Welcome to Part 2 of the review of John Dawson's critically acclaimed guide to spiritual warfare: Taking Our Cities For God. We've seen in the first six chapters that Dawson's goal is to "take" our cities and the reader to places few have gone before. At the time of this book's publishing, these ideas and theories he proposed were considered revolutionary and, according to Pastor Jack Hayford, "Holy Spirit insight"(from the Foreword).
I want to restate that, because of claims like that one, we must test this book by the Word of God to see if it emerges credible and orthodox. I think we've seen in these initial chapters that a great deal of what the reader is asked to receive as insightful hinges on revelatory information that goes well beyond the pages of our precious Bible.
Part 1 has demonstrated that, thus far, there is no real reason to accept John Dawson as an authority on spiritual warfare, and, unfortunately, some of his teachings linger along the lines of what could only be characterized as false teaching and figments of his and other's imaginations.
In short, rather than a book that
enhances Scriptural teaching on spiritual battle, we have instead, as Hayford
would say again "something new" unfolding here. I fear that the
teachings get stranger as the book progresses, but the continued review,
although lengthy, is of great importance in equipping today's readers about
the Third Wave mindset towards spiritual warfare and evangelization. Read
"Field of dreams…"(Chapter7
(Titles courtesy of A.F.I.)
Chapter 7 is entitled "The City At Harvest Time". Now, this sounds like a biblically based chapter centered on Jesus' words in Matt. 9:37: "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few…" Dawson, however, begins this section with some words of his own:
"We have worked our way up to this important tactical question: Do we wait for the next revival or do we go into action now?"(P. 69).
This sentence captures the idea of Dominion Theology in a nutshell. This doctrine teaches that the church holds the cards that she can play to release judgment or revival. The power resides not in God's sovereign plan for Harvest but rests on the idea of the Church getting its act together and making it happen "in the heavenlies". Dominionists like Rick Joyner, Cindy Jacobs, and others teach that the church will rise up as the great warrior Bride, complete with powerful apostles and prophets, and "take" cities, nations, governments, and even the heavenly realms by the words of their mouth and intense, active warfare prayer tactics. In fact, some would teach that Christ cannot return to earth until the Church rises to her destiny as this warrior Bride. (For more on Dominion theology see this excellent article by Mike Oppenheimer: www.letusreason.org/Latrain12.htm).
Dawson implies that "going into action now" is preferable to "waiting for revival". I don't want to put words in his mouth but he seems to be implying that WE could usher in a revival by our active participation in warfare using these principles. Waiting on God and His timetable is not good enough apparently.
Here's the problem, Dawson has already made statements containing Dominionist ideas in earlier chapters. It is obvious that he believes that we as the Church are responsible for causing God to act in terms of sending Revival or Judgment (see chapter 6 in Part 1 of this review). The Bible teaches that only God is sovereign over all things. He alone will pour out the Spirit when He chooses. The Spirit goes also wherever He wills (John 3:8).
Quick question: How many times has God worked "in spite" of our unfaithfulness and disobedience? Please, dear reader, don't be fooled. We can't usher in anything apart from God's sovereign will.
We do well to remember Matt. 9:38 when we speak of evangelism and revival: "Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." Jesus makes it clear Whose harvest it is as well as Who needs to be prayed to and petitioned to send out the laborers. I don't think Dawson would disagree with this verse but anything close to the Dominionist assumptions is dangerous.
He goes on to describe practical examples of the immediate action he himself has taken in evangelizing. I think its great that he and others are eager to share the gospel with others, but once again Dawson reveals some disturbing features in his definition of active evangelism. On page 70, he writes:
"Unless you understand biblical warfare, you will be frustrated, angry, confused, and ineffective in your ministry to the city…We need to bind the strong man and gain a place of authority over Satan before we will see the full fruit of our labors."
Its clear here that at the forefront of Dawson's theology on "biblical warfare" there is the typical misunderstanding of Jesus' words in Matt.12: 28-29: "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or else how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house."
Dawson quotes this verse in the next paragraph as the "proof text" for all the warfare principles he's been advancing. We can "take our cities" for God by "binding the strong man". How do we do that? By speaking into the heavenlies to 'bind' Satan or "loose" the Spirit in a geographical area. That's the teachings of this warfare movement that uses this book as a reference to do spiritual battle.
Big problem: Dawson uses Matt. 12: 29 in the context of "taking" the city you are trying to transform, when that verse has nothing to do with a city or nation for that matter. The true context of this verse involves casting a demon out of an individual, and this distinction is constantly blurred in Dawson's writings.
The following quote is an excellent answer to this reinterpretation that Dawson is doing and has been since the book's beginning. Concerning the unbiblical practice of "binding and loosing' as taught by Dominionists and "taking cities for Christ", Jacob Prasch comments:
"These things come from a misunderstanding of Matthew chapter 12:29, whose context deals with the meaning of the word ekbalo - the casting out of demons, not taking spiritual dominion over a city. Here and in Matthew chapter 16:19, which similarly deals not with taking spiritual dominion over a city, but with Apostolic authority being given to the disciples." (Jacob Prasch, The Final Words of Jesus and Satan's Lies Today, Chapter 7, page 118, St. Matthew Publishing, Ltd., 1999).
So, far from proving any point to his tactics of immediate warfare action, Dawson only proves that he himself, as well as so many others in these groups, is unaware of the context of the verses he cites to 'prove' his theories.
One more thing: We are never guaranteed to see the "full fruits" of our labors .We labor for that which is unseen. Our rewards are awaiting us in Heaven and we are never promised to have the complete measurement of results of our good works here in this life (Read 2 Cor.4-6).
The reason I bring this up is because in today's market-driven church growth strategies, the results or fruits become the telltale sign of success. What's the problem? Obedience to God is success. Man crowns earthly, measurable success, but God crowns faithful obedience no matter the statistical outcome.
Look at what God told Isaiah and Jeremiah in their callings as prophets to rebellious Israel. He told them to go and warn the people but most would not receive them. Most would not repent. Yet the measure of success came in the fact that they obeyed God's words and did as He asked. The results were far from impressive in the temporal setting of these and other prophet's ministries. We don't see the vast crowds and numbers thrown around as evidence that their ministry tactics were effective. We see simple faith in God and empowerment to obey. They were committed to the One who commissioned them, regardless of the fact that they would not see "revival" or even reception for their message. That's success!
Fruits measured in terms of numbers or growth statistics, which are a driving force of C. Peter Wagner's principles and the church growth movement, aren't necessarily indicative of God's pleasure. For example: How many thousands upon thousands in the church today accept false Dominionist, Word-Faith, and new revelations that the Bible condemns? Multitudes. How many people attend Benny Hinn's crusades and lavish his story-telling, money-grabbing, and false miracle working? Again, multitudes. Numbers and the other 'fruit" of success in the Spiritual Warfare Movement, YWAM, and New Apostolic Reformation are NOT automatic endorsements from God that validate so much bad teaching.
