This is not a list of recommended books, but shows the huge range of books available which may or may not help. Please research as to the content of these books.
We must learn to get accustomed to turning to The Bible and Jesus whenever there are blocks and difficulties, or whatever the problem is.
Sometimes though it helps to get perspective to perhaps find someone who has been through a similar experience, or can help in some way to correct misperceptions or wrong thinking that has been hampering your walk with God or making things difficult in some way.
Please be cautious, guard your heart, your mind and your soul with great care, because what you believe – and what you read – can shape your life.
If you feel that reading a certain book may help, or if the spirit leads you, read some reviews, check out the author, and it is often possible to read some of the book online.
If you decide it could be beneficial to read a book, you don’t need to give your mind over to what that book says to learn from it. Always look to Jesus and check against scripture.
Churches That Abuse by Ronald Enroth
Deals with some of the more extreme church abuse, giving insight into how these groups can make your exit painful. This book is out of print, but can be obtained in PDF form free on the internet.
Recovering from Churches That Abuse by Ronald Enroth
Follow-up to the above book covering issues facing those who leave abusive churches, and their personal experiences, some in quite severe circumstances. This book is out of print, but can be obtained in PDF form free on the internet.
Spiritual Abuse Recovery Workbook by David Henke
This is a workbook created to help those who have been victims of ‘friendly fire’. The link will take you to a page on Watchman Fellowship where the book may be ordered.
Toxic Faith: Experiencing Healing Over Painful Spiritual Abuse by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton
Discusses what toxic faith is and some beliefs found in such a system. When does religion become an addiction, and what is its progression, are some questions answered. Examines recovery issues and the characteristics of healthy faith.
The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church by David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderen
Broken into three parts, the authors cover abuse and its victims, leaders and why they are trapped, and recovery from abuse. One of the first books read, this was harder to read as it touched on several things I had seen or experienced. If you only want to read one book on the subject from a Christian perspective, try this.
12 Christian Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Easy to read book that would be good to occasionally re-read. Though this book does not specifically deal with spiritual abuse. I have included it since it deals with some Christian beliefs which are not biblically based or are distorted. A book to make you think.
Healing Spiritual Abuse: How to Break Free from Bad Church Experiences by Ken Blue
Good book that delves into majoring on minors and missing the point, healthy church leadership/discipline, and healing by grace.
Breaking Free!: Rescuing Families from the Clutches of Legalism by David Miller
Reading this book shows the author had his own encounters with legalism. Discusses many aspects of the issue and the bondage it produces. Thought there was too much trying to neatly package people into two categories, though.
The Drift Into Deception: The Eight Characteristics of Abusive Christianity by Agnes and John Lawless
The Lawless family was involved in the shepherding movement and their book shares some of their experiences, as well as outlining some warning signs of an abusive group. You will see just how abusive things can get! I got the impression that they may not believe in the gifts of the Spirit being active today. The appendix was a nice touch and covers some background on William Branham. The chapters on how to get out and where to go from there need to be expanded.
Reaching the Hurting: A Biblical Guide for Helping Abuse Victims by Samantha Nelson
This is a book to help those who have been a victim of sexual abuse.
A New Suit for Lazarus: Shed the Rags of Conformity and Put on Christ’s Custom-Fit Faith by Joe Battaglia
I feel he tried to cover too much, too briefly. Though better toward the end, I rated it as just okay. The book is separated into three sections: freedom, a unique identity, and a renewed mind.
Mistreated by Ron Lee Davis
This is not about spiritual abuse, but may be helpful in dealing with what happens to many of us when we leave these churches. “A quick turn of the wrist, and the knife is in your back. Someone you always trusted has suddenly turned on you. And you’ve got to decide: What will you do when you’re mistreated.”
Authority Abusers by George Bloomer
“Church was never meant to hurt so much. The wounded and weak have been preyed upon. Hurting souls have been frightened into submission by leaders who use people to improve their own self-esteem and advance their careers. Tragically, this has all happened within the church where salvation, healing, freedom, and love should abound.”
