The Great Lion

Posted on September 5, 2011 by


The most important and central figure throughout The Chronicles of Narnia is, of course, Aslan – The Great Lion, the King of Beasts, the King of the Wood, and the son of the Emperor Beyond the Sea. He is a Christ figure, and he is more than that. Lewis put it this way:

 “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.”

Narnia is a supposal. Not an allegory. And thus, Aslan is not intended to be an allegorical representation of Christ. He is a supposal. As Lewis said,

 “I did not say to myself ‘Let us represent Jesus as He really is in our world by a Lion in Narnia’: I said ‘Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as He became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would have happened.’ If you think about it, you will see that it is quite a different thing.”

 In Aslan, we can see something very important about Lewis and how he went about planning his fictional world. Lewis’ Christianity – his joy in Christ – were such a fundamental part of his life that his entire fictional world is build around Jesus, or Aslan, and Lewis’ idea of God.

This is evident both in the things that Lewis gets right about the nature of God and in the things he gets wrong. When he gets it right (and Lewis gets a lot of things right) it permeates throughout the entire series. And when he gets it wrong, he generally gets it very wrong.

This isn’t specific to Lewis. Ultimately, every writer of fiction introduces into their fictional world their own idea of who God is. This idea can be based on reality – the true nature of God – or unreality, but it is inescapable. A writer’s theology will shape their worldview, and their worldview must always assert itself upon their creations.

So one of the things I want to do as we walk through these books is to look at Lewis’ picture of God and how it affects his stories. And as always, I want to look for the “helpful realities” that will grow us closer in our relationship to God and grow us as readers and as individuals.