Monday, April 29, 2013

book review--Spiritual Warfare by Dean Sherman

this author fails at his own standard

Early in the book, Sherman makes this statement, "When it comes to spiritual warfare, if it’s not in the Bible, be careful." (Kindle Location 335). I think this is a pretty wise statement. Sadly, I do not think that he abided by it very much throughout the rest of the book. Here are some examples...

In the first pages, he claims to have gotten this message from God, "Praise is the key to breaking down the forces of darkness which have held this city since the beginning of time. These forces have never been challenged." (Kindle Locations 84-85) But he records no attempts to verify whether the Bible teaches this or not. In fact, if these were the exact words he received, he should have been immediately warned, because this city in Papua New Guinea had obviously not existed from the beginning of time, so "the forces of darknes" could not have had hold of it for that long.

He writes this about Satan, "He is a thief who wants to rob us of all he can. He wants to steal our health and another year of life. He wants to steal our productivity, our relationships, our joy, our peace, and our faith." (Kindle Locations 566-568), and "His full intention is to destroy our minds, our bodies, our character, our reputations, and our relationships." (Kindle Location 592). While the Bible does describe Satan as a thief, are these the things he is most concerned about stealing? Are there not sinful peple who would claim that they have productive lives, good relationships, happiness, peace, and faith in something? Would they not say that they have sound bodies and minds, good reputations and character? On the other hand, are they not Christians who are maybe not so healthy in mind or body, have bad reputations because of their faith, have lost relationships because they are more loyal to God rather than to others? If Satan is a thief, perhaps he has bigger game.

He claims that Satan has a kingdom, and that this kingdom has three kingpins. "These three are pride, unbelief, and fear. Everything that Satan does, his entire kingdom and his nature, emanate from pride, unbelief, and fear." (Kindle Locations 862-863) He gives no biblical passage in support of this assertation.

He has a strange take on the passage "our battle is not against flesh and blood". "It has never been, and never will be, a Christian activity to write books and articles or make speeches against other Christians. We get into a savage theological controversies that neither side will every win." (Kindle Locations 1161-1162) "We should fight issues in society, but not people. Fighting people never advances the Kingdom of God, no matter how right the issues." (Kindle Locations 1193-1194) "Even if we have the right doctrine, if we damage people in defense of it, we give the enemy entrance. It’s okay to fight issues, but not the people behind the issues. We can never win if we battle other human beings." (Kindle Locations 1171-1173). If I were to take his interpretation of this seriously, then Jesus was wrong to speak against the Pharisees and other who were misleading the people, Peter was wrong to speak against Ananias and Sapphira, Paul was wrong to say that those are accursed who were teaching the churches another gospel, and Jesus was again wrong in Revelation to speak against the churches. And at various times in church history, when there were those like the Gnostics who tried to bring in heresy, there were those like Irenaeus and Athanasius who spoke against them, exposed their teachings, and would not compromise. It seems that Sherman is saying that they were wrong to have done this, that they should simply have dealt with ideas but not named names and stood against the ones spreading these heresies. I find that ridiculous.

He makes a rather bizarre statement concerning the Pharisees, "It may be hard to swallow, but the Pharisees were right. They understood the Scriptures completely."(Kindle Locations 1173-1174). Yet it was Jesus Himself who got onto them about not understanding the Scriptures, saying that while the search them to find eternal life, they would not believe and come to Him. If they did not come to Him, but rather worked to crucify Him, then they obviously did not undstand the Scriptures completely.

"However, it is essential that we become well acquainted with the invisible realm." (Kindle Location 1285). But if it is so essential, why does the Bible tell us so very little about it? We get glimpses, but hardly much more than that. "More time and energy need to be invested in the unseen world." (Kindle Location 1296). If that is so, then were does the Bible say that?

"The greatest manual for spiritual warfare is the Old Testament. The battles that were fought then in the earthly realm are exactly the same as those we now fight in the unseen world." (Kindle Locations 1615-1616) He seems to simply try to make the OT battles into some kinds of analogies for current spiritual warfare. Where does the Bible tell us to view those battles in that way?

Sherman says this at one point, "The kingdom of darkness is as well-oiled as the best human military machine. Satan has particular battle plans for each geographic area and for each group of people." (Kindle Locations 1710-1711) Since he gives no real scriptural support for this assertion, only out-of-context verses, we can only assume that his spiritual spies have gained copies of these plans, or maybe his spiritual communications specialists have cracked the codes Satan's army is using.

