Details of Thesis

Title A Pentecostal Study of Daniel’s Prince of Persia (Daniel 10:13)
Author Guntrip, Elizabeth Denham
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2006
Abstract Aim.C. Peter Wagner is a well-known missiologist. In the late twentieth century Wagner became interested in the means by which the devil, as the enemy of God, obstructs the spread of the Gospel. Based on his reading of Daniel 10:13 [20-21], a passage referring to the prince of Persia, he concluded that the earth is ruled by Satan’s angels, whom he terms “territorial spirits.” The same chapter mentions other supernatural beings, Michael, one of the chief princes and the prince of Greece. In Wagner’s understanding Scripture reveals the existence of good and evil spirits having authority or control over specific geographical regions. Further, Wagner believed he had discovered why evangelism is ineffective in some locations - territorial spirits blind the minds of the populace and need to be bound spiritually to remove hindrances to the gospel’s reception. Wagner devised a prayer methodology called Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare (SLSW), to accelerate world evangelisation by strategically targeting designated cities or locations with aggressive prayer to disarm the spiritual powers of wickedness. SLSW depends for effectiveness on the associated practice of spiritual mapping,” entailing foundational research into an area’s historical and spiritual background preceding the prayer programme. Wagner believes SLSW to be both divinely revealed and empirically verifiable. The SLSW methodology spread with startling rapidity to many sectors of Christianity. SLSW became associated with Pentecostalism, and is now mistakenly assumed to be a Pentecostal teaching. This thesis aims to show this is inaccurate. Scope. C. Peter Wagner, an Evangelical, is associated with Third Wave groups who deliberately distance themselves from the Pentecostal label. Classical Pentecostalism is differentiated historically from the later Charismatic Renewal Movement. Third Wave groups are a separate more recent spiritual movement, sometimes known as neo-charismatics. Neither Wagner’s theological nor ecclesial location is Pentecostal, but this fact has not helped negate the mistaken assumption that his teaching originated within Pentecostalism. In order to demonstrate the difference between Wagner’s demonology and that of Pentecostalism, their respective interpretive methods need to be compared. This task was approached firstly by showing what comprises a Classical Pentecostal hermeneutic. Three distinctive principles were identified for a conventional Pentecostal reading of Scripture, namely: (1) the Protestant Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura, (2) a pneumatic approach to interpreting Scripture and (3) biblical revelation, not self-revelation, in the community of faith. In the past, Pentecostals depended on academic writings stemming from within Evangelicalism. This was a dependence of convenience, since historically Pentecostalism had no systematic theology, nor until comparatively recently a critically active academia. The disadvantage of this borrowing has been that Pentecostals have been obliged to filter out anti-Pentecostal bias evident in much Evangelical literature. The text Daniel 10:13 was then exegeted using these principles. This narrow focus is based on Wagner’s use of this text as the foundation of his demonology. Using a combined theological and literary approach, stances on reading the book of Daniel in general and Daniel 10:13 in particular were discussed. The relaxation of tensions between the factions which divided biblical scholarship for much of the twentieth century has allowed some cross-fertilization of ideas and methods, without reducing the ideological chasm separating the camps. The history of the text was recognised but meaning was sought more particularly from the form of the extant text. The results were tested against the principles of Pentecostal hermeneutics. Finally, Wagner’s writings on SLSW were appraised. His hermeneutical method was compared with the Pentecostal hermeneutical principles, the Pentecostal reading prepared from the exegesis, and the demonology of two Classical Pentecostal writers. Discussion of SLSW was confined to Wagner as the initiator of the concept. Wagner’s specific contribution has been in relating a hypothetical demonic hierarchy according to their perceived function (not simply the degree of power they may possess). He is well aware that his theory stands or falls on the issue of whether demonic spirits can legitimately be seen as occupying territories. Conclusions. Whilst some aspects of Wagner’s demonology and hermeneutic are held in common with that of Pentecostalism, the mistaken identification of SLSW as Pentecostal has led to confusion. Notwithstanding Wagner’s high view of Scripture and enthusiasm for evangelism, the hermeneutic employed in his interpretation of Dan 10:13 is not consistent with that of Classical Pentecostalism. The conclusion reached was that C. Peter Wagner’s teaching on SLSW should not be labelled Pentecostal.
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