are good. You are kind. You are important.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I am so sorry for this person. I can see why someone would believe that they are only deserving of being stepped on and abused when that is what has been pounded into their head (and body) since childhood. First, you need to take care of yourself and to heal – get professional counseling from a provider who specializes in helping victims of abuse – both spiritual and physical.

    Secondly, there are other ways to be of service and walk your faith that don’t involve going to and participating in a church – volunteering at soup kitchens and food pantries or nursing homes, etc. Maybe put church on hold for awhile, until you feel strong enough to deal with it and serve in other ways instead.

    For what it’s worth, you’ll receive a lot of support here at SSB. Good luck and best wishes to you.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Please take some encouragement knowing that you have a church family out here in the larger community. Most of us will never know you personally. But having experienced at least some small measure of spiritual abuse we can understand your situation and do consider you to be a part of our church family.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank you, Anonymous, for sharing your story. Please take time to take care of yourself and your family. Don’t worry about the church – it will continue as you take the time you need to heal. Your healing is much more important. You will find much love and support here!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. .
    I am a spiritual abuse survivor.
    And Jesus wept. 😦

    I am a spiritual abuse survivor.
    And Jesus wept. 😦

    I am a spiritual abuse survivor.
    And Jesus wept. 😦

    Liked by 5 people

  6. ” I can hardly sit through a church service without breaking down crying. My shoulders and neck often ache when I leave the service because I have sat so tense. In almost every service, I get a strong feeling to run. Run outside to get some fresh air because I can’t breathe. Run and just sit in the van. But I will myself to stay in my seat. My hands tremble and I squeeze them so tight my fingers hurt. My heart pounds and my emotions come in waves. I can’t stop it.”

    I had very similar feelings sitting in a Methodist church service after leaving our former cult. I couldn’t help it. The people and the pastor were very friendly. But my heart pounded, and I sweated buckets. The sweat ran down my back and legs. I knew my rear end would have a giant wet spot like I’d just peed myself. (That didn’t help with my anxiety either!)

    I agree with cookingwithdogs. There are so many ways to get involved with helping people (if that’s what you want to do right now) that do not involve a formal “church.”

    “I am a stay-at-home, home-schooling mom (that changes next year), and I have no church home.”

    We’re in the same boat here. I know how lonely this feels for both you and your kids. Hugs to you, mama. It takes time to heal. Take all the time you need.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I am so very sorry for the hurt you have suffered. Until recently reading on this blog I wasn’t even aware there were so many “churches” like these. I feel very fortunate to grow up in a loving (though far from perfect) family. The churches I’ve been involved in have been good. I’ve not had this experience. Thank you for sharing your story. It helps me understand others who have endured horrible situations.

    I don’t know if this helps, but recently my father passed away. He was a good man and a good father. Even in a good church I found myself crying uncontrollably during the worship time. I realized that while the music was comforting, it also brought to mind the loss and sorrow. It may be that even if you find a good church, you may cry as God brings healing. I am praying for God’s healing for you and your family.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Kay, you bring up a really good point about grieving and the healing process. Some of us who experienced this kind of spiritual trauma will have triggers – and even may be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    When we are confronted with a trigger, we have the choice to put it on the back burner or address it head on. I view the PTSD I had as a gift from God. It allowed me to survive my original trauma and then to deal with it later, when I was at a safer place in my life.

    When I was able to address some of these triggers head on, it was painful, but it helped me to put feelings with my experience. I allowed myself to feel the pain, to get angry at it, to get sad about the losses it caused, and then finally to accept it – just like the grieving process we go through with death.

    It’s hard work, but you don’t have to do it alone. This place is always available – as is the private forum. It’s amazing what healing can take place when we cry out like that. We have wonderful examples of expressions of emotions in Psalms. David expressed sadness and anger and grief. Why should we be any different?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am a spiritual abuse survivor.

    And Jesus wept. 😦

    I think this is a very profound statement that says just how God feels about churches like what you came out of. I have been to one that was bad but not as bad as yours. One thing that struck me while there, was the pastor teaching how God would strike us with a bat that He had for us as we got out of line. This did not fit the concept of God that I had.
    I realized one Sunday morning when the pastor told us. when his father came out on the porch, all the kids in the neighborhood would run home. They were all afraid of him. I wondered why. Probably because the pastor’s dad was a mean SOB, that’s why.

    I had a unconditional loving, kind and wonderful father. My concept of God was the same. Pastor had a mean, father that seemed to get pleasure out of hurting his kids and anyone else that got in his way. Pastor’s concept of God was the same. What a joy to be long gone from that crap. Yes, we are sinners but God wants to help us to become like Him, a loving (unconditional) person that cares for the hurting, prays for them and live the life he has given to us to bring glory to Father. How do we do that? It surly isn’t by carrying a bat to hit the first person we see getting out of line with our standards. Our standards may not even be His standards and besides, if God has a problem with it, I’m sure He can handle the situation without our help.
    I wonder why God chose to call His Word the Gospel which means the good news. Bat carrying micro managers are not good news.


    Liked by 2 people

  10. Jim, I like everything you said except one thing – “Yes, we are sinners”. I disagree, vehemently. I think that concept has kept people brainwashed into thinking they somehow DESERVE the bad things that happen to them – that somehow they are not worthy of love, kindness and decency. It’s destructive thinking. We are human, we make MISTAKES. If I could do away with one doctrine in the churches, it would be this one. In my opinion, you are GOOD, just like anonymous who wrote the article. Just think how much better all of us would be if we could get up in the morning thinking, “I am a good person”, instead of “I’m a sinner”. Try it.


  11. Anonymous- Thank you for sharing your story so bravely and honestly.
    I am crying with you and praying for you.
    Keep these key words from the title in your mind -SPIRITUAL SURVIVOR- you are a survivor!
    God will get you through this. HE is your Good Shepherd.
    Psalm 23

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What J.A. said: “When we are confronted with a trigger, we have the choice to put it on the back burner or address it head on. I view the PTSD I had as a gift from God. It allowed me to survive my original trauma and then to deal with it later, when I was at a safer place in my life.”

    I don’t view my PTSD as a gift from God, it crippled me for many years, because I wasn’t diagnosed & treated till I was in my late 40’s.

    That said, when I read what anonymous wrote, I thought this precious soul has been traumatized by bully’s in the pulpit. Timing had it that I was listened to a Dr. speak on trauma earlier today and jotted this down: “The landscape of the body is where trauma is held inside.”

    So many of us know that feeling of sweating bullets in a church pew. Our bodies are trying to tell us something, my take is, it is saying, RUN, don’t look back.

    I am so sorry all that you have experienced, I assume I am not alone in praying for you today, hold on. Thank-You for being so transparent & not sugar coating the evil that was done to you. It was EVIL.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Gail, I probably could have worded that better. When going through my trauma, I compartmentalized my pain in order to survive. The PTSD was horrific. However, it was when I proactively addressed those triggers that I found healing. I don’t want to in any way minimize the pain of the process. I am just thankful for for the symptoms that forced me to seek help and begin the process of healing. Because I’m very stubborn, it took something very serious like PTSD to give me a wake up call and seek help.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Oh wow. I am so sorry, Anon. I just turned 31 and am in the exact same place. I don’t and I won’t go to a church long-term because of all this. Maybe, perhaps, some day, but every time I look I just end up disappointed again. Hugs, hugs, hugs, to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I am so sorry for everything you’ve had to endure. Please give yourself permission to take time to grieve and heal. You have nothing to feel guilty about. I would suggest not going to any church for a while. That church was toxic and it’s good that you’re out. You’ll find lots of support here.


  16. Hang in there, anonymous. My story is nowhere near as long as yours–my time in a closet KJVO church only lasted a year–but I vividly remember the so-called “evangelists” coming in and stomping up a storm while my wife and I taught the kids and often their parents in “children’s church”. Then we went upstairs after all was done and a fellow member was talking about how “wonderful” the completely legalistic “sermon” had been.

    Wasn’t too long before the closeted KJVO became open, we had a confrontation, and we left. Very thankful we did, and boy oh boy do I have a chip on my shoulder towards enforced legalism and outwardly implemented conformity after that experience.

    But that said, there is a real Gospel out there. There is a real Savior.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Anonymous,

    We weep with you, as best we can. If He has not already done so, may our Loving Lord send a real, live person to weep with you in person. May He send somebody who can be, as it were, Jesus with skin on.

    May you be set free from the diabolical lie that you were not and are not good enough. You are endowed by our Creator with infinite, everlasting worth. Were it not so, Jesus would not have shed His infinitely valuable blood to purchase you as His own.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Anonymous

    God is holding you
    When you can’t ‘worship’, when you can’t pray, when all inclination to be ‘spiritual’ is gone and all you can do is weep…

    When you doubt all you have come to believe and everything in which you have put your trust in comes crashing down….

    When it seems impossible that anything can be rebuilt from the ashes….

    God is.

    God is Love.

    God is holding you.

    Nothing else matters.

