(Chapters 17-21)
by John Dawson
YWAM Publishing 1989
Reviewed by Steve Mitchell, Answers For India, 11/02

"WAR!!…What is it good for?…" (Chapter 17 Review)

Chapter 17 begins the final section of Taking Our Cities For God and is called "Worship: The Place of Beginnings." On Page 163, Dawson lays out the summary of the remainder of this book on spiritual warfare with these words:

"This section lays out a fivefold approach to bringing down our cities' strongholds: They are: worship, wait on God, identify with the city's sin, overcome evil with good, and travail until birth."

We need to take a close look at what he has demonstrated he believes are the definitions of each of those categories, thus far in this book. We have yet to see if he gets more biblical in his descriptions of these topics but, at this point in our review, we must conclude that Dawson has some preconceived connotations that affect his definitions. In this section, I'll also add some information on how these concepts have changed in times since this book was published:

1) By "worship" Dawson emphasizes the importance of praising and giving glory to God. This is a worthy pursuit and if that were the main focus in this area then we would be all right. One thing to note, however, is that Dawson is coming from the perspective of advocating "warfare worship". In other words, using worship as a means to fight the Devil; using worship and praise songs as weapons which, when engaged, wield some mystical power against territorial spirits which may or may not even be there. Our praise songs become incantations, according to the proponents of Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare, as we "tear down the strongholds" and "take our cities" by "declaring into the Heavenlies" through song. This is the unbiblical aspect of worship that I take issue with.

We are not commanded anywhere in Scripture to "tear down territorial spirits" or "take the land" by singing or shouting praises to God. Whenever Israel marched through a place in victory or sang of God's power in war, it was to commemorate the fact that God had fought for them (Moses victory song Ex. 15:1-19). The songs themselves were not doing anything to thwart the enemy's plans or driving evil spirits from a certain locale.

There are psalms that celebrate God's victory over Israel's enemies and celebratory rehearsals of His power over the enemy, but these are directed to God or used as testifying to His people for the purpose of exalting and magnifying God rather than as mystical offensive weapons against demons.

2) By the phrase "wait on God" Dawson means that intercessors and spiritual warrior "city-takers" should pray fervently until God "breaks through" with revelation concerning the unseen realm over cities. Waiting on God is less an act of patient prayer and more of a method to receive extra-biblical revelation for use in spiritual warfare. Many times in this book, Dawson references the YWAMers receiving the names of demons over cities after they 'waited on God." to grant them the ability to "sense" what was going on up there.

Again, waiting on God is not wrong. When David wrote "My soul wait thou only upon God (Ps. 62:5; 130:5) and that those who wait on the Lord will be blessed (Ps. 37:9; 37:34; 27:14) the context, was never, however, linked to "receiving revelation" about spiritual powers who control a vicinity.

As with all of these concepts, they are good things when understood and implemented biblically, but Dawson colors them all with his warfare teachings.

3) By "identify with the city's sin" Dawson means that we should do vigorous research about past and present problems and beseech God to pour out "prophetic revelation' concerning discerning hidden sins. According to the author, we also need to take personal responsibility for sins that we didn't even commit so that we can do "identificational repentance" on behalf of the guilty and, in most cases, dead people who have passed on before us. This is the same concept of "baptism for the dead" that the Mormon cult advocates and practices. We are required to "atone" for past misdeeds in order to be effective in breaking current bondages.

Having already discussed this one, I don't feel the need to go into this aspect at this point, other than to say, I'm sure that all Bible-believing Christians can see the problems with this practice. It puts an unhealthy emphasis on iniquity and brings a yolk and bondage. Who bore our sins on the cross? Jesus Christ. I need not bear the sins of anyone else. I can pray that they repent and be right with the Lord but I am not called to "identify" with another person's sin or take responsibility for the collective trespasses of a city or people group, and neither are you.

4) By "overcome evil with good" we know that Dawson is advocating that we must "sense" the specific expertise of the ruling spirits (which are usually faultily ascribed to works of the flesh: greed, lust, pride…) and then counteract that sin with the opposing virtue. In some mystical way, Dawson asserts that we can "undo" an alleged reigning spirits power by acting in the "opposite spirit". I guess this practice proves too much for the problematic principality to take and so he packs up his bags and leaves town, and the city is ours!

This sounds good, as does so much in this book, but we just cant seem to verify it in the Scriptures anywhere and neither can the author. I believe there is merit and validity in practicing opposite than sinful behaviors but not for the purpose of thwarting those blasted territorial spirits. They may not even be there; whereas God sees everything we do and commands us to walk properly. We should walk in the polar opposite of sinful lifestyle to please Him and be obedient to His commandments ("Be Holy…" 1 Peter 1:16). That is reason enough to forsake habitually sinful lifestyles.

