Perhaps one of the reasons some of us are opposed to deliverance is the stereotypes and stigma associated with the characterisation and personalities of demons; and obviously their works in the lives of people.
The personification, stereotypes, and stigma of the afflicted souls and prisoners of demonic dictates are not objective realities that should concern anyone with demonic related problems. These exist purely as a result of the worldview that has moulded and shaped our evolving societies, cultures, and traditions at the expense and preclusion of the biblical worldview.
Western Christianity is tainted with the enlightenment movement of the eighteenth century; and it subsequently marked a definitive turning point away from the biblical worldview of the world in the history of the Western Church. Irrespective of where you are in this world and where you find yourself you must be able to reflect upon your culture, society and tradition as whole in order to know just where you and your nation stands in the light of the Word of God.
The consequence of an unreflective consciousness, cultures, societies, theology and traditions has devastating impact with far reaching detrimental ramifications and effect. Such was the problem encountered with the Cretians in Paul’s letter to the Titus. The brutal, critical and damning assessment of the Cretians came from one of their very own a prophet as the Scripture passage demonstrates below.
12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. 13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. 15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
Apostle Paul himself was not a Cretian, but a Jew and yet in his missionary work to them he was able to attest to the assessment of this Cretian prophet whom the Scripture does not name. The bigger problem underlined is that the Cretians worldview appeared to be tolerant and graciously accepting of deception as a way of life.
An Outsider like Paul was able to look into their culture and way of life and found it to be at odds with the teachings of Scripture and diametrically in opposition to the biblical worldview. Sadly, these Cretians had this way of life inculcated into the fabric of their society to the extent that they appeared inoculated against the errors of their worldview.
This is evidenced in the fact that even their "Christian ministers" were operating totally in the same vein and had lost the ability to reflect on the fact; that what they see entrenched in their society is consistently incompatible with Scripture, but they nonetheless continue along that spectrum because it is what they had always known.
Paul's final assessment and condemnation of these “Christian ministers” was equally critical. He acknowledges their profession of faith in God; but then measures that against their lack of personal encounter, experience, and relationship with God.
This is the problem and challenge faced by the Cretians; a worldview shaped by a theology in denial of the spirit world, is a permissive one with tolerance and acceptance given to anything so long as God is kept firmly hidden in the background or altogether out of the picture. This will lead ultimately to a society bereft of godliness and the need to be so, while also remaining inoculated against godliness. An unresponsive and unreflective consciousness; cultures, societies, theology and traditions are incapable of overcoming the works of demonic attacks; because it is in bondage to the mindset imposed by the kingdom of Satan.
In Acts 13 (King James Version) we see an example of a person in position of great influence vehemently opposed to the WORD of God. From that and other references in Scripture we can safely conclude that any society which opposes God, His ways, and gospel is one that is being governed by the kingdom of darkness.
As a society we must be able to reflect upon our culture and enquire if there is something wrong or missing somewhere. Remarkably, most people will tell you that their people are lovely people; their country is great, and they are very welcoming etc. That does not however, demonstrate any knowledge that some cultural norms practiced in their country and by their people are in direct opposition to the biblical worldview. Should it turn out that they are evidently in direct opposition to the biblical worldview, then what should be the collective response of the church, community, people groups and nation? To answer this question lets for a moment explore some of the reasons behind the drive away from the biblical worldview.
This brings us to the question, what is the worldview of the West? The world view of the West must be empirical in nature for it to be considered true. In other words, it is scientific; which must be verifiable or provable by means of observation or experiment and not theory.
Astrophysics, quantum theory and theory of relativity are all based on suppositions and laws that are empirical. The immediate problem presented by empirical methods demands a shift in thinking as they are limited and confined to the remit of the physical and does not encompass the spiritual. The net effect is that we have a worldview in the West that completely discounts and disregard the spirit world and all the personalities inhabiting that world and by implication to some degree God. The empirical methods were not confined to scientists alone, but found its way into systematic theology and was eventually redefined for the purposes of modern theology. What most Christians would not be aware of is that theology had its roots in metaphysics. Metaphysics is commonly referred to as the subject of first philosophy and was first utilised by Aristotle.
1. Ontology: The study of being and existence.
2. Natural theology: The Study of God.
3. Universal Science: The study of first principles.
Western theology owed much of its existence to Aristotle a key player and protagonist of natural theology. The primary concern and metaphysical questions of theologians are monotheism (belief in a god), polytheism (belief in many gods), agnosticism (the possibility of knowing whether god exist), deism (the belief that God solely created the universe but does not interfere with his creation), atheism (belief in no gods), dualism (the concept that the world is ruled by antagonistic forces of good and evil, and the concept that humans have two basic nature, the physical and the spiritual); or pantheism (belief in and worship of all gods. It includes the possibility that everyone is god). In Western standard philosophical tradition, theology attained its peak under the medieval (5th - 16th century A.D) school of thoughts known as the scholasticism. The Church continued to evolve further with its theological focus primarily on the metaphysical aspects of the Christian faith.
