“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Mind in Darkness

Satan was clearly aware that God was up to something in Christ, and that he had to stop Jesus from going through with his plan. But how much did Satan really know of God’s plans. Did his mind penetrate the mysterious victory God planned, with all its intricacies and beauties? I think not, and to show why I turn to the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.

In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien portrays Sauron, the Dark Lord, as one wholly corrupted by desire for power and consumed with himself and his own glory. In the words of Gandalf, “the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning” (The Fellowship of the Rings 322, see also The Two Towers 127). Noble themes such as humility and sacrificial love are beyond the comprehension of the Dark Lord. In giving himself over to darkness, he blinded himself to the light of Eru, the One. In the end, this twisted and narrowed vision of reality, where the self is at the center, would lead to his ruin and destruction. Evil is confused by the ways of good – it cannot understand, and it cannot overcome (John 1:5).

C. S. Lewis makes a very similar point in a number of books. In The Screwtape Letters, he vividly portrays Screwtape the demon’s inability to understand God’s ways:

“All his talk about Love must be a disguise for something else – He must have some real motive for creating them and taking so much trouble about them…This very problem was a chief cause of Our Father’s quarrel with the Enemy. When…the Enemy freely confessed that he foresaw a certain episode about a cross, Our Father… implored the Enemy to lay His cards on the table, and gave Him every opportunity. He admitted that he felt a real anxiety to know the secret; the Enemy replied ‘I wish with all my heart that you did.’…[I]f ever we came to understand what He means by love, the war would be over and we should re-enter Heaven. And there lies the great task. We know that he cannot really love: nobody can: it doesn’t make sense. If we could only find out what he is really up to! Hypothesis after hypothesis has been tried, and still we can’t find out.” – The Screwtape Letters, ch. 19
And in Perelandra, he describes Satan’s fall from glory into a ruinous self-centered nothingness:
“…on the surface, great designs and an antagonism to heaven which involved the fate of world; but deep within, when every veil had been pierced, was there, after all, nothing but a black puerility, an aimless empty spitefulness content to sate itself with the tiniest cruelties, as love does not disdain the smallest kindness?” – Perelandra, p. 123

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