We are not making any personal aspersions or accusations against the character of any person or organization listed here. We are simply announcing that this list represents well known organizations, theologians, pastors, counselors and others who are in our opinion, not safe resources for abuse victims.
There are two people we need to caution about, although they are not as bad as the others listed below.
Leslie Vernick, author and counselor
Some victims of domestic abuse find Leslie Vernick’s work helpful; others find it confusing and even dangerous. This post explains why.
Chris Moles, author, counselor & pastor. PeaceWorks.
See our Chris Moles Digest for our praises and our concerns about his teaching.
The list below is in alphabetical order by Author or Ministry
Barbara Mouser, author
She and her husband are the directors of the International Council for Gender Studies (ICGS). She is the author of Five Aspects of Woman (A Biblical Theology of Femininity)
Biblical counseling organizations – caution needed
The biblical counseling movement was started by Jay Adams and called NANC – National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. NANC changed its name to ACBC – Association of Certified Biblical Counselors The movement has other offshoots including IBCD – Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship, and CCEF – Christian Counseling and Education Foundation.
While you may come across a counselor trained by the one of these associations and that counselor understands abuse, we have heard many reports of counselors trained under these systems doing more harm than good to victims of domestic abuse. See the following tags: Nouthetic Counseling Biblical Counseling CCEF.
Biblical Gender Roles
The website called Biblical Gender Roles is very dangerous. It has a page that says God wants people to stay in abusive marriages. And it endorses “domestic discipline” which is a euphemism for sado-masochism where the husband beats his wife under the guise of him supposedly disciplining her for not adhering to her prescribed gender role.
Bob Jones University
BJU has a long history of hard patriarchy, misogyny, and biblical counseling that does not understand trauma and therefore misjudges and mistreats victims of abuse.
Many victims of domestic abuse have told us that their abusers attended Celebrate Recovery groups and it made absolutely no difference to the level of abuse the victim was subjected to. It is apparent that most people who run Celebrate Recovery groups have very little or no understanding of domestic abuse, and in ‘helping’ the addict recover from addiction they sometimes stroke the ego of the abuser. From the feedback we’ve heard from victims of domestic abuse, people who run Celebrate Recovery groups often end up being witting or unwitting allies in the abuser’s ongoing project of oppressing his victim.
Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF)
We believe that while CCEF is teaching and writing about how to respond to domestic abuse, as yet their teaching still has so many flaws and gaps that we suggest it needs to be approached with caution. We would have more confidence in CCEF if it publicly renounced and apologized for the things it has taught which have hurt victims of abuse and PTSD sufferers. See also Ed Welch who we list on this page. See our CCEF tag.
David Clarke has written a book I Don’t Want a Divorce: a 90-Day Guide to Saving Your Marriage. See our blog post regarding concerns about this book.
David Hawkins gives bad counsel for marriages where one spouse is narcissistic and emotionally abusive. Our listing under James Dobson contains links with more information.
Day One Publications (in the U.K.)
Day One has published a “Help!” series in small booklet form. Titles include Help! Someone I Love Has Been Abused, and Help! I Can’t Forgive, and Help! I Can’t Submit to My Husband, and others. As with most such material there is some good in these, but they contain enough serious error that we have to place them on this list. The Editor is Dr. Paul Tautges, a NANC counselor and pastor. The booklet on submission to husbands, by Glenda Hotton, cites as references such notorious works as Nancy DeMoss’ Lies Women Believe, Elizabeth Rice Hanford’s Me? Obey Him? and John Piper.
Read here for more information on issues with Glenda Hotton’s booklet, Help! I Can’t Submit to My Husband.
Once more, it is patriarchy among numerous other teachings which we believe to be unbiblical that places Philips and the former Vision Forum crowd on this list.
Douglas Wilson, pastor (Christ Church, Moscow, ID) and author
Wilson’s patriarchal views qualify him for the Hall. The association he belongs to is the Communion of Reformed Evangelicals (CREC).
Ed Welch Has Abuse All Wrong, and so does the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) Ed Welch is one of the leaders at CCEF. Check out the one star reviews (at amazon.com) of his book Blame it on the Brain – the review is titled “A Dangerous Read”. [The link to the review on amazon.com is broken. Editors.]
