I was reading a passage from what has become one of my favorite books of all time, C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters”. In this book I had finally had an answer to a basic question of my Christian faith that I had wrestled with in the back of my mind for years. One would assume that every sentient and self-aware person has probably had this question as well; how does predestination affect my life & my faith. Here was the passage:
He(Man) supposes that the Enemy(God), like himself, sees some things as present, remembers others as past, and anticipates others as future; or even if he believes that the Enemy does not see things that way, yet, in his heart of hearts, he regards this as a peculiarity of the Enemy’s mode of perception–he doesn’t really think *though he would say he did* that things as the Enemy(God) sees them are things as they are! If you tried to explain to him that men’s prayers today are one of the innumerable co-ordinates with which the Enemy harmonizes the weather of tomorrow, he would reply that then the Enemy always knew men were going to make those prayers and, if so, they did not pray freely but were predestined to do so. And he would add that the weather on a given day can be traced back through its causes to the original creation of matter itself–so that the whole thing, both on the human and on the material side, is given ‘from the word go’. What he ought to say, of course, is obvious to us; that the problem of adapting the particular weather to the particular prayers is merely the appearance, at two points in his temporal mode of perception, of the total problem of adapting the whole spiritual universe to the whole corporeal universe; that creation in it’s entirety operates at every point of space and time, or rather that their kind of consciousness forces them to encounter the whole, self-consistent creative act as a serious of successive events. Why that creative act leaves room for their free will is the problem of problems, the secret behind the Enemy’s(God’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.
Forgive me for quoting at such length but I considered the entire passage important. I’m coming to learn that you can’t effectively challenge another person’s faith or beliefs if you have no foundation to argue from. You could say I’m still a baby Christian just figuring it all out, but this hit me, as the saying goes, like a ton of bricks. I would encourage anyone of any Christian denomination to read this book as it has consistently challenged and at the same time shown me insights into the faith that I thought I knew so well.