Here’s an experiment for you. Grab a primary source, open it up to a random page, and then try to explain what you see. To the right you’ll see the page I’ll be talking about today. It’s page 47 of the revised edition of Francis Frangipane‘s The Three Battlegrounds: An In-depth View of the Three Arenas of Spiritual Warfare: The Mind, The Church and the Heavenly Places (Cedar Rapids, IA: Arrow, 2006 )
This is from a chapter on “The Battleground of the Mind.” Frangipane makes a psycho-cultural case for the role of perception to create negative spiritual conditions for Christians. These mental strongholds are presented as obstacles to the truth of Jesus Christ. Experience can erode faith. Abraham is an exemplar of faith’s triumph over experience. After 25 years trying to have a child, Abraham and Sarah finally conceived. Experience had been a poor teacher. The mind wants to validate its subjective perspective, but the life of faith requires believers to “Let God be found true” (Romans 3:4).
After banishing subjective experience, Frangipane then tackles interdenominational disunity. If faith is finding the truth of the mind of God, then ecumenism reveals the heart of God. Work together in a spirit of brotherly love and compassion. Don’t throw the first stone. Love your brother. And so on.
In the end, this book is on my shelf because of the argument it makes in its final third: The war in the heavenly places is really a war over reality. It’s a model of spiritual warfare that pits “the Word of God” against “the illusions of this present age.” Frangipane casts aside subjectivity, using the ideal objectivity of God’s mind and the purity of God’s heart as a contrast to whatever society creates as its subjective reality. When I put it like that, it’s a profoundly Durkheimian sentiment. Society imagines, agrees upon, and then enforces its own reality.
This underscores not only humanity’s power but the risks Frangipane sees in the decadent world humanity has produced. While I want to say we live in a world of our own making, I must instead say we perceive the world we believe we have created. I’m not being needlessly semantic. In this scheme, Satan is the deceiver who has seduced humanity into anti-God realities. Securing the strongholds of the mind and church are preparatory work. Like the classic western movie, believers must be that stranger that rides into town, sees with clarity the truth of right and wrong, and saves the day. It is business as usual versus the radical breakdown of the status quo. There can be no compromise, no partial solutions. It’s all or nothing. As I like to remind myself, it’s not called cosmic-level warfare for nothing.
Check back tomorrow for part 2!