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My dear Wormwood,

Let me start with another reminder that you must take great care that this letter not fall into the wrong hands. As you know, some years ago a number of my letters fell into the hands of one C.S. Lewis, who promptly published them as The Screwtape Letters. Our Father Below was not pleased.

That said, I am glad to inform you that Our Father Below is very pleased with the work that you and your colleagues have been doing with your evangelical patients. That they are largely responsible for the election of Donald Trump, and that they continue to devotedly support him, is the greatest victory we have had in the battle against the Enemy in a long, long time.

The results are obvious. As most Americans, and most of the world, can see, Trump is a vile and morally corrupt man. That evangelicals would support him convinces most people that your evangelical patients are hypocrites. It makes it very difficult for them to do what their name confirms is one of their first priorities— to evangelize. Few are going to buy what they are selling.

It is worth, I believe, reviewing how we have been able to accomplish this. You may recall that it has taken some time to get them to this point. Prior to the middle of last century, evangelicals were not overly involved in the political arena. Then various things occurred that led them to see that the United States was becoming more secular. Several Supreme Court rulings were of importance. Remember the ones banning prayer in public schools? Or how about providing a constitutional right to abortion?

Increasingly your evangelical patients started to get involved in political issues, believing that this was consistent with the Enemy’s command to be salt and light in the world.

As their country continued to become more secular, despite their best efforts, some of our finest work was encouraging them to feel as if they were victims. As they became increasingly frustrated at their inability to stem the cultural tide, we were able to push them more and more to a desperate desire to win-at all-costs in the political arena. We blinded them to the fact that they should have been salt and light in the way they pursued their political goals — if they were faithful to the Enemy. In other words, they should have made the political process better (from the Enemy’s viewpoint — obviously not ours) because of their involvement in it.

In this regard it is important to note that the Enemy has always been uncompromising when it comes to truth. Recall how he even called himself “the truth.” In contrast, he called Our Father Below “the father of lies.” In this unintended compliment, he was obviously correct. Our Father Below has always taught the central role that lies play in keeping our patients ineffective.

Accordingly, we have done well, very well, in persuading your evangelical patients not to insist that Trump, and the political party that supports him, pursue truth. We have kept them more focused on winning political battles. Believing that Trump can give them the results they want, they are devoted to him. None of these evangelical patients seem at all concerned that he lies all the time about anything and everything. And in tolerating the lies of Trump and his party, instead of being salt and light in the political arena– making it “better” — they have made it worse.

And my, how the issue of abortion has been so very helpful to us in encouraging evangelicals in their support for Trump despite his lies and vile nature. Trump has appointed Supreme Court justices, who may one day reverse the decision that held there is a constitutional right to abortion. If that decision is reversed, then your evangelical patients believe that the lives of many unborn children will be saved.

We have pushed them to choose. Which is more important — saving lives or denouncing Trump’s moral outrages?

The Enemy has always called his followers to live by faith in him. Do you realize how successfully we pushed them off that path? They are no longer asking “What is the path of faith?” as the Enemy would wish. Instead they are asking “How can we win? If we support Trump, then won’t lives be saved?”

If your evangelical patients were being true to the Enemy, we would have expected them to be denouncing the lies and moral outrages of Trump and his party — just as the Enemy denounced the lies of Our Father Below. They would have been insisting that their leaders pursue truth. And in so doing, they would have left it to the Enemy to bring about — in his own time and in his own way—the results that the Enemy desired. Instead of relying on the Enemy’s power, they have relied on a morally corrupt leader.

Even if they have forgotten the Enemy’s power, we must not. We must continue to encourage them to believe they will accomplish everything through raw political power. They may accomplish some things with such power. Nevertheless, they will have lost — and we will have won — on the more important issue. It will be much more difficult for anyone to take seriously the faith that they purport to hold.

Keep up the good work.

Your affectionate uncle,
Screwtape

Steven Skahn

Steven Skahn is a lawyer practicing in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is a member and Elder of LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids.  He is also the author of Seeking God: How Christianity Makes Sense of What a God of Love Is Doing in This World.

21 Comments

  • How wonderful. This was my morning treat. Thank you. Be well and blessed.

  • Ann Mary Dykstra says:

    So very well said, Steve. Thank you.
    Ann Mary Dykstra

  • Ria says:

    This reminds me of the book by Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson. Blinded by Might. As Cal Thomas says, ‘Whenever the church cozies up to political power, it loses sight of its all important mission to change the world from the inside out.’
    We are called to serve Christ and his heavenly kingdom, called to bring the gospel and transform hearts, and called to serve humbly to bring peace.

