Like a stool that is held up by four legs, a biblical worldview is held up by four truths. If one of more of these truths is missing, just like a stool, it falls over toppling the person seated upon it. We’ll now examine this idea as summarized from the book Win Your War that I wrote with my wife Grace detailing spiritual warfare (1).
- The unseen realm
You cannot believe God’s Word or understand God’s world unless you embrace the supernatural. From beginning to end, the Bible is about an unseen realm as real as the visible world. Faith is required to believe in beings as real as we are who live in a world as real as ours and travel between these worlds, impacting and affecting human history and our daily lives. As a result, everything is spiritual, and nothing is secular. What happens in the invisible world affects what happens in the visible world and vice versa. Furthermore, everyone is both a physical being with a body that is seen and a spiritual being with a soul that is unseen. Spiritual warfare is like gravity—unseen, it exists whether or not you believe in it, and it affects you every moment of every day.
Christianity has largely downplayed, if not dismissed, this truth for hundreds of years. Other than Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians, many denominations and seminaries seeking to win the approval of worldly scholarship were too influenced by the rationalism, naturalism, and skepticism of modernity that corresponds in large part with the history of America to support the truly supernatural.
Rationalism disbelieved most anything that could not be seen through a telescope or microscope and believed only that which could be proven through the scientific method of testing and re-testing. Since miracles are by definition non-repeatable, one-time events, miracles became impossible to believe. This led to naturalism, a worldview that all is material and nothing is spiritual. The result was skepticism about the spiritual, and eventually atheism and the denial of God altogether. Subsequently, there is little teaching about such things as the unseen realm, demons, miracles, and supernatural spiritual gifts in much Christian preaching and teaching. Beyond an obligatory nod to the big supernatural issues like Jesus’ virgin conception and bodily resurrection, many Christians live as skeptics rather than seekers of the supernatural, something rather new in church history (2-5).
Creeping into Bible interpretation, soon belief in such things as angels, demons, healing, speaking in tongues, and prophecy was looked down on as primitive and naïve. Surely humanity had evolved beyond such archaic views. Theologically, this is often referred to as cessationism, which is a worldly approach to the Bible that also ignores much of the supernatural record of church history, weakly arguing that the way God used to work is not the way God currently works as much of His supernatural work has ceased (6).
Overreacting to cessationism is sensationalism as Christian teaching on the demonic and supernatural is combined with wild speculation not anchored to sound biblical principles. As a result, some Christians find talk of Satan and demons to be concerning as they have heard so much bad teaching.
There is a biblical option between the deficit of supernatural teaching in cessationism, and the deficit of Scriptural teaching in sensationalism. Thankfully there is a growing increase in credible academic work on the supernatural by scholars like Dr. Michael Heiser, whose work heavily influences what we will explore in the rest of this chapter and beyond (7).
- Binary thinking
Christians think in terms of black and white (binary thinking). Non-Christians think in terms of shades of gray. Biblical thinking is binary thinking (8).
Biblical Christianity requires black-and-white thinking because it is dualistic. From beginning to end, the Bible is thoroughly categorical: Satan and God, demons and angels, sin and holiness, lies and truth, darkness and light, wolves and shepherds, non-Christians and Christians, damnation and salvation, hell and heaven. An exhaustive list could fill a book—but you get the point. The Bible makes clear distinctions and judgments between categories.
Mainstream culture is monistic. Monism does not allow black-and-white thinking. It refuses to allow any categories because that would require making distinctions, which ultimately ends in making value judgments. Instead of Satan and God, we have a “higher power.” Instead of demons and angels, we have spirits or ghosts. Instead of sin and holiness, we have lifestyle choice. Instead of lies and truth, we have your truth and my truth. Instead of darkness and light we have shades of grey. Instead of wolves and shepherds, we have spiritual guides. Instead of non-Christians and Christians, we have everyone as God’s child. Instead of hell and heaven, we have all people going to a better place when they die
Monism is a religion. Although not always formal like Christianity, it is a religious worldview that rejects dualistic thinking and the Bible. In monism everything, including gender, is on a spectrum of equally valid options. This is a demonic deception. What God creates, Satan counterfeits. Satan creates nothing, but he does counterfeit, corrupt, and co-opt what God creates. Here are some examples:
God Creates Satan Counterfeits
covenant with God inner vow with self
- Group guilt
God holds both human and spirit beings responsible for their behavior. The devil and his demons tempt others to participate in their evil plots and plans, and when someone surrenders to Satan and does something evil, both the person and the demons are held responsible. Sadly, depending upon which Christian teachers you listen to, you will often find an imbalance. Some wrongly blame Satan for all of their wrongdoing and reduce human responsibility. Others wrongly blame people for all wrongdoing and overlook the role that the demonic realm plays in sinful human decision-making.
