My Questions On Many Contemporary Practices Of Spiritual Warfare And Deliverance
Posted by Job on May 15, 2009
When I first began this site – as well as its now defunct predecessor – it was primarily one devoted to spiritual warfare and deliverance based on what I had learned from reading works by such people as Frank Hammond, John Eckhart, and to a lesser degree Rebecca Brown, Frank Peretti and Derek Prince. (Now where this field is considered to be dominated by Pentecostals and charismatics, please know that Frank Hammond, considered to be one of the most influential teachers in this area, had a Baptist background, having been trained at Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)
Now when doing research – inasmuch as web searches can be considered research! – for teachings and material to include, quite naturally I would encounter many statements by Christians opposed to spiritual warfare and deliverance ministries and ignored them, chalking it up to faithlessness and false doctrines. However, one of them did capture my attention. It did not dismiss the possibility of Christians conducting legitimate deliverance ministries out of hand, which forced me to pay attention to it.
However, this article stated that the methods to cast out demons popularized by Hammond and fellow travelers not New Testament doctrine and did not conform to the example by which Jesus Christ and Paul cast out demons. Instead, the “Pigs In The Parlor” and “He Came To Set The Captives Free” spiritual deliverance techniques far more closely resembled accounts of how rabbis used to cast out demons as recorded in the Talmud and other rabbinical writings. This document further stated that there was a line of Messianic prophecies among the rabbis that when the Messiah came, He would not have to rely on the laborious techniques of the old covenant rabbis, but instead would be able to cast out demons with power and authority, the spoken command. See, for example, Luke 4:33-37. Also note that Paul’s example of casting out a demon was much more after the manner of Jesus Christ in Acts 16:18. And the clincher, as far as I was concerned, was the assertion that the Frank Hammond method was also very similar to Roman Catholic exorcisms! (How ironic that J.P. Moreland, upset over a friend of his having to leave a prominent evangelical post upon this friend of his converting to Roman Catholicism, stated that evangelical Christians should abandon sola scriptura, calling it “Bible idolatry“, and suggested that among other things Roman Catholic traditions on exorcisms was an area where evangelicals should learn from Catholics!)
Now having rejected all of the other arguments against contemporary spiritual warfare and deliverance ministries, this one – that it did not conform to the example of scripture and that it was an imitation of practices of intertestamental Judaism and of Roman Catholicism – I did not have an adequate answer for. So, I decided that while I would leave the existing spiritual warfare material on the site – reasoning that they are, at the very least, better than nothing and certainly preferable to the modern evangelical trend of relying more and more on psychology and psychotherapy, fields that were largely invented by New Agers, occultists, atheists, and sexual perverts (do a little research, it’s true!) – while refraining from adding new ones until I came across more Bible based doctrines of conducting spiritual warfare and deliverance.
Sadly, I have not encountered such doctrines as of yet, and in the past year or so have focused less on this area and more on “Christianity 101”, things having to do with the basics of the Christian faith and Christian living. Perhaps when I am done with grounding myself in the basics of the faith – matters of which I was very presumptuous and prideful while being wholly ignorant and immature – it will be a good time to investigate the doctrines of casting devils out of people anew.
Still, I have continued to discover more things about the teachings of Frank Hammond in particular that trouble me. First, Hammond takes a vast array of sinful habits and behaviors and attributes them to demons. (I actually had the goal of reproducing Hammond’s “demon groupings” chart on this site and never completed it because it was so large, now I am rather glad that I failed in that undertaking.) But the more that I ponder his teachings in this area, I perceive this as not considering Romans 7. This is not to say that Frank Hammond rejects Romans 7, but I have not seen him incorporate Romans 7 in his doctrines or applications in any careful way. This is very serious, because a study of Romans 7 is vital in discerning whether activity is demonic or simply due to what Romans 7 calls “the body of sin.” Instead, Frank Hammond advocates relying on a Holy Spirit gift for discerning demons. Now how does the Holy Spirit gift for discerning demons operate, and how are we to use it in a church or ministry context? The Bible does not say, so we have to rely on the teachings of Frank Hammond to tell us. Also, where Romans 7 makes it clear that there are some battles with our old natures that Christians are going to have to deal with until we get to heaven, Hammond’s teachings claim that such merely represents failed or incomplete spiritual deliverances, so we have to return to the deliverance ministers to do still more confessions of past sins in counseling sessions and then have still more nested interlocking demon groups buried and hiding deep inside of us, demons and demon groupings that the Holy Spirit gift of discernment failed to identify in previous sessions, out. That does appear to contradict this passage of Romans 7.
“Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
Claiming that this passage does not refer to the striving of Christians against the flesh and the need of grace to overcome ignores scriptures that can be used to interpret this scripture such as Galatians 5:24-25 and 1 Peter 2:11. This doctrine makes it appear that Christian living should, save an intermittent battle or three with a demon or temptation, basically be strife and trouble free, and that any Christian who is not experiencing Hammond’s definition of “life more abundantly” is either demonized or still engaged in sin habits that need to be broken, is living under some “generational curse”, has some “demon of inheritance” or that needs to be discerned and broken, and so on.
These doctrines deny the fact that Christian life is supposed to be inherently trying and difficult … one of persecution, chastening and affliction, dying to self daily, carrying the cross or cross-life. It makes me wonder if Hammond or any of the others in his school has ever read Pilgrim’s Progress or anything similar. It also, in a style that anticipated the current Oprahesque style of modern Christianity, which allows a person to reject accountability. Where today a professed Christian who follows the New Agey Dr. Phil psychobabbleanalytical doctrines can simply blame parents, teachers, classmates, spouses, pastors, or any number of emotional or mental problems for their unBiblical behavior, the Hammond school allows a person to simply say “the devil made me do it” and profess a need for spiritual deliverance. Either way, you get to blame someone else rather than yourself, and in this way you deny your need for a Savior and for grace, because you avoid coming to grips with your true nature. Rather than seeing yourself as a wretched sinner badly in need of grace and the work of the cross to impute righteousness to you that you do not deserve and never will, you see yourself as this basically good and decent person against whom there is this grand conspiracy of evil spirits and rotten circumstances to keep the real you, an inherently good and virtuous person, from coming out.
Either way, it encourages you to hold onto an unBiblically inflated image of yourself and blame other entities – whether human, spiritual or institutional (as Hammond does speak of “prince demons” that control institutions, and claim that Christians should go into directed warfare against them to reclaim these institutions … there goes dominionism gospel of Eusebius and Constantine again!) – for your inability to live up to your own self image, which is an unBiblical delusion to begin with. Legitimate spiritual warfare and deliverance, indeed legitimate Christianity, is concerned with casting off this self – image delusion, which is part and parcel of the old man that needs to be cast off so that we may put on the new man (Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 4:24). These doctrines make it appear that the difficult process of discipleship and Christian growth and maturity, as well as coming to grips with the nature of sin and meaning of grace, are unnecessary and unproductive, as it is far better to simply declare yourself and everyone else to be demonized.
Most seriously, the Hammond doctrines seem to reject or distort the doctrines of original sin, the effects of the fall. They seem to create a picture where man is basically good, and all he needs to do to recover his inherent goodness and virtue is choose Jesus Christ as his Savior. Having done that, any problems or defects are not due to the exceedingly true and vile cosmic and metaphysical nature of the fall and original sin, but instead an evil spirit that is soiling what should by nature be perfect. At the very least, it in effect claims that the result of Jesus Christ’s work on the cross should have been to make us practically sinless with no need to battle and struggle in this life. Either way, Hammond’s doctrines distort or misunderstand either what the Bible says about original sin or the workings of the grace. Thus, Frank Hammond would claim that Paul was a liar when he stated in scripture that God told Paul that His grace was sufficient for Paul to deal with his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:6-9). Instead, Hammond’s doctrine would have us believe that Paul was simply demonized and that confessing his sins and being rid of the root of bitterness due to issues from his childhood that left all these doors open was the solution, nothing about this “for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” doctrine that does not fit into Hammond’s view of victorious abundant Christian living!
Another thing: it is amazing how legalistic and guilt inducing the Hammond method is. It would have you believing that your mind, spiritual makeup, etc. contains this innumerable vortex of labyrinths and doors. The labyrinths are these hidden chambers that can contain a demon or three that must be entered into – with the guide of the Holy Spirit gift of discernment and aided by detailed confessions in counseling sessions – to draw the demons out. The doors are sinful thoughts and actions by which a born again Blood of Jesus Christ washed Holy Spirit indwelt believer can allow a demon or demons in at any time. So, the pruning and chastening process, the battles and temptations with sin, and the need to overcome that the Bible states that all Christians must endure are attributed to some sin (often in the past) that a Christian failed to confess, someone that the Christian failed to forgive, some “spiritual door” that is allowing demons in that needs to be closed, etc.
