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Meer Reflections on Spiritual Mapping
Erwin van der Meer
Christian teaching on Spiritual Warfare is as old as the
Scriptures, It was the Apostle Paul who admonished the Ephesian
Christians to take their stand against the devil’s schemes and to
engage in spiritual warfare against the “spiritual forces of evil in
the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:11, 12). But today we are being led
into extra biblical teaching when we are urged to participate in
“spiritual mapping” in order to engage in strategic high level
spiritual warfare. In this article Erwin van der Meer explores
Spiritual Warfare in the history of the Christian church and then
focuses on this new emphasis within some Christian circles.
The following article was submitted by the author as an
assignment for a MTh programme in Missiology on 2 May 2000 at
the University of South Africa under the supervision of Prof J.N.J.
Kritzinger. The bibliography on the subject of Spiritual Warfare at
the end of the article is itself worth this issue of AJET.
Missiology is concerned about God’s mission in human history
and the church’s participation therein. Part of this concern
involves monitoring and evaluating contemporary developments,
~ovements and trends in the world and the world-wide church of
today, in the light of the Missio Dei. It is in this respect that we
need to focus our attention to an emerging trend within evangelical
Erwin van der Meer is a lecturer and Dean of Students in Harare
Theological College in Zimbabwe. He earned a Diploma in Chemistry in
1988 from Van Leeuwenhoek Institute, Delft, Netherlands; a BTh Degree
in Theology in 1997 from Harare Theological College, in Harare,
Zimbabwe, and a MTh Degree in Missiology in 2000 from the University
of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria, South Africa.

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48 Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology . 20.1 200 I
mission circles, called ‘spiritual mapping’ with its emphasis on
strategic high level spiritual warfare against so-c’alled territorial
spirits, which has been increasing in popularity, . predominantly
among Pentecostal and Charismatic (Neo-Pentecostal) Evangelicals
since the late 1980’s.
Virtually all Evangelicals will agree with paragraph 12 of the
Lausanne covenant which states that we are engaged in a constant
spiritual warfare with the principalities and powers of evil, who are
seekirig to overthrow the’ Church and frustrate ·the task of world
evangelisation’ (Stott 1996:44). Actually, the theme of spiritual
waifare betWeen the· powers of good-and eviL between Christ and
Satan, can be found throughout the New Testament· (Longman
1995:18-19~ Page 1995:267fl), and more ambiguously in the Old
Testament as well· (81-82, 88). Also, the Christian Church,
throughout the ages, has affirmed the existence of such malevolent
forces and has been involved in spiritual warfare against the powers
of -sin, evil, and the demonic. forces ·under Satan’s · command
(Thigpen 1994:29).
·· However, what is termed today as spiritual mapping and
strategic high level warfare, appears to go a lot further, in its
assertions and practises, than what has generally been accepted by
the evangelical movement at large (Gilbreath 1995~ Stott 1996:231,
238), or has been practised throughout the history of the Christian
Church (Lowe 1998a:86tl). The proponents of spiritual mapping,
with its related doctrines coriceining territorial spirits and the
power of blessings and curses, seek to add a peculiar spiritual
warfare dimension to evangelism and mission; ·withoutwhich, they
assert, ~ evangelism· and mission will be, and has ·. been, less
successful (Lowe 19-98a: 11-12).. Consequently, we are confronted
with groups of ·’prayer warriors’ spending enormous· resources of
money, time and material to travel· to some remote place in the
world w!llch is perceived to .. be a stronghold 9fopposing spiritual
forces, in order to battle these hostile forces through intercessory
prayer, confession and proclamation (Lowe 1998a: l3 ~ 1998b:57~
Sjoberg l99J:106tl), and split open demonic clouds of spiritual
darkness (Wagner 1995a:47) so that mission and evangelism will
beconi~ more successful in that place or region.

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Meer Reflections on Spiritual Mapping
As spiritual mapping is now gaining credibility among .church
leaders (Moore 1998:55), and becomingstandard practise irr many
local churches and para-church organisations around the globe, it
has· become an issue which missiologists cannot afford to ignore.
The validity of spiritual mapping, its .. presuppositions and claims,
need to be evaluated in the light of Holy Scripture, and in the light
of what the Church has recognised and affirmed throughout history.
So. far the movement itself has been spearheaded· by evangelical
missiologists such as C. Peter Wagner and Charles Kraft and
several other evangelical theologians (Powlison 1995:33), and has
been critiqued by some other missiologists and theologians. Yet,
up to date most books and articles concerning spiritual mapping are
written in popular style, with some of these in the form of best-
selling novels among the Jail) (Peretti 1986; 1989), which makes
scholarly interaction difficult.
In this respect there is still a
vacuum; waiting to be filled by theological and missiological
contributions, critically examining spiritual mapping and · its
presuppositions concerning spiritual \\’arfare.
Three useful works by evangelicals who recently engaged in a
critical and scholarly evaluation of spiritual mapping and its related
doctrines are: Spiritual Power and A1issions; Raising the Issues
(Rommen 1995), The Holy Spirit and Mission Dynamics
(McConnell 1997), both published by the Evangelical Missiological
Society (EMS), and recently: Territorial Spirits and World
Evangelisation, published b} the Overseas Missionary Fellowship
(Lowe 1998). However, in spite of these three insightful books and
several helpful articles; the debate still goes on, and the need for
further reflection is critical. This paper is, therefore, an attempt to
provide a meaningful contribution to the current debate on spiritual

