Lundy Bancroft’s Peak Living Network has many principles that run counter to God’s Word.
By now it’s no secret that there are warnings on the Internet — including on our blog dating back to 2017 (here) — about attending Lundy Bancroft’s healing retreats. If any reader has any firsthand knowledge of behaviour by him that is unethical, abusive or criminal, please email us a brief description of your allegation and your contact information. This will be held in the strictest confidence and will not be disseminated publicly. This information is being requested for the sole purpose of protecting vulnerable women and making sure that they aren’t exploited and abused any more than they already have been. Our email addresses are at the bottom of this post.
To participate in Lundy’s Peak Living Network, you have to agree to 22 Principles.
You might like to use this as an exercise in discernment. Click this link to read the 22 Principles and assess whether each principle lines up with or differs from God’s Word. I invite you to do that for yourself before you read the rest of this post.
I will now show you the eleven principles I am concerned about.
Lundy Bancroft’s principles which contradict God’s Word
I will quote each principle of the Peak Living Network (PLN) which I am concerned about and explain why I think it is false and dangerous by showing how God’s Word contradicts that principle. All New Testament quotes are from the New Matthew Bible (NMB) version; Old Testament quotes are from the New King James Bible (NKJV) version.
PLN principle One
People have a profound and apparently limitless capacity for emotional healing and well-being. Therefore, we take an orientation toward ourselves and each other that assumes that we can all find ways to make our lives work better and that we will succeed in doing so. We are all healing and growing.
The Bible says that some people grow worse, not better.
2 Tim 3:13
But the evil men and deceivers will grow worse and worse, while they deceive and are deceived themselves.
PLN principle Four
Crying and laughter are the single most potent healing processes that we have access to. We strive to stop interfering with other people’s attempts to cry or laugh, and with our own.
The Bible says that the most important healing comes through repentance and faith in God’s promises, knowing and following the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, and listening to God’s guidance though the Holy Spirit and the Word of God (the Bible).
PLN principle Five
Anything that anyone shares at a Peak Living gathering is to be kept confidential by everyone.
What if someone has shared their personal experience of having been abused — their pain, hopes, struggles and aspirations — at a Peak Living gathering….and someone else at that Peak Living gathering (or an organiser of a Peak Living gathering) is more focused on their own flesh than the well-being of other people in the Peak Living gathering. The selfishly-centred person can easily take advantage of the more vulnerable person.
A person with a sensitive conscience who has signed up for principle Five will be be afraid of voicing any grievance about what another person in the PLN network has said or done to them. This makes the PLN network a lovely place for covert sexual predators to select targets, get their kicks, slake their lusts, discard, and find new targets as and when they wish.
PLN principle Six
All human beings are of equal value. Therefore, we choose to treat each other with respect at all times, even (or perhaps especially) when we are angry or when we have disagreements or conflicts.
This gives leeway to a covert abuser within the PLN network to falsely accuse and slander his or her victims of treating him / her (the abuser) with disrespect.
In my view, there ought to be an explicit statement in PLN that if someone is discovered to be using the PLN network to take advantage of or mistreat others, that person will be expelled and the rest of the network will be informed. That would be in accord with the biblical principle for dealing with abusers who are passing themselves off as Christians in the church – put them out of fellowship: expel them from all church meetings and treat them like unbelievers.
1 Cor 5:11-13
But now I write to you not to keep company together with anyone called a brother who is a fornicator, or covetous, or a worshipper of images, or a railer, or a drunkard, or a swindler. With such a one, see that you do not eat. For what have I to do with judging those who are outside? Do you not judge those who are within? Those who are without, God will judge. Put away from among you that evil person.
PLN principles Eight & Nine
People are naturally loving and caring. Our healing processes carry us back toward the people we truly are.
Destructive behavior patterns are signs of things that have gone wrong in a person’s life, and signs of a lack of opportunities to heal. As far as we know, no one is inherently bad, lazy, unintelligent, or selfish.
Here is what the Bible says about principles Eight & Nine
We are all born spiritually dead because we all inherit the sin nature of Adam. All of us, excepting the man Christ Jesus, inherit the sin nature from Adam. (Read more about this here.)
We all come into this world with a bias to be selfish and to not love our neighbour as ourselves. With our sin nature we disregard God. We go our own way without recognising or respecting or honouring God our Maker, whose loving kindness towards us is so vast that it cannot be expressed in human words or grasped with our human minds.
The sin nature comes to its fore when challenged. When rightly and justly reproved for selfishness or wrongdoing, the knee-jerk response of the wrongdoer (you, me, whoever) is rebellion, blame-shifting, fighting against truth. The sin nature rears its head and hisses and spits. That is the nature of sin. That is the sin-nature we all are born with.
the imagination [intent or thought] of man’s heart is evil from his youth
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way
What happens to the sin nature when someone becomes a Christian?
When a person is born again / regenerated / trusts in God’s promises / knows and follows Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, does that person still have a sin nature? Putting this another way, is it right to call a Christian a sinner?
God has given each of us a conscience. The conscience is inbuilt in our human nature: it tells us right from wrong. Those who have never heard of God’s law nevertheless know the law in their hearts: in their conscience.
The culture we grow up in and the teachings and examples we are exposed to can deform and invert our conscience. Here is an example: many churches teach that God doesn’t allow divorce for domestic abuse; as a result many victims of abuse remain married to their abusers. The victims and their kids, in trying to obey this false teaching, suffer untold harm….and nobody benefits from this except the abusers. Another example: Islamic suicide bombers have been taught that it is good to murder crowds of people and they will be rewarded by Allah for doing so. Another example: Luciferian families train their children from a very early age to believe that good is evil, and evil is good. (You can read more about how false teaching distorts the conscience here.)
