Wow.What an amazing book.A bit odd reading it from an atheist perspective but enlightening nonetheless when viewing my faith experience retroactively.

Arterburn is a psychologist who operates a practice focused on helping individuals solve longterm personal issues. He is a believing Christian and writes this book from the perspective that toxic faith (or immature faith) is detrimental while mature faith is healthy and uplifting. Even as an atheist I see great value in his perspective and, in retrospect, reading his book many years ago could have done me a world of good.

Arterburn discusses cults but, aside from one case dealing with Hare Krishna, does not name them.The typical case presented is of overly fundamentalist evangelical believers or ministers/pastors who simply go overboard in childlike, immature faith.

What struck me most about this book was that while Mormonism has some very respectable and admirable traits, there were very few pages where the unhealthy concept being discussed was not an integral or influential part of either Mormon belief or cultural practice. On the plus side, some of the traits of toxic/immature faith are not present in Mormonism in the least.

Here are four key summarizing tables the author presents that identify elements of Toxic Faith.

P. 98 Twenty-One Toxic Beliefs of a Toxic Faith
1. God's love an favor depend on my behavior
2. When tragedy strikes, true believers should have a real peace about it
3. If you have real faith, God will heal you or someone you are praying for
4. All ministers are men and women of God and can be trusted.
5. Material blessings are a sign of spiritual strength
6. The more money you give to God, the more money He will give to you
7. I can work my way to heaven
8. Problems in your life result from some particular sin
9. I must not stop meeting other people's needs
10. I must always submit to authority
11. God uses only spiritual giants
12. Having true faith means waiting for God to help me and doing nothing until He does
13. If it's not in the scriptures, it isn't relevant
14. God will find me a perfect mate
15. Everything that happens to me is good
16. A strong faith will protect me from problems and pain
17. God hates sinners, is angry with me, and wants to punish me
18. Christ was merely a great teacher
19. God is too big to care about me
20. More than anything else, God wants me to be happy
21. You can become God

P.189 Characteristics of a Toxic Faith
1. "Special" claims about character, abilities, or knowledge
2. Dictatorial and authoritarian leader
3. An "us" versus "them" mentality
4. Punitive in nature
5. Overwhelming service
6. Followers in pain
7. Closed communication
8. Legalism
9. No objective accountability
10. Labeling

P. 263 Ten Rules of Toxic Faith System
1. The leader must be in control of every aspect at all times
2. When problems arise, find a guilty party to blame immediately
3. Don't make mistakes
4. Never point out the reality of a situation
5. Never express your feelings unless they are positive
6. Don't ask questions, especially if they are tough ones
7. Don't do anything outside your role
8. Don't trust anyone
9. Nothing is more important than giving money to the organization
10. At all costs, keep up the image of the organization or the family

P.310 The Nature of Mature Faith
1. Trust in God's saving grace and believes firmly in the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ
2. Experience a sense of personal well being, security, and peace
3. Integrates faith and life, seeing work, family, social relationships, and political choices as part of one's religious life
4. Seeks spiritual growth through study, reflection, prayer, and discussion with others
5. Seeks to be part of a community of believers in which people give witness to their faith and support and nourish one another
6. Holds life-affirming values, including commitment ot racial and gender equality, affirmation of cultural and religious diversity, and a personal sense of responsibility for the welfare of others
7. Advocactes social and global change to bring about greater social justice
8. Serves humanity, consistently and passionately, through acts of love and justice