October 16, 2017

Plan 9 From Lower Space

screwt.jpgThe following correspondence fell into the hands of the Internet Monk Research Department through a fortuitous series of events that cannot be detailed here, due to the need to keep certain parties anonymous while undercover. Let it be sufficient to say that when one has engaged the right people in a poker game, poured the right drinks and employed the correct hospitality staff, one can learn enormously interesting things. While the Internet Monk has long suspected that the following scenario was true, recent intercepts and published materials have confirmed his theory.

This article from a religious newspaper was found in the same folder. Reading it will be helpful in understanding what has been uncovered.

We are stunned. Read at your own risk.

Dear Beeblerot,

As your supervisor in the region and sponsor at the academy, I am pleased to inform you that you have passed all security clearances, and we can now begin to orient you to several operating projects that I have, heretofore, been unable to reveal to you. The home office has expressed great confidence in your recent work and hopes for many further accomplishments upon which we may all, so to speak, feast in the future.

Given your present assignment to the staff of XXXXXXXX Community Church, it is essential that you be oriented immediately to the details of “Plan 9.” The notebook accompanying this correspondence should be studied until all the relevant material is mastered, then destroyed.

Plan 9 is the major covert operations success story of the last 25 years. The success of the plan has far surpassed our expectations, to the point that it is not unreasonable to hope for the day that every church will be infiltrated and every pastor operating out of our playbook, all the while convinced they are on the right path. With a minimum of deception, and with the full cooperation of the Christians themselves, we have brought vast numbers to the table of our Father below where they provide sustenance and pleasure to the dread spirits of darkness.

The elegance of Plan 9 often escapes new tempters who continue to doubt its basic assertion that the church itself provides a major portal to hell. This seems ridiculous to those who assume that the church, being the custodian of the enemy’s greatest weapon, the Gospel, could never become an avenue for damnation. What these tempters forget is that the church must always live in the world, and therefore it participates in that reality the enemy theologians delightfully refer to as “the fall.” Our best minds have spent centuries helping the humans insulate themselves from the various deeper effects of this reality, and we have now reached a place where many of the enemy’s officers and leaders NEVER take this reality into account. They now operate as if their thoughts, motivations and desires are free from the radiated effects of our Father’s victory. They assume that their plans, judgements and reasonings are safe, and this is an assumption that has thrown the door wide open for our strategies.

If you study the history of the current war, you will plainly see a pattern where great periods of expansion of the church are followed by long centuries of decline and corruption. There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is an infection of triumphalism, and an absence of that damnable quality known as humility. In other words, when the Gospel has brought the church prosperity, you will see an abandonment of the Gospel.

Now, as much as we might wish to take credit for this fortunate pattern, we cannot do so. This is not to say that there are not counter-offensives from the side of hell. There certainly are, but the abandonment of the Gospel itself, and the pursuit of political power, materialism and worldly wisdom- all matters irrelevant to the eternal fate of the creatures- has largely happened without any particular effort on our parts.

In other words, we have watched with amazement as the church has approached a position of “critical success” in spiritual warfare, a position where our forces might have been substantially defeated, but instead the church has retreated from the battlefield to go after paltry trinkets and worthless decorations. In areas where this has not happened, such as the contemporary situation in China, our situation truly suffers.

This does not mean, however, that we have done nothing. Far from it. It is from these observations that Plan 9 was developed, and all signs are that we are now on the verge of one of the truly great “dark ages” in human history in the West, largely orchestrated by influencing the church to not simply turn away from the Gospel, but to transform itself into an institution that opposes the Gospel for the sake of the church.

Notice please, Beeblerot, the current emphasis on “Church Growth.” You might think that such a term brings a collective scowl to the faces in hell, but because of Plan 9, we hear this word with the hope of a flood of souls coming to our domain, courtesy of the miracle of churches refusing to preach the Gospel in the name of “church growth.”

Yes, you have heard correctly. When “church growth” is focused upon numerical growth in a particular culture, then it has proven remarkably easy, with a bit of well placed covert action, to persuade the church to view the Gospel as a hindrance to attracting new people. Before long, one can enjoy the amazing sight of “church growth experts” explaining that the church ought to be focused on everything except the Gospel.

The beauty of this, of course, is that humans can be brought into the church for dozens, even hundreds, of reasons of all kinds. Our primary effort has shifted from discrediting the Gospel- a futile project- to suggesting the many ways that human beings can be convinced to associate with the church. (A collection of these makes fascinating reading, particularly when applied to various genders, ages and market niches.)

In the west, this has put us into contact with the enormous stores of wisdom accumulated in the worship of material things (now there’s a fine meal), expressed through “marketing.” Marketing has a great advantage for us: when done properly, it feels good to be the object of the marketers skills. Human beings love to be flattered, bribed and even manipulated; it makes the human being feel “special” and “wanted.” We have also observed that western humans love to associate themselves with “brands” and “teams.” Notice the proliferation of logos and other kinds of identification on clothing. Everyone loves a winner, so to speak, and big churches are winners. The board is set; checkmate approaches.

