Books on Spiritual Abuse, Disillusionment, and Related Topics


Spiritual Abuse
(** Identifies books that I have personally read)


**Breaking the Chains: Overcoming the Spiritual Abuse of a False Gospel Shari Howerton
BringEmBack **Bring ‘Em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for Those Wounded by the Church Dave Burchett


**Broken Hearts Shattered Trust: Workplace Abuse of Staff in the Church Dr. John K. Setser


Churches that Abuse (online book = Ron Enroth
ConfrontingPower Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church Bishop Geoffrey Robinson


Damaged Disciples: Casualties of Authoritarian Churches and the Shepherding Movement Ron Burke, Vicki Burks and David A. Seamands


Exposing Spiritual Abuse Mike Fehlauer
FaithThatHurts Faith That Hurts, Faith That Heals/Understanding the Fine Line Between Healthy Faith and Spiritual Abuse Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton


Growing Up Fundamentalist: Journeys in Legalism and Grace Stefan Ultsein


**Healing Spiritual Abuse: How to Break Free from Bad Church Experiences Ken Blue


I Can’t Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult Wendy Duncan


More Jesus, Less Religion: Moving from Rules to Relationship Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton
NotofmyMaking Not of My Making: Bullying, Scapegoating and Misconduct in Churches Margaret Jones
SerpentsInTheManger Serpents in the Manger: Overcoming Abusive Christianity Jerry L. Harris, Melody J. Milam
SoulRape Soul Rape Shean A. Smith
SoulRepair **Soul Repair: Rebuilding Your Spiritual Life Jeff VanVonderen and Dale & Juanita Ryan
DriftIntoDeception The Drift into Deception: The Eight Characteristics of Abusive Christianity Agnes C. Lawless, John W. Lawless
  The Heresy of Mind Control (online book) Stephen Martin
SubltePowerofSA **The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse Jeff VanVonderen and David Johnson
TiredofTrying Tired of Trying to Measure Up Jeff VanVonderen


**Toxic Churches: Restoration from Spiritual Abuse Marc Dupont
ToxicFaith **Toxic Faith: Experiencing Healing From Painful Spiritual Abuse Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton
TwistedScriptures Twisted Scriptures: A Path to Freedom from Abusive Churches Mary Alice Chrnalogar