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50 Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology 20.1 2001
Trying to define spiritual mapping is not an easy task. The term
itself was coined by George Otis in 1990 (Otis 1993:32). But it
seems there are as many definitions of spiritual mapping as that
there are books written about it However, most of the proponents
of spiritual mapping will agree that it is about sincere Christians
who are trying to discern and overcome those invisible realities that
influence the visible world, especially those that may hinder the
success of evangelism and mission (Priest 1995: 19). Cindy Jacobs,
a well-known leader in the field of spiritual mapping, sees spiritual
mapping in terms of researching a city to discover any inroads
Satan has made, which prevent the spread of the gospel and the
evangelisation of that city for Christ (1993 :77).
ln this context special attention is given to territorial spirits
which are considered to be demonic forces, under the command of
Satan, that keep a territory in spiritual darkness (Wagner
1989:278). The territorial spirits are able to keep a territory in
bondage, because there is a legitimate reason, a right, for them to
do so due to atrocities, evils or sins committed in the territory
concerned (Dawson 1994:34; Frangipa.tte 1991:55; Harmon
1999:36). Demons are also believed to gain control through curses
that have been proclaimed (Sjoberg 1993: l08-l09; Wagner
1991:131; 1992b:l30ff), or through the (past) worship of idols,
other religions or ideologies (Caballeros 1993: 145). These
elements, or demonic entrances, need to be discovered and mapped
out, through historical, cultural and sociological research,
charismatic inspiration (Arnold 1994:47; Dawson in Archer
1994:57; Frangipane 1991: 168), and at times by questioning
demons who are in the process of being cast out from individuals
(Kraft 1995:118-119; Priest 1995:28-29).
with ‘spiritual’ weapons, such as militant
intercession (Kiesling 1994:26), the quoting of Scriptures,
identificational repentance (Sjoberg 1993:108-109), proclaination
of forgiveness or deliverance, and by verbally breaking curses or
telling demonic forces to go, spiritual mapping is followed by
spiritual warfare in an attempt· to overcome the demonic powers

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Meer Reflections on Spiritual Mapping
that hinder the progress of the gospel in the target area. In support
of spiritual mapping and strategic high level spiritual warfaie,
proponents report an increase in converts, openness for the gospel,
church growth, miracles and other spiritual successes (Kiesling
1994:26-27; Wagner 1989:282-284; 1991:133ff; 1992:162),
The term ‘Spiritual Mapping’ was apparently first coined in
1990 by George Otis, (Otis 1993:32), a former missionary With the
Neo-Pentecostal evangelistic organisation, Youth With A Mission
However, the underlying idea of ruling territorial
demons, which may hinder the success of Christian Witness in a
certain geographical area, was expressed earlier by the third-wave1
missiologists, C. Peter Wagner and Timothy Warner (Wagner
1989.:278). Much earlier, around the 1920’s, it was already
suggested that intercessory prayer could remove the demonic
strongman, i.e. “prince of China”,2 so as to pave the way for more
effective evangelism (McGee 1997:83-84). In 1985 Bill Subritzky,
in his book ‘Demons Defeated’ (1985:12-13), suggested that Satan
places unseen princes and powers of the air over every nation- and
city with descending orders of authority all the way down to
demons which walk on the ground and seek a home. These evil
spirit beings are said to seek to rule over countries, cities and even
over churches by bringing with them hordes of demonic powers
such as envy, jealousy, unbelief, pride, lust and ambition.3
Tll.e so-called third wave of the Holy Spirit movement, centring around
Fuller Theological Seminary – School of World Missions, has a strong
emphasis on signs and wonders, numerical church growth, evangelism and
missions. Some of its well-known leaders include the late John Wimber,
founder of the Charismatic Vineyard Churches, missiologists Charles Kraft
and C. Peter Wagner, John White and Wayne Grudem (Powlison 1995:33).
The idea of a demonic ruler or strongman keeping a nation under its
hold is based on Daniel 10:12-20, as well as Deuteronomy 32:8 and
Matthew 12:29.
The tendency to demonise or personalise the vices goes back at least to
the inter-testamental period. Some examples can be found in the writings

