f The Wittenberg Door: C.S. Lewis and the Devil

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

C.S. Lewis and the Devil

Constantine, Dogma, even in South Park, Hollywood is want to portray a holy cold-war between God and Satan—Two superpowers, standing toe-to-toe, waiting for the other guy to blink. For the Biblically literate this description is absurd. Unfortunately, not many, even among Christians, are Biblically literate. Consequently, caricatures of the devil fill our culture and minds. (Remember the little red guy with the pitch fork and horns?)

Prior to being published as a book, C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters appeared as a series in the UK paper Guardian in 1941. The story, which is in the form of letters between an inexperienced demon and his uncle, prompted questions regarding Lewis’ belief in the Devil. Does this academician and Oxford don really believe in a personal Devil? Does he believe that Satan is God’s opposite equal? John A. Murray, headmaster of Fourth Presbyterian School in Potomac, Md, answers this question and more over at the Opinion Journal. Here’s an excerpt:

When asked about "his belief in the Devil," Lewis addressed the question in a thought-provoking way in his preface to a revised edition of "Screwtape" in 1960: "Now, if by 'the Devil' you mean a power opposite to God and, like God, self existent from all eternity, the answer is certainly No."

That is, Lewis did not believe in the false theology and caricatures of the devil that have developed over the centuries—whether through art, literature or even today's sports mascots (think Duke and Arizona State).

As Lewis explained, "There is no uncreated being except God. God has no opposite. . . . The proper question is whether I believe in devils. I do. That is to say, I believe in angels, and I believe that some of these, by the abuse of their free will, have become enemies to God. . . . Satan, the leader or dictator of devils, is the opposite, not of God, but of Michael."

In his original preface written from Magdalen College at Oxford on July 5, 1941, Lewis warned of what he called "the two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils." One error "is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them." Lewis concluded that the devils "are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight."

You can read the entire article here.

--The Catechizer



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