    Your healing will come.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hello, everyone. I am the author of the post. Your words of encouragement have been so refreshing to my soul. I am in tears reading your comments. They are so beautiful and heartfelt. It feels so good to be understood. To know that I’m not alone and that there are people who truly ‘get it’. I have recently started seeing a therapist who has experience dealing with spiritual abuse. I think the biggest relief is knowing that there are thousands of people just like me who have walked this same path and have experienced healing. I know it’s going to be a long road for me. You can’t fix nearly 30 years of hurt and indoctrination overnight.

    One of the things that I am having the hardest time accepting is that God truly loves me with no strings attached. I can’t get my mind around that. I can’t even say it out loud without crying. Fundamentalism has really damaged me, but I am going to get better. Thank you all dearly for your kind words and to Julie for posting my story. Hugs and love to everyone.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Cindy,

    I can’t remember how I first stumbled upon Paradise Recovered (I tend to link hop my way around the blogosphere), but I really enjoyed the movie. (It may still be available on Netflix if anyone is interested.) I’m so grateful for those who have put so much effort into bringing attention to spiritual abuse. I hope the awareness grows.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Anon,

    I am so sorry this happened to you. You were not only the victim of an abusive pastor, but your parents as well. It is so sad that people need a license to drive but anyone can have a child and allow a total psycho to tell them how discipline should be done. I don’t think there is anything wrong with stepping back and allowing yourself to heal. I didn’t go to any church for about 15 years. Now that I have gone back my relationship with God is much better and I have the ability to discern what I am going to buy into and what I’m not.

    My childhood church was not as bad as yours. No one was homeschooled. I’m not really sure when that began. But we were only allowed to associate with other Christians and even then certain denominations were off limits. We did have one pastor that stomped, yelled and was generally red in the face by the time the sermon was over. He used the “spare the rod and spoil the child” portion of scripture on a regular basis. I think the only kids being abused in that way were his. (My stepfather abused me, but it had nothing to do with church). I was at their home on occasions and saw him put his steel toed boots up his sons backside. It didn’t take much to provoke this kind of attack. Mrs. didn’t seem to have any trouble with it.

    When they first came to the church Mrs. and their daughter wore pants outside of church like everyone else. None of the ladies or girls ever wore pants to church. That was an unwritten law. After a while they gave them up and wanted everyone else to as well. I would have much rather seen their daughter hanging upside down from the big climbing tree with pants or shorts on. That all revolved around not wearing men’s clothing and vice versa. I was not unhappy to see that “pastor” leave.

    You are a spiritual survivor. God loves you just as you are. Don’t let anyone tell you different.


  22. Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    Being a good person may get your through life as we know it, but it will do nothing for you in eternity.


  23. Anon, I am sorry about your trauma. There is a bigger world out there with people who will certainly love you. From the age of five, I had to care for my brothers four, and three in church while my parents were in the choir. My dad always found something we did wrong in church in order to send us to bed in the afternoon as punishment. Later I found out they just wanted friends over for bridge and used punishment as a way to keep us out of their hair. I figured I was bad and still get sad if I visit that church.
    This weekend I had a deployment party for my son. One my brothers who came, approached me from behind and pinched my butt three times while my hands were full. My 25 year old son saw it and became furious. I felt shamed, because my brother who is very strict about his daughters, thinks nothing about doing that to his sister. This brother (I have four) is like a spiritual giant, so no one, especially my parents, would ever believe it. I have no voice in my family. Spiritual abuse comes in many forms and I pray you haven’t dealt with the physical part. It all hurts.


  24. Oh Ann,

    I love your voice, so glad that you contribute here. This is the second time today that I wished I was a nut cracker, first crack or wack would go to Hopeful’s evil pastor nuts, 2nd kick would go to your brother. Good on your son for getting furious on your behalf. All the shame belongs to your brother.
    J.A. You can delete this if it is inappropriate, no hard feelings.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Brenda R, you say, “Being a good person may get your through life as we know it, but it will do nothing for you in eternity.” Maybe it depends on what you mean by being a good person, but I wonder. We read “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38 ESV). We know that “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. . .” (Romans 2:6-7 ESV). Those who have been faithful over a little will be set over much. Matthew 25:21. And so on.

    Sure, our works cannot gain us our salvation, but that does not mean they will not have their eternal reward. I am quite confident that Hopefull can anticipate great reward for her faithfulness, though those she so faithfully served proved to be worse than faithless to her.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Gary W,

    I might be way off the mark here, but, I assumed Brenda was responding to Carmen. Will wait to hear from Brenda to confirm. FWIW, Your response to Hopeful was music to my ears!


  27. Carmen,
    Am I correct in thinking I have read that you are a atheist? If I have confused you with someone else, sorry. Some of my dearest friends are unbelievers, and I totally get why they are, I was almost one. You gave me a good chuckle when you wrote I was a girl after your own heart.


  28. Brenda R, thanks to Gail’s bit of nudging I expect I was responding to something you hadn’t actually said. Still, it’s interesting to note that, at the separation of the sheep from the goats, many are surprised to find themselves amongst the sheep. Way more questions than answers.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Anon, Your story infuriates me, too. It is like you have lived in an alternative universe, was exiled and are now coming out to meet different creatures.

    Give yourself plenty of time to process this. You know, one of the greatest gifts I gave myself and family was a simple walk in a beautiful park on Sunday morning about 10. Wow. Sundays CAN be peaceful. It is uncanny how peaceful and full of HIs wonder they can be when you are not in church. It took me a long time to reconcile that.

    You have some living to do, girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Sorry for all you have gone through. Personally I walked away, I just got up when the preacher was droning on about nonsense and walked right out, I could not take the cognitive dissonance anymore. Again I am sorry and I hope you find a healthy safe healing spiritual community. I know this may not help but its not you, its those people who did those awful things to you. Shame on them.


  31. “Yes, we are sinners”. I disagree, vehemently.”

    Well Carmen, Nowadays when someone trots that out as an excuse for evil or wrong doing I say in my best deadpan Bob Newhart voice: “Well,stop it”


    Liked by 1 person

  32. “One of the things that I am having the hardest time accepting is that God truly loves me with no strings attached. ”

    I struggle with this always have.


  33. Been There,

    If it had been up to me, I would have named it something different than with a reference to paradise, because I don’t believe that we’ve remotely recovered it yet — and we don’t until we leave this life. I appreciate the reference to Bunyan, however. Andie Redwine who wrote it after she got out of the Worldwide Church of God has a far less cynical personality than me. She’s now on the Board at Wellspring (a post-cult recovery program in Ohio).

    The film is available for streaming on Netflix, and it’s on Amazon and iTunes, too.


  34. carmen, I have to respond to your remarks about being a sinner. I do sin. Lets get that out of the way right up front. But I am also seen by God as righteous and without sin. Why? Because of the Blood of Jesus Christ and not by anything I have done or not done. In talking about this to my wife, she reminded me that God sings over His children and I and the subject writer of this blog thread also.
    Wow, the God that her pastor says is carrying a bat to come down at the slightest wrong doing and beat her up along side the head and threaten her with hell’s fire, sings over her and her family. He has also invited her to come boldly into His throne room and look Him square in the eyes and ask Him for our needs. I think if it would fit His character, she, I, all Christians could jump up in His lap and give Him a huge squeeze hug. He love us that much.
    Is this relationship I, we, she has with God because we do good? I would say no, it is an unearned gift from a God that loves us unconditionally that was paid for by His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
    I do get up in the morning and say to myself, I am good, in fact perfectly righteous because of the blood of Christ and not because of one thing I have done myself. Jesus Christ has done it all
    And as A Amos Love has said,
    I am a spiritual abuse survivor.
    And Jesus rejoiced. 🙂 or should we say Jesus is now rejoicing.


    Liked by 1 person

  35. Gail,

    I find your comment hanging with me (the one concerning the suffering you’ve endured and the PTSD that ensued). It is truly evil, and to call it anything else is to call evil something good.

    I’ve found myself thinking about how Jesus sweat drops of blood in Gesthemane (a condition called hematohidrosis) because He was so distraught at what He needed to endure. It wasn’t pleasant, and He knew it. Out of love for us, He endured evil for us. Earlier today, I was pondering how He allowed His foot to be bruised so that He could make the enemy our footstool for our feet. We can approach God’s throne with confidence, knowing that He endured the same horrible hurts that we often endure in this life.

    It is one thing to look back on a past experience to see the good that can be birthed in the crucible of pain and to thank God for transforming an utterly horrible thing into something beautiful in the fullness of time. But even Jesus struggled in agony as He asked God for mercy and to find another way. He endured the Cross, not because He took delight in the process but because He loved us and sacrificed Himself for us.

    If God struggled with evil, how is it that we should find it to be an easy thing or even a good thing, especially when we are in that crucible? Though we learn wisdom and patience through that agony that we struggle against in life as we bear our own crosses, cursed is all who hangs upon a tree. We bear evil as God works in us, but that doesn’t make that evil less evil, nor does it excuse harm in the house of our friends. We’re told to reckon suffering as joy, not because evil is a picnic or that enduring it is a matter for our boasting. It’s meant to help us persevere in faith in Him because there really is no goodness in evil and it is so hard to walk through the Valley of the Shadow. (It is not God who tempts or tests us.)

