What Is “Spiritual” Abuse? A Working Definition

Jesus Creed (blog)

December 2, 2020

By Scot McKnight

Two experts have worked for years to get this definition of spiritual abuse.

I am aware that what one person calls “spiritual abuse” to another person may be no more than a disagreement. This is not to diminish or minimize genuine cases but to recognize that the diagnosis requires discernment and knowledge of sufficient facts.

Which is why we all need to turn to Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphrey’s definition in their important study of spiritual abuse called Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse: Creating healthy Christian cultures. This book, or at least one like it, should be on every pastor’s bookshelf and available to both elders/deacons and congregants.

Spiritual abuse works both ways: congregations can abuse pastors and pastors can abuse congregations and congregants. Make it more complex: congregants can abuse one another.

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