Reviewed by Justus Swart
‘There is wishful thinking in hell as well as on earth.’
From the start of this wonderfully written satire, we are introduced to two demons who are corresponding on how best to torment and befuddle their new human ‘patient’. The letters are addressed to a young, up-and-coming demon named Wormwood who is eager to learn how to successfully corrupt his new patient. Screwtape, his uncle, writes with utter sincerity and affection on how to achieve his intended goal by revealing the age-old tactics of the Enemy.
I would like to state from the outset that I really liked this book. Its unconventional setup makes for an interesting and decidedly unique experience. I admit that, at first, the thought of reading a book from the vantage point of a demon seemed very strange. However, only a few pages in, I discovered a number of familiar scenarios and extremely relatable situations delivered in a bold new light.
Touching on a number of everyday temptations and issues, Lewis stealthily reveals the operational system behind our unconscious cravings. What I found particularly impactful was how Lewis demonstrated that the seemingly innocent and innocuous patterns of our life eventually become fierce undercurrents which we struggle to fight against when we are faced with the reality of Scripture. With superb attention to detail, Lewis follows this patient’s journey through the changing of his habits, with all its highs and lows, mirroring our experiences in the Church today.
This is an amazing book with a wide range of application for believers on every level of their walk with God. Those starting out on their journey will find a relatable guide through which to view their experiences, and those already a few years into their commitment to faith will find a sharp reminder not to grow complacent on their journey. As one of the greatest Christian authors of the last century, I would suggest you put this on your ‘to-do’ list for the upcoming holidays.