Gaining Perspective on Territorial Spirits

A. Scott Moreau 22 Aug 2000


In North American Christian circles, the novels of Frank Peretti did not so much chart a new direction in thinking as they described the path many were already walking. Over the past several years as I have spoken to various groups on spiritual warfare, I have taken informal polls. In every group I have polled, at least one-half of the people have read one or more of Frank Peretti’s novels This Present Darkness, Piercing the Darkness, The Prophet, The Oath and The Visitation. (1) His works vividly portray angels and demons in fierce battles over schools, towns, and whole territories. His best-selling depictions captured the imaginations of many, selling well in both Christian and secular markets.

This follows the North America trend of growing cultural fascination with spirit beings, including angels. Attraction to the demonic among our youth was popularized with the rise of the dungeons and dragons type of fantasy games, now in computer game format, as well as in movies which ranged from comedy (Ghost Busters) to horror (The Haunting). The fascination has not been limited to the demonic; angels (and the afterlife) have also been the subject of movies, television specials and regular network series. Whole sections of secular bookstores have been given over to new titles related to the spirit realm. Web pages advertise psychic angel contacting services (an interesting combination of technology and spiritism which echos the rise of materialistic magic portrayed by C. S. Lewis in 1961 (2)) and angel paraphernalia is being widely sold as good luck charms and protective icons.

Parallel to this development in our culture is the development in Christian and especially mission circles of a fascination with territorial spirits. C. Peter Wagner even goes so far as to say that in engaging territorial spirits as part of our ministry of setting people free to respond to the gospel we have introduced a “spiritual technology” which will bring the greatest power boost in the mission of the church since William Carey’s started the Protestant missions movement at the end of the 18th century. (3) Wagner is not alone in advocating strategic level spiritual warfare prayer against territorial spirits as the single most important strategy we can utilize in reaching the unreached, (4) though he is the most commonly cited authority on the topic.

Theological Orientation

In a nutshell, what Wagner and others are calling “strategic-level spiritual warfare” is praying against these territorial spirits, seeking to “map” their strategies over given locations by discerning their names and what they use to keep people in bondage and then to bind them in turn so that evangelism may go unhindered. The idea of “spiritual mapping” is one in which people research an area and try to identify the spirit(s) who are in charge over it so that “smart-bomb” praying may loosen the hold of territorial spirits over the people in a territory who may then come to Christ more freely. (5)

In building a theological foundation, they argue that Satan is not omnipotent or omniscient, which are attributes of God alone. Thus, Satan can only wield his power by delegating it to spirit helpers who work out his schemes in local contexts. (6) These spirit helpers are also limited, and need help in turn. The Bible gives no information as to how many layers this may extend. These spirit helpers must be organized in some fashion, or else chaos would dominate Satan’s efforts to rule the world. (7)

Advocates also note that Paul was not unaware of Satan’s schemes–he knew them in order to combat them (2 Cor. 2:11). Further, they remind us that Jesus had to bind the strong man before He could plunder the strongman’s house. Wagner interprets: “The ‘house’ is the territory controlled by Satan, or his delegated spirits, and that territory cannot be taken unless he is bound. But once the territorial spirits are bound, the kingdom of God can flow into the territory and ‘plunder the strong man’s goods,’ as it were.” (8)

Biblical examples of the types of demonic attachment are reportedly seen in people (through demonization), animals (e.g., the pigs in Mark 5:11-13), and idols (1 Cor. 10:20). There are several passages which appear to relate demons to territories. In the OT, the concept of gods of the nations exercising power in specific geographic localities, such as the gods of thehigh places (some 63 times in the NIV, including Num. 26:30; Deut. 33:29; 1 Kings 3:2; 2 Kings 21:3; 2 Chron. 11:15; Ps. 78:58; Isa. 15:2; Jer. 7:31; Ezek. 6:6; Hos. 10:8; Amos 7:9); the ‘gods’ of the hills vs ‘gods’ of the plains (1 Kings 20:23); the idea that gods could be established in new locations (2 Kings 17:29-31), and the linking in Deut 32:17 of all false gods to demons. The most commonly cited example is Daniel 10-11:1, in which the princes of Persia and Greece appear to be demons in charge of the respective geopolitical units. (9) We see other possible examples in the LXX of Deut. 32:8, which states that the nations set according to the number of angels of God. Finally, we note that another example given is the demons begging Jesus not to send them out of an area (Mark 5:10).

