Book Review: 40 Questions About Angels, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare, by John R. Gilhooly

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Think Apologetics. Tabernacle of David considers this resource trustworthy and Biblically sound.


40 Questions About Angels, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare, by John R. Gilhooly, 240 pp. Kregel Publications, 2018.

Given Michael Heiser’s popular book called The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, there seems to be an increase of books on the topic of angelology, demonology, and spiritual warfare. This book (by Gilhooly) gives the reader a survey of common questions about these topics. Once again, in line with the 40 Questions Series, each chapter is short but quite detailed.  If the reader wants to go further, there are always reading suggestions at the end of each chapter.

Gilhooly rightly starts off the book with the question, “Why is There a Fascination with the Supernatural? He notes that given the fact that humans are made to be in a relationship with God, it should be no shock that humans are fascinated with the supernatural. Even though many in the secular academy have said scientific discoveries will eventually show the uneducated the need to outgrow the eagerness for God and the supernatural, reality has shown no such thing is happening. If anything, there is plenty of widespread belief in ghosts, the paranormal, and the afterlife. The problem with naturalism or a materialistic worldview is that it is simply too reductionistic to be true.

As far as questions about angles and demons, Gilhooly takes a very biblical approach and talks about the role of angles and demons in the Bible. He rightly says that though it seems angles and demons are active today, we should not expect to see the kind of activity as we see in the gospel accounts (pg. 20). At the time of Jesus, this was a heightened time of spiritual activity. Thus, while angels and demons are active in the world, this doesn’t mean we should expect to constantly see them, or encounter traces of them in the world (pg. 22). He does say that it is true that we could encounter angels without knowing it, but we are not encouraged to seek them out (pg. 22). This is where we begin to see each chapter is laced with words of caution. Given the hype of paranormal activity, I think the words of caution make sense.

Gilhooly also notes the term “spiritual warfare” seems to date to the 1970’s. Obviously, the term isn’t used in the Bible. But the concept is there. Gilhooly gives a short exposition of  “The Full Armor of Goof “ (pgs 163-167). He notes the weapons we have are prayer, endurance, being in community, and the Scriptures. There is no quick fix. The basics remain tried and true. In Question 29, “What is Tearing Down Strongholds” Gilhooly is correct when he says, “strongholds are ways of thinking that are contrary to the gospel message, gospel hope, and gospel promises” (pg. 172). “Strongholds” means “fortress” or “castle.” The strongholds of the enemy are their arguments (pg. 169). The struggle is to dispel demonic lies about God and the gospel (pg. 170). In my own experience, the way to battle this isn’t just prayer. You defeat bad arguments with good arguments. That’s part of what we do in apologetics.

Gilhooly does tackle some common questions that have led to plenty of debate. I will list some of these questions here with a summary of how Gilhooly has responded.

Question #7: “Who is the Angel of the Lord?” The three common possibilities are (1) Yahweh, (2), Jesus, (3), an angelical legate. Gilhooly thinks the exegetical evidence points to an angel who represents God. Sorry, it isn’t Jesus!

 Question# 6: Do Believers Have Guardian Angels? Gilhooly says the exegetical evidence is weak to support the case that we do.

Question #16: “Why and When Did the Devil Fall from Heaven?” Gilhooly says Scripture doesn’t tell us the answer. There is no description of what exactly precipitated Satan’s initial sin. Pride could have been the issue. But we don’t know for sure.

Question #17: Does Isaiah 14 Describe the Fall of the Devil? No, it does not.

Question #8:: “Who are the “Sons of God” in Genesis 6?” Gilhooly thinks that “sons of God” refers to the “righteous” Sethite line. Yes, “sons of God” often refers to angels in Hebrew. But this isn’t always the case.

 Question #15: “Why Did God Create the Devil?” We really don’t know.

Question #12: “Are There Territorial Spirits?” There is some limited evidence that angels and demons play some role in the governance of the world. Yes, these principalities and powers are active in the world. However, there seems to be some who are making speculations about it and are filling in these speculations with anecdotal evidence. We need to avoid this.

Question # 13: “Can a Christian be Demon Possessed?” No. Christians can be oppressed, and demons can fight against Christians. However, this is seen in deception, false teaching, and false doctrine. We don’t see any preoccupation with Christians themselves being demon possessed in the New Testament.  

Overall, this is a fine survey on the topic of angels, demons, and spiritual warfare. Obviously, there are plenty of other books on the topic and some will take a different stance that Gilhooly does on certain topics. But I do think Gilhooly gives his readers a fair and balanced view. The goal is to be focused on Jesus, not the enemy of our souls!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback or any specific type of review.

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