Book Review Part 3
“TAKING OUR CITIES FOR GOD”
by John Dawson
Welcome to Part three of this exhausting, although not exhaustive, review of Taking Our Cities For God. We join the descent of discernment already in progress by looking at Chapter 10:
“SSSssh! Secret Society Meeting in Progress…”(Chapter 10 Review).
Chapter 10 is entitled “Prophets, Intercessors, and Spiritual Fathers”. Dawson begins by affirming his earlier statements that God has “deposited” wisdom in “the saints of today.”(P. 99). And asks these questions for us:
“Has God already given revelation about a strategy for our cities? Is there already a team I should join?” (Ibid.).
John Dawson, C. Peter Wagner, Rick Joyner, Cindy Jacobs, Francis Frangipane, Mike Bickle, George Otis, Jr., and a fleet of others all resound with a hearty “YES!!!” It seems that the New Apostolic Reformation alongside others in the Spiritual Warfare Movement have supplied vast amounts of guidance from the other side to aid in carrying out these man-centered tactics of ridding our cities of demonic control. Join them if you dare!
According to Dawson, at the time of this book’s writing in 1989, this super group might be rather elusive (Although today they are nothing less than outspoken and flamboyant). Here’s why:
“In every city there is a hidden eldership. You will not find this grouping of saints listed in any human book. This circle of mature believers stands in the gap until victory comes.”(Ibid.).
Quick question for Mr. Dawson: If this group is hidden and residing in the spiritual underground, how do you even know that every city has a group like this? Answer: He wants all to think that there is an elite group that knows the “ins and outs” of spiritual dominion through having extraordinary communication with God that “normal” believers just don’t have. The author of course is part of this initiated “secret circle” and therefore privileged to get this prophetic insight beyond Scripture.
Interestingly enough he quotes Isaiah 62:6-7 immediately after and says that this group he refers to are the “watchmen” that this passage talks about. Here’s the problem: the watchmen ministry is not a “hidden eldership” or secret group working “behind the scenes” in every city. The watchmen ministry as set forth in this passage and others (Ez. 3 and 33) always involved clear concise, public and unmistakable warning against false teaching. Militarily speaking, Watchmen were stationed on the city walls and watched for coming danger. Likewise, the prophets and apostles in Scripture publicly and vocally identified the dangers of sin and false teachings to God’s people.
Even the verse Dawson quotes state that these watchmen “will never be silent.”(Is. 62:6). So how can this ministry be hidden or concealed in any way and still be described as watchmen?
He continues by adding that these watchmen “may be obscure intercessors or prophetic people with a hunch.”(P. 100) and then states that:
“You are on to something if you find a common theme among those who claim revelation.”(Ibid.).
“Something” is right, but not the real thing in most cases. All in this Third Wave group pretty much espouse the same false teachings and sensual revelations that originate somewhere far from the true teaching of the Bible on spiritual warfare and the nature of the demonic realm. Common themes shared by “those who claim revelation” like the ones in this book have already been discussed and are not things that we should embrace or follow. Here are five such common characteristics of Third Wave teachers:
The list goes on. Indeed there are common themes among those who claim to be getting these messages, and one thing that taints the prophecies and insights received and declared from this group is the blatantly apparent lack of allegiance to the authority of God’s Word as it teaches about spiritual warfare and related topics.
Frankly speaking, I don’t want to put my trust in or join obscure gatherings of people with “hunches”. We as the Church today certainly need not be led down the road of error with this hidden group that claims new revelation but hasn’t even been able to deal with the multitude of falsehood and false prophecies in their past careers.
One more question: Why the subterfuge and “secret society” stuff? If these prophets and intercessors are truly anointed ministers then they should be at the forefront of good churches leading the people rightly and “cutting straight” God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15). They should not be considered secretive or obscure.
Dawson continues through Chapter 10 drawing parallels between the growing churches of his day and the booming consumerism of the cities. Some of his viewpoints are accurate and he does make a case for many churches resembling modern day retail organizations. He says “The superchurch is like the modern mall”(P. 103) and talks about the growing competitive atmosphere that exists between the blossoming “cities of God”(Ibid.) known as “mega churches” and the smaller local congregations. He also asks a very pertinent question:
I think this is a valid question and one that could be discussed in another article and probably has been. Dawson seems to suggest that there are good as well as bad aspects to the expanding churches of the latter half of this century and I think that there are good points in his treatment of it but then he says a statement on page 104 that I’m afraid displays, at best, a naïve perception of today’s churches and, at worst, a severe lack of discernment:
“After all, because of the very factors I have mentioned, the doctrine of the church is becoming more and more uniform (and orthodox at that).”
