"Power Before the Throne" Book Review
by a former UPC minister
Please Note: The following is a slight re-write of a post from a discussion
board and is not intended to be a thorough or scholarly response to this
While on vacation recently a friend asked me to read Ruth Rieder's book "Power Before the Throne". I did, and what I read grieved me to the point of tears. No joke. My spirit was grieved. I was very disturbed by what I read. This book is so poorly researched and so venomous, hard hearted, uncompassionate, and manipulative in its presentation it literally caused me to pray for the poor souls who read and believe it. I went through and marked up the book to give you an idea of what I mean.
On page 15 Rieder says we all need a "good, old-fashioned dose of the 'fear of the Lord' coupled with our love for God." In this context, she seems to be referring to the common sense definition of fear in that we are literally to be afraid of God. Sinners in the hands of an angry God sort of thing. Of course, this type of fear of God is a biblical concept, but not in relation to his children. My study indicates though that the phrase "fear of the Lord" in relation to his children means reverence and awe which flows out of love. It doesnt seem to be a separate element which is to be coupled with love as she espouses. And its certainly not the spine-chilling kind of fear that she seems to imply. Fear of God in this literal sense is more generally assigned to the enemies of God, not his children.
She then goes on to say on page 16 that the result of this "fear" is that God will give these folks who "fear" him the "secrets" of the kingdom. Obviously, a literal fear of God is anathema to a love relationship with God, thus it seems doubtful to me that any special revelations would be forthcoming as a result. Besides, Solomon said theres nothing new under the sun and I personally am not convinced of the idea that further "revelation" is necessary for vibrant and successful Christian living beyond the knowledge of the Cross and whats plainly stated in the Bible.
The pursuit of "secrets" and "special revelation" smacks to me of the legalistic idea that were never good enough, never knowledgeable enough, never holy enough, etc Where are the rest and peace and contentment in constantly trying to find new and special revelation? Jesus said that in him we would find rest and his burden was light, not that in him we would find a constant search for new truth and that his burden was constantly in flux.
On page 16 she also disparages those who "cast off former holiness convictions" and those who dismiss the "landmarks erected by our forefathers" as people who "once embraced a life of holiness." She's saying here that without adhering to her idea of holiness you are not holy and no longer believe in holiness. It's interesting to me that in this entire book the focus of holiness is virtually always on outward appearances rather than inward holiness. Holiness is not in how it appears that you are; it is what you actually are. Holiness is not an outward manifestation of an inward reality; it is the inward reality. Holiness is not a dress code; its a life code. We are to not be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
She continues this vein on page 17 when she says that people who have discarded her standards are living under a "...satanic falsehood...cloaked under the deceiving guise of compassion and a supposed desire to win more souls." Whew...not only is that untrue, it's just flat out mean! In my opinion, it flirts with the blasphemy of the Pharisees who in a desperate attempt to prop up the traditions of their elders resorted to a flat out denial of Jesus deity and attributed his signs and wonders to the power of satan. Christ took umbrage at their obtuse opinion by declaring that any denial of the work of God in another person and claiming the source of that good work to be satan is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. When we try to deny another persons idea of holiness by saying they are satanic it appears to not be far from blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately this appears to be her position in regards to those who have left her understanding of holiness.
She then says on page 17 that because of their adherence to the brand of holiness she promulgates, she and her compatriots have a deeper understanding of God's requirements. In other words, because of their external holiness code God has given them some sort of special revelation. A couple of pages later she uses Proverbs 28:19 as proof that without this kind of "revelation" you will perish. (Her view of the word "vision" in this verse is extreme and certainly out of the context of the subject at hand.)
At best, these types of statements strike me as overwhelmingly elitist. Isnt it the legalists point of pride that they are somehow superior to others because of what they do or know? Judging is biblical, but judging from a position of perceived superiority and exclusivity is legalistic elitism common to the Pharisees of ancient times and their modern day cousins found in many controlling and separatist Christian groups of today.
