Screwtape Letters 23

Uncle Screwtape is schooling young Wormwood in how to trip up Christian. How to make him unfruitful. Chapter 23 goes on about distracting the patient in the question for a true biography of Jesus. Then he finishes it off with how then to work the political angle. To me this seems to cut both left and right. Enjoy

And fourthly, besides being unhistorical in the Jesus it depicts, religion of this kind is false to history in another sense. No nation, and few individuals, are really brought into the Enemy’s camp by the historical study of the biography of Jesus, simply as biography. Indeed materials for a full biography have been withheld from men. The earliest converts were converted by a single historical fact (the Resurrection) and a single theological doctrine (the Redemption) operating on a sense of sin which they already had—and sin, not against some new fancy-dress law produced as a novelty by a “great man”, but against the old, platitudinous, universal moral law which they had been taught by their nurses and mothers. The “Gospels”, come later and were written not to make Christians but to edify Christians already made.

The “Historical Jesus” then, however danger.. ous he may seem to be to us at some particular point, is always to be encouraged. About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate. Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that “only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilisations”. You see the little rift ? “Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.” That’s the game,
Your affectionate uncle
SCREWTAPE

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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2 Responses to Screwtape Letters 23

  1. Pingback: Jesus appeal and modeling for prayer in the time of trial | Leadingchurch.com

  2. Pingback: The Central Challenge of Discipleship: Recognizing Jesus | Leadingchurch.com

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