Quite revealing is the account Dawson gives of a practical example of an evangelistic meeting he conducted in an Alberta, Canada high school in 1973. After "sensing" the presence of the Holy Spirit, Dawson preaches powerfully in a packed-out room:
"At one point, a heckler challenged me and mocked the gospel, but God filled my mind with the details of his life. I shouted out a list of his hidden sins until he left the room."(P. 710).
Wow, talk about a way to clear a room! Did God really show Dawson this young man's secret sins? More importantly, how discerning and Christ like was it to shout out these sins, driving the boy from the room?
Don't misunderstand, I'm not taking sides with anyone who mocks the gospel, but this just seems so out-of-character for a visiting evangelist in a high school of saved and unsaved kids. Was there no other way to deal with a mere high school heckler? Truth be told, I don't really believe Dawson was privy to that information. His life seems like one long channel of reception from God into his head, but it seems to be coming in fuzzy with many of his stories.
Quick question: Can we verify that this happened and how do we know Dawson really knew this boys secret sin? This is questionable and pugnacious behavior.
That day turned out to be even more eventful:
"At the end of the message the students didn't want to leave…it was time to go back to class, but the students ignored the clock. Finally the principal had to ring the fire alarm, vacate the building, line up the students in the snow and march them to their classes.'(P.71).
I wonder if John Dawson got invited back to that High school to speak again or have follow-up opportunity for ministry there. Kids not wanting to go back to class are nothing new but perhaps Dawson should have encouraged them not to break school rules and create such a disruption. A guest evangelist should work with the venue he or she is speaking at because all conduct and behavior affects the testimony of Christ.
Surely, Dawson must have had a little reservation for the mild mayhem he helped to cause by shouting out a heckler and then contributing to low-level delinquency, or maybe he viewed it like this:
"I felt like Paul at Ephesus during the riot of the god-makers. Seeing such results were wonderful"(Ibid.).
Paul did not encourage the riot at Ephesus, nor would he have thought it a good thing. I rejoice at young people being excited about God but I pray that my presence never causes this kind of rebellious uprising. I certainly don't want to shout out a heckler's secret sins until he leaves the room. That, I think would be a damaging testimony. At any rate, this story, while questionable, pales in comparison to Dawson's next tale of a city reaping Harvest.
The setting is Los Angeles during the 1983 and 1984 Olympic outreach. We need to look at this story because it is labeled "the greatest prayer effort I have ever witnessed"(P. 71), and the "central illustration of this book" with results that "are among the most exciting stories of all" (Ibid.).
Dawson tells of the 1600 churches that were united to reach the city during that time. It is absolutely safe to assume that this ecumenical alliance contained many churches that would be teaching Word/Faith doctrine, Latter Rain theology, and faulty spiritual warfare views like this one. This last aspect of this citywide interchurch gathering is confirmed on page 72:
"Prayer networks were activated across the nation and around the world. One group of praying women purchased detailed city maps. They spent months praying over the inhabitants of every street…most important of all, the pastors of the city began to meet each month for prayer at the Olympic village site."
I love prayer. I love that God's people pray. I think it was great that many people around the world were praying for people to get saved at the Olympics that year. The clear and present danger evident from these lines is that some of these prayer warriors appear to be engaging in the rudiments of "spiritual mapping" and "on-site praying with insight". These two practices have emerged from around the time Dawson wrote this book and were gaining momentum and acceptance in many churches by the mid-90s.
Here we see that part of the warfare being done for this event involved these two practices. (AFI has other articles detailing these topics in our Spiritual warfare section). The idea of spiritual mapping is again, to discover and bring down the demon spirits inhabiting a territory so people can come to Christ. Part of "taking" a place and preparing it for God to "move" involves walking a route or meeting in a spot to establish a "doorway" for God to "break through".
Mumbai city has been extensively "mapped" by DAWN International ministries and, even now, there are plans to "take" this city as well as all of Maharashtra and claim it for God by using these principles so very absent from the pages of the Bible. Apparently, those who have swallowed these myths are hard at work to "transform" our city here in the same way that these practices "transformed" L.A.
The core of my concern lies in the next few sentences where Dawson shares the "fruit" or results of these "biblical spiritual weapons" (P. 70) used to bind the Devil over Los Angeles. Ask yourself as you read this if its believable enough to even entertain as factual:
"When the outreach finally began, the spiritual atmosphere of the city had totally changed…"Satan's power over the city is broken," I said. "Because of all the prayer, the Holy spirit is working in people's lives right now."
Well, these are grand claims. People were apparently coming to faith in Jesus, and for that I rejoice. The thing we must remember is, Jesus Christ has broken the power of the Devil by His death on the cross (Col. 2:11-17; John 12:30-32). He came to destroy the works of the Devil and that's what He did (1 John 3:8).
Dawson is equating that all the citywide prayer had somehow "bound" the Devil so people could get saved. People got saved that day because God's Spirit moved their hearts in response to people preaching the Gospel message that day. We must also remember that, in God's sovereign timetable, Satan will not ever be "bound" until the appointed future time during the Millennium (Rev. 20:1-3) regardless of how many Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare practices are performed.
I do believe prayer is powerful in equipping and enabling us to share the Gospel. Look at the Apostle's prayer for boldness in Acts 4:23-31 and Paul's request from the Ephesians in 6 :18-20:
"praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints - and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."
The power is manifested according to the will of the One we are praying to. Our actual words, however warlike and aggressive towards demons and the devil, are not the effectual agents here. God also answers our prayers as He sees fit, but all the "city-mapping' and geographically focused praying on Earth did not break the Devil's power over the city that day to enable men and women to trust in Christ. That's man-centered theology. That's Dominionism. Dawson would have us believe that we can take credit for implementing these genius devices from Dawson's camp and the results are confirmation that these unscriptural practices "work". The focus needs to get back on the Head of the Church (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:12-16) rather than the Body as being the generator of revival.
The end result of all of this is nothing short of unbelievable:
"During the summer of 1984 the Christians of Los Angeles briefly experienced the reality of a city free from spiritual oppression. The effect on the city was a tantalizing illustration of what could be achieved in the years to come as we continue in the battle…"(P. 73).
Quick question for Mr. Dawson: Has this happened anytime since? Aren't there statistically more prayer networks, spiritual mappers, "Generals of Intercession", prophets, apostles, prayer marchers, and spiritual warriors engaging the enemy in an all-out assault today than there was in 1984? Why don't we EVER see ANY city free from spiritual oppression today? Have your "Reconciliation Walks" produced this fruit in any city today?
The answers to those questions are painfully clear. We have every reason to believe L.A. was never totally free from spiritual oppression at any time as long as there were unbelievers inhabiting there. The idea of Satan taking a holiday from any group of believers is also absurd. What Dawson is writing is only his "impression of no spiritual oppression", and adds up to little more credibility than his previous statements where he mentions his "sense" of this or that. Read on for the description of what a totally transformed L.A. was like during the summer of 1984:
"Everything in the life of the city was affected. People were friendly and cheerful. Even the summer traffic jams and air pollution failed to materialize. Instead of the expected crime spree, the crime rate actually dropped."(Ibid.).