More recently, the existence of territorial spirits as defined by the spiritual warfare movement has been strongly challenged. Perhaps the most thorough and irenic critique is provided by Chuck Lowe, who concludes:

The evidence cited for SLSW is unconvincing. Scripture provides no support, animism is an unreliable guide, and the ‘case study’ evidence is anecdotal rather than verified. If arguments were counted rather than weighed, the point might be carried. But the evidence simply does not pass scrutiny. The absence of proof makes it easy to devise exciting hypotheses, but considerably harder to develop convincing ones.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
In the end, it is likely that tutelary spirits exist, and that they are not territorial (at least they are not in Scripture, or, for the most part, in animism). Probably some are angelic, and others demonic. Due to spotty and inconsistent evidence, it is not possible to determine how their respective jurisdictions are differentiated. (10)

The Core Ideas and Strategies

A whole new vocabulary has been coined to distinguish strategies, characters, practices, and issues related to territorial spirits. Before evaluating such practices associated with territorial spirits, we need to explain them. Wherever possible in the discussion below, we use definitions given by those advocating SLSW and engaging territorial spirits.

Identificational Repentance: In its most basic form, this involves corporate repentance for corporate sins. In the case of sins committed by people now dead against people now dead (e.g., the slave trade), living representatives of the corporate sinners repent for the sin committed to representatives of those sinned against. Four steps are involved: 1) Identify the national sin; 2) Confess the sin corporately and ask God for forgiveness; 3) Apply Christ’s blood; and 4) Walk in obedience and repair the damage (this step may involve changing laws or making suitable payments to effect restitution). (11)

Reconciliation Walk: Originated by Lynn Green of YWAM, the Reconciliation Walk was designed to incorporate the ideas of identificational repentance and prayer journeys (see below). Envisioning thousands of Christians tracing the path of the Crusades and repenting on behalf of the original Crusaders to Muslim populations,

The aim of the Walk is to bring Christians face to face with Muslims and Jews with a simple message of regret and confession. It is important that the Walk is done in an attitude of reconciliation, without a trace of the arrogant spirit that characterised the Crusades. We must go to pray for the lands crossed by the Crusaders. (12)

Levels of Spiritual Warfare: C. Peter Wagner developed an approach to spiritual warfare that involves three levels.” (13) The first is ground-level spiritual warfare, which refers to casting demons out of believers. The second is occult-level spiritual warfare, which refers to “dealing with powers of darkness that are more coordinated and organized than one or more demons who might happen to be afflicting a certain person at a certain time.” (14) The third is strategic-level spiritual warfare, which

. . . involves confrontation with the high-ranking territorial spirits which have been assigned by Satan to coordinate the activities of the kingdom of darkness over a certain area in order to keep the people’s minds blinded to the “gospel of the glory of Christ” as we read in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. (15)

Prayer Journeys: Prayer journeys are essentially field trips to practice prayer walking and, in some cases, to enable better spiritual mapping. Taken as short-term mission trips, they include short visits to strategic cities or sections of cities within a country or continent.

A prayer journey is a trip taken by believers into one of the 10/40 Window countries to pray for the lost. Team members spend extended time prayerwalking, asking God to bring the Gospel to your Unreached People Group. Prayer journeys focus on praying on-site for your unreached peoples and does not entail evangelism or mercy ministries. (16)

Spiritual Mapping. One result of this emphasis on territorial spirits is the development of a strategy for evangelism known as spiritual mapping. George Otis, who coined the phrase, notes:

Spiritual mapping … involves … superimposing our understanding of forces and events in the spiritual domain onto places and circumstances in the material world. . . .
Spiritual mapping is a means by which we can see what is beneath the surface of the material world; but it is not magic. It is subjective in that it is a skill born out of a right relationship with God and a love for His world. It is objective in that it can be verified (or discredited) by history, sociological observation and God’s Word. (17)

Harold Caballeros concisely summarizes the underlying thinking:

. . . we have learned that it is to our advantage to know who the strongman is in order to bind him and divide his spoils. Spiritual mapping helps us identify the strongman. In some cases, spiritual mapping will give us a series of characteristics that will guide us directly to the territorial prince or power. In other cases, we will find ourselves facing a natural person whom Satan is using. In still others, we will find ourselves face-to-face with a corrupt social structure. (18)

Wagner advocates on a city-wide level that we “Work with the intercessors especially gifted and called to strategic-level spiritual warfare. seeking God’s revelation of: (a) the redemptive gift(s) of the city; (b) Satan’s strongholds; (c) territorial spirits assigned to the city; (d) corporate sin; (e) God’s plan of attack and timing.” (19) Finally, some emphasize a need to discover the names of the territorial spirits as part of the spiritual mapping process, whether through historical or religious research or by revelation through prayer. (20)

Queen of Heaven: Perhaps the most recent development has been Wagner’s emphasis on confronting the Queen of Heaven. Originally manifesting and receiving worship as Diana (or Artemis) or Ephesus, he advocates that the Queen of Heaven has taken on many forms in history around the world: she is known in Japan as the Sun Goddess, in Mexico as the Virgin of Guadalupe, in Nepal as Sagarmatha and in Calcutta as Cali. (21) One of her current disguises is that of the Virgin Mary as venerated by Roman Cathoics. (22) Ultimately, according to Wagner,