Twisted Scriptures: Breaking Free from Churches That Abuse by Mary Alice Chrnalogar
Written for those in an abusive discipleship or controlling church. From Amazon: “Twisted Scriptures reveals in depth how the Bible can be distorted in ways that rob you of the liberty Jesus died to give you. You might be shocked at what you discover. This book uncovers the subtle but powerful techniques by which, in the name of truth, controlling leaders manipulate and intimidate countless believers. It also supplies tools for overcoming persuasive, deceptive teachings and practices.”
Exposing Spiritual Abuse by Mike Fehlauer
To all those who love God but who do not want to be abused in God’s name by their church leaders, you’ll love this book. If you’ve ever felt you’ve given your best and you didn’t run at the first sign of trouble in a church, but there came a point when you had been stripped of so much inside that you had to go, yet you were talked about from the pulpit as if you had given up on God, this book is for you! …For those who would try to tell you that this book is not from God, remember this–David had a submissive attitude to Saul, when he was in Saul’s house and afterwards. But when Saul tried to kill David because of his own emotional demons, DAVID RAN and GOD BACKED DAVID! So don’t let church leaders tell you that you’re wrong to leave a church in which abuse is being justified in God’s name.”
Wounded by Terry Wardle
“How accessible is God’s healing touch for people who are hurting from emotional, relational and spiritual abuse? The author’s account of his transformation from despair to hope through the tender care of Jesus Christ is an invitation to all who are in need of inner healing.”
Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse by Steven R. Tracy
“This book provides a well-researched biblical and scientific overview of abuse. A broad overview, it deals with the various types of abuse, the various effects of abuse, and the means of healing. Abuse can be sexual, physical, neglect, spiritual, and verbal. The chief arguments pursued throughout the book are: (1) abuse is far more rampant than most Christians realize, but due to human depravity and satanic influence, widespread abuse is predicable. (2) All types of abuse create profound, long-term soul damage due to the way abuse perverts various aspects of the image of God. (3) God is the healing redeemer. Human salvation came through horrible physical abuse. (4) Healing must take place in the context of relationships. Humans are deeply impacted by others due to being made in the image of God. Just as surely as abusive relationships have tremendous power to wound the soul, so healthy relationships have tremendous power to nurture and heal the soul.”
Ethics and Spiritual Care by Karen Lebacqz
“Allegations of “spiritual abuse” have been made both in practice and in the literature; the term is being used with some frequency. The development of this term and its implications requires some scrutiny and response, as sexual abuse is not a good model for understanding spiritual abuse.”
The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey
“What happens when a respected Christian journalist decides to put his preconceptions aside and take a long look at the Jesus described in the Gospels? How does the Jesus of the New Testament compare to the ‘new, rediscovered’ Jesus—or even the Jesus we think we know so well? Philip Yancey offers a new and different perspective on the life of Christ and his work—his teachings, his miracles, his death and resurrection—and ultimately, who he was and why he came. From the manger in Bethlehem to the cross in Jerusalem, Yancey presents a complex character who generates questions as well as answers; a disturbing and exhilarating Jesus who wants to radically transform your life and stretch your faith.”
More Jesus, Less Religion: Moving from Rules to Relationship by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton
By the authors that wrote “Toxic Faith;” this is a follow up to that book. “Drawing upon an additional ten years of observation and personal experience, Steve and Jack offer new insights in the search for lasting joy, fuller freedom, and greater understanding, and a more honest experience of God. Be set free from man-made rules, churchianity, Phariseeism, judgment, and legalism. Easily recognize misconceptions of religious performance, accountability, and fear-based duty.”
Cults, New Religious Movements, and Your Family: A Guide to Ten Non-Christian Groups Out to Convert Your Loved Ones by Richard Abanes
“To help guard yourself and your loved ones against unbiblical spiritual systems, ‘Cults, New Religious Movements, and Your Family’ offers a concise overview of ten religious groups that a young person is likely to encounter in the 21st century.”
