Ear-Ripping-Off Battles With Satan

Bobby Welch says we're not just at war with human terrorists-we're also at war with unseen spiritual terrorists.

BY: Interview by Deborah Caldwell

 
The Rev. Bobby Welch, 61, is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, with 16 million members, and pastor of First Baptist Church, Daytona, Fla. He is a close friend of Lt. General William G. "Jerry" Boykin, the Pentagon official who was nearly fired in 2003 for making anti-Islam statements. Based on his experiences as a Green Beret and as a pastor, Welch has written a new book called You, the Warrior Leader in which he describes Christians' duty to apply the Bible and military strategy to spiritual warfare against the forces of evil. "Not only is the United States at war with human terrorists bent on our destruction, but we also are at war with unseen spiritual terrorists," he says. "We must take the offensive and fight strategically." Beliefnet senior editor Deborah Caldwell talked to him about spiritual warfare, his friendship with Gen. Boykin, and about ear-ripping-off battles with Satan.

What is a warrior leader?

The warrior leader is someone who understands that we really are in a spiritual war in this life, and they approach this life in that way understands there are certain missions assigned them by God. They understand that we engage a real and powerful enemy who is seeking to kill, destroy, maim, and ruin our families and our life-and that we have the potential of rising above that enemy as a victorious spiritual war fighter.

Let's define some terms. Who's the enemy?

Satan himself.

Satan as a person.

Yes, well, and his work.

And what is spiritual warfare?

That is when the powers of evil out of Satan, the devil, his camp, his command, come against the believer and society around the believer.

Why do we need warrior leaders now, particularly?

We've always needed them, and the Bible is full of warrior leaders-the biblical leaders who are on the side that is making a difference for God and His kingdom. I believe there needs to be a fresh view of that today, because so many have been lulled into the idea that if we leave the devil alone and leave the world alone and we stay in our churches and gated communities, everything will work out right. But that is not biblical. We need today to take a new look at the fact that we are in this warfare and that we must be prepared to engage it and to rise above it victoriously.

Give me an example of a biblical story that parallels the kind of struggle you believe we're in now.

Jesus Christ is the best picture of the warrior leader.

Can you explain?

In the book, there is a section called "Jesus the Warrior Leader." He is a warrior leader because he is aggressively and intentionally going out to deliver those who have been captured, many of them hurt and abused by Satan himself. That's what the Gospel is about-sharing the Gospel to rescue the captives and set them free. And he does that while applying principles of spiritual warfare. Military strategy is similar to what you see in spiritual warfare. In fact, the truth of it is that many of the military strategies that are being practiced today are taken in their original form right out of the scriptures. So it's not a matter of just applying contemporary strategy today; we're applying strategy today that you can see throughout the Bible.

Can you give some examples of that kind of strategy?

Yeah. Joshua and the Battle of Jericho. If you read that passage, you could probably parallel that with Fallujah and Iraq today-some of the things you see happening there on the ground in contemporary war fighting. In the story, they encircled the city. Well, that's exactly what they did in Fallujah; they divided it up into components and then they made one unified effort to bring down the wall-of course, this was God doing it-and then they moved in and occupied the city and then moved out from there to other parts of the land.

But the spiritual analogy is clear too, that we must be willing to trust in the Lord, to lead us, to take advantage of the areas where Satan may seem to have the victory in our marriages, in our homes, with our children. We need to surround that with prayer, with the word of God, we need to use these tactics and strategies that are talked about in the Bible and also underlined in this book, and do that aggressively and intentionally.

One section of your book that startled me was the scratching, biting, ear-ripping-off war-fighting. Can you explain that?

I will not be surprised if we have some interesting reactions to it, and I think that'll be healthy. The point of that story is that spiritual warfare can get every bit as bad. If you're losing a battle with Satan, it ends up horrible. And I'm telling you, I don't think there's one description of warfare in that book that I haven't seen that is every bit as bad as what happens to individuals in our church and out here in the highways and byways of life.

Seriously?

Seriously.

I've put in over 30 years here, pastoring this church in Daytona Beach. I believe that I have seen that sort of hellacious, tormenting, gut-wrenching experience, plus, plus, plus in spiritual warfare. I have been there and tried to help when I watched my deacon's son being gripped by drugs and had to hold him down and tie him up and drag him to a van to get him into a place to try and help him.

And that's not near as bad as it gets. And I've been there when people lost the battle of spiritual warfare.

Really? Explain.

I go to prisons where they're living in an absolute cesspool because they lost the battle or they're losing it. So I don't think it's a stretch of imagination at all. I think we have a large crowd of people out here who are trying to sugarcoat the devil's influence.

We want to be around nice, beautiful people, but nice, beautiful people get their guts ripped out when divorce comes, when a child commits suicide because he's hanging out with the wrong crowd. And my book pulls that veneer back and says, "Listen, you may be driving a two-seater sports car, and you may live in a gated community and you may have everything painted the color you like and all the furniture may be coordinated, but there is a war going on around you that is spiritual, and you have to win that war or you'll end up in the same mess."

I've pastored people who drive two-seater cars. And I've been through some of the worst things imaginable in their lives.

Continued on page 2: »

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