I appreciate the comments in the last post on Spiritual warfare – it’s nice to know I am not a quack.
I want to add to the “What to do about it?” part of my post. I said, first, pray about it. This is a key factor in the who deal with spiritual warfare – it is not just one of the weapons of warfare, it is what we do in the midst of battle and contending against the wiles of the devil.
Next, we need to recognize and acknowledge the reality of spiritual beings and spiritual warfare. Knowing is half the battle. The first rule in warfare is to “know thy enemy.” If you don’t know what is going on, you will get beat up! Don’t be ignorant and don’t refuse to see that spiritual powers exist for our demise and for the demise of God’s purposes in this world. It needs to be acknowledged that the devil and his cohorts scheme and plan evil against God’s people at all times. Paul talks about this in a couple of his letters.
In 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 he writes, “If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” Interesting, forgiveness is an act of spiritual warfare? Who would have thought that? It’s true though – intentionally living the Christian life through forgiving and loving others we are foiling the schemes of the Devil – don’t be ignorant of the fact that it is wholly possible that unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, etc are all attitudes the devil tries to plant in people’s hearts to cause strife and division in the body of Christ rendering them ineffective for the mission of the Kingdom!
Paul also charges the believer in Ephesians 6:11 to “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” This is where prayer comes in, we can seek God for direction and protection against the wiles of the devil – we need to work to outsmart him and his comrades. So, again, knowing is half the battle. We do need to be careful here. We don’t want to confuse coincidence with causation – sometimes it really was the bad pizza from last night and not always a Spiritual attack. Again, this is where prayer will be helpful.
Paul Heibert, a missiologist out of TEDS talks about the “flaw of the excluded middle.” The flaw of the excluded middle suggests that Western culture created a two-tier view of realty that neglects the realm of this-worldly spiritual beings and forces which exists between the natural and the supernatural and instead seeks to elevates rationalism and science – looking instead to answer life issue from a scientific point of view and refusing a supernatural answer. We don’t think the supernatural exists or that there are really evil spirits (an early example of this would be Thomas Jefferson’s Bible that leaves out all supernatural occurrences – or Bultmann’s deal with his tendency toward anti-supernaturalism, it has carried over to the present). What we have then is a two-tiered view of reality when the rest of the world has a three-tiered view of reality.
What is the two-tier view of reality? On the top there is religion in which consists of faith and the sacred, miracles, other-worldly problems, etc. On the bottom there is Science which consists of secular thinking, sight and experience, natural order, this worldly problems, etc. So, on the one hand we can address supposed ultimate life questions in theistic terms (God and the after life) and on the other hand, we try to address daily life issues in a scientific rational way. If a person gets sick – its the common cold, or bad pizza, food poisoning, poor diet and lack of exercise, etc., instead of the possibility (in some cases though not all) of some this worldly spiritual cause (ie. oppression from evil spirits).
What’s the middle level? A belief in the presence of this worldly supernatural powers (ie. evil spirits, ghosts, ancestors, gods and goddesses that live in parts of the world.
Why have we excluded this part? We’re too intelligent for all that jibberish – we’re enlightened now. We know better than to be so foolish. We don’t think it really exists! We prefer to deal with here and now realities, things we can see – we insist on being realist! It we can’t touch it or explain it scientifically, it doesn’t exist! No?
Heibert addresses the issue missiologically because many westerners find themselves ineffective in ministering to folks in the three-tiered world and not addressing their real life needs (problems with this worldly spiritual powers) – thus the problem with folk religions and syncretism (blending of Christianity with traditional religions). So, while a few folks in Nepal might go to church on Sunday, because their needs are not being met in the middle level (the world of spiritual realities) they might visit the shaman during the week for a sickness or other problem. This is a shame since the gospel message has the answers people need for not only afterlife issues but also this-worldly issues and daily life.
So, shed the two-tier view of reality and include the middle level – once you do I think the various dynamics of spiritual realities and spiritual warfare will become more clear to you.