I recently ran across this article that deals with “Authoritarian Abuse”. I’m posting a snippet here for your thoughts:
The Signs and Symptoms of Authoritarian Abuse
The following are some of the general signs and symptoms, or common characteristics, of hyper-authoritarian groups, churches, networks,and ministries. Bear in mind that the list is by no means exhaustive, and that these are general, rather than, exact descriptions.
1. Multi-level authority/government hierarchy.
2. No real accountability of the leadership to the corporate body.
3. Paranoia and insecurity by the leaders, which is countered by an obsession with a perverted concept of “unity,” which in reality translates into total and unquestioned obedience to the leadership.
4. Personal materialism, preoccupation with financial prosperity, covetousness, and self-aggrandizement by the leaders.
5. Partitioning of the group into smaller groups that are led by internally “raised up” leaders.
6. Inordinate attention to the public “image” of the ministry.
7. Doctrinal demeanment and devaluation.
8. Theological incompetence by the leadership, especially with respect to the rules of hermeneutics and Bible exegesis employed in the formulation of doctrine, giving license to twisting and adulteration of Scripture to provide proof-texts for unorthodox and invented doctrines.
9. Spiritualism, mysticism, and unproven doctrines.
10. Abuse and misuse of prophetic giftings.
11. Devaluation, disallowance, disregard, and displacement of the true Fivefold Ministry within the church.
12. Legalism, or works mentality, and its resulting loss of the “joy of salvation,” though “freedom” is forever preached from the pulpit and the church is constantly touted as being a “safe church” by the leadership.
13. Corporately, an inordinately high incidence of financial, marital, moral, psychological, mental, emotional, and medical problems, including sudden deaths and contraction of “incurable” and “unknown”diseases.
14. Lack of true personal spiritual growth and development, especially in terms of genuine faith and experiencing the abounding grace, forgiveness, goodness, blessings, kindness, and agape-love of God.
Obviously, we’re not going to run into all of these at the same time (or if we do, there’s a major issue). However, I have noticed the majority of these items at our former church….