Gaining Secret, Spiritual Information

I find it truly shocking that highly educated Christians fail to see the implications of their own teachings. For example, C. Peter Wagner devotes an entire chapter (the second) of his book to allege that extrabiblical spiritual knowledge is available and valid. He uses the same tactic that others have used, claiming that the “logos” word is the Bible and “rhema” words are direct sources of spiritual revelation.20 Having opened the door to extrabiblical knowledge of the spirit world, he follows it to amazing places:

In it [chapter 2] I suggest that it may be possible to receive selected, but valid, information from the world of darkness itself. I am careful to stress strongly that discernment is needed while attempting to do this because evil spirits are by nature deceivers and they must be treated as hostile witnesses. Nevertheless, certain people such as shamans, witch doctors, practitioners of Eastern religions, New Age gurus or professors of the occult on university faculties are examples of the kind of people who may have much more extensive knowledge of the spirit world than most Christian have. Some of the information they furnish is accurate.21

He tells us to use discernment when gaining information from the world of darkness. But discernment is impossible when going into an unseen world. The discernment the Bible gives us is objective and concerns the confession of Jesus Christ (1John 4:1-5). These shamans are disqualified on that ground. Wagner encourages Christians to seek truth from the very people God condemns in Deuteronomy 18.

Even if some of this information is accurate, it is nevertheless forbidden in the strongest terms possible. God forbids us access to secret knowledge for our own spiritual good, not because some of it might be inaccurate. It is forbidden because it is destructive—regardless of whether or not it is true!

There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)

This issue of accuracy is not mentioned; these are “detestable” persons and practices. Yet it is through these forbidden practices that pagans gain their spiritual information. Wagner has opened the floodgate for paganism to swamp the church.

The only One with exhaustive knowledge of the spirit world who could provide a spiritual “map” for us is God Himself. Why would we assume that He purposely withheld the knowledge we would need in order to evangelize cities, free people from Satan, remove curses, and bring forth His kingdom on earth only to have us glean it from shamans? God has given us exactly what we nee—the clear revelation we find in scripture. The rest belongs to Him: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). The rejection of sola scriptura is the reason these pagan teachings penetrate so deeply into the evangelical movement and the practices appeal to people who are not satisfied with what God has chosen to reveal.

Wagner makes the mistake of assuming that because the spirit world where shamans practice their trade is real, the information gleaned from it might be accurate and useful:

[S]ome non-Christians, whether animist shamans, gurus, lamas, philosophers or whatever, may be able to communicate to us some information about the reality of the spirit world in which they have gained considerable expertise. These non-Christian sources, of course, must be evaluated with much prayerful scrutiny and caution. Still, we must keep in mind that the spirit world to which they are dedicated is a real world, not the figment of their “heathen” imaginations. Therefore, some things about it can be accurately known.22

But the issues are neither the reality of the spirit world nor whether information about it may be accurate. Even we ourselves would concede that some shamans have effective processes that work for their clients. But the world of the occult is forbidden to the Christian. Prescribing “prayerful scrutiny” of a type of knowledge that is categorically forbidden in the Bible is absurd. The result of such a process would be “Christian” paganism—an oxymoron.

Wagner points out that when the words of demons are recorded in the New Testament, “they speak the truth!”23 In his mind, that (which Wagner cannot know to be the case) makes seeking such information valid. Larson does too:

Someone should be designated to keep a log of the information received while interrogating the demons. As the internal structure of the victim’s demonic system is revealed, list the spirits according to their ranking, cite their right and occasion of entry, and note their legal ground for remaining.24

This approach errs by asserting that simply because some demons spoke in Jesus’ presence, therefore it is a good thing for them to speak and that we should seek to speak to them in order to glean information. The gospels objective was to show that Jesus was who He claimed to be (God Incarnate), and that all things, including the spirit world, are under His authority. In addition, Jesus often told the demons to be silent. He was not gleaning information about the world of the spirits.