My dear Frederick:1 I read your last email with joy in my heart! You say your Christian is going through a difficult time; that his wife has left him and run off with her “personal trainer” from the gym. This is excellent news, my boy! You must strike when his defenses are at their weakest — never lose an opportunity to help him doubt the Enemy’s goodness, kindness, mercy and grace.
Make the enemy a tyrant
Don’t tempt him to doubt the Enemy’s providence; his governance over everything that happens. No, Frederick — we want him to keep believing that God (in the words of one of the Enemy Forces’ wretched creeds), “leads and governs them according to his holy will, in such a way that nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.”
You see, we don’t want him to doubt that God governs His creation. He certainly does! What we want, Frederick, is for this young man to doubt God’s goodness. You must do everything you can to make the Enemy seem cold, distant, uncaring and unmerciful. Make the man despise God for allowing this to happen. Poison his mind with bitterness! Instead of recognizing that God governs and controls everything, but people are still morally responsible for their own actions — lead him to believe that God is a cruel despot, a wicked kitten playing with a spider.
Your Christian is the poor spider, Frederick — and God is the kitten who tears off a leg here, smashes his body there and finally (when he grows tired of this play), eats him whole and leaves a few stray bits and pieces on the floor to rot.
Keep the scriptures abstract
You wrote that the young man is trying to find comfort in the Scriptures. You specifically mentioned the book of 1 Peter, where the cursed apostle warned believers that “this is favor with God — if, when you’re doing right and suffering, you endure it. This is why you slaves were called to salvation!” And, when he wrote, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator.”
Don’t wait for a moment, Frederick!
This is a critical moment for the young man; a turning point. The Enemy teaches that He calls men from slavery to us, sets them free, and calls them to live a life in devoted service to Him. He calls them to worship His Son as their King and Lord. He tells them to trust in His good providence, and to always realize that everything He does is for a good, holy and just reason.
No, no, no! We can’t allow this mindset to last, my boy. The good news is that this mindset is extraordinarily counter-cultural. It goes against every instinct in his body, and your object is to keep this at an intellectual level. Make this a sterile, cold and abstract kind of doctrine. The very word doctrine conjures up images of ivory-towers, thick books, and dreary lecture-halls. Keep it there. Keep it far away from so-called “real life.” Keep the scriptures academic; don’t let them become practical.
Encourage your young man to think he’s special, unique — that the pain he’s feeling is one of a kind, and the scriptures don’t speak to his situation.
Encourage him to keep the old habits
At heart, Frederick, people are narcissists. They’re in love with themselves, and it takes tremendous effort to make them love God more. This process only begins with the so-called “new birth,” when the Enemy gives his new subjects a new heart, soul and mind. He awakens them spiritually (that’s when we lose them, Frederick), and gives them the ability to love him and his son. But the good news is these habits have to be learned. Many of the Enemy Forces don’t bother to cultivate this behavior, so they’re easy prey for us when disaster strikes. But, always remember — “disaster” for the Enemy is sweet music to our ears!
Farewell, for now …
I must dash. I’ll send you another email in a few weeks. Remember this, and you’ll do well:
- Keep him away from the Scriptures.
- Push the doctrine of God’s providence, but crush any thoughts that He’s good and kind. Make God a tyrant, not a loving King.
- If he does read the Scriptures for help during his suffering, keep everything he reads abstract, cold and distant. Emphasize the dryness of doctrine, and the pain of his personal experience.
- Cultivate his bitterness, feed his pain, bury his thoughts of God’s goodness, crush his theological notions of God’s kind providence, and maximize every thought about divine injustice.
- Make the young man hate God for doing this to him.
I can’t wait to write again, Frederick. I’m anxious to see what you do with what I’ve taught you! Our Father Below greets you. May the Cursed One be blasphemed forever.
Your loving uncle,
1 Some readers will recognize this letter is inspired by C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece The Screwtape Letters, which is a fictional set of letters between a high-ranking demon (Screwtape) and his young nephew, Wormwood. In these letters, Screwtape offers young Wormwood some practical advice about how to ruin the life of an ordinary young man who has recently become a Christian. Lewis was a Christian, and this work functions as sort of a mirror into one’s own soul. It’s one of the most brilliant pieces of literature written, I believe. I can’t hope to match Lewis’ style and content, but I can at least give it a shot.
Tyler Robbins is a graduate of Maranatha Baptist Seminary, a DMin student at Central Seminary (Plymouth, MN) and a pastor at Sleater Kinney Road Baptist Church, in Olympia WA. He’s also an Investigations Program Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist and is the author of What’s It Mean to be a Baptist?