Some of the protagonists of scholasticism are as follow:
Anselm (1033 - 1109) A.D was bishop of Canterbury (England) in 1093, devised ontological argument for the existence of God. His view of relationship of faith and reason is that faith precedes knowledge.
Peter Abelard (1079 - 1142) A.D ministered in mainly France was condemned as heretic by instigation of Bernard of Clairvaux. His view of relationship of faith and reason is that nothing is to be believed until it is understood.
Peter Lombard (1090 - 1153) A.D was born in northern Italy and developed ‘Four Book of Sentences’ which became first standard medieval systematic theology. His view of relationship of faith and reason is that dilemmas of faith are to be resolved by reason.
Hugh of St Victor (1096 - 1141) A.D was born in Saxony Paris. His view of relationship of faith and reason is Faith is a certainty above opinion and below science.
Albertus Magnus (1200 - 1280) A.D was born in Bavaria Germany. Entered the Dominican Order; was a teacher of Thomas Aquinas, and was knowledgeable in Aristotelian philosophy. His view of relationship of faith and reason is that theology is science in the truest sense.
It was not until the enlightenment that we saw a drastic shift in theology becoming scientific in its primary focus and outlook. The effect of this shift meant that missionaries from the established church were heading for a collision of worldviews in countries and continents that have for centuries witnessed the visible impact; interaction with; and manifestations of the negative forces of the spirit world; and as a result, sadly some paid the cost needlessly with their own lives, because they failed to grasp and come to terms with the spiritual reality of that part of the world.
Society on the whole undergoes evolutionary process and transformation from time to time. This is to be expected as the world is so diverse that it would be literally impossible to have all people believe and think the same. Prior to the enlightenment it was always felt by that the marriage between church and state was bad for society. Indeed the church then, which was an extension of the political wind of the government was seen as oppressive and this was particularly true in European countries. This view culminated with other bad feelings towards the church by irreligious communities, became the catalyst for the change in the states' relationship with the Church.
The change in status quo triggered the beginning of the secularisation movement of the society in the West and later laws were put in place to protect and preserve the rights and freedom of secularists, which incidentally is being used to indirectly to curtail religious freedom of expression by secularist extremists.
The position that the Church in the West finds itself in today is one mixed with volatility and fraught with uncertainty as a result of reneging on the core values and traditions espoused and advocated in Scripture. Consequently the Church is no longer perceived as a vehicle for constructive and positive change.
A correlation between what is happening to the Church in the West and the worldview it shares cannot be separated or ignored.
Clash of Worldviews
There is a region within the South-south of Nigeria, West Africa that used to be known pejoratively as the blood city and the graveyard of white missionaries mainly from Europe. Most of the missionaries sent during the slave trade era to this part of Nigeria in particular died in mysterious circumstances; but their death as sad as they were; was not a mystery at all to the indigenous inhabitants of that part of the country. Countless stories such as the one described above were reported by missionaries, explorers, interlopers and the likes, that it earned Africa in particular Sub-Saharan Africa the infamy of been dubiously called - the dark continent for centuries.
When the missionaries entered Africa they came mainly to export their culture, way of life along with the gospel and failed to understand the spiritual climate governing most African terroritories. Sub-Saharan Africans were introduced to a powerless concept of Christianity and meant that for years many held on to the tribal, ancestral and traditional means of worshipping their many local deities. What many Sub-Saharan Africans wanted was assurance that if they were to leave their local gods, what gaurantee could the missionaries give that will ensure no harm or evil is visited upon them for abandoning their deities. No such gaurantees were forth coming, because at the heart of it were two opposing worldviews.
For many people exposed to the objective reality of the Spirit world, what matters most to them is authority and power of God over and above the authority and power of the negative spiritual forces they are used to. This is one contributing factor and reason as to why we have seen an up surge and explosion of the Christian faith in Continents such as Africa especially, parts of Asia and South America.
The Charismatic and Pentecostal Church movement is the thriving and dominant Church in these continents for good reasons it has to be said. They continue to see growth as a result of embracing the power of God; and demonstrating the authority and power of God over local deities, evil spirits, witch doctors, herbalists, occultist, and wizardary which they have been so accustomed to and feared all or most of their lives, but now have confidence in Jesus Christ and His name to turn awy from them.
Any other brand or form of Christianity that does not understand the spirit world is of no use to the continents mentioned and will be mainly confined to the West. The traditional Church setup by the first wave of European missionaries is seeing a decline in converts and membership as more and more people find deliverance from Satanic strongholds in Africa, Asia and South America.
The centrality of the biblical worldview exposes the subtle powers of the kingdom of Satan and their desire to influence, control and dominate the world. These powers of evil principal opposition are the Kingdom of God, followed by those professing an active faith in Christ Jesus, and finally the world.
Indeed you don’t need to be in Africa, Asia and South America to understand that evil forces exist and can cause serious harm and fatality. What it takes is what many within those continents have had to endure for centuries, which is an experience of the negative spiritual forces.
