Preoccupation With The Supernatural and Fantasy

Preoccupation With The Supernatural and Fantasy
The prevailing world view of the West has, in recent years, undergone a profound change. Somewhere along the line the realization has begun to dawn that both our modern rationalistic outlook and our social and intellectual programs have left us without answers to our most important questions.. This has resulted in, not a renewed interest in God and the Bible, but a receptiveness and open door policy to all things occult. In the words of Dr. Chuck Lowe..

As post-modernity supplants modernity, objectivity gives way to subjectivity, rationalism to emotionalism, scientism to spiritism, mechanism to shamanism. In concrete terms, just as the Church Growth Movement was a manifestation of modernity’s mechanistic worldview, so SLSW is an embodiment of post-modernity’s spiritistic worldview. A well-intentioned attempt to correct one error has directly precipitated another…conformity to the mechanistic technique of modernity is being replaced by conformity to the spiritistic technique of post-modernity.” [1]

[See the Dangers and Impact of this Worldview… Postmodernism]

In recent years there has been a meteoric rise in the fascination with the supernatural, and exploration beyond the physical world. This preoccupation ranges from angels to aliens, from Darth Veda to Demons. No matter where  you look in the popular culture you see people’s attraction to the paranormal beginning with the very young … Dungeons and Dragons and Harry Potter but a couple of examples.

A 2002 Time Magazine article talks about the popularity of Fantasy

In 2001 the fantasy double bill of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings ranked first and second at the box office…In its first weekend alone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets cleared $88 million…

In 1997, voters in a BBC poll named The Lord of the Rings the greatest book of the 20th century. In 1999, Amazon.com customers chose it as the greatest book of the millennium… Tolkien’s works sold 11 million copies in the U.S. in 2001 alone.

The online fantasy game EverQuest pulls in more than $5 million a month from its half a million subscribers, and the fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering boasts 7 million players.

The business of fantasy has become a multibillion-dollar reality. [1b]

Additionally, there are endless reality programs on television about ghost hunting, while Halloween is celebrated each year with increasing fervor. Angels have been the subject of movies and television series, while angel paraphernalia is widely sold as good luck charms. In an effort to better understand the world in which we live, many have take to exploring the idea of contacting spirit being via Channeling, etc. perhaps coming to terms with the fact that we have less control over things than we thought we did.

“Christian” Fantasy:
Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins have churned out 16 best-selling novels… The totally fictional Left Behind series. Not only have sales for the series surpassed 65 million copies, but seven titles in the series have reached #1 on bestseller lists. [See Left Behind]

Author Frank Peretti has some 12 million novels in print (twenty one titles), including two spiritual warfare novels… This Present Darkness (1988) and Piercing the Darkness (1989), which between them have sold more than 3.5 million copies. [2]. Peretti’s books, that have captured the imaginations of many in both the Christian and secular worlds, often vividly portray tall, handsome, angelic warrior engaging black-winged demons in fierce battles over schools, towns, and territories.

Regardless of what one may think about the sensationalistic nature of these books, they certainly serve to bring the world of the spirit being to the forefront of the minds of numerous Christians, who never seem to lag much behind the world in their thinking and worldview. The world has little need to batter down the doors of the church… we have flung them wide open with an open invitation to whatever lurks outside. adopting a large number of practices that have their roots in the pagan or the occult. Yoga, Contemplative Meditation, Eastern Mysticism and Labyrinths being just a few examples.

For many in the church this excessive interest in all things supernatural has found expression in two related beliefs and practices

1) Territorial Spirits/Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare which believes that certain spirits have control over certain geo-political locations and in order for the Gospel to reach people these sprits have  to be “bound” and their hold on the area broken.

2) Portals are geographic locations on Earth that possess super-spiritual access to the realm of the Divine and that Heaven and Earth can be aligned by cleansing the area of demonic spirits.

Certainly these beliefs are closely tied in with Dominionism… inasmuch as it is believed that the binding of territorial spirits is an crucial step towards the Christianization of the world, leading to the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth before Christ can, or will return.

What Is Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare (SLSW)?
In a nutshell, since Satan is neither omnipotent or omniscient, he has to delegate power to other spirit helpers who, assigned to particular projects or even geographical areas, carry out his schemes in the set field. Certain spirits, particularly high ranking spirits, exercise their power over defined geographic regions, and anyone within the boundaries of these regions is subject to the power of the ‘presiding’ demon, which is why the gospel is so fiercely resisted in certain areas. In order for the gospel to be more accepted in these demon infested areas, Christians must focus on spiritual warfare designed to remove these spirits or “bind” their power.

Therefore,

“the church is called to do more than simply stand firm, resist, and defend. The church is called to actively seek out, uncover, and confront the demonic powers that influence our corporate existence”. [3]

An extreme example of this was

Operation Ice Castle:
Ana Méndez Ferrell, once a witch in Haiti’s Voodoo cult, founded of the Voice of The Light Ministry along Dominion-Ana-Mendezwith her husband Emerson Ferrell. She calls herself “An ordained prophet and apostle” [3b] Apparently, according to C Peter Wagner

the Holy Spirit clearly showed her that a principal stronghold over the 10/40 Window was located on Mt. Everest in Nepal, and that she was to lead a team of intercessors in a frontal attack on this power of darkness, who was none other than the Queen of Heaven. Before finally deciding to go, she sought the agreement of Rony Chavez, Harold Caballeros, Cindy Jacobs, George Otis, Jr., Fred Markert, Chuck Pierce, Doris Wagner, me, and others. [3c]

