Tag Archive | legalism

Truth Without Grace Is Dead

Yesterday I read a bristling article by a Christian blogger/journalist/news figure who proclaimed himself a “professional truth-teller.” He gleefully excoriated another Christian writer as likes and loves poured into his site. Listen. If a Twitter handle or author bio includes the phrase “professional truth-teller” there is a good chance they are not. When truth–and we’re […]

Breaking the Chains of Legalistic Parenting

Parenting proves challenging in the best of circumstances. Even the healthiest, most well-adjusted parent faces crises of doubt, exhaustion, and failure. But most of us aren’t completely healthy, are we? Most of us carry baggage from our own imperfect childhoods, adolescent traumas, and adult heartaches. And for those of us who grew up in rule-based […]

30 Signs of Legalism: A Checklist

The average legalist does not know that he or she is legalistic. I didn’t. I thought I was just following God’s Word. I didn’t think I was a Pharisee; I thought I was righteous. Legalism is rightly considered a disease in the church, but most of its sufferers mistake its symptoms for holiness. They think […]

Recovering from Spiritual Abuse: Fearing the Good

“What would you do if you had no fear? Sometimes we think we are driven by our wants — when too often we are driven by our fears.” – Ann Voskamp I started flossing again. For the last couple of years it’s been hit or miss, mostly because I had a visceral reaction to the […]

12 Things God Doesn’t Do

The most devastating consequence of spiritual abuse is a marred image of God. If your church or pastor practices spiritual abuse, chances are that your view of God is filtered through twisted scriptures and an untrue characterization of what God is like. In these situations, your view of God probably looks a lot like how […]

Seven Signs You’re in a Cult

A June 18 article published in The Atlantic — “The Seven Signs You’re in a Cult” — helps to illustrate symptoms of cult behavior. It is well-written and accurately portrays the codependency and progressive extremism of cults. Here are eight reasons why I think this article is worth your time: It portrays well the narcissism and […]

8 Ways to Distinguish Gossip from Criticism

Recent news reports about Christian leaders have raised an interesting debate: what is gossip, and what is legitimate criticism or concern? Does a Christian leader have the right to fire employees over what he or she considers gossip? And what about all the cult leaders or spiritually abusive leaders who define any criticism of their […]

Top 12 Blog Posts

Two years ago I started this blog in order to confront spiritual abuse with grace and truth. I wasn’t sure there was anyone outside of my immediate family and a small circle of friends who would read the posts. I wasn’t sure how wide the problem was. Two years later, I understand better that spiritual […]

Checklist: 55 Attributes of a Spiritually Abusive Leader

To recognize a spiritually abusive leader, first we have to define spiritual abuse. Jeff VanVonderen, co-author of the classic book The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, defines spiritual abuse like this: “Spiritual abuse occurs when someone in a position of spiritual authority–the purpose of which is to ‘come underneath’ and serve, build, equip and make God’s […]

Frankenstein Faith: Misuse of the Old Testament (Part 5 of 10)

In the late 1990s I attended a running camp for two summers in the mountains of New Hampshire. The camp had a lake, cabins, and was surrounded by thick piney woods. Built into a natural plateau was a field. We used it for ice breakers, cabin competitions, and Ultimate Frisbee. Trees ringed the field. The […]