The New Age Cult by Walter Martin
“Based on thirty-five years of study on the New Age Movement, the foremost expert on cults addresses the No. 1 controversy within the church today. An invaluable reference work for scholar and layperson alike.”
The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin
“The authoritative reference work on major cult systems for nearly forty years. Working closely together, Ravi Zacharias and managing editors Jill and Kevin Rische (daughter of Dr. Martin) have updated and augmented the work with new material. This book will continue as a crucial tool in countercult ministry and in evangelism for years to come. Among cults and religions included are: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, New Age Cults, the Unification Church, Baha’i Faith, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and more.”
Another Gospel: Cults, Alternative Religions, and the New Age Movement by Ruth Tucker
“A comprehensive survey of major alternative religions in the United States, including new groups since the 1960s. Crystals, shamans, guided imagery, healing meditation—why have these New Age practices been so eagerly accepted by so many North Americans? Why were Mormonism, Christian Science, and Baha’i so warmly welcomed earlier? ‘Another Gospel’ explains how these and other alternative religious movements appear to meet people’s needs. Ruth Tucker’s overview illumines the personalities whose alleged revelations spawned historical heresies in all the major cults in the United States. She highlights important controversies within each movement as it aims for religious respectability. She pinpoints how the doctrines and practices of a dozen contemporary groups—as well as the New Age Movement—deviate from orthodox Christianity and shows how to reach out to cult members. Appendices describe lesser-known cults, such as Swedenborgianism and Rosicrucianism, and provide cults’ statements of belief.”
Out of the Cults and into the Church: Understanding & Encouraging Ex-Cultists by Janis Hutchinson
“A one-of-a-kind counseling tool that discusses the special challenges and emotions faced by former cultists.”
Toxic Churches: Restoration from Spiritual Abuse by Marc Dupont
“Spiritual abuse devastates its victims perhaps more than any other form of violation, because it targets those who are most unprepared and vulnerable. In ‘Toxic Churches,’ Marc Dupont reaches out to those who have given their time, money, and talents to the Body of Christ, only to find themselves hurting, frustrated, and confused. He also writes to Christian leaders who may have inadvertently hurt the flock of God entrusted to their care.”
What’s in Your Pulpit: An Example of Spiritual Abuse by by Jeremiah I. James (pseudonym; actually Wesley J. Chase)
“I have read this book now three times and each time I find more about what is actually happening. I never thought it could happen in our small town, but it did. The more that we talked to people in other areas of the state, the more we found out that this book was getting circulated and read by many. The incidents that were written about there in the book, were as if the author had been in each of the churches and found out startling evidence that proved his theory right. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to find out if they have this going on in their church.”
The Pharisees’ Guide to Total Holiness by William L. Coleman
“People who are otherwise morally upright, insightful into their own spiritually and that of other people, and alert to errors in thinking and behavior, often fall victim to their own righteousness. This book by William Coleman gives a thorough and theologically sound study into this sort of tendency and it causes the reader to look at his or her own biases.”
Twisting the Truth by Bruce Tucker
From the author of “Oneness Pentecostal Churches: Their Doctrine and Practice.” (see books that refute Oneness Pentecostal beliefs )
When God’s People Let You Down: How to Rise Above Hurts That Often Occur Within the Church by Jeff VanVonderen
“Jeff Vanvonderan does it again. His wisdom, written with a “probe like” dialogue into your heart, helps the reader better understand his or her hurt, and therefore overcome it. Even for readers who have not found themselves hurt by ignorant, but certainly well meaning, people, this book is strongly recommended. It will prepare you with the tools to handle the hurts that come your way.”
Tired of Trying to Measure Up by Jeff VanVonderen
This book is written for Christians who live under a deeply ingrained code of written and unwritten expectations and rules that shame them and drain them of spiritual strength. Here are some tell-tale signs: –Always struggling spiritually, but never feeling anything but tiredness. –Always feeling guilty–nothing is ever “good enough.” –Rest is impossible–even when it’s needed. –Performance expectations prove you’ll never “measure up.” –The Christian life has ceased to be a joy. If those signs match your experience, this book is for you.”
