Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Book Review (#14 of 2008)

I Give You Authority: Practicing the Authority Jesus Gave Us by Charles H. Kraft.

Kraft is a former missionary to Africa who, like I did, found out that he was ill-prepared on the mission field for all the demonic activity around him. He hadn't been taught much about demonic influences in peoples' lives, including fellow Christians. His church hadn't spent much time looking at instances in the Gospels where Jesus' disciples cast out demons, and certainly had never practiced it.

Kraft later returned to school, studied Scripture, got a better understanding of who he was in Christ, and started a healing/deliverance ministry. He's written a lot of books on issues ranging from cultural anthropology to seeking deep emotional/spiritual healing. This book is about understanding that the stuff we see in the New Testament is still happening today, right here in America, and most Christians just don't want to think about the supernatural.

The book is filled with stories of deliverance of churches, people, entire neighborhoods from demonic strongholds and powerful influences. It explains our role as Christ-followers and how to better engage in critical spiritual warfare. It encourages pastors to pray over their churches, pray for every seat in the congregration, every musical instrument played; engage in warfare to free your flocks from the influences that are crippling the church.

The personal challenge to me was reaffirming my role as a husband/father is to be the spiritual leader of our household, that means I get to be the point man for spiritual attacks. I need to take seriously the things that I allow into our lives, and always seek protection from satanic influences. I need to be on the offensive against sin in our lives and cancel any rights that demons might try to claim to our lives.

I wish I'd had this book before serving in an animistic Muslim-context country. Westerners, and often the Gospel had never been to the places I was walking, and it's clearly been satan's ground for thousands of years. We saw lots of demon-influenced people, animistic sacrifices and rituals that only served to worship satan. Southern Baptists don't talk much about going on the offensive against these things, and little training is given to IMB missionaries on how to deal with it. Some were concerned that we'd end up like the seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19), but Kraft explains that Jesus gave his followers authority that the sons of Sceva never had. Often, missionaries are just told "it's out there, but controversial, so learn to deal with it on your own."

The secular world seems very interested in the supernatural and demonic. There are a lot of shows on different networks about ghost hunting, and documentaries of people staying in haunted houses, etc. The Church as a whole doesn't seem to want to say much about this, or wants to dismiss these activities as nothing, and this has always bothered me. This book doesn't mention the secular fascination, but reading it will give you a different perspective on these shows and the supernatural activity they're seeing.

I give this book 4 stars out of 5, and would love to start a group study on it.

1 comment:

Keith Walters said...

I will have to check this book out. I read Christianity in Culture by Kraft last year and did not enjoy the book very much when I was reading it. However, in the months and weeks that followed I continually returned to the book and realized how much I learned because he is a phenomenal anthropologist/missiologist. Looking back that book has been very helpful to me.

I agree that we do not deal with this very much, if at all in our churches. I have been in simmilar contexts and understand your frustration with the lack of preparation in this area. I have a pretty busy reading list for the summer but I will try to check it out sometime soon. You should post some quotes from the book that were helpful to you.