We mourn the passing of Doug Mendenhall on 18 Dec 2020. Doug was so kind to me over the years as I read and wrote about his books, attended his seminars and visited him as a friend to encourage him in his work. I am personally grateful to Doug for his masterful work on Conquering Spiritual Evil, which has so richly blessed my life and given me courage.
Link to Online Memorial
Apparently I’m the first to review this book. I don’t know why that is. Perhaps it’s because the book is not widely distributed. As far as I can tell, it is only available from Confetti Books in Spanish Fork. It was published in 2011. There is already a second edition, which I’m reviewing. The author is Doug Mendenhall, who published several previous books that you may recognize.
Doug is the father of Denise Mendenhall, who suffered a diabetic stroke and coma at age ten that destroyed the left side of her brain. When she recovered she no longer had a veil, meaning that she could see the spirit world and the spirit beings around us. Denise is not the only one who has such spirit vision but of all the accounts I have read, her gift seems to be the most pronounced.
The Mendenhall family has published My Peace I Give Unto You (2001) with Robert Lake, Possibilities – Lessons From the Spirit (2002), and In His Arms – Experiences With the Other Side (2006), authored by Denise. Doug said his latest book took several years to write but is based on his spiritual experiences with his daughter and others from the previous dozen years.
A Few Warnings
If you’re going to read these books you’re going to need to deal with a lower quality binding that may be disappointing to book collectors. Each of the four books has come apart as I have read them. I’ve had to tape them back up, something I rarely have to do with other self-published or small-press published books. I don’t think I’m hard on books and it really is quite annoying.
The other negative I want to get out of the way right up front is the number of typos that you will find in these books. Doug warns us in advance and for anyone who has self-published, you know how difficult if not impossible it is to find every typo. No matter how many times you review it or how many people put eyes on it before it goes to press, most self-edited books have typos.
The only other warning I want to offer if you choose to read this book is that you need to be aware of the intensity of some of the experiences, especially the chapters on possession. If you are not used to reading about such stuff you may want to prepare yourself by reading some other, shall we say lighter introductory material about the spirit world. I can recommend a list of books.
An Unusual Claim
Doug tells it like it is. I can’t see that he would have any reason to make these things up. He has put his reputation on the line when he says in the preface that the Lord requested him to write this book. If you’re a member of the LDS faith, you know what kind of claim that is. Not many people make that claim and those who do are usually looked upon as crackpots or “out there.”
I have made the claim that my writings have been inspired over the years but have never felt I could say that the Lord asked me to write something. Perhaps I don’t know Him that well. The only other person I know who has made the claim that the Lord asked him to write a book is Denver Snuffer, whose works I have read and reviewed previously on Latter-day Commentary.
Why would the Lord ask Doug to write this book? And if he did, why hasn’t it received more attention in the online LDS world? I have searched online many times since I first heard about the book and subsequently read it. I can find less than a half dozen references to the work in the blogs of other LDS writers. There seems to be no marketing effort being made for this volume.
I was fascinated with the content from the moment I received the book. I confess I jumped right to the chapter on complete possession. I could not put the book down for hours. I read there the account of Rick Bos, an LDS missionary serving in South America in 1969-1971 who dealt with individuals from the Candomblé spiritualist cult. They invite spirit possession through trances.
I had heard similar stories from my mission back in 1976, especially about the Garifuna people of Belize with their African voodoo religious roots. They practiced Gubida spirit possession. Although Belize was a part of our mission, we were not allowed to proselyte there as this was prior to the 1978 revelation on priesthood. I met people from Belize while in San Pedro Sula.
I’m sure a lot of members of the church have heard anecdotal stories of spirit possession from missionaries who encountered it while serving in places where it is common. In some ways we are used to the idea of spirit possession because it is part of our LDS heritage. Who hasn’t read the story of Heber C Kimball’s encounter with evil spirits while opening the work in England?
As I have written previously, I think the biggest problem we have with this subject is naiveté and fear. We either know nothing about dealing with evil entities or we don’t want to because the idea makes us uncomfortable. Doug jumps right in and addresses this subject in the first chapter. The enemy in studying about evil is fear. It is by gaining knowledge that we overcome the fear.
Faith and fear cannot co-exist in the same person at the same time. If you’re considering this book to obtain help in overcoming evil in your own life or to understand how evil has afflicted someone you love, you will want to approach your study with prayer and faith. If the Lord has led you to this book, then ask him for help in dealing with any fears you may have about it.
The adversary has done an excellent job of keeping us from understanding how he works by causing fear to come upon us when we think about or talk about his influence. That is not the way we should tackle our task of mastering the devil and his angels. I believe this is something we should study but if we’re going about it with fear in our hearts then we are going to fail.
Reality of Spirit World
Doug next deals with the reality factor. So many people reject the idea of negative entities that it makes you wonder if they accept the notion of a spirit world at all. I can’t think of any belief more basic to our religion than the fact that we are eternal spirit beings temporarily housed in a mortal physical body for a season. To reject this belief is to reject all hope for life after death.
