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Understanding Spiritual Warfare

Four Views

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"There are many 'four views' books on the market, but this one on spiritual warfare is one of the few that ably addresses important issues of global Christian theological and practical concern. No seminary education is complete without it."--Amos Yong, Regent University School of Divinity

The topic of spiritual warfare is an issue of ongoing interest in a number of sectors of the contemporary church. In most non-Western ecclesiastical contexts, the reality and importance of spiritual warfare is a given. Yet in the contemporary Western church, it remains a topic of curiosity and discussion.

Recognizing the significance of spiritual warfare for today's church, this multi-view work brings together leading theologians and ministry leaders to present major positions on the subject in dialogical fashion--all authors present their views and then respond to each of the other views. Each contributor interacts with five questions: (1) What is the nature of Satan and the demonic? (2) What role does spiritual warfare serve in the Bible and how central is it to the biblical narrative? (3) How should Christians conceive of and practice spiritual warfare? (4) Can individual human beings be "demonized"? If so, how does this happen and how is it to be dealt with? Can a Christian be demonized? (5) Do "territorial spirits" exist? If so, are we called directly to engage them in "strategic level" spiritual warfare?

This volume provides a balanced, irenic approach to a much-discussed and often controversial topic. Offering a model of critical thinking and respectful dialogue, it highlights the differences between contributors, discusses a full range of important topics on the subject, and deploys biblical as well as theological arguments. The book will serve as a text in courses relating to theology, missions, practical theology, and spiritual warfare and will be of interest to pastors and church leaders.

1. The World Systems Model, by Walter Wink, edited by Gareth Higgins and Michael Hardin
     Response by David Powlison
     Response by Gregory Boyd
     Response by C. Peter Wagner and Rebecca Greenwood
2. The Classical Model, by David Powlison
     Response by Walter Wink and Michael Hardin
     Response by Gregory Boyd
     Response by C. Peter Wagner and Rebecca Greenwood
3. The Ground-Level Deliverance Model, by Gregory Boyd
     Response by Walter Wink and Michael Hardin
     Response by David Powlison
     Response by C. Peter Wagner and Rebecca Greenwood
4. The Strategic-Level Deliverance Model, by C. Peter Wagner and Rebecca Greenwood
     Response by Walter Wink and Michael Hardin
     Response by David Powlison
     Response by Gregory Boyd


"This illuminating book helps readers sort through the plethora of approaches to spiritual warfare. Positions exist in addition to the four explored here, but the range offered is informative and will help the reader sort through why he or she agrees or disagrees on various points. Anyone who wants to understand and hear the case for various positions should start here."

Craig Keener, professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary

"Spiritual warfare--shouldn't all Christians be engaged in it? And if it is indeed warfare, doesn't that mean there's a lot at stake? Or are some versions of spiritual warfare a paganization of the Christian gospel? There are many 'four-views' books on the market, but this one on spiritual warfare is one of the few that ably addresses important issues of global Christian theological and practical concern. No seminary education is complete without it."

Amos Yong, professor of theology and mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research, Fuller Theological Seminary

"This is a four-views book at its best, a satisfying engagement between the advocates of four very different approaches to spiritual warfare. Each of the representatives has been influential in a particular segment of Christianity, and here is the chance to see them in a respectful-but-sharp dialogue about the key texts and the critical issues."

Clinton E. Arnold, dean and professor of New Testament, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

"Finally we have a theological, biblical, and multidisciplinary assessment of spiritual warfare, a topic that continues to divide and inspire many Christians. Here is a resource that helps put the dominant hermeneutical and spiritual orientations in perspective. The choice of topic and contributors is bold and innovative, and the editors' introduction is brilliant. Talk about a dynamic dialogue! Highly recommended."

Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, professor of systematic theology, Fuller Theological Seminary; docent of ecumenics, University of Helsinki, Finland

"A topic as controversial and divisive as spiritual warfare has long needed a volume like this. Whether or not one wholly embraces any one of the four views presented here (I don't), hardly a text is left unexamined or a question unanswered. The church cannot afford to live in ignorance of such a vital subject, and this excellent treatment goes a long way in bringing us the knowledge we need. Highly recommended!"

