Critic v. Pupil

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As I’ve continued reading The Screwtape Letters, I couldn’t help but share the following. I share it because I needed to hear it and thought others might find it helpful as well.

In chapter 16, Screwtape is encouraging his tormentor nephew to tempt his “patient” into becoming a “taster or connoisseur of churches.” In so doing he’d make “the man a critic where [God] wants him to be a pupil.” Here’s what Screwtape hopes to avoid, and therefore, our goal:

“What [God] wants of the layman in church is an attitude which may, indeed be critical in the sense of rejecting what is false or unhelpful, but which is wholly uncritical in the sense that it does not appraise—does not waste time in thinking about what it rejects, but lays itself open in uncommenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is going . . . there is hardly any sermon, or any book, which may not be dangerous to us [demons] if it is received in this temper.”

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Are you more often a critic seeking to shoot down, or a pupil seeking to learn?
  2. Do you listen/read with discernment such that you could “reject what is false or unhelpful?”
  3. Do you listen/read with “humble receptivity” such that you can receive the “nourishment that is going?”
  4. How can we as church members avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water—yet still throw out the bath water?
References
—C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, (HarperCollins 2001 ed.), pp 81-82
 
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