How to encourage bullying in the Church
Stephen Kuhrt writes: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis was first published in February 1942. The book is made up of thirty one letters from a senior demon called Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood. Wormwood is a junior tempter assigned to lead a man who has recently become a Christian away from God. By viewing the Christian life from the perspective of evil, C.S. Lewis invited his readers to reflect on the various subtle ways in which the demonic was influencing them. The genre enabled Lewis to make hard hitting points about the human capacity for self-deception and the way in which Christians continue to be as prone to this as anyone.
What follows is an additional ‘Screwtape Letter’ inviting leaders within the Church of England to reflect on the spiritual factors involved in just one aspect of the deeply problematic culture that has developed within it.
My dear Wormwood,
Today I want to talk to you about bullying in the Church of England. Of all the things that we can do to discredit the Enemy, perhaps the most effective is leading those who claim to be his followers into becoming instruments of our oppression instead. Especially those in positions of leadership whom the Enemy intends to oversee the spread of that disgusting power called love. Our task is to make these ‘shepherds’ do the very opposite. If we can achieve this, the benefits for our cause will be incalculable. This is because nothing is more dispiriting to those who follow the Enemy, or more effective in dismantling the threat of his love, than when people experience the opposite of this within the church. Work effectively here and we can bring about the most tremendous outcome – ordinary Christians, so dangerous to us when they worship and act together, giving up on the church and retreating into hurt and confusion about why those with responsibility to care for them, have become channels of our power instead.
Our task in this regard, however, is a subtle one. If those with oversight in the church – bishops, archdeacons and that panoply of officers who occupy diocesan structures – become outright bullies, this will be too obvious. Consensus about the inconsistency of this with the message of the Enemy will too easily build, leading to that genuine reform of the church we dread. What will serve us best, most of the time, is helping such officers to become adept at enabling and facilitating bullying in the church whilst ensuring that they remain largely blind to this reality. Most of them started off their careers with a spirit of vague benevolence and, as we guide their path to becoming instruments of institutional oppression, it is vital that they continue to see themselves as good.The post How to encourage bullying in the Church first appeared on Psephizo.
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