Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church

Healing Spiritual Wounds Healing Spiritual Wounds HarperOne

Carol Howard Merritt

HarperOne, 2017

Merritt is a highly-regarded speaker and author of Reframing Hope and other writings whose book Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting With a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church courageously dives into a subject which has haunted the Christian church for centuries: spiritual abuse and its effects. She explores the trauma which Christian fundamentalist beliefs in particular place on families and individuals on self-esteem and sexuality. Merritt knows about that trauma firsthand. The book begins with her powerful opening pages as she tells what it was like to be raised under the frightening tyranny of a physically abusive father and in a fundamentalist church, both which condemned expressions of female sexuality and power. Later Merritt goes to Moody Bible Institute where further realizations beckon her away from her church roots. During these years, Merritt experiences growing self-acceptance and affirmation. She ultimately becomes a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and finds herself, as so often happens, drawn into pastoral encounters with people wrestling with similar harmful experiences of the Church who are burdened with shame and are searching. She also gives sympathetic understanding to those of her readers who may be at various places in those same struggles and suggests thoughtful study questions and refreshingly creative exercises for individuals and groups to help us examine our process of healing.

This book is not just for those who have had direct experience of a conservative or fundamentalist church. Merritt’s audience is really much broader. The ways we can be hurt by Christian views of sexism, racism, anti-gay attitudes, and other messages which negatively define who we are do not require attending a fundamentalist church. The reach of Christianity's damage is as long as its history.  It has been said that we live in a “post-truth” age of “alternative facts,” yet the real truth is that the Church has always had its lies and deceptions. Merritt proves that they will never have the last word. Truth will always triumph. But to be truthful takes trust, and Merritt shares it all with us honestly and without self-pity or anger. Trust took her on the path unfolding before her which opened her up to an even greater trust in God and herself as God’s beloved child. Now Merritt’s journey has led her to write this gift of love with faith and hope for others--from her grateful and generous heart. 

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