Adventures in Spiritual Warfare, William P. Payne (Foreword by Charles H. Kraft). Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2018.
Summary: A narrative of the author’s awakening to the reality of spiritual warfare and personal evil, and the resources and commended practices available to Christians for engaging that warfare.
Content warning: This review discusses the author’s accounts of demonic beings who haunt, attack, and inhabit people, deeply afflicting and controlling them and confrontations in which this beings are dispelled and defeated.
Some people simply think of evil as “the dark side of the force” or simply an impersonal malign reality expressed in the worst of human atrocities. William P. Payne narrates a very different kind of encounter with evil, in the form of personal beings, demons, minions of the arch-enemy Satan, who seek to attack, deceive, bind, and destroy individuals and oppose the advance of Christ’s kingdom.
The narrative begins with his early encounter with the demonic in a haunted Marine barracks, in a man he found in a fetal position, and a woman suffering from post-abortion stress. The demonic became personal when he moved to a new home haunted by a “trickster” spirit. He describes demonic associations with pagan artifacts in a seminary classroom, sex demons (succubi or incubi) who have sex with individuals, and personal attacks he experienced.
If this is troubling or frightening, Payne goes on to discuss the equipment of the believer to engage in spiritual warfare. He begins with the New Testament and the empowering of Jesus and the apostles by the Holy Spirit. He cites the global pentecostal movement, most of whom need little convincing of the reality of evil powers and the necessity for spiritual warfare in the advance of the gospel. He describes how he learned to “flow with the Spirit” in ministry situations and discerning ones calling in community as one seeks to minister.
The third part of the book discusses various strategies for defeating demons when they oppose evangelism, are angry, put people to sleep, or even intensify insanity. Payne is careful to recognize that there may be genuine medical conditions and urges proper assessment but also argue that such persons are often more vulnerable to spiritual attack, which may intensify symptoms. He argues for a both-and approach.
He discusses the idea of “soul-ties” and how others may be affect through emotional ties by the demonic. He suggests that in some situations, whole families may need to be cleansed because of these ties. An interesting chapter in this section also discusses the exercise of dominion over biting ants and insects an other attacking animals, and even places.
The last section of this book explores different giftings and how they might be employed in spiritual warfare. He considers healing, words of knowledge, and raising the dead. He notes Craig Keener’s documented studies of miracles.
One thing that is striking throughout is Payne’s passion to see people come to faith in Christ, and that much of his spiritual warfare comes in the context of seeking to lead people to faith, or results in people coming to faith as they see the power of God. This seemed consonant with the scriptures and was one of the things that made his accounts credible for me.
It seems that his book assumes prior familiarity with this ministry. He uses language like “prayer covering,” and “pulling down strongholds” that may be new to those who haven’t read Charles Kraft or others engaged in this ministry. I might suggest some explanation would be helpful, or a companion text that goes into greater depth in instruction, which best seems to occur with those practiced in spiritual warfare.
There are a large number of encounters with demons in this book. One may wonder at the prevalence and variety of ways Payne encounters the demonic. What I am struck by though is that with the loosening of sexual ethics resulting in both consensual promiscuous relationships and assaults, with the prevalence of drug usage, and the ways literature and film have opened the door to the use of magic and occult powers, people have opened themselves to influences that leave them increasingly vulnerable to the demonic.
None of this should make us fearful. But it should drive us to examine our preparation for ministry. We may believe in the demonic but are we prepared to confront it? Payne insists God wants to work through us powerfully, and his book is an appeal that we would open up to Him and what He would do in and through us.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.