Author Archives: Ruth Perry

Book Review: Testimony by Jon Ward

Purchase your copy of Testimony here: #ad.

I was thrilled when Brazos Press sent me a copy of Jon Ward’s book, Testimony: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Failed a Generation. Like many young Christians, I am endlessly trying to understand how the evangelical movement that raised me became what it is today, and Ward’s book resonated deeply with the heartache of this question.

Like Jon Ward, I was also a pastor’s kid, and my parents also converted during the Jesus Movement revival sweeping America in the 70’s. I wasn’t raised in a mega church (Ward grew up in C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Church), but I relate so much to the cultural markers of Ward’s upbringing. “The leaders in my world were true believers whose intensity of belief blinded them to their errors” (p 3). “The seeds of harm were planted with good intentions. The men who shaped my childhood…simply wanted something real” (p 21).

Ward’s career in journalism gave him tools to examine his inherited views from a critical mindset. “It is now the norm to be intolerant of opposing views, to see others as the other, to fear them, to hate them. Black-and-white thinking is everywhere. Nuance is vanishing. Complexity is demonized” (p 4).

In his chapter on evangelical anti-intellectualism, entitled Surrender, Ward states that his “religious upbringing had given [him] lots of training in how to feel and what to believe but very little in how to think” (p 51). “There was no room for nuance. There was no allowance for complexity or shades of grey. You were either all in with what the leaders said to do, which they said was God’s will, or you were out” (p 52). The emphasis on emotional experiences and the necessity of accepting unquestioningly what your leaders taught made critical thinking a threat to your belonging, and it made people ripe for accepting conspiratorial thinking.

An important insight in Ward’s book is the chapter on Gnosticism, entitled Radicalized. “Gnosticism is a centuries-old way of thinking about the world that in its purest form is considered by Christian theologians to be a heresy. Essentially, according to this thinking, the physical world is of little value compared to the spiritual realm. Much of this thinking derives from fundamentalists’ excessive focus on escaping the world by going to heaven rather than being a good neighbor and working for the common good on earth. This Gnosticism is fueled by the evangelical obsession with euphoria, because emotional highs are understood as obedience to God, and it is virtually impossible to live in the real world while riding a wave of spiritual ecstasy” (p 65). Ward explains that it is impossible to follow Christ’s example of being present to the suffering of the world while seeking a constant state of joy.

Ward talks about the Republican use of the Pro-life movement, the music and literature of evangelicalism, the hyper-literalism of evangelical Bible reading, the complementarianism and power hierarchies of evangelical Christianity, the terrible responses of evangelicals to sexual abuse and spiritual abuse, the New Apostolic Reformation’s drift to Christian nationalism, and most movingly, the rise of Trumpism and how Ward’s relationships with evangelical family and friends was fractured by Trump’s rhetoric and presidency. As a journalist, Ward was interviewing conservatives around the nation, and noted their move to increasing fanaticism, tribalism and antiestablishment politics. He witnessed the rise in outrage-bait media and voters’ not knowing much about politics but voting on personality and image. “To me, superficiality is a far greater problem than point-of-view bias because it drives the political debate away from solving real problems, deepens polarization, and erodes trust in government” (p 132).

Overall, this is a powerful testimony to the change that has happened in evangelicalism as it has become more political and less Christ-like. Toward the end of the book, Ward writes that “I was not really shown how to take up my cross and actually follow Christ. The crisis of American Christianity basically boils down to this failure. I still don’t claim to know how to walk the way of the cross or the path of resurrection very well. But I think that the quest to do so is still at the heart of a meaningful faith. What does it look like to live sacrificially but also incarnationally? Christ was God incarnate, made flesh. How do we walk through death to life, here, now?” (pp 225-226).

If you are trying to understand what American Evangelicalism has become over the past few decades, I would highly recommend reading this memoir. Jon Ward distills the issues down concisely and starkly. His journalistic tool box has given him the perfect set of skills to convey this bewildering mixture of culture and politics and faith.