He goes on to describe that there were no murders during the week of the Olympic games, so I guess that means that the City of Angels had indeed become almost Heaven on Earth. I just find it extremely difficult to verify that "Everything", everyone, and even the atmospheric conditions and pollution levels were prayerfully transformed by this team of enlightened individuals.
Quick question: Why cant this same team along with the thousands upon thousands of new believers in these doctrines get together and strategically pray for the hole in the ozone layer to close or even for the horrible traffic here in Mumbai to subside, even for one HOUR!? These claims can be nothing more than a few individual's perceptions or "sensations" about a citywide devil-banishing conquest - the result of misguided prayer initiatives and the wearing of some "rose-colored glasses" by supporters of this movement.
Most disturbing is Dawson's assessment of the resulting unity among the "scattered, preoccupied spiritual leaders" (P. 73) in the L.A. churches. His statements indicate that they united around Dawson's spiritual warfare principles and extra-biblical revelation rather than true Unity around the Word of God. He writes:
"In this unity we found that we had new power to hold back the forces of darkness. We experienced great success in evangelism. We learned to discern the territorial spirits operating over the city and to break their yoke through spiritual warfare." (Ibid.).
Thanks be to Dawson and his insightful super team of united pastors who transformed the city that day using false precepts, faulty strategies and extra-biblical revelation, while battling demons that the Bible doesn't even verify exist at all in the way they are taught in the writings of these men.
That's just what this stuff is; "new" power, or I would like to say "novel tactics" with no basis in Biblical fact. What happened to the tried and true "old power" of Biblical obedience and trust in God for results? We don't need this emerging wayward wind of doctrine.
Don't come to my city and do this. Don't bring these teachings here to India and don't attempt to unite pastors in adherence to beliefs that are unbiblical or "specially received" from men and women who have a proven track record for fabrication and hearing voices.
On Page 74, Dawson writes:
"Even if I am interceding for people who embrace and believe the lie of the enemy, such as devout Muslims, I can stand in the gap as a prayer warrior and isolate them from religious spirits or any other form of demonic oppression."
This sounds powerful and noble, but we must really think this through. We, as humans, are at a disadvantage in one aspect of spiritual warfare, because we are flesh and blood but our enemies with whom we wrestle are spiritual beings (Eph. 6:12). We need to rely heavily and wholly on God for any spiritual victory we see or experience and don't fool yourself into thinking your powerful prayers are incantations that shield others from the onslaught of demons. The Person of our prayers is the Powerhouse. Only as we petition God to move in the person's life, will we see souls set free and protection from evil. I can pray to God for you but I cant personally thwart demonic attacks by my own power or "magic prayers".
I am hoping that's what John means by the above statement, but given his Dominionist leanings, I'm not so sure. We are to pray for others but we are to pray that God will protect them from evil spirits. I hope this is what John is saying, but then it doesn't actually follow with the Dominionist agenda to trust the Hand of God in the protection of others. After all, to an end time member of the warrior Church, the hand of God can be commanded to do this or that or even to act at all. Our prayers release God to function in man-centered theology.
Rather than praying "Prayer shields" and protective prayer coverings over people, the Bible usually uses the term "standing in the gap" for times when a prophet stood between a sinful people and a Holy God ready to judge them for their sins (Take Abraham in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, or the ministries of the Old Testament prophets). Nowhere do we read that we have the ability to oppose spiritual forces against others by the power of our prayers.
Dawson ends chapter 7 with a misapplication of Genesis 22:17: "Your descendants shall possess the gates of your enemies." He believes that this is one of the "specific promises" in the word of God to be applied to our spiritual warfare.
We must ask: Is Genesis 22 directed specifically for the Church and to be used as a proof text for Spiritual warfare? A closer look will show the true recipients of this promise were Abraham's descendants (which we are also in a spiritual sense, of course). One thing is clear about this verse: You can't use it to prove that we are commanded to battle demons or harvest cities.
Where did he get this interpretation? My money, were I the proverbial betting man, would be from the Dominion teachings about plundering the "strong man's" goods and "taking back" what the Devil stole. Streams of this thought run through the Word/Faith Movement as well as flow from the pen of false prophetess Cindy Jacobs who wrote a book entitled Possessing the Gates of the Enemy. (Hey, that book was also published by YWAM publishers, hmmm).
Again at the end of the seventh chapter, the author has failed to prove that the Bible has any kind of overwhelming support for his ideas.
"Doomed To Repeat It…" (Chapter 8 Review)
Chapter 8 bears the title: "Looking at History With Discernment". As we mentioned earlier in Part 1 of this review, discernment has been lacking in major areas of Theology and doctrine, especially in the "spiritual warfare" contexts. At this point in the book, I must fight the urge to be cynical and overly suspicious at Dawson's mention of the word.
I just can't get that picture out
of my head of Dawson sitting under the teachings of such a false teacher
as Yongii Cho (As mentioned in chapter 2) and being prompted to ask about
his own level of discernment. It would be comical were this not so serious.
Reading the rest of this book would be frivolous and useless were it not
for the fact that so many revere this book. "Let's continue," he said reluctantly…
This chapter prompts the reader to ask the question "Why is my city here?" apparently the history of our cities also have significance in the mythology we've read thus far. Following Dawson's logic: If cities have souls and personalities, then we can actually view them in the same way as we view our fellow human beings. Our poor cities actually suffer past traumas and hurts as well as fond warm memories of better days. Perhaps we can employ some devices or rituals to "heal" our city's past wounds.
Sounds absurd doesn't it? But here we are. The next few chapters will actually advance a similar tenet and Dawson will attempt to provide revelation on how to "poke holes" in the enemy's territorial reign and undo the damage of our town's rocky pasts. If you enjoy these sorts of fantasy ideas then these next three chapters are for you.
On page 79, Dawson tells us matter-of-factly: "Your city is God's city" and then proceeds to explain:
"God did not give demons authority over your city."
This is absolutely unbiblical. God most certainly did give any spirit being, angels as well as demons, the temporary authority to be in whatever position they currently reside at.
Dawson has failed to even prove that every city has a demon thus far. The only source for that little bit of info came from well beyond any substantiating Bible passage, and it appears that Dawson has received it from the same source.
In Biblical theology, God is sovereign. This is a concept being absolutely massacred by the Word/Faith teachers and these Third Wave warriors. There is no ruling power, including oppressive earthly governments; that are beyond the scope of God's control. All authority has been given to Christ in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18), and any appearance of "maverick" malice or Divinely unnoticed evildoing is only able to even occur because God has allowed and ordained that jurisdiction or function. There is not one molecule outside of God's control, and that also goes for any demon spirit.
In Man-centered teachings, God has somehow been "bamboozled" (hoodwinked, fooled, deceived) by the Devil and tricked into giving illegal authority to him and his demon rulers. God is a "failure" Kenneth Copeland would say and has no control over these marauding trespassing spirits. I guess its up to the Church to rise up and accept the new authority that men like Dawson, Wagner, and Bickle say we've been given to thwart the enemy and do God's dirty work. We've got to help Him out because, as far as the evil powers are concerned, God just didn't see this one coming apparently because here we are, overrun by territorial spirits.
