P. S. from Screwtape

I recently visited Oxford for the hundredth anniversary of C. S. Lewis' birth, nosing around places he used to haunt. In one pub, a bookshelf still held dusty copies of his books. Thumbing through one, I was startled to find an old, yellowed letter. I was even more startled to see that it was signed by the devil Wormwood, addressed to his uncle Screwtape. Could Lewis have missed one of the Screwtape letters when assembling his well-known book? Quickly I scanned it. "Alas," Wormwood wrote, "I have little to do. The Enemy's troops in America are so soft, they're nearly indistinguishable from our own people. Christians get divorced at the same rate, their children watch the same depraved films, and they squabble endlessly over doctrinal differences." "Of course," Wormwood added, "If they ever stood together as they were taught, we wouldn't stand a chance. But I see little danger of that. This is getting boring. Please reassign me to a more challenging post." Your devoted nephew, Wormwood. Okay, there was no such letter. But there might have been. Instead of confronting the forces of secularism, many Christians today exhaust themselves criticizing one another. In my 25 years as a Christian, nothing has dismayed me more than the rancorous disputes between true believers. I have even received threatening letters for encouraging cooperation between evangelicals and Catholics. Is this how we show that we are His disciples? No wonder the culture is sliding into a morass of ungodliness. Lewis keenly understood the importance of Christian unity. In his book, Mere Christianity, Lewis says the reason for bickering is that Christianity is more comprehensive than can be grasped by any one person or denomination. We each champion our own bits and pieces of the total plan, and denounce everyone else. If we glimpsed the vastness of divine truth, we would be charitable toward all true Christians. Lewis writes that the Church is seen most clearly at the core of our faith, where "each communion is really closest to every other in spirit, if not in doctrine." He was not suggesting that we ignore important doctrinal differences, only that we treat one another with respect as members of Christ's Body. As Lewis put it, "divisions between Christians are a sin and a scandal, and Christians ought at all times to be contributing toward re-union, if it is only by their prayers." This spirit animates the passionately disputed "Evangelicals and Catholics Together." Sadly, that spirit is rare in our comfortable evangelical headquarters. The best place to observe it is in the mission field, where the battle rages for souls. A Christian friend recently visited India, meeting with leaders from twelve ministries. Moved by the testimonies she heard, she asked one group if she could help. But instead of enlisting her at once, they referred her to another group in greater need. On "the front lines" Christians do support one another, sacrificing denominational "advantage." American Christians need to realize we are on the front lines in a spiritual battlefield. As good soldiers, we must stand by our spiritual buddies. Anything less, and Wormwood can go ahead with his reassignment. We'll be no challenge whatsoever to his boss.


Chuck Colson


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