. . . she is the demonic principality who is most responsible under Satan for keeping unbelievers in spiritual darkness. It could well be that more people are in Hell today because of the influence of the Queen of Heaven than because of any other spiritual influence. (23)

The Queen of Heaven is also said to be “‘the great harlot who sits on many waters’ in Revelation 17. What are the ‘waters’? ‘The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues’ (Rev. 17:15), (24) and Beelzebub (Luke 11:22) is a “high ranking principality in the order of the Queen of Heaven.” (25) Wagner’s most recent emphasis has been the Celebrate Ephesus event, an event orchestrated by revelation given to Wagner through several prayer and ministry partners. In it a variety of forms of SLSW against the Queen of Heaven were practiced over the course of several years, (26) culminating in a four hour praise and worship service in the amphitheater in Ephesus which held the demonstration for Artemis described in Acts 19. Wagner anticipated that this series of events would break this top-level territorial spirit’s stronghold on uncounted millions of people in the 10/40 Window and free them up for fruitful harvest. (27)

Approaches to Confronting Territorial Spirits

For those who assert that the concept of territorial spirits is biblical, and that we have a responsibility to work against their efforts, a spectrum of prayer approaches may be described. (28)

Confronters. The more aggressive advocates promote direct and public confrontation of the identified territorial spirits to weaken their hold on the location and enable greater evangelization. In addition to personal prayer against such spirits by specially anointed individuals, they organize spiritual mapping projects, prayer journeys, and sometimes local praise marches or rallies as means of confrontation.

Moderates. The more moderate emphasize unity of local leadership, centrality of prayer, and priority of dealing with strongholds within the church as preconditions for aggressive prayer against the strongholds.

Conservatives. Though acknowledging that there is strong scriptural evidence of territorial spirits, they maintain that we do not see in scripture or church history specific SLSW encounters of the type being described today. They advocate an approach closer to truth encounter in which the local body of Christ manifests repentance and reconciliation in a way that speaks destruction to the powers of darkness, modeled on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

Response: Points of Appreciation

Several points of appreciation for those who advocate SLSW are worthy of note. (29) First, SLSW and the emphasis on territorial spirits take Satan and the powers more seriously than traditional Western approaches. (30) If nothing else, they focus on the power of prayer rather than planning and strategy, and the strategic focuses are not built on finding new ways to generate decisions but on dealing with the demonic. This is a healthy corrective for Western missiology which tends to be too managerial in its orientation.

Second, because of the focus on the spiritual, advocates of SLSW recognize that divisiveness weakens prayer and as a result stress the unity of the church in fulfilling its mission. They seek cooperation rather than competition.

Third, there can be no doubt that SLSW advocates focus on the ultimate goal of saving the lost. Many of the proponents emphasize that the ultimate goal is not casting down spirits, but bringing the lost to Christ.

Fourth, another helpful feature is the recognition of evil spiritual dimension of culture. All cultures have elements which together work as domination systems which entrap people and keep them blinded to spiritual realities.

Fifth, one of the emphases of those engaged in this type of ministry is to discern areas in which the church needs to repent. Often this comes together with the call for a public gathering to express corporate repentance. Certainly this is a positive action which unleashes the power of God to work powerfully in a location or people, and one in which we should be delighted to participate.

Sixth, and finally, there is generally an explicit recognition that this concept/strategy is new and pioneering, rather than proven. Advocates see themselves in some respects as experimenters who are following God’s leading rather than sensationalists who simply want to make names for themselves.

Response: Points of Disagreement

First, whatever our conclusion as to whether or not spirits are assigned territories, perhaps the biggest obstacle to SLSW is that the fundamental strategy is not found biblically or in church history, at least not without some serious stretching of the accounts. (31)

Second, the emphasis on discerning and naming demons before we can have power over them is approaching a form of Christian animism (as Paul notes in Eph. 1:18, we have power over any name that can be named). Tom White points out:

The same angelic beings that tempted Israel tempt us today and even use the same tactics. There is nothing new under the sun. These demons may merely change their names and create a new ‘front of operation’ suitable to modern sophistication. And I do not believe that learning the name of a ruling Spirit (sic) is necessary to overcome its influence. Seeking to know names is a speculative and slippery matter. (32)

The requirement to find the name of territorial spirits is dangerously close to what could be called Christian magic. (33) The idea of needing the names to have power over spirits is found in magical thinking around the world. An Indian friend of mine who has long been involved in spiritual warfare on a personal and corporate level has told me that one of the most difficult problems he faces in sharing the claims of Christ with his Hindu friends has come after they see well-intentioned Christians engaging in what they believe to be simple magical practices. As they observe teams of Christians on short-term prayer walking mission trips, Hindus conclude that Christianity is no different than Hinduism in approaching. They see Christians engaged in practices that are familiar to them as magical ceremonies, and as a result feel that Christianity has nothing new to offer. In my friend’s case, this type of warfare prayer has been more damaging to the ministry than helpful!

