spiritual warfare

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Book Review: “The Message of Spiritual Warfare” by Keith Ferdinando

msw-ferdinandoThe Message of Spiritual Warfare by Keith Ferdinando is an exploration of spiritual warfare throughout the Bible. The topic immediately conjures sensational images to mind of demons vying with pitchforks against a frightened mob. Searching the book’s title brings up all sorts of strange books on the topic promising to teach Christians the exact method for fighting their inner and outer demons. In other words, Ferdinando has plunged into a topic that, if he were me, he would have stayed away from. So much disinformation and sensationalism is out there that the task of sorting through it all seems monumental. Ferdinando, however, does this in seemingly the exact right way: by taking readers back to Scripture.

Ferdinando’s work is thoroughly grounded in Scripture. Rather than attempting to deal with the endless iterations of views on demon possession, spiritual warfare, cosmic warfare, and the like, Ferdinando points directly towards what the Bible tells us about this volatile topic. In doing so, he avoids the difficulty of making an overly-bloated work filled with attempts to discredit other positions while also avoiding jumping into the controversy. The book surveys a huge number of passages in no small amount of depth, and its format is such that readers could easily use it either as a reference (looking at individual passages as they come to them in their own reading) or as a work to read through time and again.

Ferdinando’s balanced approach is like a breath of fresh air, particularly as one who has read little on the topic but has still encountered some very strange and unbiblical perspectives. Ferdinando doesn’t do much to urge readers away from sensationalism, rather he expounds on Scripture to show that many prominent views of spiritual warfare are simply mistaken. In one example, he highlights the fact that demon possession in the New Testament is not confronted by violence, by trying to force the demon to speak its name, or by some other ritual; rather, demons are confronted by Jesus’ name and the use of prayer. Full stop. By showing this from the Bible itself, Ferdinando effectively puts to rest the debate. Another instance can be found on page 87 when he writes of demon possession and that it is treated in the New Testament not as a sin to be confessed but rather as something from which people are delivered. These and many other helpful points effectively serve notice to those views of demon possession and spiritual warfare which prey upon people’s fears.

I would note that Ferdinando does allow himself to get sidetracked at times by somewhat unrelated points. For example, at one point he offers a few paragraphs on the nature and extent of eternal punishment, taking as his example the fate of Satan in Revelation. Though this is an interesting topic, it wasn’t terribly related to the theses in his book. This does’t happen often, but when it does it seems to take away from the thrust of the book.

The Message of Spiritual Warfare is an even, thoughtful look at a too-often sensationalized topic. It comes recommended.

The Good

+Even-tempered tone
+Thoroughly grounded in Scripture

The Bad

-Occasionally gets sidetracked by other issues

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher. I was not obligated to provide any specific kind of feedback whatsoever. 

Links

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Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

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SDG.

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Really Recommended Posts 5/8/15- Sola Scriptura, National Day of Prayer, and more!

postI’m pretty excited to offer you, dear readers, another round of Really Recommended Posts this week. These should give you some nice diverse topics to explore! As usual, be sure to let me know your thoughts on the links, and let the authors of the posts know themselves!

A Short Defense of Sola Scriptura– Here is some insight into the defense of the doctrine of sola scriptura against those who would allege that there needs to be some authenticating authority for the books that make up Scripture. What do you think of this argument?

“I can’t help you” – What Should Never Be Heard at Church– The way we invite (or don’t) others into the life of the church matters. What ways might we best provide an environment that welcomes others into our community? Here’s an example of how not to do it.

Beware of Prayer–New Apostles and Prophets on the National Day of Prayer– Some insight into the documents that are being passed around by leadership for the National Day of Prayer. I think this is pretty unfortunate. However, I don’t think this needs to interrupt your own participation in said day. For some insight into spiritual warfare (including the view of “warfare prayer” and the like), see my review of Understanding Spiritual Warfare: 4 Views (and the book itself, of course!).

5 Changes Elementary Sunday Schools Need to Make ASAP– How might we better equip our children to engage with the challenges they will face against Christianity? Here are 5 important points for changing Sunday School to set children up for success.