    There is a time for looking back on the past to celebrate the miracles that God creatively works in us despite all of the muck and harm and evil. But we don’t see it and may not ever see that in this life. Sometimes it takes all that we are and all that He is within us to hold tight to the promise that God is even just good. That pain is what Jesus was struggling against in Gesthemane, and we are surely not greater than Him.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Gary W,
    I wasn’t speaking to Hopefull. I believe those who do not accept Christ that have done good works will receive less of a penalty in their eternal sentence than those who are criminal. I must not have clarified that very well. I was referencing Carmen’s post referring to another admonishing them to not say they are a sinner and saying they are a good person. I believe a lot of people who say they are good will at judgment will wish they had chosen salvation. There is scripture that speaks of good works burning in the test of fire because they were not of God.


  37. Gail,
    You were correct. We are all born into a sin nature. it doesn’t mean we continue on that path. But I know that I am not always slow to anger, have thoughts that run through my mind that need to go away and I’m sure that I have said things that unknowingly might offend someone. But I do what I know is right: pray about it and ask for those things to be pointed out so I don’t do it again and then because I am still flesh and not fully transformed, I will mess up again, but perhaps in a different way.

    I am taking a class right now that is talking about the different types of atheists and why they choose it. It is pretty interesting. You know C. S. Lewis was a hard sell on Christ and look where he ended up becoming for the cause of Christ.


  38. Anon,
    You have been abused horribly by monsters and their monster god (small ‘g’ intentional). Take heart and look up, they are being exposed for what they are through blogs like this one and others all over cyberspace. The days of their schtick are numbered and their tyranny will not endure.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Gary W, I thought it was the other way around that many who thought they were sheep will be amongst the goats. If you find that before I do, let me know where. My schedule has been packed and I am sick AGAIN.


  40. Jimmydee, Amen to all of it. Good sermon. I find it difficult to come Boldly to the throne of God even though I am told to do so. That is a male figure issue that the Lord and I are still working on. I long to stand, kneel, lay face down on the ground before him and praise Him for his unending love. Survivors or Spiritual abuse or any kind of abuse rejoice: God loves you and those people can’t hurt you anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Brenda R.

    Closing verses of Mt. 25. Sheep & goats both seem surprised. Don’t know what it all means. It’s fairly easy to suppose that people like the reeking-of-hate “pastor” Hopefull describes may be amongst the surprised goats. To suggest that the sheep include those in whom the Spirit has worked love, though they have never heard the name of Jesus, or have rejected a false Jesus, makes one a heretic.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Hi Hopeful, what a heartbreaking story. My heart goes out to you.

    I grew up in a homeschooling program (ATIA) with many similarities to your experiences with IFB. There are a lot of things I could say to share my story, but for space’s sake may I jump to the conclusion? Read Jerry Bridge’s book “The Discipline of Grace” or “Transforming Grace.” They were life-changing for me.

    Also excellent are Counsel from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick, and A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent.

    All of these books deal with the mistaken notion that we stay in good favor with God through good behavior, and fall out of his favor and blessing when we sin. They changed my life, and brought tremendous joy to me when I was in a very dark place spiritually.

    You may think you cannot read a Christian book right now, but simply try just the first chapter in the Jerry Bridges books. I guarantee you’ll find water for a thirsty soul.

    Secondly, these books will give you a picture of what a gospel-centered church looks like, so that, when you are ready to try to find such a church, you’ll know it when you’ve found it.

    Finally, if you wish to hear my story or wish to talk further, I would be happy to share my experiences. You can find me on facebook at /raginginverno

    Praying for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Gary W,
    Thank you for that. As a congregation we just started reading a chapter a day through the gospels. I will make sure to take extra time meditating on Mt. 25. Without true repentance, I believe your analysis of Hopefull’s pastor is correct. Hopefull, I’m sorry if it sounds like I am talking about you as if you are not there.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Cindy K: I find your comment to Gail to be extremely toxic in many ways. I can only hope that Gail is not as triggered as I was, or that she interprets your words in a different way than I did.

    Anonymous: Like everyone else here, my heart goes out to you. God definitely does love you. He loves you with patience and gentleness, freely. Remember that the very essence of God is love. God is revealed to us in Jesus, showing us what he is like, as God in the flesh. He is love, and he loves you.

    Brian, he freely loves you, too.


  45. Cindy K: I thought about posting this poem yesterday, decided not to. However after reading your comment, it came to mind again, and I asked myself, is my bumbling poem in essence, communicating what you said in your comment? I don’t know. I’m still figuring things out, as I suspect will be the case until I see him face to face. (Thinking of 1 John 3:2-3 with my last sentence.)

    Oasis, I wasn’t triggered because my mind went to how Jesus understands, feels, comprehends what folks have suffered. His agony is a bridge for understanding and entering my (ours) struggles. Isaiah 40:28 reassures me, that there is no searching of God’s understanding. I love that.

    Who understands? Who really cares?
    I am starting to grasp that only
    Jesus can empathize with my prayers.

    He will fathom my sorrow,
    when I writhe in pain,
    for He suffered the cross
    and experienced its shame.

    He knows what it feels like
    to be the object of brutality,
    because he endured atrocities
    when He was crucified at Calvary.

    He will stay with me as I unfold
    bad memories & all the lies I was told.

    Jesus knows the secrets I could never tell,
    He understands my childhood felt like a living hell.

    He underwent cruelties beyond description,
    He knows everything there is to know about affliction.

    He sees the shame and worthlessness
    I have held inside,
    He longs for me to bring it to His light
    and in safe people confide.

    So, even though the church turns a deaf
    ear to my cry,
    telling me to forget past abuse, that’s a sin, they imply.

    I’m sticking with Jesus because He completely understands,
    and no way in hell, anyone’s abuse, was part of His plan.


  46. “I’m sticking with Jesus because He completely understands,
    and no way in hell, anyone’s abuse, was part of His plan.”

    Amen. And for those who are abusing people whether spiritually, emotionally, physicallty or using people to grow your fame or wealth OR protecting/defending abusers/charlatans for similar reasons…..all by using His Name to do so…

    I would not want to be you.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. Oasis,

    Can you help me understand what was triggering and how it was toxic?

    I was thinking along the lines of what Paul describes in Romans 8 and what James describes in Chapter 1 of his epistle. Paul wrote that creation groans in travail and has been groaning from the beginning of the Fall of man under the weight of sin. We groan along with creation, and the Spirit groans and works in us when that weight is so heavy upon us that we can’t find the words to describe it. But in that place, it says that we wait patiently with anticipation for the redemption of our bodies. Paul wrote this, and on the other side of the groaning lies the full manifestation of our adoption. “Who hopes for what he already has?” asks the author. That place of longing for relief is a place of groaning under the weight of evil. God groans right along with us through His Spirit in us, just as Jesus groaned in Gesthemane.

    We hope in the promise within that place that grace gives to us, with the Spirit right there with us. Jesus said that “In this world, you will have tribulation.” That word for tribulation is “agonia” in Greek — the word from which we derive “agony” in English. Jesus then says, “But be of good cheer.” But how can agony be good? The agony is not a thing to be celebrated. It is evil. The good cheer is possible and we are reminded to consider in the midst of our agony that Jesus came to give us an abundant life in the midst of agony. He did that by overcoming the world. In the midst of the agony, there is God, groaning for us and groaning with us. The only goodness amidst the agony is in Him.

    Like jesus tells us to be of good cheer, James wrote to “count it all joy” when we endure struggle and pain. Isn’t James reiterating what Jesus said? As those numbered among the brothers of the Firstborn in Romans 8, James describes some of the details of what that “adoption as sons” does in us. “Count it all joy” is a reminder to look to Jesus and the endpoint — the redemption of our bodies and relief from our agony. That doesn’t make agony a pleasant process.

    It think that this is the mixed message people give when they’re frustrated with people who are in PTSD when they tell them to “just get over it.” How do you “just get over” evil? Creation and the Holy Spirit are still groaning because of evil. We should not?

    I’m reminded here of Philippians Chapter 4 where Paul speaks of contentment by thinking on the goodness and virtue when we are abased. It comes easy to us when we abound in those good seasons, but we need reminded of why we should keep moving forward when we’re wrestling with the bad seasons. If a person feels miserable in the midst of misery, slapping a smiley face on things is much different than a message of enduring in hope and faith. Gail’s original comment seemed to me to describe that smiley face sticker that people love to slap on PTSD. I’m sorry if I misinterpreted her meaning.

    If I’ve been unfaithful to Scripture here, I hope that someone will point this out to me. I didn’t endeavor to trigger anyone but rather to instill hope and reason to persevere through painful experiences. I certainly didn’t intent to be toxic. If I’ve used Scripture in a toxic way or in a remotely false way, please, can someone point it out to me?


