Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book Review: The Screwtape Letters

The other day I was at the library with some of my kids and while browsing the depressing wasteland of books that make up the “Religion” section I came across an older, slender volume that turned out to be the C.S. Lewis classic, The Screwtape Letters. I grabbed it down to give it a look and ended up a third of the way through before I knew it. It only took a short time to read but was a rich and interesting tale.

Obviously this is a fictional, satirical book. It needs to be read that way. Read in that light it is a thoroughly enjoyable story that makes important points. Lewis, in spite of his flaws, is an engaging writer and even though The Screwtape Letters is somewhat dated it is still a highly enjoyable read. For those unfamiliar with the book, it is set up as a series of letters written by a senior demon tempter named Screwtape to his nephew, a junior tempter named Wormwood. Wormwood has been charged with turning a recent Christian convert away from God by all manner of temptations and distractions and Screwtape responds to messages and questions from Wormwood. I won’t spoil the ending for you but Lewis tells a story that hits on many of the traditional Western themes of morality. That might be the great weakness of the book from a theological perspective, the idea that men can lose their salvation or swing back and forth in God’s favor hoping that they die when they are on the positive side of the pendulum swing. I would not recommend someone read The Screwtape Letters as a primer on soteriology! As a satirical and fun read for an afternoon, this book rightly deserves its status as a classic in Christian literature.

As I finished up this book, recognizing of course that it is not a theological treatise but rather a whimsical and clever story with a serious message, I wondered what old Screwtape would write to his nephew Wormwood these days….maybe we can dig up some correspondence in the next day or two…


Anonymous said...

We saw an excellent stage production of Screwtape in Chicago awhile back. It is on tour now. Check out the website and Video.


Very highly recommended!

In the loving name of Jesus,

Debbie said...

Good book! While in some details it might be dated, the temptations are the same for us today.

The first time I picked this up to read it, I got about a third of the way through it and had to put it down. I saw too much of myself in it, and was too convicted to continue. Now that I've read all the way through, it has some of my favorite quotes. ("He really loves those hairy bipeds He created" is one that comes to mind.)