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52 Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology 20.1 2001
The modern view of spiritual warfare up to this point in time
had been pPmarily concerned with the influence of demonic powers
on individuals and groups of individuals, rather than geographical
location. From the 1980’s onward several of the presuppositions
and concepts which became incorporated in the practise of spiritual
mapping during the 1990’s, such as the territoriality of demonic
powers, the influence . of blessings and curses, and many other
concepts, could be found among the missionaries of Youth With A
Missiorz (YWAM). It is, therefore, not incidental· that a missionary
with YWAM coined the term spiritual mapping (Otis 1993:32).
Already, in 1986 one could find groups of intercessors
wandering throughout Amsterdam in so called prayer-walks
organised by YW AM, claiming the soil on which they walked for
the kingdom of God and back from Satan based on Scriptures such
as Joshua 1:3 (YW AM 1986). Through direct special revelation
in the form of visions, prophecies or intuition, leaders would
identify what evil spirits were at work in a particular part of town
and the demons would be bound in prayer after they had been
identified by name or function, based on Matthew 18:18 and Mark
Several years later these ideas crystallised into a book by Floyd
McClung, who had been one of YW AM’s regional directors, based
in Amsterdam at the time (McClung 1990:51-52). Less than a year
before this publication, John Dawson, another international leader
ofYWAM, published his book, Taking Our Cities for God (Dawson
1989), outlining similar notions of spiritual mapping, high level
spiritual warfare on behalf of cities and neighbourhoods. That
same year evangelical missiologist C. Peter W agner published his
controversial article, ‘Territorial spirits and world missions’ in the
Evangelical Missionary Quarterly in which he also draws on the
experiences of YW AM missionaries, including the director of the
organisation, Loren Cunningham (1989:283; also Wagner
1992b:l49). The concepts and ideas that led to the development of
of the Qumran community [1 QM Col. xiii.11-12, 4Q510.5-6 (frag.1),
4Q286 frag.7 col. II. (in Martinez 1996)]. Also in Gnostic literature such
as The Teachings of Silvanus and the Apocryphon of John (in Robinson

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Meer Reflections on Spiritual Mapping
spiritual mapping within evangelical Imsston circles did not,
however, originate in a contextual vacuum as a brief. historical
survey of the development of spiritual warfare in the Western world
maY demonstrate.
A merely casual study on spiritual warfare ·throughout the
history of the Christian Church will soon bring to light that the
spiritual warfare had very distinct meanings at different times and
in different contexts. The church fathers to some extent regarded
Satan as the source of inspiration behind heresies and false
goctrines (Stevenson 1987:93; Gokey 1961:70).
Satan was also
regarded as the source of inspiration behind the persecution of the
Christian church {Stevenson 1987:60).
Spiritual warfare against
Satan’s devices was a matter of polemics and apologetics. Yet, the
apostolic fathers most frequently described the spiritual struggle,
against the demons and evil spirits, in terms of individual souls
wrestling with sinful passions and temptations (Stevenson
1987:200; Lightfoot & Hanner 1992:417).
The church believed
that the devil’ s forces of evil could be overcome through discipline,
faith and common liturgical worship and prayer (Gokey 1961:71-
72; Stevenson 1987:211). In some of the writings of the early
church we see vices being personified as demons, while the virtues
Justin, Apology, 1.26. See also Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata,
4-7; Chrysostom, Letters of Chrysostom, -31~ Gregory ofNyssa, Answer to
~unomius ‘,2.
Justin, Apology, 1.5-6. See also The Letter of lgnatius to the Romans,
5-J~ The A1artyrdom of Polycarp, 2-1.
Origen, De Principiis, I, preface 5-6~ Shepherd ofHermas, Mandate 12,
6:48-49. There are also many examples of this in other writings by
Origen, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St.Chrysostom and others,
which are nor mentioned here for the sake of space.

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54 Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology 20.1 2001
are portrayed as good angels, either residing in, or affecting, the
heart, or the soul (Gokey 1961:16-17, 109; Hall1991:181).
Later writings, especially ·of Gnostic origin, reflect a
preoccupation with nomenclature and hierarchies of rank in the
demonic kingdom or army, with Satan as the supreme commander,
under him demonic emperors and princes, under them the common
demons (Greerrfield 1988:234, 312). However, not just the
alternative traditions, but also at one stage in the late Byzantine
tradition there developed a tendency to regard every aspect of time
and space to have it& own proper demon and/or angel (Green:field
1988:313). Such demonic rulers could directly be affected by
human actions against them, provided that those involved in the
battle had the right knowledge concerning the demonic
nomenclature, systems and hierarchies at their disposal (Greerrfield
Later during the Medieval period the preoccupation with
hierarchies and nomenclature of demons seems to have faded
away. However, the devil and his evil spirits felt very real to
believers in this period and they tried to ward these off by making
the sign of the cross (Latourette 1953:535). Generally, the response
of the church to the demonic in this period may have been marked
more by gross superstition and speculation (Unger 1952:4, 85) than
by careful theological reflection. On the day of Rogations, 8 priests
would lead processions through the neighbourhood and the fields,
carrying a cross, waving banners and ringing bells, in order to ward
off evil spirits and demons (Lowe 1998:92). In the same period, the
crusades against Muslims and heretical groups, such as the
Albigenses (Gonzalez 1987:192), also reflect a tendency in the
medieval church to regard spiritual warfare as a matter of
physically fighting against evil on behalf of the church and
See for example The Shepherd of Hennas-command 5,6, (in Amold
1979:281) or, Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs. The figure of speech
which describes vices as demons residing or inspiring evil inclinations of
the heart is also found in Zoroastrianism and in inter-testamental Judaism,
and may have exerted some influence on the demonology of the early
The Rogation days are the three days before Ascension day.