  48. I think what we’re seeing here is that even in the healing/recovery process, there is not one “right” way to recovery. The actual PTSD was hell for me, but it also forced me to deal with stuff that I had been avoiding. So that’s why I say it saved my life – – After I did my hard work, it’s given me a new outlook on life that I would not have had otherwise because I was just trying to survive. But others may interpret that kind of PTSD hell differently. And another thing – – the way you are interpreting things about your experience right now, might change in 10 years as you’ve grown. This is all a process.

    The way in which we incorporate our spirituality in the recovery process will also look different for people. Some may never be able to put a foot in a church again, yet others are able to.

    This just tells me that it’s important to validate each one’s unique experience as appropriate for them. What may work for them, may not work for me and to let love and grace be my guide in my interactions with those in the recovery process.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Hopefull, I’ve (coincidentally) been reading through the Stuff Fundies Like blog for the last several days. The owner is a survivor of IFB “churches” as well. I was aware of some of the awful stuff before I read on his site, but not the extent of the evil and insanity.

    I’m so, so sorry for what you endured. Reading the SFL website made me realize that the church I attended with my next door neighbor when I was about 6 was an IFB. To this day, even after having walked in atheism until I was 31 and then returning to God, I cannot fully hold on to the idea that he loves me unconditionally. I so relate to that part of your story.

    The thing that most stays with me from my own very limited exposure to IFB is the confusion and stress of not being sure I had asked Jesus into my heart with sufficient sincerity. I responded to the call every single week, feeling that he probably had left my heart in the last seven days. It was miserable, and I think it affected my ability to trust him at a very deep level.

    I’m glad you shared your story. I hope you continue to find real Christians who aren’t afraid to be authentic and loving.


  50. “He would remind us how we were like “menstrual pads” in God’s eyes. Disgusting and worthless.”

    This, this, this, this, THIS!!!!! I can’t tell you how many times I have heard pastors use this verse to remind a congregation how worthless it is. Although this analogy is made once in scripture, many men seem to derive a perverse pleasure in saying the words “menstrual rags” aloud and with excruciating detail. Moreover, they seem to enjoy their privileged position of inflicting distress in the name of God and delight in shaming the women present.

    I know of no other verse in scripture that is used with such perverse delight against men. Even Paul’s comments about circumcising oneself or dung (both equally graphic and direct in scripture) are not gloated over or lingered over with such perversity.

    I have made up my mind to walk out of the next gathering where I am subjected to this.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. Lawrence Kennedy,
    Walking out sounds like a good idea. I know for myself I go to church to worship God with other believers, not to be chopped into little pieces. I realize that we need to be brought low in order to elevate God, but I also think that God doesn’t want us to be shamed while worshipping. I believe he really wants heart felt happy worship.

    Liked by 1 person

  52. I’ve been at work and unable to address a few of the comments. For those who don’t’ know, I’m a public school teacher. First of all, Gail, I’ll tell you flat out that I’m not sure what I ‘am’ (I’m still working on that!), but I know what I believe in – the goodness of people, kindness to others, and doing what you can to make the world a better place. As for god(s)? I’m clearly not on the same page as most who comment here. Stories like the one Hopefull shared certainly do nothing to convince me that its a good thing to believe in the supernatural. I think it’s far more important for any/all of you to love yourselves. As I have stated before, I believe THIS is the life you get – do your best.

    As for Brenda’s, “You just wait – you’ll be frying forever!”? It’s an insult to me and I believe insults should be dealt with directly. I do not believe in any such place and neither should anyone else. However, I realize that indoctrination does that to people — that in order for pastors to ‘keep the sheep’, it’s imperative that the message needs to be directed at the separation between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’. One way to do that is to paint anyone who DOESN’T believe as a lesser person – no matter that they may be doing all sorts of good in the world.

    Interesting that there’s so much conjecture about why people don’t believe, when all anyone has to do is ask a non-believer. Every account I’ve ever read suggests ‘intellectual reasons’. That’s certainly my reason. I’d suggest doing some research.

    Finally, I’d like to suggest to you, Hopefull, that there are PEOPLE in your life who love you with no strings attached – they can give you comfort, encouragement, and protection. THEY know you are a good person. You deserve to be happy, as does everyone.


  53. Wow! Thank you everyone for all of your kind words. Thank YOU for being honest in your comments about your past and current struggles. What a wonderful group. I read some of your comments to my husband last night in tears. You don’t know how helpful you’ve been. May we all continue to heal and be a help for those hurting and in need.

    Liked by 3 people

  54. Wow, I’m not sure I really believed in ” triggers” and trigger warnings until this thread but now I get it. Watching that video taught me a lot, mainly that I clearly I have some regular triggers that fire me off into depression. I never made the connection. Thank you precious Sister Cindy for posting it.

    I’m confused as to how establishments calling themselves ” God’s house” can become so aggressive and mean spirited , cold hearted and down right cruel. I have watched it happen so many times: the kids that get kicked out of the christian school because mom & Dad split up, the single guy that is deemed too weird for our perfect church or the person with a seriously limited wardrobe criticized for not dressing ” right “.

    Liked by 2 people

  55. Carmen,
    “You just wait – you’ll be frying forever!”? I know that I did not write that anywhere and not sure why you feel insulted by what I did write. If you are insulted by scripture, your problem is with God Himself, not me or the men who were inspired to write it. I believe what the Word of God says not what men try to make it into.

    You said: I do not believe in any such place and neither should anyone else. If I did not care about you, I would not tell you of the Good news of Christ or the consequence of denying Him. There are consequences and reward for our actions. This subject is no different. If I am wrong and go to my death believing in Jesus and he does not exist, then I am out nothing. I’m just dead. If I spend my life not believing and go to my death and he is real, I have lost everything. I prefer eternity with Him to being separated from Him for eternity.

    The breakdown that I have been given by Christians who have witnessed to and had a lot of contact with Atheists tell it quite differently. There are many more reasons than intellectual why folks decide to be unbelievers of Jesus. One would be spiritual abuse, which Jesus did not create–that is man’s doing. Jesus weeps when these things happen and there will be a reckoning. Do people deserve to be abused–NO. Do bad things happen to good people–absolutely. Good things happen to the most wicked of people and very bad things happen to good people. Life is not fair–it just is.

    You had tried to minimize Jim’s belief in sin and being a sinner. You are trying to sway Christians away from Christ. I don’t understand why you would do that or what rationale would cause you to want to. If I say something that would cause someone to give their heart to Christ, there is cause for rejoicing and a giant party in Heaven. If one leads a Child of God astray…..I don’t see how that is reason to rejoice.


  56. Mod hat on: let’s not get into debates of sin/hell on this thread. The primary audience here is Christian. So if this does not apply to you, those debates have to go elsewhere. All are welcome to join in the discussion to support and encourage those who have been abused. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  57. Hopefull, you will read comments describing “triggers”. Do not be afraid of them nor think that you are wrong. You are not wrong. You have been harmed for a very long time and it was never appropriate. I have been on a journey with my husband in identifying the abuse perpetrated by his ex-wife. Part of the healing comes from naming the triggers out loud, acknowledging them and saying that they are valid. For my husband, it helps to say things out loud. He describes an action, names the emotions and then tells me why the original actions were wrong. Now when he receives abusing communication from his ex, it is easier to categorize the emotions and the triggers. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers. We will be going to a therapist soon for more help. But there is something powerful about talking about abuse and bringing it out into the open, taking ownership of the past and daring to dream about the future.

    I hope and pray that you will find a safe community here on this blog. For whatever its worth, my husband has not set foot in a church since his divorce. We’re perfectly okay with that because we find fellowship and worship in other ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  58. Mandy,

    What has helped me for a third of a century has been journaling. I learned Chris Thurman’s way of journaling every day:

    T – trigger
    R – my reaction
    U – untrue belief that’s beneath my strong emotional reaction
    T – true belief (what is really going on and am I in danger)
    H – healthy response (if I had to do it over again, what can I do when faced with this trigger or situation again)

    There are studies that show that writing things down helps us empty our minds and move on as we problem-solve.

    The more common way known in psychology is the ABC method:
    A – Activating belief
    B – Beliefs
    C- Consequences.

    It helps us take the sting out of the threat for us when we do it in combination with working on feeling safe while thinking through the trigger. A good counselor can coach a person through the trauma, reminding them that they must connect with the pain to move through it, but they remind them that they are doing it from a safe vantage. I love how Judith Herman lays this out in Trauma and Recovery. She says that we need a witness and an ally to help us through it so that that we can move on. That can be a therapist, but that can be a loving friend, too.


  59. Ann, you said: “This weekend I had a deployment party for my son. One my brothers who came, approached me from behind and pinched my butt three times while my hands were full. My 25 year old son saw it and became furious. I felt shamed, because my brother who is very strict about his daughters, thinks nothing about doing that to his sister.”
    I wish I could have been there. I would have LOVED bashing your “brother” with a covered dish. (A hot one. The kind that us little old Methodist ladies are rumored to carry in our pocketbooks).
    I am serious. He is a sick, disturbed individual. (Note I did not say “man”; he doesn’t qualify). Christian? I seriously doubt it! He sounds like a Pharisee. He acts like a sociopath, & a perverted one at that, because what real man does that to his sister? Not one!! Not. A. Single. One. And he certainly is not a brother. No way.


