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Spirit warfare- real or imagined?

The Bible speaks of a warfare that every Believer is engaged in daily. No doubt there are strongholds in nations that have been involved in lengthy idolatry and false religion that make missionary work more difficult, just as there are false beliefs held by individual people that are around us in our everyday lives.

The term “spiritual warfare”, and the way it is practiced today is not from the Bible. So where did it originate? Its been over 20 years since new methods of “spirit warfare” against principalities and powers has been introduced to the church. This was spearheaded by certain individuals that are at the forefront of it today. Peter Wagner who was a professor at Fuller theological sought for better techniques to bring about multiplication in conversions.

Peter Wagner was impressed by certain the Latin American Pentecostal churches that had implemented a primordial form of SLSW (Strategic level spiritual warfare), he embraced both Pentecostalism and their prayer techniques and slowly began to develop them.

Along the way new revelation was added to the original new revelation received, complicating an already unbiblical model. To offer these methods that originate outside the Bible is neither advantageous nor a solution, instead they compound the problem. As we will see. instead of bringing freedom they bring bondage.

So how did Wagner make the journey from church multiplication to the development of a spirit warfare model as a necessity to be successful.

Wagner states: "While in Manila, the Lord spoke to me in a voice that, although not audible was almost as clear as if it had been: `I want you to take leadership in the area of territorial spirits." (C. Peter Wagner, “Confronting the Powers: How the New Testament Church Experienced the Power of Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare” (Regal Books, 1996), p. 20.)

This new doctrine was established on the basis of a personal, subjective word that he assumed was from the Lord, but was not tested by the word.

Church growth, for Wagner, depends on mapping the spirit world, discovering what territorial spirits are in charge of any given locality and then devising spiritual technologies and practices which will render them ineffective in keeping people groups from responding to the Gospel. 

“Wagner, more than anyone else, is responsible for creating the idioms and symbols of modern military terminology and nomenclature for spiritual warfare evangelism.”

(“The Technology Of Spiritual Warfare Evangelism” by Orrel Steinkamp. The Plumbline, Volume 7, No. 1, January/February http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/orrel9.html

The concept of territorial spirits, that principalities and powers (power demons) that control specific geographical territories, cities and territories was born.

He was able to develop at Wagner's International Spiritual Warfare Network, spiritual warfare is distinguished according to the nature and rank of the demonic beings confronted.  Wagner applied certain principles practiced in deliverance ministry expanding them to cities and nations and governments. Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare (SLSW) is a battle the church is to engage in the heavenlies against the principalities and powers over geographical areas.

Wagner explains: “God, I think, is in the process of choosing an expanding corps of spiritual green berets such as Eduardo Lorenzo, Cindy Jacobs, Larry Lee Carlos Anaconda, John Dawson, Edward Salvoso or Dick Bernal, who will engage in the crucial high level battles against the rulers of darkness and consequently see measurable increases in the numbers of lost people who turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. (C. Peter Wagner, "Warfare Prayer," Ventura, CA, Regal Books, 1992, P. 58 )

This SLSW was accompanied by spiritual mapping to first discover these demonic forces. Chuck Kraft taught  "accurate information can be obtained from demons as long as one is guided by the Holy Spirit and acts in his authority (Kraft 1995: 117).

They rely on supernatural revelation from God. Because supernatural spiritual gifts are a necessary role, this spiritual warfare prayer model was first accepted by Pentecostals and charismatics; they believe the gift of discerning of Spirits is being used when doing their spiritual mapping. They are willing to accept information they receive from the “spirit realm” and even believe they receive accurate information from demons.

Chuck Lowe, a critic of this states, “Evangelicalism has previously not realised the need for aggressive spiritual warfare purportedly because of undue influence from Enlightenment rationalism. We need a new paradigm, it is claimed; one which, like animism, takes more cognisance of the spirit-world” (“Territorial Spirits and World Evangelization” by Chuck Lowe)

The Spiritual warfare was then coupled with another Latter Rain theme of restoring Apostles and Prophets. In Wagner's view, reforming the global church for the new era of evangelism in the new millennium.  In a brochure advertising a conference with C. Peter Wagner in Brisbane, Australia, the following was written:

The New Apostolic Reformation is an extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit that is changing the shape of Christianity globally.  It is truly a new day!  The Church is changing. New names! New methods! New Worship expressions! The Lord is establishing the foundations of the church for the new millennium” (Brochure for Brisbane, 2000).

In 1989, John Dawson of the International Reconciliation Coalition published his book, Taking Our Cities for God, then in 1990, George Otis Jr. coined the term “spiritual mapping” and began to spread it to the church.

Wagner explains, “In the 1990’s God raised up John Dawson up to pioneer the field of identificational repentance. Once the sins of the past have been uncovered those of us alive today and identified with the community have the authority to repent of these sins, and the blood of Jesus can remit them. I am not speaking of individual sins, but of corporate sin.” (“7 Power Principles I Learned After Seminary” p.108  By C. Peter Wagner).

