As I began to conclude that the great and final apostasy of Christendom was upon us, I also stopped buying contemporary Christian books. I found them shallow, trivial, unsatisfying at the least and blatantly heretical at the worst. So it has been 15 years since I sought or bought any books that were written after 1930.

I recently came across a box of books in a local Methodist Church lending library that had been recently purchased and donated. My curiosity was piqued to find out what is being written these days by the contemporary and popular authors. I looked and found a book that was written in 1991 and there were a number of contributing authors, some of whose names I am familiar with since they are now television personalities.

The title of the book is, Engaging the Enemy by C. Peter Wagner. The contributing authors include the following, with their credits from the book in quotes:

  1. Steven Lawson, a journalist on the staff of Charisma & Christian Life magazine, “a principal voice of the Pentecostal/charismatic movement in the United States.”
  2. Timothy M. Warner, a missions professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is also a former missionary to Sierra Leone. He is called a “pioneer” in what is being called “Power Encounters” in the field of World Evangelization.
  3. R. Arthur Mathews, “an internationally known missionary leader with Overseas Missionary Fellowship (formerly China Inland Mission).”
  4. Thomas B. White, “a Conservative Baptist pastor and the founding president of Frontline Ministries of Corvallis, Oregon. He is much in demand as a seminar leader on spiritual warfare as well as a consultant to groups attempting to deal with territorial spirits in their cities or other areas.”
  5. Jack W. Hayford, pastor of Church on the Way. He “has seen the Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California grow from 25 to over 7000 under his ministry.”
  6. Anne Giminez, “co-pastor of the prestigious Rock Church in Virginia Beach.”
  7. Larry Lea, founding pastor of the Church on the Rock in Rockwell, Texas. “He started the church as a prayer meeting of 13 persons in 1980, and he saw it grow to over 6000. Larry Lea is one of the foremost leaders of today’s [1991] American prayer movement.”
  8. Dick Bernal, “founding pastor of Jubilee Christian Center in San Jose, California.”
  9. Edgaro Silvoso, “a native-born Argentine and founding president of Harvest Evangelism.”
  10. Paul Yonggi Cho, pastor of the world’s largest church, the Yoido full Gospel Church in Korea.
  11. Richmond Chiundiza, in 1982 founded Glad Tidings Fellowship with six people. “By 1990, he had 3000 members and had planted 25 other churches and started 5 preaching points.”
  12. Paul B. Long, a missionary to the Congo who also holds a Ph.D. degree from the Fuller Seminary School of World Missions in Pasadena, California. He has served as a professor of missions at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi.
  13. “John Dawson of Youth with a Mission, who resides in Sunland, California, has written the most popular textbook on dealing with principalities and powers, Taking Our Cities for God (Creation House).”
  14. Vernon J. Sterk, a field missionary of the Reformed Church of America, working among the Indians of Mexico.
  15. Jacob Loewen, “is an outstanding Christian anthropologist who served as a Mennonite Brethren missionary to Columbia, then for several decades as a translation consultant with the United Bible Societies in South America and Africa.
  16. Michael Green, professor of evangelism at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia.
  17. Oscar Cullmann, “recognized as one of Europe’s top ranking New Testament scholars.”
  18. C. Peter Wagner, is a professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is the author or editor of more than 30 books, including, Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow, Spreading the Fire, Warfare Prayer, Prayer Shield, and Breaking Strongholds in Your City.


Simply put, this book is a compendium of what these several authors teach about what they call “strategic-level spiritual warfare”. The premise of the book is that there are “territorial spirits” or principalities which hold sway over localities, and which must be identified and prayed against specifically in order to successfully invade the area with the Gospel of Christ. It is suggested that whole cities and nations can be “taken for God” by learning the techniques of “strategic-level spiritual intercession” and “power evangelism.”