And this is probably the worst practical part of it. The most powerful weapon that Christians have in overcoming temptation and battling the flesh is prayer. Well, Hammond explicitly tells us not to use it, and does so in the very opening pages of Pigs In The Parlor. Hammond states that spiritual warfare and deliverance is not prayer, that praying for God to help us and to overcome in our lives issues that Hammond alleges is due to demons is at best redundant and possibly ineffective. Hammond counsels us that when we pray for things, it is our asking God to grant us something that we do not have already. But, according to Hammond, as authority over evil spirits is something that we have already through Jesus Christ, why pray regarding these matters? Praying when confronted with these issues is a way of ignoring, rejecting, even DENYING the power and authority that Jesus Christ has given you! So … when dealing with what Hammond asserts is demonic activity – which again is either discerned with the appropriate Holy Spirit gifts, or discerned through other means by those lacking this gift using methods that Hammond provides – BY ALL MEANS DO NOT PRAY! (Unless, that is, a prayer for forgiveness of sin, a prayer to forgive someone that you are holding a grudge against, a prayer to close a spiritual door that allowed the demon in, etc.) Instead, immediately go into spiritual warfare, start binding, loosing, rebuking, and casting out! (By the way, the actual meaning of “binding and loosing” given in the Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18 that spiritual deliverance ministers often refer to should be investigated … a great many Bible interpreters state that when looking at the context of the passages in which those verses appear, they refer to doctrines, particularly the authority of apostles to establish doctrines for the church, spiritual warfare and deliverance techniques.)
This I recall, for I was personally practicing it myself for several years. I related in My Thorn In The Flesh how my mind is frequently assaulted by many manners of evil thoughts. I presumed this to be the work of evil spirits within and without myself, and for years applied the Hammond doctrines. I now realize that these are merely things that I have allowed to enter into my MIND as a result of all of the “entertainment” (movies, TV, music, novels etc.) in my life. Also, for years I refused to do precisely what I needed to about the problem – take it before throne of grace and cast it there in prayer – because these teachings told me not to! After all, praying, according to these doctrines, was weak, defeated Christian living … stuff for babies. (Well, maybe it is according to Matthew 18:3!) If I was to be a bold, strong, powerful spiritual warrior, a world changer on the front lines making a difference for Jesus Christ, I needed to just step out on faith and take dominion and authority over these evil spirits!
And so I did. It reached the point where it was practically automatic. Evil thought enters mind. Say “demon in the Name and by the power and Blood of Jesus Christ I bind and rebuke you and command me to leave and never return.” And so on, so on, so on … if you want to talk about “vain repetitions” then boy I was doing it. Also, so long as I was “binding, rebuking, and casting out” I had no need to humble myself, feel contrition or repentance, and beg God for help. Why? I was a spirit warrior world changer taking dominion, a spiritual He – man!
Now upon trying to discover and build “Christianity 101” these past months, I decided that just maybe I wasn’t as spiritually strong or powerful as I thought. So, I would leave the taking authority warfare to the stronger brothers and sisters, and I would resort to the milk of the weak babes, which was to PRAY. So, I battled and stopped the very many months – years in fact – of automatic “I rebuke and bind you in the …” conditioning … I really had gotten to the point where I did it on autopilot without thinking! … I would refrain myself from the “self – spiritual warfare and deliverance” and simply began to tell God that I was sorry for having or entertaining those evil thoughts and asked Him to forgive me and to shield me from those thoughts in the future. Now even before I received the response that I detailed in My Thorn In The Flesh, the results were much better … cleansing, strengthening, love, joy and PEACE where the “warfare” left me with guilt and conflict.
Now is this to say that I have never benefitted from spiritual warfare and deliverance? No. That is the main reason why I have not removed the materials from the site … my testimony is my testimony and it stands. However, though my testimony is part of my faith, it is the substance or entirety of my faith. My faith is Biblical, not experiental, and it is based on God, not on what happens to me. Had I never existed, God would still exist and His Word would still be true. So, when the time is right, I pray that God will lead me to doctrines on spiritual warfare and deliverance that are faithful to His Word and thereby honor and glorify Him
This entry was posted on May 15, 2009 at 11:36 am and is filed under Christianity. Tagged: auditing, Calvinism, charismatic, christian living, Colossians 3:10, Constantine, demons, derek prince, discipleship, doctrine, Dr. Phil, dying to self, emotional illness, Ephesians 4:24, eusebius, exorcism, Frank Hammond, Frank Peretti, John Eckhart, mental illness, New Age, occult, official theology, Oprah Winfrey, pentecostal, pentecostalism, Pigs In The Parlor, prayer, psychoanalysis, Rebecca Brown, reformed, Roman Catholicism, Romans 7, Scientology, spiritual deliverance, spiritual warfare, Talmud, total depravity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.