LOL Interwebz: Putin the Memes Away– Here’s a challenging post on the use of memes, what they do for us (and to us) and the relation of free speech and Christianity.

Sunday Quote!- Spiritual Warfare and Mapping the Land?

usw-beilbyeddyEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Spiritual Warfare and Mapping the Land?

I recently read through Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views (see my review) and found it extremely interesting. I do highly recommend the book to my readers. One of the views, I felt, may go a little bit beyond what the Bible teaches about how we engage in spiritual warfare. The authors, C. Peter Wagner and Rebecca Greenwood, argue that we should map out locations for spiritual warfare:

Spiritual mapping is the practice of identifying the spiritual conditions at work in a given community, city, or nation. By gathering objective information (including key historical facts… locations of bloodshed, idolatrous practices, [etc…]) and combining it with spiritual impressions (prophecy, revelation, words of knowledge, dreams, and visions), believers can prayerfully combine all of this information and draw a map that identifies the open doors between the spiritual world and the material world (182-183, cited below).

Now I admit that I come from a background in which spiritual warfare was little (if at all) discussed, but this does seem a little bit more than we can glean from the biblical image of spiritual warfare. Where, for example, are we instructed to try to use dreams and revelation in order to find “open doors” of the spiritual world? Where are we instructed that there might be doors for the spiritual world into our own that are identifiable? I think some aspects of this notion might be helpful for witnessing and the like–after all, knowing the landscape in this fashion would be helpful for identifying areas of conflict in a community and offering Christlike compassion in those areas–but I hesitate to think that the way they can be applied is in this fashion.

What are your thoughts on this? What do you think of spiritual warfare?

Again, I highly recommend this book with its very wide range of diverse views presented on the topic in order to get an introduction.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Microview: Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views– I briefly review this highly interesting book on different views of spiritual warfare.

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

C. Peter Wagner and Rebecca Greenwood, “The Strategic-Level Deliverance Model” in James Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy, eds., Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012).

SDG.

Microview: “Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views” edited by James Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy

usw-beilbyeddyUnderstanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views is one of the most diverse presentations of views on a topic in a book of this sort I have read. I went into reading this pretty much blind to what positions existed, so take this as perspective from someone with some theological training, but no specific background in this area.

The work starts with an introduction that does a great job introducing questions of primary importance in discussions of spiritual warfare. Walter Wink’s (alongside Gareth Higgins and Michael Hardin) view is presented first and might best be summarized as: Satan is equal to (and reducible to) human institutions of evil and suffering; he is neither personal nor is he the enemy of God but rather God’s servant–showing people their evil. We fight Satan by fighting institutionalized evil.

David Powlison’s “Classical” view is that spiritual warfare is essentially living like Christ and fighting temptation and sin. Satan is a real person and tempts us. Evils are combated through prayer and a call to repentance. Gregory Boyd’s “Ground-Level Deliverance model” argues for both a Christlike life but also for active warfare against demonic powers and Satan (who are personal and ontologically extant) on an individual level. C. Peter Wagner and Rebecca Greenwood’s “Strategic Level Deliverance model” is committed to finding and rooting out demonic activity in local and even national levels, including making “spiritual maps” to find where areas of demonic activity might be found and trying to identify the specific demons behind various activity.

From the above, it may seem like these views are radically diverse. You’d be correct to think so. James Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy did a fantastic job putting together this volume with such diverse views. Questions of orthodoxy at times arise (particularly in regard to Wink’s perspective), but this makes it clear how much divergence there is related to this specific issue. The responses to the different views are each insightful and provide more material of interest to pursue.

It’s rare that I’ve had a book be this interesting and engaging throughout. I highly recommend this volume for anyone with even a remote interest in the topic of spiritual warfare.

The Good

+Excellent diversity of views never feels like you’re reading rehashed material
+Clearly defines several key terms
+Superb introductory material prepares readers to understand some key questions on issue
+Author responses insightful and given just enough space to make serious points
+Cool cover
+Excellent indices

The Bad

-Could have given even more space to responses
-Not enough interaction on exegetical questions
-No rejoinders for authors to responses

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

Source

James Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy, eds., Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012).

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