Again, here is my Amazon Associate link to purchase Testimony:

2021 Review and Reflections

Here on the blog:

In 2021, I only wrote two posts. The first was my 2020 review and reflections, and then in March, I wrote a resource list of abuse advocates. Somehow, with this sparse contribution, the blog had its highest traffic at 15,571 views (next best was 2018 with 14,774 views). Half of those views came from searches.

Most visited posts:
Resource List: Abuse Advocates and Experts
RC Sproul on the Role of Men and Women
The Transformative Power of Good Leadership

Meanwhile, the 2021 Facebook page reach was 15,929,074
I grew from 9k to 22.9k followers in 2021
88.2% women, 11.8% men
Largest demographic between the ages 25-44

This post reached 4.3 million people:

A big part of me feels like I am just in a holding pattern on the blog – sharing the things I am reading and appreciating on my Facebook page, but not writing any of my own articles and content. So my goals for 2022 are:
1.) to post an article at least once a month on my blog,
2.) write at least one book review per month, and
3.) create at least one digital art piece or meme to share on Facebook per week,
so that I am contributing some of my own ideas and reflections to TBKW feeds.

When I begin to experience discouragement and doubt about the fruit of TBKW, God always seems to prick my conscience to keep going, often with an encouraging message through my FB page. Thank you to those who have followed, commented, liked, messaged and given me grace when I miss the mark. Most recently, I was reminded to be a “Good Troublemaker” while listening to a podcast. It isn’t always comfortable to confront the patriarchy, white supremacy, economic injustice, etc. But I believe deep in my heart that these issues matter to God and this is not the way God wants his Bride to function.

My overall feeling is gratitude that I have the opportunity to meet so many interesting and brilliant people through this page, and have important conversations. I am always trying to keep an open mind and open heart to what God may have to teach me through your messages and comments. Thank you all for being a part of TBKW community! I love you so much!!

My husband and I in October ❀

Resource list: Abuse advocates and experts

Over the past few years with #churchtoo disclosures and allegations, as well as the tidal wave of prominent pastors’ “deeds of darkness” being exposed, it is clear that the evangelical church has an abuse problem. Perhaps even more tragically, when we respond poorly to abuse, we exacerbate the pain and trauma of the victims and enable the perpetrators, endangering others and harming the witness of the church. It is imperative that we learn how to respond in a way that ministers to victims, holds perpetrators accountable, and creates a safe, healthy environment for our faith communities.

I wanted to make this post as a resource for pastors, lay leaders, and abuse survivors to facilitate abuse education. For each of us, it is not a matter of if we will face abuse in our own community, but when. So I asked The Beautiful Kingdom Warrior Facebook community to help me compile a list of abuse advocates in this comment thread. Below, I have fleshed out our list with links to the advocates’ websites, books, and social media so that you can easily follow them and begin to learn more about the prevalence and dynamics of abuse. Be sure to pass this post along.

To begin, here is a link to a short article I wrote on the dynamics of abuse for my denomination’s digital magazine, and here are some useful images for familiarization with the dynamics of abuse:

Abuse Advocates and Experts (in alphabetical order):

*book links are to my Amazon Affiliate store: thebeautif017-20

Dr. Dan Allender – The Allender Center

Bio: Prominent Christian therapist, author, professor, and speaker focusing on sexual abuse and trauma recovery
Book: The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo

Shahida Arabi – Self-Care Haven

Bio: Columbia U grad who studied bullying; best-selling author specializing in narcissism and self-care
Website:, Self-Care Haven blog
Books: Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare; POWER: Surviving and Thriving after Narcissistic Abuse
Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Lundy Bancroft

Bio: 25 years experience in the fields of abuse, trauma and recovery; counseling, workshops and public speaking
Books: Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men; Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Social media: Facebook

Laura Barringer

Bio: Educator, Advocate and Co-Author of A Church Called Tov
Book: A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing
Social media: Instagram, Twitter

Andrew J. Bauman

Bio: Christian Author, Therapist, & Abuse Advocate. Helping men become sexually healthy.
Books: The Sexually Healthy Man, The Psychology of Porn, Stumbling Toward Wholeness
Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Podcast