Inasmuch as we walk like Jesus walked (Col. 2:6,7; 1 John 2:6; and "in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:16,25)), the Devil has no place for a foothold in our lives, but this is being packaged as an essential for city-taking and not primarily as a necessary practice for the Christian life.

I'm sure Dawson would agree with this aspect but in addition to the warfare principles he's trying to prove.

5) By "travail until birth', Dawson is expressing our need to "press in" and inundate "heaven's door" until we received our breakthrough. According to Dawson, prayer and waiting on God for the power to "take a city" can be agonizing. Disturbing to me is the mention of the "season of travail" (Ch. 6 of Taking Our Cities For God covered in Part 1 of this review) experienced by all those YWAMers, Hayford, and the author concerning the averted destruction of Los Angeles in 1984. That's the previous mention of "travailing" that Dawson has made in this book and it's linked with the bad usage of this event that never really occurred. Is this what Dawson means by "travailing in prayer"?

In warfare prayer circles and people who promote city transformation through prayer and intercession, you see the "P.U.S.H". mentality. That's an acronym for "Pray Until Something Happens".  Prayers can be like "birth pangs" until God grants extra-biblical revelation about a ruling demons name, secret city sin, or, in some cases, past pagan altars providing present demonic entrance into a geographical location or culture.

After much travailing and sometimes painful waiting on God, He is ideally supposed to "answer by fire" or break through in supernatural fury to answer collective petitions in a spectacular way, and the stories abound of these "births".

Those in the warfare, Word/Faith Movement, Prayer movement, and New Apostles/Prophets Movement all refer to God "birthing a new thing" in the heavenlies or here among the Church. Much is talked about the Church being "pregnant with God's purpose" as seen in the "new move of the Spirit". Birth experiences and actually disgusting behaviors on behalf of travailers in the Toronto/Pensacola revivals have also been used as evidence that God is "birthing" something new.

I say all of that to say this. Dawson may not have had in mind all the ramifications of his teachings on warfare prayer but this book definitely provided a framework for beginning some of these trends.

Jesus said "ask", "seek" and "knock" (Matt. 7:7) and the Greek language does indicate a continual action in the sense of not ceasing to ask for what we need, but the crucial point to remember is that all these things will only be granted to us as we ask in according to His will or in His name (Matt. 21:22; Matt. 6:10). Dawson or anyone in this movement has yet to prove that God desires us to practice so many unbiblical strategies in Spiritual warfare. Erroneous teachings like this are prohibited and warned against in Scripture, so to ask for special revelation concerning demonic rule lies outside the sphere of God's will for us.

To travail in prayer or agonize and spend many hours praying against territorial spirits or asking to receive the names of sins and evil spirits is not a practice we are ever told to do in scripture. This kind of travailing prayer does not result in "taking a city", it actually results in giving undue credit and time to demonic forces.

Dawson is asking everyone in this book to do something (in one or more of these areas) that God never said to do, Jesus never did Himself, nor did his disciples, the apostles or the early church. Taking a city for God Dawson- style has never been done in Church history yet. These practices advocated by Otis, Wagner, and Dawson have never yielded the fruit that they claim it has and never will because most of the precepts and steps these men insist are mandatory aren't in Gods word or something we need to waste our time doing.

Worship, waiting on God, overcoming evil with good are all good things when practiced and viewed in the right context, which is Biblically. Identifying with a city's sin and travailing until birth in the way that is advocated in these circles are not commanded in Scripture and come from the minds of men and women who advocate gong beyond Scriptural teaching, therefore allowing the possibility of being tutored by other forces. 1/3 of the original angelic population is more than willing to assist in teaching those with ears to hear them and are overjoyed that so many in the Church are going after their dark "wisdom".

These are some of my initial concerns with the meanings that Dawson has poured into these concepts in the previous chapters of Taking Our Cities For God.  I will say that, as Dawson concludes his book, he seems to have some good points about certain things and those will be noted as we review these final chapters.

Chapter 17 cites one passage to prove that God uses worship in spiritual warfare. He reminds us of the story of Judah's enemies being defeated "through the singing of praise instead of through direct military action."(P. 164).

"He (King Jehoshaphat) appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: "Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever." Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated" (2 Chron. 20:21-22)." (Ibid.).

Well, I agree with Dawson that it appears that God chose to use the people's praise as part of the battle strategy for this victory. As King Jehoshaphat appointed the people to sing and praise God, the next verses tell us that the marauding armies killed each other. God turned them against one another and caused them to destroy one another.

