Spiritual Abuse Can Happen in Baptist Churches

I would like to share my experience with spiritual abuse in a small Baptist church. Many of the sermons we would hear each Sunday contained great Biblical truths. But soon we found that each Sunday we were committing ourselves to work harder at certain areas of our lives - and becoming more and more discouraged. We were discouraged to meet in Bible Studies outside of our "flock". We were encouraged to question the messages we heard - but found that when we did question our pastor he became extremely defensive. We were taught that all Christians are part of God's family - but if you left this church you lost your friends and family.

There were many problems with our particular Baptist church - but one that I think is common among these churches is that we were taught to focus on what was wrong in our lives instead of keeping our eyes on Christ. The issue was "sin" and if we were struggling we needed to conquer that sin before God could effectively use us. What this teaching did was produce self-righteousness and self-condemnation. This is a difficult area in our lives and we need to be encouraged to keep our eyes on Christ and not on ourselves. Our church was extremely legalistic - yet our pastor talked often of God's grace. There was a mixed message of God's unconditional love and acceptance IF we followed the steps our pastor had laid before us.

It was very hard to leave this church - but we finally left because we were becoming more and more frustrated by the bondage to an "organization" and a "shepherd" rather than a relationship with the true Shepherd.

If anyone has had similar experiences in Baptist churches - feel free to email me at jcbyk@execpc.com.

Chris


Posted December 25, 1998

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