Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual Warfare


Evangelical Christians in the United States are divided over the issue of spiritual warfare. Although the New Testament exhorts believers not to fall into the “snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:7) and to resist the devil, who like “a roaring lion,” is seeking to devour them (1 Peter 5:8), most evangelicals do not take these warnings seriously.

Not so in Africa, where the church is growing and it is actively fighting the demonic. This is the emphasis of an article written by Tanya M. Luhrmann, a professor of anthropology at Stanford University. In an article titled “When Demons Are Real,” Luhrmann describes her experience in attending an all-night prayer session with a charismatic evangelical church in Ghana where the worshipers were reliving Paul’s experience with a snake.

In her article, Luhrmann compares the evangelical churches in Africa with the evangelical churches in America. While evangelical churches in America emphasize the love and mercy of God, evangelical churches in Africa emphasize God’s victory over the powers of evil because they have discovered that supernatural evil is a daily reality in the world.

The following is an excerpt from Luhrmann’s article:

To be in Africa is to encounter a God different from that of a charismatic church in the United States. People say that the boundary between the supernatural and the natural is thinner there. Certainly religion is everywhere — churches and church billboards seem to be on every street — and atheists are few. American evangelicals often say that faith is more intense in Africa. There is something to this. Compared with Ghanaian charismatic Christianity, American Christianity can seem like soggy toast.

It is not just the intensity that seems different. In these churches, prayer is warfare. The new charismatic Christian churches in Accra imagine a world swarming with evil forces that attack your body, your family and your means of earning a living.

J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, a professor at Trinity Theological Seminary in Legon, Ghana, argues that these churches have spread so rapidly because African traditional religion envisions a world dense with dark spirits from which people must protect themselves, and these new churches take this evil seriously in a way that many earlier missionizing Christianities did not. Indeed, I have been at a Christian service in Accra with thousands of people shouting: “The witches will die! They will die! Die! Die!” With the pastor roaring, “This is a war zone!”

The struggle against the forces of evil is real. But, there is a danger in over-promoting spiritual warfare as the primary ministry of the church. Many Christians can go overboard when dealing with spiritual warfare, just like some Christians did with the witch trials in Salem where innocent people were falsely accused of being witches and possessed by the devil.

This is what Luhrmann tries to present in her article. When people go overboard, terrifying things may happen: “In West Africa, witches are people, and sometimes, other people kill them or drive them from their homes.”

You may read the article here.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

This entry was posted in Demons, Evil and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Spiritual Warfare

  1. andrewsturt@hotmail.com says:

    Perhaps they are proclaiming what they believe the Lord will do, but “The witches will die! They will die! Die! Die!” sounds very much as though they’re missing the “for our battle is not against flesh and blood” portion of Ephesians 6.


  2. Anthony Chia says:

    I have involved myself in what we call deliverance – delivering people from demonic spirits. Some people can be demon-possessed, and some others, demonized. These are real. We deliver people in the name of Jesus.

    There are of course, misunderstanding about what are to be done, and what are not to be condoned. First of all, the enemy is NOT the person, the human, but the demonic spirit; so, it is NOT a matter of killing people, but setting people free. Yes, people should have the right understanding and perspective, and NOT be carried away. Secondly, avoid ministering alone, especially the ministee is of the opposite sex. Be trained before you attempt any deliverance on people, or at least be supervised by people who know what the business is about.

    At times, we (those experienced in this business), can tell if someone is demonized, especially when we pray over the individual, in person. Some are gifted in discernment of this sort.

    There is always a lot for us to learn in our Christian walk; we should NOT just thumb it down, for our lack of understanding. Always go back to the Word; the Spirit does NOT contradict the Word.

    Anthony Chia, high.expressions


  3. Heather says:

    When we read about all the persecuted christians in different parts of the world and Africa I can see why they feel they are in a spiritual war, they are. They are being imprisoned falsely, tortured and killed for believing in Christ. Most however are praying for their enemies salvation.


    • Heather,

      I agree with you. The enemy works in many different ways. His primary task is to destroy God’s work in the world. What you mentioned in your comments are just a few of the tactics he uses.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Claude Mariottini


  4. Generally speaking, most Evangelical are not equipped to deal with the spiritual forces that challenge the human experience. Western thought is built from a dualistic Platonism that separates the material world into the realm of science and the spiritual world to religion. But it has no answer for the immanent spiritual realities of life. Missional efforts are marginalized without a theology of spiritual power and authority to address the malevolent forces of darkness that bind and oppress people not only abroad, but in the West. Most Evangelical missionaries are out of step with the gospel preached and demonstrated by Jesus and the early church. We must preach the in-breaking of the kingdom of God through the dynamic Holy Spirit who still heals, delivers and sets the captives free.


    • Ivan,

      I agree with you. The problem is that most Americans are not really aware of the problem of the spiritual forces that militate against believers. As Christian leaders, we must equip them to set the captives free.

      Thank you for your comment. May the Lord bless you in a very special way during the New Year.

      Claude Mariottini


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