Providing Essential Information Related to C.S. Lewis

(CCSLQ-55) Another Fake Screwtape Quote – Souls to Hell

Last Update 7/8/2020

1st UPDATE: Here’s a quick overview about this and TWO other fake Screwtape quotes…from my YouTube channel:

2nd Update: I’ve revised the graphic to reflect updated information and also updated the article below. 

 

The following is part of a series exploring quotations attributed to C.S. Lewis that are questionable for one reason or another.

This is the second quote I’ve examined here that is NOT included in my 2018 book entitled THE MISQUOTABLE C.S. LEWIS. That book examines 75 quotations that are either falsely attributed to him, a paraphrase of him, or even if by him when isolated (out of context) it may be misunderstood. 

There is an “at a glance” page to quickly see what has been posted so far in this series, which also includes a list of the other quotes I’ve identified as questionable. Also, consider reading (if you haven’t done so already) the INTRODUCTION to this series to gain an understanding of the three main categories I used when labeling the material (NOT Lewis, ALMOST Lewis and NOT QUITE Lewis quotations). Finally, please visit (and join) my Facebook group called CONFIRMING C.S. LEWIS QUOTATIONS.  


As noted above (and true for many fake quotations), there are several versions of the expression, but they have only minor variations. Back on June 20, 2020, I had only track it to early June of this year, but later found it was first posted to social media at least a month before. Nearly all claim that it comes from “The Devil’s Letters to His Nephew.” While this IS the English translation of the Spanish title to The Screwtape Letters, the passage is NOT found in either edition.

Over the years there have been many who have written a “Screwtape Letter,” meaning they wrote in the same style that Lewis did. Some clearly state they were not written by Lewis and others seem to think it is more clever to not mention this fact. So, the POINT is that Lewis did NOT write it, it doesn’t matter if you believe the passage conveys truth or falsehood (or some of both).

If you haven’t read (or it’s been a while since you’ve read) The Screwtape Letters, then consider reading it. Also, if you want to study it to understand it even more, then you’ll want to get my enhanced study guide to it. C.S. Lewis Goes to Hell: A Companion and Study Guide to The Screwtape Letters provides not just useful questions and suggested answers, but also several additional features, including a topical glossary not available anywhere else. It has several endorsements, including Max McLean, the founder and artistic director of Fellowship for Performing Arts, who created the Screwtape play.

– – – –

Below is a complete copy of one of the versions of this newest anonymously letter.

From the book: The Screwtape Letters…The Devil’s Letters to His Nephew (1942) “And how did you manage to bring so many souls to hell at that time? -Because of fear. -Ah, yes. Excellent strategy; old and always current. But what were they afraid of? Fear of being tortured? Fear of war? Fear of hunger? -No. -Fear of getting sick. -But then, no one else got sick at that time? -No. -Yes, they were sick. -I’m sorry. -Nobody else was dying? -Yes, they died. -But there was no cure for the disease? -There was. -Then I don’t understand. – Since no one else believed and taught about eternal life and eternal death, they thought they had only that life, and they clung to it with all their strength, even if it cost them their affection (they did not hug or greet each other, they had no human contact for days and days); their money (they lost their jobs, spent all their savings, and still thought themselves lucky to be prevented from earning their bread); their intelligence (one day the press said one thing and the next day it contradicted itself, and still they believed it all); their freedom (they did not leave their house, did not walk, did not visit their relatives. …it was a big concentration camp for voluntary prisoners! They accepted everything, everything, as long as they could overcome their miserable lives one more day. They no longer had the slightest idea that He, and only He, is the one who gives life and ends it. It was like that, as easy as it had ever been. From the book “Letters of the Devil to His Nephew” by C.S. Lewis, the Christian author of the Chronicles of Narnia The book was published in 1942.

PLEASE NOTE: The above quote was NOT written by Lewis.


