Challenging Leaders

Challenging Leaders
Paul Smith
Paul Smith Paul Smith is full-time elder of Grace Baptist Church, Broadstairs, Kent. He is also a director and the book reviews editor for ET.
18 May, 2023 2 min read

Author: Graham Nicholls (editor)
Publisher: Affinity
152 pages
Purchase from: Eden Books (£11.99)

Challenging Leaders is a necessary and stimulating foray into the quagmire of ‘spiritual abuse’. The book’s strength is its clear-headed realism. Like it or not, church leaders are sinners who will sin as church leaders. Like it or not, terms that can come with unbiblical baggage like oppressor, abuser, victim, and survivor are in frequent use, especially online. The book sets out to be a ‘best-practice guide’ for this area.

First, the book sensibly highlights the challenges with terminology. It recognises that thirtyone:eight (a safeguarding charity whose statement of faith is the Apostles’ Creed) have been promoting the concept of spiritual abuse. It is ‘not a term the authors would want to endorse’ – although they do, inconsistently, also use it. The book prefers more precise categories such as ‘pastoral malpractice’ and ‘abuse of power’, while recognising that the term ‘spiritual abuse’ is being used by others.

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