To whatever extent my conscience is recognising right and wrong the way God defines those things, I will be correctly pricked by my conscience when I do wrong or when I cultivate wrong thoughts, wrong desires. In Romans chapter 7, the Apostle Paul wrote about his own experience of this.
I delight in the law of God as far as the inner man is concerned, but I see another law in my members, rebelling against the law of my mind, and subduing me to the law of sin that is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, I myself in my mind serve the law of God, and in my flesh the law of sin.
The Apostle John confirmed the precept that Paul articulated:
1 John 1:5-10
And this is the tidings that we have heard from him and declare to you: that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and yet walk in darkness, we lie, and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in light, even as he is in light, then we have fellowship with him, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
What if my conscience has been somewhat mis-taught? What if I have been trained to think that right is wrong and good is evil? Is my responsibility for doing wrong erased? Not entirely, and especially not when I have reached the age of accountability. I don’t want to define when the age of accountability begins, but by adulthood it ought to apply. Other factors come in here too: how deep, how brainwashing, was the training that inverted my conscience? Was I tortured so that I dissociated and my mind was split into different parts?1 How much was I intimidated and coerced and terrified into obeying evil or complying with evil? How much was I entrapped by the leaders of the corrupt system that mis-taught me?
God is merciful. He calls all people to come to Him in repentance, and He offers complete forgiveness to those who repent and follow Him.
Truly truly I say to you, He who does not enter into the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. He who goes in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep; to him the porter opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he has sent forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him. For they know not the voice of strangers.
This similitude Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand the things that he was saying to them.
Then Jesus spoke to them again: Truly truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All, even as many as came before me, are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be safe, and will go in and out, and find pasture. The thief comes not but to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come so that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.
PLN principle Ten
Most of what we are all struggling with emotionally, and in how we treat ourselves, has its roots in trauma.
The Bible does not say that all of us are ‘struggling emotionally”. See the Bible texts I have quoted above.
Nor does it say that all emotional struggle has its roots in trauma. The Bible says that some emotional struggle has most — if not all — of its roots in the choices of the individual. (You can read more about this here.)
People who do evil who don’t repent and don’t make genuine and long-lasting efforts to repair the harm they have done to others may indeed end up ’struggling emotionally’. But they brought that upon themselves by their own sinful / wrong / unrighteous / self-serving choices and their stubbornness in resisting and suppressing the pangs of their conscience.
For the wrath of God appears from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, seeing that what may be known of God is manifest among them. For God did show it unto them. For his invisible things — that is to say, his eternal power and Godhead — are understood and seen from the works of the creation of the world. So they are without excuse, inasmuch as when they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, neither were thankful, but increased full of vain imaginations, and their foolish hearts were blinded. When they counted themselves wise, they became fools, and turned the glory of the immortal God into the similitude of the image of mortal man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, and serpents. When they counted themselves wise, they became fools, and turned the glory of the immortal God into the similitude of the image of mortal man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, and serpents.
For this God likewise gave them up to their heart’s lusts, unto uncleanness, to defile their own bodies between themselves — those who turned his truth to a lie, and venerated and served created things more than the Maker, who is blessed forever. Amen. [Emphasis added.]
Notes from Barb on Romans 1:18-25:
— suppress the truth in unrighteousness. This speaks about the choice and intent to suppress the truth.
— increased full of vain imaginations….they counted themselves wise, they became fools. This points to human choice: self-deception.
PLN principle Twelve
We assume that people are telling the truth about what has happened to them. Our world is rife with mistreatment, so there is no reason to jump to the conclusion that people are exaggerating the wrongs that have they have endured.
What foolishness! Sociopaths / psychopaths / covert-malignant-narcissists do NOT tell the truth about what has happened to them. If and when they do utter truths about what has happened to them, they select certain facts, airbrush those facts, and omit other facts in order to manipulate their listeners. They are very cunning and crafty.
Here is one of the many verses in the Bible where Jesus is confronting and confuting the Jewish religious leaders who were lying, evil-minded hypocrites:
You are of your father, the devil, and your will is to follow the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and did not abide in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own nature. For he is a liar, and the father of lies.
There are many other Scriptures describing abuse and abusers (see here and here).
PLN principle Thirteen
People are their own ultimate authorities on what will best help them to heal and move forward at any given time in life. There are many paths to healing, and what works well for one person may not work for another.
Yes, victims of trauma and abuse are to be accorded liberty to make their own choices on what they want to do to heal and move forward with their lives. But to say a person is their own ultimate authority is opposed to what it says in the Bible. God is the ultimate authority. He is the Wonderful Counselor; He knows best what will assist healing in people who are genuinely seeking healing and life.
There are not many paths to life and truth. To mortal human beings, many ways or paths may seem (for a while) to give life, but those who follow any way other than Jesus are going to have a great shock when they die.
Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no one comes to the Father except by me.
For God so loves the world, that he has given his only Son, so that none who believe in him should perish, but should have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world through him could be saved. Whoever believes on him shall not be condemned. But whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he does not believe in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the condemnation: that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness more than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But whoever does truth comes to the light, so that his deeds may be known, that they are wrought in God.
PLN principle Twenty
We gather for the purpose of supporting each other’s healing. It is not acceptable to attend PLN activities toward a goal of finding a dating or sexual partner, networking for your business, or any purpose other than the stated one.
The problem with this is that when someone in the PLN network contravenes principle Twenty, anyone who blows the whistle on the contravener is likely to be falsely accused of disobeying principle Five.
