Charles Kraft is an anthropologist and linguist who has published more than 20 books on inner healing and spiritual warfare. But he's more than an academic. Kraft, professor emeritus at Fuller Seminary, spends his days providing spiritual counseling. Drew Dyck talked with Kraft about how he leads people to spiritual freedom.
How did you get involved in spiritual warfare?
Early in my career when I was in Nigeria, I asked the guys I was working with, "What's your biggest problem?" And they immediately said, "Evil spirits." No hesitation. I thought to myself, I don't know anything about this, and I can't help them.
Seminary hadn't trained you to deal with this issue?
No. And I went to Wheaton College and then I went to Hartford Seminary Foundation, which had the best mission school in those days. I probably received the best training that anybody going to the field had in linguistics and anthropology, but there wasn't a word about spiritual warfare. Years later, with help from my colleagues at Fuller, I learned much more about the topic of healing. I found out that my gifting was not so much in physical healing, although I'd seen quite a few people healed physically, but more in emotional and spiritual healing. I became a specialist in inner healing and pretty soon ran into demons and learned deliverance. And I've been doing it ever since.
Are we too quick or too slow to recognize evil spirits when we're counseling?
Too slow, by far. I've probably worked one-on-one now with more than 3,000 people. And when we do inner healing, demons are often involved. With many deep spiritual issues, there are usually "rats" attached. Sometimes it gets masked because a person who is growing in Christ has already taken territory away from any demons that might be there. But sometimes you get people with pasts in the occult or satanic ritual abuse, heavier things, and that's where you get more manifestations. But we must recognize that demons are the smaller problem. The big problem is the stuff that they're hitched to—emotional and spiritual issues.
How do you go about detecting whether demonic influence is present?
I use a questionnaire where people provide a lot of information about their past and areas that provide an opening for demonization. It includes questions about shame, guilt, anger, and bitterness. Unforgiveness is the biggest problem. It's like emotional cancer. I also look for clues as we begin to talk. If there are demonic powers with any power left, they might talk to me. But usually by the time we've taken care of the emotional and spiritual stuff, they don't have any power left and they may not be able to talk. If they don't talk, then I don't always know whether they're there or not.
That seems backwards. Why not deal with the demonic first, and then deal with the psychological issues?
First of all, it avoids any kind of violence. I almost never experience violence. Sure, I've had a few things happen where people throw things, but nothing close to what Hollywood portrays. We start by recognizing that we have Holy Spirit power, and no demon can come close to that. Sometimes I get interference from the demons, but most of the time when confronted, they're cowed into submission.
When Jesus cast out demons, they left immediately. Why do we need extended counseling sessions to get rid of them?
I plan to ask Jesus that some day. "How come it was so quick for you?" I've had a few quick ones. One demon said to me, "I don't like this." And I said, "You're not supposed to." He said, "I'm going to leave." I said, "Okay." "I'm going to take my friends with me." I said, "Okay. Go." That was it. But that's not the norm. Typically you have to deal with the emotional baggage that gave the demon reasons to be there in the first place. Addressing both the spiritual and psychological issues makes the difference. If you work the two together, I think you have the best of both worlds.