C.S. Lewis offers an insightful take on the relationship of Christianity to dualism, and at the same time almost inadvertently offers a clever explanation of the incarnation, human suffering, and the significance of worship. Not bad for day’s work!1
REALITY, IN FACT, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. it is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have. … The problem is not simple and the answer is not going to be simple either.
What is the problem? A universe that contains much that is obviously bad and apparently meaningless, but containing creatures like ourselves who know that it is bad and meaningless. There are only two views that face all the facts. One is the Christian view that this is a good world that has gone wrong, but still retains the memory of what it ought to have been. The other is called Dualism. Dualism means the belief that there are two equal and independent powers at the back of every-thing, one of them good and the other bad, and this universe is the battlefield in which they fight an endless war. …
I freely admit that real Christianity goes much nearer to Dualism than people think. One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe — a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin. The difference is that Christianity thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.
Enemy-occupied territory — that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery. I know someone will ask me, “Do you really mean, at this time of day, to reintroduce our old friend the devil — hoofs and horns and all?” Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is “Yes, I do.” I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, “Don’t worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you’ll like it when you do is another question.”
C.S. Lewis, The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2007), 42-46. ↩