Furthermore, the people who are most attracted to the Peak Living Network are women who have read Lundy’s books because they have suffered abuse from male intimate partners. They are likely to be now single, they may be longing to find a boyfriend / partner / husband who will treat them well. They are likely to be struggling financially. They are likely to be vulnerable to covert predators. What if an organiser of the PLN network is a covert predator? Who will dare to blow the whistle on the organiser?
Tip: If you have been falsely accused of something, I encourage you to read this post which gives excellent teaching on self-defence.
PLN principle Twenty-Two
Each of us has the capacity to live at a higher level of satisfaction, energy, and connection than we are currently experiencing. To reach for peak living makes sense.
That principle is not always true! Try telling it to the elderly and the disabled whose energy, enjoyment in life and connection to other people is diminishing — and it will never improve because of their health situation. See how they feel about that principle. They may rightly feel hurt and lied to.
It is far better to tell people the wisdom given in the last chapter of Ecclesiastes.
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say,
“I have no pleasure in them”:
While the sun and the light,
The moon and the stars,
Are not darkened,
And the clouds do not return after the rain;
In the day when the keepers of the house tremble,
And the strong men bow down;
When the grinders cease because they are few,
And those that look through the windows grow dim;
When the doors are shut in the streets,
And the sound of grinding is low;
When one rises up at the sound of a bird,
And all the daughters of music are brought low.
Also they are afraid of height,
And of terrors in the way;
When the almond tree blossoms,
The grasshopper is a burden,
And desire fails.
For man goes to his eternal home,
And the mourners go about the streets.
Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed,
Or the golden bowl is broken,
Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain,
Or the wheel broken at the well.
Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
If you tell this^ to people whose poor health will continue to irremediably decline, they may feel comforted by being able to identify with the evocative description of the experience of aging and disability.
1 Some people have been so traumatised in childhood and / or subjected to systematic Torture-Based Mind Control that they have parts (parts of their mind) that are adult, other parts that are children, and other parts that could be described as ‘mind-controlled slaves’. By the way, that’s very much an oversimplification of what can happen to people who are subjected to Torture-Based Mind Control.
[July 9, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to July 9, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to July 9, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to July 9, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (July 9, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
Email addresses of the ACFJ team
32 thoughts on “Peak Living Network – Lundy Bancroft – warning!”
I’m afraid I disagree with this post in principle – Lundy is putting forward principles that are in line with basic, ordinary counselling ethical guidelines. For confidentiality, for example, of course this does not stop anyone reporting abuse or bad behaviour to the organisers and taking further action. It is also assumed, whatever a person’s religious belief, that we must assume some personal responsibility for our own well-being and development although I appreciate one may pray for guidance.
Hi, paescapee, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this article. 🙂
Here are other things you might like to consider:
As I understand it, Lundy is not a licensed counselor. Nor does he have professional counseling qualifications. He did work as a group facilitator in the EMERGE program many years ago — EMERGE was one of the early “men’s behaviour change programs” aka “batterer intervention programs”.
Like Lundy, other folks who may organise or attend Peak Living Gatherings are unlikely to be licensed counselors. Even if they were, they are participating in PLN in a personal (non-professional) capacity. So while the guidelines of PLN may seem to be similar to what you call “ordinary counselling ethical guidelines” — there is a big difference when the participants and organisers of PLN gatherings are not members of any Professional Counseling Board that has a Code of Conduct.
I alluded in my article to the possibility that an organiser of a PLN gathering / network might be ethically corrupt. I also mentioned the possibility that such an organiser might be covert in the way they display their lack of ethics.
Now think about the parallel with institutional churches. Many leaders in institutional churches have been exposed as ethically corrupt. You mentioned that there is nothing to stop a participant in PLN:
Likewise, there is nothing to stop participants in churches reporting abuse and bad behaviour to the church leaders and taking further action. BUT….we all know cases of when people in churches report abuse to church leaders and the church leaders themselves are corrupt so it gets swept under the rug. The unethical people are not stopped, the vulnerable sheep are still exposed to the wolves, and the whistleblowers get no justice. The whistleblowers may then try to “take further action”, but to do that is exhausting….and often the corrupt person / people remain in power, or they’re stood down but they rise from the ashes after a period to carry on being unethical in another church setting.
All good points thank you. I understand that Lundy worked with abusive men for many years although I have struggled to find his qualifications. He is employed as an advisor / consultant to government agencies, I understand. Perhaps it is based on experience?
Personally I read his books (and many others) on domestic abuse and found it very illuminating. So it may be that it is not the principles of Lundy that is of concern but possibly the set up of his organisation? I agree, it is important that they operate within proper ethical (and regulated) guidelines or at the very least, publicise widely that they don’t, (i.e. as an alternative) so that people may make informed decisions.
It would be nice if you could possibly approach him with your concerns so that he could take the appropriate steps to bring his organisation into repute, and we may all benefit.
Hi, paescapee, thanks for reading my reply and responding with your thoughts. 🙂
I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but I think you are a bit naive about Lundy’s willingness to listen to and heed people like me.
I signed up to partake in his first webinar series. In one of those webinars, he had a Buddhist figurine clearly visible in the room where he was being filmed. It was really hard to me to watch him speaking on that webinar because the statue of Buddha kept drawing away my eye. I was profoundly disturbed by seeing it. I kept trying to focus on Lundy’s face as he was speaking but the statue kept drawing my eyes away. I commented several times during the chat on the live webinar, asking for the Buddha statue to be removed, but Lundy and / or his moderators ignored my comments. To add insult to injury, many of Lundy’s fans who were also chatting at the live webinar came down on me like a ton of bricks for complaining about the figurine.
