In his Screwtape Letters (1942), C.S. Lewis writes the voice of satan, named Screwtape, who advises his nephew, Wormwood, through letters. For some reason, I was reminded of this book today and revisited parts of it. This passage about free will caught my eye:
“He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself – creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. […] Merely to override a human will… would for Him be useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and eat it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves… […] He leaves the creature to stand up on his own legs – to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. […] Our case is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks around upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” (emphasis added, 38-40)
How profound. Satan got it exactly right, it seems.
(Quote from: Lewis, C.S. The Screwtape Letters. New York: Harper Collins, 1982.)