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Meer Reflections on Spiritual Mapping
Christianity. Quite often the battle was fought, not just on behalfof
Christ and the Church, but also for an earthly ruler and his
kingdom, as for example in the case of Charles Martel, and also
Charlemagne (Hayward 1994:440-441; Latourette 1953:353).
· Peoples resiStant to conversion, such as the Wends and
Prussians, or heretical groups such as the Cathari, were subjected to
the sword (Latourette 1953:413). In the same spirit individual
heretics were punished throughout the entire Medieval period, and
from the llth century onwards they were also executed (Gonzalez
1987:226-227). Bernard of Clairvaux, who was the motivating
force behind what is known as the Second Crusade (Latourette
1953 :411), justified the use of physical force against evil and heresy
(GQnzalez 1987:225), as did many others. Later in the wake of the
Protestant Reformation, Roman Catholic mystics, such as John of
the Cross, Fransisco de Osuna and Miguel de Molinos, spoke of
spiritual warfare as a matter of purifying the soul in order to be
filled with God (Latourette 1953:853).
; The Protestant reformers rejected many of the gross superstitions
inherited from the medieval period.
Martin Luther strongly
condemned speculations concerning evil spirits and demons,
without denying their existence or maliciousness (Lowe 1998:94-
95). John Calvin also rejects the speculations of his day and age
and portrays Satan and his angels as being permitted by God to
tempt and war against believers with sinful temptations and inner
disturbances, but they can be resisted by being steadfast in the fafth
(Calvin 1845:1.14:13-15).
The main contribution of the
Reformation concerning spiritual warfare was the rejection of
flW,ciful speculations concerning the devil and the demons, and a
renewed emphasis on the scriptural teaching concerning personal
holiness and resisting sinful passions and evil temptations coming
from Satan and his demons. That is not to say that the reformers
were not guilty of some unwarranted speculation concerning Satan
3!1d his schemes, . both Luther and Calvin referred to the Pope as
being the Antichrist (Calvin 1845:4.7:24-25). Luther is also
reported of having thrown an inkwell at what he thought was a
manifestation of Satan (Christenson 1990: 17).

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56 Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology 20.1 2001
Later reformed wntmgs, such as those of the 17tlt century
English writers John Bunyan and Downham, building on the
theology of the Reformers and of St.Augustine, described the
Christian life as a life of perpetual warfare agai!_lst the evils and
temptations of the devil, the world and the flesh (Muller 1980:319;
Powlison 1995:35). Though, in contrast to St. Augustine, a
transition had been made from the more objective imagery of two
cities, the City of God versus the City of the World, to the
subjective sense of personal pilgrimage and inward warfare against
the devil and his schemes. The world is still the place of battle, but
the protagonist is the human soul (Muller 1980:320), and the
warfare is understood as spiritual and moral. Spiritual warfare had
now become a highly individualistic affair, whereby each individual
soul fights its own battle with temptation and sin. This attitude,
consequently, led to an increased withdrawal by Christians from
the world and involvement in its affairs.
There is little doubt that the individualism of the Renaissance, as
well as enlightenment rationalism, influenced Reformed theology
in this respect (Henry 1973:322-323). From the 18tlt century
onwards the influence of the Enlightenment on Christian theology
caused many believers and theologians to reject the concept of a
personal devil and demonic powers as outdated and irrelevant in an
attempt to demythologise Christianity (Page 1995:267; Powlison
The more conservative believers and theologians resisted the
demythologising of Christianity and continued to emphasise the
reality of Satan, and the need to resist his temptations in one’s
individual life. At the same· time, the fear of Satanic conspiracies,
aimed at world domination and the oppression of the faithful,
became a common element in many conservative Christian circles.
Among the conservatives in the New World some believed that a
satanic conspiracy was in operation in the war of the British against
the North American colonies (Patterson 1988:445-446). The
Roman Catholic Church, the Illuminati, the Jesuits, the Masonic
lodge, or sects such as the Latter Day Saints or the Watch Tower
Society, have also been referred to as manifestations of the satanic
conspiracy for world domination (Patterson 1988:446-448). A