Later, after the live webinar was over, I re-checked the chat comments and NOTHING had been done by the moderators. No final remark from them saying they would not show the Buddha statue again. Nothing saying they were sorry for putting the Buddha statue on the set because they know that some of Lundy’s followers are Christians and they hadn’t thought about how the Buddha statue might be offensive or disturbing to Christians.
The next webinar in the series had the Buddha statue again. Aarrgh! I had to cover it with my thumb on the screen so I could focus on Lundy’s face.
This leads me to believe that Lundy is not at all interested in heeding and acting on feedback from people like me.
I get the impression that Lundy is very skilled at giving Christian victims of domestic abuse the sense that he respects them and has compassion for them even though he doesn’t share their religious beliefs.
What is the benefit for him in giving that impression? If Christian victims of abuse feel that Lundy respects them and has compassion for them, they will continue to buy his books, attend his conferences, and promote him to other Christians.
But if (like me) they voice a complaint against his conduct or his pagan beliefs and pagan ethics, he doesn’t care — he brushes it off.
That certainly isn’t very sensitive of him. As a counsellor we are trained to keep our environments neutral to avoid projecting our personal beliefs on others.
From the original post:
^THAT kind of promise of confidentiality (no matter how it is communicated / agreed upon / etc.) is only as good as each individual involved in making the promise of confidentiality.
There were many individuals (including a therapist and some workshop participants) from the time before my walls crumbled (just over two years ago) who promised me confidentiality, but did not keep their word. (Omitting details for my protection.)
I was SO slow on the uptake about past (before my walls crumbled) betrayals, due to some treasured individuals in my life (after my walls crumbled) who have painted a MUCH more truthful picture in my mind about confidentiality. (Omitting details for my protection.)
From the original post:
For me, ^THAT!! is patently NOT true!
For me, as an individual with Asperger’s who thinks in pictures, as an individual with Complex-PTSD (from extreme abuse from the day I was born, as well as a life-time of mental / emotional / spiritual / financial / some physical / etc. abuse), there are some things that will NEVER heal, although the Holy Spirit HAS healed me in ways that could only be done by Him.
^That (in various forms) also applies to MANY other individuals, and SOME of those other individuals have experienced FAR worse forms of abuse than I have experienced.
From the original post:
I read all 22 principles, and although there are many I cannot agree to (including the ones listed in the original post), my words would not be from the Bible. 🙂
Hi, Finding Answers. As you know, in this post I critiqued only 11 of the 22 PLN Principles.
Please don’t feel obliged to respond, but I’d be interested to hear what you think is wrong with the principles which I did not critique.
Barb asked (13TH JANUARY 2020 – 7:38 PM):
My apologies, Barb, but much as I would love to reply, I cannot adequately reply without compromising my safety in any number of ways, and for any number of reasons.
There are, however, two articles that MIGHT help paint a similar picture to the picture in my mind for Lundy’s PLN. I initially got the two articles confused, as both articles are by the same newspaper and reporter, and the beginning of the articles’ URLs are the same. (Even computer nerds like me can mistake similar URLs. Very big sigh.)
What I CAN do is suggest readers / ACFJ commenters / etc.:
Read though ALL the conversation between you (Barb) and Littletoad59.
Read the article on Steve Bearman. (Published April 11, 2018 [Internet Archive link]1, link included in your conversation with Littletoad59.)
Read the investigative article on Steve Bearman (linked to within the April 11, 2018 article on Steve Bearman), but published December 13, 2017 [Internet Archive link]2. The December article contains some detailed information, including a lengthy court document [Internet Archive link]3. The December article can be read either page-by-page or click on Full text. The options for reading are at the end of the article.
The Holy Spirit led me to the December article prior to reading the April article, although I am omitting details for my protection.
1[July 9, 2022: We added the link to the April 11, 2018 article (No Accountability for Interchange Counseling Institute Founder Steve Bearman) about Steve Bearman, written by Scott Morris. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that article. Editors.]
2[July 9, 2022: We added the link to the Dec 13, 2017 article (Oakland Counseling Guru Accused of Sexual Assault) about Steve Bearman, written by Scott Morris. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that article. Editors.]
3[July 9, 2022: We added the link to a PDF of the lengthy court document that was originally contained in the Dec 13, 2017 article (Oakland Counseling Guru Accused of Sexual Assault) about Steve Bearman, written by Scott Morris because the court document is no longer contained in the article. The Internet Archive link is a copy of the PDF of the lengthy court document. Editors.]
Of course some of Lundy’s stuff runs counter to God’s Word – he’s not a Christian!
Our place is not to judge him, who is outside the church, but rather to be discerning for ourselves in our use of his material – much like eating fish: eat the meat and spit out the bones!
Much of his books still have a lot of good meat because, truth is truth, regarding abuse, no matter where that truth comes from.
Let’s be wise as serpents, peoples….
Hi, Anewanon, thank you for urging us to be wise as serpents.
Can you distinguish between judging the PLN Principles, i.e., critiquing them from a biblical perspective, and judging Lundy as person? I don’t believe I made any judgements in this article about Lundy as a person. And I did not critique his books in this article.
Re: Lundy’s books
In 2017 we published this article: ACFJ Does Not Recommend Lundy Bancroft’s Retreats or His New Peak Living Network. I still stand by what was said in that article. I will now quote the section of the article were we talked about Lundy’s books:
Thank you, Barb, for this post!
