Original Research

Spiritual warfare in Africa: Towards understanding the classical model in light of witchcraft practices and the Christian response

Amos Y. Luka
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 1 | a8402 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i1.8402 | © 2023 Amos Y. Luka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 December 2022 | Published: 26 May 2023

About the author(s)

Amos Y. Luka, Department of World Religions, Billy Graham School, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, United States


The socio-religious panorama of the African religion deserves a close observation of its foundation and function. The perception of the spirit world is dominant in Africa. Similarly, spiritual warfare in the African context is prevalent in the mind and worldview of an African. Spiritual warfare derives its framework from African Traditional Religion (ATR). Hence, understanding ATR’s complexity helps us with the understanding of spiritual warfare. Some essential questions to understand would be what is spiritual warfare from an ATR perspective? How do Africans perceive spiritual warfare? And how do Africans engage in spiritual warfare? What is the place of ATR in spiritual warfare? African Traditional Religion acknowledges the reality and functionality of witchcraft. The perception of the reality of evil forces in Africa attracts all forms of spiritual rites, seeking more extraordinary spiritual powers for defensive and offensive spiritual warfare. This article argues that the effectual Christian response to spiritual warfare with witchcraft practices in Africa is ‘the classical model’ of spiritual warfare. The article provides a synopsis of the models of spiritual warfare, that is, the classical model (CW), world systems model (WSM), ground-level deliverance model (GLDM), and strategic-level deliverance model (SLSW). Subsequently, the article provides the framework for African spiritual warfare and witchcraft practices from traditional and contemporary perspectives. Lastly, the article argues that the Evangelical Christian Response to witchcraft practices is rooted in ‘the classical model’ of spiritual warfare.

Contribution: The article contributes to African religiosity within the African context. It reveals the ongoing argument about the continuity and discontinuity of the ATR beliefs and practices in Christianity. The article adds to the evangelical or classical arguments in support of the discontinuity of ATR beliefs and practices in Christianity.


spiritual warfare; African Traditional Religion (ATR); Neo-Pentecostal; Evangelical Christians; classical; witchcraft; gospel; world-system; ground-level; strategic-level; deliverance

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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