It is unusual for pastors to speak out with compassion on the subject of spiritual abuse. More often than not, church leaders and members prefer to defend their own denomination fiercely, unable to hear the cries of those who have been wounded by it. This book will be an invaluable tool to enable congregation members and those in authority to understand the reality of toxic groups and cults and reach out in love to their victims.
As well as offering comfort to people who have suffered abuse in a religious context, this book provides practical guidelines for pastors who seek to cultivate healthy congregations. By educating church leaders in this way and equipping them to root out the causes of “toxic faith”, F. Remy Diederich is showing them “a more excellent way”, based on love and grace, rather than fear and shame.
I was very moved by the author’s own candid experience of spiritual abuse, which led him to abandon church altogether for a period of 5 years. During this “exile”, he was confronted with God’s unconditional love, which challenged him to fall into his Father’s arms in gratefulness.
As an ex-cult member, I must admit that it was a little hard for me to bring myself to read a book written by an evangelical pastor. When I was in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, we were taught to view all other religions and denominations as “The Great Whore of Babylon”. Although this is no longer my standpoint, the temptation to look down on churches and pastors and regard them with criticism and scorn is very great. It’s like I have an inner Pharisee in me, which pops out at the most inappropriate times, ready to deal out contempt & derision.
However, in this case my prejudices were very much unfounded. F. Remy Diederich is a fellow survivor of spiritual abuse, who is bravely speaking out against this cancer which rears its ugly head in so many congregations and churches throughout the world. By tackling this issue head on, he is taking a stand against the status quo, just as Jesus did when he criticized the Pharisees and their hypocrisy in the first Century.