(Letter 26, Sept 15, 1953)
But God who is the God of mercies, even now has not altogether cast off the human race. We must not despair. And among us are not an inconsiderable number now returning to the faith. For my part, I believe we ought to work not only at spreading the Gospel (that certainly) but also to a certain preparation for the Gospel. It is necessary to recall many to the law of nature before we talk about God. For Christ promises forgiveness of sins, but what is that to those who, since they do not know the law of nature, do not know that they have sinned? Who will take medicine unless he knows he is in the grip of a disease? Moral relativity is the enemy we have to overcome before we tackle atheism. I would almost dare to say, “First let us make the younger generation good pagans, and afterwards let us make them Christians.”
Lewis is absolutely right. We must make them good pagans before we can make them Christians. In other words, we must strip away the exterior veneer of Christianity from this paganism being spewed forth by liberal Christianity and the me-centered preaching and teaching that dominates so many successful preachers today and call it what it is. It is not an authentic version of Christianity paganism sure and true. Only when we are convinced of our sin and living the lament of its darkness and death can the Spirit speak to us the sweet hope of Christ and His redemptive work in the Gospel. It is exactly the Law in its raw force that is absent from so much preaching today and repentance has become simply living at ease with the person you are. Lewis is framing the secularization of the world and its potential redemption precisely in the Lutheran frame of Law and Gospel. In other words, you do not have to be Lutheran to speak in those terms and to recognize the value of this very Lutheran way of speaking.