Dear Wormwood . . .
I am overjoyed to hear of the way our efforts are bearing fruit in America. I hear that cities like Baltimore are desolate, and entire regions, like New England, are almost entirely devoid of the enemy’s presence. I’m also delighted to share with you that the work we’ve been doing in the so-called “Bible Belt” has been more successful than we could have ever imagined! We’ve given the people just enough of the enemy to inoculate them to him, and the Belt is sheering more with each passing day.
Might I add, my dear Wormwood, how excited I am to know that an increasingly large number of churches across the American landscape are responding to our efforts exactly as we intended. As you know, our plan to attack them from the outside with persecution was bearing very little fruit—how I wish the central office would give up on the strategy entirely!—and even our best attempts of shutting them down politically only seemed to last for a time. But this new, yet old strategy, where we teach them to bite and devour one another, it seems to be going splendidly. Churches all over America are closing their doors. Not always literally, of course. Many churches are simply vomiting up their “converts”—whether they’re truly converted or not—and abandoning their buildings and resources to us. The buildings themselves are often still used by those who belong to our gloriously dark kingdom. The central office is enthralled to see the literal inversion of Proverbs 13:22 taking place before our very eyes.
Nevertheless, my dear soldier, I’m writing to you today because we’re concerned to see a steadily growing trend in America. It’s called “revitalization.” This dreadful new movement seeks to send men and their wretched families and friends into dying churches with the purpose of bringing them back to life. Much to our frustration, it seems to be working well! There are several strong church and para-church organizations backing this movement with their resources, encouraging it with their platforms, training for it in their seminaries and internships, and writing books about it to spread awareness and enhance education.
One book in particular has been particularly troublesome for us at the central office, as it seems to be the most in-tune with the spiritual reality of the war we wage. A particularly devious and rotten man named Andy Davis is the author (perhaps you’ll recall this nefarious dog from our overseas training in Japan), and the propaganda is called Revitalize. Does our enemy lack so much creativity as to title a book with such simplicity?
As I’ve noted, this drivel doesn’t seem too dangerous to some of my colleagues here. Davis isn’t a particularly amusing author—unlike the atrocious pen of that scoundrel Mike McKinley. Moreover, Davis doesn’t offer in his book anything particularly groundbreaking or ingenious. For these reasons, my colleagues here are tempted to simply sweep this book tripe under the rug. But I know, my dear boy, just how dangerous it really is.
In fact, there’s one aspect of the book in particular that we ought to be gravely concerned about as it pertains to the future success of our labors. You would do well to take note here, my dear Wormwood, because this reason makes your work of assaulting the patient all the more difficult. Davis is fully aware of how involved we are in the war against healthy churches. Sadly, our espionage hasn’t been as successful as we might have hoped. Our cover has been blown, at least in part. Allow me to elaborate more on this point—and please, do read carefully. The information to follow will prepare you for the work that lies ahead.
As to Davis’ awareness of us: it is too great. If his work is allowed on the bookshelves of any number of pastors, they’ll have reason to be awakened to our covert work amongst them (6). Davis knows we have special “flaming arrows” for pastors just like him (37, 86). Such arrows typically fly through the night silently, finding their targets and striking the patient without them even knowing from whence the arrows came. Our patients are usually blind to the “spiritual realm,” of which our lord is in complete control (90).
More disturbingly, it seems as if Davis has uncovered our secret agents (92), those whom our lord has “taken captive to do his will” (92, 2 Tim. 2:26). In the past, we have tried to convince our patients that any attacks they may have perceived were really nothing more than personal attacks, not attacks on the enemy named Christ. Such a strategy proved useful in convincing the patients to take criticism personally. But Davis is now teaching these men that our attacks are ultimately attacks on the enemy (37). Is it possible that he has somehow apprehended our manual for warfare? If not, how has he gained access to some of our most precious techniques?
I hope, my dear Wormwood, that you are being careful not to reveal your techniques as you implement them. We must never leave a trail! The enemy has taught his soldiers how to dismantle our strongholds (2 Cor 10:3–5), but thankfully, many of the patients don’t take the time to carefully think through how they might do so. They have their own manual of warfare, but they don’t trust in it as they’re told, which I count as one of the greatest successes of our warfare thus far. We did great work in Germany, did we not? How many learned doctors did we blind to the power of the Bible?! And how far did we extend their reach!
I am especially concerned, dear boy, that our Trojan horse insurgency has been discovered (140). We must make sure to keep these pastors naïve—on the one hand, assuming no one could possibly be an enemy from within. On the other hand, we must make sure that the pastor becomes defensive and overly protective, viewing everyone as his enemy. This will lead him to trust no one and to take on his work of the ministry alone.
As you well know, Wormwood, our master never gives up without a fight (100). These peasants of the fallen kingdom of god (with a crucified savior no less!) are in grave danger (157), but it seems as if the tides could turn, and that they could begin to prosper once more. I pray, Wormwood, that you would double down on your labors of deception. Do whatever you must to increase gossip and slander. Do whatever you can to get these idiots fighting over committees and tertiary matters of doctrine. Undermine the word of their god at every step. Show them the inaccuracies and lies therein, not giving an inch or letting up for even a second on your efforts to distort their so-called “good news.”
And whatever you do, whatever it takes, you absolutely must get these pastors to stop trusting in the enemy for their revitalization efforts. It seems that this is the theme most central to Davis’ work (18, 31–32, 38, 51, 59, 61, 68, 78, 110)—and it is absolutely the most harmful to ours. Get these ignorant sheep to trust in themselves and their own gifts and talents. This will go further than you might imagine.
Hoping to not have to visit you with pain,
A very disappointed Screwtape