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Screwtape slithers again (3)

The people heard that Jesus had come home. So many people gathered that there was not even room outside the door. Jesus preached the word to them. Four of those who came were carrying a man who could not walk. But they could not get him close to Jesus because of the crowd. So they made a hole in the roof above Jesus. Then they lowered the man through it on a mat. Jesus saw their faith. So he said to the man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2: 1)
 
You may remember Screwtape from earlier Infos for Islanders. This senior demon wrote letters to his nephew, a junior demon, to train him in the art of keeping people away from Jesus Christ. Screwtape was created by an Oxford University professor in a 1942 book. 

Today it is his nephew who is writing to Screwtape. I’m terribly concerned, Screwtape sir, about some people I know who are reading Mark’s biography of Jesus. They’ve come to the part where they will read the words in red in bold above. 

What on earth, uncle Screwtape sir, do I tell them? The law teachers were there. They made it clear that only the LORD God Most High can forgive sins. Jesus didn’t deny that. He went straight on totally to cure the paralysed man. There and then.

Screwtape replied. My dear nephew, first of all you must avoid these readers finding out who Jesus really is. Fortunately, today folk desperately want to believe that there is no God. Whisper to them these words - Richard Dawkins, the God Delusion. Emphasise the word “delusion”. 

 
As for sins, I’m surprised you still seem to need such basic training. People must be kept well clear of realising that it is they who are bringing evil, sorrow and pain into the world – onto themselves and others. We know – and rejoice in the fact – that they are sinning against the Most High by lording it over others. But you, you must not allow them to find that out. 

‘Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar.’ (C S Lewis, Oxford Professor, The Screwtape Letters, 1942)
This Jesus – whom we both hate with all our being – tried to show that sins were the root of the problem for this paralysed man and that he, Jesus, could deal with it. You must never ever let your “clients” go down that path. 

Hint to them that sin is old hat. Hint that sin doesn’t really matter. Remind them that sin is joy for them personally. Why would they want to be forgiven? Introduce them to new names for wrong things. 

But, if they ever get near the truth about suffering for their own sin and the sin of others, then drive them to despair if you can. Suggest to them that they can never be forgiven. Push them over the edge.

The nephew replied. Uncle Screwtape sir, I still need help. The next bit they’re reading in Mark’s gospel is this. 

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus. Levi was sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him. Levi got up and followed him. Later Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house. Many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples. Some teachers of the law were there. They saw Jesus eating with “sinners” and tax collectors. They asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Jesus heard. He said to them, “The healthy don’t need a doctor. Sick people do. I have not come to get those who think they are right with God to follow me. I have come to get sinners to follow me.”

 
Uncle Screwtape, when they read this, I know they’ll be attracted to Jesus. Levi was a national traitor and Jesus still called him. Jesus wanted to bless the prostitutes. He came for the sick. What shall I do?

‘The safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.’ (“Screwtape” in The Screwtape Letters, 1942)
Screwtape replied. Dearest nephew, sometimes I almost despair for you. You’ve already failed to stop them reading this book. Divert them. Attract them. Music. Sex. Football. Health. Fitness. Money. Whatever. Don’t let them have time to think. Otherwise, your own time, my dear nephew, will be even shorter than it already is. Screwtape.
 
Sinner Syvret

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