Friday, August 06, 2021

Book Review: Redeeming Power, by Diane Langberg

Confession time: 
It took me a long time to read this book, but it was more than worth it. 

"Redeeming Power: 
Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church" 
by Dr. Diane Langberg

What a title! I love the combination of the words Redeeming and Power - it was the rest of that title that I found so intimidating. I don't know anyone working in the Church who hasn't, at one time or another, felt the pain of someone in authority acting abusive, myself included.

I knew this was going to be a hard read. 
I was right, but simply put, what an incredible and important book. 

Langberg's focus isn't simply on the abuse of power, but specifically, abuse perpetrated by Christians in leadership and the Church as an institution. These opening lines set the tone:

"Power can be a source of blessing, but when it is abused, untold damage to the body and name of Christ, often in the name of Christ, is done."


From here, Langberg explores three main areas:

- Power Defined
- Power Abused
- Power Redeemed

It probably doesn't surprise anyone that Power Abused is the longest and most extensive section of the book. Throughout these chapters, we explore physical, sexual, emotional, and spiritual abuses perpetrated by individuals and systems. All the abuses are based in misused power, and many are defined by gender, race, and economic or social status. These are truly difficult chapters to read. For some, these chapters may trigger difficult memories. For others, the chapters may inspire a "me too" moment of solidarity.

Langberg's writing is full of compassion and conviction. She pulls no punches. There's no softening to make the truth more palatable. And for her, there's one clear solution: look to God. Not the God of our own making. Not the God in our own image. The One God, who created us all in His image, and Jesus, who modelled how to lead and love without prejudice or restrictions.

Throughout my personal reading, certain stories resonated with my own experiences. But as someone in church leadership, I also tried to challenge myself: Am I being an empathetic leader? Are my prejudices and privileges affecting my leadership choices? How can I make sure my use of power reflects the love of God?

I highly recommend Redeeming Power, especially to those in church leadership.
It will make a powerful choice for a book club, Bible study, or recovery group. 

I pray this book is both a source of healing and a challenge for each of us.

Diane Langberg's site is full of additional resources, like videos, podcasts, and a blog. 
You can learn more about Redeeming Power and Langberg's valuable work with trauma victims, caregivers, and clergy at:

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

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