Some evangelical Christians are seriously questioning the practice of so-called “spiritual warfare,” reports Associated Press.

Long-time evangelical cult-watching organization the Christian Research Institute (CRI), founded by Walter Martin and now headed by Hank Hanegraaff, has put out a warning.

Hanegraaff warns the faithful about “spiritual warfare,” a practice popular amongst Pentecostal and Charismatic Protestants, who subscribe to the belief that Christians, can be influenced by “demons” dwelling within them.

Those that believe in this controversial doctrine insist they must literally go to war with the devil’s minions.

This religious activity has also often been called “deliverance ministry.” That is, to “deliver” someone from “evil,” by “casting out demons.”

In one lawsuit a jury awarded a plaintiff $300,000.00 for personal injuries sustained through just such an effort.

Hanegraaff has come out swinging, but not against alleged demons. The radio commentator known as the “Bible Answer Man” is fighting against what he sees as “false doctrine.”

The CRI CEO says that sin should be seen as the effect of poor judgement and that the solution is “spiritual disciplines,” implemented through a “discipleship model,” not exorcism.

Secular authors Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, within their groundbreaking book Holy Terror, describe something broader and more pervasive, they call it “holy warfare.”

Conway and Siegelman write; “holy warfare appears frequently and fundamentalist texts are filled with words and images depicting God’s armor and militant strength…creating a…reality in which the everyday world becomes a battleground between warring forces, between good and evil.”

This type of thinking may explain seemingly bizarre statements made by some prominent fundamentalist figures.

Jerry Falwell claimed that God’s judgement on America could be seen through terrorists attacking and destroying the World Trade Center. He later apologized.

Falwell also once claimed that the all-female Lilith Fair was “named for a demon.”

In similar fashion evangelical Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, said that Islam “is a very evil and wicked religion.”

But on an individual level “spiritual warfare” and/or “holy warfare” may become personally destructive.

Many fundamentalist believers are often taught to label thoughts and/or feelings contrary to their teachings, essentially as either “evil” or “demonic.”

This process may lead to a self-destructive stripping away and eventual disintegration of individual personality and autonomy.

Perhaps the best defensive weapon people possess against such potentially destructive warfare is critical thinking.

After all, according to the bible didn’t God provide humanity with that capacity? And isn’t it one of the best defensive weapons we personally possess?


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