Three teams (one led by Doris Wagner) then undertook the spiritual warfare mission to the Himalayas named “Operation Ice Castle” to combat the chief of all territorial demons, the “Queen of Heaven.” Wagner quotes Ana Mendez’s report

“God spoke to us that He was going to release judgment upon the iniquity and over the false religious systems of the world. He said that he was going to bring down the foundations of ‘Mystery Babylon the Great, Mother of Harlots.’ [This is the Queen of Heaven. The ancient name of Everest is Sagarmata, meaning “Mother of the Universe.”] [3c]

According to C Peter Wagner “the most difficult, dangerous, and technically exacting part of the Everest ascent” took place on September 22, 1997. After describing “an incredible climbing anointing” that came over the team, she says they were about to reach the point where they had located the seat of the Queen of Heaven when the devil unleashed his fury and a huge avalanche broke loose above them. Miraculously saved they

“.. continued toward our goal, and when we arrived we took the throne that the Lord had showed us, prophesying against the powers of darkness and declaring the judgment of God on the whore of Babylon and the false religions of the world. [3c]

However I am really confused. They took this trip to declare “the judgment of God on the whore of Babylon and the false religions of the world”.

But didn’t the apostle John already tell us this would happen? I seem to recall him talking about Babylon the great, the “habitation of demons, and a hold of every unclean spirit” who’s sins have reached even unto heaven” and that judgment on her was already pronounced.. “in one day shall her plagues come, death, aDominion-Wagnernd mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire” [Revelation 18].

C Peter Wagner then says

Ana points to some world events which occurred within two weeks after the prophetic act at the throne of the Queen of Heaven which she senses have some connection: (1) The nation of Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation in the world, caught on fire and began to burn on that very day; (2) An earthquake destroyed the Basilica of Assisi in Italy, the place where the Pope had called a meeting for the unity of all world religions; (3) Hurricane Paulina destroyed the infamous temple of “Baal-Christ” in Acapulco, Mexico; (4) Princess Diana of England died, representing the crown of England, to whom Mt. Everest was consecrated by Sir Edmund Hillary; and (5) Mother Theresa, one of the most visible advocates of exalting Mary as co-redemptrix and mediatrix, died in India. [3c]

However Ana’s sensing of the supposed related events are as off base as her claim that the Queen of Heaven had a stronghold on Everest.

Mother Theresa died on 5th September 1997, more than two weeks before Operation Ice Castle and, by the way, she was born in 1910, which made her 87 years old when she died.

Diana, Princess of Wales died as a result of injuries sustained in the Paris car accident on 31st August 1997, some three weeks before Operation Ice Castle. In any case she was no longer a member of the royal family, her marriage to Charles, the heir to the British throne, having ended in divorce on 28 August 1996. It was Charles who insisted that, as the mother of the presumed future king (her son William), she be given a formal royal funeral;

Sir Edmund Hillary: While I know nothing about Sir Edmund Hillary consecrating the mountain to the crown of England, it is widely known that he buried a tiny crucifix at the summit of the mountain, which was part of a rosary sent to him by Father Martin Haigh, of St Mary’s Catholic Church, Broadfield Drive, Leyland. [3d] And so what? Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag on the Moon.

Hurricane Pauline; While there is little doubt that Pauline was one of the deadliest Eastern Pacific storms in recorded history (Intense flooding and mudslides in some of the poorest areas of Mexico killed between 230 to 400 people), she was the seventh major hurricane of the 1997 Pacific hurricane season. And as far as the “infamous” temple of in Acapulco is concerned, I am afraid that it was so notorious that I have never even heard of it.

The Indonesian Forest Fires: –Indonesia has had more than one large scale fire (1982/1983, 1987, 1991, 1994, and 1997/1998). While the major causes were unclear many blame the slash and burn techniques adopted by local farmers.. the cheapest and easiest means to clear the lands for traditional agriculture.

Assisi: There is no doubt that, in 1986, John Paul II convened an unprecedented inter-religious meeting and daylong fast and prayer against nuclear war in the Italian town of Assisi and that the Basilica of Assisi was badly damaged by an earthquake on September 26, 1997 (Part of the vault collapsed, killing four people inside the church). However, Italy has undergone at least one major earthquake in each of the last three decades. Not only was the Basilica completely restored, the earthquake did not exactly end the ecumenical meetings. A January 24, 2002 CNN.com article says

Religious leaders from around the world have joined Pope John Paul II for a daylong prayer for peace following the events of September 11.  Concerned by the impact of the U.S. terrorist attacks, the pope invited representatives of world religions — particularly Christians and Muslims — on Thursday to the hillside town of Assisi to meditate and speak out about the need for an end to war and terrorism… Representatives of 12 religions — including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Shintoists and followers of tribal religions — took part. [3f]

Some of the more notable participants were the Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians, Rabbi David Rosen of Jerusalem, President of the International Council of Christians and Jews and Geshe Tashi Tsering, Representative of the Dalai Lama. Also represented were Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, Jainism And Traditional African Religions [3g]

The article goes on to say [Emphasis Added]

Franciscan monks took down crosses from the walls and removed other religious objects from rooms in a U-shaped convent near St. Francis’ tomb, where a number of the various religious guests will pray.

Demons, demons everywhere:

A message on Francis Frangipane’s site contains an excerpt, adapted from a chapter in Francis’ book The House of the Lord, which says..