  • Helen P says:

    Wow!
    This was excellent! I have been thinking about someone needing to write a current Screwtape letter and you have done it.

    Thank you

  • Tom says:

    I assume the next letter from Uncle Screwtape will congratulate Wormwood for his work among left-leaning followers of the Enemy, how issues such as ‘concern for the poor’ have been so very helpful in encouraging Christians in their support of leftist policies, unwittingly advancing the goals of our Father Below (abortion being one among many), all the while believing that this was consistent with the Enemy’s command to be salt and light in the world.

    I’m frustrated by the perception on this blog and elsewhere that evangelicals see DJT as ‘one of them’, that they (we?) see him as a prophet sent by God to save us. Granted, there are evangelical leaders out there who’ve expressed that position, but it’s just not true of people in general. Just a week or so ago a Politico/Morning Consult poll found that while evangelicals were more likely that other groups to agree that Trump is ‘religious’, only 40% of them felt that way. So, while evangelicals overwhelmingly vote for Trump, a strong majority of them suffer from no illusions on his commitment to the Christian faith.

    I am not a supporter of DJT; I abstained in 2016 and am, as of now, undecided how I will vote in 2020. And I agree with the underlying gist of this post that it’s misguided to ask “how can we win?” instead of “what is the path of faith?”. But, as in any discussion of support for a political candidate, you can’t talk about which candidate deserves support without asking “compared to what?” At this point, most of us on the right don’t see a better option. I don’t think that makes us servants of our Father Below.

    • Chris Jacobsen says:

      I would be helped, and perhaps other readers of this blog would be as well, by being pointed toward the voice of 60% of white evangelicals who disagree that Trump is “religious.” And that means that 40% still believe that he is…don’t we find that incredible? Or maybe sad? Where are the white evangelicals distancing themselves from Trump’s character? Because my observation is that the personal character of the candidate matters less to them than the political victories they might win, and don’t get that the collective proclamation of the gospel is damaged in the process. So, if you are not a “supporter of DJT,” then get together with some other folks who aren’t either and hold the man accountable, for the sake of everyone.

      • Tom says:

        First, re; the 40% – the definition of “religious” is pretty squishy and certainly varies form one person to the next; and some people are no doubt more generous than others. Had they asked me, I guess I’d have said I don’t think DJT is religious; on the other hand, knowing my own flaws and shortcomings, I can see how someone might accept at face value that he says he’s a Christian, despite his obvious shortcomings.

        Re: “ the personal character of the candidate matters less to them than the political victories” – I don’t know you at all, don’t know your political leanings or your voting habits; but I’ll be surprised if you can honestly say you never supported a politician of questionable character because their policy agenda aligned with yours.

        Re: “getting together with some other folks” – nearly every right-of-center Christian that I know feels about the same way I do. As I said in my original comment, it’s disingenuous to question a vote for one candidate without asking “compared to what”. We might consider voting for the democratic candidate in 2020, as long as they don’t nominate a corrupt, cynical, doddering old fool, and threaten to tear down much of what this nation was built on; but it looks like it’s too late for that.

    • Harvey says:

      Thank you, Tom, for this thoughtful, gentle, and helpful response. Although Steve’s imaginary Screwtape letter is clever, I read it with pain and sadness. I didn’t find it very understanding or loving. Like you, I am one of those who couldn’t vote for DJT or for HRC. I also wish that there were a better option as we go to the polls. I wonder, how faithful are we on either “side” in praying for DJT? And others in leadership as well? I confess that too often I find myself being more critical than prayerful. And, sadly I have become too cynical.

  • Pam Adams says:

    Amen, Steve. So well stated.

  • Matt Huisman says:

    “Instead of relying on the Enemy’s power, they have relied on a morally corrupt leader.”

    Evangelicals preach all of Christ for all of life – which includes the political sphere. We’ve been waiting for a leader able to distinguish between a Marxists and real reformers, and with enough spine to advocate for us in the face of constant slander. (Wake me up when any of you criticize the ridiculous people on the other side.) It took us a while, but once we realized that our own institutions were incapable of producing someone like this we moved on an outsourced it. But only for a time.

    Thanks for the reminder to evangelize the world. We’re working on it.

