5 Stars Out Of 5
New Name: Old Problem
March 4, 2015
Age: Over 65
When thinking about the term "Spiritual Abuse," there is the temptation either to dismiss the term as psychobabble, or, going to the other extreme, imagine that any elder or spiritual leader that has looked at us with a funny expression has spiritually "abused us." June Hunt, in her book, is careful to explain what spiritual abuse is NOT: it is not, for instance, church discipline, or the firm holding to biblical principles. She is also careful to note that even though the term "spiritual abuse" may be a new one to some, the behavior it describes is one that goes back to the Garden of Eden, where Satan used a little truth, coupled with a lie, to influence the behavior of Eve, and then, Adam. While there were many godly leaders in Israel, and, later, in the Church, it is sadly true that there were shepherds described by such prophets as Ezekiel as those who devoured the flock rather than caring for them.
Our Lord was, as June points out, very strong in his condemnation of religious leaders who, though, apparently highly observant of the Mosaic law, had added laws of their own that had put a burden on the flock that was impossible to sustain. June gives a number of examples from her own counseling work of people taken advantage of by those in positions of spiritual leadership, rather than being cared for by them. She also notes examples of those who use very private interpretations of the Scripture to bolster some position that will advantage them personally, and put a burden on the person being counseled.
I believe it is good that June has included this subject in her writings, since, in a day in which extensive knowledge of the Bible is not something common to the population at large, and postmodern subjectivity has infected the thinking of many people, it is more than easy to be taken advantage of by religious leaders who may be in positions of leadership chiefly for their own benefit, rather than for the benefit of the flock. Others have written about the fallout of spiritual abuse, which, it seems, takes a toll on families and general well-being, but, as an introduction to the topic, June Hunt's book is very helpful, and a good place to start.
I need to add a couple of things: I should mention that one of the pillars, one might say, of the whole spiritual abuse syndrome, is legalism, and June Hunt has given a fine and thoughtful analysis of what might be involved in that. In addition, it should be added that Ms. Hunt has been very careful throughout to use the Holy Scriptures as the measuring rod: for example, rather than merely fastening on that which comprises abuse, she cites passages from the Bible that tell the attitudes and actions that SHOULD characterize shepherds who are caring for the Lord's flock.
In the commercial world, we say, "Let the buyer beware." I believe that anyone reading this little book would be more prepared than most to identify situations in which, not the buyer, but, the faithful, in this instance, might need to beware.
Although I received an advance electronic copy from Rose Publishing in return for a candid review, I had, some time before, obtained a copy, myself, and had read much or most of it.