Elizabeth Rice Handford
Read Rebellion Against God, Avid Reader’s one-star Amazon review of Elizabeth Rice Handford’s book, Me? Obey Him?: The Obedient Wife and God’s Way of Happiness and Blessing in the Home.
Faith Trust Institute & Marie Fortune
Faith Trust Institute is known for having resources on domestic and sexual abuse, but it has liberal theology, and the founder of the Institute, Marie Fortune, is an openly practicing lesbian (see links below).
Faith Trust Institute: The Wedding Season…for Some
United Church Actions on Lesbian and Gay Rights
Family Life’s Men Stepping Up (mensteppingup.com)
Why is this program on the list? Because it includes presentations by Voddie Baucham and Mark Driscoll.
See our James Dobson listing for links to further information.
Focus on the Family
While Focus on the Family has made some good statements about abuse of late, we still do not believe that they are ready to be given our confidence. We will still not refer abuse victims to them. See our Focus on the Family tag.
Gary Chapman, author and counselor
He pushes the power of positive thinking, stresses marital reconciliation, and does not endorse divorce for abuse. E.g. “Refuse to believe that your situation is hopeless. Choose rather to believe in the power of human potential for change.” — Desperate Marriages, p223. (read review here)
His Five Love Languages model could easily be used to oppress victims of domestic abuse.
We also have concerns about his book Hope for the Separated — read the review here.
Gary Thomas, pastor and author
In my opinion, Gary Thomas is unteachable. He has a long history of playing both sides. He does just enough advocacy against abuse to entice naive victims into admiring him. But he patronises or censors victims and advocates who offer him constructive criticism. I assembled and documented evidence of Gary doing this in 2017, after he wrote his article titled Enough Is Enough in which he was portraying himself as deploring domestic abuse. To see the evidence of Gary patronising and censoring those who were trying to educate him, click here and read through the comments.
Read the ACFJ post Glenda Hotton Wrote A Little Booklet With a Lot of BIG Errors for more information on issues with Glenda Hotton’s booklet, Help! I Can’t Submit to My Husband.
Heath Lambert, Executive Director of ACBC
Lambert’s teachings are dangerous for abuse victims. Our post, If God put you together you’re not allowed to separate – says Dr. Heath Lambert that exposes his twisted theology.
Read our post A “Gauntlet Down” Challenge to James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and Other Christian Ministries of Fame to understand some of our concerns about James Dobson.
Read Is Dr. James Dobson’s Advice to Abuse Victims Dangerous?, Series by Danni Moss for some of her concerns about James Dobson.
Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk This is James Dobson’s website.
Dobson has not changed. In a February 18, 2019 broadcast titled When Loving Him is Hurting You, he concurred with bad advice for marriages where one spouse is narcissistic and emotionally abusive. This links to the broadcast, and this links to a transcript of the broadcast. This broadcast was with James Dobson, Tim Clinton, and David Hawkins.
Jason Meyer, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church (BBC)
Meyer is senior pastor at BBC (John Piper’s former church). In spite of having been trained about domestic abuse by Chris Moles and the church having a statement about domestic abuse, it is clear that Meyer and the leadership at BBC do not understand domestic abuse and do not have the needs and safety of victims as a priority. Here are some ACFJ posts that explain:
Jason Meyer doesn’t understand domestic abuse very well
When Ps Jason Meyer mutualized the blame in domestic abuse
My Defense Against the Public Attack by Bethlehem Baptist Church — a reblog from Natalie
Jay Adams, author, “father” of nouthetic counseling
While Adams’ position on divorce for abuse may be better than others, we cannot recommend him or nouthetic counseling for abuse victims. See our Nouthetic Counseling tag.
Jeff Crippen, Christ Reformation Church, Tillamook (Oregon)
To learn why Ps Jeff Crippen and his ministry are on this list, read Tillamook Speaks, and Tillamook Testimony Concerning Jeff Crippen. Also go to Sister’s blog and download the PDF Jeff Crippen is Unsafe. (Or you can click here [Internet Archive link] for the PDF.)
Jenny Bolt Price, iwokeupyesterday.com
A pastor’s wife and life coach in south Florida, Price’s blog contains articles that would lead an abuse victim down a very wrong path.
Jim Newheiser, Director of ICBC – the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship
Pastor and professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, Newheiser rehashes the same old enslaving party lines about marriage and abuse. Our post, Another abuser-enabling, victim-enslaving book: Jim Newheiser’s “Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage” exposes his dangerous, unbiblical teachings.