  60. Hopefull, thank you for telling your story.
    You do not have to go to church. If it is that painful for you, & I believe you when you say that it is, you should not go.
    God does not ask us to do what is impossible for us to do.
    The people surrounding you when you were growing up were sick, evil people. Nothing they said or did was of God. Nothing.

    God bless you as you heal. (And forgive me for responding to another commenter before responding to you; I wasn’t ignoring you, I was just prayinf for the right words to say.


  61. ****Triggers for injury and flashbacks***

    that is why I put in the spaces

    Speaking of triggers when I was a kid I got hurt alot and almost died several times. Several of my friends when I was a child did die. When I was in the hospital with third degree burns over 40% of my body I was on a burn unit with several other kids. I was the only child to live. Unlike most burn victims I did not go into shock or lose consciousness I remember every single event from the smell of burning flesh and the sight of it being cut away in the emergency room. First I understand even at six one should never be bothered by such nonsense one should always get over it immediately. One needs to man up and stop whining. Funny thing is I did not cry at all when this happened.

    I still have nightmares about burning in hell, so I dont sleep at times. Again that is my fault and I am to blame. That is how some churches deal with trigger warnings and with serious events in people’s lives, unless its the higher ups or the big donors.


  62. Cindy,

    I love this:

    T – trigger
    R – my reaction
    U – untrue belief that’s beneath my strong emotional reaction
    T – true belief (what is really going on and am I in danger)
    H – healthy response (if I had to do it over again, what can I do when faced with this trigger or situation again)

    Thank you!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  63. Cindy thank you it was a good movie, contrived I agree, like most stories, but the end where the lady got baptized in the fountain and the fact she did not leave the faith really touched me.


  64. Mandy,
    I like what you are doing RE: triggers. It does make sense to same them outloud especially if you say it to your spouse or close friend. You are hearing what the problem is and so are they. You can get feedback from yourself as well as another person. I’m going to try it.


  65. Brian,
    No child should ever be told to man up. A six year old in that condition should be held and loved. That was a horrific experience that you went through. I cannot imagine being in a room and seeing everyone around me dying and I am well past being a child. My heart and prayers go out to you for comfort and peace in your life..

    Liked by 1 person

  66. Julie Anne,
    That was from Chris Thurman’s book, “The Truths We Must Believe” that was his follow up to “The Lies We Believe.” (The truths book is out of print now, but there are copies still out there. The Lies book is still in print.) It was part of that Minerth Meyer series that was very popular in the 80s-90s. David Stoop, a good Christian author, has another book along those same lines which uses the ABC guide. I found Thurman’s book to be more helpful to me. It laid things out better for me and helped me think through matters. On things that were tougher, I talked about it with my counselor. Having that ritual to review the day was incredibly helpful. And in effect, this is doing your own “cognitive behavioral therapy.”


  67. I really liked Paradise Recovered — I just would have named it something entirely different. As a reference to Bunyan, it’s fine, but it’s not a ticket to paradise. It’s more like a roadmap, to pick an analogy, but paradise doesn’t come in this life. It’s an invitation to be realistic about what it’s like to be in the world for those who choose to not be of the world as a Christian.

    Spiritual abuse tries to withdraw people from the world through elitism and control. And instead of being of Christ, they demand that people identify more strongly with their own religious sect that is thought to be more special to God than all others.


  68. Here’s some more on triggers:
    (Blow off the “animal brain” or the “reptilian brain” as is commonly used in these secular circles. It’s just the midbrain where emotion goes on and “higher brain” is critical thinking and reason. PTSD is an emotional survival response and involves no thinking.)


  69. It is far beyond interesting to me how the classics of spiritual abuse operate within the churched systems. This article grieves me so and I appreciate your candor. May God be with you.

    When I shared with a Republican/charismatic/pentecostal church woman, that I was no longer Republican for Jesus was neither Republican nor Democrat, and that I did not want her emailing me her Republican articles, petitions, and such, she became angry and her last email consisted of this:

    Encourage you to watch “23 Minutes in Hell” by Bill Wiese.

    Now, am I to interpret her email as “I must be going to hell because I am no longer a Republican” or “Maybe if I spend 23 minutes in hell like Bill, maybe I will repent of the “sin” of falling away from Republicanism and come back to earth as a born again Repub” or maybe “hell is the eternal destination of anyone not Republican.”

    It amazes me to no end how the churched can use the wolves in sheep’s clothing, like Mr. Wiese with all of his/their revelations not even found in the Bible (for their extra-Biblical revelations come from demons/satan), and turn them around and conveniently, subtly use them to abuse another spiritually into conforming into their false religious systems……why are those who claim Jesus, and Him crucified and risen for the remission of our own sins… incredibly viperous?

    I think I’ll spent the next 23 minutes reading and meditating upon Psalm 73 and Ephesians 6. Praise God for His protection against the wiles of the devil.


  70. Apologies to you up front, JA.

    This doctrine of Hell/devil is twisted Augustinian theology. .. I encourage you to DO SOME RESEARCH people!!

    I’ll shut up now, moderator. This . . .stuff. . .makes my blood boil.


  71. Katy,
    I’m not sure where that whole email was going, but I don’t claim to be repub or democrat. I vote the way that I feel God wants me too. I don’t see a lot of difference between the 2 most of the time. I like your way of spending 23 minutes.


  72. Hopefull

    Thank you for your story. And…
    You have choosen an important and potent name for yourself.


    Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
    Death and Life is in the power of the tongue.

    You sound like your heart is – Full of H.O.P.E..
    And you have choosen to speak words of – L.I.F.E.


    The H.allmark O.f P.ursuing E.ternity

    Is a heart – Full of H.O.P.E.


    LIFE – Is – L.iving I.n F.earless E.xpectation

    With Jesus, the bread of life, in your LIFE.


  73. @Katy:

    It amazes me to no end how the churched can use the wolves in sheep’s clothing, like Mr. Wiese with all of his/their revelations not even found in the Bible (for their extra-Biblical revelations come from demons/satan)…

    Katy, you’re making the same mistake as this Wiese character, just flipped one-eighty. “Extra-Biblical revelations” can come from the man’s own imagination, mistaken for Divine revelation. I’m an “intuitive genius” most of whose IQ works below the conscious level; if you don’t know what’s happening (and in an IFB-like milieu, you sure wouldn’t), it’d be easy to mistake those things that bubble up into consciousness fully-formed as something supernatural or magical. (One friend suspects this is what happened to Mohammed resulting in the Koran; in SF fandom you find a LOT of people who construct complex “personal realities” and mental systems.)

    Claiming It’s From God or It’s From Satan leaves out a major component — physical reality. At that point, you’re drifting towards a Pneumatic Gnostic where Everything is Spiritual and NOTHING is Real — not even Strawberry Fields.


  74. @CindyK:

    PTSD is an emotional survival response and involves no thinking.

    Because in the situation that created the PTSD survival response, if you stop to think you’re DEAD.

    Liked by 1 person

  75. Bingo, HUG.

    That’s another reason why it’s so painful when people try to push someone with PTSD to “rationalize” away the issue. That only makes things worse in many cases. Connecting with emotion and felt sense heals the trauma by stimulating the area of the brain that activates when you think about how your body feels. The last thing that you want to do if you’re in trauma is feel, but that’s what begins the healing and helps reintegrate thought and emotion.

    Earlier in my comments, I was getting at the problem of people telling the person with PTSD to “get over it” or to talk about things. One needs to learn how to feel again and recall the trauma in a place of safety to desensitize to it. Then, the internalized bad ideas about the feelings can be addressed, as feeling them unlocks them and disarms them of their power.

    Liked by 1 person

  76. “One of the things that I am having the hardest time accepting is that God truly loves me with no strings attached.”

    God doesn’t just love you, he CHERISHES you! He doesn’t just tolerate you, he ADORES you. He loves you because of what’s been done (Jesus), not because of anything you do (sinful or in service to Him.)


  77. @ Carmen
    You are not alone here. I got reeled into the Calvary Chapel cult as a young Army vet back during the wind down of the Vietnam Era (yeah I’m an old dude). Over the years the cognitive dissonance got to be so bad I just couldn’t sign onto the Augustinian theology schtick any longer and I so walked away from it. Glad I did because it’s a bad thing to live in fear. I tend to wear out my welcome at blogs like this real quick, so I’ll shut up too.


  78. Well, WHEW Muff – good to hear! Glad you walked away from such rot. I’ll probably get in trouble, too, but it seems to me that scaring people (especially children – that, to me, is emotional abuse right from the ‘get-go’) with tales of ‘the debbil’ and hell is spiritual/mental abuse right off the top – not to mention what happened to Hopefull and thousands of others. It, know doubt, played its part.

