Saturday, 1 August 2009

Christ’s Victory Over Evil (Edited by Peter G. Bolt), Apollos, 2009.

This volume of collected essays, sub-titled Biblical Theology and Pastoral Ministry, is based on the 2008 Moore College School of Theology. As its title indicates, the book is concerned with aspects and consequences of Jesus’ victory over the powers of darkness that was evidenced in his resurrection. We know that evil exists in many forms in today’s world and it is unavoidable that pastoral interactions will reveal contact with a variety of expressions of evil. Further in several branches of the worldwide church there is an absorption with demonic activity and how to overcome their opposition to the gospel and the church, and the spread of such teachings has caused confusion and disappointment in many churches.

It is not possible in a book based on conference addresses to consider every aspect of evil. Nevertheless, in the areas covered by the various contributors we are given helpful insights into how the church should approach evil. Tony Payne appraises various roots and developments of contemporary deliverance ministries that dominate much of contemporary charismatic practice; Bolt surveys the biblical teaching on the evil powers; two contributors (Salier and Jensen) consider the contribution of the apostle John in his Gospel and in 1 John respectively; Mark Thompson addresses the benefits of the doctrine of justification in silencing the accusations of the evil powers against God’s people; Constantine R. Campbell explores the link between union with Christ and victory over the evil powers that Paul describes in Ephesians and Colossians; Anderson and Lilley focus on evil powers confronted in cross-cultural mission, particularly among the Aboriginal people of Australia; Donald West deals with prayer and the powers of evil; finally, West and Bolt look at several aspects of the power of evil that will be faced in pastoral encounters and give advice on how to deal with them.

Each of the above chapters deserves careful study, especially by pastors and other church leaders. One thing that can be guaranteed is that such will have to respond to evil influences and attacks on their congregations as well as themselves, and the more information and advice they have the more ready they will be when the problems arise. Of course, some elders may not understand the occasional technical terms in the book, so they can get a copy for their pastor and ask him to explain such language for them.

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