However, when the church is not built according to Christ’s directives, but remains selfish and divided, the principalities and powers have access in a greater degree to the souls of men. In such cities, spiritual wickedness guards neighbors and communities.

One does not have to be very discerning to see this is true. On your next drive from the country into the city, see if you cannot discern a distinguishable cloud of oppression as you enter various regions of your community. That invisible barrier is the range of influence of the ruling spirits which manipulate the thought-life of the people. The demonic power of that area of influence is the “strong man, fully armed,” who “guards his own homestead”; whose “possessions are undisturbed” (Luke 11:21). [4]

Regions and territories are not the only demon infested objects that are to be purged. Apart from the belief that demons are transmitted through genealogical inheritance or family curses (a whole other subject), many believe that dangerous demonic influences are transmitted through contact with physical objects such as artifacts dedicated to other gods (evil spirits), perhaps because people involved with the occult have invited demons to occupy said object. It is also often believed that demons occupy many places (like health food stores) that are linked to the occult or the New Age. Or that they can occupy an object like a building because a death or evil act was associated with it.


Spiritual “Mapping”
is preparation for spiritual warfare and not an end in itself. Preparation for any successful physical battle involves reconnaissance to gather vital information regarding the enemy’s position and strength in order to come up with a strategy to overcome them. Similarly spiritual mapping is reconnaissance in the spiritual realm, or the attempt to look beyond the material and physical features of a geographical area to the spiritual forces behind it that influence its character… in other words, to see a region (or community) as it really is from God’s perspective, and not as it appears to be. This has been likened to a doctor using an X-ray to see what is not readily apparent on the surface…

Advocates quote 2 Corinthians 2:11 in support of the idea that Paul was not unaware of Satan’s schemes-he knew them in order to combat them

that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

However Note that the word translated devices (the Greek noēma) has been used some six times in the New Testament and has uniformly been translated minds or thoughts. Strongs lexicon says it is “a perception, that is, purpose, or (by implication) the intellect”. It seems to me that every Christian should be well aware of Satan’s perception and purposes.

Spiritual Mapping supposedly ensures that intercessors are better equipped to specifically direct their prayers (“smart-bomb” praying) to the tearing down of particular strongholds. Loosening the hold of forces of darkness over people in a particular territory is supposed to virtually guarantee evangelistic success within the “mapped” area, with positive signs such a lower crime rate, more receptiveness to the Gospel and more people coming to Christ.

They never tire of pointing us in the direction of Matthew 12: 29 in which Jesus says  ‘How can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? And then He will spoil his house’. C Peter Wagner (and a million others) interprets this verse as meaning

“The ‘house’ is the territory controlled by Satan, or his delegated spirits, and that territory cannot be taken unless he is bound. But once the territorial spirits are bound, the kingdom of God can flow into the territory and ‘plunder the strong man’s goods,’ as it were.” [5]

Proponents maintain that spiritual warfare may be the single most important strategy we can utilize in reaching the unreached. According to The Australian Prayer Network… [Emphasis Added]

“This fresh move of God to give us the keys of the Kingdom in spiritual mapping possibly started in the mid 1980’s. Part of the paradigm shift came about because we intercessors sought God for more effective keys in spiritual warfare. A major breakthrough came in 1989 with John Dawson’s book Taking Our Cities For God. The result was a wake-up call to the Body of Christ. Then in 1995 at the Global Congress on World Evangelization in Seoul, Korea, George Otis Jnr. introduced the concepts of spiritual mapping. And the rest is history. But the biggest breakthrough came in 1999 when George Otis Junior published Informed Intercession, which is now the standard research methodology for spiritual mapping”. [6]

In his book The Life Giving Church, Ted Haggard, who at the time led the New Life Church in ColoradoDominion-Ted-Haggard Springs, describes a 1992 meeting in Upland, California, that was the genesis of his and Peter Wagner’s partnership. The end result of that meeting was the establishing of The World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs adjoining Haggard’s New Life Church [7].  Once described by Lee Grady of Charisma Magazine as the “spiritual version of the Pentagon”, the center was used as the central nerve center for compiling spiritual mapping data.

C Peter Wagner who is commonly believed to be an “authority” in the fields of church growth and spiritual warfare, describes …


Three Levels Of Spiritual Warfare:
Peter Wagner’s book Confronting the Powers is the fifth book in the “Prayer Warrior” series and has been endorsed by (no surprises here) Jack Hayford, pastor of Church on The Way in Van Nuys CA, Jack Deere and Vonette Bright who along with her husband Bill Bright was co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. In the book Wagner says …

Ground Level spiritual warfare involves casting demons out of people…

Occult Level spiritual 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 warfare (also called cosmic level spiritual warfare) describes confrontation with high ranking principalities and powers such as Paul writes about in Ephesians 6:21. These enemy forces are frequently called “territorial spirits” because they attempt to keep large numbers of humans networked through cities, nations, neighborhoods, people groups, religious allegiance, industries or any other form of human society in spiritual captivity.” [8]

In his book Confronting the Powers, C Peter Wagner says that he regards spiritual warfare “in a category similar to baptism” inasmuch as

“We have differing positions that our position is the correct and most biblical one. But we are not dealing with heresy, and we have enough biblical evidence to support varying positions, especially considering that we might interpret the same Scriptures in different ways.”