Books on Related Topics                           

  Amongst Ourselves: A Self-Help Guide to Living With Dissociative Identity Disorder Tracy, Ph.D. Alderman and Karen Marshall
  Antagonists in the Church: How to Identify and Deal With Destructive Conflict Kenneth C. Haugk
  Authority, Leadership and Conflict in the Church Paul D. L. Avis
 BaitofSatan **Bait of Satan  John Bevere
 BatteredIntoSubmission Battered into Submission: The Tragedy of Wife Abuse in the Christian Home James Alsdurf and Phyllis Alsdurf
 BornFree Born Free: How to Find Radical Freedom and Infectious Joy in an Authentic Faith Steve Brown
  **Cages of Pain: Healing for Disillusioned Christians Gordon Aeschliman
  Caring Enough to Confront David W. Augsburger
  Church Conflict: The Hidden System Behind the Fights Charles H. Cosgrove, Dennis D. Hatfield
  **Church Discipline That Heals: Putting Costly Love into Action John White, Ken Blue
  Communication and Conflict Management in Churches and Christian Organizations Kenneth O. Gangel, Samuel L. Canine
  Conflict and Caring: Preventing, Managing, and Resolving Conflict in the Church Keith Huttenlocker
  Conflict Management in Congregation David B. Lott (Editor)
 ConfrontingJezebel **Confronting Jezebel: Discerning and Defeating the Spirit of Control Steve Sampson
 Connecting **Connecting: Healing for Ourselves and Our Relationships a Radical New Vision  Larry Crabb
 DearChurch **Dear Church: Letters From A Disillusioned Generation Sarah Cunningham
  Domestic Violence and the Church Helen Conway
  Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs to Know Reverend Al Miles
 FaithQuake **Faithquake: Rebuilding Your Faith After Tragedy Strikes Doug Herman
 FindingHopeAgain **Finding Hope Again Neil T. Anderson and Hal Baumchen
  Firestorm: Preventing and Overcoming Church Conflicts Ron Susek
  Free to Disagree: Moving Beyond the Arguments over Christian Liberty John Wecks
 GetOutOfThatPit **Get Out of That Pit: Straight Talk About God’s Deliverance Beth Moore
  **Healing for Damaged Emotions David A. Seamands
  Healing the Wounded: The Costly Love of Church Discipline John White, Ken Blue
  **Hiding from Love: How to Change the Withdrawal Patterns That Isolate and Imprison You Dr. John Townsend
  **Hinds Feet on High Places  
  How Now Shall We Live Charles Colson
  **How To Mend A Broken Heart Dick Imes
  **Identity Crisis: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You Frank Santora
  Is Nothing Sacred? The Story of a Pastor, the Women He Sexually Abused, and the Congregation He Nearly Destroyed Marie Fortune
  Making Peace With Conflict: Practical Skills for Conflict Transformation Carolyn Shrock-Shenk (Editor), Lawrence Ressler (Editor)
  Manual of Church Discipline (online book = savage/mcdsavagetoc.htm) Rev. Eleazer Savage
 MessySpirituality **Messy Spirituality: God’s Annoying Love for Imperfect People Michael Yaconelli
  More Light, Less Heat: How Dialogue Can Transform Christian Conflicts into Growth Joseph Phelps
  Never Call Them Jerks: Healthy Responses to Difficult Behavior Arthur Paul Boers
  People of the Lie Scott Peck
  Plan B Pete Wilson
  **Rejection Henry W. Wright
  Resolving Disputes in Christian Groups Marlin E. Thomas
  Risking the Truth: Handling error in the church Martin Downes
  Set Free: God’s Healing Power for Abuse Survivors and Those Who Love Them Jan Coates
  **Shame and Grace Lewis Smedes
  **Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Pathway to Joy Larry Crabb
  **So You Don’t Want to Go To Church Anymore Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman
  Surviving Church Conflict Dave Peters
  That We May Share His Holiness: A Fresh Approach to Church Discipline Tommy South
  **The Bondage Breaker Neil T. Anderson
  The Christian’s Handbook on Conflict Resolution: Biblical Principles for Restoring and Preventing Broken Relationships Greg M. Sumii
  The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook Deborah Haddock
  The God’s Honest Truth Darin Hufford
  **The Gospel According to Jesus John F. MacArthur
  The Journey Toward Reconciliation John Paul Lederach
  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict Ken Sande
  The Trauma of Transparency: A Biblical Approach to Inter-Personal Communication J. Grant Howard
WoundedHeart **The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse Dr. Dan B. Allender
WoundedSpirit **The Wounded Spirit Frank Peretti
TheyLikeJesusBut **They Like Jesus But Not The Church: Insights From Emerging Generations Dan Kimball
TotalForgiveness **Total Forgiveness Experience: A Study Guide To Repairing Relationships R.T. Kendall
TrustingGod **Trusting God’s People…Again Blake Coffee and Debbie Taylor Williams
WakingTheDead **Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive John Eldridge
  War in the Pews Chester Weigle
  War in the Pews: A Foxhole Guide to Surviving Church Conflict Frank Martin
  **War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles Paul David Tripp
  **Well-Intentioned Dragons: Ministering to Problem People in the Church Marshall Shelley
WhenBadChristians **When Bad Christians Happen to Good People Dave Burchett
  When Caring Is Not Enough: Resolving Conflicts Through Fair Fighting David W. Augsburger
  When Christians Clash: How to Prevent and Resolve the Pain of Conflict Horace Fenton
WhenPeopleAreBig **When People are Big and God is Small Edward T. Welch
  When the Saints Come Storming in Leslie B. Flynn
WhoCanYouTrust **Who Can You Trust?: Overcoming Betrayal and Fear Howard E. Butt, Jr.