I take no exception to their general description of the way things are in the world of men and spirits. I have realized the reality of territorial spirits for many years. What I vehemently disagree with is, forcing the Bible to say more than it actually says on this subject, and recommending spiritual exercises that the Bible does not recommend, and prognosticating results that the Bible never told us that we could expect. In short, the propositions set forth in this book are presented to us as doctrines in the Bible when they are not, and supported by hearsay evidence which is suspect and contradictory.

For instance, in his Foreword, John Dawson asserts, ” Very little is revealed about specific territorial spirits in the Bible, and that’s no accident. Daniel mentions the prince of Persia and the prince of Greece, and there are New Testament references such as Paul’s struggle ‘with the beasts at Ephesus’ (1 Cor.15:32).

(1 Cor 15:32) If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantangeth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

Excuse me, but this is a reference to actual beasts, as is obvious and undeniable from the context. The context is resurrection NOT spiritual warfare. To intimate that the “beasts” refer to principalities is to purposefully ignore the easy to understand meaning of these words. So, after admitting that he did not have much from the Bible to propound these new ideas, he contrives to invent some supporting scripture.

This was the first among many such instances in this book where these so-called Bible scholars exhibited not the least compunction about making the Bible say whatever they wanted it to say.

Dawson goes on to say, “There is no reason why we, the church, should concede one square inch of this planet. ‘The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men’ (Ps.115:16).” And again, “Through Jesus we have regained our stewardship of the earth.” (Quotes Lu.10:19)

It is a matter of prophecy and promise that the meek shall inherit the earth, but this notion that we presently have possession and control in the earth at this time is contrary to Scripture and at the core of the heresy of Reconstructionism, which denies that we need Jesus to come back before we will see the reality of the kingdom of God on the earth.

(1 John 5:19) And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

(2 Cor 4:4) In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

If the whole world lieth in wickedness, it is not our world yet. We look for a new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. If Satan is still the god of this world, it is not our world yet, and nowhere are we told to expect this world to be ours until the appearance of Jesus Christ as Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

The whole proposition that we can take whole cities or nations for God, denies reality as it is described in the Bible. Jesus said, “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” (John 17:9)

Regarding Dawson’s last comment, Luke 10:19 says this:

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

To turn this promise of personal power and protection from the direct attack of the devil into the assertion that we have now regained stewardship of the earth is preposterous, and dishonest.

John Dawson also wrote chapter 17 entitled, Seventh Time Around, in which he uses the story of the conquest of Jericho by the Israelites as one of the outstanding examples for us in understanding the nature and responsibilities of spiritual warfare. Dick Bernal, the author of chapter 10 uses the same story as an example to us of what “strategic spiritual warfare” is all about.

Speaking about the march around Jericho, Dawson writes, “The fact that they had to march in silence is probably a clue to the nature of the unseen realm over Jericho.”

Such a statement as this is nothing but a surmise based upon imagination, and without a shred of Scriptural evidence to support it. The fact is, the Israelites’ march around the city of Jericho was dictated to them by God through Joshua and all they were doing was following orders by faith. Whether this method of conquest had anything to do with the “unseen realm” over Jericho, nothing is said, suggested or intimated about principalities. Furthermore, when Dawson and Bernal speak about “taking cities for God,” they are talking about wholesale conversions and deliverance. This fact alone, removes the conquest of Jericho from being an example of the kind of spiritual warfare that these men are talking about. The Israelites were not led to anticipate Jericho’s salvation, but their destruction. This is just another example of the ear-tickling kind of preaching that is so rife today and held in esteem by audiences who have long since forsaken any sober regard for the message and intent of the Bible.

Another Scripture introduced by Dawson in support of this “strategic-level spiritual welfare is Jer.29:7: Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in it’s welfare you will have welfare.