How did these beings ascend to power over your city? By mystical gateways created by the presence of mankind's sin. Dawson says:
"Demons have infested the earth's atmosphere since before the creation of mankind, but they can only extend their authority into a town or institution when people sin…He (Satan) initially gains his authority when, at some point in history, human beings believe his lie, receive his accusation and are seduced into an allegiance to his plan."(P. 79-80).
I've just got to ask the question, which "point" in a city's history is that "Welcome Satan" sin committed and how can you ever find that out? Here's a better question. When is the "point" in ANY city's history when there aren't large numbers or a high percentage of the people who are seduced and blinded by the Devil?
The Bible says that ALL unbelievers are blinded by the devil and are allegiant to him by the very fact that they have never believed in Christ Jesus. 2 Cor. 4:4 says "the god of this age" has blinded the minds of unbelievers. 1 John 5:19--says, "The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." Romans 3:11 says, "There is none who seeks after God"
All of these are criteria that each city meets "en masse" through its population. Therefore, demons are at work among the unbelieving and even trying to deceive the believers in every city at every time. To try to find the specific grievance that allegedly began the demonic reign over a said city is a waste of time. The entire earth is open to Satan's temporary rule Sanctioned and ALLOWED, authorized, if you will, by God Himself!
The Bible essentially teaches that there are no worthy cities and no populations of human beings that are EVER completely pure from believing Satan's lies (Romans 3 again). Where does Dawson get this teaching of the gateway of sin in a city that invokes territorial rule of demons over that city? Answer: He "sensed" it through revelation beyond Scripture. This also explains why he is currently a key figure of the Reconciliation Movement that focuses on tracing city histories and discovering and undoing these past crimes through "Identificational Repentance". More on that later…
On a scary note, Some of the things Dawson claims have been revealed to him about spiritual warfare are just as aberrant as his description of the sin that he asserts gives the devil authority to enter a ruling jurisdiction in the first place. There's definitely a lack of discernment here and blindness to Biblical truths being advanced in Taking Our Cities For God. Those two features actually leave gaping holes for the Enemy to bring his thoughts and intentions in to the life of the person who would believe this stuff.
Let's look at an example of one of these encroaching past sins that provides spiritual "real estate" for ruling demons to start oppressin':
"An obvious example would be the spirit of greed which was let loose during the California gold rush and still dominates the culture of Los Angeles and San Francisco to this day."(P. 80).
This is almost too silly to reference so my critique will be short. I can't believe that this superstition is being advanced as fact here. Not only do we not have any Biblical proof of a "spirit of greed" but also to attribute greedy individuals in these two cities today as being evidence of greedy individuals of a century ago having loosed prevailing demons of this vice, is preposterous. People are greedy in LA and San Francisco and all of California and all of the USA and here in India and in every major city and institution in the world today. That has nothing to do with the sins of bygone generations. We are accountable today for what measure of greed we entertain and act on.
There's more "Evidence":
"Take, for example, the struggle with rejection and the fear of authority experienced by many Australians, because their country originated as a penal colony."(Ibid.).
Is this why some Australians aren't obedient to the law and are full of anxiety? Are demons really responsible for that and were they let in to strike rebellion and fear in sinful human hearts because of Australia's past? What about America's struggles with lawlessness and fear of authority? Americans commit those sins and there is no penal colony in that country's history. This is superstition.
These ridiculous examples serve only to try and give credence to Dawson's proposed solution found in the remainder of the chapter. It's called Reconciliation and Identificational Repentance. These two lines of thought are being accepted world wide today in many churches because they propose to offer a major solution to righting the past wrongs of cities so that we can wage good warfare and defeat the controlling territorial spirits Dawson and others have placed over every city.
Want to see Identificational Repentance in action? Sydney, Australia 1979. John Dawson was there:
"I witnessed an interdenominational gathering of fifteen thousand believers making a covenant with God on behalf of their nation. There was spiritual release when one leader led the crowd to extend forgiveness toward Britain for the injustice suffered by their forefathers in the establishment of Australia as a penal settlement." (P.80).
I agree that there was some sort of release there: A release from the "restrictive bondage" of Biblical Truth!
Quick question: Are we taught anywhere in the Bible that forgiveness involves pardoning nations for past deeds by the people who weren't even there to be offended or sinned against?
Forgiveness is always a personal action, commanded by God, necessary for right fellowship and communion. (Matt 6:14;Luke 6:37; 2 Cor.2:7). It's always between people not cities or nations.
What was the result of this corporate "forgiveness" and repentance?
"Prophetic revelation about the purpose and destiny of the nation has been pouring into Australia through its national church ever since…"(Ibid.).
That's not all that's been pouring into and out of Australia since then. The Word/Faith and False prophetic Movement have strengthened there in mass quantities. Could it be that as individuals give themselves to these unbiblical and, in some cases, heretical acts that they actually invite more deception and grant footholds for the Devil to infiltrate and work in the hearts of people who believe in and participate in these things? Most assuredly.
Eph.4: 27 says: "Nor give a foothold (place or opportunity) to the devil."
You see, individual human beings can enter and entertain sinful lifestyles that, without question, give places for demonic strongholds and oppression to enter in and, in the case of unbelievers, possible possession. When a believer believes unbiblical stuff, heresies, and/or the teachings of this new group of pseudo- apostles, they definitely open up their minds for Satanic manipulation. The battleground for spiritual warfare is fought primarily in the minds of human beings (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
That's why I'm writing this. To turn some of you back from the path of believing this nonsense and embracing the safe purity of God's Word, thereby assuring that He has the authority over your actions and the preservation of your souls.
I want you to see a contrast in this article. Dawson also uses Eph. 4:27:
"A study of history can give us clues to God's purpose for a city, and it can also reveal the point at which evil gained entrance. In Eph. 4:27 we are warned about giving a place of entry to the devil." (P.81).
Here's the difference. Dawson uses the Ephesians passage as a reference to whole cities as though a city was being addressed by Paul when he gave this Holy- Spirit- inspired warning. The clear fact is that this is a warning for individuals, not cities. We can't fall into the same trap the author has by equating the two as interchangeable realities with the same features. Cities are not people. Human hearts and minds can give a place to the Devil, whereas a city or nation cannot in the same way.
When we say a city is an "evil" city, we mean that in a figurative way as describing some of the inhabitants. It is a metaphorical generalization and not a statement of actual fact. Does Dawson know this? I'm not sure…
If you thought the personification was abused in the earlier chapters in his book, where he claimed cities have personhood or souls, this next statement goes a bit further down the slippery slope of obscurity:
"The earliest days in a city's history are very important because one of Satan's main strategies is to interfere with the process of birth. "And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born."(Rev.12: 4)…What can we do about this today? What can we do now to correct evils that attended our city's birth?"(Ibid.).
