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Monday, December 6, 2010

The Wormwood Letters: Undoing the Reformation (Sola Fide)

My dear Snagheel,

I enjoy Latin—primarily because it serves as a nostalgic reminder of the way we used it so effectively, for so many years, to separate most normal people from the Book that could have changed their lives—were it not confined to a language that only the educated could read. But there are a few Latin words that I find so sickening, even debilitating at times, that I prefer not to even utter or write them. But I will force myself, for the sake of your continuing education, and the anticipated promotion I will enjoy if you ever become an accomplished tempter.

Slogans like Sola Fide (Unggghhh… It hurts to even write it!) and Sola Scriptura (Ouch again!) were invented by the Enemy and used widely by His servants during the Dark Age known as The Reformation (one more stab of pain shoots through me when I think of that…). That malignant movement did so much damage to our cause, that since then we have spent an exorbitant amount of time and energy simply trying to undo it. My discomfort is mitigated, fortunately, by the fact that we have had much success in this endeavor, generally speaking. But there is still much work to do.

Undoing the Reformation in a society, church, or individual is a difficult task that requires skill and subtlety, because for some reason the “Reformed” ideas of religion, once accepted, tend to cling to their adherents rather tenaciously. One way you can begin (though it will not solve the whole problem), is to remove offensive terminology, like those words mentioned above, from the hearts and lips of Christians. As you know, my unscrupulous student, the best way to keep dangerous truth from reaching the world is to muddle it in the minds of God’s people. So perhaps you can convince them that it is not in their best interest to keep alive those old Latin labels, other historical words that describe theological concepts, and the names of men long ago who have been thorns in our side. When terminology like that falls into disuse, there will be less interest aroused in the Dark Age and less people drawn into the study of it. Before too long, if we are lucky, most will have forgotten that it even happened. And as Mark Twain once said, “He who does not know history is doomed to repeat it.”

Many of the Christians who love the Reformation also love the Enemy, so you will have to persuade them that speaking of things which are “old” or “theological” is somehow detrimental to the promotion of His kingdom. Suggest to them that they should discard such discussions for the sake of “seekers” or “new believers” who might be put off or confused by language they don’t yet understand. They might also be led into a pursuit of unity with other Christians that downplays “doctrinal distinctives” because they might be too “divisive.” Or perhaps, since familiarity breeds contempt, they may simply grow tired of rehearsing the same old truths and go looking for something new. In that case, all you have to do is make sure there is something for them to find.

But as I mentioned, my reddish recruit, it will not be enough to merely make Christians forget about the Reformation. You must also undermine the ideas that were rediscovered at that time. Sometimes they linger in places where people are unaware of the Dark Age itself, but even in a half-dead state they can still cause us problems. In fact, you may want to reference the prolific work of our brother Bragdrench, whose fine book Diseased Tulip contains the interesting thesis that the success of our work has been directly proportional to the disappearance of the “doctrines of grace,” as some of them have been called. In other words, the less people understand and believe them, the more damage we can do.

So aim your fiery darts at the idea of Sola Fide, to begin with. That repugnant slogan from the Dark Age means “faith alone,” and one of its champions often said that it is “the hinge on which everything turns.” Mark that, Snagheel—he had a point. When our prey abandon all other objects of trust, even their own religious works, and turn to Christ as their only hope for eternity, we have been dealt a death blow. So we must work unceasingly to provide them with as many false saviors as possible, so that they will rely on something other than the One who can actually save them. Many are preserved from heaven by non-Christian religions, of course, and the agnostic worship of pleasure, love, or money. But we have also gloriously succeeded among those who call themselves Christians, by fooling them into thinking that the Enemy saves and loves them because of something they are or something they do (note how well this tactic worked with the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14). By trusting to any degree in their own worth and goodness, they narrowly miss the principle of free grace that alone could assure them of heaven.

We had, at one time, so thoroughly infiltrated the Enemy’s church with this idea, that it was about to make many of our doctrines into official teaching, and thus plunge the whole Western world into an exquisite era of darkness. But the Enemy had mercy on His people, and delivered so many of them from our influence, that the Dark Age of His Reformation overshadowed our own accomplishments in the Roman church. So from that point on, throughout much of the Christian world, these Protestants were wary of our schemes, and we could no longer dupe them with the ones that have worked so well in the Roman system. Among the heirs of the Reformation, we have been forced to invent new ways of diverting their trust from Christ alone. Fortunately, these new ways have proven almost as effective, and by making use of them you can advance our Father’s cause by undoing the Reformation…

Suggest to them that they are saved by “making a decision” or praying a prayer, as if the Enemy dispenses His grace in response to their own choices, and as if He is obligated to forgive them because of some religious act they perform. In other words, substitute such “evangelical” works for the Roman practices of confession, penance, and indulgences.

Obscure or belittle the biblical doctrine of predestination, for wherever it thrives, our power languishes. A rediscovery of that accursed doctrine was, of course, one of the primary features of the Dark Age.

Confuse them into thinking that judicial, heavenly declarations like being “crucified with Christ” and being in “union with Him” are really descriptions of their own pious behavior or mystic experience.

Water down the commands of the Enemy’s law so that the scum will actually think they can obey them. Do whatever you can to keep that law from fulfilling its primary purpose of revealing their sin and driving them to the cross. (One “Christian” book we inspired, which was about the Ten Commandments, had the title Believe in the God Who Believes in You. What a wonderful example of using the Enemy’s weapons against Him!)

If all else fails, and they irritatingly persist in understanding the doctrine of “justification by faith alone” correctly according to the Enemy’s book, try to make them think it is their theological knowledge and orthodoxy that makes them right with God, rather than the work of Christ Himself. “Faith alone” in a principle will never save them; only faith in a Person can do that.

Affectionately Yours,