The ecumenical explosion that began in the 90s and continues its hurricane of leavening alliances today seems to suggest an emerging uniformity in doctrine to be sure. Unfortunately, the doctrines of the historic Christian faith are being rapidly and uniformly rejected and redefined by the Third Wave Movement. Their doctrines are becoming more and more uniformly apostate as the authority of Scripture and the commands of God are being sacrificed and done away with in the name of “unity” today. More and more evangelicals are signing documents and opening doors of partnership between the Roman Catholic Church and the New Age Movement, both of which are antagonistic to the issue of the authority of God’s Word.
Mission organizations like YWAM have steadily worsened by making alliances with the New Apostolic Reformation and Roman Catholics as well. Even Islam seems to be making friends in this group (see the article “Messianic Muslims” by Orrel Steinkamp: <http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/orrel5.html>). It’s clear that there definitely is a uniform departure from Biblical truth among many in these groups.
As for whether the teaching of the church is getting more orthodox, the Bible teaches otherwise concerning the condition of the end-times Church. Rather than embracing sound doctrine, many will receive false teachers and apostles, false anointings, false Christs, doctrines of demons, counterfeit “love” and the general love of many will wax cold (Matt. 24:12), even in the Church. God’s Word predicts a worsening and weakening of orthodox doctrine and says, “false prophets will arise and deceive many” (Matt. 24:11). False teachers will arise form within and lead many astray with “fables” and feel-good messages (2 Tim. 4:3,4) so that many wont “put up” with right teaching.
The scary thing is that Taking Our Cities For God advances many teachings that have contributed to the decline of orthodox teaching on spiritual warfare within YWAM and other groups who have believed and implemented some of Dawson’s conclusions. In addition, John Dawson is currently leading many down ancient paths of neo-paganism with his Reconciliation Walks and continued promotion of Third Wave prophets. I just can’t agree with the author here. And he doesn’t see what he is saying. Want more?
“We live so close together, with such good communications, that it has become increasingly difficult to hold heretical views and get away with it. If we preach a strange gospel, our people will soon tell us about it;”(Ibid.).
Mr. Dawson, the Third Wave and Word/Faith movements have been and are teaching a “strange gospel” which bears little or no resemblance to Biblical Christianity and a very few watchmen are telling these teachers about it!
The exact problem we have in the Church today is the fact that heretics and false teachers can “get away” with teaching almost anything unhindered and largely unquestioned. I’ve just got to wonder what city Dawson was living in when he said this statement. Has he seen “Christian” TV since the mid-80s?
Here’s a quick question for Mr. Dawson and all reading this review: “How many people do you personally know who have spoken out “watchman-like” against the unbiblical ideas being promoted by the Third Wave Movement? By this book? In the teachings and endorsements of YWAM leaders like Cunningham and Dawson?
Answer: Not many have spoken out on these matters since 1989 and even up until the present time. Why? Because Jesus taught that these things would happen. He taught that the Church would continue to decline in orthodoxy and that the amount of people who would cling to true doctrine would be few. Paul’s fear for the Corinthian church has been fully realized in today’s Church at large on a major level:
“For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it.” (2 Cor. 11:4).
Reality is that heresy has multiplied and fewer people today are speaking out against it than ever because many many more people have actually believed these constantly emerging false revelations. Many have been “bewitched”(Gal. 3:1)! Many in the Church today have had their minds “beguiled” and “corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3).
Taking Our Cities For God combined with George Otis, Jr.s ministry and a host of other publications and people have served to build “stepping-stones” leading away from orthodox Biblical teachings, and most in the church will never speak out against what is happening.
The final pages of this chapter introduce the most severe concern imaginable. Dawson talks of an emerging order that God has “gifted” the end time’s churches with to help us establish the kingdom of God here in our cities:
“It is now a season for the restored prominence of the ministry of apostles and prophets who will lay the foundations for the coming move of God.”(P. 111).
This statement is one of many that foreshadow the emergence of C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation. Dawson is not talking about “apostolic” and “prophetic” giftings in the Church coming forth. He’s referring to the revelations received by himself and others concerning the return to the Church of the foundational offices of apostle and prophet, without which, according to the Third Wavers like Wagner and Dawson, the “new move of God” can never come and the Church will never be what she is supposed to be. Furthermore, these men have taught in the years since this book was published that the church has NEVER been compete until now because these offices were not in place until now (AFI has articles o’ plenty on this. Go to our New Prophets/Apostles section).
Briefly, The foundation of the church has already been laid with Christ being the Chief Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20) and actual foundation of His Body the Church (1 Cor. 3:11).Governmentally, God’s chosen prophets and apostles were the bringers of “God-breathed” doctrine and the offices were uniquely timed and effective for the purpose of revealing God’s message and building His Church. We don’t need to lay another foundation on top of the already established and effective one that God Himself has put down. In short, we don’t need these teachings that ignore what God’s Word already tells us about His Church.
