I originally wrote this article in October 2013. Since it is rumored that Josh Duggar is seeking addiction treatment at Reformers Unanimous (RU) Residential Recovery Center in Rockford, Illinois, I thought readers might be interested in what I have written here. Since I originally wrote this article, RU has changed their website and some of the links no longer work.
Reformers Unanimous is the Fundamentalist Baptist version of a self-help group for church members who have addiction issues and “life” problems. Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches like First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, Newark Baptist Temple in Heath, Ohio, Monclova Road Baptist Church in Monclova, Ohio, and High Street Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, have a Reformers Unanimous chapter. According to the Reformers Unanimous (RU) website, RU has 680 chapters in the United States and twelve foreign countries.
The Newark Baptist Temple website describes the purpose of RU this way:
Stories of Victory: RU tired of hearing the “war stories” of people who have no real freedom in their life? If so, try RU! Every week, our students share how God has changed their lives through real-life, relevant stories. This weekly 40 minutes of encouraging testimonies will get your weekend started off just right.
Great Teaching: RU tired of talking about problems and doing nothing about them? If so, try RU! Every RU class ends with a 30-minute teaching lesson that will explain valuable principles from the Bible that are integral to your recovery process.
Complete Curriculum: RU tired of being told what’s right and not being given the tools to determine what is right? If so, try RU! We have one of the best comprehensive curriculums in America. It is one of the best-selling, too! Thousands of people have used our curriculum to learn the truth about addictions and Christian apathy. For more information see the back cover for our personal recovery curriculum.
Motivational Awards: RU tired of trying to find the stamina to do the right thing in the face of mounting adversity? If so, try RU! We will not only encourage you and help you to do the right thing, but we will also motivate you to do so. Though an award system is just a small way of doing this, it is evidence of a program that believes in acknowledging accomplishment and rewarding participation.
Free Personal Counseling: RU tired of having to get advice from people who know little about your struggles, or RU tired of having to pay hourly fees to hear yourself talk? If so, try RU! We offer free group and individual spiritual counseling on a wide variety of topics from addiction, to marriage, to finances, to family, and many other areas. You will have a leader, a helper, a director, an even the pastor. The pastor of this hosting church could make himself available to support your many needs in life.
Well-trained Local Leadership Staff: RU tired of attending programs where the leaders and volunteer workers have the same problems as you? if so, try RU! Our leaders have been set free from the power of sin and can speak openly about it. They do not seek anonymity. They proclaim earnestly that Jesus is the reason for their freedom, and they have been well-trained to use our program and its tools to get that salvation message to you and to those whom you love.
Exciting Children’s Program: RU tired of trying to find someone to help you with your child’s issues while you are still trying to deal with your many issues in life? If so, try RU! We will not only care for your children while you attend our class, but we will entertain, teach, and develop your children to help them avoid the same pitfalls that ensnared many of us. They will enjoy games, prizes, snacks, play time, awards, great teaching, and many other things. Our “Kidz Clubs” are the weekly highlight of most every child that attends.
Residential Treatment Centers: RU tired of trying to find residential treatment that is effective and affordable? If so, try RU! We operate a beautiful 100-bed facility for men and a gorgeous 40-bed facility for women at our headquarters in Rockford, Illinois. We are also aware of many RU type transitional homes that may be available for your use. To learn more, visit ruhomes.org.
Local Church Support: Steven Curington believed, as does the pastor whose church hosts our meetings, that the local church is God’s support group. It is designed by God to meet the spiritual needs of all people. When the spiritual needs of people are met, then other needs fall in line and become easier to manage. We as a program, strongly encourage you to visit the church that hosts this meeting for addicted people. Something must be different about this church if they are so willing to have this program for you. Why aren’t others?
Reformers Unanimous also operates treatment centers they call Schools of Discipleship. According to RU’s Schools of Discipleship website, the treatments centers offer:
…a six-month intensive discipleship program for men and women with troubled lives. We provide a reconstructive learning atmosphere where the non-functioning person can be trained in a supportive environment of discipleship consisting of: study, mentoring, Bible education, and work place training.
RU’s website states that the Schools of Discipleship program has a 80% success rate after one year and 79% of those who are “victorious over addictions” are gainfully employed after one year.
Reformers Unanimous is operated by North Love Baptist Church in Rockford, Illinois. Dr. Paul Kingsbury (calling himself Dr. because he has an honorary doctorate from Ambassador Baptist College, a college founded by IFB pastor Ron Comfort) is the pastor of True Love. Kingsbury was called to preach under the ministry of Jack Hyles, attended Maranatha Baptist Bible College, and graduated from Hyles-Anderson College.
RU has a medical staff that:
advise Pastor Kingsbury, and the North Love Baptist Church on decisions that arise in the ministry related to health care for the addicted, mental health, communicable diseases, and medical liability.
The medical staff doctors are Dr. Morris Harper, Dr. George Crabb, Dr. Timothy Gaul, and Dr. Maureen Gaul. Crabb is located in Florida, the other three doctors are located in Pennsylvania. (as far as I could ascertain from a cursory web search)
RU also has an advisory board made up of nine men, including Illinois State Senator Dave Syverson. There are no women on the advisory board.
