Should Christians Use Secular Sources for Help with Abuse?
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
Recently one of our ACFJ team members found a review of our book, A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church [*Affiliate link]. The review was written by a pastor out in Montana (lucky guy!) who had received a copy from a church member. He did a very good job and we thank him for it. You can read it at Ministry Musings – Abuse in the Church: A Review of A Cry for Justice.
As any good, objective reviewer will and should do, the pastor pointed out two things in the book that he disagreed with or at least was still uncertain or uneasy about. But he said that he planned to continue to look into those issues. Wow! A pastor with an open mind! Kudos to him again. One of the things that he said he was uncertain about is that in our book we recommend (as we do on this blog) books and resources that are produced by non-Christians. Lundy Bancroft of course is a prime example. His book, Why Does He do That? [*Affiliate link], is one of the very first resources we recommend to victims and others who want to study the subject.
Now, I can fully identify with this pastor’s concern. There was a day when I would have been very, very hesitant to recommend secular books to someone, especially in the field of psychology. Back in the 70’s and 80’s it seemed like all the leading fundamental writers were warning us all about psycho-babble and psycho-heresy. They weren’t totally wrong, either. Let’s face it, we DO have to be constantly discerning when we are reading or listening to someone tell us things that relate to the nature of human beings.
But should a Christian ONLY read books written by Christians or use other resources that are exclusively Christian? Some Christians believe that the only source we should look to is the Bible. What about it?
First of all, if you are going to only seek help from Christian sources when it comes to the subject of abuse, good luck! Christians have been anything but diligent in this field and while there are some good resources that are Christian, the best ones have been produced by non-Christians. Hopefully that will change. In fact, most of our readers will testify to the fact that the Christian resources they sought help from actually harmed them and left them in bondage! I mean, who do you want to go to for help? Lundy Bancroft, or John Piper? The books that first opened my eyes to the nature and tactics of abuse were written by non-Christians.
And not only are many Christian resources just plain wrong in the things they say (and don’t say) about abuse, many of them are actually very bad when it comes to the supposed biblical teaching they give! Just because a book is published by Zondervan or NavPress, etc., does not give them a divine stamp of approval. And by the way, just WHO is it that has been causing the most grief to Christian abuse victims, unloading all kinds of false and unbiblical notions on them? Non-Christian authors? No way. The problem has been and remains with the professing Christians who speak and write their false notions on abuse. I am reminded of Jeremiah:
Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon,’ for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you. I have not sent them, declares the LORD, but they are prophesying falsely in my name, with the result that I will drive you out and you will perish, you and the prophets who are prophesying to you.”
But there is also a sound, biblical argument for us to not be hesitant in regard to using secular resources. That is the doctrine which we call common grace. You see it in scriptures such as:
Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Man has the capacity to look at what we call general revelation and discern certain truths. In the arena of psychology, for instance, even un-regenerate human beings can study that highest creature of God’s creation, man, and discover things that are true. Yes, the unsaved man (as Romans says) will be driven to acknowledge God as he observes the creation, but will always suppress that truth. However, non-Christians can still discover and discern truths from observing and studying God’s creation.
And that, for example, is what psychologists like Lundy Bancroft have done. He has worked with and studied thousands of abusers. He has figured them out very, very well. So a Christian who is wise will listen to what Bancroft and others like him have to say. It is really no different than going to a non-Christian medical doctor or being taught mathematics by a non-Christian.