In the West, the reality however is you are made to feel embarrassed, stupid or naive for thinking that evil spirits could be responsible for your worries, trauma, and problems. Some are even told to ‘snap out it’ and this happens because ministers, Christian counsellors, and pastors have no idea or understanding that the spirit world interacts very much with our world with subtlety that defy reason and sensibility.
In the current spiritual climate the traditionally held beliefs that demons and Satan have no objective reality and those who believe themselves to be under supernatural powers are deluded and should be referred to medical experts for help is no longer sustainable.
It depicts a theology that has reached its natural limitation and could offer nothing more without running the risk of going beyond its means or what its intended for, thereby bringing it into ethical and moral hazard.
It depicts arrogance on the part of the ministers, pastors, Christian counsellors who invalidate your experience by what they have probably studied and learned from books in colleges, universities and seminaries, and never themselves had an experience or know how to deal with demonic attacks.
It demonstrates an unreflective theology; a theology that fails to embrace the experiential is a theology that has exceeded its sell by date. In other words, it has expired and should be confined to the garbage bin, which is where they belong.
It is also unresponsive theology since it neither understands the spirit world, it can not be helpful or useful in delivering those afflicted and troubled by demons.
Since it is possible to have an experience of God, by way of Him talking to us, given us spiritual gifts, and signs; it defy common sense to think that demons do not possess counterfeits of those same gifts that millions experience in the world of the occult and New Age Movement.
More and more people are experiencing demonic related problems and attacks and they will continue to suffer as long as Western Christianity continues to propagate an unresponsive and unreflective theology in the light of experiential encounters felt and witnessed by many, in relation to demons, Satan and their wicked works.
The spiritual Warfare Worldview is a Biblical worldview for reasons already defined for us in the Bible. From the beginning in the Book of Genesis through to the Book of Revelation we see battle commencing in Eden, the garden of God that lead to the fall of man in Genesis 3, and ending with the culmination of Christ second coming to bring order and restoration to the world.
By deception, man colluded with Satan in Eden, to share in his ambition which was to be like God, the all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-powerful. This attempt was doomed to failure from the very moment it was conceived because the created were in no position then and even now to master the Creator. Man and Satan formed an unholy union driven by the ambition to one day supersede God. This unholy union could not stand because of the imprecation God decreed on it.
This imprecation made it impossible for there to be peace between man and the kingdom of Satan. The two in effect cannot and could not have peacefully coexisted; therefore something had to give way. As a result of the fall man abdicated the right to exercise dominion over the earth which allowed Satan to assume dominion illegally, by trickery, manipulation and deceit.
The battle was joined and the lines were drawn along the divisions described. Man began a new quest in seeking the path to redemption and Satan doing all he can to abort that plan of redemption. In order for Satan to do this, he had to come up with a strategy and that included the deception and fall of other angels, who after their demise from their estate became Satan’s cohorts. These angels although knowing the inevitable nonetheless were persuaded by Satan to believe in an alternative outcome to the end of the battle; which was to reign along with Satan if they can manage to defeat God.
In Christ Jesus redemption of mankind and the world was complete. This completion on the Cross as He said "It is finished" triggered the alarm bells in the kingdom of Satan, signifying that their reign of terror, affliction, control, domination, oppression, destruction and possession are numbered and will come to an expedient end.
And now demons, Satan and his cohorts are doing everything possible within their power to take as many people to hell with them, with their principal targets being the Church. It is imperative to understand that Hell itself is not a parallel domain to Heaven where Satan reigns and has power over its subjects. Hell is a place dreaded by Satan, it is a place of eternal torment which he hopes to avoid and even possibly escape. Therefore all his efforts against the church and the Kingdom of God is a vain attempt to prolong his stay before the great judgment of God.
To counter the works of Satan, God has in Christ Jesus equipped His Church to exercise authority over all the works of Satan, and to expel demons from off people.
However we are not fighting purely against demons for in the satanic hierarchy demons indeed have their place and their activities are restricted to the confines of this earth. Other powerful entities have already been identified in Scripture to be engaged in this battle against the Kingdom of God and His Church.
These are made mentions of by Paul,
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
The Church of God can never overcome the works of demons and Satan through political and social activism; rather the Church must in accordance with the immortal Words of The LORD Jesus Christ seek the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness. For the works of Satan and demons can only be successfully subdued by the tools and weapons of the Kingdom of God. The kingdom of Satan and all its earthly subsidiaries will and must comprehensively surrender to the rule and reign of the Kingdom of the LORD Jesus Christ; when confronted in the authority, reign and rule of His LORDSHIP.
The LORD JESUS CHRIST gave deeper insight into this ensuing battle. He says,
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
The Kingdom of God must of necessity use and exert spiritual authority aggressively over the works of Satan; to advance the cause of the Gospel and it is in the Kingdom of God can the church of God find her true self.
This in a nutshell is a spiritual warfare worldview, which is a biblical worldview that stands out as we read the Bible from Genesis through to Revelation.
If we are going to rest back the initiative and by so doing position the Church to be an agent of constructive change and force for good; then the onus is on us in the West to go back to the biblical worldview of the world as God intended it.