It is powerful and very important, and yep, analyzing the work of a well-loved, prominent figure in the anti-abuse community, WILL get push back.
My comment is about one ‘minor’ (brief) point in your comment above where you said:
Part of the reason for my appreciation for this post’s common sense / naturally-observed cautions, as well as Biblical analysis is this: I have loved ones who not only are survivors of horrible abuse, but who as a direct result of that abuse (plus, other factors) were easily seduced into believing New Age ideas (and I mean very much of the nature of “doctrines of demons”) as the source of their healing, protection, and answers to their spiritual questions.
Even ^such New Age / secular help can temporarily be a bit helpful, at a certain level, although even speaking in the natural realm, I think it can and likely does lead to other problems in this life. But if it blocks one from coming to know Jesus, the Healer and Savior, in this life, and ultimately leads one to an eternity in hell, it’s not worth it.
Hi, Gany T., I very much agree with you. New Age and other non-Christian approaches to self-help are not worth it. They may seem to be beneficial….for a while….but they lead to more danger and more entrapment in the long run.
Having been to one of Lundy’s conferences and after talking to him many times I find this post upsetting and very unsettling. Lundy’s conference was wonderful. I have never experienced such incredible acceptance and support. The principles create a framework – without that boundaries and framework created, the conference would be unproductive. Are there flaws, yes – of course. There was never any suggestion, however, that the conference or principles should take [or] replace ones own belief system. Lundy was very respectful of what I believe. We discussed our differences but it was a non-factor in the value of the conference.
As far as Lundy not being a trained / licensed counselor – from my experience a license means nothing without insight backed by knowledge and strengthened by experience. Of what counts Lundy has many times over. I will take that over a license or diploma any day.
God used Lundy’s books to save my life. He used Lundy’s conference to renew my strength. I pray that God will work a miracle in Lundy’s life and that Lundy may be drawn to Christ. I also pray that the church would learn from Lundy’s insights.
Hi, PlainlyAware, thank you for taking the time to comment and express your point of view.
I believe you that you found Lundy’s conference and (some of) his books very helpful.
I have not expressed any concern about Lundy’s conferences. I know his book Why Does He Do That? [Affiliate link] has helped countless victims of domestic abuse. I do not disparage that book. So I think you and I are more on the same page than you might have first realised.
My concern is with the healing retreats which Lundy runs and the Peak Living Network which he has set up. I do have a few concerns about some of what he says in his some of his lesser-read books — (see here).
I have not said negative things about Lundy’s conferences. I have cautioned against attending his healing retreats and his Peak Living Network.
I, for one, thank you Barb, for writing this. I know you’ve written about Lundy Bancroft before, but I do believe it was necessary to share this with your readers again. I was alerted to some very upsetting allegations made about him online in an October, 2016 blog post written by Insanity Bytes. The post is titled, Can We Talk About Lundy Bancroft? [Internet Archive link]1. In the comments section below, on July 29 2018, Jane Doe [Internet Archive link]2 made some very serious allegations, including that Lundy is a dangerous predator who preyed on multiple women who attended his healing retreats. I’ve also seen reference to this behavior in other online sites. It’s very disturbing!
As for this Peak Living Network, you are so right to sound the alarm. I’ve looked closely at the Principles, and see that they are very similar to the Church of Scientology’s Dianetics model. Scientology is a very dangerous cult.
The co-counseling movement was created by a man named Harvey Jackins. He was a partner of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology before they had a split and he went on to take many of the ideas to create the model that Lundy Bancroft is advocating.
Much of it is pure psychobabble and pagan as you pointed out, but Lundy’s aiming for his audience of abuse victims, so they can be easily led astray.
To see how ripe PLN is for abuse, look up the case of a man named Steve Bearman of California. He created a co-counseling ‘community’ like Bancroft’s and was accused of drugging and raping six women who attended these sessions.
Unfortunately there are wolves in sheep’s clothing living among us. I believe that’s the case with Lundy Bancroft. Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Thank you for calling attention to this. You are brave to do so!
1[July 10, 2022: We added the link to the blog post written by Insanity Bytes. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that post. Editors.]
2[July 10, 2022: We added the link to Jane Doe’s comment on the blog post written by Insanity Bytes (Can we talk about Lundy Bancroft?). We made a new Internet Archive copy of the post that contained all the comments. The Internet Archive link is a copy of Jane Doe’s comment on that post. Editors.]
Thank you, Littletoad59.
I looked up the blog post by Insanity Bytes and the comment made by Jane Doe [Internet Archive link]1 on that post. I saved the blog post to the web archive, but for some reason the comment by Jane Doe did not save. (The Web Archived version only shows 7 of the 31 comments that are at that post.)
Here are screen shots of the comment by “Jane Doe”
1[July 10, 2022: We added the link to Jane Doe’s comment on the blog post written by Insanity Bytes (Can we talk about Lundy Bancroft?). We made a new Internet Archive copy of the post that contained all the comments. The Internet Archive link is a copy of Jane Doe’s comment on that post. Editors.]
Littletoad59, would you be able to give us more info the case of Steve Bearman? If you have already researched that case, maybe you know one or two of the best links to point our readers to, so they can learn more.
Many victims of domestic abuse are financially abused by their abusers. If and when they escape from their abuser they may be struggling financially for months / years.
Sexually transmitted debt is a real thing.
Abuse survivors may not be able to afford good professional counseling. Co-counseling seems to offer them a way of getting some form of counselling without having to pay.
I agree with you, Littletoad59, that co-counseling is the model which Lundy is using in the Peak Living Network.
