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No takers

13 July 2011

Last week I challenged people to join a discussion on “spiritual warfare” — a term that different groups of Christians seem to use with wildly different meanings. I was prompted to so so by a comment made on a blog that implied that South African churches were more concerned about spiritual warfare than Canadians ones.

I suggested a sutable forum for such a discussion might be the Thandanani mailing list, which is for Christians of different backgrounds and traditions to learn more about their similarities and differences in an atmosphere of love and respect (Thandanani is Zulu for “Love one another”).

But there were no takers.

No one seems interested in exploring the differences between Canadian and South African Christians (and others) in their understanding of and attitudes towards spiritual warfare. No one seems interested in learning whether others use the term in the same way as themselves, or with a completely different meaning.

Oh well, perhaps this blog is like the children playing in the marketplace, calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept (Luke 7:32).

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 13 July 2011 3:16 am

    Perhaps a derivative topic may get more takers:
    What are you prepared to take up spiritual arms AGAINST at this time in the 21st century? Topics excluding sex, abortion, and homosexuality to get preference.

  2. 13 July 2011 3:35 am

    Maybe its because some people are so ‘hot’ on ‘Spiritual Warfare’ that those who don’t naturally use it as a phrase avoid it like the plague because of those who are so hot on the phrase.

    Words like ‘prayer’, ‘worship’ and a few other jargon words have the same effect.

    I have been some places where the ‘Spiritual Warriors’ are so loud you need ear defenders to ensure you don’t damage your hearing… of course you could then go for prayer for healing due to the damage to your hearing. On a number of occasions I have wished I had a sound level meter with me to prove my point (as a professional sound mixer) but now I have it all the time… it’s built into my iPhone.

    I remember one person who was hot on this subject came to stay with us and Sue and I felt his attitude towards God was that He was a deaf old man sitting on the roof of our house three stories up and so had to shout loud enough to be heard. This same person couldn’t differentiate between conjuring (slight of hand) and magic (black or otherwise).

    Having a broadly Mennonite or Quaker attitude towards war even the word ‘warfare’ in ‘spiritual warfare’ makes me cringe. But then ‘spirituality’ also has a cringe factor too… preferring the Hebraic integrated approach to God contrasted with the Hellenic separated.

  3. 13 July 2011 9:42 am

    Being neither Canadian nor South African I can’t comment from the inside, nor am I overly familiar with how it plays out in either country, but I have long though we need a more ‘missional’ approach to intercessory prayer. Most who like to speak of “spiritual warfare” have a tendency to confuse demonic attack with culture shock and, consequently, demonize all that is foreign to them. Those of a more cosmopolitan leaning therefore tend to avoid the whole subject like the plague. But that only conceeds the ground to extremists. What we need is an approach that is both spiritually attuned and contextually sensitive.

    • 13 July 2011 1:12 pm

      The Canada-South Africa comparison is just one example. How about what it means in Australia? You and Miss Eagle come from different denominations/traditions there — does the term mean the same thing to you both, or are there different interpretations?

      On your blog you mentioned the “virally-minded Missionals, the macho-charismatic Calvinists, the anarcho-hippie Anabaptists and the pomo-philosophising Emergents” – do they all interpret it in the same way? What do they mean when they use the term, or do they, like Richard, above, avoid it?

  4. arthur permalink
    13 July 2011 11:02 pm

    Steve- I think I was turned off by your dismissive post. Perhaps I was wrong to write it off. Also, I don’t find blogs to be good places of conversations as they are generally exchanges of statement and questions – no opportunity to real-time respond, read body language, see one another. Would be glad to discuss subtopics like:
    do you believe there is an unseen realm? What is your understanding of this?
    how do you interpret the Bible’s portrayal of heavenly beings – specifically angels and demons)?
    what is your understanding of our human engagement in this unseen realm – both from Biblical and personal perspectives?

    I guess I also wonder if there is any value in trading perspectives? Are you open to learning/changing your understanding?

    • 14 July 2011 8:27 am


      When you describe my post as “dismissive”, I think we have a communication problem right there. It certainly wasn’t intended to be dismissive — just the opposite, in fact. It was intended to be provocative, and to provoke discussion on the topic, rather than dismissing it as something of no importance. I’m very sorry if it came across that way.

      I do agree with you, though, that blogs are not the best medium for such a discussion. Blogs are good for floating an idea and getting a response. For a real exchange of ideas mailing lists are better, which is why I suggested one as a suitable forum for such discussions.

      When you say “I also wonder if there is any value in trading perspectives?” that, to me, is being dismissive. Much conflict is caused by people disagreeing with the views of others when they don’t know the views of those others at all, but only a caricature that they have either set up themselves or uncritically accepted from others. Christians and neopagans, for example, regularly attack caricatures of each other’s views. And we have the “new atheists” who caricature “religion” and then attack their own caricatures (and probably vice versa). So I think there is a great deal of value in trading perspectives.

      I’d really like to discuss with you what you mean by “unseen realm”, with no preconditions about being willing to change your understanding. I’d just like to know what you think. And as a person who has lived and worked on two different continents, I think your perspective could be interesting and useful to a lot of people.

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