Until a few years ago, I had never heard of Reformers Unanimous (RU). My former drug-addict son asked me if I knew anything about RU. He had attended a RU meeting with his cousin at the Newark Baptist Temple in Heath, Ohio. I told him I had never heard of RU. He then told some “interesting” stories from the RU meeting he attended.
After hearing this, I decided to take a closer look at RU. The rest of this post will focus on a booklet published by RU titled DSM One: Diagnostic & Spiritual Manual. This booklet provides a birds-eye view of RU’s addiction philosophy. DSM One is written by RU medical staff advisory doctor George Crabb.
On the copyright page, Reformers Unanimous attempts to stop people like me from reviewing their literature by stating:
Any written or published critique, whether positive or negative, may not quote any portion of this book without written permission of the publisher to avoid any discrepancies in context.
After contacting my crack legal team, I am confident that RU’s attempt to scuttle a review of their materials has no legal basis and is contrary to the doctrine of fair use. (See Electronic Frontier Foundation FAQ) This review is done on a non-commercial basis and is meant to be a critique of the teachings found in DSM One.
According to the back cover of DSM One, the purpose of the book is:
Churches today, along with Reformers Unanimous (RU) chapters around the world, are ﬁlled with hurting people struggling with serious personal problems. Many church and RU leaders find they are unprepared to deal with these people that have very serious non-physical problems because the psychiatric world has proclaimed themselves to be the master of this domain. As a result, psychiatric terminology has invaded the church and their RU programs. Most Biblical counseling training provides little to no education regarding these terms and little to no training on what the Bible says about these non-physical problems. Dr. Crabb’s desire in writing this booklet is to help the Christian leader understand the practical implication of these terms and what the Bible says about these non-physical problems of life. Dr. Crabb takes the mystery out of these terms and clearly presents the Biblical viewpoint.
The purpose of Reformers Unanimous and the DSM One is to help IFB church members (virtually all the RU chapters are sponsored by IFB churches) who are hurting and struggling with serious personal problems. Crabb and RU are concerned that the psychiatric world and its terminology have invaded IFB churches and the RU program. The DSM One book is RU’s attempt to give pastors the tools necessary to help church members who have “serious non-physical problems.” Crabb wrote the DSM One to help pastors and church leaders “understand the practical implication of these terms and what the Bible says about these non-physical problems of life.”
According to the back cover, the DSM One book, “takes the mystery out of these terms and clearly presents the Biblical viewpoint.” While it is “slightly” encouraging to see IFB churches admit they have the same problems that the “world” has, it is their methods and desired outcomes that I have a problem with.
The DSM One has sixteen chapters and three appendices. The book covers:
- Philosophy of Psychiatry
- Multiple Personality Disorder/Disassociated Identity Disorder
- Tourette’s Disorder
The appendices cover:
- Seven Biblical Things to Do on a Daily Basis
- The Best Way to Study Your Bible
- Reformers Unanimous Ten Principles
If I had to sum up RU’s position:
- The Bible has the answer for every problem you are facing
- The reason you are _______________________ (fill in with one of the disorders/problems mentioned above) is because you are unwilling to submit to God and the authority of His Word, the Bible
- True, lasting victory over ______________________ can only come through submitting oneself to the teachings of the Bible (as interpreted by RU, George Crabb, and the local church pastor)
Dr. George Crabb, the author of DSM One, has little to no training in the field of psychiatry. He is an osteopathic internist and states he is a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Crabb is an IFB pastor’s son. His father was the pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Warren Michigan. When I originally wrote this post I was able to find active web links for Antioch Baptist Church and Antioch Baptist Academy. Those links no longer work. (I did find that there was a sex scandal that resulted in the pastor, Christopher Settlemoir, being arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 7-15 years in prison for child sexual assault. The victim sued the church.)
The lack of psychiatric training is not surprising for those of us raised in the IFB church movement. The psychiatric and psychology community are routinely demonized by IFB pastors and are considered tools of Satan used to keep people from submitting to the authority of God and the Bible. Crabb is pretty much like the actor in the Holiday Inn commercial. He is not a psychiatrist, but he is a Bible-believing Christian with a medical degree. Since Crabb believes virtually all mental health problems are a problem of not submitting to the authority of God and the Bible, there is no need for any serious training in the mental health field.
Gawker article on Josh Duggar and Reformers Unanimous
Entertainment Tonight article on Josh Duggar and Reformers Unanimous
The Rockford Register Star reports:
The Duggars have a history with Reformers Unanimous, speaking at its national conference in Rockford in October 2014. But, Brad Woodbury of the organization’s development team would not confirm that Duggar entered treatment in the Forest City.
Woodbury went on to say that the residential program, which costs $7,500, is voluntary and work-based. Members are responsible for tasks like cooking and construction. Reformers Unanimous in Rockford has men’s and women’s residential treatment programs, with room for 40 men and 20 women. The length of stay in its long-term addiction treatment center is approximately eight to 10 months.
“The residential program is for people who need to be in a place where they can grow in their relationship with Christ,” Woodbury said. “We do not focus on the addiction. It’s about your walk with Christ.”
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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