My dear Wormwood.

February 5, 2008

(Inspired by C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters — fictional letters from a much-experienced uncle demon, Screwtape, to his amateur nephew demon, Wormwood. Their “Enemy”, of course, is God.)

My dear Wormwood,

In all these months of correspondence, have you learned nothing from me? Have you done nothing with the books I’ve sent you? Read, you fool! Begin with The Art of Deception. Don’t you know you must be more well-read than those you plan to deceive?

What does it matter if, for the past week, that woman has been victorious over the temptations you’ve placed in her way? Just wait until she begins to even venture to entertain thoughts of self-applauding. Then fill her mind with more thoughts that will begin to make her really believe that these triumphs are actually her own doing rather than the Enemy’s.

This is yet the stealthiest weapon we possess: Pride. It is a small seed, smaller even than the mustard seed, yet it can grow rapidly & with little nurture. Remember that little speech our Enemy gave to the people about having Faith as small as a mustard seed so as to move mountains? Well, just remember that there is always the seed of Pride in the human heart (that is, ever since the Fall). It does not take much to rouse it, & if you can nurture that Pride to even the size of a mustard seed, you can soon condition that human’s heart to cross any mountain of Conscience to commit any number of other sins. I have yet to see this tactic fail.

In fact, Pride is the surest way of keeping that Christian woman far from our Enemy’s grounds. Perhaps it is better that we keep the Way easy & comfortable for her. Then Pride will be easier to nurture in her heart & we need not even exert ourselves in making the Way difficult with trials & other obstacles, because she, with Pride as her compass, will turn to the left & to the right. Her own feet will delay her travels with their wanderings!

Do all you can, Wormwood, to nurture Pride. The Christian may, if she thinks of it, sterilize the seed of Pride by prayer & the reading of our Enemy’s Word, but just keep at your work. Our only hope is that she would one day forget to pray. Take Gall with you to distract her in her prayers or reading of Scripture; while he distracts her, you can throw scraps like delight in man’s praises, vanity, unforgiveness, bitterness, self-pity, & self-righteousness on the seed of Pride. One of those will surely cause Pride to grow & flourish in her heart. Remember, the more Pride grows, the more she will be unaware of it!

You also expressed concern about her resolution to begin a more intensive, extensive study of our Enemy & His character. Give it a few weeks. She will soon forget the fervor & determination with which she made that resolution. Or see if you can get her to rely on her own resolve to accomplish that; then she will quickly fail.

If, in a few weeks, she has not forgotten but persists to continue in that vile study, then see to it that she thinks often about the Enemy yet forgets Him completely. Do you understand what I mean by this? Have her think about Him often, but only in an academic or “theological” manner; make sure she never thinks of Him as an actual Person.

In my past dealings with these Christians, I’ve seen that the most dangerous topic of study they can engage in is the study of the Enemy’s love for them. If she begins to study this topic, see to it that she learns many things about His love but divorces these things from her own daily living. Keep her knowledge of Him bound only to books, so that once she shelves her books, she will shelf her thoughts of Him as well.

Let her warm up her mind with these studies. Your only task, dear Wormwood, is to make sure her heart remains cold. Whatever you do, you cannot allow her knowledge about the love of God lead to a deeper knowledge of the God of love. Do you understand? This will be detrimental (absolutely disastrous) to our cause.

I hope to hear good news from you soon about another victory for our side.

Your affectionate uncle,
SCREWTAPE

. . .

“So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Corinthians 2:11 — see preceding verses for context)

“Little children, you are from God & have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (I John 4:4)

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