Posted by Gary on January 30, 2015
“My Dear Wormwood,
I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and skeptics. At least, not yet…
…I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark. The fact that “devils” are predominately comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them) he therefore cannot believe in you.” (Demon Screwtape to his underling demon-nephew Wormwood in C.S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters”)
Posted by Gary on January 29, 2015
“When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness of your patient that particular lift of his mother’s eyebrows which he learned to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how much he dislikes it. Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy–if you know your job he will not notice the immense improbability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her.” (Demon Screwtape to his underling demon-nephew Wormwood in C.S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters)
Posted by Gary on
“You must bring him to a condition in which he can practice self-examination for an hour without discovering any of the those facts about himself which are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with him or worked in the same office.” (Demon Screwtape to his underling demon-nephew Wormwood in C.S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters)
Posted by Gary on March 17, 2009
In a recent Christian Science Monitor article entitled, “The Coming Evangelical Collapse” Michael Spencer holds forth the prediction that Evangelicalism as we know it will collapse within the next 10 years. While I am not certain about the time frame, I am in agreement with much of Spencer’s assessment and prediction. I would also say that a collapse of much of what is called Evangelicalism would be the best thing that could happen for the Christian faith in the west. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the article:
“We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.
Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the “Protestant” 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.
This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.
Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I’m convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.”
I will leave you to read the article for yourself but I want to pick up on something Spencer points out which is one of the reasons he believes Evangelicalism will collapse. Spencer mentions that Evangelicals have identified themselves with “the cultural war and with political conservatism.” I cannot agree more and have shared my thoughts in this post. Here is the quote from Spencer’s article:
“Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.
The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.”
It is that last line…“We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith” that stood out. I recently started reading again the book “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis. If you are familiar with this book you know it is comprised of a series of imagined letters between two demons, one more experienced and of higher rank who corresponds with his nephew, an underling named Wormwood.
In letter number VII Screwtape gives his nephew advice on how to bring harm to his assignment, a man who has recently become a Christian. The issue has to do with whether the underling should encourage his patient to be a pacifist or patriot in response to the recent war (I assume WW II). The demonic advice seems to be strongly at work in our day. I will leave it with you to ponder:
“Whichever he adopts, your main task will be the same. Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of a partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the “Cause,” in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the war-effort or of Pacifism.
The attitude you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and Faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here.”
Your affectionate uncle,