Spiritual Technology

My claim is that God has limited us to what He has chosen to reveal to us concerning the reality of the spiritual world (i.e., in the Scripture). He gives us the freedom to use our five senses and rational minds to engage the world of general revelation so we can survive as humans created in His image. But He blocks access to unrevealed spiritual information for our own good. He does not want His people to be like the pagans.

We see this in the Garden of Eden. God gave Adam and Eve access to all the trees of the garden except one. Adam was given the authority to name the animals. Eating from the trees, tilling the ground, and naming animals are valid uses of general revelation. They had special revelation as well: “You shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:17). The Serpent claimed that there was other knowledge that would be beneficial that God withheld from them. He was right that God withheld it, but he lied by implying it would be beneficial.

God has the right to withhold knowledge at His discretion. Their subsequent rebellion plunged them and their descendants into bondage to sin and death. So God allowed knowledge gleaned through ordinary means and spiritual knowledge given directly to them by God. But the “knowledge” obtained through forbidden means (listening to the serpent and disobeying God’s commands) is destructive and, if followed, leads to judgment. In the section of Deuteronomy where divination is forbidden it says this: “When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations” (Deuteronomy 18:9). It is never God’s will that His covenant people gain their spirituality from pagans or pagan practices! But today that is precisely where many people in the church are looking. Paul speaks this same message in 1 Corinthians 12:2, “You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led.”

Wagner suggests that we can gain direct access to unrevealed spiritual information from both Christian and non-Christian sources:

It is important also to recognize that spiritual insight, which receives information directly from the spirit world, is not an exclusive faculty of those who have been born again. Spiritual discernment certainly constitutes at least some dimension of the image of God in which all human beings, Christian or non-Christian, have been created. If this is correct, then human beings, whether Indo-Europeans, Melanesians, Amerindians, or whatever they may be, can and often do possess valid information about the spirit world.25

These ideas expressed by Wagner are patently unbiblical. God speaks with certainty, through His ordained spokespersons, words which must be obeyed. The knowledge God gives to His people is mediated through specific humans, chosen by God and identifiable by God’s people. The essence of occultism is seeking direct, unmediated knowledge of the spirit world that God has not chosen to reveal. The only difference between us and the pagans is that we have God’s Word (special revelation) spoken to us by chosen men who spoke with and touched “God come in the flesh” (1John 1:1). To depart from sola scriptura by thinking that God gave all humans special faculties for gaining spiritual information is to reject Christian theism and embrace paganism. Wagner is right about one thing—there is not much difference between Christians and non-Christians directly accessing the spirit world for information. In fact there is a word that describes both categories: deceived.

Wagner goes further and prescribes developing and testing new, spiritual technology:

In this book, I am not claiming biblical proof of strategic-level spiritual warfare, spiritual mapping or identificational repentance. I will, however, claim that we do have sufficient biblical evidence to warrant at the least a working hypothesis we can field test, evaluate, modify and refine; At the most a significant, relatively new spiritual technology God has given us . . . If this is the case, refusing to use it on the part of some might be to run the risk of unfaithfulness to the Master.26

Here we find grave category errors. How does one “field test” unbiblical spiritual “technology?” The world of the spirits does not lend itself to such testing. In general revelation, technology can be developed and tested because of our ability to create a system of controls, to demonstrate repeatability, and to objectively test output. But how can one do this with unseen spirits who have sinister intentions and wills of their own; who also are unseen to us and are likely to manipulate the output to their advantage and our disadvantage?

Furthermore, the “testing” process is impossible to evaluate. Some have tried to use crime statistics to prove their spiritual warfare “worked.” But having no control over the variables, they have no valid data. Crime goes up and down in various cities for various reasons, far too numerous to control. Groups going on “prayer walks” performing rites of “identificational repentance” cannot watch future crime statistics to see if their experiment “worked.” In their minds they are living a pagan worldview that uses the “real” spirit world to control the less “real” visible world. But the visible world is filled with its own complex system of causes and effects; e.g. as economic conditions, family conditions, police policies, court systems, and political decisions. If the crime rate goes down after someone conducts a spiritual “experiment” does he take the credit? And if it goes up does he blame these other factors? The entire approach is fatally flawed.

The only question that matters is whether or not God has commanded us to perform prayer walks, bind territorial spirits, practice identificational repentance, or any of the other new spiritual technologies that Wagner and others propose with which to control the spirit world. Clearly God has not commanded these or there would be no need to “experiment.” Prayer, as understood biblically, is practiced on the grounds of God’s commands and promises. We cannot try it and quit if we do not like the outcome. In contrast to this, Wagner claims he does not have Biblical proof for his technologies; but rather he “experiments.” As I have shown, these experiments cannot be tested either. The whole process is a fool’s mission.

Given this, how can Wagner claim that we risk “unfaithfulness to God” by failing to do what God never told us to do? He has jettisoned sola scriptura and “bound” his readers to processes he admits are taught nowhere in the Bible. Wagner threatens Christians with disobedience and sin if they fail to embrace his unbiblical experiments. This is totally unacceptable and should be forthrightly rejected.