Book Review: In the House of Friends

A Book Review of In the House of Friends

By Kenneth J. Garrett

    Our society is very suspicious, with very little trust in institutions, especially the Church. People tend to put every church on a pedastol, above the fray of sin, immorality, and yet the church is a place for the sinner, the unwell. It is a human institution.  Dorothy Day once said: “The Church is both a whore and our holy mother.” We are human beings, all broken, all sinners.

    In the House of Friends, Garret writes about spiritual abuse. Churches that are some times cults.

    The basic characteristics are that churches have pastors who are many times charasmatic, domineering, narcisstic and demanding; the churches demand absolute loyalty of its members, and they are the “only way”, all others inferior, and demand the giving of time and money as signs of loyalty and faith.

    Safe churches, healthy churches are honest, They are open with members, and inclusive.

    Safe churches do not pressure members to give. They do not demand pledges, or how much is pledged, and treat people equally regardless of how much is given. They do not shame people by listing names of givers.

    Safe churches encourage healthy friendships with every one, Christian or non-Christian. Safe churches see and respect the many faces of God.

    Safe churches respect other religious institutions.

    Safe churches encourage self-confidence and independent thinking.

    Safe churches are kind and respectful to members who leave. They do not try to make them feel guilty for leaving but express their care whatever path people take.

    Safe churches are saturated with grace. The most important mark of a safe church is that it exemplifies the forgiving grace of God.

    In summary, spiritual abuse is present when leaders and groups take advantage of the weakness of people. Healthy churches seek to exempfy the Great Commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy mind, strength, soul, and thy neighbor as thy self.” Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!


Fr. River Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.

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