She also says on page 17 that God never wants His people to blend in with the world around them. Really? Why then did the people in those days wear the same garments as everyone else? It appears in Corinth that the church ladies were behaving outside of acceptable fashion norms and Paul rebuked them soundly for it. Did the Apostles really stand out from the crowd? Even Jesus Himself blended in so to be unrecognizable and indistinguishable from anyone else. Her understanding of the cultural conditions of the period seems questionable.
On page 20 Rieder uses fear to manipulate the readers emotions when she says that the culmination of disobedience to these standards is the removal of God's protection from your life. This flies in the face of reality though as there are millions of Christians alive today and in times past who have not lived by these standards yet somehow have managed to live safe and productive lives according to divine providence. Not to mention the fact that many of the people who have in fact lived by these standards have experienced personal calamity and spiritual demise in spite of their obedience to these standards. The same scenario applies to these people spiritually. The cause and effect here is related to something other than to what she tries to connect them. As shes already demonstrated its apparent that Rieder understands that fear is a prime human motivator and is not above using it capriciously to advance her position.
On pages 21-23, Rieder actually does a decent job discussing the order of authority as described in I Corinthians 11. Im glad she addressed this point because indeed it seems to be the main point of the passage.
But then she tries to define shave, shorn, shear, and trim. Besides the fact that trim is not even mentioned in the Bible, she also fails to cite the references of her definitions. So we are left to assume then that she has made up her own definitions. Ironically, her definitions seem to work against her for she associates "shorn" with sheep and says its root is "shear". But when defining "shear" she says it has to do with cutting hair with a sharp instrument with no mention of a specific amount being cut. However, when they shear sheep how much do they leave behind? Not much. So the implication here then is that "shear" and "shorn" refer to cutting hair very short with the next logical length being completely "shaven" (or "nude" as she puts it). So in reality, her definitions do strongly imply a length cut which is closely cropped to the head. Did I mention that she gives a definition for "trim" even though it's not mentioned in the Bible? Must be legalistic interrogation.
On page 25 she asserts that these verses in I Corinthians tell us that if a woman cuts her hair she's assuming the authority of the man and usurping his authority. Does the scripture say that here? If so, I sure dont see it. She then says that if a woman trims her hair she may as well cut it off. Does it say that in the Bible? She then says that 11:6 "...admonishes us that whether a woman cuts, trims, shears, or is shaven, it is a shame." I looked in my Bible and don't see the word "trim" there. Nor do I see the word "uncut". I hope shes not adding to the canon.
Ironically, she states in her introduction that the long hair of a woman SYMBOLIZES her submission to her husband. How is the removal of a symbol equal to the abolishment of what is symbolized? If a terrorist blew up the Statue of Liberty, would we not be free people any longer? Can a woman not cut her hair and still be in submission to her husband? Absolutely, I know some who are! Can a woman have uncut hair to her ankles and still be in rebellion to her husband? Absolutely, I know some who are! The symbol doesnt affect what is symbolized.
Page 26 really fires my rockets. She puts cutting hair on the same level as rape, nakedness, idolatry, lying, and lust. Then she says in all caps "DOING THINGS THAT ARE A SHAME CAN SEND YOU TO HELL!" Holy smokes! Pun intended. Evidently then, these standards ARE salvational. Heres more of that fear factor that Rieder so easily inserts into her dialogue.
Its interesting because its a known fact among those who study aberrant, controlling Christian groups that fear and shame are key weapons of choice used by controllers to keep their followers in obedience to their false teachings. Sometimes these techniques manifest themselves overtly, sometimes though they are more subtle. Abuse with a smile so to speak. I think we can place the above quoted phrase in the overt category. Is it coincidence or a Freudian slip that she actually uses the word "shame"?
This type of teaching particularly grieves me because it paints a grossly distorted image of God and his Word for its impressionable listeners. She uses the good Word of God to beat people over the head with bad false teaching and in the process their view of God turns from that of a loving father to one of an abusive and fickle father.
