The following is an intercepted transmission from the forces of darkness containing their new strategy against the Kingdom. The sender and recipient are unknown, but it appears to be a regional commander’s correspondence to a subordinate. The target area is also unknown, but its directive appears to be far-reaching, and therefore it may be informative and edifying for followers of Christ everywhere so that they may be aware of the tactics of the enemy.)
I trust you have already received an official copy of our new strategy to destroy the church and have read through it carefully. Given the nature of the new strategy, you likely have questions. Hopefully I can address them sufficiently so you may resume your duties.
You oversee a great many enemy camps in your city (I need not remind you that many of them do in fact belong to us. It has been an immense boon to our efforts, as many of them have assumed positions of great influence). However, even among the actual camps of the enemy I have noticed an increase in numbers. No doubt this concerns you. But just as we have stifled and manipulated the enemy’s advancements in the past, so we shall do again.
Our strategy in many areas is to suppress his name from being spoken at all. While these areas are yet unsullied by the message of the book, we find that in areas where he is known, it is far more effective to distort than to deny (at least initially). This is not an admission of defeat. Rather, we believe the new strategy will be more effective within certain circles.
It is a simple strategy (as they always are) which will be accomplished in three steps: Diminish, Detract, and Defend. If you follow these steps you will likely see great changes in the next generation or two. The encampments will either be vacated and closed down or so changed that they will be the enemy’s in name only. We would consider either of these results to be successful.
Step 1: Diminish
The first thing we must do is diminish him in their eyes. The following steps depend upon this, for if they saw him as he truly is, then Steps 2 and 3 would be impossible. But, just as the details and beauty of a diamond fade when it is farther away, so too we want him to become smaller and less enrapturing to them. We know we cannot change him, so we must change how they see him.
To do this, you must encourage them to see him as they want him to be, not as he actually is. As familiar as you are with the humans, you know this will be easy. They have the uncanny tendency to think little of him, and this causes them to think of him little. If we cannot remove him completely from their minds, we can still change how he appears in their minds.
Let them emphasize one aspect of him over others. This distortion will ensure they do not see the fullness of who he is. Let them think they know enough. Let them be confused and discouraged with “doctrine” and all of the “-ologies.” Let them think that deep study is for scholars or that it confounds “simple faith.” Let them pride themselves on their simplicity (only, ensure that it means “shallowness” and not “singularity”). The less they know about him the easier it is for us to affect them with other systems we have placed in the world. But, if they are determined to study him, ensure they separate what they know about him from knowing him. Knowing things about him isn’t necessarily damaging. After all, few humans know more about him than we do, and we are unaffected by it.
Once you have distorted his image and diminished their desire to know him more, you are ready to move to Step 2.
Step 2: Detract
If Step 1 dealt with who he is, Step 2 deals with what he did and does. You must detract from the completeness of his work and get them to (unconsciously, of course) think they need other things. Just as they have a propensity for assimilating him with themselves, so too they have a proclivity to newness. Since they have diminished him in their eyes and have resisted the means of learning more about him, they will certainly not expect to see anything new in him (you see now why Step 1 is so foundational!). They call themselves “pilgrims” and recognize they must progress, but they become easily discontented with the seemingly mundane tasks the book gives to them. Though they talk much of faith, they find it hard to be faithful. They do not learn from nature. They are not like the tree that awaits the same sun each morning for warmth, light, and life. Rather, they are like those driving through a holiday light show. The bright, flashy lights allure them, but they move on after a few moments and look for the next one. This impatience and lack of consistent discipline leaves them constantly searching for something new. We have much we can give them.
They will also look for new things because they still have problems, or trials, as they sometimes call them. We are still unsure why he allows these things to happen to them, and we are even more perplexed about the effects they sometimes have. Yet, when these problems are paired with small thoughts of him, they usually yield results favorable to our cause. In fact, the logical flow is almost mathematical: a diminished view of him + ongoing problems = a longing for something else. Their human constitution demands a solution, and since they do not see it within their immediately accessible and miniscule knowledge of him, they will naturally look elsewhere.
