This review appeared in the Apr-Jun 2012 vol. 169 no. 2 issue of Biblotheca Sacra, DTS’s quarterly academic journal.Subscribe Today
Satan and His Kingdom: What the Bible Says and How it Matters to YouBethany House Publishers, Minneapolis June 1, 2009
McCallum says Satan is alive and active, contrary to beliefs held by a majority of born-again believers as reported in George Barna’s research and that of other church leaders. In a clear, insightful, no-nonsense manner McCallum provides a revealing survey of the person and work of Satan. While not all of it is new, all of it is written and applied in a fresh, engaging manner. Moreover, it is very balanced. Readers will not find any sensationalism or extremism in McCallum’s work. Rather, they will experience solid biblical thinking along with candid and intimate observations of how dealing with Satan works out in real life.
A huge plus to McCallum’s work is that it issues out of his pastoral ministry, not just his academic study, although it is academically, biblically, and theologically formidable. Thus this book will appeal to Christians who struggle not just with flesh and blood but also with the destructive work of Satan. Along these lines the book frames the challenges of living the Christian life and doing ministry in terms of an other-worldly force that disrupts this world in tragic ways. Again this is at times both comforting and convicting. Practical suggestions and applications for dealing with these challenges abound. Writing on a subject like this could leave readers submerged in satanic darkness, but McCallum always finishes on a hopeful and victorious note.
McCallum explains Satan’s mindset and behavior, providing germane examples and extrapolating concepts to deduce Satan’s strategies. While these are sometimes speculative, they are also quite plausible. In building such a profile on Satan, McCallum correctly notes, “Knowing and agreeing on our grand strategy is crucial to the church’s success in spiritual warfare. Our vision of the church’s mission shapes our attitudes and actions. If most of God’s people on earth today adopt self-protective and inward-looking goals, we can expect little progress toward our true goal of reconciling the world to God” (p. 63). This penetrating insight lies behind McCallum’s drive to understand Satan’s tactics. These tactics involve everything from possessing nonbelievers to tempting believers and influencing their thoughts.
Problems arise when believers are both the victims and perpetrators of Satan-like behavior. Here again McCallum is at his best when he not only develops this in detail but also provides real-life ministry illustrations that drive home the point in graphic and convicting scenarios. It is not difficult for readers to recall times, perhaps many, when they have been in similar situations.
The author advises believers to counter Satan’s tactics by adopting the spiritual armor of Ephesians 6 and resisting Satan in prayer and corrective, biblical thinking. McCallum makes the point that Satan’s efforts are most effective when he is dismissed, minimized, or out of mind. For this reason, Satan and His Kingdom is an important book for believers and people in ministry.
—Linden D. McLaughlin