Abuse in the Church

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Abuse in the Church

One of the pressing needs of the Christian church is to assist in the development of discernment skills among believers so that the likelihood of following an aberrant teacher or a false doctrine is diminished. The need for discernment was impressed on me by a former member of Hobart Freeman’s Faith Assembly. He told me how the emphasis on the “faith message” or “faith walk” eventually diverted his focus from the centrality of Jesus Christ.

“The faith message is a counterfeit, unbiblical faith,” he said. “It takes the place of relationship with Jesus. Christ became a secondary figure. We were taught that if you produce the works of faith, God will bless you and you will have definite proof that you are following Jesus Christ. These people would say, ‘I believe with all my heart that I’m on the right track because Jesus healed me. Jesus gave me a promotion. Jesus gave me a new car. He gave me the desires of my heart.’ It becomes a matter of the work of faith, doing some kind of faith formula. What you do is important proof of your salvation, not what Jesus did for your salvation.”

As Dr. Paul G. Hiebert of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School correctly observes:

Like most movements in the church, the current emphasis on healing, prophecy and exorcism has both positive and negative sides to it. It reminds us of the need to take seriously the work of the Holy Spirit in meeting everyday human needs. It is in danger, however, of placing primary emphasis on what is of secondary importance in scripture and of bending the gospel to fit the spirit of our times. Satan often tempts us at the point of our greatest strengths. His method is not to sell us rank heresy, but to take the good we have and distort it by appealing to our self-interests.[9]

Abusive churches are not, for the most part, promoting rank heresy. But their human leaders seem ever willing to make pronouncements in the name of God, thus “mistaking what God is saying in Scripture for their own particular brand of interpretation of Scripture.”[10] This sets the stage for the possibility of outright heresy being introduced, as well as the kind of abusive practices we have discussed

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel … ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? … You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd … Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD … because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock … I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock … I myself will search for my sheep and look after them … I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak … I will shepherd the flock with justice … I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered … You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD.’” (Excerpts from Ezekiel 34)

above exerpts from http://www.apologeticsindex.org/704-abusive-churches-a-view-from-within

Recovering from abuse in the Church


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