At Ps Jeff Crippen’s blog, Light for Dark Times, he also exposes Jim and Carolyn Newheiser in his post ‘Biblical Counserlors’ Such as the Newheisers Would Tell Phinheas that he Had Sinned [Internet Archive link].
John MacArthur, Jr., pastor, author
MacArthur has consistently denied that abuse is grounds for divorce. See our John MacArthur tag.
John Piper, pastor and author
Piper is well-known to readers of this blog as a teacher of the permanence view of marriage. That means no divorce for any reason ever as long as one’s spouse is still living. He also has an unorthodox doctrine of salvation. See our John Piper tag.
Jon Uhler, sole leader of Church Protect
Jon revealed himself during an interchange on FB regarding the story that Marci Preheim published called “Jane” that he is someone who was not respecting the choices of victims. More is explained with this ACFJ comment by Barbara Roberts.
This ACFJ blog post provides an explanation by Jeff Crippen on why June Hunt’s booklet “Verbal and Emotional Abuse” is in the ACFJ Hall of Blind Guides.
Justin Holcomb, pastor and author
Justin and his wife have written a book about domestic abuse. Their book has some good points, but we also have concerns about some things they say. See our Justin Holcomb tag.
Lou Priolo, founder and president of Competent to Counsel
Priolo acted appalled that I didn’t want to be married anymore even before getting any details. He said something like: ‘Why would you expect that your kids won’t be bitter at you if you are bitter at your husband? You need to apologize to your kids for your marriage.’ His tone was very rude so I never contacted him again. (This was the personal experience of one of our readers who wishes to remain anonymous.)
Mark Driscoll, former pastor of Mars Hill, Seattle, Washington
Driscoll’s bullying style in addition to his teaching content earns him a definite place on this page.
Martha Peace, author
Author of The Excellent Wife (and several other books) Martha’s teachings keep abuse victims in bondage – to which several of our readers would testify. Here is a link to an Amazon review by Avid Reader that exposes Martha’s twisting of scripture. And here is our post, Is Martha Peace a strong advocate for women who are being abused?
Michael and Debi Pearl, authors
Debi Pearl’s book Created to be his Help Meet has done immense harm to many victims of domestic abuse — see this review of the book. The Pearls’ hyper-patriarchy wins them a place on our list.
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Revive Our Hearts women’s ministry
Nancy is quite uninformed as to the nature and tactics of abuse. The advice to abuse victims she provides has frequently been very deficient. See our Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth tag.
Neil Anderson & Freedom In Christ Ministries
Theologically, there is some concern about doctrinal confusion in Anderson’s approach. He speaks of “soul ties” and various concepts popular in the church that don’t appear to have scriptural underpinning. While there is no doubt in the minds of many abuse survivors that satanic oppression and influence occur in an abuser, some of the cure Anderson proposes isn’t scriptural rather, it is popular inner-healing methods that produce much trauma in some of those that get taken in by it. And we are cautious about any teaching (and Anderson’s may be one such teaching) which emphasizes the demonic and supernatural but fails to address the non-supernatural that is the bread and butter of abusers’ tactics. The abuser typically chooses and selects, in his own flesh, the tactics of abuse and coercive control he uses against his target. Any teacher on demonization who does not understand the mindset of entitlement which abusers cultivate, will not be equipped to provide balanced and wise help to domestic abusers or their targets.
Neil Anderson’s “The Bondage Breaker” is not good for victims of domestic abuse
A Naive Statement by Neil Anderson
See our post Abuse and Scripture: Paul Washer and the Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture —and make sure you read the comments thread too.
Started by Ken Sande in 1982, this organization’s materials and philosophy do not adequately consider the abuse scenario. (They have stated in writing that they have no policy on domestic abuse.) As a result, victims can be harmed and abusers enabled by this approach. Sande’s well-known book The Peacemaker, is in our opinion biblically inaccurate particularly in its treatment of the subject of forgiveness and reconciliation. See our Peacemakers tag.
Pure Life Ministries
Founded by Steve and Kathy Gallagher deals with sexual addiction. While this program may claim to have some success stories, they show a lack of biblical understanding (i.e. teaching that God Hates Divorce) and victim blaming and minimization. See a reader’s comment here.