The concept of “discerning” the names and the functions will always be subjective at best. The model Scripture provides is that demons do indeed have names or designations, but knowing those names does not appear necessary for expulsion (Acts 16:18). Additionally, Scripture urges caution in approaching the spirit realm and the extent of our authority as granted in Christ is debated in the area of territorial spirits. (34)

Third, the orientation towards prayer as smart bombs vs scud missiles borrows too heavily on what Walter Wink explored as the myth of redemptive violence that pervades human cultures. (35) Prayer was not intended to be a vehicle of violence, but a means of fellowship, growth, and strength. One danger of an attitude of “spiritual violence” is that we may become the very thing we are fighting against! White, one of the more cautious advocates, comments:

The primary activity envisioned in strategic warfare is intercession before the throne of God, not interaction with fallen principalities. We are not called to wield laser beams of biblical authority to destroy heavenly strongholds. We are called to destroy in the lives of people (Christian and non-Christian) ‘strongholds … arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God’ (2 Cor. 10:4, 5). We are called to faithfully reflect the glory of Jesus Christ through our obedience to his commands. (36)

Fourth, as important as informed prayer is, seeking information about the spirit realm as a means of overcoming them or gaining special knowledge does not appear to be portrayed as necessary (or even significant) in Scripture. Indeed, the majority of the warnings against the occult in the Bible focus on unwarranted explorations into the spiritual realms for knowledge or power.

Fifth, ultimately a focus on this strategy as the key to effective evangelization demeans the Scriptures: if this strategy is so significant, then why is it not found in the Bible? Additionally, support for the advocacy has tended to come through eisegetical reading into biblical texts the meanings that advocates of SLSW want. (37) For example, “rulers” and “authorities” (NIV) in Eph. 6:12 perhaps indicates territorial spirits, (38) but Paul’s statement is more of an ontological aside than advocacy of warfare directly against such spirits. Further, the statement comes in the context of the Christian’s daily struggle, (39) not the church’s SLSW strategy. Additionally passages such as Ephesians 3:10 cannot be used as a mandate for proclaiming the gospel to the powers (the verb is passive; the existence of the church is the issue, not the action of the church). (40)

Sixth, another possible danger is that we detach demons from people, which de-emphasizes our own participation in the rebellion against God. In concentrating on finding out the various forms of territorial demonic attachments and focusing our attention on them, we ignore the fact that all too often the enemy is us. Some explore this reality, (41) but by and large the enemy is externalized, enabling us to avoid responsibility for our sin. If the enemy is both inside (e.g., we need to repent) and outside, methodologies that ignore the inside are doomed to failure in the long run. White again has a pertinent question:

How can we know if the negative influence in a given spiritual environment originates primarily from the heavenlies downward or from the corrupt leaders hearts of men outward? Before we plunge into projects designed to weaken ‘territorial spirits’ (we hope to be agents of positive change for the populace) we must consider the possibility that the greater bondage may rest with the wickedness of human hearts. (42)

Finally, the idea of serving notice, evicting and binding spirits over territories does not have biblical warrant, (43) and there is too much emphasis is on a “bottom line” of technique and effectiveness. (44) How can we serve notice to a spirit over a territory if the people themselves continue to invite control by the way they live? Perhaps the idea that they cannot change until the power of the ruling spirit is broken has merit, but . . .

Response: Some Suggestions for Refinement

The first suggestion for refinement in this area is that we must be more cautious in the use of exaggerated claims and anecdotes as the means by which SLSW is established. We must be careful in analyzing the success stories given in the literature not to confuse coincidence with causation. (45) While there may be reports of crime rated declining over a period coinciding with a particular prayer struggle, this does not prove that it was the struggle itself that resulted in the decline. (46) For example, one often quoted example is that of the border town straddling Brazil and Uruguay in which people are responsive to the Gospel on one side of the street (in Brazil) and unresponsive on the other (in Uruguay). This is attributed to the power and influence of territorial spirits. (47) When Priest, Campbell, and Mullen tracked down the story, however, they discovered that the missionary from whom it originated did not even remember the name of the town and his impressions came from one afternoon of witnessing during a four month evangelistic trip in 1947! (48)

A second suggestion is that advocates of SLSW emphasize spiritual diagnosis over spiritual mapping, and be more cautious in their pronouncements. We must enable Christians to develop a world view that acknowledges the powers without capitulating to them or being captivated by an unhealthy interest in them. Paul’s approach was to give Satan and demons what might be called a selectively appropriate inattention. The best means for doing that is to keep our attention on God’s sovereign control, and to use His sovereignty as a lens through which we examine demonic activities. Surely this is a significant theme in Ephesians, as Paul notes Christ’s authority over any name that can be named in any age (1:21) and prays that the Ephesians would be filled with God’s power not to confront demons but to know the depths of God’s love for them (3:14-21)! Along these lines, we should find appropriate ways to stress more strongly the need for discipleship than just warfare. Additionally, we must not overlook the need to die to the powers rather than follow the desire to overcome them, as Wink notes:

One does not become free from the Powers by defeating them in a frontal attack. Rather, one dies to their control. Here also the cross is the model: we are liberated, not be striking back at what enslaves us–for even striking back reveals that we are still determined by its violent ethos–but by dying out from under its jurisdiction and command. (49)

We need to die not only to our privatized egos, but to the outer network of social beliefs also. In self-denial, the task is not a conquest of ego by ego, but ego-surrender to God’s redemptive initiative. In the social arena, the task is not one social structure conquering another social structure, but the human beings who inhabit the social structures surrendering those structures to God’s redemptive initiatives.