Yes, Barb — here is a link below to one article I read about the other co-counselor. I believe he closed down his group and left the country after he reached a civil settlement with the women who alleged he raped them. The similarities between him and the organization that Lundy Bancroft has set up are too alarming to ignore. I was in shock when I first read the comments about Lundy and then followed the trail to this story. But sadly, as you’ve written many times, there are those who choose darkness to satisfy their own flesh.
No Accountability for Interchange Counseling Institute Founder Steve Bearman [Internet Archive link]
Thanks, Littletoad59, that guy Steve Bearman is definitely a wolf.
I have saved the article about him to the Internet Archive. No Accountability for Interchange Counseling Institute Founder Steve Bearman [Internet Archive link].
If Lundy did indeed do as Jane Doe alleges that is a serious breach of conduct and given who he deals with as far as abusive men go, all the worse. He of all people should know better. It would be wise to call attention to things that amount to whitewashed tombs.
Hmm. Perhaps “blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly” [Psalm 1:1] applies, for this very reason? Here are what thoughts I have swirling around this and other like issues — if anything is solid and useful by all means keep it and if I’m just having a religious rant, ignore me. 🙂 No matter how good the information is, spiritual mixture is always dangerous.
I had a friend once who gave me various books to read that she found helpful. Most of them were from New Age oriented authors. The thing is, I did garner some valuable wisdom that started me on the path to thinking differently about how I approached life and how I thought which was crucial because my life was in pretty bad shape. But in the process I also was exposed to the spirit of this age without realizing it. Scripture speaks of us not being able to eat at the table of demons and of the Lord at the same time, of how light and darkness do not have fellowship; in Ephesians 5 the apostle carries it beyond principles and says we as persons were formerly darkness but now are light. While not intending to demonize the man, we still have to remember that there are two very real kingdoms involved here and one of them is very hostile to us because of Whose we are and is quite willing to feed us some good stuff if some poison can be slipped in along with it.
Lies are not neutral things with no spiritual qualities or effects. I once found myself doing something that I later realized came from pagan / wiccan beliefs. The thing is, I read of this idea in one of my favorite magazines on home décor and Victorian era living. Because the magazine was somewhat of a celebration of domesticity, old fashioned style and femininity, I trusted it and so was open to what I read there. So imagine my surprise when I got an idea from this very magazine that turned out to be a pagan spiritual notion! I was in the middle of doing the idea when I realized what it was that I was actually doing. I was shocked at how easily I had absorbed this without realizing I was doing so.
I bet if a Hindu had complained that the Buddha statue offended him it more than likely would have been taken down. And I’m betting that you, Barb, wouldn’t have ordinarily been wigged out by a Buddha statue but rather your spirit was being alerted to something.
Hi, Kind of Anonymous, you wrote:
When I walk past a Buddha statue in a shop or someone’s home garden, I notice it and register that the shop owner or the household owner is either not aware of the dangers of Eastern religion, or is following Buddhism to some degree. But it doesn’t wig me out like it does when I see it on a video that purports to be teaching how to deal with interpersonal abuse.
The placement of objects in a set for a video is much more significant than the placement of an object in a shop. It is very intentionally giving the viewers of the video a message. Some viewers will absorb that message sub-consciously, which makes it even more dangerous IMO. A viewer like myself, who used to be in the New Age before she was born again, may be deeply disturbed by the message — she sees the intention behind it. For me, it was like the evil one was trying to wink at me all the time I was trying to focus on Lundy’s face and what he was saying.
And it was ironic that many of the other video viewers told me I was “too sensitive” to feel that way about the Buddha statue. “You are too sensitive” is an accusation that abusers often make about their victims!
When a video is made on a set (rather than made on the spur of the moment in, say, a crowded street) what is — and is not — placed on the set is significant. This is called ‘signalling’.
Yes, I see what you mean. You are talking in a way about stagecraft albeit in this case, spiritual staging. I don’t know if Lundy’s intention was to create the impression of acceptance of all spiritual beliefs or open mindedness, or to signal that he is a wise man, via the display of a statue associated with oriental “wisdom” or what. But it is a spiritual hook of some kind.
Kind Of Anonymous I loved your words:
By the way, in absolute and opposite irony here, one-liners like yours are helpful, healing and very pleasant to the ears. Contrast that with Song of Joy’s testimony about a sick, sad one-liner that was anything BUT helpful and healing. I strongly prefer one-liners like yours!
I appreciated your warnings. There really are only two kingdoms, and we belong entirely to one or the other. There is no in between.
Here are the other lines I appreciated very much:
Before and right after I became a believer, I remember telling myself that I did not want to become an uptight, religious person. Not live a life full of rigid commandments and holier-than-thou mandates.
I was a young college student. Dang if it’s not hard to be in such an open minded environment while attempting to close your mind where and when needed as a born again Christian! The believers around me at the time were so refreshing to be around because they seemed so mellow and relaxed. They didn’t see “evil” or “devil” in nearly anything or everything even perceived as “worldly” and therefore seeped in darkness.
I remember you making a comment like that on another post—that as you grew in Him, you could see the need to separate yourself from things that once seemed permissible, even harmless. It was not about being uptight, even judgmental. It was about living and walking as His righteousness directed you. The same applied and still applies to me.
When I have struggled with my faith, I too have picked on some helpful things in the secular realm. Unfortunately it’s not like the the body of Christ is always so helpful. Sometimes the unsaved world dares to allow you to be weak, while the supposed saved world only shames you for it.
However, admitting you are weak AND being allowed to be weak doesn’t mean you should be allowed to indulge in it! I was backsliding at the time, so the more proper response would have been to validate my weaknesses while encouraging me to seek His strength so as not to be ruled by them.