Among some sophisticated, intelligent, educated people, it is considered “not cool” to believe in things of a spiritual nature, especially spiritual beings. Their religious faith does not seem to have room for influences from beyond this physical world, either divine or profane. Sadly, this kind of thinking has carried over to some members of our faith, who seem embarrassed by such beliefs.
If you reject a belief in angels or devils then you won’t get much good from this book. If you do not accept the LDS doctrine that the spirit world is here among us and well-populated by beings unseen to mortal eyes, you will be equally challenged by the concepts presented in this volume. Doug’s work is precisely about identifying and dealing with those unseen and malicious entities.
Four Categories of Dark Entities
In the first edition Doug identified three classes of evil beings, but added the appendix in the second edition describing the fourth. They are of two main types: Those who have never been or never will be mortal and those who have passed through mortality. Of the first type there are 1) devils and 2) demons. Of the second type there are 3) earth-bound spirits and 4) spirits in hell.
I think in our theology we have the easiest time understanding the idea of devils. We believe that a “third part” of the hosts of heaven were cast out for rejecting Jesus Christ as the Savior. Notice I didn’t say one third. I have done a careful study of the scriptures about this theme and have decided we have assigned a numerical value to something that was only intended to be a class.
We also should not have any problem with understanding the concept of spirits in hell. If there is anything that is universal in most Christian religions – and many others as well – it is the idea of a hell that is populated by those who have done evil while in this life. Yes, Mormon theology includes a hell, although for us it is a temporary abode for those who will someday be redeemed.
Power to Repent
Earth-bound spirits and spirits in hell are still in a probationary state, meaning they can choose to believe in Christ, exercise faith, repent and call upon Him for deliverance. My experience with earth-bound spirits has led me to believe they do not know their influence is detrimental to our spiritual health. These are mainly addicted spirits wanting to use our bodies if we let them.
Those in hell are being tortured for their rebellion and disobedience. They are held in chains, reserved for the Day of Judgment. They do not interact with us here on earth unless they choose to join with Satan in the rebellion against Christ, in which case they become fallen angels and make war against the Saints. Their ability to repent has been diminished by their poor choices.
Devils and demons, on the other hand, are evil spirits or entities that cannot and will not repent. We sometimes make the mistake of thinking we can send them to the light when they bother us. They cannot and will not go to the light. It bothers them. It hurts them. They avoid light. Devils and demons cannot repent. They are evil and have made their choice evident by torturing Christ.
A Personal Application
I bought this book to come to a better understanding of how the enemy of my soul was keeping me bound in a certain area no matter what I did to escape him. I found the answer I was seeking in a discussion about how we actually invite evil or unclean spirits into our bodies by the choices we make and the actions we take. This may sound like basic stuff but bear with me a moment.
Do you remember the scripture (Luke 11:24-26) about the unclean spirit who, when cast out, went and got seven more wicked spirits and came back to the man? What I learned from Doug, through several personal experiences he shared, is that those evil spirits only came to the man when they were invited back. They can’t attach themselves without some action on our part.
Such spirits will not leave until, along with our fasting, we petition the Lord in prayer to come and take them away. We cannot do it alone. Our faith and our priesthood authority is not enough with these kinds of entities – be they evil spirits (never mortal) or unclean spirits (earth-bound). It takes a God who has already battled them and won to remove them according to our faith.
There is so much more I could include about Doug’s book but I wouldn’t want to take away your joy in discovering the truths contained therein for yourself. Doug opens up a whole new vista for some who have never considered that there are spiritually gifted people among us who can see, feel or otherwise perceive things happening in the spirit world around us, both good and evil.
In his book you will read many stories of those spiritual encounters. You will learn how we can and should protect ourselves and our families through shields of faith and weapons of light. If you have read his previous books or Denise’s book, you will continue to be amazed at the simple acceptance of things that seem so foreign to those of us who do not have such spiritual sight.
You may especially be interested in the insights found in the chapter on how little children can be and are influenced by evil spirits. Those struggling with same-sex attraction will find answers that reaffirm the reality of the cause of their addiction. I’ve addressed it elsewhere on this blog but found it clearly and succinctly addressed in Doug’s book in a very matter-of-fact manner.
Summary and Conclusion
This is obviously not an unbiased review. I bought this book looking for something specific and found it. I was not displeased. Doug’s writing style is straightforward. He does not pull any punches. He is not looking to entertain but to inform. The subject is fascinating to me and I am grateful that he took the time to provide so much detail about this so very important subject.
I am confident I will be sharing additional insights I gained from this book and from Denise’s book in future blog posts. I recently purchased a CD recording of Denise speaking at Confetti Books earlier this year on the last days, another of my favorite study topics. I was fascinated by what she had to say and continue to ponder some of the ideas and visions she shared with us.
I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in spiritual healing or in overcoming long-standing addictions and temptations. If you have been wondering why some things would never go away no matter what you did, then this book is for you. If you will take the time to study it and apply the principles contained therein you will be blessed for your time and effort.