Gretchen Baskerville – Life Saving Divorce

Bio: Christian Divorce Recovery Minister, Author and Abuse Advocate
Book: The Life Saving Divorce: Hope for People Leaving Destructive Relationships
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo

Nichole Braddock Bromley – One Voice

Bio: Author, International Speaker, Sexual Abuse Survivor, and Activist
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Podcast

Jeff Crippen – Unholy Charade

Bio: Pastor, Author and Abuse Advocate
Books: A Cry for Justice; Unholy Charade
Social media: Twitter, Sermon Audio: 21 sermons on abuse

Chuck DeGroat

Bio: Professor of Pastoral Care and Christian Spirituality at Western Seminary; Therapist; Author
Book: When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community from Emotional and Spiritual Abuse
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Rachael Denhollander

Bio: Lawyer, first accuser of Larry Nassar; Abuse Advocate and Consultant
Book: What is a Girl Worth?; How Much is a Little Girl Worth?
Social media: Facebook, Twitter

F. Remy Diederich

Bio: Pastor, Author – helps people overcome life’s hurts with God’s help
Books: Broken Trust, Healing the Hurts of Your Past
Social media: Facebook

Patrick Doyle

Bio: Abuse survivor, Coach for those affected by emotional abuse, Speaker
Social media: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube

Ashley Easter – Courage 365

Bio: Founder of Courage 365, a catalyst to cultivate and empower a Justice Generation that resists abuse everywhere
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube

Bob & Helga Edwards

Bio: Christian Therapists and Public Speakers
Book: Addressing Domestic Violence in the Church
Social media: Facebook

Maureen Farrell Garcia

Bio: Christian Writer, Speaker, Instructor, and Abuse Victim-Survivor Advocate
Social media: Twitter

Give Her Wings

Mission: We serve, without judgment and with compassion, single mothers who have left abusive relationships. Our goal is to show them the community and body of the Church, when they otherwise are not finding it.
Social media: Facebook, Twitter

GRACE – Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment

Mission: Empowering Christian communities to recognize, prevent, and respond to abuse. Founded in 2004.

“With a combined experience of over 100 years of addressing abuse-related issues, GRACE has accumulated and organized a wealth of resources from mental health experts, former prosecutors, and theologians to give you and your organization a well-rounded, robust, and deep understanding of abuse and how to prevent it. We all can make a difference by learning about abuse, become equipped on how to recognize it, and committing to responding appropriately. Browse the categories below to learn more.”

Social media: Facebook, YouTube; founder Boz Tchividjian on Twitter

Natalie Hoffman – Flying Free Sisterhood

Bio: Author, Podcaster and Life Coach for women recovering from abusive marriages and churches
Book: Is it me? Making sense of your confusing marriage
Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Podcast

Kyle J. Howard

Bio: Christian Theologian, preacher, & trauma informed soul care provider; Survivor of racial and spiritual abuse
Social media: Facebook, Twitter

Mariam Ibraheem – Tahrir Alnisa Foundation

Bio: Survivor of Sudanese Prison and Domestic Violence; Director of Global Mobilization and Co-Founder of TAF
Mission: “We empower women escaping abuse by assisting with housing, medical care, trauma recovery, and legal fees.”
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube

Virginia Knowles

Bio: Practical Theologian researching authoritarian and/or aberrant religious movements, spiritual abuse and family dysfunction
Forthcoming book: Burned: Rising from the ashes of spiritual crisis

Dr. Diane Langberg

Bio: Christian Psychologist with 50 years experience counseling trauma survivors; Speaker, Consultant, Author
Books: Suffering and the Heart of God, Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church
Social media: Twitter

This video is an excellent discussion about Ravi Zacharias’ decades long deceit and abuse and the system that enabled him:

Bekah Legg – Restored

Bio: Director of Restored, “Working alongside churches to end violence against women”
Social media: Restored’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube; Bekah’s Twitter

Sarah McDugal

Bio: Empowering women to recover from abuse in the faith community. Coaching + Courses + Groups
Books: Safe Churches: Responding to Abuse in the Faith Community; Myths We Believe, Predators We Trust
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube

