Screwtape and “The Christ and …” Syndrome

You might have heard of the book the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. In it, a senior demon equips a junior demon on the wiles of tempting Christ-followers.

Screwtape writes Wormwood in the attempt to persuade Wormwood to undermine the faith by turning Jesus into a great hero and moralist:  We thus distract men’s minds from Who He is, and what He did. We first make Him solely a teacher, and then conceal the very substantial agreement between His teaching and those of other great moral teachers.  The devil’s strategy is not to remove Christ altogether from the scene, but to propagate a “Christ And…” religion:

What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of “Christianity And.” You know–Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychic Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians, let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian coloring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing (Letter XXV).

Michael Horton adds:

Today, we see this in terms of Christ and America; Christ and Self-Esteem; Christ and Prosperity; Christ and the Republican Party; Christ and End-Time Prophecy; Christ and Healing; Christ and Marketing and Church Growth; Christ and Traditional Values, and on we could go, until Christ himself becomes little more than an appendage to a religion that can, after all, get on quite well without him.

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