It must be noted that Taking Our Cities For God was written in close proximity to several of C. Peter Wagner’s books that began to introduce this “revelation” of restored apostles and prophets, and therefore is instrumental in preparing many in YWAM and the Church to accept this “anointed” supergroup.
In 1999, at a YWAM leaders Conference in Colorado, Loren Cunningham was referred to as YWAMs “apostle” by C. Peter Wagner himself, and all the leaders present for this training seminar were taught boldly that they should accept the restoration of the office of foundational apostle in the Church today. This meeting’s notes is available on-line in pdf format at: www.uofn.edu/workshop/9UofN99d.pdf <http://www.uofn.edu/workshop/9UofN99d.pdf> . Bad associations and unsafe endorsements to validate an unbiblical body of teachings. Yet another reason for this laborious review.
This chapter ends with the verse “Behold how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Ps. 133:1).” (P. 113). This verse says something other than Dawson has interpreted it to say in this chapter. Christians who hold the Bible in highest regard as the ultimate source for right doctrine and the authority of God’s Word cannot unite with those pastors, self-proclaimed prophets/apostles, and churches that don’t share the same conviction.
Many deceivers are attempting to lead us to “other waters” to drink besides God’s Word. Prophetic “hunches”, unverifiable stories, and otherworldly false revelations are not the guidelines for obedience to God. Adherence to His Word is:
“To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Is. 8:20).
AFI strongly recommends the readers of this article not to “take” any cities with John Dawson, YWAM, or any organization until the authority of God’s Word becomes paramount in their teachings. Sadly, time has told that he is still involved in erroneous doctrine today and his alliances have gotten shadier.
Chapter 11 talks about what has become standard practice for the new warfare evangelization of all nations. This chapter is entitled “Get The Facts” and introduces the phenomenon of “spiritual mapping”. Taking Our Cities For God was one of the first publications that dealt with this issue, and was put out in close proximity with George Otis, Jr.’s espousals of the same techniques. As we stated in chapter 10 review, there is definitely a uniform practice among these Third Wavers of borrowing, elaborating upon, and endorsing each other’s error. Dawson, Otis, and Wagner can rightly be implemented in the perpetuation and spread of this unbiblical practice, and it has caught on with wildfire explosiveness in YWAM, DAWN Ministries, and a host of other mission organizations and “prophetic” ministries. God help us!
Again, Dawson asserts the necessity of this practice of information gathering about a city or geographical region that needs “transformed” and cleansed from demonic strongholds:
“ Do you know your city? You should have the census in one hand and the Bible in the other. What percentage of people actually attend church? How many people are in poverty? Why are they in poverty? Where do they live? Are there subcultures, ethnic groups, changes in the economy, an aging population? What’s really going on? You need to know if you are going to help free your city from evil spiritual dominance.”(P. 115).
Quick question: Do I really need to know all these details, or can I just share the Gospel like Jesus, the apostles, and the early church did? Once again these are all informative factors but they are not essential to seeing people come to Christ, but, then again, according to Dawson, there are many other things to be done before conversion can happen and he continually shows his fixation with coming against these strongholds with aggressive authority. It appears that confrontation rather than conversion is the main focus of this book.
Jack Hayford says that Taking Our Cities For God “juxtaposes the word of God”(P. 11), and is “Holy spirit Insight”(Ibid.) that should be used alongside the Bible, and now here Dawson adds that we should also use the census and all this background Information to be “thoroughly equipped” for evangelism.
John and Jack, how many more materials do we need to be obedient in sharing the Gospel to our fellow city-dwellers? Are there any more books or seminars that must be used as companions to the Bible (even when their content contradicts it in major areas)? I guess the Bible cant stand by itself as sufficient enough to teach us how to do the work of ministry.
He sums up his opening thought with “all evangelism must be carefully conducted using all available information” (P.116). If you are steeped in Third Wave Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare teachings then yes, all of this is essential.
Want practical information on how to actually “spiritually map” a city? Then read on. Dawson tells us to get out a map and start compiling data on the city you are trying to help deliver from the clutches of darkness.
As stated earlier, this has already been done on the city of Mumbai by DAWN Ministries. Apparently this “spiritual map” was completed several years ago and then many pastors here were introduced and indoctrinated by this nonsense in several seminars locally.
So, I ask all Christian Mumbaikars this crucial question: What good has this practice done for the city of Mumbai? Where are the gaping holes in the reign of evil that should have destroyed the Devil’s stranglehold over the citizens of this city? Where are the powerful churches that are reaping the “great harvest” that this practice should have produced?
