Sunday, March 26, 2006

Screwtape Letters 1-4

Letter One:
Screwtape advises Wormwood to play to the "patient's" tendencies toward "materialism". I think that what Lewis calls materialism is the belief of "if I can't see it, or science doesn't prove it, then it can't be true." Screwtape encourages Wormwood to keep the patient's thoughts fixed on "real life". I think this happens to many of us. If our attention is fixed on "real life", on what we can see to be real, on the material world, then our attention tends to drift away from the spiritual world, on what cannot be seen.

Screwtape also tells Wormwood to keep the patient from studying science. This may surprise many. We tend to believe that science is in oppostion to matters of faith. In reality, as anyone who studies science can attest, the more we discover about the world around us, the more we realize that we don't really know very much at all.

Letter Two:
Catastraophe strikes! The patient becomes a Christian. Yet Screwtape doesn't seem overly concerned. According to Screwtape his greatest ally in turning a new Christian back to materialism is the Church itself. He observes that after the first flush of faith it is commonly only a matter of weeks before the new Christian is right back where the tempter wants him.

Also, according to Screwtape, true humility, becoming convinced of our sins, is something that takes time, and time is not on our side. "...he still believes he has run up a very favourable credit balance in (God's) ledger by allowing himself to be converted..."

Letter Three:
The next great ally of the tempter: our family members. " up between you in that house a good settled habit of mutual annoyance: daily pinpricks."

Screwtape advises to keep the patient's mind on the inner life, spirituality, and thus distract him from his Christian duties and life of piety.

Letter Four:
Screwtape suggests attacking thorugh prayer. If the patient is tempted to keep his prayers superficial, then they will never become effective. Prayer is a struggle even for experienced Christians. We fear "the nakedness of the soul in prayer."

"Whenever they are attending (praying to) the Enemy Himself (God) we (the tempters) are defeated." - Screwtape

"...humans themselves do not desire it (total understanding of what God says He is) as much as they suppose. There's such a thing as getting more than they bargained for!" - Screwtape

Oh, so true.

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You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

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