Toxic Faith – A Book Review

Several years ago I read a book  that I received while I worked at Spring Arbor called Toxic Faith. Much has been stated about the field of “Christian Psychology”, not all of it good. While I can appreciate the fact that the Bible does have the answers to all of man’s problems, I also subscribe to the philosophy from Scripture that “in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” National leaders have attacked the concept of “Christian Psychology” (Jimmy Swaggart comes to mind) who quite frankly could have benefited and could have been helped through their various and sundry issues.

Toxic Faith describes the problem of Religious Addiction. This is an addiction that is to me more dangerous than any other addiction. It is easy to see why drug addiction, alcohol addiction, sexual addiction is dangerous and destructive. We can even see where certain faiths such as Christian Science and certain Charismatic Practices are dangerous. The problem with Religious Addiction is that all religions have a certain element of truth to them. And that is the hook! It is very possible that one can be lured into false religion by the element of truth.

We all know that false religion is based on man’s pet philosophies. Unfortunately Toxic Faith has crept into mainline and even Fundamental Baptist Churches. Issues such as accountability by leadership in regard to moral issues, financial issues and basic ethical issues are swept to the side with the pet philosophy that “We are not to lift our hand against God’s anointed”.

That more than any other doctrine has been twisted and turned by many Fundamental Pastors to justify the behavior of certain people who claim to be men of God. As I have taught in my Sunday School class, when you look at a passage of scripture you have to look at it in the context it is written. David is on the run from Saul. Saul has been trying to kill David. David goes to a cave and it so happens that Saul is in the cave. David has the opportunity to kill Saul at this time. David however does not do this and he utter those famous words, ” I cannot lift mine hand against God’s anointed.”

It would seem that David was doing some noble, kind act toward Saul. But in further analysis, this is the only place in scripture where this statement was made. The argument would be that if God ordained him, only God can “unordain” him. We as mere church members are not allowed to question, or even approach one who claims to be a man of God when deep sin is committed. So I have to ask a question here. If one who claims to be a man of God commits deep sin (immorality, financial issues, etc) and there is irrefutable proof (not hearsay, innuendo, gossip, speculation, etc.) are we still supposed to follow said man of God? Is exposing sin through proper channels lifting a hand against God’s anointed? Furthermore was Nathan the Prophet wrong when he confronted David with his sin? After all David was God’s anointed. Yet too many Fundamental Baptist preachers preach earth-shaking sermons that God will harm those who harm God’s man. I think to a point that is true. However when you use that doctrine to cover major indiscretions one does have the right to confront sin in a proper manner.

See here is the problem. The man of God is not immune to the Laws of God. If he is not immune to the laws of God he is not immune to the chastisement of God as the rest of us mere mortals are not immune.

I could write for ages on this but let me give you one final thought on this particular issue. Ezekiel 28 refers to Satan as “God’s Anointed”. Are we to serve Satan because he is “God’s Anointed?” Thats absurd. However our God is a God of Order and all matters must be done “decently and in order.”

Here are some of the issues that the book “Toxic Faith” addresses:

-Families who spend more time in Church activities than family activities
-Members who are emotionally dependent on the Pastor instead of the Lord
-One who sees the Pastor as a super human individual
-Extreme guilt over mistakes and inadequacies
-And MANY other issues

There are a host of other issues discussed in this book. Many times what is perceived to be a move of God in our churches is nothing more than emotional nonsense to get the people to move in a certain direction. Our God is a Jealous God who does not share his glory with another, even with one who calls himself “Pastor.” God will in one way shape or form get the hearts of His people back. We are to love our pastors, but we are not to worship them. We are to forgive them when they sin, just as we are to be forgiven when we sin. We are also to hold them accountable to the scripture just as we are held accountable to the scripture.

It is time for some us to put the koolaid down, step away from the table and really analyze what is going on in our pulpits today. It is vital that we hear from the Lord during these last days. It is time for all of us to bury ourselves in the Word and not necessarily depend on the preaching in the pulpit. The preaching in the pulpit is necessary, but it is a supplement to our personal time with the Lord. He is there to help trim the vines so to speak so that we are able to produce fruit, but ultimately it is our responsibility to feed ourselves just as it is our responsibility to do our grocery shopping, grow our food, or eat at a restaurant so that we can be fed.

You may find this book, I’m sure in any Christian Bookstore or online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble or any other online source. The book is called “Toxic Faith” by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton. The ISBN number is 0840791151 and it is a hard back book. I would however try to find it in paperback if at all possible.

In conclusion, there are 3 types of people who will read this post, or read the book and will do one of three things:

– Quit drinking the Koolaid
– Keep drinking the Koolaid
– Change brands of Koolaid

You decide.



Filed under Book Reviews