Here’s a good question: Where are these results found in ANY city across the globe? It’s been ten years since Dawson and Otis started suggesting this and many multiplied intercessors and prophets amassing serious man-hours of prayer walking, covenant making, and demon binding. WHERE ARE THE RESULTS THAT THE THIRD WAVE CLAIMS WILL HAPPEN? (And don’t cite George Otis, Jr.’s Sentinel Group’s Transformations video series as evidence because its just not there. (See the article “Transformations or Re-Transformations” at: www.concernedchristians.50megs.com <http://www.concernedchristians.50megs.com>).
The answer is painfully obvious. These revelations about how to do spiritual warfare were never from the True God. They don’t come from the pages of Scripture and Jesus and the apostles didn’t teach or practice them. These are from the enemy’s treasure chest of “straw man” distractions. Yes, the Devil has emptied the contents of his “bag of tricks” in this area into those who have “ears to hear” BEYOND what the True Spirit has said to us in the Word of God. Those who follow these things are prayer walking themselves in the footsteps of failure and will get lost in the labyrinth of the enemy’s orchard. Turn back to the truth and save yourselves from vanity.
“If we are to be more like Jesus, we must have a broad perspective. The Bible says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”(Phil. 2:5), which means to have not only the attitudes but also the perspective of Jesus.”
Good point: So lets ask ourselves: “What did Jesus do?” Did He get out a map of each city He went to and spend hours researching the backgrounds, population, “felt needs” and demographics of each vicinity He ministered in? Or, perhaps He just obeyed the will of the Father and just preached the Truth to the lost.
The point that Dawson is insinuating by citing Phil. 2:5 comes very close to being offensive to me. To even suggest that being Christ-like involves practices like spiritual mapping and city- taking Third Wave style makes me nauseous.
Was Jesus a spiritual mapper? Did He teach us to be in the Bible? NO. These are extra Biblical revelations that depart from the Word of God in many areas. These “prophecies” are of “private interpretation” and issue forth from men who have demonstrated delusion. It’s dangerous to tarnish Jesus Christ with these teachings by insinuating that He endorses them.
Dawson then quotes several instances from Numbers 13, which is a narrative describing physical battle strategies for conquering the land. Dawson tries to apply these verses to his version of spiritual warfare in the same faulty manner that he tried to use Jericho in Chapter 1 as an example of these principles in practice. This fails the test yet again. Neither Judges 6and 7 nor Numbers 13 are “proof texts” for Third wave doctrine.
Page 118 has some sound advice about trusting God to find our way through obstacles and hindrances in our lives, as well as prevailing through trials. Good stuff here, but why can’t it just remain sound? Immediately after this beneficial break from the troubled waters of Dawson’s warfare theology, it’s back to the same old man-centered ideas of the essentials of info gathering. Page 119-122 show a detailed “spiritual map” done by some YWAMers for an outreach strategy in L.A.
Please understand, I have no problem with knowing information or being informed about your surroundings. I advocate that Christians know as much as possible about this world and its perils and opportunities, BUT Dawson’s insistence that forming databases about our cities is essential to effective evangelism is where I take issue because, put simply, it isn’t.
The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16) and that’s the Truth! Preaching, knowing and presenting the Gospel transcends trend research and spiritual mapping and renders them unnecessary. Know this precious believer and even well intentioned Third waver, the power to change any life regardless of past sin or present predicament involves sharing the Gospel person to person.
How many hours and opportunities were wasted while these mission teams and prayer groups give their time and energy to all these other activities? Sidestep the side issues. Share the Gospel and trust God for the results.
John still insists on doing this his way:
“When we have working knowledge of the city, we are able to receive revelation from God about a specific strategy for ongoing evangelism and discipleship.” (P. 123).
No, Mr. Dawson, We’ve already received Divine direction and all the information we need to proceed in obedient evangelism. Extra revelation is not needed. God’s Word is sufficient to make us “thoroughly equipped for every good work”(2 Tim. 3:16) including evangelism.
Chapter 12, “Born to Battle” is short but not so sweet. With the title like that, one expects to be hearing some real Dominion/Kingdom-Now spiritual warfare teachings forthcoming. Listen to these following statements made throughout the chapter. They are not wrong in themselves but the fact that Dawson has already expressed Dominionist theology in his “city-taking” techniques, we have reason to believe that these statements are laden with militant Third Wave meaning:
“God wanted us to learn to fight.” (p.128).
“Man is a warrior race, made in God’s own image and destined to rule beside Him.”(Ibid.).
“We are destined to rule with Christ.” (Ibid.).
“He (God) knew that a person would enter his or her inheritance only by taking dominion.” (Ibid.).
“We have been given a gift, a promise, and a territory to take.” (p. 129).
“We are to partner with God in the battle.” (p. 130).
