Some experts estimate that there are over 5,000 cults in the United States. Other statistics say that 2.5 million people have been involved in cults over the past 40 years, and there are 180,000 new cult converts each year. This does not include people adversely affected by legalism but not technically in a cult-like church or organization. Spiritual abuse, it seems, remains a huge problem in the United States.
The purpose of this blog is to provide a forum to discuss spiritual abuse, the nature of spiritual authority, cults and cult-like churches, and the subtle heresy of legalism. The goal of this blog is to provide gracious truth which can help bring liberty to those held captive by spiritual abuse.
This is in keeping with the message and manner of Jesus, who inaugurated his public teaching ministry by quoting from the book of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” (61:1-2).
While there are already many helpful resources both in print and online concerning the nature of spiritual abuse, there remains a need for a current, up-to-date blog which can address spiritual abuse in a timely, yet personal way.
I offer the following qualifications:
- Personal lifelong experience in a cult.
- Separation from the cult and a documented shift in worldview and perspective.
- Theological training from a reputable seminary.
- Familiarity with the literature on cults and spiritual abuse.
Please add your own perspective and wisdom gained from experience by commenting on these blog posts. I hope to include posts by guest bloggers as the opportunities present themselves.
I’m so glad to have found this blog. Spiritual abuse is much more common than people realize (speaking from experience). I look forward to reading more posts.
Thank you so much for this site. It helps me keep a good perspective on the group I left painfully, just last year, having been in the ‘inner circle’ for 28 years.
Our story, for any interested, is here:
Thank you for this blog. I have recently had a blog post uploaded to The Wartburg Watch, I know what it is like to have ‘no voice’ and just to know people care has certainly helped my healing. The blog post is called: Mrs. Rhonda J. Aubert vs the Presbyterian Church of Australia it is an abridged version of my book ‘Prised Open’.
Here are some caveats to avoid spiritual abuse:
Do not submit (place yourself under) false doctrine or teaching by anyone claiming to have authority over you by virtue of his position or office. It is not scriptural and is a lie.
All authority, worldly or spiritual, comes from God. No man has spiritual authority over another. It not scriptural and is a lie.
The only spiritual authority to which a believer should submit is the Holy Spirit who resides within every true believer. Every believer needs to test the spirits for himself to determine whether they are of God. Testing of the spirits involves checking for scriptural accuracy against the entire Bible, with confirmation by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Satan is the father of lies. Jesus Christ, who is God come in the flesh, is the Truth.
Belief in a lie, a different Jesus, a false doctrine or teaching is submission to an unholy spirit, and places one in spiritual bondage, leading to spiritual abuse. And the bondage and abuse is done with the permission of the captive because he chose, however unwittingly, to believe the lie and the liar instead of the Truth.
This false teaching that a man has spiritual authority over another had made its way into the early church through the gnostics, who believed that man had his own divine spark, and some had more of it than others. Gnosticism is at the heart of all false religions, Christian-like cults, and hierarchical churches that abuse.
Jesus Christ does not call men to be spiritual leaders in their homes or churches, but rather, He calls them to be followers. He calls men to take up their crosses and follow Him all the way to Calvary. It was there that Christ was lifted up and crowned King of kings. He ruled from the cross.
When you stand at the foot of the cross and look up at Jesus who suffered all those abuses out of love for you, take a moment to look down at the ground and marvel at this truth:
The ground is level at the foot of the cross.
It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. God bless you.
Thanks for sharing these, Tracy.
My wife is involved in the Hebrew Roots Movement, I can draw a lot of parallels to a cult, but can’t quite call it a cult as I can identify no “central leadership”. What can you tell me about the Hebrew Roots movement?
Your article on eight ways to avoid spiritual abuse was really enlightening to me. I’m brazilian and live in Brazil and I’ve dealing with spiritual communities for a long time (not necessarily Christian based) and I’ve been studying what I call “sustainable culture” of groups, communities and organizations, and this subject you bring is very, very relevant and there aren’t many people talking about it! Thank you very much and I would love to share and learn more on that, specially if we talk not only about Christian cults, but also New Age cults and other types of cults, that are also spirtiually abusing people, sometimes with a discourse of “being opened to all religions”, but intrinsically reproducing the same patterns of a spiritually abusive community. Thank you and congratulations for your work!
Thanks Gustavo 🙂
I want to know if there is any help for someone that is being brainwashed. My sister’s husband met this so called religious person 4 yrs ago. This person has pretty much brainwashed my sister’s husband and has caused the break up of there marriage. This guy encouraged my sister’s husband to leave her. Now my sisters’ husband lives with this person. This just happened in the last 6 weeks.
Sorry for my delayed response. It does not sound like this religious person is acting in a Christ-like manner. Breaking up a marriage in order to then live with one of the marriage partners is wrong. Whether it is religious brainwashing or just good old-fashioned deception and manipulation cloaked in religious language is unclear to me. I can only say that the Bible condemns such activities and schemes, so the religious person cannot use the Bible to justify her actions. Perhaps a mediator or counselor could help with some sort of intervention.