The Great Narnia Debate – Affirmative Rebuttal

Posted on September 1, 2010 by


This will be my first and only rebuttal in the JibeNow Narnia debate. For more information about the debate and to view previous posts, click here.

For this post I will be addressing the main points of my opponent’s objection to the principles of my case, and then will move on to the points enumerated in his last post. At the end I will summarize my case.

This statement allows for any kind of content to be included in a piece of literature, no matter how dark or vile. From my standpoint, any involvement with paganism, presented in a good light; or witchcraft, outside of the ongoing battle with the occult, is entirely unacceptable.”

To take this tack is to take the rest of my post out of context. Elsewhere in the post I do clarify that Narnia must still be “subject to the light of Scripture.”

I would like to ask my opponent, who he believes Aslan is.

My opponent’s objection to the second tenant of my case seems to hinge around whether or not Aslan was in fact intended to be the same entity as Jesus Christ within Lewis’ fantasy world. In arguing that Lewis did not have this intent, he does not cite any proof. In fact, Lewis does not only imply, but states outright that Aslan is intended to be Jesus Christ.

Part of the difficulty he is having is that my opponent is assuming (possibly due to a lack of research) that Narnia is an allegorical tale when in fact it is a hypothetical tale.

In a letter to a Mrs. Martha Hook in 1958, Lewis contrasts the Chronicles of Narnia to Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, “If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity in the same way in which Giant Despair represents Despair, he would be an allegorical figure.  In reality however he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, ‘What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as he actually has done in ours?’”

In 1961, Lewis writes, “Supposing there really was a world like Narnia . . . and supposing Christ wanted to go into that world and save it (as He did ours) what might have happened?

“The stories are my answer. Since Narnia is a world of talking beasts, I thought he would become a talking beast there as he became a man here. I pictured him becoming a lion there because a) the lion is supposed to be the king of beasts; b) Christ is called ‘the lion of Judah’ in the Bible.” (More than once God is referred to as a lion in Scripture – see Job 10:16; Isaiah 31:4; Revelation 5:5).

Despite the imperfections in the Chronicles, it is indisputable that they were written with the clear purpose of being God-glorifying, Christ-exalting stories. Failures in Lewis’ ability to correctly portray Aslan as Christ stem more from his imperfections as a human than from his motives. Any human who writes any work of imaginative fantasy will face the same shortcoming. It is necessary to understand this in order to read in a mature and critical fashion. The other alternative is to completely rule out all imaginative fiction.

I would like to ask you to truly consider this. Is the truth not enough? The Scriptures discuss allegories several times:”

My opponent’s objection to the third tenant of my case is essentially that all allegories are evil. I doing so he cites several Scripture references. Each of these, however, are taken out of context. Within the context of the passages in which they are found they are speaking very specifically about certain sins, not the use of allegory in literature.

Romans 1  is specifically warning us to avoid worshipping corruptible things such as beasts or physical objects as though they were God, and it is leading into a discussion of the rejection of the glory of God and how it relates to homosexuality. The reason it is wrong to worship a beast (such as a calf) instead of God is because the beast is not as glorious as God. What he fails to point out, though, is that the same verse likewise prohibits us from changing the image of God into an image made like corruptible man. Is this to say that God or Christ was somehow guilty in the incarnation of idolatry, since Christ came robed in corruptible flesh?

As Lewis himself stated (see above), Aslan is a Lion in Narnia because Narnia is a land primarily of talking beasts.

Scripture is in fact replete with allegories. God uses allegory to explain the way His Word works (Isaiah 55:10), while Christ uses it numerous times in the form of a parable to illustrate a point (Luke 8:11-15). To completely dismiss allegory as being innately idolatrous would be to dismiss all the parables of Christ.

Regarding the quote he cites from Cobblestone Ministries: I am not, have not, and will not, ever say that Lewis’ writings are somehow superior to or to be used in place of the Word of God. My entire case is centered around the idea that the Word of God is the only infallible book and it is our first and our last resort for final faith and practice. I would direct the reader to the last paragraph of my case, which implies that no one who is not already thoroughly grounded in Scripture ought to be reading fiction in the first place.

I would also like to point out that this quote is not on topic for the resolution we are debating. The question is not whether or not Narnia is a powerful witnessing tool, nor is the question whether or not some people spend too much time and put too much stock in fantasy, nor is the question whether or not Narnia should be superior to Scripture. Rather, the question is whether or not Narnia is acceptable.

I would be curious to know if he considers The Pilgrim’s Progress, which is an example of true allegory, to be also essentially evil on the same grounds.

