uncle-screwtapeMy 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…

Screwtape

Related Posts:
7 Types of Southern Baptists
Bridging the Generation Gap in the SBC
A Plea to the Current Leadership of the SBC

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Comments:


25 thoughts on “Screwtape on the Southern Baptist Convention”

  1. pastor jim sharp says:

    OUCH !

  2. Scott Eaton says:

    Brilliant! And sadly true.

  3. Pastor Jim says:

    Trevin,
    Wonderfully disturbing insight into the current state of our Convention. Thanks!

  4. Tony Kummer says:

    The difference between believers and demons? How we respond to the truth. James 2:19

  5. brotherhank says:

    Trevin-

    Not all “secondary issues” are merely distraction. After all, Wormwood fears not only the foundational truths of Christianity, but also trembles at the “full counsel of God”. While it’s hard to know exactly what you were referring to there, it should be reminded that Screwtape’s attempts against the Enemy’s book back in the day did not begin with a full out frontal assault on the fundamentals. It was actually a steady erosion of what the SBC felt was mere “secondary issues”.

    Either way, there’s room in your satire for me to be totally off based and misinformed. It wouldn’t be the first time. :)

    ‘BH

  6. Trevin Wax says:

    Hank,

    Secondary issues should be considered, yes. And Wormwood indeed fears the counsel of God in its fullness.

    However, the Enemy is sly to use the secondary issues as a way of increasing a sense of superiority and one-upmanship among brothers in Christ. That subtle tendency toward pride then creates a steady erosion of the cooperative nature of the SBC venture, which winds up turning us in upon ourselves.

    We discuss secondary issues on this blog too. Not all such discussion is distraction, though the danger is that it becomes that. It depends of course on how it is done and the motives for the discussion.

  7. J. K. Jones says:

    Great post.

    I pray for a spirit or humble repentance and faith among us.

  8. weston says:

    Excellent Post Trev

  9. Greg Alford says:

    Trevin,

    Great post…

    It is always needful for us to remember that our enemy is always active in his efforts to destroy the work of God in our personal lives, our churches, and yes even within the Southern Baptist Convention.

    Not a single one of us are immune to his devices… and that is sobering thought.

  10. Trevin Wax says:

    Greg,

    Very true. The one who stands beware lest he fall.

  11. I can’t imagine Screwtape encouraging Wormwood to promote the five points of Calvinism, for fear that the very heart of the theology of the Firat and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions as well as much of the American Experiment in freedoms and nationhood might catch fire and flower once more in a Third Great Awakening that could continue to burn for a 1000 generations…..The Angel Watchgood, from the watchgood papers.

  12. Isaac says:

    Brilliant literary talents at work here. Great stuff! Sure, folks can get picky or try to criticize but it really kinda highlights the whole point of this post.

    As far as bringing the subject of Calvinism into it…well, you’re brave! I think I completely agree though. But the recent trend of angry and pushy Calvinists (as opposed to those who practice what they preach and trust in God’s complete sovereignty) Any method of contention would be preferred by Screwtape and Wormwood over no contention at all. In a meeting full of people who believe in at least some church autonomy it is surprising that bullying from individuals and pressure from the collective Convention would be employed rather than focus on greater issues that are of less contention.

    Again, great post! As an outside who has been looking in and getting slowly closer and more interested in the convention it’s good to see honesty and frank introspection into the work. :)

  13. James Reynolds says:

    The SBC as a organization lost sight of the concept “priesthood of the believer” & until that power is returned to the local congretions decline will continue. Nashville cannot speak for the local churches, and cannot dictate to siminaries what to teach. All information must presented, and individuals can then come to their own conclusions.

  14. Adam says:

    Excellent article overall. Particularly insightful in regards to divisions between generations, pride, focus on past “glory days,” and even blogish over-focus on secondary issues.
    One concern, and I know you are a Southern guy so this kind of has to be your line (and certainly something you may personally see as overall good), but the portrayal of the Conservative Resurgance crew as on the side of the angels, so to speak, with no criticism for methods, attitudes, and even resulting pride seems a bit lacking. In my humble and often errant opinion, there were many victories in that whole deal that Wormwood would continue to celebrate even if the current position of the SBC is one he might disdain. The rest of your article was particularly humble in its self-assessment of SBC weak/vulnerable areas, so I would have thought you would be a bit more discerningly critical of the Bible Wars events as something more complicated than an unqualified defeat of the Enemy.

  15. Janie Lusher says:

    Thank you! My heart Is hurting over the inroads our Enemy continues to make in our Convention. Excellent use of Screwtape and Wormwood – those two have sent me to my knees more than once by recognizing myself in C.S. Lewis’s writings.

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Trevin Wax


‚ÄčTrevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, husband to Corina, father to Timothy, Julia, and David. You can follow him on Twitter. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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