“This hostile environment is essential for our eternal future. Mankind has been made to take dominion. It is necessary that we face an antagonist during our brief apprenticeship on earthy to qualify in character to rule with Christ in eternity.” (Ibid.).
Again, the danger here is that these statements are not all false if viewed in the correct context, but the context of their usage in this book is alongside and situated among false warfare techniques and man-centered ideology from the aberrant Third Wave Movement and mindset. Dawson is espousing ground-level beliefs of the “warrior bride” concept used by Dominionists and false teachers today.
Dawson has tried to establish himself as a spiritual authority on these warfare matters and techniques throughout his book. In chapter 13 he treats the subject of “The Unseen Realm”. He begins with this question:
“What is the enemy doing in your city? True to his nature, he’s probably setting fires.” (P. 135).
This is definitely true but, sadly, Satan has the Third Wave “Spirit warriors” working overtime stomping out these little fires all over the place, while Satan lights the fuse for the big explosive ending. What do I mean? Satan is the master Deceiver and “masquerader” (2 Cor. 11:14). He loves setting up non-essential activities for God’s people to do so that we indeed miss his biggest acts of terrorism. Some in this movement are so busy spiritually mapping, that people all around are dying in their sin who need to hear the Gospel.
Most of these techniques, although informative and helpful in some cases and on some levels, are not essential but they are being moved to a place of prominence and the real work that we are desired to do is being pushed farther away and buried behind policies and rituals that can definitely be characterized as “little fires”. But Dawson’s ideas are different:
“You can rush around putting out the fires, or you can sentence the arsonist.” (Ibid.).
Is this true? Can we “sentence” the Devil? Actually, Satan is already sentenced and God alone has the authority to do that. In addition, although the verdict has been passed, the Devil is allowed this time of temporary rule until the only time when he will actually be “bound” for a season of 1000 years in the future (Rev. 20:1-3).
I think what Dawson is getting at here is that, according to his opinion, we can clearly identify the source of all this evil in our cities:
“We should not focus on the evil, while ignoring the evil one. We tend to look at problems caused by fallen angels without seeing them as the cause.”(Ibid.).
It seems we have returned to some of the earlier ideas Dawson was hinting at, namely that almost every problem, including works of our own flesh have a demonic cause and origin. This is just so dangerous because this “transfer of guilt” removes my personal accountability and guiltiness for my own sins that the Bible clearly states are my fault. (James 1:13-16; Jer. 17:9). I choose to sin. While some evil realities in this world are direct results of demonic activity, the instances mentioned by Dawson thus far have not sufficiently fingered demons as the culprits. Look at his next statement:
“In the daily newspaper we read reports of gang violence, corrupt government and child abuse, without clearly establishing the connection to the very real conflict in the unseen realm.” (P. 135-136).
I do agree that some of these phenomenon have demonic causation and that the unseen battle raging around us has direct and indirect effects on this world however, we don’t know the real extent of demonic responsibility for each of these cases. All of the above mentioned sins and evils may or may not be malevolent manipulations of demons.
The human fallen nature (which incidentally is denied by Dawson’s contemporary and obvious influence George Otis, Jr.: www.bibleguidance.co.za/Engarticles/Otisteachings.htm <http://www.bibleguidance.co.za/Engarticles/Otisteachings.htm>) is depraved enough to express itself in these vile activities also. Dawson just comes dangerously close to teaching others that there’s a demonic cause behind everything evil in this world and that is just not the case as far as we are told in the Bible.
One more statement is noteworthy in this chapter 13. On page 37 he writes:
“The modern Christian needs to take the General’s written orders - the Bible- and read the description of the battlefield.”
Praise the Lord! A statement that is to be appreciated and embraced. Learn this one readers and take it to heart. If Dawson truly believes this then we should see a lessening of these other issues. When seen in this light, the Bible renders all these other practices such as spiritual mapping, prayer walking, identificational repentance, and Third Wave city-taking as non -essentials.
Truthfully, if one consults the Bible to learn about spiritual warfare, they will see that the nature of the battlefield for warfare involves the mind and hearts of individuals, not the collective condition and unseen realms around cities (Rom. 12:1,2; 2 Cor. 10:3-5).
Also, the Bible clearly teaches us the right actions we should take against the Devil. Rather than “taking cities for God” or taking the “initiative to take territory from Satan.”(P. 136), we are told to “stand against” and “resist” his onslaughts and use the spiritual armor to defend against his wicked attacks (Eph. 6:10-17; James 4:7). We are told that the Truth of Gods Word is our only offensive weapon to wield at the enemy (Eph.6:16; Heb. 4:12), and therefore becomes paramount to our equipping for armed service to God.
Finally, the Bible will also illumine our understanding as to the nature of all that we really need to know about the demonic realm. We don’t need any outside “word from the Lord” or prophetic “hunch” to show us the territorial rulers over given cities or areas. In fact, if one takes the Bible as the authority like Dawson advocates here, he or she will find their mission in life is not to attack the demons at all.