Now cities have a "birth" in the same way people do. Citing Rev. 12:4 out of context to prove that city's are at peril when they are 'born" is foolish. This verse is a picture of Christ's birth and the accompanying wrath of Satan towards that fact. His being seen as a dragon ready to devour the newborn is metaphorical of the Devil's attempts to destroy the Messiah at His birth during the "slaughter of innocents" in Bethlehem and the surrounding districts (Matt. 2:16-18). It shows, in pictorial symbol, the vicious opposition to the "Seed of the woman" (Gen.3: 15) and Satan's desire to destroy Israel, typified by the Woman. Nothing to do whatsoever with finding your city's early "weak spot" or that frightful day when the Devil came to town!
The reckless wrenching of verses from their contexts continues:
"The Bible exhorts us to prepare the way of the Lord through removing stones of hindrance. "Go through. Go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway! Take out the stones, lift up a banner for the peoples!" (Is. 62:10)."
Of course, a casual consideration of the context reveals that these verses are talking about the future restoration of Jerusalem, but that doesn't stop John Dawson from telling us what they really mean. In the next sentence he tells us how to "repair the broken down walls" of our cities by using the Third Wave versions of "repentance, reconciliation, and prayer" (Ibid.).
The next few pages share more about people "sensing releases" and there's a long list of works of the flesh that are named demons by Dawson. Nothing new here, except he graduates to personifying whole cultures on page 83:
" The study of a city's history will often reveal the wounds a people have sustained. Some cities carry wounds of rejection or inferiority because they lost their bid to become state capital, or they were overshadowed by a more successful city nearby. Whole cultures can sustain a wound, which may become a hindrance to the gospel."
It seems our cities are frail entities. Now I am not disagreeing that certain people groups have not experienced injustice or racism or evil discrimination. This can affect the mindset of individuals within those groups, but its New Age teaching that introduces the theory of a collective wound that holds an entire culture in bondage. Cultures can have a stigma or a bad reputation but not some mystical infirmity.
We must constantly interject the reality that cultures and cities are composed of individual persons. Each man, woman, and child will stand before God someday and give an account for their sins and what they personally did with Jesus Christ. They will not be judged on the basis of culture, family background, or whether certain other people in their cities were envious of the capital city in their state.
Movements like Dawson's Reconciliation group seek to marry New Age city-soul theology, sociology, mythology, and superstition into one core set of doctrines that appeal to the Bible to validate their extra-biblical revelations, and that's heresy! Its very nature contradicts itself and cannot be valid. (Here's the International Reconciliation Coalition homepage. See it for yourself: www.reconcile.org).
Something's got to give here: either Dawson's strange figments are true or the Bible and reality testify to being true. Which will you choose to follow?
Dawson wants you to know in this book just how important his principles are by establishing that everyone is a victim of their city's past sins, a cultural "wound", a territorial spirit, or even an interracial marriage.
Dawson says that the "kingdom of God " has been hindered in Mexico and the perception of God as Father is warped because of the first generation of Mexicans. The fact that a child was often the offspring of a proud white conquistador and a warm affectionate Indian mother created an apparent tension that only a good dose of "repentance and reconciliation" Dawson-style can reverse and make right.
Please don't fall for this stuff. Interracial marriages and all marriages come with inherent challenges and tensions, but there is no mystical ancestral unrest flowing through the veins of a racially mixed child. Keep in mind Dawson is implying that these past mixed marriages produced cultural wounds and "doorways to the devil" that can only be remedied by these new tactics. Of course, the simple preaching of the Gospel and obedience to the Word of God as delivered in the Scriptures isn't sufficient even though it claims to be: (2 Tim. 3:16,17).
Dawson says (after analyzing what's wrong with mixed Mexican marriages and the resulting "distorted" viewpoint of "the image of Father God." that causes them to worship Mary), that "This understanding directs our strategy in evangelism."(P. 84).
Unfortunately, the reverse of that statement is also true and I think it applies to this scenario: "This MISunderstanding directs Dawson's and other Third Waver's strategies in evangelism." (Quote by AFI).
Many Mexicans (and Catholics of all races) worship Mary because they have swallowed a deception from the enemy. Neither they nor we can attribute any current veneration of Mary by an individual to the fact that the first generation of Mexican people was largely intermarried with white Spaniards. This is just another way to blame something or someone else for current idolatry and refusal to obey Christ.
Dawson himself is not even sure about his conclusion:
"Thousands of statues of the virgin and Child may have more to do with a wounded culture than the doctrines of Catholicism."(Ibid.).
Or may be not, Mr. Dawson. Note his use of the word "may". Mary-worshipping Catholics revere Rome, are blinded by the Devil, and believe what they are taught and that is why they worship Mary. The fact that their ancestors may have intermarried is of no consequence or relevance to their current state of unbelief.
Thus far, the sinful person has two proven scapegoats in Dawson's ideology: 1) "Demons, rather than my sinful flesh, made me do it!" or, here, 2) "I am a victim of a past iniquity in my city or culture that prevents me from worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth."
If Dawson is correct, it appears that there are some pretty solid excuses for someone's refusal to follow Jesus. Redemption lies in the hands and prayer-walking feet of this group who has been given revelation that the true apostles, early Church, or believers all the way up until recently never had.
Quick question: Are we being asked to trust in the Word of God or the words of men?
I need to highlight another superstition that Dawson uses as support for his threefold answer to how to "take your city". On page 84, He says:
"Exploring history with the Holy Spirit as your guide can be one of the most rewarding preparations for ministry. God may reveal the complex roots of ancient pagan bondage, such as the Roman temple of Mithras, buried under London's streets, or it may be as simple as revelation about the significance of a name."
Okay, I think I've finally found an accurate description for the warfare philosophies being swallowed by the Third Wave, YWAM and Reconciliation adherents today, and its taken right from Dawson's text: "Complex roots of ancient pagan bondage". There it is! The most fitting phrase that characterizes most of the teachings in this and other books from the Third Wave. Lord, save us and set us free from the enslavement to error these teachings bring!
Notice what Dawson is saying here concerning the buried remains of an old temple underneath London's streets. He's using that archaeological discovery as a possible source for the evil and rebellion that occurs above ground in modern-day London. God revealed to Dawson that this hidden ruin, where Mithra hasn't been worshipped for centuries, somehow holds an evil sway over the current inhabitants of London. All this time, their spiritual darkness was the result of this buried temple. In other words, until this thing was discovered, a great segment of the Church who believes this stuff today was baffled as to the reason for a lawless London.
One wonders then, if every place where evangelism is less fruitful has some buried and long forgotten archaeological "hole of Hell" that needs to be researched, uncovered, and "filled in" so people can be freed to come to Christ. This is such a problematic teaching because it brings a whole new set of issues to the table concerning these atonement rituals.
How could a deceased resident of London stand before God and be sentenced justly for refusing to believe in the Gospel, if the reason for his blindness were demons that had never been dealt with at that long-buried and only recently discovered altar of evil?
