You came back! I’m all smiles inside. 🙂 If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this post is about The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

I read letter one about three or four times. I have much to say, but I must prioritize and minimize. (You’re welcome!) The biggest thing was the idea that satan can read our minds:

…I saw a train of thought in his mind beginning to go the wrong way. ~p. 2

This does not please me at all. A few years back, a sudden, pressing question popped into my head: Can satan read my thoughts? I searched the internet, asked a few friends, searched through the Bible, and found absolutely no conclusive answer. The best answer I received — whether because it was the most logical or the most pleasing, I can’t say — was that only God is omniscient. Satan is a created being without the powers of God to know all things.  He only knows what God has revealed to him. Thus, while satan is cunning and crafty and may seem to read our thoughts, he’s actually just working off of excellent perceptive skills honed by (at least) thousands of years of experience. Bueno. Now I can confess secret struggles to Jesus in my head without satan knowing.

Enter C.S. Lewis, about sixty years before I came to this conclusion. He seemed to think that demons can read our thoughts. He’s not around to ask, but I generally respect his thoughts and opinions. Taking the idea that satan only knows what God has revealed, who are we to say we know what God has revealed to him? We don’t! We also don’t know the extent of the powers God has allowed. So now I’m all topsy-turvy on this. I feel kinda invaded, but I don’t really know if I should, since I don’t know if it’s true. Gah. I can’t even tell secrets to Jesus. You know, maybe.

Second, I found C.S. Lewis’ observations on human philosophical tendencies to be surprisingly post-modern.  Or, perhaps we just think we’ve figured out something new…

Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head.  He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” or “false”, but as “academic” or “practical”, “outworn” or “contemporary”, “conventional” or “ruthless”.  ~p.1


…young adults resist simplistic answers. [They] relish mystery, uncertainty, and ambiguity.  They are not bothered by contradictions or incongruities. ~unChristian, by David Kinnaman, p. 125

Since I was not alive in 1941, nor even was my mother, I have no way of really offering an opinion on the psyche of your average ’40s bloke. Still, I thought it interesting that what seemed to be the latest research on the youngest generations might not be that ground-breaking at all. Maybe it’s just part of the human condition.

The point of Lewis’ observation, however, is that the devil doesn’t plan to teach us false doctrines, but to “muddle” us with all sorts of indistinct jargon.  Thusly, he aims to keep us from being wholly devoted to the God of the Bible. This makes me think of the modern corruption of the concept of “tolerance.”

I’ve said too much! So, I leave you with three questions:

  1. What do you think about the possibility of the devil reading your thoughts?
  2. Do you think post-modern young adults/youth are vastly different from their counterparts from years past?
  3. Are you reading/have you read The Screwtape Letters?
  1. macayla says:

    1. You are right. C.S. Lewis got this one wrong. I don’t have time to explain further, but simply put, only God can read our thoughts.

    2. Post-modern thought has links to the Enlightenment, which has links to Roman and Greek philosophy, which have links all the way back to the beginning of sin at the Fall. So, yes, the “new research” on youth today is nothing but a rehashing of the same problem that has been around for centuries. As socialism and communism became the most popular ideology of academia throughout Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (both anti-religion, pro-morality based on whatever “standard” or “non-standard” they esteem), I’m certain Lewis encountered many a person who was a moral relativist. Read Lewis’ book “The Pilgrim’s Regress” and you will see exactly what I’m referring to; it’s his “autobiography” of his journey to Christ through about a dozen different philosophies/ideologies (yes, it alludes to “The Pilgrim’s Progress” and you will probably enjoy it more than I did seeing as how I still have yet to finish reading “The Pilgrim’s Progress”).

    3. I have read the first 1/2 of “Screwtape,” but I need to finish it both for this discussion and because my students read it in the 8th grade and like to reference it.

    • 1. That makes me feel better.
      2. Okay! That’s what I thought. I did actually read Pilgrim’s Progress, and it was alright.
      3. I’ve read about half of it at this point, too. It’s quite interesting and quite convicting!

  2. Ooo, love this discussion. Actually I too felt the question, years ago, about Satan reading our minds. I prayed and scoured scripture for the answer. This is what I discovered: if Satan could read minds then

    1. When Satan’s minions during Daniel’s time were trying so very hard to interpret that blasted dream that eluded them, they wouldn’t of had too, if Satan could read minds. The King didn’t and wouldn’t reveal the dream, he requested they TELL HIM the dream and the little minions balked, “Well, who could do that!?”, by golly. Uh, God can, that’s who. And so Daniel did TELL HIM the secret, hidden dream by God’s revelation.

    2. Also, had he’d known what Jesus end-mission on earth was to die at the hands of evil (Satan) then he wouldn’t have killed him (as much as he would’ve wanted to). Jesus knew that truth in the Garden and yet Satan couldn’t either help himself to NOT kill him because of his murderous spirit or he didn’t put the puzzle together because he couldn’t read the mind of Jesus. I personally think it was both. And of course, however it happened, it was all Divinely orchestrated.

    Those are the two I can remember off the top of head. And no, I haven’t read the “Screwtapes” but I may do that.

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