The only thing that gives rise to a concern about using this as a "proof text" is that it was miraculous event that God used in a specific situation. We must ask though, were the songs the effectual agent here that brought about the defeat of Judah's attackers? We might well argue that it was the obedience of the people and their heart condition towards God that He honored. This was manifested through song but the songs are not stated here as weapons as such.

At any rate, we don't know for sure but this passage definitely does not establish a principle that warfare praises defeat territorial spirits. These were human armies in a very specific battle with God's people. God regularly turned the tide of battle to the Chosen People's favor in response to their obedience to His commands, but we don't see praise songs being utilized to target territorial tyrants anywhere else in the Scriptures.

As this chapter continues, Dawson brings up a good point about our attitude towards the environment in which we live. Yes, if our outlook is one of bitterness and dissatisfaction with where we live it will affect our evangelism because we will not be able to see opportunities beyond our bad attitude. We do need to pray that we can be content in every situation, have clean hearts (Ps.66:18) and be open to see the opportunities for sharing our faith.

One other troubling aspect of this chapter is Dawson's constant emphasis on "revelation" and we can assume he largely means of the extra-Biblical kind:

"What is your attitude toward your city? Most Christians indulge in habitual complaining about traffic, air pollution and other petty annoyances. They fail to realize that reacting to their environment in this way will darken their spirits and stifle the revelation that God wants to bring. Revelation only comes to the grateful because gratitude is evidence of humility." (P. 165).

"As I exercised the discipline of thanksgiving, I began to receive constant revelation about the blessings of urban living and the destiny that God had in mind for my city."(P. 166).

"The more you lift up your eyes in praise, the more revelation you will receive about your destiny."(P. 170).

It's hard to know what Dawson means by "revelation" here. Perhaps he simply means it in the generic form for "guidance" or discernment, but, if that were the case, it would clarify to all of us better if he chose another word. Its like the constant use of the term "inspiration" by many in the Church today. Even well-meaning people over use and abuse the term "inspiration" by labeling a worship song "inspired" or citing a personal hero as being an "inspiration" to someone. I don't want to be a stickler here, I'm just saying that particular term carries with it unique connotations [Theopneustos - "God breathed" see 2 Tim. 3:16) as does the term "revelation" when used by a Christian concerning these doctrines.

As demonstrated in past chapters, Dawson definitely believes that he and others are receiving specific "words" from God concerning these unbiblical practices. I pray I'm not overreacting, but every time he uses the word "revelation" it doesn't seem to be in the context of what the Bible has revealed. It is always a type of personal "gnosis" or direct connection to God that he and others (Including Joy Dawson and Loren Cunningham,) seem to revel in while the rest of us just keep missing the insight. "Is this Really You, God?" You'll see why I am concerned in the next chapter…

"Good things come to those who wait…" (Chapter 18 review)

Now its time in this book for "Waiting on the Lord for Insight" in Chapter 18. As redundantly stated before, this book has been hailed "Holy Spirit insight" and of course, Dawson has implied and stated that these concepts about spiritual warfare came from God. We can deduce that Dawson's "revelations" concerning these tactics were derived from hours in prayer and travail until these ideas "broke through", because, although the Bible is referenced and partly used to substantiate these claims, a great deal of other so-called "essential" material exists to create the "mixed bag" of counsel that is Taking Our Cities For God.

Waiting on the Lord is awesome and Dawson begins this section with a great verse about that discipline (Ps. 40:1).  But already there is a statement that, understood in a trustworthier context (i.e. another book written by an author who values the Bible as his/her authority over and above personal "words"), would not be problematic but here Dawson says:

"We are promised that God will speak if we seek Him. John 20:27 says, "My sheep hear My voice…and they follow Me." (P. 171).

I am in God's flock, as I trust Mr. Dawson is also, but I am sure that the idea we both have of hearing God's voice is different. I advocate, as would Dawson (to some extent) that

  "God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds…" (Heb. 1:1,2).

I do hear the Master's voice "loud and clear" through the teachings of Holy Scripture.  Truly, He does still "speak" when we spend time focused on His revealed Word and as the Holy Spirit illuminates the Bible's truths.

Dawson and other Third wavers however, insist that God is far more vocal to them than the rest of us will ever perceive. These guys get revelations, audible voices, direct quotes, and sometimes even Divine apostolic-level visitations by Christ today. Story after story abounds with tales of signs and wonders that rival the works of the apostles and the disciples. Why, today, based on God's revelatory voice, whole cities are alleged to be "transformed" all the way down to the level of weather conditions because of the prayers and commands issued from God to his new servants that can hear His voice.

