The bottom line: A remarkable, comprehensive, and eye-opening guide to all dimensions of the spiritual battle.
Not only does The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare start from the beginning and build a sound Biblical foundation for spiritual warfare, but it also manages to execute, in very realistic and practical terms, how this understanding manifests and applies to the life of the modern believer, the life of the Church, and the lives of Christian leaders.
Indeed, as any mature Christian is fully aware, the spiritual realm is very real and is to be taken very seriously. This may seem obvious, yet spiritual warfare is often neglected in mainstream Christianity and is even largely ignored in some institutions of higher theological education. The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare makes it clear that thinking in natural terms is only capable of producing limited results. Hence, there is an unseen dimension of evil that is the source of a myriad of natural problems. Chasing after symptoms ignores the underlying disease. Accordingly, as the author clarifies from the start of the book, the ministry of Jesus dealt heavily with the spiritual realm and this invisible battle still rages on today. This book opens the reader’s eyes to the attack on multiple fronts and takes the time to educate, tutor, and strengthen those who seek victory in Christ.
The title, The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare, sells this book short because it covers much, much more than spiritual warfare. You actually end up getting a focused Biblical education on supernaturalism, the mechanisms of sin and evil, sanctification, and the subliminal war between secularism and the Christian walk just to name a few examples. In fact, one the most effective things Dr. Murphy does is to re-orient how the Christian thinks of his or her material world: it is not in fact something separate and distinct from the spiritual realm “up there” or “down there” but lies in the middle where the natural and supernatural interact. As the author explains, one of the largest stumbling blocks in approaching spiritual warfare comes from the pervasive Western fallacy that the material world is the ultimate arbiter of existence. A spiritual enemy therefore becomes much more dangerous because it is denied that it even exists.
All of this serves as background information to fully develop the reader’s understanding of spiritual warfare and the intimate connection it shares not only with other Biblical doctrines but many facets of everyday existence. For instance, “Cosmic Rebellion” comments on the origin of evil in order to help you understand what sin and evil always intend to do, and describe the strategies used to accomplish this. Chapters 9 and 10 provide exegesis on sections from the Book of Romans to illustrate what the “normal” Christian life looks like. Addressing spiritual warfare specifically doesn’t begin until Part III, which is about 200 pages into the text. There the reader is greeted by a profound and theologically imaginative illustration of the beginning of spiritual warfare within the first few chapters of Genesis.
Part IV surveys instances of spiritual warfare in the New Testament and proceeds book by book in order to illustrate the unique issues involved in specific situations. Finally, Part V, “Practical Considerations” provides the most actionable material as it not only goes into some of the main realms of spiritual battle in a contemporary context (e.g. child abuse, mental illness, New Age philosophy, and sexual sin) but describes how—in specific technical terms—spiritual warfare is conducted. Hence, chapter 63, “The Road to Personal Victory in Spiritual Warfare” provides the most information that will enables mature Christians to assist others and execute the principles learned from the rest of the book. The Appendices have prayers of affirmation, warfare prayers both for the individual and groups, and prayers focused on bringing unbelievers closer to Christ.