Intro:  The Screwtape Letters is a fiction by C. S. Lewis of letters between a main tempter in hell to his nephew, a newer tempter.  This letter is the ending of number XXIII.  (You can find a PDF of Screwtape here.) Lewis wrote these fictional letters during World War II.  Screwtape writes about “social justice” but the emphasis is on the means and ends of politics…and the truth of the Faith.  Apply that to our own day! Pr. Schroeder

About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate. Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s* shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. Only today I have found a passage in a Christian writer where he recommends his own version of Christianity on the ground that “only such a faith can outlast the death of old cultures and the birth of new civilisations”. You see the little rift? “Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.” That’s the game,

Your affectionate uncle,  Screwtape

*In the USA:   pharmacist

Almighty God, our Father, Your blessed Son called Luke the physician to be an evangelist and physician of the soul. Grant that the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments may put to flight the diseases of our souls that with willing hearts we may ever love and serve You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lessons for the Day:

Psalm 147:1-7
Isaiah 35:5-8
2 Timothy 4:5-15
Luke 10:1-9

Biblical Bio:   

St. Luke, the beloved physician referred to by St. Paul (Colossians4:14), presents us with Jesus, whose blood provides the medicine of immortality. As his traveling companion, Paul claimed Luke’s Gospel as his own for its healing of souls (Eusebius). Luke traveled with Paul during the second missionary journey, joining him after Paul received his Macedonian call to bring the Gospel to Europe (Acts16:10-17).  Luke most likely stayed behind in Philippi for seven years, rejoining Paul at the end of the third missionary journey inMacedonia. He traveled with Paul to Troas, Jerusalem, and Caesarea, where Paul was imprisoned for two years (Acts 20:5-21:18). While in Caesarea, Luke may have researched material that he used in his Gospel. Afterward, Luke accompanied Paul on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:1-28:16). Especially beloved in Luke’s Gospel are:

  • the stories of the Good Samaritan ( Luke 16:29-37),

  • the prodigal son (Luke15:11-32),

  • the rich man and Lazarus  (Luke16:19-31),

  • and the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14).

  • Only Luke provides a detailed account of Christ’s birth (Luke 2:1-20)

  • and the canticles of Mary (Luke1:46-55),

  • of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79),

  • and, Simeon (Luke2:29-32).

To show how Christ continued His work in the Early Church through the apostles, Luke also penned the Acts of the Apostles. More than one-third of the New Testament comes from the hand of the evangelist Luke.  (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)


St. Luke, the beloved physician (see Colossians 4: 14) traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys (see Acts 16: 10-17;  20: 5—21:18; Acts 27: 1—28: 16).  The early church historian, Eusebius (born AD 263) said that Paul claimed Luke’s Gospel as his own for its healing of souls.  Luke wrote both the Gospel that bears his name and Acts of the Apostles.  This means that St. Luke wrote over a third of the New Testament!  It is only from him that we read of the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.  And both have the theme of  travel.  In fact, Luke/Acts is like one extended travelogue.  In Luke 9: 51 we are told, “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem…”(New King James) And the phrase “it came to pass” means a solemn change in the direction of the narrative.   From that verse the travelogue begins with an intense focus:  Jerusalem and Holy Week.  All the Gospel readings this summer have been from this section of the Gospel 9: 51 to the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, beginning at 19: 29.  It is a meandering journey with many incidences and people and places and confrontations and comforts. 

We Americans love to travel and most of our forebears traveled great distances to arrive to these good shores.  We still love to travel:  get in the car and “hit the road”.  “The road ever leads onward” (JRR Tolkien) applies to us. Getting on the interstate or the secondary roads and the scenic routes  and all of them are markedwith signs. 

 We all have known dead ends and wrong ways..  Funny thing: so many dead ends we keep on pursuing: drugs, money, fame, sex, power, pornography etc, ad nauseum. The wrong ways of false doctrine and heresy, men’s  philosophies and traditions.   He knew about the wrong ways of false doctrine:

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.  Romans 16: 17

 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud,arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Timothy 3

We keep on going down dead ends.  St. Paul knew this very well:

“For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.   Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.   I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.   For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.   But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” 

(Romans 7: 19ff)  Think St. Paul knew about going down dead ends, even after his conversion and baptism? 


Paul needed to turn back. “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans  7: 24-25)  He was going the wrong way.  But there is only One that kept him on the road:   Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit through His Word.