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Meer Reflections on Spiritual Mapping
century earlier, among the puritans in the New World, the infamous
Salem witchcraft trials were the scene of fear, hysteria and
confusion, when a satanic conspiracy against the ‘Christian’ New
World was feared and the alleged perpetrators were hanged
(Lampros 1994:303-305l. It seems that since Salem. this fear for a
satanic conspiracy continued to work on the i~oation of many
North Americans, even into the late 20th century.
A less speculative, though equally controversial, development
startedjust before the end of the 19th century, when a book ‘was
published by John Livingstone NevitJs, a Presbyterian missionary to
China, under the title, Demo71c Possession and Allied Themes
(Nevius 1968). This book set the precedent for many similar books
to be published in the 20th century and describes the experiences of
missionaries and believers in China in dealing with possession,
harassment or deception of individuals brought about by demons
(Nevius 1968:1-110)10
John Nevius presents a lot of anecdotal
evidence throughout his book concerning various demonic
afllictions and records how persistent prayer, the preaching of
Scripture, the singing of hymns and simple faith in God was
effective in overcoming these trouble causing demons. In his book
Nevius also provides a biblical evaluation and justification of his
experiences and those of his contemporaries (Nevius 1968:243-
290). The writings of Nevius, and the reports of other missionaries
as well, caused many evangelical theologians at home to re-
examine their theology of Satan, demons and evil (Chafer
Nevius also records several anecdotes concerning
The Salem Witchcraft Trials took place in 1692 at Salem, New
England, in which more than 100 persons were accused of witchcraft and
nineteen were convicted and executed (Lampros 1994:303; Noll1992:51).
A recent book evaluating the tragic hysteria at Salem is Jeffrey J.
Richards’ , The Cry at Sa/em: The Witchcraft Trials of ‘9 2’ (Lake Geneva,
WI: Farley, 1992).
Both John. Nevius in the 19th century and Frederick Leahy can be
regarded as pioneer thinkers who addressed demonic phenomena, without
turning to casting out demons, or other spectacular power encounters
(Powlison 1995:35-36).

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58 Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology 20.1 2001
demon possession and harassment in Europe, some of which
reappear to in 20th century writings as well (Nevius 1968: 111-132).
In the 20th century Satan and his demons received most attention
within dispensationalist circles (Leahy 1975:7).
The existence,
personality and. power of Satan has. extreme significance for the
dispensationalist who expects Satan to organise a· world-system
which is anti-Christian in the last days (Scofield in Chafer 1919:iii;
Lutzer & DeVries 1989: 145fl). The two World Wars, with the
horrors of nationalism, Nazism, militant communism, modem
technological warfare and mass destruction, caused many
Christians to reconsider the reality of Satan and his demonic
powers (Unger 1952:xiii). Another contributing factor has
undoubtedly been the revival of magic and witchcraft in the 20th
century since the 1950’s (Gardner 1954; King 1982:185-197),
which obviously troubled many Christian believers (Unger
1971:17-18). The ‘Cold War’, that followed the devastation of
World War II, also added fuel to various speculations and demonic
conspiracy theories concerning an immanent anti-Christ in
connection with communism, occultism and the so-called New Age
movement (Patterson 1988:449-451).
Throughout their history premillennia1ist dispensationalists have
been rather susceptible to conspiracy theories of history (Weber
1981:70), which can be attributed to their fairly pessimistic
eschatology (Boettner 1958:350) with its emphasis on the total
destruction of creation at Armageddon, after a satanic antichrist
with his demon armies, and demonized followers, has made a final ·
Dispensationalism arose in its modem form from the work of John
Nelson Darby (1800-1882). The theology that he promoted divided the
Bible into separate dispensations, in each of which God is said to act from
common principles, but varying mandates. Prophecy features large in
dispensationalism, especially the efforts to perceive the divine plan of God
for the end of the age, which according to many dispensationalists is at
hand (Noli 1992:376-378).

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Meer Reflections on Spiritual Mapping
attempt to thwart God’s purposes (Chafer 1919:92, 109-110; Lutzer
19S9: 156-l5S~ Unger 1952:190-191,200).
expect a world wide apostasy in Christianity which will result in a
global pseudo-church under control of Satan or the Antichrist
(Ryri~ 1964:50~ Lutzer 1989:113ff) . . Consequently; Dispensa-
tionalists have generally been vecy suspicious of . the Roman
Catholic Churc!J and the Ecumenical Movement (Ryrie 1964:5 b
52; Bamhouse 1965:242-243; Livesey 1989:87ff, 124ft). The
~tichrist .could possibly even deceive believers and churches
(Chafer 1919:135-140; Walvoord 1971:323-324) and needs to be
resisted (Chafer 1919:70). Dispensationalism with its peculiar
eschatology gained many adherents among Evangelicals in the
United States in the period following World War II, notably in
Baptist and Neo-Pentecostal circles … The ‘ Cold War’ was without a
doubt a major contributing factor with the threat posed by
communism (Patterson 1988:450). in connection with the coming
antichrist (Livesey J989:86; Ober 1950:74-83). The Americans
found themselves fighting in the Korean war, only to get caught up
in the Vietnam war, and many other small localised wars in
Middle-America and the Middle East. Everything seemed to
indicate that the end was near.
Consequently, besides masses of apocalyptic and eschatological
literature, also dozens of popularly written ‘how-to-be-victorious-
over-the-Devil’ books were published in large numbers in the
United States. These books were written to help individual
believers prepare themselves against the schemes and assaults of
Satan: Spiritual Warfare (Harper 1970), The Adversary (Bubeck
1975), Born for Battle (Mathews 1978) and many other books with
fairly militaristic titles. Several other books were published in
order to · make the faithful aware of any new eschatological
developments and satanic conspiracies in the world.
In the wake of the Middle East crisis in 1974, dispensationalist
theologian, John F. Walvoord, published Armageddon, Oil and the
·Middle East Crisis. Hal .Lindsay published his ‘eschatological’
best-seller, The Late Great Planet Earth (1970), speculating about
the formation of a new Roman Empire comprising of ten core
European nations, obviously with the European Community in