I get the difficult balance to be achieved here. My prayer goes back to the parable of the four soils in the Word. If the “soil” of your heart is just right so that His seed is allowed to grow, you will know how to encourage others to grow in Him—–while not condemning OR condoning them if there happens to be weeds or thorns in the “soil” of their heart.
A few years ago I purchased Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why Does He Do That?” and found it to be rather accurate in describing abusive men. For this one thing, the book has the potential to be useful.
However, not too long after, I also watched an online video of him doing a presentation on abuse….and during his talk, he made an off-the-cuff, nasty comment about his ex-wife. His disgust for her came through for one brief moment. Immediately I saw this as a red flag! I thought how inappropriate it was for Lundy to insult and degrade his ex-wife, while giving a presentation that was supposedly about NOT insulting, degrading or abusing one’s wife (or girlfriend, etc.).
It was a glimpse of a different side of him that I found disturbing. I don’t recommend him or his book any longer.
Thank you, Song of Joy! If you can find that video again, please share the link to it so our readers can view it. I have not myself seen that video, but I believe you.
I did watch a video of Lundy where he mentioned that he is a “divorced dad”. As far as I am aware, he has never remarried. So he’s been single for quite a long time. Hmm.
Song of Joy, thank you for sharing that. Not just applicable to Lundy, but for ALL of us—-keep your ears open. Wide open. I cannot commend you enough for paying such close attention, and wisely picked up on his “off-the-cuff, nasty comment” that spoke volumes.
Not everyone may have picked up on that. It’s one sentence in a speech or presentation of many sentences. His speech was likely well prepared and edited, possibly practiced and / or rehearsed a few times before he took the stage.
So I wonder if he went off-script for just a moment, deviated from what he had planned on saying, and a bit of his true self slipped out.
Perhaps IF someone else heard it as well, they dismissed it in favor of embracing his speech as a whole. If the topic at hand was treated honorably, one slight “deviation” is excusable.
The problem is that every single thing we say matters. In fact, we can be SO good at disguising who we really are in public, that it is precisely those one-liners that need to be taken seriously. I have been very guilty of doing just that—my first reaction tended to be: “did I just hear that? I could NOT have heard that. I must have misheard.”
But my conscience made sure to keep a record of it, even though it took me a long time to finally admit—-“oh, I heard that all right.” Words are never just words. Those one-liners became far more consequential when I noted how those persons would treat others. Their actions confirmed the truth of those seemingly unimportant, offhand remarks.
I am specific about keeping the ears wide open, not AS much about the eyes (even though that too is important). Our eyes see a well-dressed, well-spoken man speaking at a podium, and our societal assumptions assure us that this a decent person. You have to HEAR what that seemingly nice looking man is saying.
It’s not just HOW a person speaks, either. Whether the tone is soft spoken, mellow or just very pleasant sounding—-you have to listen to what he or she is actually saying. Maybe his voice is watered down to where it is soft and sweet, but it can still pour out a ton of poison.
Even “jokes” made in a sermon or speech are indicative of what a person is really like. This is a tougher topic, since humor can be good medicine OR deadly poison. If you’ve been bullied in school, for example, “jokes” are often used to taunt and traumatize their victims. It is usually dismissed as “harmless teasing,” but for those of us that lived it—-there was nothing harmless about it.
A few years ago I walked out of a sermon where the pastor made “jokes” about childhood physical “discipline.” It wasn’t funny to me, as I was physically abused as a child. He certainly did NOT mean to mock abuse, that I can be sure of. But he did. And just because people are laughing with him does not make it funny.
By the way, if you’re like me—at first you might be confused at what you are hearing. One-liners are just that—one line. It can be hard to pin down where a person is truly coming from with just one line. Imagine taking one line out of the Bible and neglecting its full context. This is just one of the many ways that spiritual abuse can be allowed to flourish.
All I can say is to look at Song of Joy’s example. It’s not a straight up, straight-lined formula. You have to weigh the words being spoken, take them seriously, and take them to heart. And don’t deny what you heard, even if you were the only one that heard them.
She knew what she heard and rightly concluded that this was 100% unacceptable. This is not to deny that Lundy has helped people (I read the comments that indicated as such), or that he has some good things to say, or wise words to offer. Regardless, a comment that demeans and dehumanizes another is simply not excusable in any way, shape or form.
Very good point AND reminder, Helovesme.
I was also one who was quick to ‘excuse’ because I WANTED to always seek the best in others. I wanted to believe that we walked in agreement together. The “PollyAnna syndrome” I’ve heard it called.
But nowadays, I lean into Scripture Heb 5:14:
Maturity knows that both good and evil exist. It took me a long time and experience to understand and believe this. We can’t do unto others with the hope of changing them, we can only DO with the hope of pleasing God and allow the H.S. to be in charge of any change.
Meanwhile my discernments aren’t condemnations, they are only decisions / judgments for what I will, or won’t, engage in for myself. For I recognize that, at one time, I too was a wayward sinner in need of God’s grace and mercy.
It hard to accept that evil exists, and, it a fine line to discern and judge it as such.
Two true Christians should want to resolve / accept their differences lovingly and respectfully.
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.
Well said, Anewanon. 🙂
I want to add, especially for relatively new followers of this blog, that it is not always easy to discern true Christians from false Christians. For readers who want tips for how to discern true Christians from false Christians, there are plenty of posts at this blog.
Here are two links for those who want to explore the topic of discerning true from false (pseudo) Christians:
Can someone be an abuser and be a Christian?
