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Guest column

March 2001 | by Derek Swann

The enclosed came into my possession recently and I thought it might be of interest and concern to readers of Evangelical Times. I cannot, of course, divulge the source of this correspondence, as it would endanger the life of one of our agents.

Comeback

‘Dear Prof. Black

: I was glad to receive the annual report of the Society for the Destruction of Christianity of which you are chairman, and to read of the continued success of your work. I agree with you that there is much to encourage us.

Almost everywhere our efforts are succeeding and we do seem to have the Enemy on the run. Overall, church attendance is in decline, with some odd exceptions. People are increasingly disillusioned with what they think is Christianity, and are turning to New Age philosophies (not that there’s anything new about them). Church leaders give no clear lead, and confusion reigns almost everywhere. We have reason to be cautiously thankful.

But (and it is a big but) we must beware of overconfidence. Victory is not yet in our grasp, and won’t be until the last vestige of Christianity is banished from the face of the earth. Watch out for enemy counter attacks.

Remember the past. This is not the first time that we have had the Enemy on the run, and yet had victory snatched from our grasp at the eleventh hour. Remember Calvary? It was there, as you know, we successfully engineered the death of God’s Son.

What a day that was, I really believed we’d finally won the battle. Those two days after Calvary were heady days of triumph. Our people everywhere were celebrating and planning for the future. Then on the third day a rumour started to circulate that the Enemy had staged a comeback.

One of our agents was actually near the garden tomb and heard the angel say: ‘He is not here, he is risen’. I tell you, it made his blood run cold, and even now he hasn’t fully recovered. None of us could believe it at first, any more than his disciples could, but then we had to face the plain fact that he had risen from the dead. I knew that spelled big trouble for us, and it was not long coming.

Pentecost

I shall never forget the anger I felt as I read our agent’s Pentecost report. Four thousand souls released from our kingdom and, within days, five thousand more! The very foundations of hell shook. So be careful and watchful.

There have been other times when I really was convinced victory was in our grasp. The Dark Ages were great times. Some of our best agents had buried that wretched doctrine of justification by faith alone and substituted justification by works and merit.

Our teaching was spreading like wildfire, and I remember commenting to the hierarchy, ‘I think we’ve got him, this time’. But you remember what happened? He raised up Martin Luther and, hot on his heels, Calvin and Zwingli. The tide turned against us.

And do not forget the eighteenth century. Remember Britain then? Immorality, unbelief, and sheer paganism rose like a river in full flood. I was very optimistic that this time we had got a major victory. But then he laid his hand on that young man at the Bell Inn in Gloucester, saved him, and made him a mighty preacher of the ‘Good News’ (bad news to us, of course). How I hate the names of Whitefield and Wesley!

Suggestions

In the light of these facts I urge caution and, at the same time, offer a few suggestions. It is imperative that we continue to do all in our power to block the plans of the Enemy. You know they say history is ‘his story’, and that we cannot deny.

What we need are more roadblocks and diversions, more ditches and obstacles to slow down, if we can, the great juggernaut of his purposes. Deflection should be the strategy.

We should concentrate our efforts on stopping his people praying with any degree of urgency. Let them pray formally, by all means, but watch out for any signs of them becoming earnest in prayer.

If you hear of anyone fasting, get on to them at once. Especially watch out for his ministers. If you see any signs of them giving themselves seriously to prayer, make sure it doesn’t happen, otherwise we shall be in big trouble.

You know the tactics; keep them fully occupied with committees, community work and pointless controversies over peripheral issues. Wear them out with negative thinking. Get them excited about new ideas for church growth.

Also (and this is vital) keep on attacking preaching. I am delighted with reports from our agents all over the country that preaching is being marginalised by drama, sketches, mime, dancing and even clowning. Whatever will they (I mean, you, of course!) think up next? I hear, too, that in some more conservative quarters the sermon is being replaced by discussion groups. Excellent! Keep up the good work.

I must close now, but give my regards to the committee, and keep on with your work of deception

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