Sam Storms, lead pastor for preaching and vision, Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City

The Authors

  1. James K. Beilby

    James K. Beilby

    James K. Beilby (PhD, Marquette University) is professor of systematic and philosophical theology at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has written or edited numerous books, including Thinking about Christian Apologetics. Beilby is...

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  2. Paul Rhodes Eddy

    Paul Rhodes Eddy

    Paul Rhodes Eddy (PhD, Marquette University) is professor of biblical and theological studies at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of a number of books, including Across the Spectrum. Eddy is the...

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"This book addresses a topic of vital interest to missionaries and missiologists. . . . The key strength of this volume is that it brings four contemporary views on this subject into conversation with each other. . . . In their extended introduction the editors set the scene for the conversation by discussing key issues in the debate. . . . Most helpful, and worth the price of the book on its own, is the introduction's extensive footnotes that serve as an annotated bibliography of angelology and spiritual warfare and as a starting point for further study. Each view presented in the book has been carefully chosen to provide a distinctive conception of Satan's nature and work and of how to engage in spiritual warfare. . . . Understanding Spiritual Warfare should be read by students of missions and would make an excellent text for a class on spiritual warfare. Missiologists and missionaries will find that it broadens and sharpens their understanding of this crucial subject as they are led to reconsider where they stand among the four views."

Richard Hibbert,


"This book presents four models of spiritual warfare. . . . Following the presentation of each model, every contributor is given the chance to respond. The ongoing dialogue makes for an interesting read as similarities and differences of each model are highlighted by the contributors themselves. Readers will find this book informative and provocative as one weighs the practical implications of each model. The editors, Beilby and Eddy, are to be commended for their work and contribution."

David Bradnick,

Religious Studies Review

"The book is a genuine dialogue: each of the four authors presents a position to which the other three respond. The book provides a good introduction to a realm not familiar to most Roman Catholics and liberal Protestants."

Robert T. Schreiter,

Theological Studies

"Understanding Spiritual Warfare is a useful and broad introduction to current debates on the subject. It can be read with profit, especially as a way into the much larger literature available on the subject."

Keith Ferdinando,

Trinity Journal

"The dialogue between this cast of authors clarifies their differences and highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each perspective. Because of this book, I am re-awakened to my enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. I want to pray and do pastoral counseling better. I won't be looking for the devil behind every tree, but I won't be surprised to encounter his work either. Pastors and leaders of prayer groups will find motivation and content for encouraging their congregations to pray. . . . Each author has significant footnotes for further reading. . . . I recommend Understanding Spiritual Warfare."

Eric Twietmeyer,

EFCA Today

"The introduction alone is worth the price of the book! It is the clearest, most comprehensive, yet most succinct overview of the concept of spiritual warfare throughout church history that I've ever found. . . . You probably weren't aware that Christians held such different views on this topic, and, in fact, until the publication of this book there was no standard way of delineating between these different perspectives. . . . Each of the essays is well written and well argued, and I felt the exchanges were engaging, spirited, and respectful. . . . If you're at all interested in spiritual warfare--and if you're a kingdom person, how could you not be?--I have no doubt that you'll thoroughly enjoy and benefit from this book."

Greg Boyd (a contributor to the volume),


"The editors' attempt to give the readers a wide range of belief and experience is helpful in weighing the various ideas regarding the spiritual realm. I also appreciated the way various authors gave the theo-historical background of those various belief systems. . . . This would be a good book for a pastor to have as part of his or her library. I would go so far to say that the introduction, along with its extensive footnotes, is worth the cost of the book. Here is truly a good resource for not only what we believe, but also how we are to respond to the reality of those beliefs."

Randal Kay,

EFCA Today

"Understanding Spiritual Warfare is a good book to help church leaders evaluate biblical support of differing belief systems regarding the purpose and scope of the war happening around us. . . . As I continue to interact with people across the theological/denominational spectrum, this book has increased my understanding of the primary views and given me a greater ability to interact intelligently with those who are more 'out-there.' Especially helpful are the authors' responses to opposing positions, which equip leaders to have informed interaction with people who hold differing views."

Mark Dunker,

EFCA Today

"Understanding Spiritual Warfare is an excellent presentation of the debate among Christians from across the Protestant spectrum of the nature and practice of spiritual warfare. I recommend it to theologians, students, pastors, church leaders, and church members as an introduction to key thinkers and issues in the debate."

George Paul Wood,