The mission for the Bible believing Christian becomes simplified as we are given clear objectives to glorify God, fulfill the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19,20) by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) and nurture others in their spiritual growth. Beautifully simple and a joy to live for (“My yolk is easy and my burden is light…”(Matt.11: 28); “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free…” (John 8:32)).
“Praying in the Presence of the Heavenly Host” is the title for Chapter 14, and sets the stage for the next three chapters. They will focus on specifics concerning the ministries of angels as well as the territorial masteries of demons. Dawson’s angelology and demonology is an unhealthy mixture of Biblical and extra- Biblical concepts. At times, it is hard to really know what he is trying to say about the invisible inhabitants and the spiritual realm. Take this statement for example:
“One day you will die. Will you despise the phantoms of the dream you now call reality? Jesus walked through walls in His resurrection body (Luke 24:36-37), because He was the solid object, and the walls were misty and ethereal.”(P. 139).
This is so obscure I’m not quite sure what he is getting at. I assume he means Christ was “realer than real” but the language he uses sounds more like the Hindu concept of “maya” or the belief that the real world around us is not actual but only an illusion. I trust he can’t be meaning that, but I hear the faint echo of Yongii-Cho’s mysticism here. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming he’s being poetic here.
Page 140 teaches that the believer can unleash heavenly legions of angels by intense praying:
“The prayer of a human being can alter history by releasing legions of angels into the earth. If we really grasped this truth, we would pray with intensity, and we would pray constantly.”
This sounds so awesome and I wish there was some Biblical support for it. Imagine us being able to order around beings that we are currently “a little lower than” while here in these bodies.
Quick question: Where does it say this in the Bible? We know that Jesus could have summoned thousands of angels to come to his aid at the time of his arrest in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:53), but where does it say that our praying, however “intense” can dispatch detachments of angels into our cities and situations?
Actually, the Bible teaches that angels do the bidding of God alone, because He alone is all powerful and created them:
“And of the angels He (God) says: “Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.””(Heb. 1:7).
“But to which of the angels has He ever said: “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool?” Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:13-14).
“For He (God) shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up in their hands lest you dash your foot against a stone.” (Ps. 91:10,11).
Dawson asserts that our prayers are a key factor that cause the loosing of angels into our world and offers that if we understood that fact that we would pray constantly and fervently. The news that needs to be shared is that we should be praying constantly and fervently because we are commanded to and for the reason of communicating with God.
Like so many who are motivated to be spiritual for the promises of signs and wonders, a key element of obedience and reverence for God is moved aside here for the far more attractive thought that we could conduct spiritual warfare by handing marching orders to angelic platoons by the words of our mouths. This kind of practice further developed among Cindy Jacobs and the new prophetic movement in the form of “declaring into the Heavenlies” the things that we desire God to do in order to force Him to send His angels and do our will. This gets close once again to Dominionist ideology.
The bottom line question is: Can we order God’s angelic servants around to do our bidding? Whose words will they obey? This Scripture clarifies everything and leaves no doubt as to who has the power to command angels:
“Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all His hosts, you servants of His, who do His pleasure.” (Ps. 103:20,21).
Dear reader, can it be any clearer? I think not.
Chapter 14 ends with one last disturbing aspect concerning a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to a bold intercessor named Elsie. While moved by the fact that she was dying from cancer and loved Jesus, I cannot escape my concern for her words to John Dawson as recorded for us on page 142:
“Nine months after my husband went home to be with the Lord, I was given a vision and given my mission in life from Jesus Himself. It was compassion for all people and intercessory prayer…in the vision I was shown the glory of God, the Shekinah glory!”
I love that people are excited about Jesus and want to be compassionate and intercessory in their praying, but several questionable aspects arise from her account:
This chapter’ s called “Territorial Spirits” and is pivotal for our review purposes because it lays down some assertions about Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare (a title that later came about to characterize these Third Wave teachings) as well as some contradictions that the reader needs to be aware of.
Quick question: How does Dawson know what he’s been stating as fact throughout this book: that territorial spirits rule and reign over every geographical area including cities? The answer is simple: He thinks it is so:
“I have spent the last eighteen years in extensive travel doing the work of a missionary-evangelist and teacher with Youth With A Mission. I have experienced first-hand the influence of territorial spirits while ministering in over thirty countries.”(P. 153).
And how did he experience these influences?
“Often when I first arrive in a new location, I discern the unseen realm most clearly because I sense the contrast in atmosphere between the old location and the new.”(Ibid.).