This is good instruction on prayer for all of us to heed, but not for the same reasons proposed by the author. We ought to seek the welfare of the city where we are in exile, by praying for all men, and men in government; by praying for the economy and for effective and fair law enforcement, because all of these things are in our best interest. And Jeremiah was speaking to the exiles in Babylon, who were in much the same situation that we are in. They were not told to expect that the idolatrous Babylonians would be converted to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were told simply to seek the welfare of the city, for their welfare depended upon the welfare of Babylon. And once again, there is not so much as a hint of spiritual warfare, taking the city for God, or any such thing. Daniel was informed that there was a “prince of Persia,” (apparently, a territorial principality) but he was not told that it was his business to do anything about it. In fact, it was revealed to him that all that could be done, was already being done (Dan.10:21).

The whole idea, presented in this book, that the territorial spirits can be “prayed out of the way” so that the millions can come to Christ, just like they always wanted to, is an utter denial of the facts as plainly presented in the Bible. In 2 Cor.4:4, quoted above, it does not say that the god of this world blinds men who would otherwise believe and obey the Gospel, it says that the god of this world blinds the minds of those who DO NOT BELIEVE: they are handed over to the powers of darkness by God (see Romans 1, where this is thrice repeated).

In chapter 1, entitled Spiritual Warfare by Wagner, we read this:

Revelation 12 relates one of the fiercest episodes of spiritual warfare imaginable. Michael and his angels are fighting against the dragon, and his angels. Michael wins ‘by the blood of the Lamb’ (Rev. 12:10)

Let’s read it for ourselves:

(Rev 12:10-11) And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. {11} And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Another dishonest assertion. It says that it is the brethren that overcome the accuser by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, not Michael. Now let me ask you, what makes you think that anyone who treats the Scriptures with such arrogant disregard in one matter does not do the same thing in every other matter? Apparently, from the popularity of these authors and their books, many who read this stuff are so entertained by the intrigue that they are oblivious or unconcerned that they are being lied to.

Here is yet another example of wresting the Scriptures by the same author:

What did Paul and Silas do? They praised God! ‘At midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God’ (Acts 16:25). The result was a divine earthquake which loosened their chains and opened the doors.”

“Paul and Silas were victorious, but the secret was that they had praised God even before they saw the victory.”

What is implied here, is that Paul and Silas knew about the “spiritual weapon” of praise, determined that this was what was needed for their deliverance, and lo, and behold, it worked! The business of turning the Word of God into a mojo to be worked, in and against the circumstances of our lives is one of the underlying principles in this book. Deny it as they might, the authors proceed from this premise, over and over again, such as in Dawson’s imaginations about the battle for Jericho. The fundamental difference between this book and reality is in WHY Paul and Silas, or the children of Israel did what they did. They did it because they were instructed or moved by God to do what they did: they were not operating on some principle of “strategic level spiritual warfare.” If they were acting on any principle at all it is this:

(1 Th 5:16-18) Rejoice evermore. {17} Pray without ceasing. {18} In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

The very suggestion that they both anticipated and achieved deliverance by praising God as an exercise of spiritual warfare is fantastic. Furthermore, it is a slander against all of the martyrs who glorified God and did not escape.

In another place the author relates an incident with his Fellowship Sunday school class where a woman was invited to teach them about contemporary prophecy. There was a disagreement about whether or not they should have this lady come. The disagreement, of course, was taken as an indication of “spiritual opposition,” and so the fellowship class met together to pray and come into agreement. They agreed to have the woman come. The author concludes, “the event turned out to be a powerful landmark occasion….” He considers this an example of successful spiritual warfare, even though the Bible says:

(1 Cor 14:34) Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

(1 Tim 2:12)But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

Of course I am aware that most who read this will disagree, but then it is on issues like this that the plumb-line becomes visible. One day you will have to explain why it was that you preferred to explain away the plain language of the Bible rather than obey it in simplicity. Your argument is not with me.

This same issue arises in chapter 8. Battle in the Heavenlies, is one of the best chapters in the book. The only problem is that it was written by Anne Giminez, co-pastor of the Rock Church in Virginia Beach. I have no objection to her authoring such a chapter, but the fact that neither she, nor any of her peers see anything wrong with her being a pastor is indicative of the decline of fidelity to the faith once delivered unto the saints. It is oh, so typical these days, that great attention is paid to the Bible when it comes to finding proof texts for one’s agenda and no attention at all is paid to the Bible whenever it will contradict one’s plans.