There are many traditions, principles, and philosophies you can place before them. What they look at matters less than the fact that they are looking at it. Some may be enticed by intellectually rich alternatives, whereas others may more quickly swallow spiritualistic systems. More are discovered every day, and the modern human tendency toward eclecticism and diversity of thought will leave them open to all sorts of new thought (which, as you know, is not new, but they don’t know that). In fact, if you have done Step 1 well, the natural course of the world almost takes care of Step 2.
I say almost, however, because some effort on your part will ensure our efforts don’t go awry. Many of the human founders of these systems were fully on our side and denied all manner of true religion, but many of the humans we have in view are not yet ready to make this leap. Therefore, it will be far more effective to encourage them to combine these systems with their religion rather than replace it. You may wonder at the effectiveness of this, but it makes our jobs much easier. We no longer need an all-out assault. Once they begin to look for something outside of him, they will be wide-open for invasion. It is almost as though they are inviting us to their meetings!
Step 3: Defend
Finally, you must defend them from external influences which may undo your progress. The enemy is persistent in accomplishing his ends. He has even promised it. This, of course, causes immense consternation at the higher levels, but happily it does not greatly affect our work on earth. The humans think so little of the promises that there may as well not be a promise! Nevertheless, we who know what is to come keep our eyes on the goal. We know that one lapse of discipline may cause a soul to spring from our prison. Be alert, and do not neglect your duty!
Keep them from reading the book. If they read and understand this, it will be our undoing. So many of our plans over the years were foiled by the humans coming to an understanding of the book. Keep them from it at all costs! Yet, if they do read it, keep them from reading it long or thinking too much about it. Let them read for a minute or two—preferably when they are tired—and for such a short time that they barely have time to focus before something pulls them away. Let them fixate on one thing and make it mean whatever they want (as long as it isn’t the truth). This gives them the illusion of true growth and understanding, and it has proven effective over and over again.
Keep them from those encampments which undermine these strategies and direct them to encampments which are faithful to us. There are many of them. As an example, our soldiers recently reported on one encampment’s meeting last Sunday. The overseer mentioned him so much but said so little about him that our soldiers had little work to do. Toward the end, he considered speaking about the cross, what it meant for sinners, and how he is the only way to escape our domain, but our soldiers swiftly reminded him that it might alienate some in his audience, so he instead spoke about love (not real love, but that ambiguous societal concept of love which deadens their true spirits). The soldiers did well, and many in the audience are still secure in our kingdom.
In considering this strategy, you may think about the Colossian encampment to whom that traitor Saul wrote a letter. This strategy was making great progress with them (like I said, nothing is new) until he wrote to them. Who knew he would be so concerned about such a small group whom he had never met? Our soldiers failed to destroy the letter, and indeed, our forces failed many times down the centuries to destroy the book. Therefore, since we can’t keep the book from them, we must keep them from the book or distort its teaching.
Above all else, blind their eyes to who he is. The enemy has great power, but for some reason he has chosen to capture souls from our domain through the proclamation of the book by the humans. We know the message. We know its power. We know they can’t earn their way to him, although we have encouraged many to try. We know they deserve to be punished like us, but he took the punishment for them. We know they must look to him and go to him and trust in him alone, and that he will save them if they do. Therefore, keep them from this. Tell them it is foolish. Tell them they are too sinful, or if it’s easier, tell them they are good enough on their own. Tell them they can do it tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Distract them from the book and from thinking of death. Consume their minds with the things of this world.
Be vigilant, and whatever you do, keep them from looking to him.
Now, concerning what you wrote regarding idols, you did not seem to understand that they must not see them as such, but rather…
(The rest of the transmission was unable to be captured.)
 I feel that this should not have to be said, but the internet being what it is, it is probably best to clarify a few things so that a crazy person does not think I am serious, or a serious person does not think I am crazy. No, this is not a real transmission from the spiritual realm. It is written in the style of C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. And no, there are no specific churches in mind. The concepts are derived from the understood error of the church in Colossae, and those concepts may take many forms in the modern day.
Mike Engelsgjerd recently separated from the U.S. Army after 15 years of service. Towards the end of his service, Mike began to feel God’s call to full time Christian ministry. In following this call, He is pursuing an M.Div. at TMS with the goal of becoming a Chaplain in the U.S. Military and a Pastor.