Spiritual Warfare. Victory Over the Powers of This Dark World.By Timothy M. Warner. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1991. 160 pp. Paper, $7.95.
The content of this book is an edited form of the Church Growth Lectures given in 1988 at Fuller Theological Seminary. The author is a professor of missions and evangelism at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
The central thread of the book is the necessity of “power encounters” in the defeat of the devil. The author’s description of a power encounter includes such matters as prayer and a holy life. Yet the burden of the book is to persuade us to conquer our spiritual enemy through direct confrontations (casting out demons, rebuking Satan, etc).
To be sure, many sound truths are presented which may be commonly found in evangelical approaches to Satan and demons. In this light, many have highly recommended the book (see the back jacket). Nevertheless, my own disagreements with its content raise serious questions with regard to its value.
In the author’s view, the church must liberate those enslaved to Satan so as to “make disciples” and fulfill the Great Commission. Supernatural manifestations of divine power over Satan must accompany the preaching of the Gospel. Yet, this theology of a “power encounter” effaces biblical salvation and sanctification. The power of the Gospel of grace alone for deliverance becomes deficient (cf. Rom 1:16), and the “power encounter” to deliver a Christian approaches a second-work-of-grace doctrine (cf. p. 65)
A few of the other teachings in the book which cannot be supported exegetically include: (1) demonic possession/oppression can be passed on sexually (p. 73) or genetically (pp. 73, 107); (2) the issue in demon possession is not the location (inside versus outside) (pp. 80–85); (3) Christians can be demon-possessed; (4) at baptism, new believers should renounce Satan so as to be delivered from any potential demonic possession or control (pp. 108, 120-21); (5) Christians must pray against territorial spirits; and (6) demons attach themselves to objects and places, and need to be “cleansed” (pp. 90, 93-95).
This book is best suited as a primer in the theology of moderate “deliverance ministries.” While a call for balance is found in its pages, look for it elsewhere.
John F. Hart
Associate Professor of Bible
Moody Bible Institute