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The Screwtape Letters: An Exploration of Christianity.

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Introduction

The Screwtape Letters: An Exploration of Christianity C.S. Lewis has written many books on Christianity but none of them compare to The Screwtape Letters, written 1942. He has a great advantage for writing these books on Christianity. Being a former atheist he has two views on Christianity; one as an outsider, and secondly as an insider, a Christian. The Screwtape Letters is not only a book exposing the view of devils on Christianity but in a way an indirect autobiography of C.S. Lewis. In his book, Lewis is not contemplating the existence of God, but the whole of Christianity. In The Screwtape Letters, Lewis claims to have found these letters, somewhere, somehow, he does not explain. Throughout the book, Screwtape is advising his nephew, Wormwood, on how to convert his patient over to the Devil's side. There are many methods to doing this but that is not the most important point in The Screwtape Letters. What is truly important is that the novel explores the good and the bad of Christianity. The main issues addressed in The Screwtape Letters are: the church as an institution; the question of love, and the theory of time. All these issues can be looked at as either optimistic or pessimistic. And indeed, in reality, they are both good and bad. Christianity is broken down into two main denominations; Catholicism and Protestantism. Both denominations are centered around churches. Churches can be seen in two lights, as evil or as virtuous. Lewis seems to have many different opinions on churches. In The Screwtape Letters he addresses the negative and positive elements of churches in general. Generally the visible church is a building, perhaps with a steeple or with a large altar at the front. But it is always a place where people congregate to listen to a priest, reverend, minister, or whoever the church leader may be, tell them about the Bible. ...read more.

Middle

He will think about them as little as he feels he decently can beforehand, and forget them as soon as possible when they are over" (Lewis 55). It seems that in the present people just perform religious duties because it is a part of their routine. They no longer put any feelings into their duties. Genuflecting after communion, repeating the Lord's Prayer, and going to church Sunday morning come naturally and are not thought about. These duties need to be thought about, that's why they were made, to give the lay people something extra to think about. Feelings are no longer experienced in duties they are done purely out of being used to them. They do not perform their religious duties because they feel it is spiritually right; they do it because it is what the others say they are supposed to do. Religious duties are also not all bad, granted after a while they do get repetitive. Religious duties such as praying, going to church, and reading the Bible provide a foot hold for Christians. Religious duties provide a constant reminder that they are Christian and not some other religion. Praying to God gives them some form of connection with God. Even though they do not think about it God still hears their prayer and sees that they are still Christians. It is best to think of Christianity as much as possible. It should always be in the front of one's brain and should reflect in all actions. However not all people do this. Religious duties allow these busy people to take five minutes away from their hectic schedule and busy social life to think about their faith and that is better than nothing. With a grain of faith, one can move mountains. A majority of messages within the New Testament contain the word love; God is love, love your neighbour, love, love, love. ...read more.

Conclusion

Eternity is a big factor in Lewis' book. He mentions the eternity and time on many occasions. He has this idea that eternity is in the present. "For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity" (Lewis 66). Humans should live in the present because they never know when or where they will die. They should not postpone the improvement of their religious lives to a latter date, but work on them constantly in the present. "Humans are amphibians-half spirit and half animal...As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time" (Lewis 38). As animals their bodies are subject to time. They are constantly changing and will eventually return to the dust they they're made of. However, their souls are eternal and will never be destroyed. By the end of the book, Wormwood allows the patient to "slip through his fingers" (Lewis 130). In this case the victory was God's, not the devils'. Of course Screwtape is very upset about this but he goes on to write about hope for the future. The Screwtape Letters addressed the good and the bad of the Christian faith but as Screwtape himself says, "Leave them to discuss whether "Love", or patriotism, or celibacy, or candles on altars, or teetotalism, or education, are "good" or "bad". Can't you see there's no answer?" (Lewis 84). Humans do not really know what is good and bad; all we can do is speculate. "At present the Enemy says 'Mine' of everything on the pedantic, legalistic ground that He made it. Our Father (Satan) hopes in the end to say 'Mine' of all things on the more realistic ground of conquest" (Lewis 93). According to Lewis, no one knows who will win in the end. The patient was God's victory over one person's soul. There are still many souls out there that are vulnerable to damnation. Each person has to be careful of his or her soul. But in the end all they got to do is "Believe this, not because it is true, but for some reason" (Lewis 101). ...read more.

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