Let's look at this further: Dawson goes on to tell us that we need to make use of old city records and public library archives in order to seek out, determine, and identify the doorways for demons in our cities. Obviously, he is saying that these things are a necessity if true evangelism is to take place. These spirits have to be dealt with and fast! One way to do this is to follow the example of a church in the Lone Star State:
"One local church in Austin, Texas, spent every Saturday afternoon for a year doing prayer walks through every section of the city. This practice is one of the best ways to gain a true understanding of the people God has called us to reach." (P. 86).
Again, I want to emphasize: There's nothing wrong with praying. There's nothing wrong with walking and praying. There is something wrong with equating this dual action with the release of a special "anointing" or city-transforming Act of Grace that God bestows because you are "taking territory" by praying your way through the streets. I agree that walking through your neighborhood is a good way to familiarize yourself with the people but "prayer-walking" is being advocated as a spiritual warfare technique that evicts territorial "squatter" spirits from their illegally obtained residences.
There is definitely no Biblical evidence that your walking prayers do anything mystically above and beyond your prayers offered at home. But these acts are being touted as the solution to countering spiritual forces as well as a necessity in order to have effective evangelism. Thus far, the most proven effective evangelistic action is the preaching of the true Gospel to unbelievers, whose hearts are moved by the Spirit of God to believe, repent, confess, and be saved. Rather than merely getting those feet 'prayer walkin", prep them with the Gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15). Go out into our communities and let Christ transform hearts of sinners who accept the good news we bring (Rom. 10:14,15).
Here's an added "monkey wrench" in Dawson's assertions using his earlier reference to the buried Mithra temple causing all that havoc above ground. Think this scenario through as an exercise in logical process (Following story by Steve Mitchell of answers For India, told from the perspective of a hypothetical someone who supports Dawson's theories and does not reflect Steve's or AFI's viewpoints in any way):
Imagine that a group of Christians attended a Spiritual warfare conference sponsored by one of these Third Wave Movements. These same people return to their church and organize an army of prayer walking, demon-thwarting, city-takers absolutely committed to bringing down the territorial spirits and thereby opening the blinded eyes of their friends and neighbors. They do the necessary spiritual mapping and research from chapter 8 of Taking Our Cities For God and hit the street. After several weeks of aggressive praying, nothing much seems to be happening and people are still just asagainst the Gospel as previous weeks. What happened, why didn't these principles work? How could their neighborhood continue to deteriorate after they followed all these steps?
Well, readers, the answer lay about seven and a half feet under the sidewalks that these marchers had so faithfully traversed for weeks, praying and proclaiming all the way. You see, this small town was actually built on the ruins of an ancient Indian burial mound where rituals of death were practiced as well as offerings to nature spirits. Now this has since been covered over by asphalt and housing projects. No written records were ever kept and the last person who actually knew about the significance of that site had died 250 years earlier and never told a soul.
But the demons knew. They knew the past evil and the wretched worship of fellow demons that had been practiced there and they rejoiced in the fact that today's inhabitants would never be able to discover this sacred site. The foothold the demons needed to maintain their reign of terror remained firm. The door was held open and no one could do the atoning rituals of reconciliation, repentance or prayer walking to close it. In fact no one even knew it existed anymore except the demons.
People could prayer walk and prayer jog and implement any one of a hundred different methods to cleanse or purify the area but unless this pesky burial mound was identified and specifically addressed, the curse would remain and all above ground efforts would be fruitless….
This little story has a point. What possible way would be left for the intercessors to discover and determine the location of this demonic stronghold? How would they ever be able to get it taken care of so they could be the city-takers they so desperately wanted to be?
The Answer: EXTRA-BIBLICAL REVELATION has to come into play somewhere here, and that is where this movement ends up - consulting the spirit world for direction in discovering these lost secrets. Since these practices aren't found in the Bible, one must assess that there is a possibility that a great deal of the message received by teachers in this movement concerning these unseen details of our cities are from intelligences beyond us and apart from the True God Who will not validate these false ministries with information for superstitious presuppositions. Food for thought…
Dawson ends this section with some last words on Identificational Repentance:
"We have some unfinished business to attend to. One of the reasons for continuing racial prejudice is the unresolved guilt that still resides in the white community. It's time that the curse was lifted and that cleansing and reconciliation came to completion. That's the ministry of Jesus and we are His Body." (P. 87).
Quick question for Mr. Dawson: Where is this elusive unresolved guilt? As I understand things, every individual is personally responsible for their racist viewpoints or prejudices. Any racism on the part of my forefathers or ancestors is shameful but not lingering as a personal actual sin that I'm guilty of based on their past actions. I am guilty when I fail to love as Christ loved or hold bitterness in my heart towards anyone. I must confess those sins that are personally mine and I thank God He doesn't hold me responsible for sins that other people do. That would be too much a burden to bear. I think teachings like this are the source of "lingering guilt". Its only "unresolved" in the minds of Dawson and any who swallow this teaching. True Christians resolve not to continue to hold racist views based on the teachings of Christ in the Bible (1 John 2:8-11). (Note: AFI has an excellent article on Generational Curses written by Bob Dewaay. Check out this related subject in the Word /Faith section of our site).
Quick question: Is the author
referring to the "Christian white community" or both believers and unbelieving
white people? This question needs clarified because the "ministry of
Jesus" and "His body" is to see the general curse of unforgiven
sins and the fallen state lifted from mankind as he comes to the saving
knowledge of Jesus Christ. Unless that happens, racism will never be dealt
with, and if the "Christian" community is practicing "continuing racial
then they are not truly saved (1 John2:9).
Either way you look at what he is saying, preaching to the lost, racist or non, and seeing them repent and receive Jesus is the only "reconciliation" that is needed initially. Dawson does not make the case that we need his Identificational Repentance as an ethnic community to right the wrongs of history.
These final two quotes bring out this touchy issue further. Let's shine some light on it:
"Repentance, reconciliation, and healing could take place if Christians from the black and white community joined together in identification with the sins and griefs of their forebears"(Ibid.).
No, Mr. Dawson, reconciliation and healing DOES take place when we yield to Christ by keeping His Word and love as He loved. 1 john 2:5 says, "But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him."Perfected, mature, Christ-like love involves forgiveness, reconciliation, and even the ability to love our enemies (Matt. 5:43,44)!
Dear reader, don't accept this yolk of bondage by identifying with the sins of our ancestors. I don't even want to identify with my own sins beyond acknowledging them and confessing those things to receive forgiveness. We can sympathize with past injustice and denounce past cruelties but more important is to affirm a very current love for one another, regardless of race or what our forefathers did. This is how they will know we are Christians and true disciples of Jesus (John 13:35).
Please don't hold me responsible for any ancestral baggage that Christ took care of once and for all. He died and I accepted. He cleansed and forgave my personal sins and if his blood can cleanse my own past sins and bring me reconciliation with Him(2 Cor. 5:17-21), then I have every reason to believe that I am not bound in guilt to actions I didn't do. As a member of the white community, I affirm this in the presence of any reader.
Last words for chapter 8:
"If the sin is acknowledged and relationship is restored, then the authority of the Lord can be exercised over the demonic forces that have been exploiting the past."(Ibid.).
