Spiritual Pathology: Lovelace

In my humble opinion, Richard Lovelace is the best writer and thinker of the past 100 years when it comes to spiritual theology. This morning I shared the following excerpt on Satan’s characteristic strategies of warfare from Lovelace’s magnum opus Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal.

As displayed in Scripture and spiritual theology Satan has at least 5 characteristic strategies:

  • Temptation. [Temptation] is largely misunderstood as… the efforts of demonic agents to entice believers into isolated acts of serious sin.  The Bible does contain instances of this sort of temptation…  [But] most commonly temptation is directed toward larger ends: involving believers in whole ways of life or patterns of behavior which are subchristian, which will extinguish their spirituality and make them negative witnesses; or luring them into adopting outlooks which excuse or justify sin and which may almost totally obscure their faith.
  • Deception. Satan “deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9 NASB) through the activity of lying spirits.  Fallen angels are called “powers of darkness” not because they are in any way creatures of night or linked to the common superstitious fear of the dark, but because they are permanent dwellers in a world of lies and ignorance.  Living in a mental universe of lies, they persuade men to keep on embracing lies concerning God, themselves and the world, reinforcing the natural affinity of the flesh for darkness.
  • Accusation. The world devil (diabolos) means slanderer, and Satan is described as the one who accuses believers continually in the presence of God (Rev. 12:10).  Demonic agents… [are] particularly active in dividing Christians from one another into parties, subtly reinforcing stereotypes in the minds of believers who are not on guard against this, magnifying weaknesses and minimizing virtues to produce divisive caricatures… [Also], satanic forces attack Christians directly in their own minds with disturbingly accurate accounts of their faults, seeking to discourage those who are most eager and able to work for the kingdom.
  • Possession. The Gospels plainly describe a condition in which human victims come almost helplessly under control of alien personalities (Lk. 8:26-33).
  • Physical Attack. Demonic agents can occasionally cause illness – at least psychological and neurological ailments like dumbness and epilepsy (Mt. 9:32-3 and 17:14-18).  It is frequently claimed by demythologizers that the whole biblical treatment of the demonic is just a pre-scientific way of describing mental and physical illness.  But the demonized are usually a separate category from the diseased of the Gospels, and the presence of alternate personalities among them… argues decisively against this.

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  1. I used to think you were a genius, then I read Lovelace’s Spiritual Dynamics and realized that you ripped everything from him. Wait, no, everyone in the missional movement has Lovelace somewhere in their background.

    This book is killer. Dr. Tim Keller called it the most significant book he has ever read (personal conversation). Lovelace speaks as a prophet. Written in the late 70’s, I can think of no single book that so perfectly encompasses the thinking of the contemporary, reformed, missional movement.

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