Finally, our goal must be to integrate the spiritual, the personal, the cultural, and the social and to stop placing all the blame on the spirits and start recognizing the human side of choice to rebel against God’s established order.

A Starting Point for Ongoing Discussion

I close with an excellent eight-point summary given by Clinton Arnold which I would consider an appropriate starting point for a Lausanne statement on engaging territorial spirits in spiritual warfare:

1. There is a hierarchy among the demons and angels in the evil spiritual domain. Some evil angels have assignments over empires, people groups, countries, regions, territories, or cities.

2. There is struggle and warfare between the angels of God and the angels of Satan in the supernatural realm that has an impact on the unfolding of events on earth.

3. Through biblical revelation, God has heightened our awareness of the angelic realm. The knowledge he has given us is for the purpose of prompting our dependence on him through prayer.

4. Although God has given us the responsibility of exercising our authority in Christ over unclean spirits that afflict individuals, there is no biblical evidence that God has given us responsibility to bind, expel, or thwart the territorial rulers.

5. Although we do not have the authority to directly engage territorial spirits, we certainly have the right to appeal to God to hinder and obstruct the grip of a demonic ruler over an area so that the gospel can be proclaimed and the darkness may be lifted from the eyes of the unbelieving.

6. “Spiritual mapping,” or, as I would prefer to call it, creating a “spiritual profile” of people in a city or country, is a useful way to help the people of God pray more specifically. It is also beneficial for informing the teaching and discipling of new believers.

7. “Identificational repentance” is an appropriate way of leading the people of God in dealing with issues of corporate sin. It does not, however, enable Christians to “remit” the sins of the nonbelieving population of a city, remove the curse of God’s judgment on them, or result in the weakening of the grip of the territorial spirits over the unbelieving population.

8. Christians do not need to feel a responsibility or a call to engage in a direct confrontation with the principalities and powers over a city, region, or a country We appeal directly to God, who will direct his angels to fight the battles against the high-ranking powers. (50)

Appendix A:

New Testament Vocabulary for Spirits

9Acts 10:8; Rom. 8:38-39; 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Col. 1:16; 2:10, 15
Dominions, Thrones, Names4Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16; 2 Pet. 2:10; Jude 1:8
Princes3John 12:31; 1 Cor. 2:8; Eph. 2:2
Lords, Gods31 Cor. 8:5; 2 Cor. 4:4; Gal. 4:8
Angels10?Mat. 25:41; Rom. 8:38?; 1 Cor. 4:9?; 6:3?; 2 Cor. 12:7; Col. 2:18; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6; Rev. 9:11; 12:7
Demon1Matt. 8:31
Demon60Matt (10), Mark (12), Luke (22), John (6), Acts (1), Paul (5), Jas (1), Rev. (3)
Demonic1James 3:15
Spirit18Matt 8:16; Mark 9:20; Luke 9:39; 10:20; 24:37; Acts 16:18; 23:8, 9; 1 Cor. 2:12; 2 Cor. 11:4; Eph. 2:2; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 1:7?; 1 John 4:1, 2, 3, 6?
Unclean spirt21Matt. 10:1; 12:43; Mark 1:23; 26, 26; 3:11; 5:2, 8; 6:7; 7:25; 9:25; Luke 4:35; 6:18; 8:29; 9:42; 11:24; Acts 5:16; 8:7; Rev. 16:3; 18:2
Wicked spirit8Matt. 12:45; Luke 7:21; 8:2; 11:26; Acts 19:12; 13, 15, 16
Mute spirit1Mark 9:17
Deaf and mute spirit1Mark 9:25
Spirit of infirmity1Luke 13:11
Spirit of python1Acts 16:16
Unclean demonic spirit1Luke 4:33
Spirit of bondage, stupor2Rom 8:15, 11:8

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_______. Clash of Worlds. Eastbourne, England: MARC Europe, 1990.

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_______. “What Kind of Encounters Do We Need in Our Christian Witness?” Evangelical Missions Quarterly July 1991, pp. 258-265.

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Rommen, Edward and Netland, Harold, eds. Christianity and the Religions: A Biblical Theology of World Religions, pp. 166-82. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1995.

Schlier, Heinrich. Principalities and Powers in the New Testament. New York: Herder and Herder, 1961.

