Abuse or Discipline?

Thank you for the excellent review of Ronald Enroth’s book on abusive churches [Churches That Abuse; Books, Aug. 17]. This is timely; there is no shortage of evidence that spiritual abuse is a real problem in a number of North American churches.

However, in my experience the opposite problem (little or no true church discipline) is at least as common. I was left wondering how the author would have us understand what constitutes “proper exercise of discipline.” In our desire to prevent abuse, let us beware of falling into the opposite error. We need a truly balanced, biblical look at the issue of church discipline. While intimidation has no place in the body of Christ, there is a crying need for exercise of true, godly, compassionate discipline in today’s church.

Rev. Peter Hartgerink

Ottawa, Ont., Canada

There could have been more focus on abusive churches in conventional evangelical circles. I am a former victim of such abuse by a church well-known in its area; it was that façade that enabled the abuse to carry on as long as it did. An assistant pastor sexually and emotionally abused me, in and out of counseling, with the threat that if I told anyone he would make sure I was ostracized. Telling the senior pastor and elders caused me to be disciplined in a secret meeting against church rules.

Hopefully, [other] Christians will become more discerning as time passes, and won’t have to learn the hard way, as I did, that there are evangelical churches that abuse in the name of the gospel.

L. Barrett Powell

Fairfield, Conn.

Apparently Enroth has included only churches that abuse their people (certainly sad and wrong), but not churches that abuse their pastors (probably more prevalent). The title of the book warrants ...

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