These “marketing” forces were brought into the church by our operatives, and the effect was overwhelming. Never- not in our wildest imaginations- did we anticipate the extent to which the leaders of the church would be willing to embrace the mindset and methods of the marketer. We found ourselves scrambling for enough material and personel to respond to the opportunity. The American evangelical churches embraced this with such enthusiasim- and associated the enemy so closely with it- that almost overnight the entire landscape of American religious life changed.

Take, for example, the file I have sent you. The church, the humans are told, should not be focused on the sermon, but on the building, grounds, sound system, bathrooms, and flowers in the yard. Why? Because “visitors” and “guests” will decide to return based upon these sorts of things. The sermon means nothing. The exterior of the building, and the welcoming efforts of the membership, will determine if the visitor returns.

If you dropped the papers in your reaction, you are not alone. I was so stupified when I first heard this that it took me twenty minutes to be convinced it wasn’t one of Rachetfever’s practical jokes, like the Rick Warren mask last year.

The elegance of this is stunning. Of course any fool wants the visitor to return and feel comfortable. But in the vast majority of cases, the primary factor in “discomfort” is the Gospel itself. The Bible. Sin. Christ. All these things are boring and uncomfortable to the visitor, of course, and terrifying to us. But now, one can go to the biggest churches in a community and actually have to work rather hard to hear the basic facts of the Gospel. I know of one exceptional case where a class about the enemy’s son was so well placed among various crafts, sports and hobbies that the “seeker” thought it was a community college. I kid you not.

They will actually CELEBRATE this! I have heard them go on for hours and days with excitement that they have finally obscured or even eliminated any mention of Christ, sin, the Gospel….it’s as if someone handed us the keys to the entire operation!

The current leadership of the evangelical movement has proven so easy to doupe that I am embarassed to say what small efforts are often expended to get a preacher to determine to use as little preaching and as little Bible as possible to attract a large audience. While we still have to endure some particular humiliations in worship music (though great progress is being made there,) we are rapidly making it the norm to not speak of Christ until the “seeker” is quite “comfortable” and somewhat committed. Of course, following this logic has brought the levels of hearing and understanding the Gospel to abysmal lows.

It is absolutely quite wonderful to be able, as I have done many times, to attend a church and never hear Christ mentioned in a sermon at all. Nothing. Stories. Humor. Moral lessons. Life coaching. All in the cause of the American middle class success story. In the old days of “liberal” theology, I would attempt to visit the churches of some of our puppets, but one still had to sit through the abominable hymn texts and scalding scripture readings to get to the Christless preaching. Well, times have changed. The first 20 minutes of the last church I visited was indistinquishable from a visit to a disco I once ran in Times Square.

The size of our success with Plan 9 will astound you, as the list of names and quotes will reveal. What will also astound you is this: The enemy’s source documents say almost nothing about church growth. If one studied the enemy’s manual of warfare, it would be apparent that the church’s primary responsibility is to proclaim, teach and communicate the Gospel to its members and to the world. This business of getting large enough to fill up a civic arena by rarely, if ever, mentioning Jesus seems too good to be true when one considers that the one passage in the New Testament that speaks of non-Christians in a worship service hopes that the enemy is so clearly manifested that the seeker calls out for mercy. Such a depressing scene, but we hardly have anything to worry about these days.

If you have questions- and you will, I am sure- do not hesitate to contact me. Snarlbottom is the Plan 9 representative in your area, and is usually to be found at the local Christian bookstores. Achieving complete proficiency with Plan 9 in your church is required. I expect to see great things from you. I suggest you immediately begin acquiring the names of some of the “conferences” we sponsor for these pastors. With a week in the right environment, the man is putty in your hands.

your partner in triumph,

Scrawlwart

Comments

  1. “I was so stupified when I first heard this that it took me twenty minutes to be convinced it wasn’t one of Rachetfever’s practical jokes, like the Rick Warren mask last year.”

    You’re killing me…

  2. joel hunter says:

    Now if we can just convince John Cleese to record this…

  3. Excellent. I think Lewis would be happy with your style and quality. I also think he would agree with your point. I certainly do.

  4. ROFL!

    The spirit of satire as influenced by Clive himself is alive and well in the sanctum sanctorum of the Internet Monk.

    Jolly good show!

    Eric

  5. This is a classic, iMonk. I hope it becomes as popular as it deserves.

  6. Funny! 🙂 Sad! 🙁 But funny! 😀

  7. If you’re laughing, it’s probably true.

    Oh, God.

    Save me from Your people.

  8. Tom Callaghan says:

    Kind of like the Light being put under the basket of growth.