Related Articles:

Exploring C.S. Lewis Misquotes and Misconceptions (6-part podcast series)

What Lewis NEVER Wrote  (Podcast)

Not Quite Lewis – Podcast Version

Not Quite Lewis – Questionable Lewisian Quotations (Conf. Paper)

Posted 6/20/2020

Now Available!

 

 

37 comments

  1. Charles Howington /

    Where did the above passage come from?

  2. Antonio Perez /

    I too have notices this, I have been reading Lewis since I was child.
    I own an old copy of The Screwtape Letters, and have read it multiple times.
    But when I came across that quote I doubted myself for a second and skimmed through the whole book looking for it. It wasn’t there.

    The title “The Devil’s Letters To His Nephew” is actually the title to the spanish version of The Screwtape Letters, I am assuming someone posted it in spanish citing the spanish title, and someone else who did not know any better literally transalated the title not knowing it was referring to The Screwtape Letters.
    Either way, its false, it’s not there.

  3. Rebecca /

    So… then what DID Clive say? Most misprints and exaggerations come from some core start. Please print where this skewered passage did start from.

    • William OFlaherty /

      In this case, this is clearly someone just trying to imitated the style of a Screwtape letter. So, there isn’t anything directly close to what Lewis said. If you or someone else wants to read The Screwtape Letters and make a suggestion, then welcome it.

  4. Mika /

    thank you

  5. Judith /

    Thank you for clarifying

  6. Tiffany LeRoux /

    Why don’t you put the actual part of the letter that is being manipulated?

    • William OFlaherty /

      Because it is not a manipulation of any letter.

    • William OFlaherty /

      If you are aware of one that it is, then I will be happy to make a note of it by updating my article.

  7. Tonia /

    Where did this photo originate?

  8. In the preface, C.S. Lewis writes that he will not explain how he came across the correspondence between two devilsScrewtape and his nephew, Wormwood. He reminds the reader that devils are liars, so Screwtape’s reports might not be accurate.

  9. Janet Kenny /

    Thank you for posting this fact. I searched my copy of the Screwtape letters and could not find that quote. However it has been making the rounds on Twitter in regard to the pandemic,.. much appreciated!

  10. Greg Williams /

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  11. Delilah Jenkins /

    Do you know who wrote this? Thank you

  12. This is all over social media right now – I keep seeing it on FaceBook and attributed to the book titled “The Devil’s Letters to His Nephew” – no such book title exists. That was my first clue. I have linked to this page on posts with the misinformation. So galling when people do this!!!

  13. Theophan Steele /

    The story is similar to the true story in Elder Cleopas book, How Satan Deceives People… it starts like this,

    “There was once a renowned Christian anchorite, named Ilarion, who lived in the parts of Alexandria. He was almost a hundred years of age. For years, he prayed to God: “Lord, show me how the devil deceives people so that whenever the faithful seek my advice, I can teach them: ‘Dear folks, beware of this and that.’ Lord, what is the method he uses to lure people away from the path of righteousness, and lead them straight into the depths of hell?”

    He was then brought by an Angel to secretly view one of Satan’s meetings with his generals (they have ranks like the Angels). This story goes on and ends with one demon explaining the best way to Deceive is by convincing people that they have tomorrow to repent.

    Let me know what you think.

    • William OFlaherty /

      You might be on to something here. This and you’re other excerpt you share seems like material the person who wrote the passage falsely attributed to Lewis would be familiar with.

      • Theophan Steele /

        False prophecies are attributed to Satan and his army, I think there is an active campaign to find ways to deceive people by attributing these quotes to men like CS Lewis or Elder Cleopa, St. Paisius, and St. Lawerence.

        The enemy (spiritual and temporal)knows we are looking for answers and many times these men have helped us, so if they can convince us to get our minds off of God and prayer, fasting and vigils, they succeeded.