Peter Wagner, spoke of Dawson's book “Taking Our Cities for God: How to Break Spiritual Strongholds` as "the most important book on the subject ever written." “The [demonic] strongholds that bind our urban populations have power, but . . . we can overthrow them. This section lays out a fivefold approach to bringing down our cities' strongholds. (John Dawson, “Taking Our Cities for God: How to Break Spiritual Strongholds” (Creation House, 1989), p. 11.

A Charisma magazine cover pictured Youth With A Mission's John Dawson with this quote: "Battles against evil spiritual forces controlling our cities can be waged and won."

John Dawson: "We must overcome the enemy before employing other methods of ministry" ("Engaging the Enemy: How to Fight and Defeat Territorial Spirits," Regal Books, 1991, Dawson,).

SLSW and Spiritual mapping was developed as a tool for bringing in a worldwide revival by one of Wagner’s apostles, George Otis Jr. who first introduced this to the church by His Transformation video. Whose objectives are to usher in the kingdom of God on Earth (meaning the church ruling).

‘George Otis introduced spiritual mapping to hundreds of delegates at a Prayer Track plenary session during the Global Congress of World Evangelism (GCOWE 95). In the same year, Disciple a Whole Nation (DAWN) began teaching spiritual mapping principles in CitiReach seminars. In Ted Haggard’s book, Primary Purpose, published in 1995, it is said that the spiritual climate in your city can be changed to such an extent that it will be hard for people to go to hell from that city. In 1995, Strongholds of the 10/40 Window was published by the Sentinel Group to assist journeyers in their effort to pray on-site with insight.

Included in this new model is a complete change of theology for the church in its approach to demonic forces. That geographical locations everywhere are susceptible to influence and are being ruled by demons. Demons inhabit places, objects, large and small and must first be cleansed to have the gospel go forth in these locations.

Since these spirits do not die and cannot be sent to hell now, one has no answers where they may go. Presuming that this unbiblical tactic did work; if they were forced to leave one area they can only congregate in another.

These new mechanisms have been changing the face of evangelism worldwide, yet there has been only a small amount of Biblical evaluation, most do not want to seem critical of what they perceive works. And they believe it works because of the reports from those who invented it, those who promote the Transformation videos.

A Spiritual warfare conference at Melody Land Christian Center Feb. 21-23 1994 we find the same people and topics being taught over 15 years ago.

The Retaking of Cities and Nations - Hector Torres:

“We are at war. Unless we develop the understanding to confront the powers of darkness, we will not be able to reach individuals, cities, or nations for God in these last days.”

How to Discern a City Gate - Mary Lance Sisk:

“This workshop will teach you how to discern the ancient or original gate of a city and there prepare a place for the King of Glory to come in (Psalm 24)”

How to Reach an Entire City through Prayer Evangelism - Ed Silvoso:

Ed Silvoso will present Biblical principles to reach an entire city for Christ, and will illustrate the Biblical principles which have produced the following results: In Resistencia, Argentina. the church grew 500 % in three years. In Calgary, Alberta, crime decreased 75% after unity and prayer evangelism began.”

Cindy Jacobs:

“This workshop will expose the forces that stand behind human structures which hinder whole cities from being reached for Christ. Cindy will explore practical measures that can be implemented to produce a great release of souls for the Kingdom of God.”

Spiritual warfare proponents insist that over every area there is a spirit, a principality, a power, or an entity, that we are to bring down, so we can evangelize.

Lets look at some of the major Scriptures used to validate their new revelation. For if they interpret these wrong then their new theology of warfare in the spirit realm is wrong. Furthermore, I would categorize it as dangerous on a number of levels.

Dan. 10:12-14: Then he said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. "Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come."

The angel was sent to take a message to Daniel on the first day as soon as he started praying to God he was dispatched. The unnamed angel never said to Daniel, “you had to keep praying, (to get a breakthrough) or pray against the demon over the land that He was to battle. Daniel had no idea what was taking place but persevered in prayer (not “spiritual warfare”). Daniel was not praying for Persia or against the Prince of Persia but for prophetic insight concerning the vision he had; the last days of Israel. It took the angel that was sent three weeks to get to Daniel because “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” withstood him. God’s angel needed help from Michael, “one of the chief princes.” From this we learn that not all angels are the same in power, Michael is more powerful than others.

This passage certainly does not prove that there are constant territorial battles going on between God’s angels and Satan’s angels.

Notice he says the prince of the kingdom of Persia resisted him, and then mentions

He was left with the kings of Persia. These other kings implies the rulers in the country, we don’t have to spiritualize this. Demons influence people, those in power, not territories like nations. It is the ruler of these nations that lead the people, so if they control this one person they control the direction of the nation.

The word for Prince -sar in Hebrew, means a head person (of any rank or class):

a ruler, a leader, a chief, a chieftain, an official, a captain, most often refers to human leaders in the Old Testament. Some exceptions are Dan. 10:21: “except Michael your prince;” Dan. 12:1: "At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince. “

Thus “Princes” leader[s], rulers can be of both humanity or angels, but Dan. 10:12-14 passage does not make it clear.

In the New Testament Eph 2:2: “in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”

Prince - archon a first (in rank or power): KJV-- chief (ruler), magistrate, prince, ruler.

