Screwtape Part One

 

            “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts…” (1) Lewis was writing in a time where Christianity had just started seeping its way out of mainstream culture and being passed off as just some people’s opinion or worldview. The whole reason, I think, that this book even works is because it flies under the radar of what most people accept as Christian truth. Lewis was not an evangelist but he did have a few certain gifts that he used very well, one of which was to break down obstacles to belief that people had then and still have today.

            Lewis was writing in a time where Christianity had just started seeping its way out of mainstream culture and being passed off as just some people’s opinion or worldview. This is exactly what is happening in America today. The problem with this age is not apathy, though that could be a big problem, but the whole notion of the spiritual is gone. By the end of the nineteenth century the industrial revolution was coming to a close and modern thinkers, such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Charles Darwin and others, had influenced most of society. This is the world that C. S. Lewis was born into and grew up in, and it is not much different from the one we live in now.

            Lewis understood that story has a certain power to move people so that they can better understand something. He had even said that reason he thought Narnia was so effective is that the passion of Aslan took people by surprise. They where very familiar with the whole “Jesus story,” but Aslan’s death and resurrection they never saw coming, so it was much more moving to them. Most people have a wall up against Christian truth be cause they don’t even want to go there, but they will pick up something from Lewis or Tolkien and sometimes that will awaken in them a hunger for something they didn’t even know they wanted. That is the whole reason, I think, that this book even works is because it flies under the radar of what most people accept as Christian truth. In this book Lewis uses some very real ways that we as humans might be tempted and led away from Christ.

            The devil has no new tricks. Lewis was not an evangelist but he did have a few certain gifts that he used very well, one of which was to break down obstacles to belief that people had then and still have today. That is the reason he is still relevant, because many people have doubts about Jesus, flat out reject Jesus, I have an abiding fear of what C. S. Lewis called chronological snobbery. Chronological snobbery is the arrogant notion that the ideas of our own day are better than the ideas of a bygone day just because the ideas are in our day. Chronological snobbery feels that things are truer because they are newer. It is not only irrational; it is also naïve, because there aren’t any really new ideas under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9–10 says,

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
and there is nothing new under the sun.
 Is there a thing of which it is said,
”See, this is new”? 
It has been already,
in the ages before us.

 

Works Cited

(1) The Screwtape Letters, By C.S. Lewis, HarperCollins 1947 Chapter 12