Page 28 brings more shame on a woman in that she says a woman that cuts her hair is "rottenness" to her husband. Ouch. I can just feel the love of Christ oozing from the pages. I find it somewhat amusing though when she asserts that the long hair is an "outward symptom of an inward condition". It's amazing that she can accept this concept in this context but I'd bet my life savings she'd claim "utter incomprehension" if you tried to apply this same concept to water baptism. Of course, I could be wrong, but I doubt that I am. But that's beside the point. Kind of like her frequent tirades into the areas of pants on women, jewelry, and make-up which are not germane to the discussion of hair.
She made me chuckle on page 29 because she uses the Ken and Barbie doll analogy to prove her point that "nature doth teach us". She wonders if Ken will ever have a ponytail and if Barbie will ever have a butch hair cut. She also asserts that at the judgment all God has to do is show sinners a Barbie doll to prove this "nature" point. Don't know about you but the mental image of God brandishing a Barbie doll strikes me as humorous. I was happy to have something break the tension though so I did appreciate her inclusion of this example. I wonder what she does now that Mattel has produced long-haired Kens and short-haired Barbies recently?
Later, on page 34 she uses the tired analogy of the signs on our restrooms as further proof that we instinctively know better and, again, she paints the picture of God using our restroom signs as evidence against us on Judgment Day. Besides the humorous mental image of God pointing to a restroom sign on Judgment Day, it strikes me as odd that the proponents of this teaching use this analogy to prop up their position because in fact it speaks to the opposite view.
They say that a dress is put on the woman because its obvious to society that its a womans attire and not a mans", thus a dress is put on the woman on the restroom sign.. That is partially true, but not wholly true. What they ignore is the fact that in Western society pants are accepted attire on both men and women but dresses are not normally acceptable attire on men. In order to distinguish the appropriate bathroom for linguistically challenged folks it was determined that although it would be appropriate to put pants on both the man and the woman it was NOT an appropriate statement to put a dress on a man, thus they chose this alternative garment for the woman to communicate which room each sex should choose. In other words, while it is acceptable for women to wear pants, its not acceptable for men to wear dresses so there is the distinction. The point that can be made is what is not appropriate attire for men instead of the other way around. This is a far cry from anti-pants-on-women folks who declare that even society agrees that pants dont belong on women and point to the restroom signs.
On page 31 she uses the standard UPC "abomination" reasoning that once an abomination always an abomination despite that fact that some things stated as such in the OT are no longer "unclean" in God's eyes. In doing so she explicitly puts cutting hair on the same level as human sacrifice, homosexuality, idolatry, witchcraft, and murder among other things. F-E-A-R, based on faulty hermeneutics.
On page 36 she gets into the million dollar question of "How long is long?" In response to Gringrich's and Thayer's claim that "komao" means to "let one's hair grow long" she states that "If you trim or cut your hair to keep it at a certain length, you obviously are not letting it grow. It is impossible to grow your hair and yet cut it at the same time." Huh? Really? So, if a woman has hair halfway to her ankles yet trims it, then it's not growing long? Really? Does our hair stop growing long when we cut it? The issue here is length of hair, not whether or not it's cut.
To bolster this argument she says that "kome" demands a meaning of UNCUT HAIR (emphasis hers). She cites two references that I have yet to be able to verify because the reference books are so obscure. Its a moot point though because if you check out this word in the vast majority of references it simply means "hair" with no inference as to its length. She violates basic and sound biblical hermeneutic principles when she uses an obscure reference work to override the plain meaning of scripture and the overwhelming weight of other empirical opinions. This is called wresting scripture and twisting it to mean what you want it to mean. She is basing a doctrine on an obscure interpretation of an isolated and somewhat obscure passage and that's dangerous.
(Rather than go into a long exposition about what I think this passage really means I refer you instead to the position papers on the hair standard posted on this site as well as the paper posted on www.actseighteen.com. A couple of books that give some good insight to this passage are "Neo-Pharisaism" by David Wasmundt and "False Standards" by Linda Hopper. I especially recommend Lindas book for her extensive research into the cultural conditions present at the time this epistle was written. Both books are available for purchase through this site I believe.)