Regardless, the third tenant of my case specifically states: “That fiction need not be a one-for-one allegory of Scripture for it to be acceptable, just as a theological treatise need not be wholly accurate to have a place in the library of a Christian.” The Chronicles of Narnia are not an allegory, and from the beginning I have argued that they need not be so to be acceptable reading. Thus, my opponent’s whole rebuttal seems to be based on an incorrect understanding of what allegory truly is.

Moving on now to the remainder of his case:

I will state this briefly. Depending on which stance my opponent takes, God either did, or did not CREATE the pagan deities. I personally believe them to be of demonic origin, and therefore, CREATIONS of God. But they are rebellious, be-damned beings. Aslans creations are his own, his CHOSEN. Not those who have rebelled against him. The Almighty I AM did not create the fallen angels to be worshiped, or to take on the character of deities.”

My opponent does not cite references to what he is referring, but we will assume it is the isolated instance of Silenius and Bacchus in Prince Caspian. To say that these are incarnations or apparitions of the figures of the same name from Roman mythology, and that therefore all of the Narnia books are to be repudiated, is to strain at a gnat. At no point in the story are these characters worshipped, nor are they accompanied by the pagan rites and rituals typically associated with the gods of Roman mythology. In fact, aside from the false god Tash, no figure in the Chronicles other than Aslan receives worship. Lewis never portrays any character other than Aslan as being worthy of worship.

I would point out that my opponent does not consider Aslan to be Christ, and yet considers these beings to be incarnations of the deities of Roman mythology. This seems to be a double standard, since there are far more similarities between Aslan and Christ.

The Distortion of the Character of God: His lack of omnipresence.

In citing that Aslan is not omnipresent, my opponent gives two brief quotes from a single book. Let me point out that physical presence (which is what is referred to in both instances here) is not the same as omnipresence. Several of the books, specifically the Horse and His Boy, make it clear that Aslan is not only omnipresent, but omnipotent, orchestrating events providentially even when he is unseen.

My opponent’s concerns about “pagan mythological beings presented as “good“” are addressed above.

It is interesting to note that in his original case, my opponent cites “The practice of sun worship, throughout the books” as one of his primary objections to Narnia. However, he fails to provide any sort of evidence, compelling or otherwise, to support this objection. In fact, at no point in the series is the worship of the sun encouraged or even demonstrated.

Regarding the theological difficulty presented in the Last Battle, let me simply address it thus: Lewis had some undeniable theological errors. So probably does my opponent, and so probably do I. If there is a danger of the reader deriving improper theology based on a single scene in a single book, then they have no business reading fiction. Scripture and Scripture alone is our final rule for faith and practice.

Man has attempted to rewrite the story of the Gospel, and the result is far more than erroneous. It is deceptive. How do we excuse such massive “errors” and inconsistencies? Will they not have a misleading and negative effect?

The Chronicles of Narnia are not an attempt to rewrite the gospel because they are not an allegory. There is a far greater danger of the masses being mislead into error or disillusionment with Christianity because of lukewarm followers of Christ than Lewis’ series of books will ever have.

Believe it or not, Narnia has led some into the world of the occult. Feel free to ask.

Such assertions based on “word of mouth” evidence do not belong within the context of this debate, for two reasons: 1) They cannot be substantiated and 2) It is impossible to look at the case of an individual and, without knowing the context of other circumstances or influences or the predisposition of their heart, state that Narnia was responsible for leading them into the occult. Ultimately we are all responsible for our own decisions.

I could cite numerous examples of people that I know whose lives have been changed and their relationships with Christ strengthened through reading the Chronicles of Narnia. However, these are also “word-of-mouth”, and since the spiritual state of a soul is not something we as humans can objectively measure, I am making my case on principles.

In Summary

Lewis’ works have flaws because he is human. These flaws aside, Narnia was intentionally written as an essentially Christian story, but not an allegory. At best it can serve as a useful tool, but it can never be anything more. If you find the tool is not useful or helpful, discard it. Christ is clearly the High King Over All High Kings in Narnia, and the Chronicles of Narnia themselves are acceptable reading for a thinking, Bible-believing Christian who acknowledges Scripture as the one and only rule for faith and practice.

“Are – are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.

“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.” – C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

As to Aslan’s other name, well I want you to guess.  Has there ever been anyone in this world who (1.) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2.) Said he was the son of the Great Emperor. (3.) Gave himself up for someone else’s fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4.) Came to life again. (5.) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb. . . . Don’t you really know His name in this world.  Think it over and let me know your answer.” – C.S. Lewis

Posted in: food for thought