He goes on to say

“In this book, I am not claiming biblical proof for the validity of strategic-level spiritual warfare, spiritual mapping or identificational repentance. I will, however, claim that we do have sufficient biblical evidence to warrant:

At the least, a working hypothesis that we can field test, modify and refine:

At the most, a significant, relatively new spiritual technology God has given us to meet the greatest challenge to world missions since William Carey went to India more than 200 years ago. If this is the case refusing to use it on the part of some might be to run the risk of unfaithfulness to the Master. [9]

Wagner certainly isn’t alone.. the following examples do no more than skim the surface of what has become both a very wide and deep pond.

Ted Haggard: In 1995 Haggard had a book published called Primary Purpose: Making It Hard for People to Go to Hell from Your City, in which he said it “happened in Colorado Springs, and it can happen in your city tDominion-Francis-Frangipaneoo”.

Francis Frangipane: In his book The Three Battlegrounds, Frangipane says

There are satanic strongholds over countries and communities; there are strongholds which influence churches and individuals….[Pg. 29]

A little earlier in the book Frangipane quotes 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and goes on to say.. [Emphasis Added]

All successful deliverance must begin by first removing that which defends the enemy. In speaking of spiritual warfare, the apostle Paul enlists the word “Stronghold” (KJV) to define the spiritual fortresses wherein Satan and his legions hide and are protected. These fortresses exist in the thought patterns and ideas that govern individuals and churches, as well as communities and nations, Before victory can be claimed, these strongholds must be pulled down and Satan’s armor removed. Then the mighty weapons of the Word and the Spirit can effectively plunder Satan’s house.”  [10]

Chuck D. Pierce and Dutch Sheets: Chuck D. Pierce is President of Glory of Zion International and Vice-President of Global Harvest Ministries, while Dutch Sheets is senior pastor of Springs Harvest Fellowship in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the church attended by C Peter Wagner and his wife Doris. In 2001, they coauthored a book titled Releasing The Prophetic Destiny Of A Nation, of which the product description on Amazon.com says … “the remarkable story of how God called two very different men to come together for a common cause: His desire to heal the United States of America”.

In fact Dutch Sheets says he knew he was in for a wild ride when, as he says “the Lord showed me mental picture of myself riding with Christ on His white horse..” [Pg. 11]. Pierce and Sheets traveled the 50 states rallying apostles, prophets, intercessors and entire churches to break the grip of demonic strongholds over the United States. “Their efforts to purge the land of territorial and generational sin began an open season of warfare against the principalities and powers entrenched in every state”. Christians were directed by these modern apostles to call forth “angels” to bring down the mighty events. The book provided a detailed account of their journey to each state and what God revealed to them about each state.


Spiritual Mapping And Evangelistic Success
Bob Beckett and Commitment to Conquer

Despite their best efforts, missionaries have had only limited success in countries like China and India, both of which have enormous populations entrenched in pagan superstition and idol worship. There is little doubt that many missionaries feel that they have tried everything to little or no avail, which can not but result in total frustration. This of course, is not limited to missionaries in foreign countries, but is often equally applicable to pastors of domestic churches. Dominion-Beckett

Bob Beckett, senior pastor of Dwelling Place Church in Hemet, California taught on Local Strategic Intercession as part of C. Peter Wagner’s World Missions Class and Spiritual Issues in Church Growth classes at Fuller Seminary. Beckett is also a member of the New Apostolic Roundtable and Eagle Vision Apostolic Team under Dr. C. Peter Wagner and serves as a faculty member of the Wagner Leadership Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado and on the Executive Board of Generals of Intercession with Mike and Cindy Jacobs. [11]

In his 1997 book Commitment to Conquer, he talks about his church which prayed every morning, five days a week for five years. These prayer meetings had anywhere from ten to a hundred people present and they “prayed their hearts out about drugs, gangs, schools, pornography”.. all the issues that concerned their community. “We came against the works of Satan. We bound spirits left and right”.

He goes on to say that, although the lives of those who came were changed dramatically” and “they became a tight knit family that shared one another’s burdens and poured our hearts out in prayer for our community”, the problem was that “at the end of those five years of faithful intercession, totaling about 1300 hours of corporate prayer, Helmet had not changed one bit. In fact, if anything it was worse.”

Beckett then relates how he went to the Lord to seek answers and gradually began to be shown what the problem was. “Although we had been interceding faithfully, our intercession had not been persistently accurate. We had simply sprayed prayers here and there, hoping they would hit a target.”.. “Since we were praying without accurate information we had no way of evaluating our progress.”

He then compares their intercession to the Gulf War and a satirical story circulating at the time about Saddam Hussein shooting off his missiles, then tuning to CNN to find out where they had hit! Beckett contrasts the Scud missiles with the ‘smart bombs’ of the allies that used specific coordinates to accurately hit their targets.. coordinates which were obtained by reconnaissance information gathered behind enemy lines, without which the smart bombs would not have been near as effective.

Concluding that they had to discover the “Lord’s agenda” for their community and what really was going on in their city, after which they began to make “breakthroughs in their community, with Helmet becoming “more infiltrated with the Kingdom of God”. [12]

(Incidentally on Page 90 of his 2008 book Praying with Power, C Peter Wagner refers to this Scud missile praying and says he likes the way Bob Beckett describes it..)

So if tearing down strongholds is presented as a guarantee for evangelistic success, it’s popularity is very understandable. Besides which, Wagner also believes that cities can be “born again”. [Emphasis Added]

If we agree that we need to move with God for taking over a certain city, how will we know if and when we have succeeded? I think that a biblically rooted measure for success would be the birth of a new creation: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). If this is what the Bible expects of individuals who are transformed, why should we expect less of a city? If individuals can be born again, why can’t cities, made up of many individuals, be born again? [13]

However one question really needs to be addressed first, and that is …


Are There Territorial Spirits?
Are there spirits that have jurisdiction of a particular territory? Perhaps! There is nothing in the Bible that rules out the possibility and a few texts that may imply the reality of “presiding” spirits. For example..