Putting all of this together since Dawson's writing of this book up until the latter half of 2002, we can most assuredly say that the supernatural miracles and abundance of revelation has exceeded the times of the early Church. At least, that it what the Third Wave claims.  Just think, the latest testimonies of transformed cities alone testify of a phenomenon that has NEVER been done before - namely, There's never been a city in human history until recently that has been totally "taken for God!" The only problem is that today's proclaimers of this evidence cant seem to remember the address of where most of these things happened and when we do look into their claims they are often not what they were advertised as being. (See our Transformations expose' articles for that).

I trust you can see what I'm saying. Dawson and the Third wavers have been claiming to hear God's voice on a lot of things but the best they can come up with are books like this one. I'm sorry, but if the God of the Bible was in the business of revealing these "essentials for effective evangelism" today, then we could expect the products to be more in line with the Bible, wherein lies all we need to know in terms of revelation about anything. "Going beyond what is written" is en vogue but also very shaky in terms of trustworthiness. Read on to see Dawson's view point of what it means to wait on the Lord for insight. It involves the same old problematic pitfall of revelations.

At a large YWAM prayer meeting, good things happen: people repent, get serious with the Lord in prayer, and experience times of intimacy with God. But that's not all:

"A spontaneous cloudburst of worship followed this time of repentance, and then a spirit of prophecy fell on the people like that described in 1 Samuel 19:20. Everybody was suddenly full of revelation - revelation about a season of awakening coming to our city. People's minds seemed to be filled with images of rain, which is a symbol of revival. Some had visions, while some received Scripture portions about wells, rivers, and floods. Others prophesied about a coming time of harvest." (P.172).

"Some received Scripture verses about the wickedness of our city and God's judgment."(Ibid.).

"The hours flew by. The hand of the Lord was heavy upon us. In the late afternoon, we moved from travail into warfare. We sang songs of battle and cried out to God for mercy and deliverance."(P.173).

This definitely sounds like an intense time where God is moving. I'm not saying that the Lord can't bring to mind verses that apply to situations we are praying about, but I am concerned about the fact that every time these verses are cited, they are out of context or misapplied in this group. In addition, the times of revelation are in serious question given the teachings that flow from experiences like this one among people already predisposed to believing Third Wave doctrine.

As mentioned earlier, some of the practices in prayer groups like these especially during the seasons of travail have gotten steadily more alarming. False prophet Mike Bickle (who has recently turned over his former pastorate to Floyd McClung of YWAM: www.graceministries.com/) shares about recent developments in his all night houses of prayer that should cause everyone to wonder about what's really going on in some of these meetings:

"By the way, it's not that good…a lot of our prayer meetings are boring; a lot of them we're stumbling; a lot of them some people say and sing stuff like - that's heresy! (Chuckling) Oh God, this thing is hard work! (Loud laughing from audience) So some of the meetings are really good, but I want you to know, plenty of them are still a little 'rough and ugly' is what I say. But, it's happening; it is happening…" (Mike Bickle, "Nat'l School of the Prophets" Conference 2000, Tape #9 (#000512011A); Friday, May 12, 2000; 11:00 AM session).

In addition, I've seen videos of some of these Third Wave prayer rallies and when the warfare worship starts, watch out! Men and women take the mic and start screaming declarations and victory slogans at demons and even, in one meeting, a large sword was drawn and violently waved back and forth as the songs and mayhem were "cutting through" the reign of darkness.

I know those examples are a little extreme but these gatherings and subsequent outpourings of revelation yield some bad fruit. Dawson continues with this particular account and alleges that God really broke through at this meeting:

"We were on our feet singing with all our energy when out of the clear California sky came a huge thunderclap that stunned us to silence. Some of us whimpered; others fell to the floor; all had a terrifying sense of the majesty and power of the Creator God whom we were addressing in praise. " And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness." (Acts 4:31)." (Ibid.).

I wasn't at this meeting but it sure seems that God showed up with fury, doesn't it? Can we trust the credibility coming from a man with the past perception of Dawson? What was the thunderclap significant of? Did God break through the territory over L.A. (again?), or perhaps He was trying to get the attention of the believers who were engaging in cathartic, high-energy praise warring.

The answer is we'll never know because this again is one of many tales coming from this group. I will have to point out that I have trouble believing this story with the same difficulty I have accepting other claims from the "Third Wave" such as God filling teeth with gold at meetings, Purple lightning bolts striking pulpits in false revival churches, resurrection stories, Transformation videos, and more personal visitations, trips to Heaven, and more private revelations than you can count.  I don't doubt that God can do miracles today or that He cant "answer by fire" if He chooses, but lets be honest, there's enough of this stuff happening that has been proven false and we need to be cautious.

