Text of a letter found in a dungheap down at the end of the village...
My dear Grundlesnot,
You are quite right about the problems that we are likely to face from this growing group of Christians in your village: healings, deliverance, faith, hope and all the usual horror of love; and joy, too – ugh! We must stop it as soon as possible and as you say, the most effective way to destroy the threat is to divide them.
Once again, however, I am staggered by the failure of our modern education system. Like all young tempters, you have come up with an absurd plan for introducing differing doctrines and visions. I know that is the sort of thing you had to do for coursework at Temptation School ever since it got Sophistry College status, but it doesn’t work in the real world, believe me. I just wish they still made you sit the old Sin Exams – they really made sure you knew your stuff!
I suppose you have been confused by our own propaganda, but it is important to understand that differing doctrines and visions are quite inadequate weapons against real Christians.
Of course, they work against the sort of group that comes together simply because they like being with people who agree with them and share their tastes in music and so on; but that sort of group was never going to pose much of a threat anyway. A proposal to change the time of the meeting would be enough to see them off, let alone a doctrinal tiff.
Let us go back to basics, Grundlesnot: what is the Enemy trying to achieve? Is it a huddle of like-minded perfectionists whose doctrine is so pure that they keep cutting off every bud and shoot of new growth for fear of heresy? Or a team of visionary enthusiasts, whose zeal burns up everything and everyone in their path? No, those are our ideas of church, not his. If only it were that simple!
No, I’m afraid it all goes back, as usual, to his ridiculous ideas about love. The hallmark of his disciples, he says, will be not the soundness of their theology or the brightness of their vision, or the quality of their presentations – or the size of their breakfasts; not even the purity of their lifestyle; but how much they ‘love’ one another! And do you know what? This love – I’m sorry to have to keep using that disgusting word – actually depends on difference.
Again, do not be deceived by our own propaganda, which is designed – and works very well, I may say – to pervert and dilute ‘love’ to the point at which it poses no threat at all. We want them to believe that love is about finding people of like mind and taste and purpose and throwing in your lot with them. This, of course, involves no growth or life beyond that of the individuals, no real knitting or joining together, and the whole is never going to be anything more than the sum of the parts; and what’s more, they can be induced to divorce or separate and wander off with hardly any fuss at all.
I know it is hard for an inexperienced tempter like you to understand this, but what the Enemy means by real love seems to be something much more complicated – and much more dangerous. He means to bring together people who do not have the same tastes and enthusiasms, who do not see the world in the same way, and get them to choose freely (ha!) to bind themselves together, to give honour to one another, to make sacrifices for one another and to put themselves each at the others’ disposal. This, of course, produces an appallingly tough and flexible web of growth and life beyond that of any of the individuals, and the whole is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.
What the Enemy desires is a wholehearted and risky harmony in which diverse passions and visions blossom (and fade in their due time, for that matter) like flowers – yuk! We must seduce them with a timid and secure unison in which every false note can be instantly detected, derided and scorned. We must not offer them diversity, we must terrify them with it!
So, how do we attack this love? The same way we have always attacked it, with false expectations of fame and fortune, of their own comfort, security and success. Feed them with such visions of endless summer that the shock of winter will see to it that they hang themselves sooner than believe what they see next spring. Once they believe that they have got it right, that everyone agrees with them and likes them and that they have found the magic formula that will save the world without pain, then the game is ours; disappointment and fear will do the job for us while we relax and enjoy the show.
Also, never forget the power of the seven deadly sins, greatly enhanced since we got people to dismiss them as medieval horrors. Sloth, gluttony and avarice are always your friends, indispensable tools for dulling the ears, weakening the will and turning every man’s attention on himself. They deserve it, don’t they? Why should they not be wealthy and well fed, and have a little time to themselves? You know the drill.
And if they resist? Well, envy is as good as a jemmy to lever open a man’s heart. Get them to envy each other’s gifts and callings, if you can; but don’t forget the more basic stuff. How come they have all got such nice cars? Why is he always jetting off somewhere? Where does his wife get the money from to dress like that? And speaking of his wife, you would be amazed how much damage you can do with lust, especially in a really respectable group. It is so delightfully secret and deceitful; and it is so basic and embarrassing that they cannot believe themselves to be in any danger of until it is far too late.
Wrath is quite easy to manage these days. Defending the true faith (that is, ‘what I believe’) provides good excuses for a blast of anger (righteous anger, brother!) and you can egg them on with nonsense about being ‘prophetic’. But do make sure the fire is properly hot before the lid blows off: wrath works much better through gossip and pressure groups and special meetings.
Above all, your top priority must be pride. You must get them to believe that as a body, they are the best there ever was, that they are It, that they are God’s answer and that this time they have got this cracked; and as individuals, that they have come a long way and are now immune to the temptations and follies of lesser men.
Remember, the Enemy has called them to love one another and to help each other when they stumble. We want them to concentrate on being right and being successful; it is so much more entertaining.
(The Lighthouse Family Church: Men's Breakfast 10 June 2006)