Simon Brace on the nature of spiritual warfare and a plea to churches

C.S. Lewis has some words to live by for you
C.S. Lewis has some words to live by for you

This passionate, challenging lecture has been getting shared a lot on Facebook, so I thought that I would do a summary of it.

First, you can grab the MP3 file here.

Note that this talk is given by a very conservative evangelical Christian who is speaking to Christians. So this is not intended for a non-Christian audience. However, non-Christians are free to tune in if you want to hear a really passionate, fire-breathing conservative evangelical go non-linear over the superficial turn that the evangelical church has taken. If you are familiar with J.P. Moreland’s view that spiritual warfare is really about disputing speculations and falsehoods using logic and evidence, then you’ll know the meaning of the term “spiritual warfare” he has in mind. When he says spiritual warfare, he means apologetics: knowledge and preparation.

I would really caution you not to listen to this if you are not passionate about defending God’s honor. It will overwhelm and upset you. Having said that, this lecture reflects my convictions about the churches need to drop anti-intellectualism and take up apologetics. And not pre-suppositional apologetics, which I think is ineffective, but evidential apologetics. Evidential apologetics is effective, which is why everyone in the Bible used it.

About the speaker:

Simon Brace is the Director of Evangelism of Southern Evangelical Seminary. Simon was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in South Africa. Simon has a construction background and has lived in a number of countries and travelled extensively. He has a MA in Apologetics and BA in Religious Studies and is currently working on an MA in Philosophy at SES. Simon leads TEAM which is the missions program of SES on local, national, and international trips. In addition, Simon has worked with Ratio Christi at SES, and has an extensive knowledge of Ratio Christi’s history and operation. Simon currently resides in North Carolina with his wife Nel and children, Eva and Olivia.

I liked the second part of the lecture more than the first part, so there is less summarizing of the first part.


  • What does the New Testament say about spiritual warfare in Ephesians?
  • Christian slogans about spiritual warfare sound pious, but they are mistaken
  • Today, Christianity is focused on piety and zeal, not on study and knowledge
  • The result is that Christianity in the West is in a state of erosion and decline
  • What we are doing about spiritual warfare is not working to stop the decline
  • Preaching, publishing, programs, retreats, etc. are not very useful for spiritual warfare
  • Enthusiasm and passion without knowledge  are not very useful for spiritual warfare
  • The Church has a theoretical understanding of spiritual warfare, but no real capability
  • Doesn’t work: trying to make Christianity seem popular and cool
  • Doesn’t work: making Christian music and art that non-Christians will like
  • Doesn’t work: pastors trying to be relevant by having cool clothes and cool haircuts
  • Doesn’t work: fundamentalists getting angry about peripheral issues
  • Doesn’t work: not read things apart from the Bible and sound foolish when speaking in the public square
  • Doesn’t work: church leaders think that careful exegesis and expository preaching is a good answer to skeptics
  • What works: we need to train people who are prepared and willing to defend the truth of the Christian faith
  • Evangelicalism has a deep suspicion of reading things outside the Bible, so they are unable to refute anything
  • Evangelicals are hyper-spiritualized and hysterical, focusing on demons, prophecy and end-times, etc.
  • Evangelicals have a pagan view of using their minds to alter reality, which is irrational and superstitious
  • Evangelicals like conservative celebrity preachers who do nothing to correct anti-intellectualism in the church
  • Evangelicals are focused on their personal relationships with Jesus instead of their whole worldview
  • Evangelicals focus too much on homeschooling and not enough on how to impact the secular universities
  • Church programs for youth are about “strumming guitars and eating pizza once a week”, not apologetics
  • Evangelicals have an over-inflated view of the effectiveness of their (non-intellectual) evangelism methods
  • The primary focus and primary responsibility in spiritual warfare is not dealing with supernatural evil
  • The real focus and responsibility in spiritual warfare is specified in 2 Cor 10:3-5
  • What we ought to be doing is defeating speculations (false ideas), using logical arguments and evidence
  • Defending the faith is not memorizing Bible verses and throwing them out randomly
  • Defending the faith is not just preaching the gospel
  • Demolishing an argument requires understanding arguments: premises, conclusions, the laws of logic
  • We should exchange our pious Bible memorizing skills and the like for a class in critical thinking
  • The New Testament requires that elders be capable of refuting those who oppose sound doctrine (Titus 1:9)
  • It is not enough to preach a good sermon, elders have to be able to defend the Christian faith as well
  • People who run conservative seminaries do not mandate that M.Div graduates study apologetics
  • Famous pastors like Driscoll, Begg, etc. need to teach other pastors to emphasize apologetics in church
  • People in church won’t engage the culture unless they have reasons and evidence to believe Christianity is true
  • We need a balance of both piety and intellectual engagement
  • We need to make our evangelism rooted in the intellect in order to have an influence at the university
  • Mission organizations also have a responsibility to defend the faith and not merely preach (1 Peter 3:15)

And here is his closing quote from C.S. Lewis:

To be ignorant and simple now not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground would be to throw down our weapons and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.

