Another Reason Why I love C.S. Lewis

Perhaps the most frustrating part of reading the copious books on preaching is the author’s apparent failure to realize that the largest part about what makes a person interesting is his or her depth of insight, not just whether he or she is a good story teller or uses gestures and vocal inflection with variation. This is a prime example of why I love C.S. Lewis as a writer, depth of insight:

Screwtape: “Why that creative act leaves room for their free will is the problem of problems, the secret behind the Enemy’s nonsense about ‘Love’. How it does so is no problem at all; for the Enemy does not foresee the humans making their free contributions in a future, but sees them doing so in His unbounded Now. And obviously to watch a man doing something is not to make him do it.

It may be replied that some meddlesome human writers, notably Boethius, have let this secret out. But in the intellectual climate which we have at last succeeded in producing throughout Western Europe, you needn’t bother about that. Only the learned read old books and we have now so dealt with the learned that they are of all men the least likely to acquire wisdom by doing so. We have done this by inculcating the Historical Point of View. The Historical Point of View, put briefly, means that when a learned man is presented with any statement in an ancient author, the one question he never asks is whether it is true. He asks who influence the ancient writer, and how far the statement is consistent with what he said in other books, and what phase in the writer’s development, or in the general history of thought, it illustrates, and how it affected later writers, and how often it has been misunderstood (specially by the learned man’s own colleagues) and what the general course of criticism on it has been for the last ten years, and what is the ‘present state of the question’. To regard the ancient writer as a possible source of knowledge–to anticipate that what he said could possibly modify your thoughts or or your behaviour–this would be rejected as unutterably simple-minded.”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, 150-51.

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