1) When I acknowledged my sins, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, Repented to God and believed the Gospel, Christ granted me relationship. What's more, I can still confess my sins and He is faithful and just to forgive me of those sins and cleanse me again from ALL unrighteousness, thereby restoring any temporary breach in communion.
2) The Lord's authority IS exercised over demonic forces at all times. He is in control and they can do nothing aside from what God Himself permits them to do.
3) Teachings in books like this one
exploit the past, thereby having more in common with doctrines of demons
than with Biblical Truth.
"Makin' Promises My City Cant Keep…" (Chapter 9 Review)
Here's hoping that Chapter 9 "The History of God's People/Covenants" will be brief. I think it has been established that Dawson's use of the Old Testament thus far has some real problems. But this chapter starts out with some true statements that the Bible would agree with such as describing the fact that God keeps covenants with His people.
Dawson cites the Davidic Covenant as proof that God will make similar covenants with today's cities and churches and this is where he begins to go astray. I think his fundamental mistake is confusing the nature of Old Testament Covenants between God and His chosen people, Israel, and the concept of a Christian "heritage".
"Because of God's covenant with David, Josiah's generation lived in a time of revival rather than judgment. If you live in Los Angeles, for example, a study of the Azusa Street Revival might give you insight into today's battle." (P. 90).
While it is true that God's covenant with David had lasting effects on the next generation, we have received no such covenant in preceding generations through the Church in the same way as Israel did. We have the promises that God will take care of us and provide and be faithful and unchanging in His nature as a "covenant" spanning all generations and laid out as tried and truthful in His Word, but we don't have any literal promise of great revival made during Azusa Street for today's church. If God Covenantly promised that, it has yet to appear in full bloom. In fact, the Bible speaks against a great end-time revival before the return of Christ (Read Matt 24; 2 Thess. 2:3).
One thing that we can also learn from studying Azusa Street is where many of the false teachings so rampant in certain circles today in the church have their roots. I agree with Dawson in the aspect that there are lessons to be learned from history, one of which is "error begets error", but also that Godly examples have a good influence on the young learners. Truth remains that not every person who was impacted at Azusa Street was faithful to God's Word in his or her following ministries, and the Church reaped a bad harvest in some areas of heretical teaching.
Dawson has already espoused "whopping great amounts" of Dominionist teachings as well as hinted that he believes in at least a limited form of what we would call "Replacement theology" where many or all of the promises made to Israel in the Old Testament are applicable to the Church today. This interpretation is seen in his constant usage of Old Testament passages to "prove" his current unbiblical warfare practices.
I wish to re-emphasize that primary aspects of the Davidic Covenant are made to Israel. Spiritually speaking, we, as today's believers in Jesus Christ, have been made a part of God's provision for spiritual blessings for Israel, (We've been grafted in) but the Church is not Israel. Los Angeles will never be "the city of the great King"or the "city of God" in the same way Jerusalem bears that name. That is uniquely a reference to Jerusalem. Likewise, the Church will never be "The Chosen People" in the same way as Israel is. I say these things to show there is a distinction between the two on some levels. God has a unique dimension of His plan for the nation of Israel (www.ariel.org ).
I'm sure Dawson would affirm as would I that Eph.3: 14-18 says that God has made "one new man from the two" that used to exist through Jesus' atoning sacrifice. Now, when a Jew or Gentile places their trust in Christ for salvation, we become members of the same Body (Eph. 4) and one family. I affirm that In Christ there is neither Jew nor gentile, male nor female, slave nor free because we are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28), and on the equality level that is true. I'm sure Dawson would affirm this with me, and would even acknowledge that there are certain distinctions still present between the Church and Israel.
The spiritual benefits of adoption into God's family and the promise of the indwelling Spirit and eternal life, as well as sins atoned for through the blood are all ours together in Christ. Where Replacement Theology goes wrong is that it applies all the promises made specifically to Israel (such as Millennial Kingdom provisions, land allotments, and other promises of God's dealings that we read about in the Old Testament Covenants) to today's Church. Sadly, the circles in which these teachings are most proclaimed are riddled with all kinds of other heresies and characterized by a prevailing irreverence towards the Bible and a denial of it as authoritative.
Dear reader, we must never "cover up", redefine, or "reason out" the significance of God's plan for Israel. There are certain things that are reserved solely for them based on these past covenants. (There are other good articles dealing with these issues written by people far more qualified to highlight them than I am. Check out www.ariel.org and www.moriel.org for example). Suffice it to say that Israel is unique in God's plan for the end times and we need to recognize that.
Dawson focuses on making some parallels between the eternal Davidic Covenant to Israel and the past heritage of our churches and cities. I must say that it is good to have a Godly heritage. I myself am a third or fourth generation Christian in my family, but my current salvation is not a result of some past covenant made by my ancestors. No, the fact that I am a Christian today centers on the fact that I have personally responded to the Spirit's moving in my heart and have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. Do not confuse covenant with heritage.
Dawson then makes a pretty good case from the life of Josiah in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles that "It is a dangerous thing to lose the knowledge of the past." (P. 91).
In the right context that is definitely true. I just find myself wishing that Dawson would research some of the past roots of his spiritual warfare doctrines and repent accordingly. He should start by making that ever-awesome historical journey back to believing the Bible as his standard for doctrine and submitting to the authority of the teachings of the true apostles of scripture.
Look at what the early missionary Irenaeus said in the Preface of his Against Heresies:
"As well as I can…I will briefly and clearly describe the position of the present false teachers….I am neither practiced in writing nor trained in rhetoric, but my love for you and yours encourages me to bear my witness about these teachings which have been hidden till the present, but have now by the grace of God come to light."
Those are timely words to the Church which all of us would do good to heed in this hour. History does have certain lessons to teach and God has designed even the passage of time to testify of His truth and His desire that we continue to walk in it. BUT, there is a limit to the power of History and I'm not sure Dawson understands that:
"One of the most moving experiences of my life was standing in the room where David Livingstone was born…as I looked through the relics of his life and read of his struggle for Africa, I thought, Surely God will always bless Scotland because of this man…Oh what a heritage undergirds my life as a missionary."(P.93).
Yes, I too am moved when I consider the past efforts of missionaries. I learn a lot from their lives. Heritage is good if it's godly but will God always bless Scotland because of Livingstone's Scottish origin? With whom did God make that covenant? Did God always bless every generation of Israel because of or based on Abraham's faith?
Answer: No. In God's sovereign power, He has allowed both times of rich blessing and severe judgment on preceding generations, not necessarily predicated on the past. While Abraham, the father of the Hebrew people was a great hero of faith (Read about him in Hebrews 11:8-19), Israel was not always "blessed" abundantly because of him. They always received mercy as do all of us even in spite of our sins but our transgressions will not be overlooked. Blessings and disciplinary "blastings" are in God's program for His people as evidenced by history.
The main reason that this is a troubling sentiment is because the Third Wave idea of what a "blessed" nation is seems to have much to do with measurable success in terms of God's "breakthroughs" as evidenced in transformed cities and ecumenical unity. Make no mistake, John Dawson identifies himself with the Third wave Movement without apology, and this "colors" his perceptions and definitions of terms like "anointed", "reconciliation", and "blessing".
