Nov 29, 2019
If you have ever been abused by someone in the church, been
manipulated by the church, or been under abusive authority within
the church, or want to know how to avoid all the above, then this
show is the perfect show for you.
In this episode, I speak with Athena Dean Holtz about spiritual
Those at greatest risk of being the victim of spiritual abuse
appear to be those who don’t truly know what the Word of God says.
Manipulators thrive on control and thrive on converting others to
their way of thinking. Intimidation is another characteristic of
abusers, leaving their victims feeling all alone, powerless,
defeated, and victimized.
While most situations of abuse are not the victim’s fault, it
can nonetheless be so helpful for the victim to ask God the Father
“What role did I play in this?” When we take responsibility for our
own behavior, it strips the abuser of their power. Furthermore,
learning what behaviors and patterns are recurring and leaving
victims wounded, helps us take responsibility for the roll we
played, and it makes us more responsible for having honest dialog
with the one who is wounded by agreeing in prayer, and agreeing
with what God says about us, and often has the added benefit of
helping us not repeat behaviors and patterns in relationship that
would lead to future abuse.
Quotables from the episode:
- It’s so crucial that we know the Scripture and know when it is
being taken out of context. Furthermore, when we aren’t familiar
enough with the scriptures for ourselves can make us easily
intimidated by the scriptures when others proclaim them.
- If we leave wounded areas in our life unhealed, leaves us open
to further work by the enemy of our soul.
- Intimidation is a common strategy used by those who are
abusive. And that’s just like the enemy, who is a big bully and is
intimidating when Jesus isn’t like that at all.
- When we have been hurt and wounded by people, that can leave a
void in our lives that can leave us open to being wounded by others
and be drawn in by others in the future, and manipulators are good
at observing and figuring out what our triggers points and
vulnerable weak spots are, so they can use those to their
- Abusers often begin with a grooming process, where they take a
special interest in someone and go out of their way to make that
person feel special. But at the same time, they also make it seem
that anyone who questions, or challenges, or who points out
anything that could be negative as the enemy. The abusers will
often make it sound righteous by cutting off anyone who disagrees
with their position.
- In the grooming process, they also want to isolate you and cut
you off from friend, family members, and anyone who might point out
the fallacies of their beliefs and help you see truth.
- If a spiritual leader is not humble enough to allow people to
challenge them on their opinions or teachings, but instead
intimidate or get angry, that’s a very dangerous place to be.
- To aid in our healing, we have to be willing to ask God, “What
was my role in this? Where did I open the door for the enemy to
come in? What do I need to take responsibility and repent
- God’s way is for us to be teachable and humbling ourselves to
- Another useful thing to do when you want to ensure that you
know truth, is to ask the Holy Spirit “What do you say about this?”
The Holy Spirit’s job is to remind us of all truth. But He can’t
remind us of the truth if we haven’t already been exposed to it by
reading God’s word.
- If you have a friend or loved one who is being spiritually
abused, pray for them. Because of the brainwashing that takes
place, they are not likely to listen to your concerns. You might
gift them a copy of Athena’s book because it comes from the
perspective of someone else who has been there.
- If you’ve been in a position of having been spiritually abused,
do not allow it to steal your trust with others. Not all churches,
pastors, or spiritual leaders are abusive. You need to find a safe
community of believers who believe the truth, and help you get
healed from the past abuse, whereas the enemy would like to use
this to isolate you further.
- Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of
- Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey
all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them,
turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be
successful in everything you do."
- Isaiah 30:20-21 “Though the Lord gave you adversity for food
and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you.
You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will
hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you
should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.’”
- Full Circle: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God by
Athena Dean Holtz https://amzn.to/37WpiaC
- Twisted Scriptures: Untangling 45 Lies Christians Have Been
Told by Andrew Farley https://amzn.to/33q1Y1f
- The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and
Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority
Within the Church by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen
- Damaged Disciples: Casualties of Authoritarian Churches and
the Shepherding Movement by Ron Burks https://amzn.to/2DsJWRs
- “Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God
Promises” by Dr. Michelle Bengtson https://amzn.to/2ZSTP4N\
- “Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey
Through Depression” by Dr. Michelle Bengtson, winner of the
Christian Literary Award Reader’s Choice Award https://amzn.to/2zB0e7J
- “Hope Prevails Bible Study” by Dr. Michelle Bengtson,
winner of the Christian Literary Award Reader’s Choice Award
Social Media Links for Host and Guest:
For more hope, stay connected with Dr. Bengtson at:
Guest: Athena Dean Holtz
Athena Dean is a publisher, speaker, former radio host and
pastor’s wife. For the last 30 years she has worked in the
industry, spearheading the independent publishing movement in the
Christian publishing market. In 2014 Athena co-founded Redemption
Press to fill an author-centered niche in publishing.
She was president of the Northwest Christian Writer’s
Association from 2016-2018, is a president’s club member of
Christian Women in Media Association (CWIMA), a member of Advanced
Writer & Speaker Association (AWSA), and recently retired host
of a weekly radio program, “Always Faithful” on AM 630 KCIS, where she shared
God’s faithfulness with women across the globe.
book recounts the story of her twelve-year Job-like
experience and the modern day Cinderella story she is now
Hosted By: Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Audio Technical Support: Bryce Bengtson