Sterk, Vernon J. “Territorial Spirits and Evangelization in Hostile Environments.” In Engaging the Enemy: How to Fight and Defeat Territorial Spirits, ed. C. Peter Wagner. 145-63. Ventura, California: Regal, 1991.

Steyne, Philip M. Gods of Power: A Study of the Beliefs and Practices of Animists. Houston: Touch Publications, 1989.

Van Rheenen, Gailyn. Communicating Christ in Animistic Contexts. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991.

Wagner, C. Peter. Breaking Strongholds in Your City: How to Use Spiritual Mapping to Make Your Prayers More Strategic, Effective, and Targeted. Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1993.

_______. Confronting the Powers: How the New Testament Church Experienced the Power of Strategic-level Spiritual Warfare. Ventura, CA: Regal, 1996.

_______. Confronting the Queen of Heaven. Colorado Springs, CO: Wagner Institute for Practical Ministry, 1998.

_______, ed. Engaging the Enemy: How to Fight and Defeat Territorial Spirits. Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1991.

_______, ed. “The Key to Victory is Binding the ‘Strong Man’.” Ministries Today. November-December, 1986, p. 84.

_______. “Summary: Mapping Your Community.” In Breaking Strongholds in Your City, pp. 223-32. Edited by C. Peter Wagner. Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1993.

_______. “Territorial Spirits.” In Engaging the Enemy: How to Fight and Defeat Territorial Spirits, pp. 43-50. Edited by C. Peter Wagner. Ventura, California: Regal, 1991.

_______. “Territorial Spirits and World Missions.” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 27(3) (1989): 278-88.

_______. The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit : Encountering the Power of Signs and Wonders Today Ann Arbor, Michigan: Vine Books, 1988.

_______. Warfare Prayer: How to Seek God’s Power and Protection in the Battle to Build His Kingdom. Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1992.

Wagner, C. Peter and Pennoyer, F. Douglas, eds. Wrestling with Dark Angels: Toward a Deeper Understanding of the Supernatural Forces in Spiritual Warfare. Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1990.

Warner, Timothy. “Dealing with Territorial Demons.” In Engaging the Enemy: How to Fight and Defeat Territorial Spirits, pp. 51-54. Edited by C. Peter Wagner. Ventura, California: Regal, 1991.

_______. Spiritual Warfare: Victory over the Powers of This Dark World. Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1991.

White, Thomas. The Believer’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Vine Books, 1990.

_______. Breaking Strongholds: How Spiritual Warfare Sets Captives Free. Ann Arbor: Vine Books, 1992.

Wimber, John, and Springer, Kevin. Power Evangelism. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1986.

_______. Power Healing. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1986.

Wink, Walter. Naming the Powers: The Language of Power in the New Testament. Volume 1: The Powers. Philadelphia, Pa.: Fortress Press, 1984.

_______. Unmasking the Powers: The Invisible Forces that Determine Human Existence. Philadelphia, Pa.: Fortress Press, 1986.

_______. Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Dominion Philadelphia, Pa.: Fortress Press, 1992.

Selected Web Resources

“Celebration Ephesus” in Historic Turkish Ruins. 1999. Charisma News Service: Maranatha Christian Journal. Online. <> (10 January 2000).

Hopson, Jay. Confronting the Queen of Heaven: A Missions Trip Report. 1999. End Time Prophetic Vision. Online. <> (10 January 2000).

Jones, Brad. Celebration Ephesus: A Follow-Up Report. 1999. Atoka, OK: Church Renewal, Inc. Online. <> (10 January 2000).

Knott, Michael. Spiritual Warfare Series (2): Spiritual Warfare in Relation to Possessing the Land. No Date. Cyberpastor. Online: < (10 January 2000).

Lampman, Jane. Targeting Cities with “Spiritual Mapping,” Prayer. September 23, 1999. Christian Science Monitor. Online. <> (10 January 2000).

Lowe, Chuck. Do Demons Have Zip Codes? Christianity Today July 13, 1998, p. 57. Online. <> (10 January 2000).

McMahon, T. A. The New Spiritual Warfare Strategies-Part 1. May, 1997. Bend, OR: The Berean Call. Online. <> (10 January 2000).

Millikan, Rob. Celebration Ephesus. Atoka, OK: Church Renewal, Inc., 1999. Online. <> (10 January 2000).

Moore, Art. Spiritual Mapping Gains Credibility among Leaders. Christianity Today January 12, 1998. Online. <> (10 January 2000).

Piper, John. Angels and Prayer: Daniel’s Experience and Ours. January 12, 1992. Bethlehem Baptist Church. Online. <http://www.soundof> (10 January 2000).

Rogers, Don. Territorial Spirits. April 1999. Strateia. Online. <> (10 January 2000).

Trimble, Derrick. Celebration Ephesus: 5,000 Christians Express God’s Love for Turkey. Joel News International 294 (19 October 1999) Online. <> (10 January 2000).

