Written by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton, Toxic Faith: Experiencing Healing from Painful Spiritual Abuse exposes how misguided religiosity hinders ones growth, faith and perspective of God. In this book, Arterburn and Felton describes ‘toxic faith‘ as “a destructive and dangerous involvement in a religion that allows the religion, not a relationship with God, to control a person’s life.” They added, “it is a defective faith with an incomplete or tainted view of God. It is abusive and manipulative.“
This book illustrates the different roles that each person plays in a toxic faith systems and the motivations of both the church leaders and the followers within that system. This book also provides many personal accounts and stories about being part of a toxic faith system. Morever, this book tells the characteristics of a toxic church vs a healthy church. It talks about religious addiction in contrast to a relationship with God. Lastly, this book aims to help people move from a toxic faith to a true faith.
This book helped me to see that any Christian can have unhealthy faith without realizing it! I really liked how Arterburn specifically explained each element of toxic faith. In addition, “Toxic Faith” helped me to understand the structure of an unhealthy system (i.e. a religious organization) and the role of all the players involved. This is a must-read for any Christian who wants to grow in his/her relationship with God. Also recommended for victims/former members of destructive religious cults. Amazon Customer
This book helped me gain valuable insight into my own personality, and what caused me to be attracted to cults and churches that were unhealthy, and also understanding of unhealthy leaders. It was very hard for me to understand how a leader could believe they were doing right, when in fact they were very far off base, and practices did not line up with scripture. My husband & I would often discuss whether leaders made a conscious effect to manipulate people and hurt people, or if they really thought they were doing right in God’s eyes. This book answered a lot of puzzling questions, and helped me see what really happened. If a pastor was taught or believes he/she has to earn God’s favor, and never grasped the concept of a healthy faith and grace in their own lives, they will project those same views to other believers and their congregations. This book gave me understanding. And this understanding helped me to gain some empathy for those leaders who harmed us, and I was able to begin to overcome the resentment and anger I felt toward them. — Mary (Amazon)
This is such an important book — If I and my family had only been aware of this book’s contents we might have `escaped’ our toxic church prison twenty years earlier — Toxic Sheep No More (Amazon)
The last church I attended was toxic but when I was in it I didn’t fully realize it. I kept making excuses for the pastor’s behavior (and the church leadership’s behavior). Leaving that church was like coming out of a fog. Reading Toxic Faith was like reading a play that the church had been acting out… It toook a minute for me to get into the book because right away I was hoping to hear about the bad church system I’d just left, but first the book talked about how toxic faith begins (with us). This book isn’t filled with a lot of Bible Scripture, but it’s filled with knowledge from two guys extremely gifted by God in their insight and keen discernment. The book helped further my healing after leaving a toxic faith system. Just because a church is big, popular, located all over the world, teaches the Bible extremely well (this is was what fooled me with my church), and started out with good intentions in its early days doesn’t mean it’s immune to toxicity! I highly recommend this book. — Lisa (Amazon)
This book literally saved my life. This book most defiantly help me understand how I got away from Jesus into a false belief or trust in things, ways, understanding other than Jesus Christ alone! — Tomcat (Amazon)