CS Lewis fans will appreciate David Virtue’s recent attempt to look at AB Welby’s latest revision from the perspective of the “other team.” While it is witty, this is actually quite serious business. Scripture teaches that clearly that words matter. Romans 10:9-10 is a bulwark of our faith. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
The church has always believed that verbal confession and verbal renunciation have actual spiritual power. When we quit renouncing the devil and all his forces this is a real omission. But behind this lies the important question: Why is this revision being made? What lies behind it? What would make a global spiritual leader think renunciation of Satan is no longer significant?
Screwtape Proposes an Anglican Toast
With apologies to C.S. Lewis
By David W. Virtue
January 11, 2014
My dear Wormwood,
What an absolute stroke of genius. Our father the Devil is now dead, killed off by the Anglican Mother Church. A sterling performance, if ever there was one.
With a stroke of the pen, they have done away with those words that stung our father so deeply.
“Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?” which prompted the reply, “I reject them.” They were then asked: “Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbor?” with the answer: “I repent of them.”
The rewrite of the solemn assembly now has parents and godparents no longer having to “repent sins” and “rejecting the devil” during christenings in the Church of England.
This is a stunning collapse to political correctness, if ever there was one. Our father was actually heard to chortle with glee which is a pleasant change from his usual grumpy self. That they have attempted to do away with our Leader is a stunning display of hubris and pride. What they have done is open the way to an even deeper invasion of Our Father into the church’s territory.
That these changes are backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and already in practice in 1,000 parishes is a stunning victory for us, Wormwood.
The very fact that they are asked to “reject evil, and all its many forms, and all its empty promises” – with no mention of the devil or sin, is a brilliant move thus consigning even more into our camp. It is a victory even greater than sodomite marriages being slowly accepted through the Pilling Report. Another noble victory for our side.
We also like the fact that the new text, to be tested in a trial lasting until Easter, also drops the word “submit” in the phrase “Do you submit to Christ as Lord?” because it is thought to have become “problematical”, especially among women who object to the idea of submission. This is classic submission to feminism, Wormwood. Another triumphant moment.
We are hearing that some Church of England priests are actually preaching from their pulpits that there is no longer a literal Devil. What news, indeed.
We have successfully carried out the biggest theological coup ever attempted. We have made them believe that they have killed off the Devil. To the collective mind of secular man and not a few clergy, there is no Devil. Imagine that. This accomplishment tops their earlier elimination of the concept of Sin now bandied about by Episcopal leaders in the American Episcopal Church.
Speaking of which, we were particularly delighted to learn this past week that Atlanta Episcopal Bishop Rob Wright urged a rededication to “common good” at an interfaith inaugural worship service at Cascade United Methodist Church with these words, “Greetings to you in the name of Yahweh the Almighty, in the name of Allah the beneficent and merciful. Greetings to you in the name of the Eternal One who gave the Buddha his great enlightenment, and in the name of the Hindus’ Supreme Being that orders the cosmos.”
One wonders if these bishops learned anything in seminary at all about their faith with all its exclusive claims. We particularly liked these lines of his, “Greetings in the name of generosity and human compassion that guides some of us who claim no faith at all. Greetings to you to in the name of Jesus of Nazareth through whom many of us hear the words of God.”
We love the one option among many notions. Reducing all these faiths to a common denominator of the “good” the “generous” and the “compassionate” plays right into our hands. It is sweet music to our father’s ears.
Mohammed, the “compassionate”, is with us and winces when he is made to hear these words. This Gnostic interfaith rubbish is precisely the direction we want everyone to move towards. Reducing their savior to one among many saviors is precisely the direction we want to see the whole church heading.
We especially like the subtlety of the bishop’s comments here, “We have a mayor that understands that God speaks in many tongues and that all of those wonderful tongues and traditions are important to address and honor. Especially because when we get past the ego that sometimes infects our time together, we realize that each tradition at its core and at its best agrees that the cosmos has a brilliant and benevolent bent and that all creation and every human being has worth and dignity that is non-negotiable.”
I doubt we could have said it more brilliantly. Making ANYONE who feels they have an exclusive gospel claim feel like they are fundamentalists and literalists who should be ashamed of themselves is precisely the way to go. Any talk of sin and salvation and ghastly talk of a cross and notions of a “suffering servant” must be expunged for the higher “truth” of humanity’s greatness and liberation from all such notions of his fallenness.
I expect to hear more from you Wormwood about the ongoing decline of the Episcopal Church. We hear they might have to sell their precious headquarters in NYC for money to continue litigation over properties is good news. When they have spent their last penny we will take them. Death will be their final existential reality. Our father can’t wait; meanwhile he is exercising considerable restraint especially as how he doesn’t exist anymore.
Your affectionate Uncle,