According to the Wikipedia article on Territorial spirit:

Territorial spirits are national angels, or demons, who rule over certain geographical areas in the world, a concept accepted within the Charismatic movement, Pentecostal traditions, and Kingdom Now theology. This belief has been popularized by the novel, This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti, as well as by the ministry of Peter Wagner. The existence of territorial spirits is viewed as significant in spiritual warfare within these Christian groups.

Peter Wagner promotes "Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare" (SLSW) which involves the practice of learning the names and assignments of demonic spirits as the first step to effective spiritual warfare.[7] Opponents of this theological construct, and associated beliefs in "spiritual warfare", point out that while the Bible may describe some form of demonic control over geography, it does not prescribe many of the behaviors and teachings that proponents advocate in response. There is no mention in either the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament of believers banding together and praying a form of "spiritual warfare" against particular territorial demons. The battles occurring in the spiritual realms (as described in Daniel 10) have no Biblically identified link to the actions and prayers of God's people in the physical world.[8]

Are the belief in "territorial spirits" and the practice of "Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare" innovations of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement?

Did they borrow these ideas from prior sources?

Can we find evidence of similar beliefs being held in other periods of church history?

Note: an interesting book that reports the alleged application of these ideas in the context of the Argentine Pentecostal Revival is Listen to Me, Satan! (link) by Carlos Annacondia (interview here, documentary here).

  • No need to be sorry, I'll edit if necessary. This 2009 Liberty University research paper by Dr. Don Fanning (who served and did mission in Latin America, including Argentina) Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare tries to trace the historical roots of SLSW to Latter Rain movement and Dominion theology. A lot of details, I'm still processing it. Feb 22, 2022 at 5:39

1 Answer 1


The primary sources of information for Pentecostal and Charismatic believers are the Holy Spirit and His Written Word.

External to these sources, there is a really good article on this very subject at: https://frame-poythress.org/territorial-spirits-some-biblical-perspectives/#:~:text=What%20does%20the%20Bible%20have%20to%20say%20about,in%20the%20Gospels%20and%20the%20Book%20of%20Acts..

Territorial Spirits: Some Biblical Perspectives JUNE 5, 2012 By Vern Poythress

Also, see:

The claim is that in the beginning God allotted specific angels to certain countries and that after the rebellion by Satan, his fallen angels continued in dealing with these specific nations. The idolatrous superstitions of pagan nations reveals this demarcation by the limits of specific spirits to a certain territory, which in some cases is marked on the land by an altar. For example:

Satan has assigned certain demons to certain territories, nations, cities and subcultures. These demons seek to pervert the peoples in their territory and to turn them against God (e.g. Ezek 28:12 the "King of Tyre"). Angelic beings were originally (see White, 1991, p59) given certain groupings of mankind to oversee. [Dr. John Studley, personal email quoting his MA thesis.]

In NW Nepal the territorial spirits are named Masta and the geographic extents of their territories are known to the local people. Where a Masta boundary crosses a path it is demarcated by an altar. When travellers reach the altar they place votive offerings in the niches to ensure safe passage and protection as they pass through the territory of the Masta. They are appeased with the help of a Dharmi (shaman). [Ibid.] Satan has assigned a hierarchy of principalities, powers and rulers of darkness to specific territories on the earth. [John Dawson, YWAM, Taking our Cities for God, Creation House (1989), p158.]

As you can see from the above, there are other sources from around the world such as Nepal.

But the authority is always the written word of God. And the only source more authoritative than that is the Holy Spirit Himself.

Disclaimer: I am an Independent Evangelical Christian who was originally brought up as a Catholic.

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