Bel and Babylon: When Jeremiah talks about the fall of Babylon he says  “Bel is shamed” and “Merodach is broken in pieces” [Jeremiah 50:2]. Similarly God says

“And I will execute judgment upon Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up; and the nations shall not flow any more unto him: yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall. [Jeremiah 51:44]

Legion: The story of Jesus casting “Legion” out of the man who was living among the tombs [Mark 5] is particularly interesting. In verse 5 “Legion” earnestly implores Jesus “not to send them out of the country”. Although, in Luke’s account they beseech Jesus not to cast them “into the abyss.” [Luke 8:30-31].

Specific Principalities: 2Kings relates when “Israel was carried away out of their own land to Assyria” [V.23], “the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Avva, and from Hamath and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof” [V.24]

Later on in the same chapter it is said that “every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places” [V.29] and “served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away” [V.33].  Some specific principalities are mentioned

And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burnt their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. [2 Kings 17:30-31]

Elymas The Sorcerer: Contrary to what I have read, the story of Paul’s encounter with Elymas the sorcerer in Acts 13 does not give any indication of a “territorial spirit”. The account simply says that the proconsul “called unto him Barnabas and Saul, and sought to hear the word of God” [V.7] but Elymas tried to “turn aside the proconsul from the faith” [V.8] . Paul then called Elymas “son of the devil,” and blinded him for a season which so astonished the proconsul that he believed. [Vs.9-12]

One more possibility is

Pergamum, situated in what is present day Turkey. Pergamum was a renowned cultural and political center with a library, and medical facilities. However it was also a major center of pagan religion with impressive temples, including the Temple of Dionysos (known in Rome as Baccus, god of wine), the famous horseshoe shaped altar of Zeus and the Temple of Serapis, built for the Egyptian Gods in the 2nd c. AD. It is not wonder that Jesus describes it as where Satan’s throne is” and “where Satan dwells” although we do not know if Jesus meant this literally…

I know where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s throne is; and thou holdest fast my name, and didst not deny my faith, even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwelleth. [Revelation 2:13]


The Princes in Daniel 10
The Biblical illustration most commonly cited for the a) existence of territorial spirits and b) Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare, is Daniel 10. And it is certainly is possible that the mentioned princes of Persia and Greece could be demons in charge of particular territories or kingdoms.

The account tells us that from Daniel’s first request for understanding, his prayer was heard, and an angel was dispatched to earth to visit him in answer to that prayer. However the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” opposed the angel, resulting in a three-week delay, and it was only when the help of Michael (one of the chief princes) was enlisted that the angel was finally able to complete his mission.

Since, on three occasions, Jesus referred to Satan as the prince of this world (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11) and since Michael is referred to as “one of the chief princes” in Daniel 10:13, it is possible that all the “princes” referred to in chapter 10 are not human rulers but supernatural powers. Also this section of the book of Daniel does seem to give indication that certain demons have some kind of jurisdiction and power over particular territories on earth:

Then he (an angel) continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days” (Daniel 10:12-13).

However there is second consideration, brought up by the angel’s words in verse 20

“So he (the angel) said, ‘Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come'” (Daniel 10:20).

This bears a marked resemblance to Daniel’s prophecy found in Chapter 2 about actual historical events that were then yet in the future. Daniels interpretation of the king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was, in a nutshell, a prophecy concerning the rise and fall off successive empires.. Babylon was conquered by the Medes and Persians, who were in turn overthrown by the Greeks under Alexander the Great, but were eventually supplanted by the Roman Empire.

So when the angel speaks of the “prince of Greece” here, it is quite possible that he was referring to Alexander the Great, who conquered Persia some two hundred years after he spoke.  In fact Daniel 11 details the events which will occur all the way from Daniel’s day to the end of the age.

The book of Ezra says that “the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia” (1.1) which means it does not take any stretch of imagination to believe that it took supernatural persuasion to cause Cyrus to decree that the Jews could return to Jerusalem and start rebuilding the city and the temple, which gave Cyrus no political nor strategic advantage. In fact, even after the initial decree of Cyrus, things did not go well with the rebuilding project. After the first year of return from exile, opposition to the Temple’s rebuilding arose among the people then living in the area, and they hired representatives to go to the Persian court and put a stop to the project. We are told that they were successful throughout the reigns of Cyrus and Cambyses, and initially successful with Darius as well.

“Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, and hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia”. [Ezra 4:4-5]

So the opposition which continued for quite some time could very well be represented as a fight between the Persian rulers and the angel. This possibility is also pointed out in Spiritual power and missions: raising the issues By Edward Rommen

The question has to be asked “what is Daniel so concerned about that he would fast and pray for twenty one days? The best dating of Daniel 10 indicates that “According to cuneiform evidence Cyrus appointed his son Cambyses, King of Babylon a region, including Israel” although he himself was still king. This would make Cambyses a “prince”.. one who according to the historical evidence was actively prohibiting the building of the temple. Perhaps this was what Daniel was praying about. [Pg. 73]

Also note that the angel said that when he left “the prince of Greece will come”. It seems to be a fact that the Greeks generally allowed the Jews to run their state and initial interaction between the two cultures seemed to be very positive. Certainly Alexander the Great is looked on with respect by the Jews among whom Alexander remains a Jewish name to this day. Remember that 70 Rabbis translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek (known as the Septuagint, which means “70” in Greek). So it is possible that the meaning of the angel’s words were that once the Persian empire was absorbed into Alexander’ empire, his work would be done and there would then be no more need of him at the Persian court.