Wise as Serpents Digest
Barb, as always you did an excellent job. Disclaimer—I really don’t know much about Lundy, am not here to elevate or demean him. I just picked up on Barb’s well-written rebuttals to some of his principles, coupled with my real life experience and wanted to share them.
This is NOT unusual to hear within church circles, perhaps not in those exact words. But the heart of it is the same: we are all His children, a part of His kingdom and our own feelings AND those of others must be treated with equal respect.
Feelings can be humanized OR weaponized. Let me explain: my abuser was my father. I truly think he had real deal feelings as a human being—-unhappiness, impatience, sadness, stress, anger. I even think he could be sensitive to feeling minimized or disrespected, which can translate into hurt feelings.
But those feelings (and let’s assume they were real) were weaponized in order to promote and project AND inflict fear on me. It was also easy for his abuse to be excused if you factor IN that his feelings are indicative of a stressed and unhappy human being
I’ve seen this trend with professing Christians. Too often I’ve had to hear how “sensitive” and / or “insecure” these persons are. So that is why they lash out or go overboard, make rash assumptions, or easily rush into making false accusations as well.
First of all, everyone struggles with insecurities. How you deal with them is what defines you, not just the mere existence of them. If the reaction is to put others down in order to feel better about yourself, you’re not insecure. You’re arrogant and unloving.
Second, being sensitive can be a beautiful thing IF you heed a core Biblical principal: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If sensitivity is weaponized in order cause people to be scared of you, you’re not a “do unto others” person. It is one-sided: you want to be “done unto” as you would want. Also, you are using your sensitivities (real OR imagined) to control or command, you certainly don’t care about the potential sensitivity of others. Again, it is one-sided.
So with both of those examples in mind, treating others with respect, even and especially when there is anger or conflict—-is not so clear cut. I’ve tried to work out that principal in real life, but it ended up backfiring on me big time.
I was so busy trying to validate AND value the feelings of others, while they saw no need to do the same for me, that I ended up “drowning” and suffering very, very badly. It has caused me great trauma that I will likely bear the scars of for my entire life.
And abusers are NOT “do unto others” type of persons. I would throw in there that toxic, unhealthy persons are along that same thread, while perhaps not fitting the definition of abuser.
(Breaking up my comments for easier reading!)
Thank you, Helovesme, for all of your comments in this thread. I read them when I woke up this morning….slowly, thinking about how many of the things you said apply to my own experiences. Your words have blessed me.
It is us who owe you much more thanks than you realize. Not to put down any of your readers; I’ve seen how they work hard to thank you and recognize how hard you work.
And thank you for the kind words; they mean a great deal to me.
I am going to try to pack in the last two [three] principles together since they are similar:
For the first one, I’m going to use myself as an example. Apart from Him, I could not care one iota for anyone else, not even myself. I was fairly self-destructive apart from Him. Even if I DID try to care about others, it was likely self-serving and self-promoting.
Yes, I was abused and I am not responsible for the sins of my father. None of them were my fault, not even one bit. Yes, the abuse contributed to my desperate need for survival, which is likely why I saw people as more like resources or tools, not real people just like myself.
But I would suggest that while abuse certainly defined me, it did not define ALL of me. Every choice I made, sinful or not, did not always have its roots in being abused. It is not necessarily the wisest idea to pin every single sin in your life as a result of being abused.
I’m not sure if Lundy was attempting to help his audience view abusers in that way (lacking in inherent depravity). If he was, my own example as a 100% depraved individual, AND a non-abuser, would dismantle his theory.
By the way, this attitude might AGAIN be seen in church circles, but again, not in those exact words. It’s not unusual to see sin minimized, excused, even completely denied based on false principles like: he or she isn’t that bad inside, he or she is good or does good, or means to do good so ease up on them.
We read the Word but so easily miss out or skip over or minimize such an absolute key and core principle: NO ONE is good, not one (Psalm 14). Like I said about myself—apart from Him, I’m seeped in narcissism—-it’s my world and everyone should revolve around me.
The “trauma” argument is particularly hard for me to read. Barb’s responses were so spot on so I would recommend re-reading her words. What is hard for me personally is when you are traumatized by the sins of others, and as a result you suffer emotionally—-it’s not fair to lump that into the same category as someone who has DONE that traumatizing and as a result is suffering emotionally.
I never said that the latter group should be dismissed and demonized. Choosing to sin, facing the consequences, and then admitting it AND attempting to get help is NOT a terrible idea.
But be careful. They did not necessarily choose to sin because of some deep rooted trauma in their own lives. I’ll use myself as an example. My quickness to become angry DOES have real roots in abuse. But every single time I am quick to anger does NOT have its roots in abuse—AND, even if it did—-that is still NO excuse for my sin. It is not fair to put my dad on trial for abusing me, every single time I was slow to get angry, quick to anger.
I am hurting myself and likely others. Does blaming him really even solve anything? It is fine to understand how my mind is or is not working, but that is as far as it goes. Now it’s time to undo what was done so I can start doing unto others as I was NOT done unto.
IMO, this is one of the hardest principles of abuse. Abusers do unto others as they please. They lack any real empathy in that they would not like abuse to be done unto them.
But victims of abuse, born again in Him, aim to grasp His words. You WANT to do unto others as you would want done unto you—-and choosing to not abuse falls into that category. It can be especially hard—-I have had professing Christians (I believe) take advantage of my past in order to exploit me. Never mind that is NOT a “do unto others” principle at work! Yet, you still struggle to keep that Biblical standard in mind for your own life, even if it is dismissed and disregarded by those who claim to believe in that same standard!