Aahh, of course, Dawson “senses” these things. Isn’t this what he’s been telling us has been a guiding rule for his version of discernment throughout this book? If this is evidence, it is of the most subjective nature imaginable and he hasn’t made a case that the info he’s been gathering everywhere is true at all. It’s definitely largely unbiblical for sure.
Sensory perception is not an accurate way of seeing the unseen, nor is receiving these extra-biblical messages and names of demons. Why can he not just stick to the Bible and have faith in God, leaving what happens in the heavenlies to Him?
Remember whenever we set our feelings or “hunches” to be our primary guide for “discerning” or “sensing” things we can be led astray by eating a spicy lunch. These stirrings, accompanied by a pre- suppositional belief in faulty facts and out-of-context verses, team up for trouble. This man has been teaching a lot of this man-centered, sensual methodology to a lot of people and needs to stop.
We must keep in mind that there is no Biblical support for the proof of demons assigned to every territory or city. This is speculation, but Dawson advances it as fact.
Read as Dawson proves my point and then contradicts his assertions that he can “sense” the condition of the unseen realm. After “sensing” victory in the heavens over Belo, Brazil, he prays to God to show him the “strong man” over Manaus, Brazil. Here’s the answer that came through:
“My senses told me I was in a placid, beautiful place, but the spirit of God showed me that Manaus was oppressed by a dominating, contentious spirit.”(P. 154).
Aren’t they all, John? Note closely what he said. He sensed one thing but the Spirit told him another. He himself admits that sensory perception is a flawed, untrustworthy method. Combine this with the fact that Dawson is not basing his teachings on the truth of God’s Word and we have the horrifying possibility that the “Spirit of God” wasn’t telling him this information at all.
Remember, Dawson is asserting that his ideas are given from the Bible (which they are not in entirety) and from revelations beyond the Bible from God Himself. These are contradictory origins and both cant be true. What does fit this scenario is the possibility (dare I say probability?) that Dawson is being manipulated by evil spirits to believe this stuff as factual when it is not. To believe things contrary to Scripture and to allow reception of new revelation is demon territory and the possibility remains that Dawson’s mind and emotions are their jurisdiction in these cases.
I’m not saying Dawson is possessed but he seems to be led by “winds of doctrine” that are unbiblical, and when that is the case, there is room for demonic deception.
Dawson’s labels for these territorial spirits he “experiences first-hand” are ridiculous. Again, no evidence exists Biblically that there are demons of “tribalism” and “racial separation” (P.153), “fear of authority, distrust, covenant breaking, sensuality, sorcery, greed, despair, regional pride, boasting, religious tradition”(P. 154), “apathy” and “unrighteous trade” (P. 155).
These are all works of the flesh and need not involve demons. Dawson claims he “discerned” these identities by “sensing” or receiving a “word of knowledge” (P.154). It hurts to see someone tarnish a spiritual gift like this by citing it as the method God used to tell him this nonsense.
Ready for the contradictions? Check this out:
“Getting the exact name of demons at any level is not necessary, but it is important to be aware of the specific nature or type of oppression.” (P. 156).
This statement goes against a great deal of his previous writing in Taking Our Cities For God. Dawson has been stressing the need to identify “the strong man” and “discern the spirits” that are wreaking havoc over our cities. The way this has been packaged thus far, the reader is definitely led to believe that these things are in fact necessary in order to see true revival and results. If Dawson really believed this statement, then why write this book and tell all the stories containing God’s revelation of the spirit world over these cities and countries he visits?
Here’s the statement Dawson himself should live by, concerning this area of teaching:
“Very little is revealed about specific territorial spirits in the Bible, and that’s no accident.” (Ibid.).
Amen! Mr. Dawson, please follow this precept and lay off filling this book with all the extra-biblical info on territorial demons. But wait a minute. Something subtle is being stated here. If the Bible is silent on much of this, then, apparently, our cities can’t be truly discerned and then “taken for Christ” unless we go to “gnosis” or knowledge from somewhere else. Very clever insertion of a very dangerous assertion.
He continues to show how little the Bible can help us in this area of city stranglehold strongholds:
“Daniel mentions the prince of Persia and the prince of Greece, and there are New Testament references such as Paul’s struggles “with the beasts at Ephesus”(1 Cor. 15:32).”(Ibid.).
For such scant information Dawson and others have certainly based a lot of their teaching on these few references. These verses have been used as “proof texts” for most of the teachings on spiritual warfare among these groups. Although, I must admit that I had no idea that the “beasts at Ephesus” that Paul contended with was a reference to territorial spirits. I think you will find this a novel explanation of that reference.
In light of the lack of information available in the Bible, Dawson urges us to think on these verses, but their presence…
“should not be taken as a mandate for the development of spiritual maps in which we seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge. God will reveal what we need to know when we need to know it.”(Ibid.).
