God vs. Satan: The Warfare Worldview (G. Boyd)

Every year around Halloween, I like to explore the topic of spiritual warfare — you know, angels, demons and the cosmic forces of evil. Here are some of the posts on this topic from the past.

Today I want to share Greg Boyd’s basic articulation of what he calls a “Warfare Worldview” — that is, how can Christians affirm that God is all-powerful and still believe that other evil forces (human and angelic) are working to thwart God’s will?  If created beings have genuine free will, then how can we be certain that God is really in control of this broken world? Here’s how Greg approaches these questions.

The warfare worldview is based on the conviction that our world is engaged in a cosmic war between a myriad of agents, both human and angelic, that have aligned themselves with either God or Satan. This is the view that is presupposed throughout the entire Bible, and it’s especially evident in the New Testament. For example, Jesus unequivocally opposed evils such as disease, demonization, and even natural disaster (i.e. when Jesus rebuked a storm) and saw them as originating in the wills of Satan, fallen angels, and sinful people, rather than in the will of God.

This view is not dualistic, because while the Bible clearly articulates a war between good and evil, it also clearly articulates God’s sovereignty. The battle that is currently raging is not everlasting, and when it ends, we are assured of God’s victory. In fact, the victory has already been won in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ (Col. 2:13–14), but the demise of evil has not yet been fully realized. Christians are called to wage spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10–17) against evil through prayer, evangelism, and social action.

While most of the apostolic fathers held views that were similar to the warfare worldview, the view that has been prevalent in the western church tradition since the 4th century teaches that everything that ever happens, whether good or evil, happens according to God’s will. Thus, the western church has wrestled with the “Problem of Evil” throughout most of its history—and rightly so. The warfare worldview, however, makes sense out of evil, human freedom, and the power and urgency of prayer, evangelism, and social action.

Instead of resigning ourselves to our circumstances when we encounter evil, the warfare worldview encourages Christians to revolt against evil as evidence of Satan’s activity, rather than God’s mysterious will. Satan, fallen angels, and sinful people have wills of their own, and they are responsible for everything that happens which is not consistent with the character of God as revealed in Jesus Christ.

For the basic principles of this warfare worldview go here.

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