Daniel’s Warfare Prayer?
The fact remains that which ever way one looks at the passages in question, there is an enormous gap between what can be deduced from the text and what the advocates of territorial spirits teach. Of Daniel 10, Peter Wagner says

“This story leaves us little doubt that territorial spirits greatly influence human life in all its sociopolitical aspects. And it also shows us clearly that the only weapon Daniel had to combat these rulers of darkness was warfare prayer. [14]

Warfare prayer? Daniel’s prayer is outlined in detail in the ninth chapter of Daniel, when he learns from the prophets (Jeremiah in particular) that the 70-year period of Israel’s captivity is drawing to a close. With this hope, Daniel begins to pray for himself and his people, both confessing the sins of the nation for not obeying the voice of God, then petitioning the Lord to let His anger and wrath be turned away from His city, Jerusalem.

Note that some believe that at the time of Daniel 10, the first wave of Jewish captives would have already returned to Jerusalem. However while not wanting to be dogmatic about it, some of Daniels words seem to preclude this possibility …

let thine anger and thy wrath, I pray thee, be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain .. Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are round about us. [V.16] cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate [V.17]

It certainly seems that Daniel was pleading for the restoration of his people and country, which hadn’t happened yet. He was earnestly entreating the Lord to be merciful. Daniels words in verses 18 and 19 are especially moving, epitomizing as they do repentance and the mercies of God.

O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousness, but for thy great mercies’ sake. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God, because thy city and thy people are called by thy name. [Daniel 9:18-19]

One way or the other, there is absolutely not even a hint of warfare in any of Daniel’s words. He did not, at any point, directly challenge the Princes of Persia or Greece. He does not discern, map, bind, or pray against a territorial spirit. In fact Daniel was blissfully unaware of any battle, leave alone who was fighting whom until his divine visitor later told him about it.

Note that the prayers of Nehemiah, Ezra and Daniel as often referred to as examples of “Identificational Repentance”. [See Section VIII: Identificational Repentance]


Out of Context Texts

An additional  problem is that without some serious manipulation of the accounts, the fundamental strategy employed in SLSW is neither found in the Bible nor in church history. Scripture is being re-examined and re-written through the lens of experience, resulting in truths that can not be derived from Scripture alone. Verses in Scripture are being wrested out of context to back up preconceived theories…

2 Corinthians 10:3-4: One of the most common verses of Scripture cited is 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds),

The problem here is that the stage for these two verses is set in the verse immediately preceding these (V. 2) where Paul tells the Corinthians that he doesn’t want to forced to be severe with those that accuse him of being governed by worldly motives or “walking according to the flesh”. He then goes on to say that though they have mortal bodies and lead normal human lives, the battle they are fighting is on the spiritual level.

yea, I beseech you, that I may not when present show courage with the confidence wherewith I count to be bold against some, who count of us as if we walked according to the flesh. [V.2]

While he does not specify in verses 3 and 4 what the mighty spiritual weapons are that can “demolish strongholds” of evil, V.5 clearly points out that, in this context, strongholds are clearly imaginations, thoughts or arguments that run counter to the truth of God and contradict God-given revelations…

casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ [10:5]

Paul says it should be the aim of the Corinthians to bring all such thoughts and actions into submission to what God has revealed in His Word, which is obedience to Christ. Paul later enumerates the spiritual weapons in Ephesians 6:11-17, where he points out spiritual attack is always the preaching of the gospel message. The sword of God’s Word is even “sharper than any two-edged sword.” Ephesians 6 has been further discussed in the conclusion of this article… Below.


Matthew 12:29:
Jesus and The Strongman

In this passage, after seeing Jesus exorcise a man possessed with a demon and therefore blind and dumb [V.22] the multitudes were beginning to wonder whether Jesus was the Son of David [V.23]. However the Pharisees completely dismissed this, and attributed the exorcism to an alliance with Beelzebub… “This man doth not cast out demons, but by Beelzebub the prince of the demons” [V. 24].

To this charge Jesus said no kingdom, or even city or house, that is divided against itself can stand, so if He was casting out demons by the power of Satan, it would mean that Satan is divided against himself, and his kingdom cannot stand.

Not only did Jesus point out the intrinsic absurdity of their argument, but showed that it might as well be applied to them as to him, inasmuch as if their argument was true, then their disciples who cast out devils must be in league with the devil as well [V.27]. Jesus goes on to say that “…if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you” [V. 28]. He then further illustrated what He is saying …

“Or how can one enter into the house of the strong man, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.” [V. 29]
In other words no one can break into the house of a strong man and take his property unless he first renders the man helpless. If Jesus had taken the strong man’s property (the possessed person), it was proof that he subdued Satan himself. Jesus’ words were proof of His power over Satan and NOT a universal pattern for all believers to try and emulate..

In any case if believers keep “binding Satan”, who in the world keeps letting him out?

Certainly, there is coming a day when the strong man will be bound. Revelation 20:1-3 makes it very clear that this will take place after Christ’s Second Coming, and that he will be bound for the entire millennium. After he is loosed for a short while, “an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand” [Revelation 20:1] will consign him to the lake of fire for all eternity [Revelation 20:10].