    • Marc Peterson says:

      Steve, I was very upset reading this divisive and spiritually arrogant post by an Elder of my own church and someone I have done ministries and Bible studies with. By piggybacking on the great C.S. Lewis’ wisdom and spirituality, you were apparently hoping to borrow some of his credibility? Lewis had political parties he could have referenced in his essays but he did not. He understood it wasn’t about partisan politics.
      I have a laundry list of examples of the many serious moral failings of the other party’s candidates in the last cycle and this current one but I assume you know them too. I have had serious discussions with other Christians about what kind of moral/political trade-off happens in the mind of a Christian to support the candidate and platform of the other party but I would NEVER call them out publicly on it because that would just divide us further. I’m also trying to not be so arrogant as to assume I’ve approached it from every angle and have reached the only Christian decision that could be made for every person or so presumptuous as to assume I can read someone else’s heart and publicly chastise them for their motivation.
      Also, you are accusing perhaps 45% of your fellow believers of being literally tools of Satan and we can only serve one master so would you refuse communion to someone who you knew voted “wrong”?
      Please reconsider leaving this piece up, thank you.

      • Brian Polet says:

        Well said, Marc. At the end of the day, America was faced with a binary choice. As flawed a human as President Trump is, the choice was clear, America was not about to have another term of Obama’s agenda. I think it is fair to say the its not so much that Trump won as much as it was that Hillary lost. She was a TERRIBLE candidate. And what moral character does the now presumptive candidate Biden bring to the table, Steve?

  • DanD says:

    I found this blog this morning to be very divisive in that those of us who voted for DJT are considered to be evil and/or led by Satan. If one Christian cannot disagree with another out of LOVE, then where do we go from there. I did not approve of Obama but would never say I hated him. The LEFT in our Country hates DJK. If morality is the issue, what about JFK, LBJ, MLK, and even Solomon in our scriptures.

  • Mero says:

    A great sadness came over me in the reading of Stevens essay “A letter from screwtape”. I have always appreciated CS Lewis’s insight, in screwtape letters, showing that all battles are spiritual and it is not with flesh and blood we fight. With this perspective I wonder if the Reformed Journal might benefit from taking some direction from John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We are so confident that we are right and the other person is wrong that we continue to divide and divide and divide. By simply asking the question, what will this essay do to our community, our reflection of Christ’s love within our church family, we may keep the reformed journal from becoming a tool for wormwood….

  • Anthony (Tony) Diekema says:

    ‘”Keep up the good work”, Steven………………until the “upside-down” Kingdom of Jesus Christ prevails among us. Thanks for this fine effort!

  • Rowland Van Es, Jr. says:

    “We must continue to encourage them to believe they will accomplish everything through raw political power. They may accomplish some things with such power.” That is the main issue, relying on political power instead of moral right and moral might. God help us all and we will see how many people still make this political trade off this Nov. 4 more years of Trump’s lies will kill our democracy.

    • Matt Huisman says:

      Those people on the right are SO political!

      I lift up my eyes to the hills.
      From where does my hep come?
      My help comes from the State,
      who erases heaven and elevates earth.

      Psalm 121 Lefty Standard Version

  • Henry Ottens says:

    Looks like, in your eagerness to be cute and clever, you’ve, not surprisingly, gotten lots of reaction. But I doubt you’ve accomplished much in the way of persuading and healing.

  • David E Stravers says:

    Would it perhaps provide balance for Screwtape to also write a congratulatory letter to those who have influenced some Christian believers to embrace the Left and leave their first love? And then a congratulatory letter to those who have encouraged these divisions that leave the Body gasping? Thanks to Ria for referring to the book Blinded by Might. With all of the heat generated by this piece, I’m still looking for a serious grappling with the question of the role of political power. Does the Kingdom of God arrive on Air Force One? It seems to me that some Christians on the Right agree with some Christians on the Left and with others in the Middle, that it does indeed. Is power politics therefore the outworking of our engagement with the Kingdom, or would that be abandoning the servant model that some say Christ left us? Is this about casting a ballot? Or is it about what we say, how we define Good News, and how we promote the reputation of Christ?

  • Dan Winiarski says:

    I would encourage this author to spend more time with REAL evangelicals who voted for Trump. They are VERY critical of his personal behavior and do not excuse it at all. But they voted for Trump because his POLICIES line up with the ideas they have believed for generations. If Trump changes course and abandons prudent, Conservative, Constitutional policies, the evangelical Right would drop all support for him.

    So…did this author vote for Hillary? Does this this author support churches getting involved in global warming policy? Immigration policy? Giant government welfare programs that are loved by the Left?

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