Page 42 heaps reproach on those who use the magazines of "Egypt" to influence their fashion choices. Hmm...what are we to go by then to figure out current fashion? According to her we can't watch TV either so that leaves us radio I guess. Ah, but alas, there are no pictures on radio so it seems were in a bit of a quandary here. I assume we are supposed to let the "Egyptians" read the magazines and then observe what they're wearing to determine what's appropriate attire in our culture. Is there an "Egyptian free" mall somewhere where I can buy kosher clothing? Hey, what's clothing got to do with hair anyway?
On the same page she kind of hints that the UPC are the "true" saints because she says "When the saints of God go into a city for a General Conference, people stand up and take notice." Yes, that's true. But I also notice the Amish when they come riding into town in a buggy. I notice the Hare Krishna believers at airports too. She comments that businessmen in elevators comment on the beauty of the women, their long hair and their attractive clothing. Are any of those outfits in the magazines of Egypt? For her sake, I hope not.
And why are we so happy that businessmen think our ladies are attractive? I thought we were to be separate and pleasing unto God, not man. If the fashion of Egypt is so worldly and ungodly, why are we so excited when carnal, lustful, worldly men think our women are attractive? Doesnt make much sense to me. So much of this section is filled with inconsistency and a single dimensioned perspective Im not sure even where to start. Not to mention the bunker mentality of its basis, another common characteristic of an aberrant, controlling Christian group.
Anyway, back to hair on page 44. After all, this is supposed to be a book about hair. Well, actually not yet because she goes on a two or three page tear about make-up and says that God "...is not in the market for a painted harlot-looking bride." and that the ladies of the world have substituted the glory of long hair that God ordained for the make-up kit.
She also says on page 45 that we are to "Take a look at older women in our society, and notice the way their appearance has been destroyed by chasing after the delusion of beauty the world offers. Compare them to the graceful dignity of God's people whose hoary heads are found in the way of righteousness." Ok, I took her advice and looked. I found elegance and haggardness on both sides of the of the Maybelline fence. I guess the rain of wrinkles and sag falls equally on the just and the unjust.
Since she seems to view gray hair as a symbol of maturity and holiness I assume she's not a Clairol Christian, thus against hair coloring as well. To be fair, this is purely conjecture on my part. I could be wrong because she didnt specifically state this hair color point. Im just coloring in the lines that I see, so to speak.
Even so, its apparent to me that the graceful dignity of Gods people is found in their faith, their spirit of peace, and inward fruit of the righteousness that is imputed to them spiritually rather than that which adorns their temporal body. To me this is exactly the point of 1 Timothy 2:9,10 and II Peter 3:3,4. I agree with her that the world has bought into an overvaluation of physical attractiveness and has neglected the inward beauty that can only come from God. They have substituted outward beauty for inward beauty. They look to the outward man for acceptance and pay scant attention to the inward man. Is it just me or is there are a distinct parallel between that worldly philosophy and the one I read in this book? Perhaps this is part of what is meant by not conforming to the way of this world but being transformed by the renewing of our minds?
On page 47 she uses the tired old argument that the bobbed hair thing comes from the roaring 20's and came as a result of the discovery of King Tut and the Egyptian fashion rage it produced. Ok, if it was 1923 I'd concede the point. But, that was 75-80 years ago and it no longer has this implication in our society. I dont have visions of mummies and pyramids nor do I feel the urge to "Walk Like An Egyptian" when I see a woman with cut hair. Do you?
On page 50 she then talks about the occasion of the writing of I Corinthians and in doing so proves the opposite sides "its cultural" point. She tells of how short hair was only worn by prostitutes in Corinth. The implication here is that you're putting yourself on the same level as a hooker if you cut your hair. According to Rieder, this is why Paul said there is "no such custom" in v.16. It's amazing to me that she reads words like "trim" and "uncut" into this passage yet glosses over the word "custom" which is right in front of her nose. Can't she see how her own argument supports the opposing view? It was wrong for the Corinthian ladies to take off their veils (my view of covering) and to cut their hair very short because of the negative connotations this brought onto them by their culture, i.e. lady of ill repute or idolater. It was a cultural, custom thing, not a moral imperative!
