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Monday, February 9, 2015

The Evangelical's Guide to Spiritual Warfare (Charles H. Kraft)

TITLE: The Evangelical's Guide to Spiritual Warfare: Scriptural Insights and Practical Instruction on Facing the Enemy
AUTHOR: Charles H. Kraft
PUBLISHER: Minneapolis, MN: Chosen Books, 2015, (288 pages).

Compared to the charismatics and Pentecostals, evangelicals have generally shunned "spiritual power issues" for fear of emotionalism and fear of going overboard with tongues, prophecy and other charismatic gifts. According to well known anthropologist and linguist, Charles Kraft, our Western worldview constitutes a major hindrance to an evangelical's understanding of spiritual warfare. He also laments how evangelicals stop short of venturing boldly into the spiritual domain. Like a puzzle of 300 pieces, evangelicals generally use 200 pieces with the first hundred about the physical world and the second hundred about human activities. The third hundred, which is about spiritual activities and warfare tends to be relatively ignored. This is quite reflective of a Christian's understanding of the Trinity as well. Much has been written and talked about with regards to God the Father and God the Son. Relatively little has been written about God the Holy Spirit. In the same way, evangelicals generally talk or teach little about spiritual battles and warfare. This book is meant to guide evangelicals on the importance of this matter, to highlight the myths as well as pointing out the biblical perspective that spiritual warfare is real.

Since the 80s, Kraft has been engaged in works of inner healing and more recently spiritual warfare. Sensing a greater openness from evangelicals about the reality of spiritual warfare, Kraft has written this book to describe his concern for the general apathy of Christians toward spiritual warfare. He lists eight reasons why one ought to take spiritual warfare seriously.
  1. The Bible speaks of demons which means our Enlightenment approach to Christian spirituality is grossly limited.
  2. There Contexts of conflict in the Bible
  3. Jesus models healing and deliverance
  4. Jesus would do the same today
  5. Our Church leaders must learn spiritual warfare
  6. Evangelicals must not over-react against the excesses of Pentecostal/Charismatic spirituality
  7. Our traditions and institutions need to outgrow fear
  8. Demons outside are secondary compared to the issues inside us.

Designed in five parts, Kraft begins with an introduction that makes the case for evangelicals to take spiritual warfare more seriously. Part Two is about changing one's worldview toward a fuller Christianity that includes spiritual warfare. In terms of worldview, Part Three teaches us to move away from an either/or perspective toward a dual causality, both/and: Physical AND Spiritual. In terms of evangelical Christianity, we are urged to move to a "Threefold Christianity" that comprises Truth, Relationships, and Power. Part Four and Five go on an offensive with tips on how to launch a ground as well as a cosmic level spiritual warfare. He deals with eight controversies in ground level assaults. He mentions three types of ground-level spirits to be aware of: Family, Occult, and Ordinary.

Kraft makes several potentially controversial statements. He makes a case for animism as a way God can use for good. While it is true that the West has over-secularized spiritual matters, it is equally possible that one can over-extend the other direction to give credibility to pagan practices. In pointing out the problems of Westerners, Kraft talks relatively little on the unique problems of non-Westerners in their cultures.

There are many points Kraft have and readers will see numbers conveniently placed to guide. For me, after the first few chapters of "eight issues" in spiritual warfare; "twelve truths of who we are," "three hindrances of asserting power," "five theories of Jesus," and so on, I get a little weary about having to keep count on how many points per chapter or per section. While it is easy to follow in terms of point forms, it is quite distracting as far as following the big picture flow is concerned. Used as a reference, this book certainly makes for easy reading. Used as a big picture, readers will find it challenging.

Rating: 3.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Chosen Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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