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I Am Not Afraid: Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare

by Robert H. Bennett

—Reviewed by Ezekiel O. Ajani, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

 Concordia Printing House, 3558 S. Jefferson Ave, St. Louis, MO 63118, 2013, 214 pages, $24.98.

 

Reviewed by Ezekiel O. Ajani, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

Demon possession and its panacea of exorcism is a debatable topic, even among Christians. In 1973, William Friedkin directed the movie titled “The Exorcist.” The film, which was based on the novel by William Peter Blatty, was a true story which occurred in 1949. For many, the film which portrayed spiritual warfare was simply a fantastic myth.

For Robert Bennett, the issue of demonic possession and exorcism in not treated as a myth or fable—it is an ongoing reality. In this epic study, Bennett brings to the consciousness of the reader the actuality of spiritual warfare based on the experiences of the Malagasy Lutheran Church. He notes that power encounters are constant realities in the clash which occurs between the gospel and traditional religions.

The book of eleven chapters is divided into two major parts. The first part is a careful documentation of the stories of over sixty Malagasy people who are recent converts in the Lutheran Church. Bennett narrates their experiences of demonic possession prior to their coming to Christ, their conversion, and their present lives of peace and freedom from that demonic possession. Here, we see a Christian response by the Malagasy Lutheran Church to the religio-cultural and social malady of her context.

The second part of the book is a theoretical grounding from the Bible and church history on demonic possession and exorcism. The author validates the reality of spiritual warfare by alluding to related encounters between Jesus and the demoniacs in the Gospels. Jesus practiced exorcism as he cast out demons by the power of God. Demon possessions have been and will continue; however, Satan is wounded and eschatologically defeated. In historic Lutheranism, the affirmation of the reality of Satan, demons, and diabolical possessions have remained part of the group’s confessional teaching and praxis.

Bennett is to be commended for this work, which provides a platform (the Lutheran Church of Madagascar) through which the Church can learn about the realities of the existence of Satan and Jesus’ victory over him, particularly in light of the enlightenment’s denial of spiritual forces. Another helpful insight from the book is that when churches provide a relevant response to its contextual challenges, tremendous growth occurs, as in the case of the Malagasy Lutheran Church. In a future reprint, the second part of the book could be expanded to accommodate ecumenical voices in support of the arguments of the book, other than just the Lutheran voices.

Check these titles:
Murphy, Edward F. 2003. The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare. Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson.

Olukoya, D.K., 2011. Power over Tropical Demons. Lagos: Battle Cry Christian Ministries.

Wagner, C. Peter, ed. 1991. Territorial Spirits: Insights on Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare from Nineteen Christian Leaders. England: Sovereign World Limited.

EMQ, Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 249-250. Copyright  © 2014 Billy Graham Center.  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.

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