Clive Staples Lewis
Aka: Jack (named after his dog)
Born late 19th century. – Belfast, Ireland
Considered – one of – most influential writers of the 20th century.
At 15, he loses his faith and pronounces his commitment to atheism and the occult.
B/C of that influence, He eventually returns to Christianity.
Influential writer – 20th century :
- Chronicles of Narnia – Lion, Witch, wardrobe,
- Mere Christianity
The Screwtape Letters
Collection of Letters
From a demon (Screwtape) to his nephew (Wormwood), teaching him how to destroy the faith of a new Christian (the patient).
Telling of the story of a human life. Told from the view point of a demon bent on destroying the humans faith.
“The enemy will not see you vanish into God’s company without an effort to reclaim you.” (C.S. Lewis)
His writing style can be somewhat difficult if you’re not used to reading C.S. Lewis, so I’ve modified some of the quotes to make them more understandable for us. – But even so, you might have to ‘work for it’ a little more than with some other more obvious sermons.
Also, of course, not everyone believes in a literal satan & demons. I personally do. But don’t get caught up on that. As you’ll see, that’s not actually what the book is about. – Traps that we so easily fall into.
All you need to know is 3 characters.
The uncle – Senior demon. – Highly experienced and extremely successful demon. – The author of all the letters. ‘Our father below’ – Satan. ‘Our enemy above’ – God.
Screwtapes nephew. – Demon who’s new to the job and doesn’t really know how to tempt his human yet.
3. The Patient
The recently converted human who is the subject of the book. Wormwood (the nephew) is assigned the patient to reclaim back from the camp of the enemy (God).
Thus far We’ve followed patient:
- Becomes a Christian
- Goes to Church
- Goes to War
- Falls in Love
The Patient Doubts.
I was delighted to hear that your patient has made some very desirable new acquaintances.
I gather that the middle-aged married couple who called at his office are just the sort of people we want him to know—rich, smart, superficially intellectual, and brightly skeptical about everything in the world.
This is excellent. No doubt he must very soon realize that his own faith is in direct opposition to all the conversations he has with his new friends.
He will be silent when he ought to speak and laugh when he ought to be silent. He will adopt all sorts of cynical and skeptical attitudes which are not really his. But if you play him well, they will become his. Humans tend to turn into the thing they pretend to be.
This will open that patients mind to doubt.
But don’t get too excited. Nor think that the best method is an intellectual attack on the patients faith.
The only thing that matters at all in the mind is moving the patient nearer to the Enemy or nearer to us.
Our real business is undermining faith and preventing the formation of virtues.
It is the virtues that become habits that are really fatal to us.
Screwtape understands, that the real battle is not in the intellect, but in the formation of virtues and habits and deeds.
“When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.
To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. A saint is not someone who is good but someone who experiences the goodness of God.” (Brennan Manning)
“Like anyone can even know that..” (Kip in Napoleon Dynamite)
This is pretty much the worst video ever made..
Screwtape: Our real business is undermining faith and preventing the formation of virtues.
Faith & Doubt.
I wanna talk about Faith & Doubt.
Hoping that this is gonna be good news for the doubters in the room.
Faith has never come easy to me.
I’ve always been a Brainy guy People like Jayne – It always seemed so easy.
Christian culture has trained us to view doubt as some sort of sin.
And that faith is an all or nothing package.
You either believe this whole set of beliefs or you’re choosing doubt. Which is weird, b/c I don’t think that’s exactly how belief works.
Moon landing hoax.
Some people believe that the moon landing was a hoax. Well if I put a gun to your head and said ‘Believe that the moon landing is a hoax!!!’ You might say you believe it, but you still probably don’t. That’s not how belief works. It’s not like you just sit down and choose what to believe.
So much of the Christian community defines has Faith as some sort of phycological certainty.
Conjure up in my head.
If I let any doubt creep in – I’m spoiling the magic of the Christian faith.
- My prayers don’t get answered.
- God’s not pleased with my faith.
- I’m not accepted by him.
Some people have minds where childlike faith is really easy. But some of us have a mind that’s always questioning and doubting.
Here’s my theory – for many of us we’ve developed this kind of thinking:
(FAITH / Doubt Graphic.) And there’s this solid dividing wall between them.
You’re on one side or the other.
- If you have faith, you won’t doubt.
