Warfare of All Types Spiritual Warfare: Two Selected Issues Issue 1: Syncretism Syncretism “has generally referred to the replacement or dilution of the essential truths of the Gospel through the incorporation of non-Christian elements.” Is it syncretism when . . . Christian missionaries march around a Hindu temple seven times and then declare God’s victory? Christians gather at an ancient religious site to declare God’s glory and break an ancient curse? Seminaries prepare ministerial candidates with no training on spiritual warfare? A Christian therapist treats disassociation with drugs, never considering the possibility of the demonic? The range of terms Heresy? Syncretism Indigenizing Co-opting Blending Borrowing Adapting Contextualization Inculturation Transforming Critical questions Who makes the call? Do we use linear (black/white) or fuzzy (shades of gray) logic? Do we take a bounded set or centered set approach? What is the relationship between form and meaning: Can we borrow animistic forms and infuse them with new [Christian] meanings? Unmasking hidden assumptions It’s syncretism when I don’t like what they are doing! It is my job to determine when it is syncretism or not The biblical approach that I take is the correct one It is possible (and necessary) to eliminate all syncretism Hidden assumptions “Spiritistic” If someone reliable says it happened, it must be true Spirits operate the same now as then Local explanations in spiritistic societies are fundamentally correct Psychosocial explanations are not as important as spiritual ones “Secularistic” It I did not personally see it, it should be questioned Spirits operate differently now than then Local explanations in spiritistic societies are fundamentally flawed Spiritual explanations are not as important as psychosocial ones. Areas of controversy Theological Demons and Christians Territorial spirits Nature/duration of spiritual gifts Ancestral “legacy” Blessings/curses Worldview Demonomania Demonophobia Practical Ritual prayers Prayer walks/journeys Binding/loosing Demonic interrogation Spiritual mapping Techniques in expulsion Ancestral renunciations Biblical case studies Acts 8: Simon’s search for power Acts 12: Peter’s spirit double/ghost/ angel? Acts 14: Paul as Zeus? Acts 16: Casting out the prophetic spirit Acts 19: Burning scrolls/charms/amulets Acts 27: Paul as a god Observations! God does allow some “borrowing” There are boundaries on what is allowed Growth in Christ-likeness is God’s goal for all Christians Suggestions Identify the goal—growth in Christ to glorify God As a community, identify and commit to non-negotiables (e.g., the Bible is our normative standard) Develop the ability to really listen (a phenomenological approach) Empower local decision-making Develop local criteria for testing Issue 2: SLSW Levels of spiritual warfare Spiritual mapping Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare approaches Levels of Spiritual Warfare Wagner Ground-level warfare: • Casting demons out of people Occult-level warfare: • Deals with demonic forces released through activities related to Satanism, witchcraft, Freemasonry, Eastern religions, New Age, shamanism, astrology and many other forms of structured occultism Strategic-level spiritual warfare: • Describes confrontation with high-ranking principalities and powers such as Paul writes about in Eph. 6:12. Kraft Ground-level warfare: • Dealing with the demons that inhabit persons • Three types: – Family spirits – Occult spirits – Ordinary spirits Cosmic-level warfare: • Dealing with the demons that are attached to territories, regions, or groups • Five levels of these spirits: – – – – Territorial spirits Institutional spirits Vice spirits Nature, household and cultural item spirits – Ancestor spirits Foundations for SLSW Rule 1: The Area Select a manageable geographical area with discernible spiritual boundaries Rule 2: The Pastors Secure the unity of the pastors and other Christian leaders in the area and begin to pray together on a regular basis. Rule 3: The Body of Christ Project a clear image that the effort is not an activity simply of Pentecostals and charismatics, but of the whole body of Christ. Rule 4: The Spiritual Preparation Assure the spiritual preparation of participating leaders and other Christians through repentance, humility and holiness. Spiritual Mapping: Historical Research Historical Research: The history of the city History of religion in the city History of relationships Physical Research: Examine maps of the city, especially older ones Look for significant signs or symbols in the city architecture Look for significance in the location and position of the key central buildings, monuments, and statues Spiritual Mapping: Spiritual Research Non-Christian elements (principal deities or spirits) Christian elements (receptivity, ease of prayer in city, unity of Christians) What is God revealing about the city to the researchers or other mature, recognized intercessors? Types of SLSW Encounters Power Encounter Mixed Truth Encounter Directly and publicly confront the identified territorial spirits to weaken their hold on the location. Emphasize unity of local leadership, centrality of prayer, and priority of dealing with strongholds within the church as preconditions for aggressive prayer against the strongholds. More of a truth encounter in which we manifest repentance and reconciliation in a way that speaks destruction to the powers of darkness, modeled on Ephesians. Points of Appreciation Takes Satan and the powers more seriously than traditional Western approaches. Advocates of SLSW recognize that divisiveness weakens prayer and as a result stress the unity of the church in fulfilling its mission. SLSW advocates focus on the ultimate goal of saving the lost. The recognition of evil spiritual dimension of culture is also helpful. One of the emphases of those engaged in this type of ministry is to discern areas in which the church needs to repent publicly and corporately. There is generally an explicit recognition that this concept/strategy is new and pioneering, rather than proven. Points of Disagreement Perhaps the biggest obstacle to SLSW is that the fundamental strategy is not found biblically or in church history. The emphasis on discerning and naming demons before we can have power over them is approaching a form of Christian animism The orientation towards prayer as smart bombs vs. scud missiles borrows too heavily from the myth of redemptive violence that pervades human cultures. Seeking information about the spirit realm as a means of overcoming them or gaining special knowledge does not appear to be portrayed as necessary (or even significant) in Scripture. Ultimately a focus on this strategy as the key to effective evangelization demeans the Scriptures: if this strategy is so significant, then why is it not found in the Bible? This method can we detach demons from people, which deemphasizes our own participation in the rebellion against God. The idea of serving notice, evicting and binding spirits over territories does not have biblical warrant. Moving Forward For advocates: Be cautious in the use of claims and anecdotes to establish the validity of SLSW. Work hard not to confuse coincidence with causation. Develop a more robust vocabulary/interdisciplinary framework in communicating about the strongholds over a territory Respond to honest critique by doing your homework rather than just brushing off the criticism. Do not stereotype. Do not simply dismiss people who have not had your experiences as not having the ability to critique your theology. For critics: Demonstrate an understanding of what is being said and lovingly prod-that will go much farther than blanket condemnations. Do not stereotype—and don’t simply dismiss people that do things against your theological frame of reference. For all: Our goal should be to give Satan and demons a selectively appropriate inattention. Beware of the emotional attachment to your chosen approach and how that can influence both your advocacy and your response to criticism.