By grace alone Paul made a:   


Repentance is a u-turn.  Going the right way.  His Law shows us the wrong way and His Gospel His Way of repentance and forgiveness.  And truly, this is when the saying is applicable: “But by the grace of God, go I”. In the Lord’s Word of grace and the Sacraments, the means of grace is kind of like this sign:

St. Luke saw many people re-directed from death, sin and the power of the devil because of Jesus Christ: the demon-possessed, Zacchaeus, the thief on the cross, Peter and the 11, you…me.  Luke was told the Lord’s travel itinerary for the Church: 

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1)

This is about the Lord leading us to His kingdom and the fulfillment of the new creation in Christ Jesus. Now there is much I could both write and say about this theme of the travelogue.  But one more:  ever heard this saying:  “It is better to travel hopefully, than to arrive”? What a bunch of baloney!  Whoever said that did not have children in the back seat of the car or carriage.  What is the number 1 question kids ask on a trip?  Yes:  “Are we there yet?”  Imagine quoting that saying at them?!  Children know that it is about the destination and arriving,  and the One who is leading us there and others, who are lost, found  by Lord upon His Way (see Luke 15!). 


“Glorious is God with His saints and angels: Oh, come let us worship Him.”

Almighty God, we praise Your Name for Ignatius of Antioch, pastor and martyr.  He offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts so that he might present to You the pure bread of sacrifice.  Accept the willing tribute of all that we are and all that we have, and give us a portion in the pure and unspotted offering of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

About Ignatius: He was the bishop of Antioch in Syria at the beginning of the second century A.D. and an early Christian martyr. Near the end of the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan (98–117), Ignatius was arrested, taken in chains to Rome, and eventually thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. On the way to Rome, he wrote letters to the Christians at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna, and also to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. In the letters, which are beautifully pastoral in tone, Ignatius warned against certain heresies (false teachings). He also repeatedly stressed the full humanity and deity of Christ, the reality of Christ’s bodily presence in the Lord’s Supper, the supreme authority of the bishop, and the unity of the Church found in her bishops. Ignatius was the first to use the word catholic to describe the universality of the Church. His Christ-centeredness, his courage in the face of martyrdom, and his zeal for the truth over against false doctrine are a lasting legacy to the Church.  (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

The Apostle Paul was probably martyred between A.D. 64-67.  Ignatius became the 2nd Bishop of Antioch in A.D. 69.   Antioch was the city from which Paul and Barnabas began their great missionary journey as recorded in Acts 13-14.  Ignatius is a direct link to the apostles and the apostolic doctrine.  (information from The Apostolic Fathers, edited by Jack Sparks)

Some have written that Christian doctrine evolved from the original sayings of Jesus  into the Christianity we have today. But given the chronological proximity of Ignatius to the Apostolic era, this can not be so and especially when we read his letters.  In them,  it is clear that Ignatius and the earlier Church were continuing the apostolic doctrine as taught verbatim by Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, as  the continuation and fulfilment of the Old Testament.


One of first great crises of the earlier Church was when the last of the 12 Apostles died.  Who could ever replace them?  Already the Lord provided the answer: bishops.   When I hear the word “bishop”, visions of churchly finery come to mind:  croziers, mitres, elaborate vestments and the like.  Not in the 1st  century nor for next 2-3 centuries!  Bishop is the word used  to translate  the New Testament Greek:  episcopos which means “overseer”, one who provides oversight to the doctrine and faith of the congregation.  An “episcopos” preached and administered the Sacraments which means a bishop is  a pastor.  He presided at the Table of the Lord.

In the Roman Empire, there were many gods and goddesses and their temples and shrines were massive and impressive and they held elaborate and overwhelming services in them.  A Christian episcopos presided over a simple meal of  bread and wine, announcing this is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  He preached the Word of Law and Gospel to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted.  Nothing outwardly impressive, yet by such the Lord spread His Word as He had promised He would “to the ends of the earth”.   The Word of Jesus Christ was so spread against overwhelming odds without gimmicks, strategies, mission models, massive denomination budgets, etc.  (insight courtesy of Rev. Prof. Hermann Sasse)

For Ignatius the central  aspect of the Church was unity with the bishop, the pastor in the preaching and teaching of the Scripture and administration of the Sacraments, according to the Apostolic Doctrine set forth in the Holy Scriptures.:

“…it is fitting for you  run your race together with the bishop’s purpose–as you do.  For your presbytery–worthy of fame, worthy of God–is attuned to the bishop  like strings to a lyre.  Therefore by your unity and harmonious love Jesus Christ is sung.”

The episcopos was to give oversight but not to overlook false doctrine.  Case in point:   Ignatius warns the Church in Smyrna about  the docetists. ‘Docetist’  means ‘appearance’ and they said that Jesus only appeared to be a man but was only God  and so they changed the clear meaning of Scripture and they denied the Body and the Blood. And so Ignatius warns the Smyrnaens about them and their teaching on Holy Communion:

“They abstain from Eucharist and prayer because they do not acknowledge that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins, which the Father raised by his goodness. Those who deny God’s gift are dying in their squabbles; it would be better for them to love so that they may rise. It is fitting to keep away from such men and not to speak about them either privately or publicly, but to pay attention to the prophets and especially to the Gospel, in which the passion has been explained to us and the resurrection has been accomplished. Flee from divisions as the beginning of evils.”

