Beware the “cause” overtakes the Faith…

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For those of you that have read the brilliant and always poignant Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis know how sublime and convicting the Christian insight is.  Here is a paragraph that I wanted to share with you all.  Christians are called to be salt and light- we are not to hide our light under a cover.  As a result of this call, many Christians get involved in very admirable and noble causes that are very well intentioned.  Many Christians, for example, become active in the Pro-Life movement, while others become vocal advocates for the defense of traditional marriage.

Lewis warns us to beware that the cause itself (the pro-life movement or the defense of marriage) doesn’t supplant the Christian Faith itself: prayers, the Sacraments, and charity.

When you read the excerpt below simply replace “Patriotism” with “Pro-life movement” and replace “Pacifism” with “Traditional Values movement.”  You’ll see the slippery slope upon which all too many Christians slide backwards, away from Christ.  I myself have been guilty of this in times past.

(Remember that the Scewtape Letters are instructional letters written from an experienced demon, Screwtape, to Wormwood, a beginning, learning Tempter; Their goal, of course, is to win the “patient’s” soul to Hell.)

Whichever he adopts, your main task will be the same. Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the “cause”, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours – and the more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here…

(emphasis mine)

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Pulcini offers some advice on this as well.

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One thought on “Beware the “cause” overtakes the Faith…

  1. I’d like to add a note on what really should be emphasized here. “Charity.” James 1:27 tells us, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

    “To care for orphans and widows…” it seems it’s not a stretch to call this charity, true, godly charity. It’s what we are called to again and again, especially by Christ Himself in the Gospels. Since this call is so strong it can be easy for Christians to get caught up in “the cause” (even charity) as separate and distinct from prayer, and the Sacraments (devoted church life). Christianity cannot be broken apart into pieces, allowing us to pick up only those pieces that most appeal to us. We can’t pick and choose. Yes, it’s a great thing to be dedicated to defending the life of the unborn, but even such a noble cause as this cannot bring glory to God if it is done instead of or in spite of continual and constant prayer, and faithful, humble participation in the Sacraments (of the Church).

    Thank you, dear reader, for your consideration.

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