On page 52 she butchers Jeremiah 7:29 by saying that cut hair was a sign of being forsaken by God. But it's obvious in a plain reading that it's a sign of repentance by the people, not the forsaking of God. Not only that, but it appears that God commanded all of the Israelites to cut their hair, women included. Why would he do that if its such an unholy thing to do?
While were on the subject of divinely mandated hair cutting, I wonder what Rieder says about the Nazarite vow? It is clearly stated that the Nazarite vow was accepted religious practice in the Old Testament as well as by New Testament Christians and that it was equally permissible for men and women. Yet, at the conclusion of the vow the practitioners were told to cut off all their hair, women included. What? Is God actually condoning a woman cutting off all her hair? Not only that, is God actually condoning a man to allow his hair to grow long? If its a natural thing that man is to have short hair, then how did Samson retain the spirit of God and how did John the Baptist manage to be such a powerful man of God since they both were Nazarites from birth and undoubtedly had very long hair? Just wondering.
She then piles more condemnation on the reader by asking, "Why would we want to traffic in something that is a sign of being rejected by God?" Man! That hurts my spirit when people hack scripture and bludgeon others with that kind of manipulation. Not to mention that the scripture isnt saying what she claims it says. False guilt (shame) put on others based on false teaching.
In chapter 6 she goes into another scripture twisting spree by telling her poor female readers that they are the guardians of their homes and if they cut their hair then they've opened the door for evil to take over their families. She tells of a domineering woman who tried to intimidate her and her husband with money while they were building a small church. In a moment of unintentional honesty she confesses that their UPC churches fail to grow because "wives will look around and decide that holiness is not for her." I guess these standards really do run people off and hurt the evangelistic mission of the church. Ive always been assured the opposite was true. How tragic when you consider that these standards are man-made and unbiblical.
She tells how a pastor's wife or leading ladies in a congregation can "ruin" a church with their lack of submission in these areas. She even tells of one church that did this and they're no longer in the UPCI (gasp) and are now interdenominational (double gasp of mortification).
She also states that "anything goes there". How does she know that to be true? Has she been there since they "left"? I sincerely doubt it and I even more sincerely doubt that "anything" is actually acceptable at these churches. This type of statement by Rieder appears slanderous from where Im sitting.
She asks, "How much do we really love God? What means more to you-your appearance or your relationship with the Father?" implying that without her holiness standards you can't love God or have a relationship with Him. She says that you can put a well-groomed UPC lady in a room full of "worldly" ladies and she'd outshine them all. Really? Has anybody actually tried this and verified its veracity? Is it just me or does this viewpoint seem laced with spiritual arrogance and pride? Kind of reminds me of that story about the Pharisee who prayed loudly on the street corner and cast disdain at the common sinner praying down the street.
It is in this chapter that she makes the most outrageous all of her exegesis. She says that the glory and power of Lucifer before his fall was given to the woman in I Corinthians 11. This is her interpretation of "because of the angels" in v. 10. She gives no foundation for this connection and gives no support for it at all. It's purely her supposition. She makes this connection purely by imagination and creative writing. There is no biblical connection and she offers none outside of suspect typology. In doing so she violates commonly accepted conservative biblical hermeneutic principles. Ironically, as ultra-conservative as her stance is, she is forced to resort to extremely liberal interpretation procedures to "prove" her point.
She goes further and says that since there is no other place in scripture where covering, glory, and angels are together, except for I Corinthians 11 and the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant, then "...a woman's hair is a type and shadow of the covering that Jesus provided for His Church. Not submitting to typology is disastrous." ("Just ask Moses." she advises) and "To forfeit the covering is to forfeit divine protection!" Boy, oh boy. All of this is so riddled with broken hermeneutic rules and faulty logic it boggles the mind. I would suggest that she read Dr. Segraves biblical hermeneutics primer "You Can Understand the Bible Guidelines for Interpreting Scripture", specifically chapters 10, 12, 14, and 19.