Jesus also called him "the prince of this world." We know who this is because it says he is a spirit.

In fact there are some commentators that do not hold to the more modern interpretation of the prince of Persia being a fallen angel over the country.

Geneva (1599 Geneva Bible Footnotes): Dan. 10:20 Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the {p} prince of Grecia shall come. (p) Meaning that he would not only himself bridle the rage of Cambyses, but also the other kings of Persia by Alexander the King of Macedonia.

it is talking about actual kings

Poole (1624–1679) To fight with the prince of Persia; Cyrus, or Cambyses, who by his counsels and captains hinder the work of God; and to bring the prince of Greece upon him, viz. Alexander the Great, who utterly ruined the Persian monarchy, which is ushered with the word to, because it was a wonder that the prince of Greece with thirty thousand men should do it. Thus the Lord sets and disposeth the fates of empires, and changeth them as he lists; especially in his church’s quarrel.

Matthew Henry Commentary (1662 – 1714)

(1.) The kings of the earth are and will be its adversaries; for they set themselves against the Lord, and against his Anointed, #Ps 2:2. The angel told Daniel that he was to have come to him with a gracious answer to his prayers, but that the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood him one and twenty days, just the three weeks that Daniel had been fasting and praying. Cambyses king of Persia had been very busy to embarrass the affairs of the Jews, and to do them all the mischief he could, and the angel had been all that time employed to counter work him; so that he had been constrained to defer his visit to Daniel till now, for angels can be but in one place at a time. Or, as Dr. Lightfoot says, This new king of Persia, by hindering the temple, had hindered those good tidings which otherwise he should have brought him. The kings and kingdoms of the world were indeed sometimes helpful to the church, but more often they were injurious to it.

Da 10:20. The Grecian monarchy, though favorable to the Jews at first, as the Persian was, will yet come to be vexatious to them. Such is the state of the church militant; when it has got clear of one enemy it has another to encounter: and such a hydra’s head is that of the old serpent; when one storm has blown over it is not long before another rises.

John Wesley Notes (1703 –1791) Verse 20
To fight - To oppose his mischievous designs.

Adam Clarke Commentary (1762–1832) To fight with the king of Persia
To remove all the scruples of Cyrus, and to excite him to do all that God designs him to do for the restoration of my people, and the rebuilding of the city and temple of Jerusalem. Nothing less than a supernatural agency in the mind of Cyrus can account for his decree in favour of the Jews. He had no natural, no political inclination to it; and his reluctance to obey the heavenly motions is here represented as a fight between him and the angel.

The prince of Grecia shall come.
I believe this refers to Alexander the Great, who was to destroy the Persian empire. See the second and third verses of the following chapter. See Clarke on  Daniel 11:2; "Dan. 11:3".

John Gill (1697-1771) Thinks it was evil spirits influencing the kings.

If we read in the context of Dan. 10:1 “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel.”After the angel reveals the vision we read in the next chapter, Dan. 11:2-3: “And now I will tell you the truth: Behold, three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all; by his strength, through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece." Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.”

So we see the consistent teaching of the kings (rulers of Persia) and the coming ruler of Greece.

Notice what the angel stated after coming to Daniel. Dan. 10:20: Then he said, "Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come.”

He was held up by this ruler and now he has to return to fight and after he is victorious another will come. When the prince of Persia was displaced, he was only replaced by the prince of Greece. We don't read of Daniel addressing the prince of Persia in prayer, or a stronghold over Persia. Daniel was not instructed to "bind" this "prince"; nor was the angel Michael. If one takes the position that this is a spirit under Satan’s control another strongman comes to take his place. Therefore if there is a lesson in this it would not favor their new spirit warfare model.

This does not mean it is a territorial demon, but if it is a demon, it is influencing a king, or kings personally, not a region. One should not make the mistake that because of what happened with Daniel that in every instance, angels who bring messages to man have to fight demonic angels to deliver the message. We only know as much as what God revealed to us, to make a doctrine out of this one instance is certainly going beyond what is written (2 Cor. 4:6).

Yet today, we have those who promote this spirit war saying ridiculous statements: “George Otis, Jr., has concluded that two powerful demonic forces, with great biblical significance, stand at the epicenter of the unreached world -- the prince of Persia (Iran) and the spirit of Babylon (Iraq) -- and both much be penetrated with the gospel before the Great Commission can be completed.” http://www.ad2000.org/1040broc.htm

 Maybe Otis Jr. did not pay attention but Michael defeated the Prince of Persia and he was replaced by the prince of Greece, so what is he talking about? (not to mention the made up spirit of Babylon).

Again, even if we accept this as an angelic battle, it is the only battle that took place on earth mentioned in Scripture that is directly between one of God’s angels and one of Satan’s angels. Daniel wasn't praying to determine the name of the spirit so that he could strategically bind him. Daniel never prays against demon princes over Persia or Greece nor does he attempt to cast them from their respective regions. So this cannot be used to validate either territorial principalities or our direct warring against them

Spirit warfare- real or imagined? pt.2 The Peter Principle of Spiritual Warfare


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