The problem is that Dawson and others, especially as time progressed right up until today, have promoted and perpetuated this mapping as an essential part of effective evangelism. The very nature of this activity, because it has no foundation in the Bible and is not a mandate to be connected with sharing the Gospel to fellow city-dwellers, means that it has been introduced to the Church for another purpose - to waste time.
Quick question: Why all the earlier chapters and emphasis on this practice and the others in this book if the author really doesn’t believe too much in their relevance? By spiritually mapping and researching the past for the purpose of repenting for it are acts that do little more than increase our knowledge of situations (which is not bad in itself unless its being used under the presumption that these means are effectual), God delivered, heaven -sent keys to “loosing your cities” from spiritual bondage and “taking” them for God.
If Dawson deems them less than essential, then he is finally admitting what this review has been saying - They are not essential. They are opinion and speculation and dangerously packaged as revelation from the same God who felt it wasn’t essential to put in the Bible. The verdict: Reject this nonsense and focus on the scriptures, keeping in mind that we do well not to go beyond what is written…
“There has always been a danger of either denial of satanic activity altogether or of focusing on it too much. If we gain knowledge of the name and nature of an evil spirit and publish it broadly, the enemy will only attempt to glorify himself openly or to instill fear among the immature.”(Ibid.).
Quick question: Isn’t putting these facts about cities and the names of the demons God revealed were over them “publishing it broadly”? I believe that Satan can use a book like this that is largely focused on the demonic realm and full of stories (complete with demonic identities) to that effect. He can glorify himself by attracting many immature believers to do this confrontational warfare as well as bring fear into the minds of these same believers by leading them to believe that there are demons behind every one of their own sinful flesh problems.
At the bottom of page 156, Dawson cites a Biblical passage as a warning:
“You shall not make mention of the name of their gods.”(Joshua. 23:7).
The context of this verse is an old Joshua teaching the up and coming children of Israel about being obedient to the Law and Holding fast to the true God as they encountered pagan nations. The command to not mention the name of their gods probably had more to do with not identifying themselves with any aspect of them in the presence of others or acknowledging them as real. Dawson would agree with this I think but it’s interesting to note that almost all of the Third wave spirit warriors do this anyway. They do make mention of all kinds of gods, demons, spirits, and even focus on the unnecessary past sins of places, which would violate this verse to the utmost.
So above and beyond merely mentioning the demons being worshipped in areas, the Third Wave warriors actually “assign” them to being over every area even when the reality is that they may not be. In a sense the proponents of these teachings actually introduce these spirits into almost every situation and city by blaming them for everything and showing such interest in their whereabouts and activities.
Dawson says it best on page 157:
“Morbid fascination is a carnal appetite that can drive us to search out the hidden knowledge of the evil realm.”
A statement I heartily agree with and an area that I have struggled deeply with in my own adolescence. Maybe that’s why I’m so passionate about getting these issues cleared up and opposing/exposing the teachings that propose an unhealthy emphasis on territorial spirits and past-sin atonement rituals that are growing in popularity today.
Well, a great deal of spiritual mapping and pleading for God to show intercessors the names and natures of demonic spirits invites and provides a framework for this temptation. Truly much of this fixation of “seeing the unseen” every time you visit a place or decide to “take” it, is “morbid fascination”.
He draws chapter 16 to a close with this sentence:
“Ancient peoples were profoundly aware of territorial spirits.”(P. 158).
It is true that many pagan cultures and mythologies abound with tales and legends of “territorial spirits”, “sacred groves” and haunted places, but we can’t necessarily say that they were accurately discerning the demonic realm around them. They like us were not disposed to the actual scenario. There were and are certainly interactions between evil spirits and us, but all of us must submit to what the Bible clearly reveals that we need to know concerning these beings and, as Dawson rightly stated earlier, we know very little from God.
It’s His business and I am content to know as little as possible concerning the evil unseen realm. We need to know what is essential. Everything else is informative but not necessarily factual or a worthy pursuit (“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial…”).
Today’s Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare teachings almost parallel and in some cases borrow “evidence” from these tribal superstitions to “sense” or “discern” the unseen realm over a city or geographical area they are trying to “take” for God. Of course, these extra-biblical pursuits add up to little more than modern-day shamanistic practice, animism, and tribal superstition, and it’s in the Church!
My concern is that “new territory” is being given for demons to work in the minds of believers through the teachings of Third Wave churches and the utilization of these precepts in Taking Our Cities For God. These territorial spirit teachings and city-taking tactics have proven to be bitter pills from a bad prescription. In addition we can’t always read the handwriting of the “doctor” who prescribes them…
Don’t stop Now, Dear reader! Onward to the startling conclusion in Part 4 of A.F.I.’s “In-Question” Section Review of Taking Our Cities For God…