Screwtape on the Southern Baptist Convention
My dearest Wormwood,
Though it gives me no pleasure to do so, I must tip my hat to you for the wonderful developments you have initiated in regards to the Southern Baptist Convention.
Surely you need no reminder of the perilous situation we were facing in the not-too-distant past. I had nearly come to the conclusion that all hope was lost. But alas, you surprise me, dear nephew! You have done it again. (It is obvious that I have taught you well.) I do hope you will keep up the bad work.
Still, there is much work to be done.
Remember that arrogance and pride is your greatest inroad into the Convention.
Due to your negligence (I will say no more… you were younger and inexperienced at the time), we lost the battle over the Enemy’s book some years ago. I worried that the entire Convention would be lost. For years, I feared an unprecedented advance of the Enemy’s mission to seek out those in our own territory. With the institutions reclaiming their fidelity to the Book… well… it seemed our cause was lost.
But you were right to comfort me during those days of anxiety. Yes, you were right to focus your efforts on perpetuating the arrogant attitude that comes easily for some who pursue higher education. You must continue to foster a sense of disdain among the seminary students and professors towards the people in the pews and their uneducated pastors.
It is no secret that because of your blundering, we lost the liberal theologians who looked down their noses on the “know-nothings” in the local churches. There is nothing we can do about that yet (though I have some ideas).
But we can still use the seminaries to our advantage. Promote the points of Calvinism or the methods of Revivalism or the principles of Church Growth… whatever you decide to focus on, it matters little to me. Just make sure that whatever theology or methodology you use, the next generation looks down on their uneducated and unenlightened parishioners. Use arrogance to keep the Enemy from doing his work.
And by all means, make sure that the pastors and church leaders are more in love with their techniques, methods, theology or their name and fame than they are with the Enemy or the people under his care.
Related to this, I encourage you to increase the foment between the generations. The bigger the generation gap, the better. Stir up the young people to gossip about the old leaders as legalistic and out-of-touch. Cause the older leaders to resent the young people as libertine and disrespectful.
I must congratulate you on the excellent job you have done in using the internet to our advantage. From the websites devoted to shaming and scorning the mega-church pastors to the blogsites that keep young and old alike distracted with secondary issues… your work here has been amazing. Keep stirring the pot, Wormwood.
At the local church level, I am convinced that the more you blind the people to their hypocrisy, the better off we will be in the long run. Make sure their temperaments run towards judgmentalism and not repentance. You can do this by keeping them focused on the sins of the increasingly decadent culture (by the way, aren’t the new developments delightful?). As long as the Baptists focus on the actions of those in our territory, they are less apt to repent of the actions of those in their pews and pulpits.
I am upset that you have not yet eased the consciences of those up in arms regarding the recent trends of baptism. Surely you can thwart their attempts to refocus on that cursed Commission.
You are foolish to celebrate the public nature of their decline! As long as their numbers are shrinking, they know something is wrong. Wormwood, you must cause their numbers to grow again. Just make sure effective discipleship is not the way it happens.
You can get their numbers up by attracting people from other churches and denominations who already agree with their critique of society. That way, they can begin growing again numerically as their influence continues to shrink. Stroke their ego so that they feel superior to the other denominations.
It might be good for you to add a touch of nostalgia to the situation. You will recall the work I have done in the past in this regard. I like to distract these wretches from the future the Enemy has planned for them. Let them focus on some other ”glory”.
For some, you can work the SBC model of the 1950′s-1970′s. Let them remember fondly the heyday of the SBC institutions and cultural Christianity.
For others, you can work the Revival eras of the ”Great Awakenings.” Take them back to the methods of the sawdust trail and the revival meetings.
For others, take them back to the Reformation. Have them envision a Puritan paradise.
Whatever you do, make sure they do not look ahead to the new heavens and earth that the Enemy has in store for them. Such hope might cause them to be bolder in their missions and evangelism. If you can distract them with the false “golden ages” (and not the Age to Come), you will be doing well.
By all means, keep them busy. I hear that some are harping about prayer. Shut them up quickly. Discourage them. Help them to see prayer as a needless exercise that does not deliver results.
Of course, the most important work you can do is keep them from the gospel. I shudder to think of its power. It has proved to be unstoppable in so many cases that I hate to even mention it. You must keep them from reflecting on the gospel, proclaiming the gospel, and living according to the gospel.
The fact that we lost the battle over the Book almost caused me to lose hope. But we still have a chance. The gospel and the cursed Commission are the tools the Enemy has used against us all these years. You will do well to make sure that these Baptists focus on everything else.
I fear what lies in store for us. The Enemy will not give up on these people. So neither should we.
Your affectionate Uncle…