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Worldviews in Conflict: Christian Cosmology and the Recent Doctrine of Spiritual Mapping (Part 1)


From Pneuma Review Fall 2001


Editor’s Introduction to Worldviews in Conflict

Welcome to the Dialogue

It is my privilege to introduce this paper by Larry Taylor and a dialogue about a practice many have embraced without first weighing the theological consequences.

Our subject is the teaching of spiritual mapping, identifying and expelling territorial demonic forces. This teaching has not been extensively challenged in Pentecostal/charismatic writings. In fact, the opposite appears to be true, the practice of spiritual mapping has been readily accepted.

Not just to rock the boat, Professor Taylor of Portland Bible College is asking us to consider on what basis this teaching has been accepted. Is spiritual mapping biblical doctrine, or is it derived from another source?

If spiritual mapping is a biblical teaching, we perhaps should all be involved in identifying and systematically removing the forces of evil from our neighborhoods and nations. If spiritual mapping cannot stand on scriptural grounds, its validity and our participation should be evaluated in that light.

Brother Taylor has invited response and interaction with himself on this subject. The Pneuma Review’s editorial committee has been endeavoring to locate a participant to respond to this paper. If all goes as planned, Taylor’s paper will be presented in two parts, followed by a rejoinder by someone offering another view of spiritual mapping, then followed by a response by Taylor. You are invited to write in and interact with this subject, whether you have an insight or a disagreement.

As with all articles, and especially controversial ones, the views expressed in this dialogue are not necessarily the views of all of the editors or the membership of the Pneuma Foundation. It is our privilege to present differing viewpoints that encourage the free exchange of ideas among disciples of Jesus. I hope that you will participate in this discussion. Please add your comments below.

Raul Mock, Executive Editor



“The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to the texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.”
– Martin Luther

In recent years it has become increasingly clear that the devil is not going to go away, either in reality or as a topic of immense importance. In the past four decades he has gained attention at the box office and, more recently, at various church leadership conferences under the billing of “spiritual warfare.” Hollywood has enjoyed a disturbing love affair with the devil, dating back to Rosemary’s Baby in the late 60’s, which was soon followed by the smashing success of The Exorcist in 1973. Thanks (in no small part) to the computer industry, patrons today are offered a steady diet of scurrilous gore involving pools of blood, projectile vomiting, super-powered demons, twisted witches and candle-lit satanic rituals set in Gothic style.

On the other hand, the entertainment industry is not alone in its interest in and fascination with the macabre. In at least one segment of the church, there is a renewed militancy aimed at escalating the arms race against the devil and his horde. The most innovative aspect of this aggressive strategy involves “spiritual mapping.”1 This is the practice of strategically locating and identifying the distinct demonic forces that lay behind a city or region, naming the demons, and driving them out. Although the practice is not limited to Pentecostal-type churches, the theological ideas that support it fit comfortably in many Pentecostal and Charismatic churches today.

In this particular paper I will explore the biblical and theological problems that I believe are associated with spiritual mapping, while focusing much of my attention on assessing the distinct cosmology that appears to serve as the basis for the practice. It is my theory that a weak, unbiblical cosmology has served to promote the doctrine of spiritual mapping. I open the subject by explaining the practical importance of cosmology. Secondly, I examine the biblical doctrine of creation, searching for a valid Christian cosmology. Turning briefly to the area of demonology, I examine Scripture’s view of Satan, particularly his power in relation to believers. Fourthly, I offer a biblical assessment of the practice of spiritual mapping. Finally, I conclude with a practical observation of the current state of Pentecostal-type churches and offer a pastoral call to return to basic-life teaching.

Due to the limited objectives of this particular study, I will not be assessing every aspect of the practice of spiritual mapping. There may be spiritual, psychological, and ecclesiastical rewards from the practice that lie outside the scope of this study. Moreover, I do not intend to present a thorough doctrine of Satan and demons. There are numerous books on the subject, some recent, that superbly handle the doctrine of Satan and demons. I have noted several for the benefit of the reader at the conclusion of the article.


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Category: Fall 2001, Living the Faith, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Larry L. Taylor, M.A., D.Min., is Affiliate Faculty at Regis University in the Denver area and formerly professor of humanities at Portland Bible College. Larry Taylor founded a church in Colorado and has 17 years of pastoral experience.

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