Acts 8 recounts a vivid incident in which a sorcerer named Simon follows disciples of Jesus Christ because of the power he witnesses in their ministries.
The manual Confronting the Powers was written by the well-known leader mentioned above to explain this type of spiritual warfare. A review of this book was published in the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Spring 1997 — Volume 10:18. In THE GOSPEL AND SPIRITUAL WARFARE: A REVIEW OF CONFRONTING THE POWERS, Moody Bible Institute professor Dr. John F. Hart writes:
In Confronting the Powers, spiritual warfare is handled like a Western social science involving case studies, innovative experimentation, and the gathering of data from all sources [italics ours]. He writes: ‘Nevertheless, certain people such as shamans, witch doctors, practitioners of Eastern religions, New Age gurus or professors of the occult on university faculties are examples of the kind of people who may have much more extensive knowledge of the spirit world than most Christians have.’ [This is the position of the author of Confronting the Powers.]
According to Professor Hart at Moody Bible Institute,
…He would have us believe that all innovative methods involving spiritual warfare are amoral. As his defense for experimenting with new techniques for discovering the spirit realm, he cites the debates Christians have over amoral issues such as erecting church buildings, celebrating Christmas, using instruments for music in church, and preaching in stadiums…
The false assumption is made that every NT believer has authority over the demonic world and therefore can investigate and interrogate demons, sifting for profitable knowledge to advance God’s kingdom. No mention is made of God’s commands that seeking information from the spirit world is strictly prohibited…”
…The supposed inadequacy of Scripture becomes the unconscious grounds for appeals for experimentation: “If we are not satisfied with the fruit of our current evangelistic activities, whatever they may be, strategic-level spiritual warfare might at least be worthy of some experimentation” (p. 152, Confronting the Powers).
…One major unit of the first chapter is entitled, “Radical Varieties of Prayer.” “Experimentation” is also a common word he applies to strategic-level spiritual warfare (e.g., pp. 20, 27, 33–34, 152).
Proponents of “strategic-level spiritual warfare”, whether or not they would acknowledge it, have essentially done the very opposite of what Simon the sorcerer did. Simon saw something in the apostles that he didn’t have, and was willing to sacrifice to get it in order to be more successful in his trade. Shockingly, practitioners of “spiritual warfare” have unwittingly acknowledged that sorcerers, New Age gurus, and so forth know something that we believers must understand in order to be more fruitful in our evangelism as part of the Great Commission.
If Simon were alive today, would he be shaking his head or even laughing at us?
But let’s get to the point here. The primary proponent of strategic-level spiritual warfare in the Church today cited in the quote above admitted that the motivation for experimenting with spiritual warfare is dissatisfaction “with the fruit of our current evangelistic activities, whatever they may be.” Yes, we get his point. In many areas of the world (but certainly not all), our evangelistic efforts are not fruitful. In countries dominated by the religion of the prophet, by Hinduism, by Buddhism, and yes, by witchcraft, the Church is not doing well and falling far short of the awesome Church we see in Acts. In India, for example, the gospel had a headstart over the religion of the prophet of about 700 years. Yet today followers of the prophet far outnumber Christians there. In particular among the ten million inhabitants of the city of Hyderabad in the state of Andra Pradesh, only 6% are Christians while followers of the prophet number 40% of the population.
Something is dreadfully wrong with this picture. Now let’s get back to our original point: why are the evangelistic activities of the Church in some regions so clearly dissatisfying that we must study witchcraft for help in making us more fruitful?
Is it because we actually have insufficient power from the Lord to get the job done—as the teaching of “spiritual warfare” would imply—or could it be that we have not understood and utilized the power and authority the Lord already gave us 2,000 years ago?
Please click on The Theology of Helplessness for our answer.