- And if you doubt, you’ll always live with the shame of not having enough faith.
More accurate (graphic)
But I believe this is more accurate:
- Doubt – PART – faith.
- There’s room to doubt.
Not everyone wrestles with doubt.
Not everyone wrestles with doubt. God bless you if you have a simple faith. SOME of us – DO doubt.
Your Doubt does not discredit your faith.
Doubting disciples – changed – world.
They weren’t ONLY doubting, they were also worshipping disciples. You can be both.
Within scripture – there’s some great reasons why people believe the faith is the opposite of doubt theory.
“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. (Mark 11:23)
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)
Picture it in your heart and it will be yours.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
At least, that’s what it says in the King James.
Interesting phrase isn’t it : “The evidence of things not seen.” What does that mean? ‘The evidence’
Jesus loves evidence. When John the Baptist is losing his faith, he reminds him of the miracles, etc.
After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. (Acts 1:3)
He gave the evidence for faith. He’s not calling us to an irrational faith.
But : “Faith – Evidence.” Seems weird.
- “I believe! I believe in God!”
- “What’s your evidence?”
- “My evidence is that I believe! It’s my own evidence.”
Greek words are sometimes a little different and can mean multiple things. This one means evidence, but also conviction.
Most translations after KJV – changed it to ‘Conviction’ and I think that makes more sense.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 ESV)
I have a conviction and that affects how I act. That’s not the absense of doubt.
Hebrews 11 ‘The Hall of Faith’
Hebrews 11 is called ‘The Hall of Faith’ – talks about some of the heroes of the faith.
What’s cool: You’ll see many of the “heroes of the faith” had a lots of doubts within their faith.
Abraham “I believe” and his his faith was credited as righteousness. – Later “God’s taking forever! I’m gonna go make it happen myself.” So he doubts, but that doesn’t discredit his faith.
Sarah – when she first hears about God’s promise to give her a child. She laughs. BUT she LIVED with faith, and is called a woman of faith.
Doubts – make promises.
Jacob – so conniving make promises happen
Moses – When God says “I want to choose you” Moses instantly doubts God’s wisdom and ability. – But he does the right thing.
Not the psychological absence of doubt. Some head game.
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6)
That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:7)
Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. (James 1:8)
Wow! If you have questions, this is a scripture that will make you feel like a million bucks. You’re unstable! Stop asking questions!!! Or God’s not gonna give anything to you!!!
Not what this scripture is saying.
The main way scriptures get misunderstood is when they’re taken out of context. Let’s read the verse right before:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5)
Whoa! So he’s talking about wisdom!!!
He’s saying if you need wisdom, go to God, and you don’t have to be concerned that he won’t give it to you! He wants to give it to you!
And don’t have divided loyalty, part to God and part to man.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (James 1:5 NLT)
But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6 NLT)
He’s not getting huffy about ‘doubt’, not he’s getting huffy about where you get your wisdom from. – You can read more about this is James 3 where he talks about heavenly wisdom that comes from above and earthly wisdom that is demonic.
Those people are unstable and double-minded.
Jesus – Faith – Action
Think about Jesus – he would be able to see peoples actions and see that they had a lot of faith.
Matthew 9 – Friends bring.
Matthew 9 – Friends bring their friend who can’t walk – on a mat.
Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9:2)
What did he see? Some inner phycological state. No. It didn’t matter if they were certain or not.
No, their faith was measured by their faithfulness.
This is the faith of scripture.
Matthew 28:16-17 – Prologue to the great commission.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. (Matthew 28:16)
Saddest word: 11. had always been 12.
This community was going through crisis.
Judas had betrayed Jesus. And then he killed himself. But Matthew reminds us here, that the remaining 11 are not exactly killing it either.
- Judas betrayed Jesus
- Peter denied.
- All – disciples abandoned Jesus.
Significant : Worshiped but doubted. – Both.
It says they worshiped but doubted. They did both.
Their doubt didn’t discredit their faith.
For me and my story, and some of you may really be able to relate to this, and some of you not at all. Which is supercool.
I have always been full of questions. There’s a lot going on in my brain. I can’t shut it up.
Bible / Luke / Weird questions. And when I started taking seriously the Bible, my mind went absolutely crazy with questions. I had a friend named Luke, and we would just sit around asking each other weird questions about the Bible. And I used to go to youth group with all these amazing ideas. I quickly found out that that wasn’t a tremendous blessing to a lot of people.