Stephen Gola & Divorcehope.com
Read this post to understand why we do not recommend Stephen Gola’s book Divorce: Gods’ Will?
2equal1 International (combined ministries of Nova Shalom, Marriage Ministries International and University of the Family)
U.S. Directors: Mike and Marilyn Philipps; Australia Directors: Ian and Jan Watts
This ministry is based on the unbiblical concept that a covenant is forever binding and God expects couples who take a vow to keep that vow “even to (one’s) own hurt.” And a divorced person can’t remarry because God is holding you to your vow. This concept is damaging and harmful to abuse victims.
Note: There are other ministries that follow the 2equal1 materials though they may have different names. One such example is the: standforyourmarriage.org website. See our Marriage Ministries tag.
Tim Clinton gives bad counsel for marriages where one spouse is narcissistic and emotionally abusive. Our listing under James Dobson contains links with more information.
Voddie Baucham, pastor and author
Like John Piper, Baucham is a permanence view teacher (no divorce ever). See our Voddie Baucham tag.
His book Divorce: A Gift of God’s Love (2002) claims that word meanings are the key to untangling the knotty passages about divorce. Click here to read why this idea is not true.
Walter Fremont (a professor at BJU, Bob Jones University)
An ACFJ follower says:
Fremont’s book Formula for Family Unity might be a good book for normal, Christian marriages, but not for where there’s abuse in marriage. That’s a book my husband “clobbered” me with. He used that one, and the Bible, before I understood how the Bible verses get twisted. I was brought up in a Christian church in the 60’s and 70’ so I needed help with untwisting things. Credits to the ACFJ blog and Rebecca Davis for helping with that.
19 thoughts on “Christian Authors and Ministries in Our Hall of Blind Guides”
Wondering if you were going to send a friend to get certified in biblical counseling / counseling what would you reccommend? Do you consider CCEF good material?
I do see there is a difference between “biblical” counseling vs. “christian” counseling, I would say more interestd in christian counseling
Hi Sandra – No, I do not see CCEF as good material. If I were going to become a counselor by vocation, I would first be certain I had a solid, sound knowledge of the Scriptures (something not easy to obtain nowadays). I would then find a college or university that offers a degree in counseling (it may very well be a secular university) so that I could become professionally certified and thereby able to counsel full time as my vocation. Yes, I know that would expose me to erroneous non-Christian notions about man, counseling, and so on. Thus the pre-requisite of having a sound foundation in Scripture first. But frankly I think that there is a lot of positive data I would learn in such a program and I would weed out the rest. As for counseling as a layman in the field of abuse, I would go to the resources page of this blog and read, read, read. I simply do not know of a biblical counseling program I would send anyone to.
Thank you Jeff
Sandra, Dr Diane Langberg and Dr Phil Monroe teach counseling at Biblical Seminary. I can’t speak for that seminary overall, but I do admire the work of Diane and Phil, so you might like to investigate the courses they offer. I’m not saying that others at Biblical Seminary are not good, it’s just that I don’t know about them, I only know about Diane and Phil.
Diane and Phil are both aware of our blog and respect our work.
On this page of our Resources section Training Materials we have links to material by Diane and Phil.
[Note from editors: In October, 2018, Biblical Theology Seminary was renamed Missio Seminary. The training material links by Diane and Phil have been updated to reflect the new website.]
also Sandra, you or your friend might like to read our posts tagged CCEF as they give a good picture of why we don’t recommend CCEF.
Just a note: there has been a name change since this was posted. Nancy Leigh DeMoss recently married (November 2015) and is now using the name Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth (and / or Nancy Wolgemuth). Both her maiden and married names are now associated with her teaching.
How about Psychoheresy Aware Ministries / the Bobgans? I noticed that they believe that if you go for counselling and you tell how you are being treated by someone else, that you are guilty of “evil speaking” behind that person’s back. They seem to regard all counselling as a form of evil speaking and believe that the other person should be there if you are making allegations. As if someone who is sinning by abusing someone else is always going to admit to their sin.
I remember the name Bobgans from years ago when I was in classical Pentecostal circles. I formed the view then that their teaching was wrong. Yes, we would put their ministry on the list of blind guides.