In Chapter 6, Understanding Principalities and Powers, the author Thomas B. White cites Dt.32:8 as a reference to one type of fallen angels:

“When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.”

White continues, “According to the Septuagint text and recent scholarship, the clearer rendering here is ‘sons of God,’ angelic beings (cf. Job 38:7). Daniel 4:13 and 17 call these powers the ‘Watchers.'”

Now we are being asked to accept the author’s arcane translation of the Scriptures, which is not just a better “rendering ” but one that altogether changes the substance of what is said. In the context of his discourse, he identifies these “sons of God” as fallen angelic beings which is not indicated by either Job 38:7, or Dan.4:13,17.

(Job 38:7) When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Does this sound like the principalities here spoken of are “fallen angelic beings”, and therefore, enemies of God?

(Dan 4:13) I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;

(Dan 4:17) This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.

And here, the “Watchers” are working in concert with the “holy ones”, and both are working for God, whether willingly or unwillingly is not stated. Here is yet another example of dishonest contrivance of the Scriptures, and these authors ought to take heed to this warning before it’s too late:

(2 Pet 3:16) As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Space does not permit an exhaustive critique on this book, and neither do I think that producing more evidence will have the least effect upon those who would rather believe their friends than their Bible. Suffice it is to say that all of the authors in this book except for one appear to be in collusion to produce this popular and spurious book. Notwithstanding, the last chapter is written by Oscar Cullmann, who produces a masterful and faithful scriptural exposition on the relationship of principalities to human governments. It is the only chapter really worth reading, but then it does not appear to have been written with the intent of supporting the exposition of the rest of the book. C. Peter Wagner was, however, able to make merchandise of Cullmann’s exposition, and I unhappily suppose that Cullmann was asked for permission to use his material in this book, so finally his loyalties are suspect also.

The book is chock full of testimonies to grand successes in spiritual warfare resulting in phenomenal church growth, numbering in the tens of thousands, world-wide. Many of the authors are credited with great increases in their congregations and in numbers of conversions, which they attribute to strategic-level intercession. In more than one place in the book, however, we see an account like this one:

A new missionary to Nigeria was deeply thrilled when he got a land grant from the local king so that he could begin to build a mission hospital. Once the building began, he started each workday with bible study and prayer for his work crew. Long before the hospital was ready to function, all his workmen had ‘accepted Christ’ and the missionary felt that even the construction time had been an evangelical success.

“Once the building was completed all the workmen returned to their respective home villages, and the missionary began organizing a series of evangelistic tours through some of those same villages. To his complete chagrin he found that his ‘converts’ were contentedly tending idol shrines in their home villages.” (page 166)

1 Thess.1:9 describes true conversion this way:

For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

One has to wonder about the touted results of what the authors like to refer to as “power evangelism.” How many are actually converted to a Faith in Christ Jesus that compels them to “forsake their lives in this world?” How many of these thousands of “converts” believe Jesus Christ enough to stop serving mammon? How many of these thousands of new church members have any intention whatsoever to obey Jesus command to “give to every man that asketh of you, and he that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again?” Where are the thousands that no longer take any thought for the morrow or cease from laying up treasures upon the earth?

By their fruits shall we know them, and numbers on a roster is not fruit.

On a positive note, I was encouraged and admonished in this book to realize again, the role and effectiveness of prayer and obedience. I was reminded that we are indeed engaged in a violent struggle against principalities and powers of darkness that work against us individually and corporately without letup. But it was even more confirmed to me that the apostasy of Christendom can finally be described as a wholesale defection from and an attack against the Bible.

True spiritual warfare starts here:

(2 Cor 10:5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

(1 Tim 4:16) Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Book Review by Richard Engstrom