Cards on the table: I am a demon sceptic.
It's not that I rule out their existence - 'there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio…' and all that, it's just that I more believe that if you go looking for demons you will find them. And Kris Vallotton, in his new book 'Sprit Wars' is certainly a man who goes looking for demons and generally finds them. Unsurprisingly.
What's most amazing about Kris Vallotton is not that he finds so many demons, but that he's got so much confidence in his ability to deal with them. If there are such things as demons - and if they're as potent as he'd have us believe, surely he should be giving us a lot more warning to stay clear rather than urging us to get in there are cast them out.
OK, Jesus cast out demons - or whatever was perceived as such in first century Palestine, and told his followers to do likewise. But he told his followers to a lot of less glamorous and more costly things that we quietly avoid, so why pick up on this one? Maybe the answer's in the question.
To be fair, if I'd had the shockingly painful childhood that Kris Vallotton endured I'd probably be looking for something to blame it on too, and I might even be out there trying to save others from the same kind of suffering by waging war on what I believe to be the cause. His experience as a child is truly awful, though I'm not sure about his apparent belief in curses passing down the generation is a healthy explanation for what happened.
The incident that kicks off both the book and Kris Vallotton's career as a spiritual warrior would be enough to floor anyone, and you have to admire his ability to recover and turn his life around. How much of that incident was down to demons and how much to a stressful job, the strain of comforting his wife through a difficult pregnancy, his own history and simply not looking after himself properly is a call for the reader to make.
fighting demons in yourself - finding demons in others
'Spirit Wars' is part autobiography, part self help and part call to deal with demons in your own and other people's lives. The autobiography is a little unfocused and serves to add the authority of expereince to illustrate what's being preached. The self help stuff isn't bad, with advice to think positively, look after yourself, laugh more, avoid stress and the like. Which is all to the good, though you can find it better and more helpfully explained in dedicated and more professionally supported works.
It's the dealing with demons that will attract readers to this book. Even as a sceptic, if demons are the real, discrete, destructively powerful beings Kris says they are, then this book is a case of giving little enough knowledge and still being a dangerous thing.
What is truly astounding is the author's fearless confidence in his own ability to discern, challenge and defeat the demons he identifies in others: from the demon of a long dead miner in an isolated, dark and creepy cabin (aren't they always) to people in his congregation at Bethel church.
While I admire Kris Vallotton's gift of discernment, I'm not sure about the wisdom of his accusing an elderly woman, who's just admitted struggling with thoughts of suicide, of making a contract with the devil. Firstly it seems an extremely judgemental way of explaining the root of the thought, and second it's unlikely to alter whatever situation made suicide more acceptable than resolving the situation that sparked off the thought.
He does go on to say that discerning demons is anything but certain and apparently easily skewed by personal feelings and prejudices. This makes judging demonic bondage problematic, and potentially destructive to an 'innocent' person with enough problems already.
A disturbing and recurring feature of this book is its dismissal of the help and treatment offered by medical and mental health professionals. OK, I am a sceptic on the matter of demon mediated illness, but given that the prime manifestation of demons, according to the book, seems to be the urge to commit suicide, what would you make of the statement:
- 'But the truth - what God says about a situation or condition - overrides the facts. A doctor, should never have the final word, therefore, on our condition or treatment. We must always consult the Great Physician, therefore, and be guided by His prognosis before we ever subject ourselves to the medical profession.'
fighting demons in the world, finding peace within yourself
Kris concludes his 'On the Job Training' with the experience of the Iraq war. Although a military victory was achieved with all the speed expected of the world's greatest military powers, peace has proved much more difficult to achieve. But does Kris credit this to any political, moral, humanitarian or even common sense failure on the part of the military victors?
Well… he doesn't really commit, preferring to state the obvious that terrorism continues and then open a new paragraph with the statement that '…spiritual principalities must be dealt with in the spiritual realm.' Which is strange, given the whole book. I just wonder if anyone advised him against the consequences of openly suggesting the reactions in a mostly Islamic culture might be of a demonic nature rather than any such interference politics and government closer to home.
And one last thing; something I am not sceptical about. As Kris says at the very beginning of ‘Spirit Wars’, there are people who are bound in a spiritual prison, longing to be free and fighting for peace. And I'm not sceptical about the idea that much of their bondage is due to an absence of the experience of God's love. Like Kris, I do wish them to find peace for their souls, rest for their minds and joy for their hearts. However, I don’t think they’re going to find any of that in the pages of this book.
In short, this is a book for people who can face no other explanation for the bad stuff that goes on other than that demons are deliberately causing it. It's a book for people who are sceptical - and maybe not without reason, of all the rational explanations and possible treatments for their condition and that of the world around them. Unfortunately, it's also a book for those who fancy themselves doing the things that Kris describes as part of his ministry - performing unexplained healings but won't stick around to deal with the consequences of being right or horribly wrong.
Author Snapshot: Kris Vallotton
Kris Vallotton is the Senior Associate Leader of Bill Johnson's Bethel Church in Redding, California. He is the co-founder and Senior Overseer of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, which has grown to more than thirteen hundred full time students in thirteen years. He is also the founder and president of Moral Revolution, an organization dedicated to cultural transformation. Kris has written several books, including the best selling 'Supernatural Ways of Royalty'.
An international conference speaker, Kris personal testimony is one of deliverance from fear and torment to hope and freedom. Kris and his wife Kathy have four children and eight grandchildren. Three of their children are in full-time, vocational ministry.
Quick Guide to Spirit Wars by Kris Vallotton
What is it?
- 'A deep personal story of demonic bondage, torment and deliverance...'
- Insight into the traps and subtle deceptions that might imprison the heart and soul.
- A call to understand, engage and find victory in spiritual warfare.
What will it do for me?
- Give you an insight into the thinking behind the school of supernatural ministry, Bethel Church, Redding.
- Help you understand the perception of demonic bondage, its causes and expression.
- Provide you with a view of how the effects of demonic bondage might originate, be prevented, discerned and dealt with.
Over to You
At Eden.co.uk you can find a truly interactive Christian community helping you find all you need to live, learn and grow your faith.
Many people express or display the symptoms attributed to demonic bondage in Bible times. Modern medicine and psychology offers alternative explanations, treatments and cures for many of the physical manifestations.
- How much of what we call mental illness do you think is demonic in origin. Is it safe for a non-medic to call the difference and attempt 'spiritual' treatment?
Tell us. Post your ideas, views and tips - beautiful, bizarre or just brilliant.
February 7th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison