The Screwtape Letters – Favorite Quotes

**A few things you need to know before reading:
1. This book is a fictional book written from a lead-demon’s perspective (named Screwtape) to his nephew and ‘tempter-n-training, Wormwood.
2. Since it’s written from the demonic perspective, the descriptions and titles will be a little odd or even backwards. For example, when you see words like “Enemy” it is referring to Satan’s enemy, God; when it speaks of “the patient” it is coming from a tempter’s perspective so the ‘patient’ is the person Wormwood is trying to tempt; etc.

Pleasing God:
Obedience in Dry Seasons:
“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s (God’s) will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” (Chapter 8pg. 40) (clarity added)

Humility: “The most alarming thing in your last account of the patient is that he is making none of those confident resolutions which marked his original conversion. No more lavish promises of perpetual virtue, I gather; not even the expectation of an endowment of ‘grace’ for life, but only a hope for the daily and hourly pittance to meet the daily and hourly temptation. This is very bad… our patient has become humble.” (Chapter 14 – pg. 69)

Courage: Chapter 29 – “…courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity, or honesty, or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful until it became risky.” (pg. 161)

Satan’s Tactics:

Useless Repentance: “As long as he does not convert it into action, it does not matter how much he thinks about this new repentance. Let the little brute wallow in it. Let him, if he has any bent that way, write a book about it; that is often an excellent way of sterilizing the seeds which the Enemy plants in a human soul… The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.” (Chapter 13 – pg. 66-67)

Doubting Prayer: “But you can worry him with the haunting suspicion that [prayer] is absurd and can have no objective result… If the thing he prays for doesn’t happen then that is one more proof that petitionary prayers don’t work; if it does happen, he will, of course, be able to see some of the physical causes which led up to it, and therefore ‘it would have happened anyway,’ and thus a granted prayer becomes just as good a proof as a denied one that prayers are ineffective.” (Chapter 27 – pg. 148) (clarity added)

Despair: “There is, of course, always the chance, not of chloroforming the shame (from sin), but of aggravating it and producing Despair. This would be a great triumph. It would show that he believed in, and accepted, the Enemy’s forgiveness of his other sins only because he himself did not fully feel their sinfulness—that in respect of the one vice which he really understands in its full depth of the dishonor he cannot seek, nor credit, the Mercy… Despair is a greater sin than any of the sin’s which provoke it.” (Chapter 29 – Pg. 162) (clarity added)

All Pleasure is from God:
Satan Can Use Pleasure:
“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours… All we can do is encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. Hence, we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable. An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.” (Chapter 9 – Pg. 44)

Change: “[humans] must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them, just as he has made eating pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of Permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world he has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme.” (Chapter 25 – pg. 136) (clarity added)


“Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches. (Chapter 16 – Pg. 81)

Student vs. Critic: “…the search for a ‘suitable’ church makes the man a critic where the Enemy wants him to be a pupil.” (Chapter 16 – Pg. 82)

Cliques: “…if your patient can’t be kept out of the church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some party within it.” (Chapter 16 – Pg. 84)

Time and Eternity:

Present And Eternity:
“The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to Eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.” (Chapter 15 – Pg. 75)

The Uncertain Future: “…the future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the future is, of all things, least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays… Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust and abomination look ahead.” (Chapter 15 – Pg. 76)

Consumed By The Future: “He (God) does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it… But we want a man hag-ridded by the future—haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth…” (Chapter 15 – Pg. 77) (clarity added)

Heaven On Earth: “So inveterate [are young people’s] appetite for Heaven that our best method, at this stage, of attaching them to earth is to make them believe that earth can be turned into Heaven at some future date by politics or eugenics or ‘science’ or psychology, or what not.” (Chapter 28 – pg. 156) (clarity added)

You’re Not Your Own:
“…the word ‘Mine’ in its fully possessive since cannot be uttered by a human being about anything. In the long run either Our Father (Satan) or the Enemy (God) will say ‘Mine’ of each thing that exists, and specially of each man. They will find out in the end… to whom their time, their souls, and their bodies really belong…” (Chapter 21 – Pg. 114-115) (clarity added)

Wealth: “Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it,’ while really it is finding its place in him.” (Chapter 28 – pg. 155)

Tempting Christians: “The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighborhood of the Holy. Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar.” (End – pg. 209)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s