Coleridge, Escape, and the Prayer Life Preferred by Demons

The best thing, where it is possible, is to keep the patient from the serious intention of praying altogether. When the patient is an adult recently re-converted to the enemy’s party, like your man, this is best done by encouraging him to remember, or to think he remembers, the parrot-like nature of his prayers in childhood. in reaction against that, he may be persuaded to aim at something entirely spontaneous, inward, informal, and unregularised; and what this will actually mean to a beginner will be an effort to produce in himself a vaguely devotional mood in which real concentration of will and intelligence have no part. one of their poets, Coleridge, has recorded that he did not pray “with moving lips and bended knees” but merely “composed his spirit to love” and indulged “a sense of supplication”. that is exactly the sort of prayer we want; and since it bears a superficial resemblance to the prayer of silence as practised by those who are very far advanced in the enemy’s service, clever and lazy patients can be taken in by it for quite a long time. at the very least, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls. it is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.

C.S. Lewis, the Screwtape LEtters, Chapter IV

The mechanical mumbling of magic words without content or though is the preferred payer life of demons.

The escapism can be from man’s inner problems and the inner tension created by sin and guilt. St. Paul’s declaration that “he is a Jew (i.e., a covenant man) which is one inwardly”(Rom. 2:29), was countered by Mohammed, who asserted, “He is a Muslim who is one outwardly.” The essential duties or “five pillars of Islam” are pure externalism: 1) the regular repetition of the creed; 2) repetition of prescribed prayers five times daily and at three stated times; 3) the duty of almsgiving; 4) observance of the Feast of Ramadan, which called for strict fasting in daylight hours and eating and drinking during the rest of the day; and 5) pilgrimage to Mecca.

R. J RUshdoony, Salvation & GOdly Rule

Of course, Jesus despised those who looked pretty on the outside, and were full of filth on the inside. That’s why pagans of all stripes – religious and secular, in church leadership positions and the various ideological power-seeking mobs – enjoy stressing the outside appearance, which they can control, and Proper Authority can act on.

But they’re good if you just hide in a corner and think good thoughts, or empty your mind, or go ‘ummm’ in your own hand-crafted escape from reality, in the style of Coleridge or the Buddhists.

Escapism has been a dominant note in virtually all non-Biblical religions, and, one may add, in most politics as well. Thus, in Buddhism, the “Four Noble Truths” of Gautama Buddha were: 1) “All existence involves suffering; 2) All suffering is caused by indulging in inherently insatiable desires; 3) Therefore all suffering will cease upon the suppressing of all desires; 4) While still living, every person should live moderately.” No distinction was made between good and evil desires; “all desires” were to be suppressed, and Nirvana, the total obliteration of consciousness, desire, perception, feeling, and emotion, is to be sought. Nirvana is a passionless peace which is beyond consciousness and beyond nothingness.[2] “The Buddhist monk aims at doing nothing at all, and may well end in complete vacancy of mind and character.

R. J RUshdoony, Salvation & GOdly Rule

“A complete vacancy of mind and character.”

The Buddhist and the more mushy-headed Anglo elitists always have a remarkable affinity.

God expects better, of me and of you.

And even of them… but without Christ, they have no hope of pleasing God.

(And without the Law, they don’t even know what God wants, or how to build a God-pleasing – and therefore a blessed, fertile, prosperous, secure, and widely respected – society and nation).

Fake Salvation

The Greek word salvation, soteria, means deliverance, preservation, victory, and health, and it refers to material and temporal deliverance, as well as personal, national, temporal and eternal triumph. The Biblical doctrine of salvation is so clearly one of victory, that it must be emphatically stated that salvation is not escape. Many pagan concepts of deliverance are really doctrines of escape. The deus ex machina (literally, the god from the machine) idea shows us clearly how, in the Greco-Roman world, problems were resolved into men’s hopes and imagination. A god was introduced in the drama to provide a supernatural solution to a dramatic difficulty by intervening in the problem to separate the besieged person from his difficulties. A way of escape was provided. Thus, in Homer’s Iliad (Book III), when the angry husband Menelaos meets Paris, the seducer of his wife Helen, in battle, all did not go well with Paris. At this point, “Aphrodite snatched up Paris, very easily as a goddess may, and hid him in thick darkness, and set him down in his fragrant perfumed chamber; and herself went to summon Helen.” The outcome is that Paris said, “‘sweet desire taketh hold upon me.’ So saying he led the way to the couch, and the lady followed him.”[1] Paris thus was raptured out of a losing battle into the rapture of Helen’s lap, a good model of pagan salvation.

