Thursday, December 12, 2013

Evaluating Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare

Is “spiritual mapping” biblical? Short answer: no.  Here is a slightly longer answer, from The Changing Face of World Missions (Sidebar 7.2, Kindle 3633):


(Adapted from Moreau 2002b, 265–69; Engelsviken 2001, 59–61)

Perhaps no area in the discussion of spiritual warfare has been more controversial than the practice of engaging territorial spirits put forth in Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare (SLSW). The following lists provide negative and positive aspects of the approach.


  1. SLSW advocates take Satan and the powers more seriously than has occurred in previous Western mission approaches. The emphasis on prayer is a good corrective to planning and strategizing along the lines of Western management-oriented missiology.
  2. SLSW advocates emphasize that divisiveness weakens prayer. They stress the unity of the church and cooperation over competition in missions.
  3. SLSW advocates focus on the ultimate goal of saving the lost.
  4. Cultures do have evil spiritual dimensions in which various elements work together to trap people and keep them blinded to spiritual realities.
  5. SLSW attempts to discern areas in which churches need to repent, expressing this in corporate ways. This is a positive help in unleashing the power of God.
  6. Advocates see themselves as experimenters, understanding that the approach of SLSW is new. They seem open to dialogue and correction.


  1. A number of SLSW distinctives are not found in the Bible.
  2. An emphasis on discerning the names of demons in order to control them approaches a form of Christian animism or magic.
  3. Prayer was not intended to be a sophisticated spiritual weapon but a means of fellowship, growth, and strength.
  4. Seeking information about the spirit realm as a means of overcoming evil powers does not appear to be necessary (or significant) in the Bible.
  5. The strategy of SLSW may ultimately demean Scripture when it is presented as a key to effective evangelization that is not found in Scripture.
  6. An emphasis on territorial spirits detaches demons from people and thus deemphasizes participation of humans in their rebellion against God.
  7. The ideas of serving notice, evicting, and binding spirits do not have biblical warrant and place too much emphasis on technique and effectiveness, especially when the people themselves continue to invite control by the way they live.


  1. SLSW advocates encourage prayer walks and also praising and worshiping God openly in areas where there has been spiritual opposition to the gospel. Can you think of instances in Scripture when this was done?
  2. Look up Joshua 6; 2 Chronicles 6: 1– 29; and Nehemiah 2: 7– 20. These are Old Testament passages. Do you think their examples apply today? Why? Why not?
  3. Who is really in charge of affairs in this world? How do you reconcile the statements found in Psalm 96: 1– 13 and 1 John 5: 19?


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