What a bunch of hooey. It seems odd to me that if this doctrine was of such vital importance to a womans salvation that God, in his infinite wisdom, would have been abundantly clear about it in his Word. When instructing my child about the really important stuff in life I dont speak to him in code, types, or shadows leaving room for misunderstanding and misinterpretation. No, I speak as concisely and precisely as I possibly can and I do this over and over until he gets it. Indeed, if this hair doctrine is an Old Testament shadow, then where is the teaching in the New Testament from which the shadow is cast? What is the anti-type? Surely 1 Corinthians 11 isnt the only place they can point to is it?
She is stretching so much in her assumptions here that her methods can aptly be described as Gumby theology. Unfortunately, its the basis of her book and too many people swallow it hook, line, and sinker.
She goes on to say that, "Herein is a fantastic promise of protection not only for the woman but also for her family." Yep, fantastic is the word for it. Incredible is another word that comes to mind. "When a woman cuts her hair, she actually severs the glory of God from her life. The angels will lift and depart, for they are committed to the glory." More manipulation by jerking on a lady's maternal heart strings as well as her carnal pride. Not to mention that there is no scriptural support for such an assertion and it flies in the face of reality as there are millions of women who cut their hair from whom the glory of God is not severed. Not to mention the many, many women who have uncut hair but are full of dead mens bones in their hearts. There is no cause and effect here. Its just a plain silly idea.
Again, the idea that my actions can control God seems legalistic and self-absorbed in that it seems to ignore the absolute sovereignty of God as well as his role as our heavenly father. I could make a connection to the horrible Word of Faith teachings but I dont want to get off the subject. The dynamics are similar nonetheless.
The next story she tells brought me to tears by its sheer meanness. She told of the wife of a promising young preacher who trimmed her hair. Shortly thereafter her husband had an affair and Rieder attributes this sin of her husband to the lady cutting her hair. "Can the Lord depend on you to guard the glory faithfully and diligently?" she then asks. What a diabolical crock!!! A man cheats on his wife and its his wifes fault? Come on! Give me break! Thats like blaming the rape on the rape victim. Its diabolical, cruel, and heartless. The use of this sort of garbage in this context is is is .reprehensible!
But, its to be expected because its a common technique of group think among aberrant, controlling Christian groups. Instead of the problem being the problem, you are the problem, especially if making you the problem props up our false teaching. Unfortunately, real people are the victims of this spiritual abuse and the result is a damaged soul. While there is no condemnation in Christ, there is indeed condemnation among some Christians. It reminds me of when Christ said it is woe unto them that cause one of his children to fall and offered suicidal drowning as a more enjoyable consequence for their actions than what he would bring upon them on Judgment Day. I pray for this poor woman whose husband left her, and I pray for those who re-victimized her as a result of his sinful actions.
She says it comforts her to know that the glory resulting from her long, uncut hair protects her children while they're at school. Curiously, she states earlier that the woman is the guard of her home and husband but then on page 72 she says that "Husbands are put there as a safeguard for the woman as she carries out his wondrously important duty that God has entrusted in her hands." So now I'm confused. Is it the man or the woman that's the safeguard? Or does the guard have to be guarded? Here's a novel thought. Perhaps GOD is the protector of the family as we live in grace and faith. Do we have more faith in our standard than we do in God, whose care of us is unmerited? Perhaps.
Don't get me wrong, I think mothers/wives have a major role in the family unit. But I wonder though when their role is so liberally expanded as Rieder is doing here if in fact they are somehow usurping authority and assuming responsibility and a position outside of God's design. Is God's design for the family paternal or maternal? Amazingly one of the chief New Testament passages attesting to the divine order of authority is found in the very passage from which Rieder is deriving her hair doctrine. It seems then that she is in practical application making I Corinthians11 say something diametrically opposite of what it plainly states.