    So sad …

  9. You wrote: “influencing the church to not simply turn away from the Gospel, but to transform itself into an institution that opposes the Gospel for the sake of the church.”
    So true – and not confined to evangelicals. In the Episcopal Church I belong to, it takes the form of a seeker-sensitive relativism in the sermons, i.e. “define Jesus in the way that feels right for you, and don’t worry about the creed.” At least we have the prayerbook and the hymnal to keep sound doctrine in front of us, even if the preacher then gets up and says “you don’t have to take this seriously”.
    But we wouldn’t mind a few more parking spaces 🙂

  10. iMonk,

    I’ve been reading your site for the last month or so, and your commentary has given me lots to ponder. Judging by the responses I have read to most of your posts I am one of your few readers actually attending a Saddleback affiliated church. I am not here to defend Rick Warren – in fact, many of your points echo much of what I have been thinking for a year or so. However, what has kept me in my church is the fact that never in my 28 years of life have I been so personally motivated to discover what I believe – to read the scriptures for all they are worth and to spend time each day reading apologetics and theology – all the while being encouraged each week in church to actually live out my Christianity in relationship with others. I realize that not everyone in my church is motivated in the same way, but our pastor is constantly encouraging our members to dig deeper in their personal study. While I have been in churches where the messages were much deeper and the pastor was bringing us hard core theology each week my personal response to this was to feel I was learning enough on Sundays which left me unmotivated to dig deeper on my own. In addition, I wasn’t as challenged in practical ways to show love to others as I am in my current church. So for someone like me, a “starvation” of theology on Sundays drives me deeper into it in my own study and makes me an “evangelist” for such learning among my friends within my own church. If you ask our pastors they will tell you that is exactly the desire – that people will hunger for more and seek it out. Again, I know there are inherent problems with this for some people. But my point is – this isn’t an absolute issue. It’s not an issue like morality. This is a case where what may be true for you isn’t true for me. Some people need different settings to motivate them into deeper relationship with their heavenly Father. But I must admit – I am agreeing with you more and more about worship songs. I have stopped singing some of our songs when I realize I’m lying.

  11. Benjamin Nitu says:

    One of your best Michael!
    Great job!

  12. Nyah ha ha, My Dear Wormwood…

    Latest on PR’s foot-in-mouth attack is that Maximum Leader Chavez is throwing missionaries out of Venezuela in retaliation.

  13. I just found this site a few minutes ago, and I love that post! It’s so true, and writing in a wonderfully interesting way, and in the style of C.S. Lewis. Way too few people see things this way, and more of this teaching needs to get out!

  14. Brian Pendell says:

    Very well written, Mike. I think Lewis would be proud.

    That said, I think you’re misreading the piece.

    Where in the piece does it say “neglect the gospel for exterior considerations”?

    Where in the piece does it say “throw away the sermon”?

    All it says is that many people, not being theologically minded, do not make their decisions based on what they heard during the sermon.

    So to me, the lesson is not to throw away the gospel and worry about external factors.

    The lesson is to have a strong gospel message AND to have an attractive church campus, guest parking, and friendly greeters. In fact, I would add to that: In order to make disabled people feel welcome, provide handicapped accessible sanctuary instead of one accessible only by stairs, and have a sign-language interpreter.

    By all means, offend people with the gospel, but make sure the gospel is the ONLY thing offensive about the church. Let people flee the church because they can’t stand the gospel; don’t let people flee the church because they’re put off by an ugly building, surly ushers, and a lack of parking.

    Respectfully,

    Brian P.

  15. Where did I say I was quoting the piece exactly?

    Scrawlwart knows the plan, but I haven’t made any claim that any chruch growth advice I’ve referred to goes as far as Plan 9 intends to go.

    But if anyone wants to say that the current church growth movement is committed to a clear, exalted, primary focus on the gospel as compared to “things seekers like,” then we have a disagreement. Clearly, the CG movement is headed in the direction of obscuring the Gospel’s harder edges.

  16. Lewis WOULD be proud, I’d wager.

    Wow. “It is absolutely quite wonderful to be able, as I have done many times, to attend a church and never hear Christ mentioned in a sermon at all. Nothing. Stories. Humor. Moral lessons. Life coaching. … In the old days…one still had to sit through the abominable hymn texts and scalding scripture readings to get to the Christless preaching. Well, times have changed. ”

    You hit the nail on the head, Mr. Monk.

  17. Brian Pendell says:

    “Clearly, the CG movement is headed in the direction of obscuring the Gospel’s harder edges.”

    I’m not going to argue with you, because you’ve been seeing a lot more of this than I have. Besides, as I mentioned in my BHT application in your e-mail, I left a purpose-driven church over similar concerns.

    So let me see if I understand you — you are not reading the sinister plan 9 from this single piece. You are discussing a general trend in the CG world, of which this piece is a part?

    Respectfully,

    Brian P.

  18. Yes…the cited piece suggests preqching ought to be of less concern than making visitors feel “welcome.” Thats typical of the type of shift cg endorses.

  19. Brian Pendell says:

    Well, in that case I agree with you.

    Respectfully,

    Brian P.

  20. Some of this was also suggested in Screwtape Letter #2:

    “All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate… and one shabby little books containing corrupt texts of a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad, and in very small print. …Never let it come to the surface; never let him ask what he expected them to look like. Keep everything hazy in his mind now, and you will have all eternity wherein to amuse yourself by producing in him the peculiar kind of clarity which Hell affords.”

    It was kinda inevitable that the seeker-sensitive types would try to look at these things from the seeker’s view, and tweak things in that direction… and miss the bigger picture.