The Dishonoring of God in Popular Spiritual Warfare Teaching,
by Bob DeWaay
The following is an excerpt from Pastor DeWaay’s article, The Dishonoring of God in Popular Spiritual Warfare Teaching. From the chapter is titled: So Why are There Still Problems?
So Why are There Still Problems?
Having taught that Christ regained God's legal right to his own creation, spiritual warfare teachers go on to explain why the world is still in a mess. The problem is with the church. According to their theories, Christ gained victory, and sits far above all principalities and powers (Ephesians 1:20-22), which is true. Christ has all authority. However, they claim that control over the heavenlies has to be gained by the church. Christ's exalted status will do no good if the church, to whom He has delegated His authority (remember that they assume delegated authority means lost or transferred authority), fumbles the ball. Alas, what happened with Adam potentially can happen again.
This problem is explained in a number of ways by various teachers. Ed Silvoso teaches: "The Church has now been placed potentially in control of the heavenly places once ruled by the prince of the power of the air. But the church must engage and defeat the enemy to retake the heavenlies in the name of her Lord, so that the eyes of those still being held captive by Satan will be opened."10 Of course the church lived in ignorance for nearly two thousand years until modern spiritual warfare teachers came along to teach us. The preaching of the gospel, faith toward God, and regeneration of the Holy Spirit supposedly is thwarted until the church "controls" the heavenlies.
The church was never commissioned to control the heavenlies. Consider this: Jesus told Peter that Satan had demanded from God "permission" to sift Peter like wheat (Luke 22:31). God, in His sovereign oversight of the universe, gave it to Satan, but it only led to Peter's conversion and subsequent ministry. Once we are in charge of the heavenlies will Satan have to ask us rather than God for such permission? Does the church have sufficient knowledge, wisdom, and power to rule a realm of being that is only partially described in the Bible and to rule this realm for everyone's good? I think not the church is not designed and equipped to do so. God is in charge of the heavenlies. Whatever God's providence allows Satan and his evil cohorts to do will only lead to the benefit of God's people and the glory of God's immutable purposes (see Romans 8:28-39). Christ authorized the church to "make disciples," not take control over the heavenlies.
Many spiritual warfare teachers twist the scriptures to make it appear that we are to rule the earth and the heavenlies. They quote the following passage: "And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Ephesians 1:22,23). The assumption is that he gave the church as head over all things that as His body we are to exercise authority over "all things." However, the passage does not state that He gave "headship over all things to the church," but that He gave "Him as head over all things to the church"! There is a huge difference. We have received Christ, not headship. Christ rules and Satan still has to ask permission as in Peter's situation. Our security is in Christ and His benevolent rule over His own creation, not in our supposed rule in His stead.
Dominion spiritual warfare teachers think God is at the mercy of the church. They teach a "vulnerable" God, severely limited in His oversight of His own creation. For example, Silvoso teaches that the church has the power to turn the earth and the heavenly places over to Satan. He writes: "Satan's only option is to try to deceive the Church, God's agent on earth, into yielding to him what has been entrusted to her care by God, much like what he did to Eve, and then to Adam, in the garden."11 He consistently repeats the theme that the church is in the position to give jurisdiction over the heavenlies and thereby the destiny of the cities of the earth to Satan. God could supposedly be back in the same sorry state that these teachers claim He was in the Old Testament.
We ought not to consider God vulnerable and limited even in the context of our God-given responsibility to preach the Gospel. Yet Silvoso writes, "[P]rayer operates in the realm of God's self-imposed limitations. These are areas where God, for reasons unknown to us, chose to limit His options and, consequently, His freedom of action."12 Another spiritual warfare author says, "How vulnerable God has made Himself to us!" Christ will build His church. God chooses people out of the mass of perdition and sends them forth with His saving message. Never does God call us to be cosmic rulers or masters of a universe from which He has backed off and left us or else the devil to take charge.
To show that I am not over-stating their claims, consider this statement by Francis Frangipane who claims to have sold hundreds of thousands of spiritual warfare books:
The church that successfully wars against Jezebel will be a church that inherits the glorious "morning star," which will be visible outward glory, a symbol of hidden, inward purity. It will be a church that exercises "authority over the nations," uniquely because it has conquered the Jezebel spirit which sought to strip God's servants of authority.14
He supposes that the Jezebel in Revelation 2:20 is a spirit being that is currently controlling much of society and the church. Jezebel's principle enemies are modern prophets who are "Elijah" coming in spirit before the coming of the Lord. He states, "Seeing Jezebel so blatantly manifest herself only confirms that the spirit of Elijah is also here bringing repentance and raising up warring prophets throughout our land!"15 In keeping with common dominionist spiritual warfare claims, this assumes that the church throughout history allowed itself and the rest of society to be ruled by Satan's agents, but that now new prophets with new revelations are going to bring us into world dominion.
9. Larry Lea, The Weapons of Your Warfare -- Equipping Yourself to Defeat the Enemy, (Lake Mary, FL: Creation House, 1989) 27,28.
10. Ed Silvoso, That None Should Perish -- How to reach Entire Cities for Christ Through Prayer Evangelism, (Regal: Ventura, CA, 1994), 117.
11. Ibid. 119.
12. Ibid. 194.
13. John Dawson, Taking Our Cities For God -- How to Break Spiritual Strongholds, (Lake Mary, FL: Creation House, 1989), 208. I wrote a letter to John several years ago about my concerns and received a very kind, gracious reply. He showed Christian love and humility in his response. I include material from his book here because it is an example of this type of spiritual warfare teaching and as far as I know he still endorses it.
14. Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, (Marion, IA: Advancing Church Publications, 1989) 116, emphasis in the original.
15. Ibid. 108.
Pastor DeWaay’s full article on spiritual warfare is available at the website of his ministry, Twin City Fellowship