I was really humbled by this, because I sort of knew that the church was anti-intellectual, but I didn’t really reflect on how everyone else in society thinks that we are anti-intellectual. It’s troubling. The quickest way to make Biblical Christianity respectable again is to hit the books and defeat all comers in intellectual disputations. Are we ready to make the sacrifices to do that?.

10 thoughts on “Simon Brace on the nature of spiritual warfare and a plea to churches”

  1. Nailed it, WK! And this is where serious Catholics have non-Catholics beat hands-down: they are under no illusion as to being in a spiritual war. There is a reason that Catholics are almost always over-represented on the sidewalks in front of abortion mills: they are in the battle from the get-go. Just look at their processional coming into their services, and you will see warriors going into battle. Ask a serious Catholic about the Crusades and watch them smile and say “It’s time for another one.” (I say these things as a non-Catholic.)

    The one point I disagree with: “• Evangelicals focus too much on homeschooling and not enough on how to impact the secular universities.”

    That’s a false dichotomy. Homeschoolers kick butt in secular universities because they have been exposed to, and interact with, the real world and people of all ages from the get-go rather than being herded into institutions with people exactly the same age as them. And homeschoolers are far more likely to have encountered apologetics, since you can get credit for such courses when homeschooling. If you want your child to lose their faith in college, just send them to the government schools for softening up during the K-12 years. Before you go into battle, you must train – you can’t train on the battlefield, and K-12 government schools are most certainly a battlefield – as any recent story will show.

    Other than that, this is spot on – thanks, WK!

    1. I agree with you on the point where you disagreed with him, so long as the homeschoolers are expected to being educated with the goal of going on to make a real difference. That may mean that they eventually go on to secular universities and real professional jobs, and they should be prepared to do that.

      1. There are not too many Christian universities that offer engineering, but there are some. :-) I can pick out the homeschoolers in any room: they are the ones making eye contact with the adults.

        One of my sons works as an engineer for a major multinational aerospace company. His bosses have been coming to him to ask him how to go about homeschooling their kids, because he is so well-prepared for his job. Most people think he is at least 10 years older than he is, and he is already running a unit in his early 20’s after graduating early from a secular engineering school.

        It makes sense: he grew up surrounded by kids of ALL ages and interacting with serious adults (e.g., engineers and other non-liberals) in serious conversations. Just the opposite of the environment in government schools. in this day and age, it is arguably child abuse to put your Christian child in a government school. That would NOT necessarily be the case, however, if those schools were not run by one political party.

        1. One of the biggest problems that students today face is the pressure to act like fools because they are taking cues from children who are the same age as them. Couple that with the amount of cultural rot that is aimed at kids, and it’s no wonder they struggle to grow up. Homeschooling definitely helps.

          1. But, you forgot the government school benefits of teaching kindergartners to put condoms on cucumbers, and that if Johnny feels like a girl, he can use the girls’ bathroom, not to mention Islam Great Technical Achievements Month. (sarcasm off)

        2. Being a close friend of Simon I would clarify that he is by no means demeaning or saying homeschooling is unimportant in and of itself (his wife is homeschooling their children). I think the point he meant to communicate is that we cannot act as though homeschooling will solve the problem on its own. So if someone said, “It is terrible that we lost all the universities that Christians founded.” Simon would say a bad response would be, “Well yeah but look at the growth of the home school movement,” as though this were a 1-1 trade. So I think it would be accurate to say we focus too much on homeschool and not enough on how to impact secular universities as the latter receives almost no serious attention at all from some of the most prominent people in evangelicalism. As you say we can do both. Thoughts?

          1. Oh, I see. He is considering this from a policy standpoint, not an obligation that we have to God to raise our children properly. Yes, I agree: we need top-down solutions, as WK put it. Meanwhile, we do the right thing for our children in obedience to God. I agree 100%. The Second Commandment means that we do not leave the children who are in government schools to fend for themselves – we defend them to through Christ-centered policies. Thanks for the clarification!

  2. Thank you for this message. I only wish he had offered some practical steps and solutions! But I suppose that’s a message for another day. We can’t even agree that there IS a problem with anti-intellectualism, so offering solutions would have been premature.

  3. Just listened to his Wintery. Thanks for posting this. It got me fired up. I made some many things clear as to why the evangelical church doesn’t have much influence. The continuous submission of moral authority to culture.

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