When Kings Go Forth to Battle

“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books…” (Daniel 9.2)

So, there was a “time” when rulers in Palestine found optimum advantage to carry on warfare with enemy nations. Supposedly, these most opportune times occurred in the spring or fall seasons when men, horses and equipment did not suffer in blazing desert heat and blowing sand ─ the dreaded khamsin ─ nor bog down in torrential rainstorms.

The better the weather, the better prospect for victory. (See II Samuel 11.1)

By the time this is read, our first “war college” ─ with nearly thirty participants from across the region ─ has probably been held, and the consensus is that we have crossed a threshold and was not a vain exertion.

We are encouraged and now focusing on the two remaining “colleges” to be held during the Labor Day weekend, and September 26-28.

Several have asked how we reached the decision to take this rather unexpected direction. It might be worth some recollection. Certainly it was not due to any snap decision by any individual ─ but, of course, the idea began from a note sent to Inger Katz from friends in Israel two or three years ago. It mentioned some encouraging out-of-the-ordinary teachings related to the monstrous epidemic of cancer in our time. She passed the information to the rest of us who were, admittedly, lukewarm if not skeptical and wanting to be protective in the months of her worsening condition. It can be said that there is an impression about her last hours when she had attempted to make a valiant last effort to get out of her bed in faith, though exhausted and understandably disoriented. What was it? Inspired to take a “step in faith”? Her brave heart and a courageous …will to live yet another day? Another week? A month? Or year?

She was a faith-FULL fighter… And, tenacious. Right up until that final…afternoon.

Today, her yard, though usually filled with clusters of brightly colored blooms and other sprawling greenery ─ someone had counted more than a hundred-sixty different varieties the previous summer ─ has only a few perennials, including one vigorous rose bush that has exploded with clusters of pink blossoms in the wake of heavy, early-summer rains.

The entire memory served to underline a radical stirring with regard to an eagerness and growing awareness about the subject of Spiritual Warfare.

Indifference, opposition, backlash, controversy? Or “mythologizing the Powers too much.”

It seemed a series of books and many internet sources followed in a deluge of materials by known and relatively unknown writers, scholars, and authorities on the supernatural, Bible historians and expositors ─ and so far countless others with vast expertise and credentials. As mentioned already, Hendrikus Berkhof’s Christ & the Powers, a small book but packing explosive content, became the original mainstay text for us at the beginning, finding its way into innumerable discussions and conversations among all of us together, at times in pairs, and individually. At only eighty pages, this short work by a Dutch scholar and theologian had grown out of lecture given by Berkhof in “about 1950” at a conference in Germany.

Post-World War II disillusionment and devastation still haunted Europe and especially German theologians and scholars who lapsed into Cold War inertia. The subject of Principalities and Powers, as posited by Berkhof, appalled Westerners who would not see the realities for demonic infestation in their own societies and churches.

Berkhof cited the “capricious history” of his book which was at first ignored in Germany and elsewhere, its message considered insignificant to those wanting “typical answers”. Famed German theologian Karl Barth had apologized for not promoting its publication initially, considering it as “mythologizing the Powers too much” at a time when German theologians were introspectively deflecting post-war critics and frenzied apologists who could not face demonic realities as facts behind the war ─ and constricting menace of communism.

“…War-torn populations clearly glimpsed the dark infamy…

Meanwhile, Dutch and German editions were printed tenuously, then it was published in Japan and Indonesia ─ all war-torn populations that clearly glimpsed the dark infamy beyond the horrifying body-counts and devilishly massive destruction.

The book was eventually published in English by Herald Press in 1962 ─ though even today it is virtually unknown to contemporary generations of Americana, especially, among the waning traditions of “full gospel/evangelical/charismatic/neo-pentecostal” …religion. The last of Berkhof’s nineteen endnotes in his 1977 reprint lists a short bibliography of only nine authors, including only five with published works in English: 

  • G.B. Caird, Principalities and Powers, 1956.
  • G.H.C. MacGregor, Principalities and Powers: The Cosmic Background of Paul’s Thought, 1954-55.
  • H. Schlier, Principalities and Powers in the New Testament, 1961.
  • E. Gordon Rupp, Principalities and Powers: Studies in the Christian Conflict in History, 1952.
  • A. J. Bandstra, The Law and the Elements of the World: An Exegetical Study in Aspects of Paul’s Teaching, 1964.

A list of other helpful texts include:

  • C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, 1942; Mere Christianity, 1952, and numerous related publications.
  • Frank D. Hammond, Pigs in the Parlor: A Practical Guide to Deliverance, 1973; The Saints At War, 1986.
  • Clinton D. Morrison, The Powers That Be, 1960.
  • Oscar Cullman , Christ and Time, 1951.
  • Albert H. van den Huevel, These Rebellious Powers, 1966.
  • Kurt Koch, The Devil’s Alphabet, 1971; Occult ABC, 1978.
  • Walter Wink’s epic trilogy, Naming the Powers: The Language of Power in the New Testament, 1984; Unmasking the Powers: The Invisible Forces That Determine Human Existence, 1986; Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination, 1992; and The Powers That Be: Theology For A New Millennium, 1998.
  • Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 1991.
  • Frank Paretti’s fictional (but well within Biblical parameters): This Present Darkness, 1986; Piercing the Darkness, 1989.
  • Derek Prince, They Shall Expel Demons, 1998; War in Heaven, 2003; Rules of Engagement, 2006; Pulling Down Strongholds, 2013.

Prince wrote and spoke widely about deliverance as well as the Principalities and Powers.  He also talked about the opposition and backlash from traditional evangelical as well as Pentecostal, and charismatics for his high-profile advocacy of teaching and preparing Christians on spiritual warfare.

“I think they perceived that I had crossed the boundary into the theological lunatic fringe.
Some wanted to accuse me of heresy…

The subject of Spiritual Warfare recently became prominent enough for there to be published a landmark book comparing “four views” held by a sampling of scholars, theologians and others: Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views, edited by James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes (Baker Academic – Grand Rapids MI, 2012) ─ and understandable by lay persons willing to put forth some effort.

Included was the position taken by C. Peter Wagner, a former professor for three decades at Fuller Theological Seminary and author of numerous books (including Spiritual Warfare Strategy, 2011; Warfare Prayer, 1992; Territorial Spirits, 1991; Wrestling With Dark Angels, 1991). Wagner described how he was summoned to a faculty senate meeting where “a good number of irate theologians entered into a heated, two-hour cross-examination of my thinking on the subject of strategic-level spiritual warfare.” He stated: “Fears arose that this nonsense might even alienate some financial supporters. …I think they perceived that I had crossed the boundary into the theological lunatic fringe. Some wanted to accuse me of heresy because they knew that if I were guilty my tenure would be jeopardized.” But, despite nervousness by the Fuller hierarchy, the “situation in Fuller eventually died down.”

Interestingly, the volume with “four views” has an Introduction with 349 footnotes.

By comparison, another significant book tracing the “pagan” origins of “modern church practices” contained 1,199 footnotes practices of “pagan ritual influences” behind traditional communion services along with “Christians Wearing Their ‘Sunday Best’ for Church,” “The Clergy Costume” and origins of the “Clerical (Backwards) Collar,” uses of candles and incense at “communion tables,” “coming to church” facial expressions and demeanor, boys choirs, and so on. But, no mention of doctrines, Biblical teachings nor anything about Principalities and Powers, demonic influences, or “spiritual warfare!”

Katz, it should be noted, devotes a full chapter on the subject in his newly published The Final Mystery: Israel & the Church