Trinidad, Bill. Spiritual Mapping and Warfare Prayer as Catalysts for Church Growth. No Date. The Alliance Page. Online. <> (10 January 2000).

Villanueva, Eric. Territorial Spirits and Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical Perspective. 30 June, 1994. Christian Research Institute Journal. Online. <> (10 January 2000).

Wagner, C. Peter. Position Statement on the Philosophy of Prayer for World Evangelization. No Date. AD2000 United Prayer Track. Online. <> (10 January 2000).

What is a Prayer Journey? 1998. Colorado Springs, CO: Christian Information Network, Global Harvest Ministries. Online. <> (24 January 2000).

1. Frank Peretti’s vivid portrayals of encounters with evil spiritual powers as given in his novels This Present Darkness (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1986), Piercing the Darkness Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1989), The Prophet (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1992), The Oath (Nashville, TN: Word, 1995) and The Visitation (Nashville, TN: Word, 1999) seem to be almost mandatory reading in Christian circles.

2. C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1961), p. 33.

3. C. Peter Wagner, Confronting the Powers: How the New Testament Church Experienced the Power of Strategic-level Spiritual Warfare (Ventura, CA: Regal, 1996), p. 46.

4. See, for example, George Otis, The Last of the Giants (Tarrytown, NY: Chosen Books, 1991), John Dawson, Taking Our Cities for God (Lake Mary, FL: Creation House, 1989); Cindy Jacobs, Possessing the Gates of the Enemy (Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 1991); Larry Lea, The Weapons of Your Warfare (Altamonte Springs, FL: Creation House, 1989); and the chapters in C. Peter Wagner, Breaking Strongholds in Your City (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1993).

5. The term “spiritual mapping” was popularized by George Otis and is summarized in “An Overview of Spiritual Mapping,” in Breaking Strongholds in Your City: How to Use Spiritual Mapping to Make Your Prayers More Strategic, Effective and Targeted, edited by C. Peter Wagner (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1993), pp. 29-48.

6. God “chairs” a council of angels (2 Chron. 18:18-22; Job 1-2; Ps. 89:5-8) apparently pointing to an angelic hierarchy, which Satan may duplicate. While extra biblical speculations abound, biblical evidence is scanty. Evidence used in favor of territorial spirits from the Old Testament is that there are powers in heaven which appear to correspond to kings (Isa. 24:21) or nations (Deut. 4:19; possibly Deut. 32:8 and Dan. 8:9-12) on earth, which correlates with the idea of territoriality. In the New Testament, the fact that the demons did not want to leave a particular area may be significant (Mark 5:10), as may the listings found which possibly indicate hierarchies of demonic powers (Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16). A table of New Testament terms related to spirits is provided in Appendix A.

7. Timothy Warner, relates, “Satan does indeed assign a demon or corps of demons to every geopolitical unit in the world, and . . . they are among the principalities and powers against whom we wrestle.” Spiritual Warfare: Victory over the Powers of This Dark World (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1991), p. 135.

8. C. Peter Wagner, “Territorial Spirits,” in Engaging the Enemy: How to Fight and Defeat Territorial Spirits, edited by C. Peter Wagner (Ventura, California: Regal, 1991), p. 280.

9. Though Priest, Campbell and Mullen argue quite strongly against this view; see Robert J. Priest, Thomas Campbell, and Bradford A. Mullen, “Missiological Syncretism: The New Animistic Paradigm.” In Edward Rommen, ed., Spiritual Power and Missions: Raising the Issues, (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1995), pp. 9-87.

10. Chuck Lowe, Territorial Spirits and World Evangelization? (Kent, Great Britain: OMF International, 1998), p. 144. Lowe also notes the difficulty the movement has with defining the concept of “territories”: “On closer examination it turns out that territorial demons are purportedly assigned not only to geographical regions, but also to geopolitical institutions, such as nations or states; to topographical features, such as valleys, mountains or rivers; to ecological features, such as trees, streams and rocks; or to smaller physical objects, such as houses, temples or idols.”

11. C. Peter Wagner, The Power to Heal the Past. Available online: <> January 24, 2000.

12. Reconciliation Walk Home Page. Available online: <> January 24, 2000.

13. See, for example, C. Peter Wagner, Confronting the Queen of Heaven (Colorado Springs, CO: Wagner Institute for Practical Ministry, 1998), pp. 11-13 and C. Peter Wagner, Warfare Prayer: How to Seek God’s Power and Protection in the Battle to Build His Kingdom, (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1992), pp. 16-18.

14. Wagner, Confronting the Queen of Heaven. p. 11.

15. Ibid., p. 12. For multiple examples of this type of prayer, see C. Peter Wagner, ed., Engaging the Enemy: How to Fight and Defeat Territorial Spirits, (Ventura, California: Regal Books), 1991; and C. Peter Wagner, The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit : Encountering the Power of Signs and Wonders Today (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Vine Books), 1988, pp. 94-6.