In the meantime, the Bible teaches that Satan is “a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” [1 Peter 5:7], and that his power is only going to increase. Revelation13 says in the very last days Satan will have authority over every tribe, tongue, and nation.
Jeremiah 33:3 and 2 Corinthians 4:18: In his book Commitment to Conquer mentioned earlier Bob Beckett says

“in mapping a city or community, we must prepare ourselves, first by calling on the Lord, and then by allowing Him to give us the spiritual eyes to see hidden things revealed.

Beckett then quotes Jeremiah 33:3 using the Amplified Bible which says..

Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand).

A little further down the page pastor Beckett quotes 2 Corinthians 4:18 (I am not sure which translation he uses)….

We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Then goes on to say….

“Undoubtedly Paul was referring to things of the spirit, soul, forces, principalities, powers, that lie behind what we see with our natural eyes. These are the clues we seek as we begin the process of mapping a community. [Pgs. 35-37]

This is a perfect example of going to Scripture to find what one has already decided to believe. As has been reiterated many times throughout this site, one can not lift a verse out of it’s context to make it appear to say what one wants it to say.
2 Corinthians 4: The overall view of the Bible is that this age is a time of darkness during which we, as God’s people, are to represent the Lord as His ambassadors and the only way we can do this is to have our eyes fixed on remote promises.

“let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for he is faithful that promised” [Hebrews 10:23]

Taken in it’s entirety 2 Corinthians 4 is a chapter of comfort for God’s people. In verses 7-15, the apostle Paul describes the trials of the ministry, but then stresses if we are going to be successful we must always be looking with anticipation for the return of the Lord and the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom on earth… In other words, we have to look beyond what is seen to what is not seen, beyond what is temporary to what is eternal. Remembering that there were no chapter or verse divisions in the original writings, the very next verses [2 Corinthians 5:1-2] only emphasize this point. So now read verse 4:18 in context…  At least from the beginning of 2 Corinthians 4 and into the first few verses of 2 Corinthians 5)

Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens. For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven [2Corinthians 4:16-5:2]

There is absolutely nothing in 2 Corinthians 4:18 to indicate that Paul was talking about “things of the spirit, soul, forces, principalities, powers, that lie behind what we see with our natural eyes”, as Beckett claims
Jeremiah 33:3:

Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand).

Considering that it is all on the same page, Pastor Beckett is obviously using Jeremiah 33:3 to try and make the same point he tried to make with 2 Corinthians 4:18. The verse says there are mighty (or fenced) things that we do not know about and Beckett tries to get us to believe that these mighty things are forces, principalities and powers, although in Scripture, the verses do not specify exactly what God is referring to. However an examination of the circumstances (clearly set forth in the preceding Chapter .. 32) in which these words were said, sheds considerable light on what the Lord meant.

As the note on this verse in the Net Bible says, the word rendered “mighty” is an adjective usually used to describe cities or walls as “fortified” or “inaccessible.” All the lexicons, however, agree in seeing it used here metaphorically of “secret” or “mysterious” things, things that Jeremiah could not know apart from the Lord’s revelation. [15]

In the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar and his army were right outside the walls of Jerusalem. The city had been under siege for a considerable time and was very close to starvation and surrender. Obviously, both Judah and Jerusalem itself were at the lowest possible point, when there was no hope and no help. The dark cloud of destruction which was about to fall on the city of Zion was particularly clear to the prophet who had already foretold that the city, and the king himself, would fall into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. It was for this prophecy that Jeremiah was imprisoned by king Zedekiah. [32:1-5].

It is in this critical hour that God issues the invitation, not to Jeremiah alone but, to all of Judah to call on Him who can save them. The context indicates that the mysterious (or fenced in) things concerning the future, which was beyond their understanding at that time, would be understood when the day came.

Note however that the ‘calling on God’ does outline an operating principle for every believer, especially at a critical time of need… “Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need”. [Hebrews 4:16]

The restoration of Judah is further emphasized by the remarkable act of faith narrated in chapter 32, verses 6-10 when Jeremiah was instructed to buy his cousin Hanamel’s field.  While there could not have been a worse time to be buying property in Judah, the day would come when their houses, and fields, and vineyards would once again be possessed by them. [Jeremiah 32:15].

Take the time to read chapters 32 and 33 as one unbroken unit (which they are) and see for yourself the mighty things God speaks about.. the salvation of Judah which had impact on the people of the day when they were allowed to return to Jerusalem and start rebuilding the temple and the city itself and, of course, the ultimate salvation in the Messiah as the rest of chapter 33 makes clear.

In those days, and at that time, will I cause a Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; and this is the name whereby she shall be called: Jehovah our righteousness. For thus saith Jehovah: David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; [Jeremiah 33:15-17]


Extra Biblical Examples
Since Biblical examples of strategic-level warfare range between scant and non existent, and the case of Daniel so commonly cited by proponents of SLSW does not backup their claims, Wagner, for one, has to rely on historical examples of strategic-level spiritual warfare, devoting an entire chapter in his book Confronting the Powers to stories from the lives of Catholic saints from the third, fourth, sixth and eight centuries.…including Gregory the Wonderworker, Martin of Tours and Saint Benedict (Benedict of Nursia), all of whom were said to have confronted and defeated demonic spirits. In other words any and all sources that serve to back up their claims…

Stories That Do Not Come From Scripture

In his book Warfare Prayer, Wagner quotes Talbot’s School of Theology’s Clinton E. Arnold, a new testament scholar who has specialized in the book of Ephesians, and who apparently feels that “attempting to understand the principalities and powers in Ephesians apart from the cult of artemis is a mistake”, that “she was worshipped in Colossae, Laodicea, Hierapolis, and throughout Asia”, and that her power was “awesome”.