    But, as everyone SHOULD know (lots of pastors do) – how do you keep people cowed and easily brainwashed?? Scare the bejebus out of ’em!! Works like a charm. . just read some of these replies.


  79. @MuffPotter:

    @ Carmen
    You are not alone here. I got reeled into the Calvary Chapel cult as a young Army vet back during the wind down of the Vietnam Era (yeah I’m an old dude).

    I’m from near Calvary Chapel’s Ground Zero and about the same era, and Calvary Chapel practically DEFINED Christianity on the AM airwaves in the Seventies and Eighties. (The heyday of the Gospel According to Hal Lindsay, AKA “End Time Prophecy is being Fulfilled even as we Speak! We might not have a 1978!!! Or even a 1977!!!!!”)

    And I’ve always had this feeling of something WRONG about Calvary Chapel — nothing I can put my finger on and say “Aha!” (especially against a Calvary Chapelite’s automatic reaction to Hose you down Full-Auto with Bible Bullets), but there’s always been a feeling of something just WRONG there. Like they distill down everything that could wrong with Fundagelicalism into one concentrated form, like IFB with a Non-Denominational(TM) SoCal Beach Baptism coat of paint.

    Liked by 1 person

  80. Re: Katy’s post above.

    I actually encounter the opposite problem on some Christian sites, where the majority of participants seem to be Democrat or quite liberal, and they are hostile towards Republicans, conservatives, or traditional moral values.

    (I am a Republican and conservative. I do not think that eternal salvation depends on which political party membership one joins.)

    As to the Bill Weise “I went to hell for X minutes” type stories, and NDE stories (NDE = Near Death Experience), I am agnostic on those. Just because something is not mentioned in the Bible does not necessarily mean it’s untrue or is demonic. The Bible says for Christians to test the spirits, not automatically assume they are all demonic.

    I disagree with folks who are very dogmatic about NDE type stories being false. I had a supernatural event or two happen to me in my life, particularly when younger, that are also not mentioned in the Bible, but it does not automatically follow that my experiences were of Satan, were anti-Biblical, or un-Biblical.

    I was a Southern Baptist my entire life, and SBs are not given to Word of Faith, Charismatic extremes, like beliefs in “slaying of the spirit.” To this day, I don’t agree with those types of extremes regarding the Holy Spirit. However.

    I also cannot wrap my head around Christians who disavow any and all work of the Holy Spirit these days. They seem to think all work of the Spirit, all supernatural work, was finished with the closing the New Testament canon, but I don’t see any evidence for that in real life, or in the Bible.

    Jesus told his followers – and I think he intended this to mean all followers to the present, in the year 2014 – that they will do the same things as he, and even greater. Which would entail miraculous things such as healing the blind, and so on.

    I was reading a web page with similar views to mine, and the author who is Baptist, I think – said that the Holy Spirit still works in the world today, but too many Christians out and out reject any and all Supernatural workings, and insist if it’s not in the Bible, it cannot be of God.

    He says such Christians have changed the Trinity from “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” to “Father, Son, Holy Bible.” I agree with his evaluation on that.

    I don’t see how a Christian who believes in the miracles in the Bible – God parting the Red Sea, Jesus walking on water, Paul (and John) being taken into Heaven alive and having visions of Heaven, the shadow of Peter falling across the sick and healing them – can turn around and say they think anyone who recounts going to Heaven now and so on, in 2014, is actually of the devil or is a con artist.

    Are there con artists today who make stories up about God, and at that, to profit financially? Sure. (They also existed in the Bible at the foundation of the faith, see Acts 16:16-20.)

    I know con artists who make a buck selling God are out there. I think about 90% of the Word of Faith preachers on the religious networks are con artists out to make a buck off Christians.

    But I don’t jump to this other extreme that each and every professing believer who claims to have heard from Christ, or had a NDE is a lying liar.

    Ronald Reagan used to say “trust but verify” in regards to the USSR. I think Christians should adopt that view towards those who claim to be Christ followers who also claim to have done or seen something supernatural.

    You can read that guy’s page here, the one who talked about Christians who have turned the trinity into “Father, Son, Holy Bible,”
    _Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit? An Investigation into the Ministry of the Spirit of God Today_, on the bible. org site


  81. @Katy, this “Bill Weise 23 Minutes In Hell” guy — just from the title, it sounds like another Christianese version of “Beyond and Back” NDE travelogues, just going into the Hell Trip instead of the usual Heaven Trip. I remember similar visionaries back in the Seventies, except then they usually worked in an End Time Prophecy/You WILL See My Second Coming angle.

    (And the WEIRDEST Heaven Trip vision remains some guy named “Percy Collet” whose tapes were required listening at a lot of splinter churches in the Eighties; I think a search on his name should bring up online audio copies.)

    A lot of people claim personal visions from God. In my own church (RCC), claiming Visions of/Messages from St Mary is the characteristic way to flake out. Such things have made me very skeptical of “private revelations” (the official term). In RCC policy (probably from institutional experience), private revelations may exist, but are binding ONLY on the one having the revelation. All others are optional.


  82. I too had, “Your righteousness is as filthy rags” pounded into my head growing up. As an adult I learned that my righteousness comes from the blood of Jesus and stopped worrying about my personal righteousness. Now, I have a new understanding of the filthy rags. They were literally made of cloth, probably made from something that was no longer good enough to repair for other purposes. When a woman had to change her pad she had to clean it so it could be reused. When her menstrual cycle was done she and her rags were purified in the purification ceremony and were once again righteous. Jesus is the washer of our filthy righteousness. We can’t do it ourselves. Can you imagine a woman’s father or husband washing her menstrual rags?. But that is what Jesus does.


  83. Wisdomchaser,
    You are indeed very wise. Jesus took the need for all of that away. We are purified at the cross. I see nothing controversial in your statement. PTL for whomever God gave the idea to invent disposables.


  84. WOW!! The only other question I have is – WHAT have you people been SMOKING???

    . . . . headshake. . . headshake. . .


  85. Carmen,
    I don’t smoke anything or drink alcohol and have not drank the koolaid that the world has to offer. I can’t speak for anyone else, but what Wisdomchaser spoke of is Biblical. There are churches with bad ways of teaching. The way WC was taught as a child was wrong. Moving on and determining the Truth with God’s help is good. Children should be taught of God’s goodness, not beat over the head with scripture they won’t even understand.

    I’m still trying to figure out what Augustinian Theology has to do with anything. He didn’t even exist until 300 years after Christ was crucified.


  86. Carmen, most of what I’ve seen you objecting violently to in this discussion is stuff that is, for the most part, pretty well accepted within small-o orthodox Christianity. You’ve mentioned that you’re an atheist, so I get why you are having such strong reactions. But it seems like I’m seeing you start to go on the offensive in this stuff, and I just don’t see this particular article as the place for that. JA said up thread that, “The primary audience here is Christian. So if this does not apply to you, those debates have to go elsewhere. All are welcome to join in the discussion to support and encourage those who have been abused.” I feel like some of your recent comments are getting at from that an into theological debate.


  87. Now Carmen, didn’t we demonstrate that you were a lot more innocent than we might have thought a few days back when I noted some of the things that are really in the Kama Sutra? :^)

    Seriously, I’ve looked up the Hebrew for filthy rags, and it does indeed refer to menstrual cloths. Regarding whether they were washed when the woman was again clean after her period–I haven’t seen/figured out any clear Biblical evidence for that one. Maybe someone can enlighten me. Is it perhaps Talmudic?

    But personally, I’m with you–the woman was only clean after a week after her period ended, and she waited that long to clean them? Triple ick, and health issue. Count me skeptical.

    And what have I been smoking? Just pork shoulder. :^)

    OK, back to the topic, as Lydia noted on the thread with some of the Reformed tragedies (e.g. Mahaney, Phillips, etc..), there are those who would make the Church into any other business. And it is my goal–and I assume Lydia’s and many others here–to take the Church back 20 centuries to be what She is supposed to be.

    For those of you out there hurting, this is my promise to you, even if we never meet this side of Heaven.


  88. Hi, sorry I grossed people out. Before I became disabled I was going to be a forensic anthropologist, I have a really high ick level.

    Anyway, the Jewish people were very much into being clean. I don’t think she waited but washed the cloths immediately. The later purification was more ritual.

    More ick factor warning!! As for knowing about reusable cloth pads, they were used up until very recently and may still be used in third world countries. No one could afford to throw them away until they were in shreds. Also, I am allergic to some of the chemicals in the throw away pads. So I have the patterns and instructions on making them. So this was personal investigation based on my anthropological background.. I’m not sure I have the notes anywhere handy.


  89. Oh, in my homeschool mama crunchy days (I was wearing Birkenstocks in 1985), grinding wheat, baking bread, making my own clothes, cloth diapering (used cloth for first 5 babies) etc, you can be sure I saw patterns for sewing cloth pads. I’m sure reusing cloth pads saves a ton of $$, unless you’re full quivering and rarely having a cycle. Hmm, I miss my old Birkenstocks. My college student says they are in again.