Soul Repair: Rebuilding Your Spiritual Life by Jeff VanVonderen
“Do you fear that God is angry with you? Do you wonder if God is really for you? If God really loves you? Deep down many of us believe that we are not good enough, and never will be good enough, to have a meaningful relationship with God.”
The Lambs Workbook: Recovering from Church Abuse, Clergy Abuse, Spiritual Abuse, and the Legalism of Christian Fundamentalism by Jeri Massi
“An interactive study book designed for victims of clergy abuse, this book is based upon Bible study to help Christians overcome abuse from churches or clergy. Appropriate for either group study or private study, this book supplies six weekly lessons and a seventh, closing review lesson. It also supplies six weeks (42 days) of short, daily devotional studies to help the reader understand that God Himself, as Jesus Christ, has shared in suffering unjustly at the hands of false religious leaders.”
Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness by Barbara M. Orlowski
“Spiritual abuse, the misuse of spiritual authority to maltreat followers in the Christian Church, is acomplex issue. This book shows how people processed their grief after experiencing spiritual abuse in their local church and how they rediscovered spiritual harmony. Their spiritual journey shows how one may grow through this devastating experience. This book offers a thoughtful look at the topic of spiritual recovery from clergy abuse through the eyes of those who have experienced it. It invites church leaders to consider this very real dysfunction in the Church today and aims to demonstrate a path forward to greater freedom in Christ after a season of disillusionment with church leadership.”
Recovery from Spiritual Abuse by Juanita & Dale Ryan
“‘Recovery from Spiritual Abuse’ is part of a 15-title series, Life Recovery Guides, in which Christian counselors Juanita and Dale Ryan provide help and encouragement for people hurt by life in one way or another.”
How to Recognize Shepherdship Error by Ronald House & Judy House
What is the role of the pastor and the members? How should a church be governed? Gives answers to these questions, as well as warning signs.
Imprisoned in the Brotherhood: A search into the fundamentalists’ “web of tradition” by Don C. Marler
Copies of this book are available through this site by sending a $10.99 donation through the donate link and will be sent by media mail. These are new copies of this out-of-print book, however due to age there is discoloring of pages and jacket cover imperfections.
Cult Proofing Your Kids by Dr. Paul Martin
“Dr Martin shares his expertise about cults in this practical book written especially for concerned Christian parents. The book has 3 divisions: The Cult Problem, in which the author defines a cult, discusses fringe churches and examines the reason why people join cults. This section also looks at the myths of cult involvement and provides information on spotting a cult. Part 2, Teaching And Parenting Cult-Free Kids, provides tips for parents and advice on how to develop critical thinking skills in children; this chapter includes a list of books recommended for sharpening your critical thinking skills. It also looks at cults and friendships, cults and the church and cults and society. Part 3 is titled Recovery From Cult Involvement.”
Books on specific groups/teachings:
Christianity Without the Cross: A History of Salvation in Oneness Pentecostalism by Thomas Fudge
Thomas Fudge, former UPC member whose father holds license in the UPC, has written a scholarly book about the history of the United Pentecostal Church which has caused some shaking within the organization, even prompting a response from David Norris at a UPC symposium in 2004. Mr. Fudge interviewed over 200 people and thoroughly documents information concerning their history. One thing you rarely see mentioned is the fact that one of the two groups which formed the UPC was not as hard line in beliefs as the UPC is today. They believed a person was saved when they came to God in repentance. To view the first 25 pages of his book at no charge, click here. To view much more of his book at no charge on Google, click here. Click here to read an article from a Canadian newspaper which describes the then forthcoming book. Click here to read an article written by Thomas Fudge concerning why he wrote the book.
