The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis– letter 12

“The safest road to Hell is the gradual one– the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

Uncle Screwtape, Letter 12, in The Screwtape Letters.

In Screwtape’s 12th letter, he teaches Wormwood the best way to draw a young Christian away from God comprises the gentlest, most subtle, of delusions. The wedge begins imperceptibly but ends with the rejection of all genuine repentance. Chapter 12 can be downloaded here:

It is arguable as to whether a true Christian might ever be so lured away from God that their salvation is lost. Perhaps Screwtape is unaware of God’s promises of faithful perseverance? Nevertheless, Screwtape’s recommended subversion of “the patient’s” daily Christian living would certainly rob him of joy and cause him to doubt the authenticity of his Christian experience. Particularly, Screwtape recommends keeping him from genuine repentance, while ‘allowing’ small sins to remain embedded in his life. “Murder is no better than cards, if cards can do the trick.”

Jesus’ letters to the churches in Revelation urge true repentance so that our hearts do not grow ‘lukewarm’.

14   “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. 

21    To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Revelation 3:14-22