Top 25 Books for Victims of Spiritual Abuse

Top Resources for Victims of Spiritual AbuseIf my house caught fire and you gave me five minutes to grab the top 25 books which have helped me to heal from—and take responsibility for—my years in a Bible cult, these are the books I would snatch:

Recognizing Spiritual Abuse

1.) The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen

2.) Captive Hearts, Captive Minds by Madeleine Landau Tobias and Janja Lalich

3.) Twisted Scriptures by Mary Alice Chrnalogar

4.) Cults in Our Midst by Margaret Thaler Singer

5.) The Heresy of Mind Control by Stephen Martin

6.) Breaking Free: Rescuing Families from the Clutches of Legalism by David R. Miller

Healing Spiritual Abuse

7.) Healing Spiritual Abuse by Ken Blue

8.) Churches that Abuse: Help for Those Hurt by Legalism and Authoritarian Leadership by Ronald Enroth

9.) Recovering from Churches that Abuse by Ronald Enroth

10.) Soul Repair: Rebuilding Your Spiritual Life by Jeff VanVonderen

11.) Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve by Lewis B. Smedes

12.) To Be Told: Know Your Story, Shape Your Future by Dan Allender

Toward Psychological Health and Assertiveness

13.) Understanding Who You Are by Larry Crabb

14.) Understanding People by Larry Crabb

15.) Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

16.) Families Where Grace is in Place by Jeff VanVonderen

Understanding Spiritual Authority and the Purpose of the Church

17.) Leading with a Limp by Dan Allender

18.) Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders

19.) Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch

20.) From the Ground Up by J. Scott Horrell

21.) The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero

How to Study the Bible and Rebuild Your Doctrine

22.) Living by the Book by Howard Hendricks

23.) A Survey of Bible Doctrine by Charles Ryrie [Add Empowered Evangelicals by Rich Nathan and John Wimber for an additional perspective]

24.) The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer

25.) What’s So Amazing about Grace by Philip Yancey

If this list seems overwhelming, just pick a book or two from each category and have at it. There are plenty of other outstanding resources, but these top my list. What about you? Which books would you recommend?

10 comments on “Top 25 Books for Victims of Spiritual Abuse

  1. I would highly recommend Freedom of Mind by Steve Hassan who is a cult expert.
    I have the Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse and am still reading Cults in Our Midst- both very good books!
    Thanks for the list Stephen and will look forward to picking up a few to start reading. 🙂

    • Thanks trust4himonly–I will check out Steve Hassan’s book. Actually, I have it on my bookshelf downstairs, but the move to Columbus and my job search has kept me from getting to it. I will move it to my yellow end table by the couch in the living room where it can get the attention it deserves. Thus begins the great migration of worthy books…

  2. Wow! I may need them all. Especially the ones about rebuilding belief, which i have lost *grim smile*

    • Hi sylphesylphe, I can understand your struggle with belief. It is so hard to trust anyone or anything but ourselves after our trust has been so gravely abused. Someone once told me something that helped me in my own journey. They said, “We don’t burn dollar bills just because someone makes counterfeits.” It reminds me never to judge a belief system by its abuse. Even the most worthy cause may have its counterfeit practitioners or false prophets. Thanks for joining this conversation–blessings to you on your journey, and don’t burn those worthy bills =)

  3. Hi Steve,

    So glad for your website! You Go Guy! I would like to inform people about my book based on my doctoral research of spiritual abuse and recovery. It is entitled: “Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness.” The chapter titles are designed this way: What’s Going On? What Do Others Say? What Does the Bible Say? What Does This Research Say? and What Can We Do About It?

    This is a reader friendly book that looks at this dysfunction in the church and provides biblical insights and a theological foundation for godly church leadership. There are excerpts from those who participated in this study which are helpful and inspiring. I have books available from my home. People can contact me at: info@churchexiters.com

    My website is: http://www.ChurchExiters.com

    Another abuse resource website is: http://www.AbuseResourceNetwork.com

    All the best as you continue to be a voice for those spiritually abused in the church!


  4. Thanks Barb I will check it out.

  5. Hi Steve,

    I am so thrilled to find yet another voice focusing on recovery from religious and spiritual abuse. As more of these traumas are brought into the light there will be a greater need for understanding the healing process and the individual path to recovery. I would also like to recommend my book “Transcending Fear: The Journey to Freedom and Fulfillment” as a resource for others who are looking to create a joy filled life free from the fear-based beliefs and experiences of their past.

    You are also welcome to visit my website at http://www.victoriamreynolds.com.

    Thank you for all that you do.


  6. We refer to “Mary Alice” (Chrnaloger) like an old friend in our house–Twisted Scriptures was an immensely helpful book for us. And I have not yet completed Barb Orlowski’s book but I would also recommend it based on what I’ve read so far (over half).

    I would also add Day of the Wolf: Unmasking and Confronting Wolves in the Church by Coleman Luck to the list. This book might have confused me before the wolf (my pastor couldn’t be a wolf!) was outed from our church, but it made complete sense in the aftermath. And had I read something like this beforehand, it might have opened my eyes to the deception.

    Also, I cannot believe I just discovered your website!!! I could spend hours on here. A year out from our church disaster (which ended up on the front pages of the local newspaper), we have found much healing but are passionate about helping others. And the more we understand the ways in which God is distorted, it also gives us what we believe to be a clearer and more Scriptural picture of who he really is. In our limited human understanding, of course! But learning who God is NOT is helpful nonetheless.

    I look forward to reading more on this website as well as checking out your recommended resources.

    • It sounds like you are well on the path to recovery, healing, and helping others. Our scars become our ministry. I am so glad you are out of your spiritually abusive situation. Thanks for sharing and for your encouragement.

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