From the Editor: Confronting Evil
As our writers for the main theme of this issue indicate, matters related to confronting evil, or “spiritual warfare,” are now experiencing an increase in interest. Richard Kyle documents the modern resurgence of occult practice in western culture, helping us to note also the impact of postmodernism upon the forms the occult takes. Our authors also demonstrate that these issues, and even many of the images employed, have been with the Christian church for two millennia and with the Jewish faith before that. Willard Swartley guides us through the canon on the theme of conflict with evil opposition, and concludes with concerns for the present situation. Gerald Ediger explores the question of historical precedent in regard to “strategic-level spiritual warfare,” the belief that there is a territorial dimension to the spiritual world.
The question of worldview is perhaps as critical in connection with this issue as with any. Paul Hiebert, who has been thinking, studying, and writing on this question for at least twenty years, provides us a concise introduction to the varieties and significance of worldview options. Pierre Gilbert challenges the Scriptural basis of the Third Wave worldview, arguing largely from the Bible’s creation and wisdom sections. Sympathetic to and largely from within a Third Wave understanding, Randy Friesen offers “equipping principles” for the spiritual battle, and considers what an Anabaptist perspective has to contribute. David Faber and Lynn Jost (Books I Recommend) provide helpful annotations for those interested in further study in this area.
C. S. Lewis once warned against two errors in regard to the demonic: (1) to disbelieve in the existence of demons, and (2) to have an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. In regard to the latter, I am reminded of a former classmate, very much exercised at the lack of concern given to evil forces, who announced that anyone who would not accept the reality of demons could “just go to hell!” Perhaps this can serve as a caution in the midst of our differing perspectives to avoid confusing our compatriots with the enemy.
On a different theme, Shirley Isaac challenges theologian Donald Bloesch’s arguments against female and inclusive God-language. Critiquing the biblical basis of the trinitarianism which undergirds his position, she encourages a more Scriptural appreciation of the Trinity.
In Ministry Compass, Rick Bartlett offers an adaptation of John Westerhoff’s spiritual development model for application to unchurched youth. Book reviews on the usual variety of subjects round out the issue.