You ask in your letter about the key to undermining the church as quickly as possible. This is scarcely rocket science, but, as you ask, we will try to enlighten you.
At the heart of Christianity is the body of Christ — the church. The church is to be marked by the mutual love, self-giving, and commitment of her members. After all, to borrow an image from the frightful Paul of Tarsus, what use is a body where the different parts are disconnected, or working against each other, or constantly being transplanted from one part to another? We’d be looking at a body on life support or on a slab in the morgue before long.
So what you need to do is encourage the Christians under your care to think of church as a shopping mall. Tell them to drop in here and there to sample the merchandise; if they do not like it, encourage them to move on to the next shop — I mean, “congregation of the saints“ — to see if the product there is any better. These days, men and women are what they buy — from shoes to religious faith. And remind them of their constitutional rights as individuals — they are free, remember, and entitled to pursue happiness as they define it.
And don’t forget the church leaders in all of this. Even as you encourage the people to move from church to church, you need to remind the pastors that their livelihoods depend upon customer retention and satisfaction. Don’t let them forget that it’s the collection plate that pays their salaries, and they had better keep the people happy or face the consequences. They need to find out what the people want and how they like it, and make sure they get it just that way: nothing too taxing theologically; no application; and certainly no calls for commitment. And they should only rant against those outside the church that everyone fears anyway. Nothing will keep people on board but not really committed as much as the perception of a common perceived foe.
Hope these tips help. Let us know how you get on, though our observation is that you will find your work already 95 percent accomplished.
Your Master, Legion
Dr. Carl R. Trueman is professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College in Grove City, Pa. He is author of several books, including The Creedal Imperative.