Dawson shares the end result of what that day's prayer meeting was all about:

"Out of these days of prayer came a clear picture of the principalities and powers attempting to govern Los Angeles."(Ibid.).

The "fruit" of waiting on God for the Third Wave warrior always seems to involve the demons. For this reason, I can hardly trust a thing Dawson says. It all points to the point he is trying to prove and that's alien to the Bible.

Dawson's main thrust of this chapter is to celebrate the fact that God talks to him and I think this is the telling statement:

"Hearing God's voice is one of the greatest privileges we can experience. The fact that He talks to us is more wonderful than the specific things He says; the plans He has for us are so much more exciting than we could concoct." (P. 176).

Is it just me, or does this statement alarm you a little bit? Dawson is more concerned with the idea of being communicated to than the actual content of the communications and this is serious.

Quick question:  How many of these young men and women in YWAM are being taught and "trained" to hear the "voice" of God (a la Joy Dawson and Loren Cunningham style: www.geocities.com/promo777/hearvoice.htm ) and not being equipped with discernment and good solid teaching concerning the authority of God's Word? If mentored by men like Dawson, who rely heavily on sensory impression and revelations but are less concerned with the actual ideas they are being given, any insight or training they receive is questionable.

The problem: we could only know if it was God or not by or because of the specific things He would say. Furthermore, and in actuality, God's already said what we need to know in the Bible. There is no new revelation despite the insistence of the Third wavers.

The rest of Chapter 18 is full of accounts of dreams and visions that are commonplace as methods of guidance in YWAM circles. They are suspect because they are often experienced in the vicinity of faulty teaching. In this case, a person who sits under the teachings on spiritual warfare as found in Taking Our Cities For God is not in a healthy setting where Biblical Truth is prevalent and a priority. Therefore, any vision, message, or visitation experienced in this context is questionable.

One final note: On page 181, Dawson himself seems concerned with whether or not he's really hearing God's voice(and I share your concern, brother):

"At this point a troubling question may have arisen in your mind. How do I know it is God who is speaking to me? How do I know it's not just my imagination? I admit that it's easy to talk to yourself in Jesus' name, but there is an unmistakable quality to the voice of the good Shepherd that cannot be duplicated either by our imagination or by Satan, who is disguised as an angel of light."

Sadly, this is not true. Satan CAN counterfeit the voice of God and he does it all the time using false revelations and unbiblical lies. Rick Joyner, C. Peter Wagner, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and others wouldn't teach and write the things they do if they knew it was the Devil's voice or their own imaginations. They are totally convinced their revelations are from God and that they are hearing the Master's voice. All one needs to do is a quick comparison between their teachings and "insights" and the Bible and it is evident that they have been led astray.

Dawson is doing a dangerous thing by insisting that his discernment is so good that he is above the possibility of being deceived, especially when he has advanced many of these teachings that don't suggest having an origin with the God of the Bible.

"The key is to seek God until you know Him." (P. 180).

How do we do that? Start with formulating your opinions after careful study of God's Word. Pursue knowledge of Him through the meditation and application of Scripture (Ps. 1:2; Ps. 119). Use the Bible to test these teachings and reject what is evil, and cling to what is good (1 Thess. 5:21).

"Give Me My Sin Again…" (Chapter 19 review)

Here we are at chapter 19 in which Dawson will again try to convince us that "Identifying with the Sins of the City" is a good, worthwhile thing to do. He's already introduced concepts like "identificational repentance" and the undoing rituals of past city sins in earlier chapters, but this one sounds like his definitive effort to defend the relevance of this specially received doctrine.

I must say that this chapter was rather insightful and a pleasanter surprise compared to what I was thinking concerning it.  Dawson makes some wonderful statements about how we need to recognize our sinfulness as well as be aware of surrounding iniquity among those we live among.

This chapter reflects a Biblical approach to "standing in the gap" for others, meaning we pray to God to grant forgiveness of the sins of those around us, but we must keep in mind that God has made provision for forgiveness (The atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross) but that atonement must be believed and accepted individually to effect cleansing and salvation. The only concern is that this fact is not emphasized and, taking the earlier chapters into consideration, we know Dawson has some strange implied definitions on what a city is and how far into mysticism this repentance thing goes.

All things considered, a pretty good chapter here…I just wish it were in another book.

"Talking "Smack" to Satan…" (Chapter 20 Review)

Get ready to begin "Overcoming Evil with Good" Dawson-style. The first segment is really good, encouraging us to resist temptation and evil schemes. That's good advice and I think we should take it to heart. I will add that readers of Taking Our Cities For God should resist the very strong temptation to indulge and engage in these warfare tactics that have been demonstrated to have origins other than Scripture.

