Remembering the birthday of C. S. Lewis – November 29, 1898

cs-lewis-1Today marks the 120th anniversary of the birthday of C. S. Lewis, 1898-1963.

In remembrance of that great writer and Christian apologist, we quote from the first letter of his The Screwtape Letters, in which the senior demon, Screwtape, wrote letters to his trainee, Wormwood.


This is the opening paragraph:

My dear Wormwood,

I note what you say about guiding your patient’s reading and taking care that he sees a good deal of his materialist friend. But are you not being a trifle naif? It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy’s clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier. At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it. They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning. But what with the weekly press and other such weapons, we have largely altered that. Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” or “false,” but as “academic” or “practical,” “outworn” or “contemporary,” “conventional” or “ruthless.” Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don’t waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong or stark or courageous—that it is the philosophy of the future. That’s the sort of thing he cares about.

In the “Preface” to The Screwtape Letters, Lewis addresses a question often put to him after he wrote the book, the answer to which reveals some interesting truths about God and about the Devil, some we often lose sight of ourselves, in my estimation. I quote:

The commonest question is whether I really ‘believe in the Devil.’

Now, if by ‘the Devil’ you mean a power opposite to God and, like God, self-existent from all eternity, the answer is certainly No. There is no uncreated being except God. God has no opposite.

…The proper question is whether I believe in devils. I do. That is to say, I believe in angels, and I believe that some of these, by the abuse of their free will, have become enemies to God and, as a corollary, to us. These we may call devils. They do not differ in nature from good angels, but their nature is depraved. Devil is the opposite of angel only as Bad Man is the opposite of Good Man. Satan, the leader or dictator of devils, is the opposite, not of God, but of Michael. [p.vii]

Nick Roark also has a nice little tribute to Lewis today at “Tolle Lege”. Look that up as well.

And you do remember what those initials “C.S.” refer to, right?

Published in: on November 29, 2018 at 11:11 PM  Leave a Comment