Screwtape Letter #7 – Discussion Guide


This entry is part 17 of 65 in the series Screwtape Letters

Letter #7

Screwtape starts to outline a plan of action.

Sort of.

 


 

My dear Wormwood,

I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. … The fact that ‘devils’ are predominantly comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them) he therefore cannot believe in you.

 

7.1a) Talk about the perceived advantages of humans being able to see or not see devils – from Screwtape’s point of view.

One thing that comes to mind is the old saying – “out of sight, out of mind”.

out of sight, out of mind
the same holds true for God
As far as what if Satan was visible

How you answer is likely dependent on your life experiences.
For me – I think out of sight, out of mind is a good thing for Satan and a bad thing for us.

 

7.1b) What about people seeing devils as comic figures?

This is like a special case of the previous question
Consider the verses below - from Luke 12:35-40
Of course - there’s another side to all of this

 

         

 

I had not forgotten my promise to consider whether we should make the patient an extreme patriot or an extreme pacifist. … The Church herself is, of course, heavily defended and we have never yet quite succeeded in giving her all the characteristics of a faction; but subordinate factions within her have often produced admirable results, from the parties of Paul and of Apollos at Corinth down to the High and Low parties in the Church of England.

 

7.2) Screwtape seems to be describing a divide and conquer scenario here. How could that work to his advantage – and to our disadvantage?

 

In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes about Divisions in the Church.

1 Co 1:10-17
1 Co 3:1-23
Mere Christianity
John MacArthur in his study of Galatians

 

         

 

If your patient can be induced to become a conscientious objector he will automatically find himself one of a small, vocal, organised, and unpopular society, and the effects of this, on one so new to Christianity, will almost certainly be good. But only almost certainly. … Such things can often be managed. But if he is the man I take him to be, try Pacifism.

7.3) Screwtape is giving Wormwood Plan A and plan B. He asks Wormwood what type of man the patient is – with the end goal of deciding whether he’s more susceptible to A or B. Screwtape ends by saying Plan A is best – almost certainly. Ultimately it will be up to Wormwood to choose. Compare this to how God instructs us when we go about bringing converts to God.

 

Jesus had a message that wasn’t always popular –
some were afraid of it –
some had no interest in hearing it –
but ambiguous he was not.

His message is clear –
there aren’t choices to make –
other than whether or not we want to follow Him.

New Testament History
Jesus' teaching - Rich Young Ruler
Jesus sends out the disciples

         

 

Whichever he adopts, your main task will be the same. … Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more ‘religious’ (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here

Your affectionate uncle

SCREWTAPE

7.4) Screwtape instructs Wormwood to “nurse” the patient into thinking that his religion is merely part of some greater “Cause”—in this case, either the British war effort or pacifism. How can a cause—however good it may be in itself—become an evil? What examples can you think of, either from history or from your own experience?

 

There are many specific examples one can think of.

TheGreatest Commandment

It’s reminiscent of a phrase that doesn’t seem to be used much anymore –
What would Jesus do?

Whatever that is – it’s an example for us.

To use kind of a play on words –

It’s not the cause – Jesus is the cause.

 

 

 

         

 

Vocabulary:

Coterie – Any small coterie, bound together by some interest which other men dislike or ignore, tends to develop inside itself a hothouse mutual admiration, and towards the outer world, a great deal of pride and hatred which is entertained without shame because the ‘Cause’ is its sponsor and it is thought to be impersonal.

a group of people who associate closely.

 

 

 

Series Navigation<< Screwtape Letter #7 – QuestionsScrewtape Letter #8 – Questions >>

References   [ + ]

1. “New Testament History – A Study of the Beginnings of Christianity” by Harris Franklin Rall – from Chapter 9, titles “The Master Teacher”

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