As George W. Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech illustrates, any analysis of "evil" is fraught with controversy and disagreement. Likewise, the Lausanne consultation Deliver Us from Evil (DUFE), convened on August 16-22, 2000, in Nairobi, Kenya, sought to elucidate the nature of spiritual warfare based upon theological reflection and ministerial experience.
This book, a compilation of key addresses from the DUFE consultation, actively engages at least six questions: What are the nature and essence of demonic power? To what extent do demons have influence over Christians? Do demons, gods, and spirits have territorial control? What is the nature and validity of strategic level spiritual warfare? How do Christians discern and verify experiences of the spiritual realm? What is the relationship between the spiritual and the psychological?
While the depth of research and insight varies from chapter to chapter, a number of very significant chapters make this a recommended reader for all seminary classes on spiritual warfare. Hwa Yung's theological analysis of the demonic in scripture; John Thomas' description of sources of illness; Skarsaune and Engelsviken's depiction of three consistent characteristics of Christian ministry in regard to possession and exorcism throughout history; Juliet Thomas' critique of the use of Western money and spiritual warfare in India; and Scott Moreau's articulate summary and critique of strategic level spiritual warfare are each worth the price of the book. I was also touched by Juliet Thomas’ description of Christian worship and by Jorgensen’s contrasting the “myth of redemptive violence” that forms much of human culture to Christ who acquiesced to violence in order to redeem creation.
In a number of instances missionaries are harshly critiqued. Burnett believes missionaries have too readily demonized gods and spirits even when they are considered ambivalent spiritual beings in traditional religion. Juliet Thomas asserts that the current generation of Indian missionaries superimposes their own models of spiritual warfare over traditional beliefs, thus amplifying already tense religious frictions within the country.
Chuck Kraft advocated a militant model of spiritual warfare. He defines conversion as a change of power: This results in Christian activities, such as healing, dedicating and blessing, which look very much like those of animists—except that the source of the power is God rather than Satan (p. 295-297).
Reflection on the perspectives of Kraft and other participants reveals an obvious oversight of the conference (and the book). Discussion of a theology of power, which lies at the core of spiritual warfare, is virtually non-existent. Satan's power is debasing--contorting the disobedient who follow the cravings of their own sinful nature (Eph. 2:3). God's power, rooted in his great love, raises believers above these earthly cravings into heavenly realms (Eph. 2:4-6). Not only is God's power quantitatively greater than Satan's, the quality is also different.
Truly the terrain of spiritual warfare is fraught with innumerable land mines and booby traps as illustrated in this very excellent book.
Copyright ©2003 by
Gailyn Van Rheenen