Review: Adventures in Spiritual Warfare

Adventures in Spiritual Warfare

Adventures in Spiritual WarfareWilliam 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.

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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.

Review: The Screwtape Letters

screwtape letters

 

The Screwtape LettersC. S. Lewis.  New York: Macmillan, 1962 (Link is to current edition).

Summary: The classic collection of letters between a senior demon and junior tempter charged with undermining the new found faith of his “patient.”

I am surprised how many I’ve talked with have heard of The Screwtape Letters but have never read this classic by C. S. Lewis. It is a purported collection of letters that has fallen into his hands from a senior demon, Screwtape, to a junior tempter, Wormwood. One of the fundamental insights of this work is that this Infernal Bureaucracy is founded the axiom of consume or be consumed.

Wormwood’s patient becomes a Christian after the first letter. And so Screwtape concerns himself with advice about unraveling the faith of this new convert. Various letters explore the use of subtle distractions rather than frontal attacks. There is the avoidance of matters of truth or falsity, categorizing thing as brave or progressive. Playing on subtle annoyances is far better than tempting to spectacular sin. Don’t let the convert notice he is drifting away. Get him to spiritualize his concern for his mother while detesting her annoying habits, to have noble visions of fellowship while being put off by the neighbor in the pew.

All the tempter can do is twist and distort. Use a new circle who accompany his newfound love, a Christian woman of character, to make him look down on others. There are several letters on sexuality, and the insight that it is often in the valleys when the affections are depressed that temptation may be most effective.

The letters are short and pithy. The apparent love of the “Enemy” (God) for his creatures is incomprehensible and contemptible. At one point, Screwtape becomes so provoked at the Enemy’s designs that he is transformed into a giant centipede. Before this happens, he writes:

    “He is a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade. Or onlylike foam on the seashore. Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure, and more pleasure. He makes no secret of it; at his right hand are ‘pleasures for evermore.’ Ugh! I don’t think He has the least inkling of that high and austere mystery to which we rise in the Miserific vision. He’s vulgar, Wormwood. He has a bourgeois mind. He has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least–sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us. We fight under cruel disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side” (pp. 101-102).

Lewis found the letters difficult to write, adopting the mindset of the infernal. Yet he offers numerous insights into the dynamics of spiritual life and the nature of the battles we fight or fail to resist. He resisted pleas to write more, but did write a sequel, included here. In Screwtape Proposes a Toast, he instructs the tempters in the nuances of their trade. He has a fascinating commentary on “democracy” and mistaken ideas of equality this evokes.

Perhaps this is the summer you sit down with this collection of letters. It can be read as a witty diversion. Or it can expand our perception of the realities of the spiritual battle in the midst of which we live.