The Third Wave is constantly promoting bad doctrines and receiving strange messages precisely because they are giving in to the temptation to "Go beyond what is written" and, as they do this, play right into the "straw men" snares that Satan has laid out for them. Keep in mind, that the more people the Devil can get to misdirect their prayers and efforts to Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare, the more time and money he can divert into promoting his agendas rather than God's plans for us.

The very real and present danger of chapter 20 lies in its blatant endorsement, advancement, and promotion of the Word/Faith doctrine known as "Positive Confession."

This practice is endorsed and performed by Kenneth Copeland, Pastor Yongii- Cho, Kenneth Hagin, Benny Hinn, Jon Avanzini, Fred Price, Jerry Savelle, and a host of others who have qualified as the recipients of the title "false teacher" as described in the Holy Bible.

This teaching basically says that Reality is created as we speak things into existence by our mouths. In the same way that God spoke and the universe was formed, so, too, we can use our God-given powers of speech to change our surroundings, cause healings, and even make money appear. The premise behind this activity is that the occult practitioners have known the mystical sacred power of words for ages and God has now revealed this "gnosis" to his church through these men. Furthermore, they claim the Bible teaches it clearly. (See Our Word/Faith section for more on this).

What's the problem? The Spiritual warfare movement has adapted this teaching also and formed it into the practice of making "declarations" into the heavenlies, ordering angels, binding Satan, loosing the Holy spirit, transforming cities and cultures, and making reality happen.

Dawson gets explicit on page 199:

"There is always the release of God's power when we declare out loud His rhema word. The Greek word rhema is the biblical term for the specific personal communication of God with His children here and now. This is different from the logos, which refers to the already revealed word recorded in Scripture."

Here we see that Dawson obviously believes in the "rhema/logos" distinction as taught and believed by many charismatics today. We must note that there are varying interpretations of this doctrine among Pentecostal circles and diverse opinions as to the level of authoritative content in prophecy and words of knowledge. On this issue, we wont linger but what is clear here is that most of Dawson's principles in this book are centered on specific revelation beyond the Bible. (An excellent treatment of this subject and the Pentecostal view of prophecy is found in Ch. 7 of The Final Words of Jesus and Satan's Lies Today by Jacob Prasch. Go to www.moriel.org to obtain a copy of this book).

Notice how he starts down the Word/Faith route when he talks about the power of these revelations being released from the words of your mouth. This is disturbing. To receive specific guidance from God (which I don't believe these people are) is one thing, but to then teach the fact that it comes to pass when spoken forth by the hearer is no less than "name it and claim it" theology a la Ken Copeland and other Word/Faith heretics.

Here he goes:

"Because we are the legal stewards of this planet, it is important for a human being to speak out an authorization for action on the part of angels." (P.  200).

I ask the same question as in chapter 14, Where is this in the Bible? Dawson is militantly advancing a man-centered, Word/Faith flavored, Dominionist ideology here and in the next quote:

"Within our right of dominion is the privilege of speaking into existence the purpose of God as he reveals His mind to us. "But we have the mind of Christ"(1 Cor. 2:16). In this way we create with God new things and destroy the works of darkness."(Ibid.).

Welcome to the Word/Faith movement. Now a lot of the teachings in Taking Our Cities For God make sense. You see, back in Chapter 2, Dawson referenced that he was contemplating "discernment" while sitting under the teaching of Word/Faith New Ager Paul Yongii-Cho. The above statement comes directly from this type of teaching and the affiliations are there, right down to having Jack Hayford write the Foreword to this book.

1 Cor. 2:16 is not a verse that, in any way, could serve as a proof text for this doctrine. It is merely juxtapositioning the new mindset we have in Christ with the old mindset of the world. In no sense can this verse be taken to say that we can then "create with God" by "speaking into existence" His purposes. We can act in responsive obedience to His Word but our tongue holds no mystical creative powers in a literal sense.

Often the verse is quoted "Life and death is in the power of the tongue" (Prov. 18:21) as support for this heretical garbage. But this verse is a poetic metaphorical treatment of the impact our words have in terms of their content on the lives of other people. Only God has the power of creation. We are created beings that must submit to His authority, inclusive to those spirits who may or may not be assigned to every territory.

Want yet another story? This time the reader is treated to another account in Dawson's vast collection of tales, this time to support his theory that our words contain the "force of faith" to make things happen. That activates God's power to move in our physical surrounding and bring forth new realities.