What is the Biblical and evangelical understanding of the Lord’s Supper in relation to our lives and souls in His Church?

“Be eager, therefore, to use one Eucharist–for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup for union with the blood (cf. 1 Cor. 10: 16), one sanctuary, as there is one bishop, together with the presbytery and the deacons my fellow slaves–so that whatever you do, you do in relation to God (cf. 1 Cor. 10: 31;  Col. 3: 17)

Furthermore, the docetists believed Jesus was purely “spiritual” and He could not give us His Body and Blood.  Using an oft-used phrase in our day, they were not religious but ‘spiritual’. Sound familiar? Maybe Ignatius was too negative?  Maybe he should have ‘dialogued’ with them and formed a Bishop’s Study Task Force of Ecumenical Dialogue with Docetism?  Of course not.  Ignatius did a pastor’s work.   The heretics are actually the ones who want Christian doctrine to ‘evolve’, actually devolve into something totally different and more to their liking and their flesh and so it is no longer saving doctrine. It is as old as Israel finding more suitable deities in the Baals.   This is the devil’s work.   The only conversation is to warn and  the call to repentance and the true Faith, clinging to Jesus Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father in His Church. As Ignatius wrote to the  Magnesians:

As, then, the Lord did nothing apart from the Father [cf. John 5:19; 8:28], either by himself or through the apostles, since he was united with him [cf. John 10:30; 17:11,21,22], so you must do nothing apart from the bishop and the presbyters. Do not try to make anything appear praiseworthy by yourselves, but let there be in common one prayer, one petition, one mind, one hope in love, in blameless joy—which is Jesus Christ, than whom nothing is better [cf. John 10:16; Eph. 4:3-6]. 2. All of you must run together as to one temple of God, as to one sanctuary, to one Jesus Christ, who proceeded from the one Father and is with the one and departed to the one [cf. John 8:42;14:12,28; 16:10,17

Intro:  The Screwtape Letters is a fiction by C. S. Lewis of letters between a main tempter in hell to his nephew, a new tempter. Lewis wrote these fictional letters during World War II and “I’m spiritual and not religious” is not a new thing, as you will read in this letter from hell. “I’m spiritual and not religious” is as old as Adam.    (You can find a PDF of Screwtapehere.)  Pr. Schroeder

The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether. When the patient is an adult recently re-converted to the Enemy’s party, like your man, this is best done by encouraging him to remember, or to think he remembers, the parrot-like nature of his prayers in childhood. In reaction against that, he may be persuaded to aim at something entirely spontaneous, inward, informal, and unregularised; and what this will actually mean to a beginner will be an effort to produce in himself a vaguely devotional mood in which real concentration of will and intelligence have no part. One of their poets, Coleridge, has recorded that he did not pray “with moving lips and bended knees” but merely “composed his spirit to love” and indulged “a sense of supplication”. That is exactly the sort of prayer we want; and since it bears a superficial resemblance to the prayer of silence as practised by those who are very far advanced in the Enemy’s service, clever and lazy patients can be taken in by it for quite a long time. At the very least, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls. It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.

Intro:  The Screwtape Letters is a fiction by C. S. Lewis of letters between a main tempter in hell to his nephew, a newer tempter.  This letter is the ending of number VII.  (You can find a PDF of Screwtape here.) Lewis wrote these fictional letters during World War II and pacifism was an issue and note the way the devilish powers uses politics…and apply to our own day! Pr. Schroeder

My Dear Wormwood,

“….Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the “cause”, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here,

Your Affectionate Uncle,


From one of Martin Luther’s letters to Captain Jonas von Stockhausen, dated November 27, 1532.  The Captain was suffering from “melancholia”, what we call depression:

“…the best counsel of all is this:  Do not struggle against your thoughts at all, but ignore them and act as if you were not conscious of them.  Think constantly of something else, and say:  ‘Well, devil, do not trouble me.  I have no time for your thoughts.  I must eat, drink, ride, go or do this or that.’   In like manner say:  ‘I must now be cheerful.  Come back tomorrow,’etc. Undertake to do anything else that you are able -whether play or something else-just so that you free yourself from these thoughts, hold them in contempt, and dismiss them.  If necessary, speak coarsely and disrespectfully, like this:  ‘Dear devil, if you can’t do better than that, kiss my toe, etc. I have no time for you now.’…In addition, our prayers and those of all godly Christians should and will also help you.”

“We must be weak, and are willing to be, in order that Christ’s strength may dwell in us;  as Saint Paul says, ‘Christ’s strength is made perfect in weakness.'”*

(From Luther:  Letters of Spiritual Counsel, translated and edited by Theodore G. Tappert)

*2 Corinthians 12: 9

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