Satan – good guy? Have you ever wondered if Satan is actually the good guy, and God is the bad guy. And since were leading God’s side of the story, it makes it look like he’s a good guy. A poor Satan, he’s just chained up somewhere and he’s unable to defend himself from this vicious horrible God, since Olympic and maybe we should go find is Satan, and rescue him.
I carry my questions with me wherever I go. It’s part of how I’m wired.
It doesn’t have anything to do with Christianity. It has to do with me. It’s who I am. If I were to become a Buddhist, or a Muslim, or an atheist, I would start to doubt that.
When you’re wired the way that I’m wired, you doubt the things that you have faith in. You don’t doubt the things you don’t have faith in, you just don’t worry about. I doubt things that are important to me.
Shopping – Might want – biggest doubter.
Video Game System. I do this and all kinds of small areas. If I’m shopping for something, and think that I might want it, I become the biggest doubter. And I can never decide what’s the right thing. Like right now I’m trying to decide if I want to buy a video game system. My wife just says yeah why don’t you get one. But I’m like I’ll tell you all the reasons that I don’t want to get one.
Two dogs It’s we have two dogs, and Jordan has named them both. Because if I tried to do it, I was just out myself. I would never be able to decide. So Jordan decides.
Jordan decides to decorate the house. Because I’m indecisive. I doubt.
Me / Jayne – psychics. A while back me and Jayne were talking about psychics. And she had become convinced that some psychic that she was watching on TV was real. I didn’t even know who she was talking about but I instantly doubted. It’s who I am.
The miraculous I believe in the miraculous. I believe that people are raised from the dead and demons are cast out, and limbs grow back. I believe all of that. But whenever I hear stories about that type of stuff, I instantly doubt. It’s who I am.
In the same way, I choose Christ. And I will doubt. But I am a man of faith. And that’s not a contradiction.
Your Doubt does not discredit your faith.
John 6 – Jesus –
John 6 – Jesus starts talking about eating his flesh.
And a whole bunch of disciples said “this is too weird for me. I’m out of here.” And left.
And then Jesus turns to the 12 and says this “are you leave me too?” “Where would we go? They didn’t say anything about being pumped about the sermon.
But their actions were what demonstrated their faith.
Your Doubt does not discredit your faith.
Like I said before, for some of us, the fact that we wrestle with the Christian faith, is a sign that we take it seriously. And it’s important to us. We do believe it.
Walk down the isle. A lot of us guys, as we walked down the aisle, where thinking “oh my gosh, what are you doing? Is this the right girl? Are we moving too fast? Should we wait another six years? Am I sure like her family enough?” And then there’s other people, that is there walking down the aisle, without a care in the world.
It’s the same way in the Christian faith. And in this room, we have both. That’s really amazing. I want to say that I don’t think either one is better than the other.
Doubt does not discredit faith.
Whether you’re a person who has simple faith or if you’re more ‘reflective’ like me, the thing that really matters is your faithfulness.
It’s not a brain thing.
Faith without works is meaningless.
Faith is measured by faithfulness.
Close with a quote from Josh Eden from a few years back:
“The strength of your faith is not measured by the absence of doubt, but by the faithfulness of your life in the face of doubt.” (Josh Eden)
No matter if your simple faith person or a doubter like me.
Jesus invites you to his table none the less. To receive him and the gift of new life. It’s never about you being enough, it’s about him being enough.
So we come & we receive him
He abides in us, and us him.
Book of common prayer.
Father, we pray for your holy Church;
That we all may be one.
Grant that every member of the Church may truly and humbly serve you;
That your Name may be glorified by all people.
We pray for all bishops, priests, deacons, and pastors;
That they may be faithful ministers of your Word and Sacraments.
We pray for all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world;
That there may be justice and peace on the earth.
Give us grace to do your will in all that we undertake;
That our works may find favor in your sight.
Have compassion on those who suffer from any grief or trouble;
That they may be delivered from their distress.
We praise you for your saints who have entered into joy;
May we also come to share in your heavenly kingdom.
We remember your death,
We proclaim your resurrection,
We await your return.
This is His body – broken for you
Blood – poured out for you.
Let’s eat the bread & drink from the cup.