When my husband first was shown to be serially unfaithful and what I now know is emotionally abusive, almost everyone of these authors were who we, and those in the church who were working with him, turned to. He was helped, I was his submissive doormat and all of the abuse compounded. I am so sad, and at times very angry, about that. I was sure if I just did what these people said then my marriage would be good. We are a homeschool family and I am beginning to see just how many authors within that community endanger women with their writing.
My former church posted a CCEF event coming up so I came here to find out your opinion of that organization but did not find it in the list of “blind leading blind”; however, as I scrolled down and took a look at the comments I found a post by Jeff:
Jeff posted above: “Hi Sandra – No, I do not see CCEF as good material.”
For ease of research, could you add CCEF to the list in the blog?
Hi Annie, we have a tag for CCEF which contains all the posts we’ve written about them. But it’s a reasonable idea to put them on our Hall of Blind Guides too, because we believe that while they are teaching and writing about how to respond to domestic abuse, as yet their teaching still has so many flaws and gaps that we would not recommend it. Thanks for the suggestion.
Here is our tag for CCEF.
I’m guessing Family Life would be on here too. Probably good for a shakey marriage but not an abusive one. My husband who I am currently separated from due to emotional abuse sends me Family Life devotionals all the time. One of them lightly touched on infidelity and specifically said “physical abuse” in one sentence before moving on. And it made me so angry because that word physical should never be placed there — abuse is abuse and I don’t need a black eye to name it as such. Sometimes I want to e-mail them and explain myself and then I realize how ineffective that would really be. I know it was more cause for him to be justified in his actions and he used his religiosity yet again — why did they have to specify physical abuse and not just put abuse (it wouldn’t change anything but it would’ve been good to see).
Another one that was left in the car for me to read was about how an army captain stands his ground and how you should fight hard for your marriage and never give up. Yes, in retrospect these are good things but when it comes to abuse this is a very dangerous mentality because the abuser always pushes and pushes and fights. It is like a captain who has gone mad with control.
Yet – very good observations. Actually if we stop and think even briefly, these claims don’t even make sense. “Physical” as an adjective, as if the ONLY way you can abuse anyone is to punch them in the face. And then that business of the army guy and fighting hard for your marriage. Fight for your marriage? What does that even mean? “You hate me and abuse me terribly, but this marriage thing is worth fighting for so I am going to fight you so we can stay married and…..”. How ludicrous!!
I am a victim of domestic violence, and am currently separated from my retired military officer husband and have a divorce case pending.
I would like to have a discussion with you about Paul Hegstrom and his books and educational curriculum.
I don’t see any blog post that you refer too, to read your explanation as why you don’t recommend his books, etc.
Did you ever go to him to tell him you were offended? Matthew 18 guidelines, thank you and I look forward to hearing back from you.
Hello, you had given what looked like your full name as your screen name, and since you say your are a victim of domestic violence and soon to be divorced from your abuser, it’s probably not safe to use your real name on this blog. So I have changed you screen name to Inquiring.
We do give a link on this page to the post where we explain our concerns about Paul Hegstrom and Life Skills International. I am wondering why you didn’t see that link. But I will give it to you again:
Paul Hegstrom and Life Skills International — an organization we are reluctant to endorse
We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.
And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you may like to check out our FAQ page.
Also, please allow me to explain why we didn’t initially approach Paul Hegstrom by private correspondence to tell him our concerns about his work. We believe that when a person has published their teachings in the public domain, their teachings can be biblically criticised in the public domain without approaching the person privately first.
Many Christians take the same approach we do on this.
You may find it helpful to read these links:
Blessings and Woes from the Politically and Spiritually Incorrect Lord Jesus Christ, and Naming Names
Our False Notions about Church Discipline Enable the Abuser’s Secrecy
If I tell people about my husband’s abusive behavior, am I gossiping?
For CCEF, check out the one-star review of Ed Welch’s book Blame it on the Brain. The review is titled “A Dangerous Read”. It is at amazon.com.
In recent blog posts around 2012, Ed Welch has claimed to be for the taking of medication in some cases. However, I attended his church when he had one of his parishioners stand up and give a testimony about how he doesn’t need a pill, he has Jesus to congregational applause in 2016. I would think a trained psychologist would be far more careful about the tone his church is setting for survivors of PTSD or people with mental health disorders. It seems like Ed Welch still derives his justification from not having to take a pill rather than from Jesus’ work on his behalf.
Thanks, Crystal! And welcome to the blog. 🙂