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Our Accusing Apprentice,

We are encouraged at how discouraged you seem by your inability to get your subject to renounce her allegiance to the name that terrifies even us. Our joy, however, is not in your displeasure, even if your suffering chills our heart. No, your discouragement gladdens us, for we can now show you the right approach to make this woman a weapon against the kingdom that we oppose.

Having watched her for many years, her life convinces us that she is no goat in sheep’s clothing, and we will never pry her loose from her commander’s hand. But fear not; if we play our cards right, she will be such an effective secret agent for us that she will never suspect her role in our plan.

We have noticed that she is increasingly critical of everything -- the length of the worship service, her pastor’s imperfections, the new fellowship hall’s price tag, the laid-back attitude of the young people, and more. This is precisely the attitude to encourage. For centuries, our side has enticed some of our mightiest opponents to increase their criticism and become so jaded that they give up trying to help the church with their deplorable “spiritual“ gifts. Hyper-criticism has cleansed the pollution of long-suffering, love, and other such things from the covenant community, leading to church splits and the weakening of ministry in various locations.

Fortunately, dear imp, getting silly sheep like her to become hyper-critical is easy. First, make sure that she develops expectations for things our foe never promises. Make her think that the church can be wholly free of our influence in her lifetime so that the besetting vices -- excuse us, virtues -- we find in every church make her focus on its failings.

You also want her to think more highly of herself than she ought. Keep her ignorant of what remains in her from her former life in our realm, and she will be unable to bear with the same flaws -- or are they perfections? -- in others. The last thing we want to see in her is daily repentance. If she recognizes the old man, she will attempt to put him to death and rely on the enemy to change His people. She will, regrettably, become gracious and start following those dreaded words of Paul to bear with others in love. All hope is lost if she does that.

Your Master,