This book deals with issues that I’ve always queried, ever since my family encountered magic and witchcraft in west Africa when I was a teenager.
In three sections, this short attempts to present both sides of the power struggle that is the background to Christian missions. The opening chapter is a quite strong critique of certain aspects of spiritual warfare theology that have emerged since the 1980s. It’s a cogent argument and very well-researched.
One of the writers that comes in for a particularly hard time in the first chapter is Charles Kraft. I found this interesting because I’d just picked up a book by him that looked interesting (I Give You Authority) which I’ve yet to read. I’d also heard his name quite a lot and was therefore keen to read the second chapter which was his rebuttal.
While Kraft’s defense didn’t read half as well as the document that prompted it, but he made some valid points and it was good to hear him clarify his position of four main issues: demonic transmission through objects, curses, territorial spirits and the genealogical transmission of demons. As he described his experiences he raised more than once the challenge that while he was arguing from experience, his critics were arguing purely from theory.
This was a bit of a wake-up call for me. While I’ve leaned more to the skeptical side of things when it comes to these issues, I can’t deny many of my family’s experiences in Africa and elsewhere. I too have too much experience to doubt Kraft too much. I’d forgotten that and it was good to be reminded.
The final chapter was a bit disappointing. It’s definitely an editor’s afterthought. Patrick Johnson (of Operation World fame) writes on the importance of prayer in missions. It’s short, it’s straighforward and it’s a little too theoretical for me. Thankfully, the first two chapters more than made up for this.
There’s no doubt that any Christian worth their weight is going to have to consider seriously the issue of spiritual warfare. None of us is exempt from service or attack. I realised I’d do well to read more about these issues, and so I’ve just started Hesselgrave’s new book Paradigms in Conflict: 10 Key Questions in Christian Missions Today.
I for one, don’t want to be as ignorant and insensitive as ol’ Nathan Price!
terrible > poor > mediocre > okay > good > very good > excellent > superb