Fortress Press

Unmasking the Powers: The Invisible Forces That Determine Human Existence

Unmasking the Powers

The Invisible Forces That Determine Human Existence

Walter Wink (Author)


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"Angels, Spirits, principalities, powers, gods, Satan—these, along with all other spiritual realities, are the unmentionables of our culture. The dominant materialistic worldview has absolutely no place for them. … [But] materialism itself is terminably ill, and, let us hope, in process of replacement by a worldview capable of honoring the lasting values of modern science without succumbing to reductionism. … [Therefore] we find ourselves returning to the ancient traditions, searching for wisdom wherever it may be found. We do not capitulate to the past and its superstitions, but bring all the gifts our race has acquired along the way as aids in recovering the lost language of our souls. … In Naming the Powers I developed the thesis ... that the New Testament's "principalities and powers" is a generic category referring to the determining forces of physical, psychic, and social existence. … In the present volume we will be focusing on just seven of the Powers mentioned in Scripture. Their selection out of all the others dealt with in Naming the Powers is partly arbitrary: they happen to be ones about which I felt I had something to say. But they are also representative, and open the way to comprehending the rest. They are: Satan, demons, angels of churches, angels of nations, gods, elements, and angels of nature."

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800619022
  • eBook ISBN 9781506453835
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 240
  • Publication Date March 1, 1993


"Who says that biblical theology is dull? Wink knows the distinction between what is meant in the New Testament and what is meant for today. But he also recognizes that sometimes risks must be taken if one is to bring the horizons into touch...These and other matters he explores are crucial issues for reasons of theology, pastoral care, social justice, and nothing less than the salvation of the world. One is grateful for the erudition, the spiritual depth and imagination and the controlled passion which Wink has brought to them."
— Frederick Houk Borsch, Virginia Seminary Journal

"In his remarkable trilogy on the principalities and powers, Walter Wink has biblically verified what more and more of us have come to realize intuitively: namely, that underneath and within the social, economic, and political crisis we face, there are profoundly spiritual realities which must be confronted....Wink presents us with the sobering and illuminating truth that movements for social change will simply never succeed unless they come to terms with the existence and pervasive presence of the structural and spiritual forces the Bible refers to as principalities and powers. And there is no better treatment of the biblical and contemporary meaning of the powers than Walter Wink's."
— Jim Wallis, Sojourners

Table of Contents


  1. Satan
  2. Satan as a Servant of God
    Satan as the Evil One
    Satan as Chameleon
    Satan's End
  3. The Demons
  4. Outer Personal Possession
    Collective Possession
    The Inner Personal Demonic
    Dealing with Our Demons
  5. The Angels of the Churches
  6. What Is an Angel?
    The Personality and Vocation of Angels
    Discerning the Angel of a Church
    Ministering to the Angel of a Church
    An Actual Case
  7. The Angels of the Nations
  8. The Angel-Gods of the Nations
    The Personality and Vocation of Nation-Angels
    Ministering to the Spirituality of a Nation
  9. The Gods
  10. The Gods Are Real
    The Rehabilitation of the Gods
    Relating to the Gods
  11. The Elements of the Universe
  12. The Elements as Basic Principles of the Universe
    Idolatry of the Elements
    The Elements as Theophanies
  13. The Angels of Nature
  14. The Angels of Nature and the Emergent New Worldview
    The Angels of Nature and Environmental Justice
    The Angels of Nature and Worship