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Toxic Faith: Experiencing Healing Over Painful Spiritual Abuse

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  203 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Experiencing Healing from Painful Spiritual Abuse

When religion becomes a means to avoid or control life, it becomes toxic. Those who possess a toxic faith have stepped across the line from a balanced perspective of God to an unbalanced faith in a weak, powerless or uncaring God. They seek a God to fix every mess, prevent every hurt, and mend every conflict.

Toxic Faith
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 20th 2001 by Shaw Books (first published 1991)
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Sep 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
Wow. What an amazing book. A bit odd reading it from an atheist perspective but enlightening nonetheless when viewing my faith experience retroactively.

Arterburn is a psychologist who operates a practice focused on helping individuals solve longterm personal issues. He is a believing Christian and writes this book from the perspective that toxic faith (or immature faith) is detrimental while mature faith is healthy and uplifting. Even as an atheist I see great value in his perspective and, in
Jun 14, 2012 added it
Shelves: church-related
Excellent book for anyone trying to heal from a legalistic background!
J Campbell
Very good book! Helped me see some unhealthiness in churches we've attended. Thankfully we've found a healthy church to attend now. Besides, no church is perfect, as it's full of imperfect people!
Ken Garrett
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Toxic Faith is the most comprehensive work I have read regarding the dynamics of a spiritually abusive church--including its leader(s), co-conspirators, enablers, and members. Especially fascinating discussion of the roles in an abusive church or family, this book goes beyond the basic explanation of what an abusive religious system is, and how it operates, and goes into the particular tendencies that are found in both the leaders of toxic faith systems and their victims, and the role that ...more
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
this book changed my life.
Yoshua David
Mar 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
this book deserves negative stars...

The author states that God chooses to heal some & chooses to not heal others - THAT IS A LIE! The author obviously doesn't read the Bible, or know the God he claims to be writing about. The author himself obviously suffers from. a contaminated faith due to tragedy, that has been left unchecked by Scripture.

The author's theology is so absolutely wrong because it CONTRADICTS God's own words. This book is good for nothing except toilet paper.
Beth Peninger
A good dialogue from professionals about one type of addiction: religious addiction. The authors are believers in God so they have a basis from which to speak about this addiction that is probably much more prevalent and widespread than most people would think.
The main author, Stephen Arterburn, is well known in Christian circles for his radio shows, New Life Treatment Centers and various other books he has authored (Every Man's Battle, Healing is a Choice to name a couple). As happens in
Trent Stephens
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this book as someone who was surrounded by toxic faith my entire young life. I've watched those around me ruined by religious addiction and then watched that addiction turn into other addictions as we grew out of the church. I though as I started that this book might help me further understand and come to terms with this pain. However I just kept asking questions out loud of how can intelligent people watch what religion does to people and still logically believe that anything good can ...more
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding book. Must-read for people of all faiths, especially those who work in ministry/pastoral/chaplain/ spiritual counseling or teaching roles. Some discussion of Christian beliefs but overall the book is applicable to all religions. Includes extensive discussions of how people from dysfunctional/abusive family backgrounds can develop toxic faith patterns. Only complaint is that I wish that the section on recovery was longer and more detailed.
Barbie J
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
What's great about this book is that it was written by a Christian insider, as opposed to an outsider who thinks he has a clue. The author is respectful yet honest about what happens in churches and ministries of any religious faith. It is incredibly insightful and interesting.
Randy Williams
I thought it was an excellent book. It starts off very slow and it's evangelism into the Christian life is empowering. The end is totally delivering and its contents help you grow in relationships.
Jul 27, 2009 added it
Does a great job showing the dark side of faith and helping to direct you to a living faith.
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very helpful for anyone who has been damaged by a church experience in the past.
Jen Robbins
Sep 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very interesting
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a good book. I enjoyed it in the main, although some parts weren't really about things I could relate to.
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This opened my eyes to how toxic some churches can be. Opening up my eyes to the idea of a ‘persecutor’ ‘co-conspirator’ ‘enabler’ ‘victim’ and ‘outcast’ and my experience was enlightened by identifying all of these. They don’t just identify these things they also offer advice on where to get support. I’ve been thankful to go to a different and far healthier church and put much of this behind me but it is validating and helpful to read and gain a deeper understanding.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Great book at the beginning and end but the middle turns into a book on religious addiction that just doesn’t seem to fit, overall, with the first 2 or 3 chapters. It was still interesting in the middle but was off from the overall tone set at the beginning. The last 2 or 3 chapters seems to get back on track again.
Jeny Guzman
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Mar 19, 2012
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Stephen Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries—the nation's largest faith-based broadcast, counseling, and treatment ministry—and is the host of the nationally syndicated New Life Live! daily radio program aired on over 180 radio stations nationwide, Sirius XM radio, and on television. Steve is also the founder of the Women of Faith conferences, attended by over 4 million ...more
“People in pain have enough problems without some well-meaning folks trying to short-circuit the grief process by declaring that everything is a good event sent from God.” 4 likes
“In a toxic-faith system, loyalty is equated with blind faith and complete agreement with the leader.” 2 likes
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