  90. That’s what I use it for. Pork BBQ with Mimi’s BBQ sauce and my special KFC copycat coleslaw recipe is the bomb diggety. Hmm spellcheck doesn’t like. Oh well. I’m now salivating and instead have to go to my 2-hr math class.


  91. I enjoy preparing a heavenly smoked chicken and making a angelic hickory sauce (with a devilish twist) from scratch to go with it. No doubt it’s heaven on earth. Had to stay on topic. 🙂 .


  92. OCTOBER 1, 2014 @ 12:59 PM
    WOW!! The only other question I have is – WHAT have you people been SMOKING???

    I might be a lone voice here, I ain’t smoking anything. Just want to say, I would love to have a glass of wine with you, hear your story, because everyone has a story imho.

    And I would tell you, that uncertainty is my position about Jesus. Somedays, I have no doubt, others, I am so troubled that I doubt everything.

    And fwiw, I have cringed at a few comments that have been hurled your way. If I was you, those remarks would have sent me running farther away from Christ.

    I cannot stand certainty, dogmatism. I hope you hang around here, there are many diverse voices, we are not all on the same page.

    Liked by 2 people

  93. Brenda I thank you but honesty demands the man up stuff came when I was a young adult dealing with the nightmares of the childhood incident. I probably should have made that more clear.

    “A six year old in that condition should be held and loved. ”
    After 32 + years in the industry, no matter the age this is not and will never be an option. But it is a nice thought. Thank you for your kindness.


  94. Thanks, Gail – that’d be great to share a vino but I expect we are far apart geographically! Believe me, even though I get myself in hot water once in awhile, Julie Anne has the grace and fortuity to put up with my shenanigans. There’s a reason she does that, even though we are not on the same page philosophically. She recognizes that I, too, see the grave importance of empowering people who’ve had their voices silenced – which, a great deal of the time, means women. (and, by extension, children)
    P.S. Even with these horns coming out of my head, I don’t smoke! 🙂


  95. The reason I posted the truth of my experience pertains to the article at hand, “Spiritual Abuse” as it portrays itself in many different forms. My heart cries out for those whom are spiritually abused for many of us here at Spiritual Sounding Board have been abused within the institutional church system. I, personally, have experienced trauma, via the mouths of a pastor, his “leadership” yes men and women (some calls these lords “the church board,” while others label them as “elders, deacons, and deaconesses.”)

    It seems as with the “churched” in my community, there is always a hidden agenda of the heart. With my former friend, it seems as though we were “friends” as long as I was a Republican, but when I politely asked her to not send me anymore hateful emails regarding the Democratic population/politicians (many of which should NOT have been sent by a born again believer in Jesus Christ. It was a shame to my faith.), she pulled out the spiritual ammunition against me by sending me a email to view “23 minutes in hell” by Bill Wiese (And yes, I do believe there is a hell, but not Mr. Bill’s version for he is not privy to that kind of revelation, the canon of Scripture is closed and I will choose to believe Jesus’ version of hell instead, and dare not add anything extra.)

    She made the choice to transition from a political realm to the spiritual realm, which I believe was downright dirty. And I consider this abusive, my friends, for a disagreement in politics is not worthy of being threatened with going to hell if I choose not to be a Republican any longer. So the church is Republican….really? Where does it say that in the Bible….Jesus=Republican? Nope, cannot buy that one.

    I am sorry, for I know too much about the political system to actually put my hope and trust in those types of men and women who possess cold consciences. Psalm 118:8-9.

    Spiritual abuse prowls around in many different forms, and many within the church system do “know” what they are doing when they choose to abuse. My prayers are still lifted up to our LORD Jesus Christ for the author of this post. May God forgive us for neglecting those who are the recipients of spiritual abuse by the false sheep (goats.)

    Liked by 1 person

  96. Katy, you brought up something that I don’t recall being mentioned before- the political pressure that sometimes occurs under tyrannical leaders. I remember my pastor getting to those discussions as well. That is not the time, nor place.

    Liked by 1 person

  97. The thing that irritates me a bit about Carmen here is what in my experience is common among many atheists: the “Do your research, people!” mantra.

    It’s such pretense, this notion that we simple-minded Christians haven’t done our research and if we only did, we’d see round this puerile Sunday school-level thought and grow up and become thinking people–like, of course, the atheists.

    I am a faculty member at a large state university. Research is part of my career, without it, I will be exiled–as my chair reminds me. I know research, I am staff editor for an academic journal, I review for a number of others. What I have found when I take the time to do a bit of research into the “research” to which the average atheist directs me, the devastating proof that my belief in Jesus is a delusion, that the biblical notions of sin and redemption and judgment are just Iron Age myths–or “twisted Augustinian theology”, pick your favorite insulting comment about our faith–I almost invariably find that it comes from either: 1). a fringe and disreputable “scholar” looking for a hit in a journal by positing some forced controversy, 2). a non-scholar producing balderdash fishing for a book deal, or 3). a complete pop culture fraud who is so out of his or her element that they cannot be relied upon to perform even undergraduate-level research. I have yet in five decades on this planet and over a decade in higher education to find a single legitimate exception to this rule. And I have looked for one!

    I am very weary of hearing of these theories; just because one happens upon this or that book or internet site. They are generally just silly.

    My rant is over.


  98. “And I would tell you, that uncertainty is my position about Jesus. Somedays, I have no doubt, others, I am so troubled that I doubt everything.

    And fwiw, I have cringed at a few comments that have been hurled your way. If I was you, those remarks would have sent me running farther away from Christ.

    I cannot stand certainty, dogmatism. I hope you hang around here, there are many diverse voices, we are not all on the same page.”

    Me too, Gail. I have a lot of empathy for where Carmen is coming from. Doubt it good, you know if it causes us to dig deeper and really think. And I think the dualism and redefining of sin that Augustine introduced early on is one of the main culprits of all the confusion we have seen for millenia and all the evil done in the name of Jesus in church history.

    One thing that made a big change for me was how I viewed “faith”. I now see it as a commitment. I no longer see it as some mystical stance or something “implanted” in me with some sort of cosmic pixie dust. I believe Jesus Christ, period. And my belief and commitment to Him has nothing to do with those who use his name to excuse all sort of evil or deception no matter what their position or title.

    Augustine was able to spread the idea that we have no real volition in this life. We are born guilty and sinning. Others ran with this and systemitized this thinking. It is the main theme of most Protestantism.

    Here is something that might help some in how they view Jesus Christ, the Cross and resurrection. When you think of Easter (The resurrection) think of Gen 1. New Creation. Because that was the whole point of it. If it never looks like that AT ALL with those who represent him…even on this corrupted earth, then something is very wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  99. TD, you are right that his is not the place to debate Christianity or put it down. There are plenty of other blogs for that. One of the common results of spiritual abuse is leaving one’s faith in a precarious place. We don’t want to sabotage that relationship, but to encourage those hurting to seek Him, when emotionally ready.


  100. “….that the biblical notions of sin and redemption and judgment are just Iron Age myths–or “twisted Augustinian theology”, pick your favorite insulting comment about our faith–”

    I think the problem is not “twisted Augustinian theology” but twisted interpretations that take the Augustinian route, totally ignoring historical context, grammar, re-translations after retranslations, genre, etc.

    . Augustine did not even know Greek nor Hebrew yet his interpretations of many texts are because his writings were in Latin that spread West quickly, were taken on and added to and systematized, etc, etc. Augustine is the Father of the Catholic church and the Protestant Reformation. He pretty much set the foundation for beliefs for a thousand years. It has barely been questioned at all through out history. But it is so close to Greek Pagan dualism it is scary.

    And I do think most churches are teaching a very wrong and hopeless view of sin and redemption which sends a message we are vile and cannot live redeemed lives and sinning is ok cos we cannot help it.. There is mass confusion out there because who can trust that???. We can be different now in Christ. But that seems to insult many. As if Jesus Christ is being righteous for us right now. He isn’t. We have to be involved and do our part. It is a relationship.

    I tell CArmen this: I have decided to make a committment to believe and follow Jesus Christ. Period. That also means I am willing to listen to other beliefs and even discuss things that make me uncomfortable like hell, etc. (I believe in a separation from God because I can tell you right now, I am not interested in spending eternity with Pol Pot)

    Liked by 2 people

  101. I’m with you Lydia on two great and cogent comments you’ve made. It’s virtually impossible to make sense of ‘spiritual abuse’ without taking a look at its theological underpinnings even though the blog owner has made it quite clear that this is not the place for it. I respect that, and after some brief push-back on the ‘filthy rags’ thing up-thread, I’m done:

    It ties in nicely with your point about historical context and genre. In context Isaiah 64:6 is about the apostasy of Judah and the corrupt practices of their religious establishment at the time. It Is Not a blanket statement proving that you can do nothing ‘good’ on your own and that any good you do can only be sanctioned by a particular theology. There is no act of kindness and compassion that is ever a ‘filthy rag’ in the sight of the Almighty. It’s a lie from the father of lies.