Pigs In The Pulpit by J. Michael Wittman
“Written for Christians who have been manipulated in a church, group or home fellowship setting, Pigs in the Pulpit provides a “road map out” for victims. It shows, step-by-step, how people can get hooked into a fraudulent and deceptive system, the impact of controlling leadership, and how the abused follower of Jesus Christ can find peace and recovery.” J. Michael Wittman is a pseudonym and he is a former United Pentecostal Church member and former member of a Word of Faith type ex-UPC church.
The Light That Was Dark by Warren Smith
A good book to use for someone involved with the metaphysical or new age movement. Warren recounts his journey from readings to channeling and “A Course in Miracles,” all leading to a frightening encounter when the evil behind his beliefs surfaced.
Holy Ghost Girl: A Memoir by Donna M. Johnson
“As Terrell became known worldwide during the 1960s and ’70s, the caravan of broken-down cars and trucks that made up his ministry evolved into fleets of Mercedes and airplanes. The glories of the Word mixed with betrayals of the flesh and Donna’s mother bore Terrell’s children in one of the several secret households he maintained. Thousands of followers, dubbed “Terrellites” by the press, left their homes to await the end of the world in cult like communities. Jesus didn’t show, but the IRS did, and the prophet/healer went to prison.”
Damaged Disciples: Casualties of Authoritarian Churches and the Shepherding Movement by Ron & Vicki Burks
Though not involved in a shepherding church, I found myself getting angry as I read this book, seeing how people were abused in this system. Some things were helpful, even though I came from a different church. I wish they’d gone into more detail with the experiences given. A follow-up book was said to be planned, but I don’t think it ever happened.
Angels Can Fall by Sandra Anderson
Sandra Anderson was the wife of an elder in the Community Chapel Church, a Oneness Pentecostal type church in Washington state. It is a non-fiction account as compared to June Summers’ fictionalized novel, “ocCULT: They Didn’t Think It Could Happen In Their Church.” (see the fiction section) To those unaware, this church became experience based, with an almost blind obedience to the leadership by many. There was first the teaching about demons and many members went through “deliverances.” Due to the freedom some felt came with these, the teaching of dancing before the Lord started. This then led to the next step of “spiritual connections,” which eventually lead to adultery and divorce among a great number of church members. People would pair up with members of the opposite sex, not their own spouses, and many would start to become intimate to varying degrees. It also occurred to some extent between those of the same sex. Reading her book and June’s book together, will give the reader a better idea of what happened at this church. It serves as a warning to all. We cannot afford to be blind to unhealthy signs in leadership or in any church we may attend. Experience must never come before Scripture.
Why We Left a Cult: Six People Tell Their Stories by Latayne C. Scott
Delves into the lives of six people, all former Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Scientists and New Age followers. In the first section of the book, the experiences don’t always get in depth with details or their struggles. The second part I found more helpful, especially where these former members give their advice for reaching others involved in their former groups. One can observe similarities in each of the differing groups. If you know someone involved in one of these, you may find some valuable information as each former member is given a fair amount of space to share their experiences and thoughts.
Free in Christ: Freeing from the Web of Legal Works and Ritualistic Details into the Peace and Security that Grace Offers by Cecil Hook
Written from a Church of Christ perspective, I found similarities between his situation and mine, so don’t let this hold you back if you weren’t from this organization. Besides dealing with main areas of legalism, the author will leave you with some things to think about. You may also read this book online at Freedom’s Ring.
Free in Christ: Freeing from the Web of Legal Works and Ritualistic Details into the Peace and Security that Grace Offers by Cecil Hook
A Time to Laugh: The Holy Laughter Phenomenon by B. J. Oropeza
From the book cover: “…offers a sympathetic but candid examination of the so-called Holy Laughter phenomenon, and its accompanying manifestations…”
Bewitchment: You Foolish Galatians by Timothy & Carla Williams
A book about the International Church of Christ A.K.A. The Boston Movement. From Amazon: “God put Timothy and Carla Williams in such a place and time where they could watch the faulty foundations of ICoC being laid. This book not only speaks of that history (before 1979), but the reasons this group started out wrong and the part that the mainstream church of Christ played.”