During a severely turbulent plane ride, Dawson begins to speak to the airplane after God told him to "take authority over this plane."(P. 200). Dawson confesses:

"This plane will safely land; Satan and demons, you will not hinder us; the problem will be resolved in the all-powerful name of Jesus right now…So I commandeer this plane in the authority of the almighty God and command it to set us safely on the ground!" (P. 201).

This is perfect example of positive confession in action, no different than the Faith teachers on Trinity Broadcast Network or, here in India, the Miracle Network. Apparently, God tells Dawson what to do and Dawson "creates" with God a safe landing and all the passengers rejoice. Once again, we find the implication that we need to be thankful for Dawson because he can hear from God so good. I find it interesting that Dawson addresses the Devil and his demons once again as probable causes of the turbulence even though God told him to take authority over the plane, not demons.

He speaks here of his partnership with God in bringing that plane safely earthward:

"It was important to God that I exercised my will and spoke with my mouth, and that I consciously invoked the higher authority of God in speaking to the mechanical or human problem facing that airplane that day."(Ibid.).

Yes, it appears that airlines, pilots, passengers, and even God Himself was very blessed to have Dawson on board that day. Again, apparently, if Dawson had not been there to "speak" to the engine or verbally correct human error then we would have had another plane crash with many fatalities. This overemphasis on the power of self and spoken words comes right from Yongii-Cho's teachings and the influence of this man on Dawson is apparent:

"You create the presence of Jesus with your mouth…He is bound by your lips and by your words…Remember that Christ id depending upon you and your spoken word to release His presence."(Paul Yongii-Cho, The Fourth Dimension, vol. 1, S. Plainfield, NJ: Bridge Publishing, 1979, p. 41.).

Please understand that I advocate praying to God for all situations. I too whisper the prayers during in-flight turbulence and I believe that God answers them as He sees fit, but He doesn't need me to keep a plane in the air. He doesn't need my mouth to make it happen in the heavenlies so He can be moved to action. Very telling is the statement Dawson made in the above section: "I exercised my will" (emphasis mine). It is doubtful that God said to Dawson that he needed to positively confess this plane engine into a state of wholeness.

Dawson then applies positive confession on a citywide focus:

"There are many occasions when I have spoken to my city…Satan and demons, you will not have this city. This city belongs to Jesus and will yet fulfill its destiny in bringing blessing to the nations."(Ibid.).

Because Dawson says it, it will be done. At least that's the final most disturbing aspect of positive confession. Without our words, God cannot act or move. Without our speaking things into reality, Satan and his warriors will have their way in the cities. Dawson needs to consider that, in God's plans, not all cities will be places of "blessing to the nations." He has yet to prove in any substantial way that every city has a destiny or "redemptive gift"(see Chapter 4) in the same way a person does or that cities are personal at all.

"Born to Rock…" (Chapter 21 Review)

At long last, we reach the end of this lengthy review of John Dawson's Taking Our Cities For God! This chapter is called "Travailing Until Birth" and is characterized by the first paragraph:

"Just as the contractions of a woman's uterus herald the beginning of labor, there are times when God's Spirit stirs our souls to seasons of intense travail. We must travail in prayer until God's purposes are birthed. This may be an exercise that is deeply personal and private or a corporate exercise, for example, as part of scheduled citywide prayer meetings. That which is conceived of God will eventually come to birth. When the united Christians of a city are at this stage, it is an indicator of impending revival." (p. 203).

That's pretty much what this book is about: Birth. I mean to say that even in these ideas, which were hailed as revolutionary when first published, fruit is produced. Our conceived ideas, premises, and theories will eventually lay the groundwork for an end product, and the teachings of this book did just that. Contained herein are concepts about Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare and cities that paved the way or "birthed" the current bad fruit from the Third Wave spirit Warfare advocates.

Dawson may not have realized how impacting his book and other early offerings were going to be, but time has told that many have bought into these revelations as being from God. Sadly, there is so much dangerous teaching here that the resulting fruit will be hazardous for spiritual consumption by believers.

In the above statement, we have the author's opinion that God is "birthing the new thing" and it involves what is surely ecumenical unity and the promise of revival as the result. The implication is that, if the Church could just get it together, our cities would be transformed and territorial spirits would be evicted. The spiritually oppressive "dam" would be broken and the "river of God" could flow through. I use these terms on purpose to illustrate later developments of the Dominionist Revival Movement and warfare Prayer initiatives that have been "born" after a lengthy gestation period. These teachings are kind of like a Halloween gift from the Devil that is only now being revealed and unwrapped.

Page 204:

"The level of spiritual victory for your city is directly affected by two spiritual conditions: the intensity of your desire and the size of your faith. God wants to see if you want the minimum or the maximum. Do you want institutional survival or citywide revival?" (Emphasis mine).

