North Western Winds

Contemplating it all from the great Pacific Northwest

The Philosophy of Hell

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Screwtape on Love and Trinity

John Ray didn’t find my comments on Arianism vs. the Trinity to be clear or helpful. I doubt this will help either (I was never really optimistic about that; I freely admit to being an amateur philosopher and novice Bible reader). From here, the stumbling block appears to be an unwillingness to acknowledge that not everything may be knowable, and/or an unwillingness to view the concept with an eye towards it’s artistic merits. Put another way, the parables of Jesus need not be literally true. The truth of the teaching is not compromised by the use of parable.

C.S. Lewis touches on the matter in The Screwtape Letters and so I’ll leave readers with that to look over. For those new to Screwtape, he is a devil sending letters of advice to his Nephew Wormwood, a young devil struggling to corrupt the soul of an Englishman:

My dear Wormwood,


The Enemy’s demand on humans takes the form of a dilemma; either complete abstinence or unmitigated monogamy. Ever since our Father’s first great victory, we have rendered the former very difficult to then. The later, for the last few centuries, we began closing up as a way of escape, We have done this through the poets and novelists by persuading humans that a curious, and usually shortlived, experience which they call ‘being in love’ is the only respectable ground for marriage; that marriage can, and ought to, render this excitement permanent; and that a marriage which does not do so is no longer binding. This idea is our parody of an idea that came from the Enemy. [emphasis mine]

The whole philosophy of Hell rests on a recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specifically, that one self is not another self. My good is my good and your good is yours. What one gains another loses. Even an inanimate object is what it is by excluding all other objects from the space it occupies; as it is expands, it does so by pushing all other objects aside or by absorbing them. A self does the same. With beasts the absorption takes the form of eating; for us, it means the sucking of will and freedom out of a weaker self into a stronger. ‘To be’ means ‘to be in competition’.

Now the Enemy’s philosophy is nothing more or less than one continued attempt to evade this very obvious truth. He aims at contradiction. Things are to be many, yet also one. The good of one self is to be the good of another. This impossibility he calls love, and this same monotonous panacea can be detected under all He does and even all He is – or claims to be. Thus He is not content, even Himself, to be a sheer arithmetical unity; He claims to be three as well as one, in order that this nonsense about Love may find a foothold in his own nature. At the other end of the scale, He introduces into matter that obscene invention the organism, in which the parts are perverted from their natural destiny of competition and made to cooperate…

Family… is like the organism, only worse; for the members of the family are distinct, yet also united in a more conscious and responsible way. The whole thing, in fact, turns out to be simply one more device for dragging in Love.

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Written by Curt

January 9, 2005 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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