Warfare of all Types

Warfare of All Types
Spiritual Warfare: Two Selected
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
Is it syncretism when . . .
Christian missionaries march around a Hindu
temple seven times and then declare God’s
Christians gather at an ancient religious site
to declare God’s glory and break an ancient
Seminaries prepare ministerial candidates
with no training on spiritual warfare?
A Christian therapist treats disassociation with
drugs, never considering the possibility of the
The range of terms
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
If someone reliable says
it happened, it must be
Spirits operate the same
now as then
Local explanations in
spiritistic societies are
fundamentally correct
Psychosocial explanations
are not as important as
spiritual ones
It I did not personally
see it, it should be
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
Demons and
Territorial spirits
Nature/duration of
spiritual gifts
Ancestral “legacy”
Ritual prayers
Spiritual mapping
Techniques in
Biblical case studies
Acts 8: Simon’s search for power
Acts 12: Peter’s spirit double/ghost/
Acts 14: Paul as Zeus?
Acts 16: Casting out the prophetic spirit
Acts 19: Burning scrolls/charms/amulets
Acts 27: Paul as a god
God does allow some “borrowing”
There are boundaries on what is
Growth in Christ-likeness is God’s goal
for all Christians
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
Levels of Spiritual Warfare
Ground-level warfare:
• Casting demons out of
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
• Describes confrontation
with high-ranking
principalities and powers
such as Paul writes about
in Eph. 6:12.
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
• 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
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
Look for significance in the location and position
of the key central buildings, monuments, and
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Beware of the emotional attachment to your chosen approach and how that
can influence both your advocacy and your response to criticism.