Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

C. S. Lewis accepts the traditional doctrine that each person on earth is a central figure in a great drama that ends only with that person’s death. Every individual, no matter how humble, is a prize for which God and Satan are always struggling. At times, God seems to withdraw from the battle; however, when he appears to be absent, he expects human beings to avoid evil by using their reason, the power he gave humans at the time of creation. For centuries, Christian thinkers have held that reason inevitably leads both to belief and to its corollary, Christian conduct. Satan’s only hope, then, is to persuade one to reason falsely or to permit the emotions and the appetites to take the place of reason. The seven deadly sins—wrath, avarice, sloth, pride, lechery or lust, envy, and gluttony—all involve the emotions. False reasoning can lead to such errors as the reduction of Christ to a historical figure, the assumption that Christian doctrine needs to be reworked so as to apply to contemporary life, and the insistence that the real value of religion is the support it gives to another cause, such as social justice.

Although reason can help a person avoid evil in thought and deed, reason alone cannot save a person. Unlike Satan, who wants to acquire people so that he can consume them, God loves human beings, as is evident in the fact that he sent his Son to live among them, to teach them, and to die for their sins. Whenever a human being is in greatest need, God makes his presence felt, as he does when the patient has his second conversion and also at the time of his death.

This focus on salvation accounts for a crucial difference between the way the two forces view time. The satanic powers appeal to human greed, trying to convince their prey that their time is their own, to be spent as they wish, and encouraging them to live not in the present, but in some imagined future time, when all their vicious impulses will be satisfied. By contrast, there are only two times of importance to Christians: the present, when they must do their duty, and eternity, when they will be with God.