Which is as it may be. However C Peter Wagner goes on to say that he believes “we will not be too far from wrong if we regard artemis of the Ephesians as a territorial spirit and see the possible relationship that weakening her had to do with the evangelization of the territory she dominated”. Certainly the “word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed” in Ephesus (Acts 19:20).

He then begins drawing on extra Biblical sources and refers to Yale historian Ramsay MacMullen, who

“sees much of the Christianization of the Roman Empire as a power encounter between Christianity and demonic forces”, and tells the story of one such power encounter when the apostle John went into artemis’ temple itself to do strategic-level spiritual warfare. He reportedly prayed the following warfare prayer: “Oh God… at whose name every idol takes flight and every demon and every unclean power, now let the demon that is here take flight in Thy name.” And as the story goes “At that moment, the altar of artemis split in pieces and half of the temple building collapsed”… which converted the Ephesians [16]

Apart from the fact that it is dangerous to use extra Biblical material to substantiate doctrine, this story does not even come close to providing an example of Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare, simply because John directed his prayer to God… He does not directly speak to nor confront Artemis in any way.


Examples of Catholic Bishops
Catholic Bishops from the third, fourth, sixth and eight centuries.…including Gregory the Wonderworker, Martin of Tours and Saint Benedict (Benedict of Nursia)… all of whom were said to have confronted and defeated demonic spirits are cited on page 103 as examples of how conversions arise from “campaigns against demonic hosts”.

Third Century: Peter Wagner tells the story of third century bishop Saint Gregory of Neocaesarea, also known as Gregory Thaumaturgus or Gregory the Wonderworker, who lodged one night “in a notable shrine dedicated to Apollo and found himself in a fierce battle against the principality who had long ago been invited to occupy that temple.” When the temple priest found out that Gregory had removed the demon who informed him that he could only return to the temple with Gregory’s permission, his faith in that particular god was shattered and he became a Christian eventually becoming Gregory’s successor. [Pgs. 104-105]. Wagner adds that

“When St Gregory first ascended to the Episcopal see, there were only seventeen Christians in Neocaesarea. At his death about A.D. 270, after approximately thirty years in office, only seventeen pagans remained in the city” and that Gregory was highly regarded by his peers for “humility, self-distrust, and practical sense… a man of singular force of character and weighty judgment.” [Pg. 103]

Fourth Century: The story of Martin of Tours is similar to that of St. Gregory, except this particular demon takes up residence in a pine tree. [Pgs. 106-107]

Sixth Century: The story of Benedict says that when he arrived at Monte Cassino, “he prepared for serious spiritual warfare with a 40-day fast” since “the powers had, perhaps for millennia, claimed that area as their spiritual territory”. Benedict apparently “beat in pieces the idol of Apollo, overthrew the altar, set fire on the woods, and in the temple of Apollo built the oratory of St. Martin… On this spot the saint built his monastery … The powers of darkness that had held that region in captivity for ages had been decisively broken” [Pg. 109]

Eight Century: Boniface an English missionary “was sent to the pagan peoples of Germany by Pope Gregory II” and was mentored by another British Missionary learning from him “how to do spiritual warfare, including power encounters provoked by the physical destruction of pagan temples”. In Hesse Boniface took on a territorial spirit named Thor, but before he could fell the tree, a “fierce wind” sent it crashing to the ground. [Pg. 111]

Why exactly are we using extra Biblical accounts to fashion doctrine? In the first place we do not know whether the stories were simply legend to start with, then possibly embellished over time. Besides which Wagner’s statement that conversions arise from “campaigns against demonic hosts” is ludicrous to say the least, assuming as it does that these were conversions to genuine Christianity. The men he speaks about were catholic bishops, priest and monks who came from an organization that officially rejects the very heart of our faith… the doctrine of justification by the grace of God alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

The very Catechism of the Catholic Church says in paragraph 841, that Muslims together with the Catholics, “adore the one, merciful God.”.  Most of the men Wagner refers to could not see through Rome’s foundational heresies such as the papacy, the Mass, baptismal regeneration, prayers to the saints, the veneration of Mary and salvation through works. The conversions were to Catholicism not to Christianity..

While Wagner states that “Benedict of Nursia is the founder of Western Christian monasticism. His Benedictine Rule became the textbook not only for his order, but for many other orders that followed through the ages” [Page 108]. What Wagner does not tell us is that before this incident and just after Gregory was made bishop a crisis regarding the Trinity raised it’s head in the church, upon which Gregory … [Emphasis Added]

“prayed fervently and diligently imploring God and His most pure Mother to reveal to him the true faith. The All-Holy Virgin Mary appeared to him, radiant like the sun, and with her was the Apostle John the Theologian dressed in archiepiscopal vestments. By the command of the Mother of God, the Apostle taught the saint how to properly confess the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity”. This subsequently became the base for the teaching about the Holy Trinity in Orthodox Theology used by “the holy Fathers of the Church: Basil the Great; Gregory the Theologian, and Gregory of Nyssa”. [17]

Boniface not only received his theological training in Benedictine monasteries, but in 732 Pope Gregory II made him archbishop with jurisdiction over Germany. He “baptized thousands, and dealt with the problems of many other Christians who had fallen out of contact with the regular hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. During his third visit to Rome in 737–38, he was made papal legate for Germany”. [Wikipedia].

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