Love of God Podcast Personalities
 

A Summa of the Screwtape Letters

Screwtape Letters Book Cover

Below is a rough, but helpful summary of some key points from C.S. Lewis's masterpiece The Screwtape Letters. Each numbered chapter corresponds to a letter from a senior devil to a junior tempter giving advice on how to ruin souls.

  

 


  1. By the act of arguing you awake the patient's reason. Do not attempt to use science as a defense against Christianity.
  2. Never let him ask what he expected Christians to look like. Work on the emotional disappointment during his first few weeks as a churchman.
  3. a. Keep his mind on the inner mental state of mind, where he won't discover any of the facts about himself which are perfectly clear to anyone else.  b. Make sure he is always concerned with his mother's soul but never her rheumatism.  c. Work on being annoyed at minor physical nuances, not realizing that he has them himself.  d. He must demand his utterances be taken at face value while hers be suspected intention.
  4. a. Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling. b. They are animals, their bodies affect their souls.
  5. What permanent good does war do unless we make use of it to bring souls to our father below?
  6. a. Have him deal with future fears. b. Have him love humanity, but not his neighbor.
  7. a. Encourage him to be a materialist magician. b. Make the world the end and faith the means.
  8. a. The Law of Undulation is: since man is spirit (eternal) and physical/natural (temporal), then undulation (consolation/desolation) is natural. Desolation occurs because God cannot ravish, he can only woo.
  9. Any pleasure in its normal, healthy form is God's territory. The father below encourages improper times, ways, degrees.
  10. a. All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be. b. By vanity get him to see himself as balanced and complex because he can relate to both his worldly and Christian friends.
  11. Joy, fun, joke, flippancy: "Jokes can be used to cover other sins; flippancy is always bad.
  12. a. Men shun God just as men in financial embarrassment shun the sight of a bank book. b. The safest road to Hell is the gradual one, the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without milestones, without signposts.
  13. Always try to make him abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favor of "the best" people, the "right" food, the "important" books.
  14. Humility is self-forgetfulness, not low self-esteem. Even of his sins he should not think too much.
  15. The future is the thing least like eternity.
  16. The search for a suitable church makes the patient a critic when God wants a pupil.
  17. The "All I want" type of gluttony is never recognized as a determination to get what you want however troublesome to others. Gluttony can be: a. not necessarily excess, but delicacy. b. the belly dominating the life. c. It is also an artillery prep for an attack on chastity.
  18. Hell's philosophy: one thing is not another thing. (esp. one self is not another self). (My good is not equal to your good.) God: though many, is one. Love is this: The good of one self is the good of another. The feeling of being in love is not love.
  19. What is the enemy up to? It canlt be love!
  20. Make sex more important and its demands more impossible by unattainable women; get him to marry one.
  21. Zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption that "my time is my own."
  22. In Heaven anything that is not music is silence.
  23. Make Jesus just a teacher, a teacher can't be worshipped.
  24. 'How different we Christians are must mean "my sect" which promotes self-congratulation.
  25. God has created a balance of permanence and change. And the father below takes change and perverts it into insisting on change, otherwise boredom must result.
  26. a. General Conflict Illusion is this: Insisting on your will to defer to others. b. Substitute unselfishness (negative) for charity (positive); in other words, their motive should not be that they are happy, but that I may be unselfish.
  27. Use the 'heads I win; tails you lose' argument. That is, if his prayers don't seem to be answered then say God doesn't exist; if they do get answered, say it was a coincidence. See, they fail to remember that God sees all of time in the 'unbounded now.'
  28. Prosperity and age knit a man to the world. If a man you are tempting is a Christian do not let him die!
  29. a. One of God's motives for creating a dangerous world is that courage is not simply one virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. b. Keep him feeling that he has something other than God and the courage God supplies to fall back on.
  30. We have been successful using this rule: "In all experiences that can make them happier or better, then only the physical facts are real, while the spiritual elements are subjective; while in all experiences that can discourage or corrupt them, the spiritual elements are the main reality and to ignore them is to be an escapist.
  31. When the patient made it to Heaven he could say to those he met not simply 'who are you' but 'so it was you all the time.'
"We are not unaware of Satan's schemes."
II Cor. 2:11