    Liked by 1 person

  102. “I’m with you Lydia on two great and cogent comments you’ve made. It’s virtually impossible to make sense of ‘spiritual abuse’ without taking a look at its theological underpinnings even though the blog owner has made it quite clear that this is not the place for it. I respect that, and after some brief push-back on the ‘filthy rags’ thing up-thread, I’m done:”

    Thanks Muff. And JA is right it is not just Calvinism– it is most of Protestantism from the IFB and their lawlessness of hierarchy to the seekers who claim Jesus hung on the cross so we could sin all we want to Calvinists who say we are puppets in a cosmic puppet show. All of it is infested with variations of Greek Pagan philosophy and the Roman chain of being structures which Jesus said NO to– big time. It is just that the Calvinists are causing the most havoc right now. It will be some other resurgence movement in a few years. Years back it was the Jesus Movement.

    And yes, it is impossible to make sense of it without looking at the theological underpinnings. I liken it to how some are taught to recognize counterfeit currency. One must really study and know the real thing to recognize the counterfeit.


  103. FWIW, “pork butt” is another way of saying “Boston Butt,” which is of course taken from the shoulder of the hog. How it got its name I do not know, but since my brother went to school in Boston (oldest school there), I’ll say it’s because people at his school couldn’t tell the difference. :^)

    (just kidding, in case there are any Crimson fans out there)

    OK, seriously, for whatever reason, Calvin does start with the Apostles’ Creed and Augustine in the Institutes. I would hope we’d agree that the creed is a good place to start, even if we only say it’s a shorthand for authentic theology starting points, no?

    One minor correction; given that Augustine was from “Hippo” (Greek for “horse”) and received a classical education, it is almost certain that he was fluent in Greek, and he is on record as discussing certain ambiguities in the Septuagint regarding the death of pre-born children. Lydia would be correct, however, that many churchmen of his day were not conversant in Hebrew–Jerome is on record as having been exhorted to use the Septuagint instead of the Masoretic texts to translate the Old Testament for the Vulgate. I don’t know whether Augustine knew Hebrew, however.

    One significant exhortation; before we pile on Calvin, let’s make sure we’re arguing against HIS views and not the Synod of Dort, from whence the acronym “TULIP” comes. I have personally made a practice of asking modern “Reformed” people whether they’ve read much Calvin, and 95% of the time the answer is “no.”

    I’m personally at about page 400 of my first reading of the 1100 odd pages of the Institutes, and after I read it a few times, I think I might have the gist of his theology. :^) It’s really, really dense to modern eyes.


  104. “OK, seriously, for whatever reason, Calvin does start with the Apostles’ Creed and Augustine in the Institutes. I would hope we’d agree that the creed is a good place to start, even if we only say it’s a shorthand for authentic theology starting points, no?”

    Bubba, I am completely, totally, happily NON creedal. (I know, GASP)

    “One minor correction; given that Augustine was from “Hippo” (Greek for “horse”) and received a classical education, it is almost certain that he was fluent in Greek, and he is on record as discussing certain ambiguities in the Septuagint regarding the death of pre-born children. Lydia would be correct, however, that many churchmen of his day were not conversant in Hebrew–Jerome is on record as having been exhorted to use the Septuagint instead of the Masoretic texts to translate the Old Testament for the Vulgate. I don’t know whether Augustine knew Hebrew, however.”

    There seems to be a lot of controversy about this. He mainly studied Latin Lit but there was no doubt some rudimentary Greek because he was schooled in the old pagan method. Most Greek lit was translated into Latin by then, anyway. Many scholars come to this conclusion because of some of his more bizarre commentaries on things like “original sin” and how he interpreted Romans. The fact that he was such a prolific writer in Latin for that time meant his view spread West like wildfire.

    “One significant exhortation; before we pile on Calvin, let’s make sure we’re arguing against HIS views and not the Synod of Dort, from whence the acronym “TULIP” comes. I have personally made a practice of asking modern “Reformed” people whether they’ve read much Calvin, and 95% of the time the answer is “no.”

    I have read the Institutes. I should say I have slogged through them. HIs teaching on reprobation is about all we need to know to know how bad his theology really is. According to Calvin…. you can look saved, act saved and think you are saved…..and not be and you won’t find out until you die! That is Calvin. But mainly for me, just reading a lot of history of that time and seeing what a brute thug he was— is all I needed to know.

    The funny thing about the Institutes is it is a lot like proof texting the bible. you can pull oyt a few things that sound great and other things that are down right bizarre.

    Basically, my take is Calvin was a lawyer that systematized Augustine’s thoughts and called it correct doctrine. I have this strange feeling from what I have read that I would have enjoyed a glass of wine with Servetus. He was quite the character. But he certainly did not deserve his burning. Nor all those other folks who were tortured, banished, imprisoned, etc because they disagreed with the Bishop of Geneva. Did you know he even got the petit council to ration the amount of courses that could be served at each meal? He also put fines on people who mocked him or fell asleep during one of his sermons. (which could go on for hours). The man was a thug.

    Liked by 1 person

  105. Cindy K: I would think that someone who spends a lot of time and energy trying to help spiritually abused people may feel pretty stung when someone comes along who is badly triggered by your words and calls them toxic. This fact bothers me, a lot, and is one of the reasons why I never came back to this thread to explain my thoughts – I have a hard time speaking my mind sometimes when I think someone might be/get very hurt.

    The other problem with explaining myself is that I just cannot “go there” at the moment without getting upset (plus, so much to say and it would derail this thread). I mean, devastated. So, hoping you will forgive me for not doing so. My whole/only intention was to warn/ask you to please be more careful when discussing the subject of suffering. I was pretty worried that someone else would feel as I did. But it appears that no one here is quite as hyper-sensitive. So, a good thing.


  106. I am an ex-IFB member and spiritual abuse survivor. I was fooled for nearly 30 years growing up there. I was run off for not adhering to their strict code and questioning some of it. Now my wife has left me to stay at the church. I got the kids back after she stole them away from school. (She did not want them in public school, but would not homeschool them either. ) I am fighting to keep my three kids (10, 12, and 15) away from The IFB and protect them from her multiple IFB types of abuses. They are all begging me to help keep them away from that abusive lifestyle but no one wants to listen to them. It’s the old “She’s a good Christian woman and would never do anything like that” argument that we constantly hear. I am living day to day financially from fighting for the truth to be heard. Is there any help out there. I feel like I am one little man fighting a well funded army.


  107. Broken Father, my heart ached when I read your story. I’m so sorry that you have first dealt with spiritual abuse, but you are now dealing with one of the most tragic aspects of it – when your marriage fails because of it. You are paying (and suffering) the ultimate price. My prayers are with you. Please feel free to share here any time. Even if you just want to unload what you’re going through. It doesn’t matter if the post is on your topic. We will always welcome and support you here.


  108. Sue C. First of all,to anyone who has been spiritually abused in any
    way, please don’t confuse Jesus Christ with the failings of
    a church. Even though it was His idea to form the church, He certainly
    does not condone abuse of any kind in any church. When a leader of
    a church or any member is not walking in love towards the other
    members, God is not being rightfully represented there. I remember
    when I was going through the worst spiritual abuse in my long-time
    church, I was listening to a christian program on my car radio, and
    the preacher was saying that many leaders in Christian churches were
    misrepresenting Him, and that He was “apologizing” for how many of
    those that pretend to represent Him were treating the sheep. Those
    words resonated with me in a powerful way and I took them personally.
    After that, I came to realize that God had no part in spiritual abuse and
    was against those that were abusing those they should have been
    serving. Not that God had to “apologize” since He can do no wrong…..
    I think He used those words to show that He was not behind any of
    it and condemned the things that were being done. Don’t give up on
    church, but don’t stay in one where you are being whipped into
    submission or told that you are a low-down sinner under the wrath
    of God. God says whoa to those that cause someone who believes
    in Him to stumble. But remember to forgive them! God loves them too
    and wants them to experience His grace. Often they have never known
    God’s grace and therefore have no grace to give to others.


  109. I can relate. I am happy for you that you are now able to celebrate that you are a survivor.

    I have learned that Priests and/Pastors are just human beings but we fall in the trap of wanting to see them as God’s meaning our mindset says they should pot ray God’s image so we let our guts down….then they too start abusing us, whether intentionally or not.

    I find myself so angry with myself as to how come didn’t I see this abuse earlier before I got so hurt but I am also glad that I got out at the end.

    Be strong and courageous. I thank God that I have now learned to practice the spiritual things that they teach and remove myself from being attached to Ministry workers including Priests/Pastors. I go to church to listen to the word and worshipthen go home like everyone else.

    Thanks for sharing, it’s good to see that there’s other people who went through similar pains.


  110. At least you are still young. Smile! I have hope for you! Not necessarily for me. Jk. I am 56 and I FEEL exactly your pain of not connecting any longer. I’ve been as many places as I could go after my abuse, still your words are mine. I keep trying! God help me. My abuse came from losing “friends” to affairs with my pastor, which was also my brother in law.


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