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60 Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology 20.1 2001
mind (Lindsey 1970:153-163, 184-185). Russia, China and the
Middle East also play a major role in Lindsay’s speculative
The renewed popularity of the supernatural, the esoteric and
even Satanism in the western world in the 1970’s, combined with
the rise of the so-called New Age movement, caused many
Christians to ring the alarm bell (Christenson 1990:114; Van Dam
1988:35-36, 41-46). The last days now seemed to be very close at
hand, for this is the period Satan would send his demons agai.llst
believers more strongly and Christians must get ready for the battle
(Bubeck 1975:15, 157). The New Age movement became the new
focus of the watchmen of satanic conspiracies in the 1980s
(Cumbey 1983:13ff; Livesey 1989, Marrs 1988; Patterson
1988:451-452)12 13
Several popular books were published,
containing spectacular, personal testimonies of Christian ministers
or missionaries who battled against and overcame demons at home
(Henderson 1972; Dickason 1987:187-213) and in foreign lands
(Peterson 1 72) .
Some personal testimonies concerning demonic bondage and
deliverance were also published on their own (Blankenship 1972;
Ernest 1970). Binding demonic influence, loosing people from
demonic bondage, breaking demonic strongholds in people’s life,
Besides the books referred to in the text above, many others can be
mentioned which reflect the same preoccupation with demons, satanic
conspiracies and the like, such as Mark I. Bubeck’s The Adversary: The
Chn”stian Versus Demon Activity (Moody 1975), Hal Lindsay’s Satan is
Alive and Well on Planet Earth (Zondervan,l972) and The 1980’s:
Countdown to Annageddon (Westgate Press, 1980). Many other books on
demons, exorcism, New Age, and spiritual warfare published since the
1950s reflect a similar preoccupation with the evil supernatural.
For an insightful and well informed article on the New Age movement
in contrast to Evangelical Christianity see Norman L. Geisler’s ‘The New
Age Movement’ in Bibliotheca Sacra, 144, (Jan-Mar ’87). Also Douglas
R. Groothuis, Unmasking the Nov Age ( 1986) and Confronting the Nov
Age. (1988), both available from Inter Varsity.
Also see Moody Bible Institute, 1960. Demon Experiences in Many
Lands. Chicago: Moody Press.

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“Meer Reflections on Spiritual Mapping
mind or family, deliverance from curses and aggressive warfare
prayer, became key-concepts in the ‘modem spiritual warfare’ of
Evangelical Christianity since the 1960’s (Koch 1971:104-107).
Modem spiritual warfare has since been particularly popular
among premillenialist Dispensationalist and those of Pentecostal or
Neo-Pentecostal persuasion (Powlison 1995:32-33).
Most of the books about spiritual warfare, published since the
1950’s, focus on how to tackle demonic influence in one’s personal
life or family (Robison 1991:53-72; Unger }971). Special
attention is given to the influence of curses, occult involvement,
personal sin and the transference of sins of one’s forefathers, as
contributing to demonic bondage or affliction (Koch 1961:203-222;
Dickason 1987; Wagner 1992b:129).15
Deliverance from demonic
affliction is achieved by commanding Satan to leave the presence of
the afflicted, with all his demons, combined with prayer to God
(Bubeck 1975: 140-141). The believer may verbally tear down what
are called strongholds of the Devil and plans of Satan formed
against his or her mind, emotions and body (Bubeck 1975:143-
144). The believers may also renounce and repudiate the sins
committed by their ancestors and verbally cancel any demonic
activity, and any curse, coming along generational lines (Bubeck
1975:87, 148; Dickason 1987:278-279; Koch l971:104ff; McNutt
1995:101fi). In the process of exorcising demons questions can be
posed to them in order to find out what their names are, their ranks
in Satan’s hierarchy and what gave them the ‘right’ to enter or
affect the afflicted person (Bubeck 1975:147; Dickason 1987:193-
If a believer has given Satan and his demons legitimate ground
for them to harass him or her, such ground can then verbally be
Other influential books are Frederick S. Leahy’s Satan Cast Out
(Banner of Trust, 1975) and Lutheran theologian Kurt Koch’s Occult
Bondage and Deliverance (1971), Between Christ and Satan (1971),
Demonology: Past and Present (1973), Occult ABC (1978), all published
by Kregel, Grand Rapids. In the Netherlands and Germany the books by
Dr. W.C. Van Dam have been influential: Demonen eruit, in Jezus’ Naam
(1973), Mensen warden bevrijd (1985), Wezens uit onzichtbare were/den
(1993), all published by Kok, Kampen.

