In the light of recent reports in the media, Bishop Andy Lines, describes his own experience of spiritual manipulation.
“Those with spiritual authority are like all in authority. All authority is open to abuse or manipulation.
I have been coming to terms with elements of spiritual manipulation in my own life. It has been a very hard and painful process requiring months of professional counselling for me to come to terms with what I have experienced. It took considerable time before the light went on, and has required lots of support during three months in Australia. However, I now realise the nature of what was happening. I have come to realise that this can happen to strong as well as vulnerable people. I have become aware that the particular manipulation and control I have experienced has been experienced by a number of others.
We do not always act in accordance with our stated belief in a God of grace. However good our intentions are, Christian leadership in encouraging spiritual growth in others, needs to draw on the grace of God as experienced in the Bible for motivation rather than on external coercion. When we fail cheap grace is not what we need. What is required is recognition of our sinfulness and repentance, confident in the forgiveness Jesus alone provides.
I am grateful to those who have reached out to me in support. As I pray and think about my own experience, I trust that I will be able to share with and help other survivors.
Since September last year, I have not exercised formal episcopal duties as such. The authorities to whom I am accountable have carried out a thorough investigation and have cleared me to return to such duties. But it is apparent that such a return can only be gradual, both because of the need to recover from all that this ordeal has involved, and also to allow time to consult with those whom I am called to minister to.”
In response to this statement the following comments have been made
“The betrayal of trust by a mentor is a terrible wound, and when things like this take place in the Church it only increases the pain. Bishop Lines is a survivor who has shown the willingness to do the hard spiritual and emotional work of coming to grips with the actions of an abusive father-figure. He has my full support as he works to support other victims and cares for those churches leading the reformation of Anglicanism in Europe.”
Archbishop Foley Beach,
Primate of the Anglican Church in North America
Chair of the Gafcon Primates’ Council
“Bishop Lines has immense gifts for ministry, and through this difficult personal trial has shown himself to be a leader of character. He has my full support, and I look forward to working beside him in the years to come.”
Archbishop Ben Kwashi,
Gafcon General Secretary