  14. Theophan Steele /

    This is one section of the story…

    A demon with a grizzled gray hair and two pairs of horns, hideous as well, with donkey-like ears and crooked legs, stepped forward: “Hail, oh Lord of Darkness!” “What is your name, old demon?” “Gamigin, sire!” “Well there, Gamigin, how do you deceive people?” “Like this, your highness. I tell them: ‘There is no such thing as God or Satan, there is no angel, no hell, no heaven, no everlasting torments, no eternal glory; everything that is, lies here, on this planet! If you have food to eat and water to drink, and if you have riches and a house to live in, or if people respect you, then that is heaven. And if not, you are in hell. That’s all there is to it! “And many have listened to you?” “Many.” “You lunkhead, you idiot! You are even dumber than the previous demon. You too have deceived the stupider than you, the simple-minded people, not the ones who read the Scriptures.

  15. Truth /

    Thanks for this. I found a threat in Facebook that shares this along with a photo of a jester guiding children with masks. Meant to spread paranoia about covid.

    • The intention seems contrary to spreading paranoia, in fact quite the opposite. It reflects what all we are willing to give up in the name of fear and how easy we are manipulated with fear.
      While not from Lewis – it is quite brilliant and thought provoking.

      • Sara Hughes /

        While perhaps brilliant, the fact that they falsely attribute to Lewis is angering because like the post below mentions, it sews discord among believers and uses lies.

  16. Sara Hughes /

    I have multiple friends sharing this. The last one said that the part in parenthesis is not by Lewis, but a modern interpretation of his words. So to clarify, no part of this is Lewis?

    • William OFlaherty /

      Absolutely ZERO part from Lewis.
      It is merely some unidentified person attempting to write in the Screwtape style.

      • Sara Hughes /

        Thank you, I’m trying to deal with it on my Facebook feed and wanted to align my facts before posting.

  17. Jody Bauer /

    If anyone could figure out where this letter did come from and weather or not it was written in the past or recently. If it’s an old story then still pretty amazing how similar it is to covid. But if it’s a brand new story then someone is creating chaos amongst Christians to either distract them from the truth or poke foolishness to make fun of Christians. Would be interesting to know where it came from.

  18. Travis Biechler /

    Whom ever wrote this is not making fun of Christian people. In fact if you read it, it is directed at those who do not believe in God and after life with him. At the end of this passage it says “They no longer had the slightest idea that He, and only He, is the one who gives life and ends it. It was like that, as easy as it had ever been.” Therefore giving Good the glory of those whom ever will believe. But everyone quit just to keep one more day alive on earth. And would die alone due to the lies. I don’t know who wrote this but I sure would like to know.

    • Sara Hughes /

      You are right that whoever wrote it seems to believe in God and in Jesus. It’s just that either they or whoever cobbled the post together directly lied about the author. Because it wasn’t CS Lewis, and they would have had to know that. The fact of the outright lie is why the comment was made that it was to sew chaos. Namely, some Christians believe in social distancing and masks during Covid and some dont. To say that those that do are blind, asleep and in fear (ignoring that they might be in support for other reasons) is insulting and does not foster unity. It pushes one agenda. To mask or not to mask has unfortunately become a political litmus test here in the US.

      • William OFlaherty /

        Well said!

      • George /

        In sorry but the fact is that Jesus even said I come not to bring peace but a sword. It is necessary to distinguish between the truth and the devils truth(lies that are sewn as truth). Reguardless of some thinking it being misquoted or maliciously faked is meant to sew discord… That may be the case, however its premise is spot on. Whether the quote is authentic or not does not change that in itself it is inherently true.

        • Sara Hughes /

          The post said that believers who went along with the mask regulations and distancing were ‘asleep’ and didn’t even know what was really going on. This is in line with a conspiracy theory that is circulating that says masking etc is trying to usher in the new one world government.
          It allows no space for people masking or following social distancing because it follows the government mandate (submission to governing authorities) and masking to protect vulnerable populations. Also, just because I wear a mask and take precautions does not mean I don’t have faith in God or believe that he holds the keys to life and death.
          For this reason I believe the post was divisive of Christians on both sides who are trying to live out their faith in a way that pleases God.
          Also, if a post or an idea is spot on? Why does it need to lie about where it came from?