Genesis 3 is a case study and record of the first human sin. God judges the man first, holding him accountable for his sinful failure to lovingly lead and defend his family. The man is responsible for his sin and cannot point to God, Satan, or the woman to make himself a victim instead of a villain despite his efforts to do just that. God then judges the woman, holding her accountable for her sinful failure to follow God’s command. She seeks to blame shift her sin to the devil, but God gives her consequences for her sin while not neglecting the role of the serpent. Lastly God judges the devil for his participation in the fall, rendering a verdict of eventual defeat and destruction once he is crushed under the feet of Jesus.
Who is responsible for the first sin? The man? The woman? The devil? The answer is yes. This is the principle of group guilt. Just as multiple people can be convicted and charged for involvement in the same crime, when sin occurs, numerous guilty persons are often involved. We will explore this more later in this chapter.
- “Heaven down or hell up”
There was a war in heaven that came to the earth which we will explore later in this chapter. King Jesus has come down to the earth and will again come down one last time, bringing the kingdom in His wake, to push the devil and his demons down to hell forever. Every day on earth we are living amidst a great battle that has been raging from long ago in heaven. Each day our decisions either invite heaven down or pull hell up into our lives.
Jesus’ half-brother James used binary thinking, urging Christians not to pull hell up into our lives through alternative lifestyle choices that are, “false to the truth…earthly, unspiritual, demonic…and…vile,” but instead to invite heaven down into our lives with the “wisdom from above.” (9) Paul exhorts, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (10) Jesus taught us to pray and then live heaven down, not hell up: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (11) When we see the Spirit fall on people in the Bible and to this day, this is living “kingdom down” rather than culture up which is “hell up”. We are not fighting alone, and the battles we have on earth in the seen realm actually started in heaven amidst the unseen realm with God’s divine family.
(1) Driscoll, M and G (2019). Win Your War. Charisma House.]
(2) At the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther had a clear belief in the cosmic battle between God and angels and Satan and demons, including speaking against the demonic in the hymn he penned “A Mighty Fortress is our God”. A noted historian on Luther wrote an entire book on Luther’s experience with and teaching about the devil.
(3) Heiko A Oberman, Luther: Man between God and the Devil (trans. Eileen Walliser-Schwarzbart; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 104. In Table Talk, Luther wrote of the devil more times than the Bible, gospel, grace, and prayer. Footnote: Mark Rogers, “‘Deliver Us from the Evil One’: Martin Luther on Prayer,” Themelios 34, no. 3 (2009): 340.
Luther also speaks of multiple visits from the devil including appearing in his room at the Castle of Wartburg, Germany, as Luther sat down to translate the Bible. Startled, Luther grabbed his inkwell and threw it at the devil. For some years following, tourists would be shown the ink well spot on the wall and told the story. But today, the inkwell story is not told to visitors and the ink spot cannot be seen. Some historians believe the ink stain evidence of the devil was painted over, forever hidden, as the story of the devil’s visit to that very spot was also removed from the tour and dismissed as silly superstition.
Perhaps the painting over of demonic evidence explains the rest of church history since.]
(5) William Barclay, ed., The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 1, The Daily Study Bible Series (Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press, 1976), 65.
Scott H. Hendrix, “Legends About Luther,” Christian History Magazine-Issue 34: Martin Luther: The Reformer’s Early Years (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 1992).
Helmut Thielicke, “The Great Temptation,” Christianity Today (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 1985), 28.
(6) Craig S. Keener. Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. 2 vols. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011. 1,172 pp.
(7) One example is the work of Dr. Michael Heiser, whom we will quote throughout this book. Michael S. Heiser. The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham, 2015. 413 pp.
(8) Driscoll, M (2019). Christians Might Be Crazy: Answering the Top 7 Objections to Christianity. Dunham & Company.
(9) James 3:15-17
(10) Colossians 3:2
(11) Matthew 6:10