R. J RUshdoony, Salvation & GOdly Rule

Pagan salvation – when it doesn’t mean fleeing God’s judgement by nihilism and magic rituals, or earning it by “the good works of righteous men”…


… means escaping judgement by the power of a god. Modern Western men generally believe that the god — “the source of the law” — should be the State, or some Mighty Man or other.

But a self-conscious pagan may well turn to powerful spirits who also hate God’s law – a.k.a. demons. Most certainly including demons posing as gods and goddesses, or long-dead relatives, or even appearing as an angel of light, calling himself Gabriel, eager to preach some other supposed ‘gospel’ that has no need of Christ as Saviour or His sacrifice.

*cough* Islam *cough*

But back to the old-school European pagans, and their way of evading justice.

The problem confronting paganism is thus apparent: only a fully self-conscious, self-existent, sovereign, and creating God can save man, because only He can fully control, govern, and determine all things. Gods who are themselves determined cannot save man, because they themselves are often in need of being saved. In the cyclical outlook of paganism, the gods themselves are born out of chaos and must ultimately return to chaos with all things else. Such gods cannot save man, for in their universe no salvation is possible; all they can offer is a limited degree of temporary escape, a deus ex machina answer which briefly placed Paris in Helen’s lap. Soon thereafter, Paris was wounded by a poisoned arrow, and the nymph Oenone, whom he had married as a youth and deserted for Helen, was the only one able to heal him; she refused, and Paris died.

R. J RUshdoony, Salvation & GOdly Rule

Buddhist / Coleridge-style mystical, content-free meditation isn’t going to cut it.

Muslim-style whitewashing of our precious outer image, the love of the correct ritual, and PR management isn’t going to cut it.

And longing for the State or some Mighty Man or spirits who stand against Christ and His Word – a.k.a. demons – to shield you from God’s judgement isn’t going to cut it.

Salvation is only going to come from God, and the only way to God is the way that Jesus Christ has opened for us.

These pagan concepts thus cannot offer salvation, not only because they have no God nor universe in which full and assured victory is possible, but also because they have a defective view of man and sin. In paganism, man seeks an escape from his problems, or a retirement into sensual bliss from the world’s work and responsibility. By failing to recognize his rebellion against the sovereign God as his essential problem as well as his sin, pagan man wants not salvation but escape. To admit the real problem, his sin, is to admit that there is no way of escape, only the way of salvation through God’s regenerating grace.

Moreover, the failure of paganism to offer salvation is not accidental. It is a part of the pagan refusal to understand; it is a willful rejection of the truth of God. Lenski has translated Romans 1:18 thus:

For there is revealed God’s wrath from heaven upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what is known regarding God is manifest in them, for God manifested it to them. For the things unseen regarding him, by being perceived from the world’s creation on by means of the things made, are fully seen, both his everlasting power and divinity, so that they are without excuse.[12]

R. J RUshdoony, Salvation & GOdly Rule

“In paganism, man seeks an escape from his problems, or a retirement into sensual bliss from the world’s work and responsibility.”

It’s easy to mock the Buddhist and his retreat into powerless nhiliity as an escape from the demands of God. “If I don’t exist, there is nothing to punish!”

It’s easy to deride the Muslim and the seventy-two virgins he believes await him in the afterlife, as his escape from the wrath of God. “I earned this intensely man-centred paradise with my righteous works!”

But I wonder about the Christian with his love of the Rapture:

  • “No need for me to touch any cross: Jesus is coming soon, and rapture me from the pain of life and the coming of death!”
  • “And the Law means nothing now: I am forgiven of everything, so I need not worry about any standard of righteousness or sanctification or expanding the kingdom. “
    • “Besides growing the congregation and the tithe collection, of course.”

It’s an interesting thing, the Parable of the Talents and the Minas: the worthless servant wasn’t some Buddhist or Muslim or self-infatuated Compassionate One, or to any unbeliever.

It was specifically addressed to Christians. People who claimed to follow the Master, and who said they obeyed God’s will.

To be a worthless servant – and so, to be cast into outer darkness, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth – you had to be a servant of God in the first place.

And then, after being a servant, chose to be worthless.

And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

Luke 12:47-48, English Standard Version

A warning, from Jesus, to all His followers.

Especially to those who are masters of Scripture, who know His will, who are in high places and positions of authority.

We will have to give an account, even in this life, perhaps even before unbelievers… but especially when we meet King Jesus in person.

Get ready. Pray about it – in a way God wants you to! – and then live according to it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.