8 Responses to “Books”

  1. […] Books on Spiritual Abuse and Related Topics […]

  2. soulfeet Says:

    Great list Sherie!

    A book I found helpful that is about ‘negative’ emotions is “The Cry of the Soul.” It’s not typically a book folks find under spiritual abuse, yet when I left my group I clave to that book, along with “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.”

    Here’s the link:

    Two others I have found helpful (with writing exercises) regarding indoctrination are:
    “Take Back Your Life” by Janja Lalich


    “Leaving the Fold” by Marlene Winell

    I also have some listed on the right at the following blog, if you or anyone is interested.
    They are listed under the side bar topics of
    “Books: Recovery, Memoirs, Abuse, Thought Reform, Cults”
    “Books: Mental, Emotional, & Physical Wellness”

    Keep up the great work! You are doing wonderfully!!

    In hope,

  3. I TOO still would rightfully rather see pastor first live a sermon instead of too often now merely preach it to others and I really do think it is so farcical how some sinfully, proud evangelical pastors are ready to condemn others, to gossip about, to now preach about the other person’s sins but someone how they can’t seem to deal with their own false abuse of others, their own sins, and their own false pride..

  4. Adrian Says:

    Hi, I spent nearly 20 years in a spiritually abusive church organization… I have been out of it for 4 years! I am convinced I would have never experienced the true benefits of recovery if I had still been there..

    1. restoringheart Says:

      You bring up a great point. It is extremely difficult to heal when you are still in an abusive situation, whether that is a marriage, a family, a work situation, a church, etc. The fastest, easiest, and often best way to find healing is to get out of the situation and away from those involved, or at very least limit the interactions.

      Adrian, you mentioned you have found some recovery and benefits. Are there specific things you have done beyond removing yourself from the situation that brought some of that healing? I think the top things for me were 1) removing myself from the environment, 2) finding discipleship with someone who took me step by step through my belief system at a rate of speed I was ready to embrace and helped me identify and correct beliefs that were unbiblical and unhealthy, 3) finding new relationships with people who validate/accept/truly love/encourage me, 4) identified specific areas that I could work on to improve areas where I was not the best person I could be and specific courses of action to take so I would not wallow in pain but could put my grief and pain to work in practical ways.

  5. lost sheep Says:

    terrific book list may i ask which ones you found the most helpful with dealing with spiritual abuse personally

    1. I am sorry it has taken me a few days to get to this. I think these are the ones I found the most helpful.

      1) Broken Hearts Shattered Trust: Workplace Abuse of Staff in the Church (practical stories but also a few tools to help rebuild the heart and trust)
      2) Healing Spiritual Abuse: How to Break Free from Bad Church Experiences (good but could guide a wounded heart toward anger and resentment if they are not ready)
      3) The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse (discusses spiritual abuse from a practitioners viewpoint, not a survivors)
      4) Toxic Churches: Restoration from Spiritual Abuse (probably the most educational and helpful book because it does focus not just on education, but truly on restoration)
      5) Identity Crisis: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You (for anyone who deals with not understanding their identity in Christ)
      6) Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive (addresses the heart and how central it is to us and to how we relate to God)
      7) War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles (one to read later on as you are read to reenter into healthy relationships and want to communicate well)
      8)Bring ‘Em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for Those Wounded by the Church (about the roles of the shepherds, the flock and the sheep when one of God’s flock is wounded)

      Maybe I will try to post reviews of each of these on the site to give a little more information about each and why I found it helpful/not helpful. As with any book it is only as good as the mindset with which you read it, and every author writes with their perspectives and their experiences. I see disadvantages with each book but read them for what I can glean from them to help not only my own journey but the journey I am trying to walk through with others.

  6. Hi,

    Glad to see all the resources. Thought that you and your readers would be interested in my book: ‘Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness’.

    Information about my book, based on my doctoral reasearch, can be found on my website:

    People can contact me at:

    Keep at it!

    Dr. Barb Orlowski

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