"In light of our Great Commission to “Go into all the world,” praying into all the world should be our first response and our first commitment to win the world to Christ." (Kindle Locations 1741-1743). If that were so, then why did not Christ say that, instead of actually telling us to go?

He makes some unwarranted leaps. "If there are princes of Persia and Greece, there are also princes of Scotland, Hawaii, London, Dallas, and even North Dallas." (Kindle Locations 1755-1756) He references Daniel 10 for the princes of Persia and Greece, and that's all well and good. But why should we then conclude that every country, city, or even suburb has it's resident demonic prince? Outside of Daniel 10, the Bible doesn't seem to elaborate on this subject further, leaving one to conclude it's hardly a major biblical teaching. The New Testament writings are silent on this subject, no epistle writer tells the churches to be concerned about demonic princes over their city, so I can only conclude that Sherman is stressing something that isn't really all that important.

"Many activities of the enemy are functions that intersect in the heavenlies. If we ask the Holy Spirit, He will reveal how Satan is working in any given place or situation." (Kindle Locations 1882-1883). He doesn't say where the Bible says that the Holy Spirit will tell us this if we ask.

There are some questionable speculations. Concerning the fall of man, "Adam and Eve had something of tremendous value to Satan. Satan wanted the authority God had given to man." (Kindle Location 2056) He never gives any scriptural support for this claim that Satan wanted man's authority.

Sherman comes close to blasphemy in this, "God promised to bruise Satan’s head—not directly, but through the seed of the woman. The seed of Satan would in turn bruise mankind’s heel. This established the grounds for spiritual warfare. Satan is working through mankind to do his business on the planet. And God is working through mankind to defeat the enemy. This is what has been happening throughout history...The seed of the woman is three things: It is, first of all, all who are born from Eve—the human race. Satan’s attack on the seed of the woman is seen primarily in his attack on all human children." (Kindle Locations 2068-2076) This couldn't be more wrong. The "seed of the woman" mentioned in Genesis 3 is a prophesy referring to Christ, not mankind as a whole. Shame of Sherman for this awful teaching!!

"We need a revelation of what happens among demonic powers when we speak the precious and powerful name of Jesus. It’s not a magic word. We must be wholly submitted to Jesus to use it." (Kindle Locations 2306-2307) This is the sort of thing that has led to that awful practice on the part of the obvious false teachers, who get up and think that simply repeating a phrase like " Jesus' name!!" is some kind of spark for things to happen. But there are several passages in the New Testament, gospels and epistles, where demons spoke Jesus' name.

Sherman gives a kind of example prayer of intercessor spiritual warfare, "Father, we come before you in the name of Jesus Christ and ask you to bring conviction upon this person and to lead him to repentance in his life. Satan, we come against you in the name of Jesus Christ and we cut off your influence in the life of this person in the areas of…" (Kindle Locations 2982-2984) But the Bible is rather silent about the need to "come against" Satan like this prayer suggests; in fact, in the short book of Jude, where it says that Michael the archangel and Satan disputed over the body of Moses, it says that not even the archangel spoke like that to Satan, but simply said "The Lord rebuke you". In this, it seems that Jude warns against such things.

Here is another unsupported claim. "God has established certain irrevocable principles in the universe. He will move in the affairs of mankind according to the degree and how specifically we pray." (Kindle Locations 3021-3022) There doesn't seem to be any biblical support for what he is saying here; indeed, this god would be a rather pathetic being, as even Sherman himself shows, "God is crying out to His people: “I want to move. I want to bless. I want to save. I want to protect, provide, and stop injustice. Why won’t you intercede?” (Kindle Locations 3024-3025) Yeah, poor god, stuck on the sidelines, unable to play until we let him in the game.

He says this, concerning the conquest of Jericho in the book of Judges, "Through obedience and the very presence of the people of God, Israel drove back the powers of darkness in the unseen realm. God showed them the importance of going exactly where He wanted them to go, and doing exactly what He wanted them to do. Before the walls of Jericho fell, there was victory in the spiritual realm."(Kindle Locations 3228-3231) He gives no biblical support for this claim, and it isn't anywhere in the account in Judges.

This review is rather long, but it actually contains only a few of the many questionable, unscriptural things taught in this book.

I cannot recommend this book at all. Sherman fails at keeping his own standard. His book is a theological train-wreck, unworthy of being looked to for solid bibilcal teaching. It is to YWAM's shame that they published this book, and telling their DTS students to read it and practice the unbiblical things taught in it.

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