To further prove this familial protection point, Rieder relies not on scripture but on anecdotal evidence. She tells of a woman who prayed for her dying child and laid her long, uncut hair over him pleading with God and reminding Him of His promise to bless her because of her long hair and then the son was miraculously healed. This reminds me of the old Catholic practice of indulgences. Is there really a cause and effect here? Or do you think that perhaps it was the sovereignty of God that healed him rather than God's obligation to keep his part of a perceived promise?
She told of a guy (whom I happen to know personally) who narrowly missed a major car accident. She attributes his being saved to his mother having long, uncut hair even though his mother was not there, neither was she praying for him at that time. If this is true, then why do bad things happen to kids all the time whose mothers have long, uncut hair? Why did a close, personal friend of mine get his face burned off last year even though his own mother champions this doctrine and hasnt cut her hair her entire life? Is there a divine power fluctuation problem in this regard? Perhaps there is another explanation for these miracles other than a momma's long hair. I sure think so.
At long last the torture winds down to a close. Rieder then equates "..the way of holiness..." in Isaiah 35:8 with her churches standards of holiness and says that the standard that's to be lifted up before the people in Isaiah 62:10 is this particular brand of holiness. I thought though the standard to be lifted up in this verse was Jesus Christ crucified. Didnt He Himself say something about lifting Him up and Hed draw all men to Him? Perhaps not.
She then admonishes the readers to not be "traitors of our heritage" and to not let their churches swell with the "infection" brought on by dismissing these standards of holiness. Even to the end she goes down swinging and stabbing with unholy viciousness.
Again, labeling of those who believe differently than you makes it easier for you to view them as something less than human and certainly less than Christians, which Im sure is helpful for the author and others like her. Not that we should be surprised because this psychological practice is common among propagandists and leaders of aberrant, controlling Christian groups.
To me, the most telling statement that she made is in the final paragraph of the book. "Our morality dictates our theology." In her case that may be true and it's certainly evident in this so-called work. But, for me and my house, we will follow the Lord. Therefore, our morality AND our theology are dictated by the Bible, not the other way around.
Obviously, I dont recommend this book for anyone who desires to know
the truth of what God thinks about the length of a womans hair.
(As a side note: It should be obvious that I have two beefs with this book. First of all, I object to its theology and believe it is incorrect. Secondly, and more importantly to me, I strenuously object to its presentation and the abusive, controlling techniques that are employed by Ruth Rieder in this book. Her use of these techniques is heavy handed and obvious. The end result of this approach is that impressionable and sincere followers of Christ are spiritually abused and their view of God, themselves, the church, the Bible, other Christians, and their Christian leaders is seriously distorted at best and destroyed at worst. Many times this can result in them finding themselves trapped in "another gospel" identified today as legalism. For more information about spiritual abuse and legalism, I highly recommend the following books:
"The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" by David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen
"Tired of Trying to Measure Up" by Jeff VanVonderen
"Toxic Faith" by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton
"Healing Grace" by David Seamands
I believe that all of these books can be obtained through this website.
Finally, Id also like to say that I do not believe that Ruth Rieder is a bad person or some version of the Wicked Witch of the West. At the risk of sounding condescending and patronizing, I believe that she herself is a victim of a system of abusive thinking. I have relatives that are closely related to her and they tell me she has a kind and generous personality. And its obvious that she believes what she writes. But it is also painfully obvious that she has been inoculated with abusive doctrine and finds no fault in communicating this doctrine in an abusive, manipulative and shame based manner. This is a dichotomy that can probably be best explained by the well known fact that abuse victims grow up to be abusers and its common to be an abuse victim and a perpetrator at the same time. I believe her to be a sincere person who loves God and is doing her best to live up to and preach what shes bought into as the gospel truth. But I also believe she is sincerely wrong in her opinion and is leading her readers down a path to legalism and neo-Pharisaism.)
For further information and additional reviews of her books, go here.
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August 23, 1997
Posted September 18, 2002 and Revised February 14, 2003
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