16. “What is a Prayer Journey?” Global harvest Ministries Website. URL:; accessed January 24, 2000.

17. George Otis, “An Overview of Spiritual Mapping,” pp. 32-33.

18. Harold Caballeros, “Defeating the Enemy with the Help of Spiritual Mapping,” in Breaking Strongholds in Your City, edited by C. Peter Wagner (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1993), p. 136.

19. C. Peter Wagner, “Summary: Mapping Your Community.” In Breaking Strongholds in Your City, pp. 223-32. Edited by C. Peter Wagner. Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1993.

20. “I cannot be too emphatic. In dealing with the princes and rulers of the heavenlies, they must be identified. Even the ancient Greeks know how to approach their gods (whom we now identify as ‘principalities’). They were always approached by name and title.” Dick Bernal, Storming Hell’s Brazen Gates, Isaiah 45:2: Through Militant, Violent, Prevailing Prayer! (San Jose, CA: Jubilee Christian Center, 1988), p. 57.

21. Wagner, Confronting the Queen of Heaven, p. 20.

22. Ibid., pp. 31-33.

23. Ibid., p. 17.

24. Ibid.

25. Ibid., p. 23.

26. See the story as portrayed in Wagner, Confronting the Queen of Heaven.

27. As of this writing, I have been unable to find any literature noting the effectiveness of the Celebrate Ephesus event except the reports on the personal lives of the participants and their certainty that something significant happened. These reports describing the event and its impact have been posted on the WWW. See, for example (all available online; see bibliography for other examples): <> <> <> and <>.

28. Adapted from Tom White, Breaking Strongholds: How Spiritual Warfare Sets Captives Free (Ann Arbor: Vine Books, 1992), pp. 142-4.

29. Clinton Arnold has been a mentor to my thinking more than any other person; over the years it is hard to remember where his suggestions end and my own begin. In any event, these are my own points which rely on his perceptive comments made over the years.

30. As Chuck Lowe notes, “. . . we must not forget that proponents of SLSW have performed an important service in alerting evangelicalism to its recently insipid and careless attitude toward prayer and toward demons, as well as its lethargy in the practice of spiritual warfare.” Territorial Spirits and World Evangelization?, p. 112.

31. See the critique of Wagner by A. Scott Moreau, “Broadening the Issues: Historiography, Advocacy, and Hermeneutics.” In The Holy Spirit and Mission Dynamics, ed. by C. Douglas McConnell (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1997), p. 132.

32. White, Breaking Strongholds, p. 141 (emphasis mine).

33. The strongest critique in print is found in Edward Rommen, ed., Spiritual Power and Missions: Raising the Issues (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1995). See also Scott Moreau, Religious Borrowing as a Two-Way Street: An Introduction to Animistic Tendencies in the Euro-North American Context,” in Edward Rommen and Harold Netland, eds. Christianity and the Religions: A Biblical Theology of World Religions (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1995), pp. 166-182. Wagner responded to the critique in his own book, Confronting the Powers.

34. See Arnold, 3 Crucial Questions, pp. 164-5.

35. Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Dominion (Philadelphia, Pa.: Fortress Press, 1992). See also the discussion on mythic frameworks pervading North American thinking on spiritual warfare in A. Scott Moreau, “Religious Borrowing as a Two-Way Street: An Introduction to the Animistic Tendencies in the Euro-North American Context” in Christianity and the Religions: A Biblical Theology of World Religions, ed. Edward Rommen and Harold Netland (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1995), pp. 166-83.

36. White, Breaking Strongholds, pp. 141-2.

37. See, for example, Moreau, “Broadening the Issues,” Lowe, Territorial Spirits and World Evangelization, and Clinton E. Arnold, 3 Crucial Questions about Spiritual Warfare (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997), pp. 143-199.

38. Lowe, Territorial Spirits, pp. 30-43.

39. Arnold, 3 Crucial Questions, pp. 156-7.

40. Arnold, 3 Crucial Questions, pp. 167-8.

41. For example, White, Breaking Strongholds and Wink, Engaging the Powers.

42. White, Breaking Strongholds, p. 150.

43. The warnings in Jude 8 and 2 Peter 2:10-11; see Arnold, 3 Crucial Questions, p. 165.

44. Sociologists note that emphasis on technique is a secularizing influence rather than a spiritualizing one; see discussion on this in Lowe, Territorial Spirits, pp. 147-51.

45. See Lowe, Territorial Spirits, 114-27.

46. The distortion that can happen when anecdotal proof-texting is used is discussed in Priest, Campbell, and Mullen “Missiological Syncretism,” pp. 36-41.

47. Warner, Spiritual Warfare, p. 136

48. Priest, Campbell, and Mullen “Missiological Syncretism,” p.40, see especially n. 16.

49. Wink, Engaging the Powers, p. 157.

50. Arnold, 3 Crucial Questions, pp. 197-98.