I'm focusing on this because Dawson is leading up to his actual main point in this chapter. While much of what he says concerning covenant, heritage, and the value of history I agree with, his conclusion repeats his own past historical error found in earlier chapters of Taking Our Cities For God: Dawson is leading up to this statement:
"There are five areas of essential knowledge in which today's Christian worker must walk."(P.93).
He lists them:
1) Know the history of the church
in your nation.
2) Know the history of the church in your city.
3) Know the history of ministry to your target subculture or ethnic group.
4) Know the history of the type of ministry in which you are involved.
5) Know the history of your movement.
You might say, "What's wrong with any of these objectives in and of themselves?" Answer: Nothing. They are helpful and good guidelines for ministry BUT they are not essential. Suppose the information and answers to the above areas are unavailable. What if I cant come to know the full backgrounds of a past ministry effort. Am I doomed to failure and substandard evangelism?
Dawson is implying and specifically stating that I MUST know these things or my ministry will be ineffective. If these are essential, then we should be able to find these mandates in scripture. The bare facts are, we don't see the apostles or the early church vigorously researching past information about city demographics in order to fulfill the Great Commission. They just did it.
Quick question: Do you know the Gospel? Do you have God's word? Then research that historical resource and realize that through obeying that, you are "thoroughly equipped for EVERY good work." (2 Tim. 3:17)(Emphasis AFI).
In truth, you don't need Dawson's warfare techniques, the revelations concerning the identity of demons, the 'spiritual maps" of our cities, or even this article that I am writing to be able to have effective ministry. When these "helpful hints" are moved to the forefront as necessary prerequisites for fruitful evangelism, something other than the teachings of Scripture and God's power become center stage. When that happens, get ready for failure!
One added concern I have lies with point 5 in this checklist- "Know the history of your movement". I appeal to Dawson to understand where much of his teachings concerning spiritual warfare are coming from. I would venture to say that some of his precepts actually find their way back, beyond apocryphal writers and early church heresy, all the way back to shamanistic tribal superstitions!
But here's what the author means about point #5:
"I need to be attentive to the original vision of our founder, Loren Cunningham. It is equally important for me to pass on to my staff the promises that God gave to my wife and me when we pioneered this branch of Youth With A Mission many years ago."(P. 95).
Quick question for Mr. Dawson: Based on some of the views and opinions expressed by YWAM's founder in his own writings, (See this article by Robertson: www.geocities.com/promo777/hearvoice.htm ) why would you want to be allegiant to someone who has expressed mystical experience and a loose adherence to God's word as authoritative? Why align your ministry with a man whose "discernment" allows him to appear with and endorse Benny Hinn as an anointed man of God? ( www.letusreason.org/curren29.htm ). Did God ever reveal to you and your wife "promises" along the lines of some of the "facts" you are advancing in this book?
I'm more than a little disturbed by the trends and repeated errors issuing from many in YWAM today. Much of those teachings have come to us today as a result of following past error espoused by earlier YWAM teachers. Taking Our Cities For God has been hailed as "Holy Spirit insight"(Hayford from the Foreword) yet contains teachings so faulty and unbiblical that it has served as a corrupting agent to potentially thousands of YWAMers in DTS after DTS. These "revelations" and supposed "essentials" for evangelism have been utilized and spread like wildfire through foreign countries as countless of well-meaning young people take this "leaven" to churches and unreached people groups worldwide.
Because of those facts and teachings in books like this and other Third Wave publications, I DO think that everyone should analyze the history of YWAM and thereby avoid falling into the same Gnostic traps of their forerunners since Cunningham. On that level I do think "heeding history" needs to be implemented, but it is not a prerequisite for evangelism.
Know the Historical Gospel and live in obedience to the historical Christian faith "delivered once and for all" (Jude 3), then be used of God to "make history" yourself by preaching it to the sinners.
Dawson concludes this chapter on covenants by making the following statement in an obvious attempt to further establish the "necessity" of doing these generational repentance rituals to experience victory:
"Finally, a question that can apply to all five categories: "Where have the walls of my city broken down?" Your forefathers may have obtained promises from God, but perhaps they have never come to pass, because conditions for complete victory have never been met."(P. 96).
He boosts this phrase by sharing an example of a church pastor who joined a long line of failed ministers in a little church that had been plagued by personal pastoral sin. No matter what, every pastor came and went because of recurring sin that, according to Dawson had been planted in the past history of the city and had never been ritually "undone" Dawson-style. In other words, Dawson states that the repeating moral failures of the pastors in this unspecified church were proofs that past promises by founding fathers hadn't come to pass because somewhere and "somewhen", the "walls had been broken down", one or more of the past ministers had not honored God's "promises" to them concerning their destiny, and continued to cause all this trouble.
We need to think for a moment about what Dawson is saying. According to his logic, if you are a young pastor joining a church that has a past record of scandal or moral failure, BEWARE!!! If these obscure "walls" have been "broken down" in the past, then, most assuredly, you too will be doomed to moral failure. Yes, you might as well quit before the certain fall unless the past is researched and ritually undone through "generational repentance".
If this were true, most churches would never have gotten this far. Why would any church stay open if doomed to a pattern of failure? Statistically, many churches have past problems. Ministry is full of sad stories of the fallen "man of God" who has given in to his sin, but is this because of some past sin by their predecessor? Does this mean, no one will ever be able to lead that church effectively until rituals are performed? Talk about ancestral ministerial bondage.
In truth, current pastors have the decision to be godly, obedient, humble, and pure in the ministry God has entrusted them. They can either conduct themselves in a manner worthy of that calling and receive God's blessings or they can choose to depart into personal sin, be disqualified, and reap the consequences by becoming an all too popular statistic. That choice is given to each pastor as they enter into ministry as shepherds over their flock.
The past has no stranglehold on the Christian. (Again check out our Generational Curses article by Bob DeWaay). Chapter 9's teachings introduce unbiblical and unnecessary fears about what someone might have done wrong in a past ministry, and how it could destroy your current ministry today. That's a pressure no one should have to live beneath.
Let's end this chapter's review with a re-statement of the obvious here. If the success or very existence of my current ministry depends on the conduct of any former pastor or leader, then I am most sorrowful indeed if they were in error. Some questions arise: what if I have no way to know what my predecessors did? What if records are lost about my city's history, or what if no one can recollect the pitfalls of the past?
Following Dawson's logic, I would then be unable to "undo" these grievous ancestral sins and thus doomed to fail, even if I didn't know it. Dawson's implication is that I would need to invite a YWAM prayer warrior or one of the new prophets or apostles, so that I could get revelatory information about the past history of my city or ministry so that I could ritually undo the damage.
Plain and simple: This is Gnostic witchcraft. Reject this stuff. It's unbiblical.
God save us from Dawson's conclusions here!
This ends Part 2 of this Book Review. I dare you to read Part 3 (A friendly dare of course).
Go to Part 3