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The devil is less powerful than you think

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Demons, Lies and Shadows

Pierre Gilbert

Pierre Gilbert

Pierre Gilbert brings a refreshing perspective to the conversation on spiritual warfare. If you areexcited by this topic, I would highly recommend his book. But don’t be surprised if it challenges your assumptions and suggests ideas you’ve never considered.

Gilbert has carefully researched the writings of leaders who embrace and promote spiritual warfare. He boldly suggests that most of them have developed their convictions more from personal experiences than the Bible. He goes on to critique the worldview these writers espouse – they’re more Mesopotamian than biblical. He denounces the suggestion that a magical connection between people and the spiritual world exists.

Yet Gilbert believes in demons and recognizes their power to bring harm to people. He has some personal experience with people struggling with spiritual oppression, and expresses with hope and confidence that people can experience freedom, victory, and joy.

Gilbert believes demons are active where people are open to their activity. Worldview is critical. Cultures and peoples that encourage an openness to demons experience significant demonic activity. But while he acknowledges the reality of demons, Gilbert confidently declares, “Satan, demons, demon worshippers, Hindu gurus, Voodoo priests, and New Age psychics have no real power whatsoever. Their only powers are those of illusion, deceit, and persuasion.” Perhaps the “lies and shadows” in Gilbert’s title speaks of this conviction – that Satan and his forces operate from an empty shell of illusion. God alone has real power in the universe. But has Gilbert gone too far in minimizing the work of Satan and demons?

If spiritual warfare for you is a daily reality, you might hate this book. I found it fascinating and helpful. My spiritual warfare perspective has changed over the years. Though I still affirm the need for Christians to be equipped with spiritual authority, and trained to deal with spiritual oppression head-on, I have increasingly become concerned by Christians who seem to have turned everything into a battle.

Some Christians are giving the enemy a lot of attention. They rebuke him regularly and often. You can’t pray with them without the focus quickly turning to Satan and demons. An old saying is accurate, “If you walk around with a hammer in your hands, pretty soon everything starts looking like a nail.”

Some Christians have taken the warrior identity beyond what God intended. Emergencies abound. People need help late at night. Christians start operating from an anxiety and fear-based faith that seems to depend more on them and their prayers than God. What about trusting in God and his protection?

Gilbert turns our focus to the creation story and to the One True God. He pleads that we develop a biblical worldview and reevaluate our beliefs about spiritual warfare based on Scripture. As he starts in Genesis and moves through the New Testament, Gilbert affirms the power of the Creator God and is able to minimize the power and impact of Satan and demonic beings. But what will those involved in hands-on spiritual warfare have to say about his conclusions?

Something about Gilbert’s book rings true – he has something unique to offer in the conversation on spiritual warfare. I hope this book generates the discussion it deserves.

—Steve Klassen is executive director of the MARK Centre, a place for spiritual retreats in Abbotsford, B.C.

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