By the time you read this, you will have seen and heard a great deal about the senseless shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. Let me offer perspective somewhat different from what you may have encountered until now.
Many readers will be familiar with the author C.S. Lewis, the Christian apologist who wrote the well-regarded “Mere Christianity.” Those who have read much of Lewis have likely come across one of his fictional books, “The Screwtape Letters.”
In “The Screwtape Letters,” Lewis’s intent is to provide a series of lessons for readers on the importance of being deliberate and active in the Christian faith. He does so by developing a character, named Screwtape, who is a senior demon under Satan. Screwtape has a nephew named Wormwood — a younger and less experienced demon — who Screwtape must train so that Wormwood can successfully tempt a new Christian human (who we know of as only “the Patient”) to leave the faith.
In short, Wormwood is charged with ensuring the damnation of the Patient, and Screwtape (who also has an evil sidekick named Toadpipe) is responsible for mentoring and guiding his young protégé through the process. The focus is on how to lead a Christian astray, so Satan’s goals may be accomplished, thereby overthrowing the rule of God. Obviously, it is something of a satire, teaching Christians about the tactics of the enemy of God.
In the 31 letters comprising the book, Screwtape gives Wormwood detailed advice on the many ways to undermine the Christian faith and to promote sin in the Patient. He intersperses this advice with observations on human nature (such as, “A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all—and more amusing.”) and Christian doctrine.
If you have not read “The Screwtape Letters” and its sequels, they are well worth the read. And I could not help but think of them this past week.
You see, if I were Satan, I would want to disrupt any study of the Word of God by faithful people.
If I were Satan, I would want to cause grief in faithful people such that they might blame God and leave the faith.
If I were Satan, I would want to create enmity between people (even a “race war”) such that evil can take root.
If I were Satan, I would want people to feel that not even God can protect them, even in church.
If I were Satan, I would want hate to bring about destruction to those who believe that Christ is their savior and Lord.
And to accomplish all this, if I were Satan, I would have a hate-filled person walk into a church Bible Study and gun down faithful Christians.
But, it didn’t work.
Alana Simmons, whose grandfather Daniel Simmons was also killed, said, “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, everyone’s plea for your soul is proof that they lived in love, and their legacies will live in love. So hate won’t win.”
And church member Bethane Middleton-Brown said, “We have no room for hate, so we have to forgive.”
Once again, God wins, Satan loses.