Yes, Mr. Dawson has ended this book with the same premise in his man-centered theology, namely, that revival is made or broken by our hands or, as in the case of the last chapter, the power of our mouths. As we decree and travail in prayer, and implement all the essential tactics in this book, then and only then will we see the revival that hasn't happened yet.

Dawson, Wagner, and Bickle want you all to believe that a supergroup of anointed spiritual warriors, equipped with apostolic authority and prophetic revelation, has been raised up and is currently cleansing cities utilizing these premises that are proven effective.

Just look at all the abounding evidence: Verifiable miracles? Transformed cities? Nationwide revivals? Oh, wait…those things haven't really happened despite the prayer walking, spiritual mapping, ecumenical warfare prayer, reconciliation walking, and positive confession. This movement hasn't delivered but it needs delivered from the unbiblical deception that Satan has used to introduce it to the Church. The followers, in YWAM and elsewhere also need delivered from these faulty facts and tragic truth claims. Dawson and other Third Wave teachers have been instrumental in bringing this apostasy into our midst via his "revelations".

We'll end here with our review. At book's end, I have to say that I thought Dawson shared some good points in this final chapter. He could have gotten very strange with the birth motif but didn't and I am thankful. He also encourages the reader to seek God and pray with earnest expectation. He also confesses that:

"I understand more than I am able to put in this book, but what I do understand is tiny. I live on the edge of wonders beyond my capacity to comprehend. The more my curiosity is satisfied, the more the wonder of knowing God increases." (P.219).

Well, I can agree with John about the wonders of knowing God. I, too, feel extremely inadequate to express my thoughts and views concerning our awesome God. In addition to being unable to fully comprehend God, there are many other aspects of Christian living and experience that I fall short of being able to fully comprehend. One area is Spiritual warfare and all the dimensions of reality present in that field.

The Bible itself is explicit about the practice of it, and gives us the mandate to do it and the principles that we need (Eph. 6:10-17; 1 pet. 5:8; 1 John 5:4,5; 1 Cor. 16:13; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; James 4:7).

However, like Dawson admits, we all "live on the edge" of things we don't fully understand, and God made it that way! God didn't include in His Word all the details about territorial spirits and their rules and jurisdictions, yet we are told that we are completely equipped in Gods word for all we need to know (2 Tim. 3:16,17).

Conclusion: "Come Back Here With My City!"

Dawson and others in the Third Wave attempt to fill in the blanks for all of us by introducing slick slogans and novel ideas gleaned from bad presuppositions and false revelations. As has been demonstrated, Taking Our Cities For God is permeated with strange and un/extra-biblical teachings. It instills both false hopes and false fears in some cases, which are the false fruits brought forth from false premises.

Quick question for the reader: Do we really need this book? Is there enough true content to render it authoritative for prayer guidance and spiritual warfare?

One thing is certain; truth laid alongside error is a deadly mixture. Only the truly biblically literate, discerning believer can see these blatant aberrations in some of Dawson's writings and we are all called to be one of those. To be sure, there are better books on prayer and warfare written with greater accuracy and an emphasis on the authority of the Bible as the source book for anything God wanted us to know as essential for engaging in this battle that rages around us.

I recommend skipping this book. Should you so choose, read this book to check what I've written or discern for yourself whether these premises are really what God wants us to know concerning cities and the people who live there. Pray for your mind though so that these doctrines will not corrupt or lead you away from God and His Word.

Pray for the multitudes of people in YWAM, the Word/Faith Movement, The New Apostolic Reformation, and the Third Wave Movement in general that have read and taught this book as gospel truth and insisted, along with John Dawson, that these revelations are essential to have effective evangelism. Pray also for the countries that have been inundated with these techniques from well-meaning missionaries who have gone to foreign shores to "transform cites" and take them for God in this way.

Although I bear Mr. Dawson, YWAM, or anyone involved with the publishing, distribution, teaching, or promoting of this book no ill will or personal grievance, I urge all involved, and even you, the reader, to fill your mind and hearts with the Word of God and lean on His strength for your life, rather than extra-biblical misleadings and misplaced efforts.

In closing: Don't "take" Taking Our Cities For God. Pray to God. Pray for the people in your cities. Preach the Word. Practice the teachings of Scripture and you will be blessed.

"Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar." (Proverbs 30:5,6).

Steve Mitchell is a missionary to India with Gate Way Ministries India. He is currently living in Mumbai and is the Director of Answers For India. We trust you have been informed by this review. For additional information or comments, contact Steve at alohasteve@vsnl.net

May the Lord richly bless you as you follow Him.

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