Scot McKnight

Bio: Professor at Northern Seminary, Theology Blogger, Co-Author of A Church Called Tov
Website: Jesus Creed
Book: A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture that Resists Abuse and Promotes Healing
Social media: Facebook, Twitter

Chris Moles – PeaceWorks University

Bio: Pastor, Speaker, Biblical Counselor addressing domestic violence
Book: The Heart of Domestic Abuse: Gospel Solutions for Men Who Use Control and Violence in the Home
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, The Safest Place: Domestic Abuse and the Church FB group

Wade Mullen

Bio: M.Div Program Director at Capital Seminary & Graduate School, Author, Abuse Advocate
Book: Something’s Not Right: Decoding the Hidden Tactics of Abuse and Freeing Yourself from Its PowerΒ 
Social media: Facebook, Twitter

Julie Owens

Bio: Expert Consultant, Trainer and Keynote Speaker on violence against women and trauma
Social media: Facebook, Twitter

Naghmeh Abedini Panahi – Tahrir Alnisa Foundation

Bio: Iranian Church Planter and Domestic Violence Survivor; Executive Director and Co-Founder of TAF
Mission: “We empower women escaping abuse by assisting with housing, medical care, trauma recovery, and legal fees.”
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube

Brian Peck – Room to Thrive

Bio: Licensed Therapist, Trauma Coach, helping people resolve religious trauma and thrive after deconstruction
Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube

Sarah K. Ramsey – Toxic Person Proof

Bio: Toxic Relationship Specialist, Author, Podcaster, Consultant
Book: Becoming Toxic Person Proof
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Podcast

Dr. Anna Salter

Bio: Training, Consulting and Publications on Sex Abuse, Offenders, and Victimization
Book: Predators, Pedophiles, Rapists and Other Sex Offenders
Documentary: Predators

Dr. Christy Gunter Sim

Bio: Expert Training, Advising and Consulting on Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Trauma Healing
Book: Survivor Care: What Religious Professionals Need to Know about Healing Trauma
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Eric Skwarczynski – Preacher Boys

Bio: A podcast and upcoming documentary shedding light on decades of abuse within the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement
Social media: Facebook, Twitter (Preacher Boys), Twitter (Eric), Instagram, YouTube, Podcast

Julie Anne Smith – Spiritual Sounding Board

Bio: Blogger, Abuse Advocate and Survivor; “Out of our wounds flow compassion, understanding, & grace. May we all be ‘wounded healers’ who do no harm.
Social media: Facebook, Twitter

Shanell T. Smith

Bio: Minister, Professor, Consultant, Author, Survivor
Book: Touched: For Survivors of Sexual Assault Like Me Who Have Been Hurt by Church Fol…
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube

Elaine Storkey

Bio: Writer, Broadcaster, Speaker, Author, Christian Feminist
Book: Scars Across Humanity: Understanding and Overcoming Violence Against Women
Social media: Twitter

Darby Strickland

Bio: Biblical Counselor, Speaker and Author
Book: Is it Abuse? A Biblical Guide to identifying domestic abuse and helping victims
Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

The Hope of Survivors

Mission: A non-profit dedicated to assisting victims of clergy sexual abuse and misconduct
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Shannon Thomas

Bio: Trauma Therapist, Author
Book: Healing from Hidden Abuse, Exposing Financial Abuse
Social media: Facebook, Instagram

Lori Anne Thompson

Bio: Registered Kinesiologist and expertise in the protection of people from the ravages of poverty, adverse childhood experience, and interpersonal violence. Survivor of Ravi Zacharias abuse.
Social media: Twitter

This interview is a must see. Lori Anne articulates the dynamics of abuse so profoundly and carefully with great expertise.

Dr. Ruth Tucker

Bio: Former Professor at Calvin Theological Seminary, Author
Book: Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife

Tom Vermillion

Bio: Pastor, Author
Book: Born To Be Free: Discovering Christ’s Power to Set You Free from a Painful Past
Social media: Twitter

Leslie Vernick

Bio: Speaker, Author, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Relationship Coach
Books: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube

Who would you add? Let me know in the comments! Please share this important information!

*I am an Amazon Affiliate and may receive a percentage from books sales from the links above.