12.13.2009

The Screwtape Letters

I recently read C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters for the first time. It was definitely one of the more convicting works of fiction that I've read, and as I read, I made up my mind to post probably a hundred different excerpts. But, alas, I don't have the time to post all those excerpts, so we'll have to make do with just a few. In today's excerpt, Screwtape writes to Wormwood (a lower-ranked demon), giving advice on how to tempt his "patient" in the area of churchgoing:

"[I]f your patient can't be kept out of the Church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some party within it. I don't mean on really doctrinal issues; about those, the more lukewarm he is the better. And it isn't the doctrines on which we chiefly depend for producing malice. The real fun is working up hatred between those who say 'mass' and those who say 'holy communion' when neither party could possibly state the difference between, say, Hooker's doctrine and Thomas Aquinas', in any form which would hold water for five minutes. And all the purely indifferent things--candles and clothes and what not--are an admirable ground for our activities. We have quite removed from men's minds what that pestilent fellow Paul used to teach about food and other unessentials--namely, that the human without scruples should always give in to the human with scruples. You would think they could not fail to see the application. You would expect to find the 'low' churchman genuflecting and crossing himself lest the weak conscience of his 'high' brother should be moved to irreverence, and the 'high' one refraining from these exercises lest he should betray his 'low' brother into idolatry. And so it would have been but for our ceaseless labour. Without that the variety of usage within the Church of England might have become a positive hotbed of charity and humility.
I'm thankful that I've never been part of a church which has had serious issues with breaking into different factions--although, perhaps this has been due more to the homogeneity of the churches I've attended than to any amazing level of love and humility. Still, I know I often need to be reminded of the need to express love to my fellow believers by giving in to them in areas where we have differences (even if they attend a different church, and the only way I can practice this is by not looking down on them for being different).

1 comment:

Marvin said...

Should you be quoting demons in your blog?