Page 16
62 Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology 20 .I 2001 ·
reclaimed by proclaiming it covered with the blood of the Lord
Jesus Christ, after first having asked God for forgiveness of sins,
conimittedby oneself or one’s ancestors (Bubeck 1975 :86~8’7, 100-
101, 151; Dickason 1987:162-163). Prayer in the context of
spiritual warfare is generally redefined~ from communication, with
God, to becoming a spiritual tool. by which victory is appropriated
over demonic principalities and powers (Bubeck 1975:104;
Christenson 1990:93-99). Demonic strongholds, and the influence
of the· powers of darkness blinding unbelievers for the gospel, are
believed to be broken and defeated through what is called
confrontational, or aggressive warfare prayer (Bubeck 197 5: l 07;
Christenson 1990: 105-1 06). Satanic counter attacks are of course
to be expected, and reports abound of Satanists ‘praying’ for the
breakdown of Christian marriages (Wagner l992a:68-70) or of
pastors and spiritual leaders under supernatural attacks (Wagner
1992a:35-36; Wagner 1992b:8l-84). Confession of sins is also
considered an important factor for gaining deliverance from
demonic affliction (Dickason 1987:291); even aggressively
confessing the sins of others, who may be unable or unwilling to
pray, in order to precipitate their deliverance and conversion
(Bubeck 1975: 113-114). Proclaiming demonic powers to be bound
in the name of Christ is believed to undermine and even defeat the
hold they may have on people (Bubeck 1975: 112; Christenson
1990: 157-164).
Besides an enormous amount of ‘anecdotal evidence’ to support
the varioul) beliefs and aspects of modem spiritual warfare, some
biblical justification is also given in the fonn of isolated proof-
texts. 16
Portions of Holy Scripture like, Ephesians 6:10-18, 2
Corinthians 10:5, and 1 Peter 5:8, are understood as teaching
aggressive warfare against Satan and his forces (Bubeck 1975:71-
Viewed from a careful exegetical perspective, the use of Scriptures by
most proponents of modern spiritual warfare can only be classified ·as
abuse of Scripture with a disregard for what the Bible-writers sought to
communicate. Also the use of isolated Scriptures without taking into
account what the Bible as a whole teaches about God, Christ, Salvation
and the demonic realm is unwarranted. A good example of this kind of
abuse of Scripture is found in Bubeck’s, The Adversary, pp. 103-107.

Page 17
Meer Reflections on Spiritual Mapping
73, 103-107; Christenson 1990:72-75, 95-99, 111-112), breaking
down demonic strongholds in peoples’ lives (Robison 1991:73-83).
Nehemiah 1:6-7 and Daniel 9:1-19 are referred to in respect to the
effectiveness of confession on behalf of others (Bubeck 1975: 113).
The words of Jesus in Matthew 16:19, 18:18 and also 12:29 are
interpreted as a matter of binding demonic powers and loosing
people from their grip or influence or spiritual chains (Harper
1970:114-115; Christenson 1990:171), while James,4:7 is referred
to in relation to verbally addressing Satan or demons (Dickason
At times these techniques of spiritual warfare were
also applied to deal with the alleged demonisation of buildings,
places, (Christenson 1990:111; Harper 1970:105-107; Peterson
1972:25-30) and even objects and symbols (Burnett 1991:268-269;
Priest 1995:4-6). It is in this context of modem spiritual warfare,
with its various presuppositions and selective use of Scripture, that
the practise of spiritual mapping has been developed within
evangelical mission circles since the late 1980’s.
Evaluating the modem concepts of spiritual warfare, including
spiritual mapping, is not just a matter of biblical evaluation or of
theological reflection, but is very much a matter of
contextualization. We may well discover that the church, i1l the
area of spiritual warfare, has become a captive itself, rather than
setting the captives free. While we may admit that there is some
merit and biblical justification for some of the aspects-of spiritual
Commonly used phrases in modem spiritual warfare like: ‘I break
down Satan’s strongholds’, ‘I proclaim the victory’, ‘I bind the powers of
Satan’, ‘I loose any demonic influence’, ‘I pull down demonic
strongholds’, and similar expressions, reflect the ancient (partial) captivity
of western culture and the western church, by the· old barbaric European
warrior tradition (Latourette 1953:414), with its glorification of individual
heros and great warriors, and may have its ultimate origin in ancient Indo-
European mythology, rather than in the tradition of Holy Scripture (Hiebert
1994:204-208 ~ Horton 1992:17ff, 337ft).

