Acts 17:11 Archives

Make Believe Spiritual Warfare

(Excerpts from a letter to Hanokh Ben Qeshet from Dean VanDruff, in reply to his treatise on the misunderstanding of the Rabbinical terms of "Binding and Loosing" among Charismatics, (of which we are)).

I received your letter and essay today. Both were well researched, cogent, and full of God's love for the truth and for the purity of His body.

Here we are, spiritual warriors, brandishing our toy balloons as swords, battling imaginary foes and beating every last one of them. Our credo: "the battle is to the handsome, the talented, the charming, the pretentious, the haughty." Our personal lives are a real mess, and our families and ministries are deteriorating, based more and more on fleshly power, but "we take authority and bind every demon spirit over this city". Hell laughs, Heaven cries.

I, like you, have tried to point out how some of these practices are specific fullfilments of the prophecies of Jude 8-10 and 2 Peter, and been rebuked and argued with--to the point that I have given up. For my own part, I have rationalized that children often ape warfare in some silly, muddleheaded way, and perhaps they may yet grow into real warriors. But it can't hurt to tell the children how far removed from real battle their actions and emotions are, I suppose, even if they don't want to hear it.

In any case, all this bravado and bombast is instantly "popped" by a real battle. Nothing like getting slugged to cure you of the false confidence of shadow boxing. Nothing like the sobering experience of encountering a real demon to cure the delusions of "binding" imaginary ones.

I learned much from your treatise, and find it hard to add much too. One aspect I might suggest is that a key error in the "war in the heavenly" issue lies in the interpretation of Ephesians 6:12. The translations are about evenly split on whether what is in view are spiritual forces in some nebulous celestial hierarchy, or spiritual forces behind real life governments, corporations, churches, etc. I tend towards the latter interpretation.

If all we have to do is "swat a few spiritual flies" & turn a blind eye towards the real evil in this world, and in comes the Millennium, then we should get on with it. But as you pointed out, this has not happened, nor is it encouraged by Biblical precept or example. Perhaps the most damming thing about this notion is that there is no way to "inspect the fruit". Talk about working in the dark!

The difficulty, in my opinion, lies in the tradition of mistranslation set by the KJV of a ghostly pecking-order in the sky, and the doctrine based on it. Thus, the NIV and other loosely derivative translations follow the tradition. The translation you used, the NAS, comes closer to what I think Paul was trying to communicate, and how we should thus respond. Here are some others.

(Phillips) For our fight is not against any physical enemy; it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil.

(TEB) For we are not fighting against human beings, but against wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age.

(Wey) ...but with the despotisms, the empires, the forces that control and govern this dark world

(Knox) ...those who have the mastery of the world in these dark days.

That spiritual forces are in view is clear. But in a haunted lattice hovering over our cities, or in the real-life organizations through which Satan's will is done? I think what Paul is trying to say is that Satan's approach is to influence and work his will through various Corporations, Governments, Ideologies, and even some Churches, etc., whenever and wherever he can.

I'm not suggesting that all organizations are intrinsically bad, in fact some do good. But who could deny that the "dark kingdom" does it's most effective work through governments, companies, and even churches yielded to his will. That, I believe, is the insight that Paul had in mind. What to do about that insight is another matter.

In this "knotty issue", as you called it, the silliness of some over-zealous charismatics seems trifling compared to Liberation and Dominion Theology, two manifestations of the lunacy created by misinterpretation of Eph 6:12 in the Americas.

Should we take over the government and make it good? Why didn't Messiah do this while He was here? Are those that wish to do so really working for the Kingdom of God? What about the "spiritual forces"? Aren't they still going to be around? Isn't the "new boss" as susceptible as the "old boss"? Can humanity be saved from the outside-in?

I believe Satan's focus is to exert his will through organizations, where individuals are trivial, expendable. Messiah works in the opposite way--His will is manifest through individuals yielded to Him, and organizations are trivial and expendable.

I agree with your conclusion that we must pray in accordance with God's revealed will. We should pray for each other, and for our leaders, that they would not fall prey to the demonic spirits behind the organizations we see. I eagerly look forward to the day when Messiah will return and destroy all power, dominion, and authority. In the meantime, I appreciate the admonishment to imitate Christ in obedience unto death, and not to raise the "arm of the flesh" to fight principalities with an imaginary spiritual, or real physical sword--until Messiah leads the battle Himself.

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