Page 18
64 Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology 20.1 2001
, we may well discover that in much of spiritual warfare
the church has become captive to the Indo-European concept of the
battle between good & evil (Hiebert 1994:204 ff; Horton 1992: 17ft).
In the wake of World War II people have been desperately looking
for power amidst a general feeling of powerlessness in the face of
modem warfare, nuclear threats and technological and
environmental disasters.19
Instead of being a transforming power
in our societies today, many, especially within the evangelical
segment of the church, have succumbed to the patterns of this
world, which provide us with a mindset other than the mind of
Christ and a biblical worldview. Instead of confronting the real
powers that are at work in the world, including the powerful
dominant modem scientific worldview with its sins and evils, much
of the evangelical church keeps its spirituality in the unseen realm
of private experiences without any real bearing on the realities of
our context (Newbigin 1986:40).
This kind of neo-mysticism with its emphasis on the unseen and
spiritual, does not stand in judgement of the modem materialist
society, with its mechanistic and atheistic mindset. It is not a
transforming force in society. Instead, it simply co-exists. By
virtue of peacefully co-existing with the status quo, without
challenging its evils, mysticism actually collaborates with the
dominant powers. The mystics are like warriors waving swords
into the air (1 Cor. 9:26) without defeating anyone or anything,
except their purpose. The dichotomy between the private religious
experience and the realities of the public world, is actually part of
the dominant ideology of pagan western culture (Newbigin
1986: 132ft). Consequently, faith has become a private matter
concerned with personal salvation, an inward righteousness,
morality and peace, without much concern for justice, righteousness
To maintain that exorcism has no longer a place in the ministry of the
church because it reflects a primitive understanding of reality reflects more
the presuppositions of a modern rationalistic mindset and neglects the
experiences and teachings of the biblical text and church-history (Page
The revival of magic and the search for power in post-World War II
western societies probably reflects the Same trend.

Page 19
Meer Reflections on Spiritual Mapping
and peace in the socio-economic and political realm. Mission then
becomes a matter of individual private conversion and promotion of
inward moral righteousness. Spiritual warfare-then becomes a
matter of battling those demons who allegedly hinder such
conversion, or attainment of inward moral righteousness, rather
than challenging the demon-inspired eVil structures; false
ideologies and idols in society (Wagner 1991:133). Yet,
Christianity has always addressed the demon inspired ·structural
evils and idols in its mission to the world (Newbigin 1986:95).
Therefore, the church in this present day and age, cannotafford
to fight phantoms20 and leave the ‘Hlols that are served and
promoted in our world unchallenged (Newbigin 1986:115fi). The
world may indeed be enemy occupied territory, but he has no
property rights. He is a usurper. We are not called to act as God’s
5th columnists, carrying out commando raids (Bosch 1991:506), nor
are we called to glorify individual hero’s or knights who go out to
challenge the dragons, or ‘demonic windmills’ like Don
We must, rather, act and live in this world in the affirmation that
‘The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it’ (Ps. 24:1), living out
the victory already won by Christ. Spiritual warfare is, therefore,
not a matter of power, for that matter has been permanently settled
by God through Christ (Eph.l:16-23; Col.l:2:15), rather it is a
matter of truth, love and reconciliation, of righteousness; holiness
and peace, both individual and structural (Chester 1993: 150ft).
The early Christian church often viewed demonic manifestations as
mere phantoms, appearances, causing people to view reality as not reality,
and what was not reality as reality (cf Origen, Against Celsus, 1:9, 4:40;
Tertullian, Treatise on the Soul, 2:4, 9:57.

Page 20
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  • Reply March 14, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    after all the talk what is the bottom line? Isara Mo

  • Reply March 14, 2019

    Isara Mo

    For those who practise it a revaluation of the whole process is the way out, a real assessment to see where they succeeded and why…and where they faiiled …they should seek explanation..
    To those who say it is UNBIBLICAL….they should come forth with a Biblical blue print on how TO CLEAR THE MESS which obviously entangles their cities…
    After all the motive of the spiritual mappers is to see peoples and cities DELIVERED…
    A person with an excruciating tooth pain wouldn’t give a damn if Mike Tyson gives them.un upper cut if the pro dentist fails to take it away: the method doesn’t matter…the end result do.
    Let people stop high sounding doctrinal arguments …and come with practical solutions to mens miserable conditions..

  • Reply March 14, 2019

    Ray E Horton

    A long read, but well worth it for the historical perspectives on spiritual warfare. I just wrote here four or five paragraphs, and the computer crashed before posting it. No time no to try to reconstruct my reflects. So, did the devil not like what I was writing and cause my computer to crash? Some would laugh at that, while others would see it as entirely plausible. More later.

    • Reply March 14, 2019

      Isara Mo

      Ray E Horton
      Pole sana(so sorry in Swahili) for the crashed computer….I wouldn’t dare laugh at that.. I know how the devil hates anyone who tries to expose him…and how he can go to extremes to stop them..even.using ” little explainable common accidents” like the computer crash or a knock on the cupful of cofee..
      I’m.sure you will bring the stuff later..

    • Reply March 14, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      poll santa – what? santa is Swahili for what now

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