Finding God in the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Land of Narnia<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Worldview with Sean McDowell
From Star Wars to the Matrix, from Harry Potter to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, modern fantasy and science fiction are filled with references to the possible existence of worlds outside our physical universe. Both young and old, it seems, are captivated with the idea of distant worlds-and passageways or doors that connect us to them.
C.S. Lewis, writer of The Chronicles of Narnia, shared this fascination. He filled his stories with tunnels, passageways, and doors unexpectedly leading from one world into the next. Lewis believed people had a deep-seated longing for another world because they were created by God to inhabit such a world. But Lewis did not always share this conviction. In fact, as an ardent atheist for a significant portion of his life, Lewis once believed that the physical world we can touch and see was all that was real.
From Atheist to Christian-the Conversion of C.S. Lewis
As a literature teacher in England, the last thing Lewis wanted to embrace was Christianity. He saw no reason to believe in the God of the Bible. However, Lewis' perspective was radically shaken by the words of the staunchest atheist he knew. Lewis explains: "Early in 1926 the hardest boiled of all the atheists I ever knew sat in my room on the other side of the fire and remarked that the evidence for the historicity of the Gospels was really surprisingly good." The atheist said to Lewis, "All that stuff about the Dying God It almost looks as if it had really happened once."
Lewis was shocked to realize that the greatest atheist he knew thought the evidence for the Gospels was actually quite sound. If the resurrection of Jesus was even possibly true, Lewis realized, then he had better search for it with all his heart. Lewis decided to weigh the evidence for God, and more specifically for the Christian faith. After much critical study and reflection, Lewis was converted to Christianity. But it wasn't just the evidence that converted him (although it played a significant role), it was his search for something beautiful, enchanting, dangerous, and yet beyond this world that captivated his heart. This is the truth he found in the Bible, and the truths he writes about in his stories of Narnia.
Finding God in the Land of Narnia
Lewis was careful to debunk the idea that Narnia was a mere allegory to the Christian story. Rather, Lewis said that his theology merely "bubbled" up to the surface of his story. Because of his commitment to Christ, biblical truths would find themselves into his creation. Lewis explains: "Everything began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sled, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn't anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord. It was part of the bubbling."
The story of Narnia is not a biblical allegory. Rather it grows out of a central Christian supposition held by Lewis. Suppose there was another world, much like ours, but filled with talking animals rather than human beings. Suppose that world fell into sin, like ours, and needed a savior much like Jesus.
Aslan entered Narnia as a lion, just as Jesus came into our world in the form of a man. Based upon this supposition, Lewis created a fantasy world that mirrored the central theme in our world-salvation through the death and resurrection of God's son. The magical part of Lewis' story is that somehow we are drawn more deeply into our relationship with God in the real world through our encounter with Narnia.
Truths Gleamed from Narnia
Since Lewis wrote from his Christian convictions, there are a few unmistakable truths that "bubble up" in his story. Consider a few biblical truths in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:
· There is a world beyond this one. At the beginning of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Lucy finds a doorway through a large closet to another world, the land of Narnia. In the land of Narnia, just as in our world, there is a reality beyond the physical universe. The Apostle Paul writes about this other world: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).
· Evil has invaded our world. Our world, like Narnia, was made completely good. But something happened that corrupted it. "Enemy-occupied territory" wrote C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, "that is what this world is." In Narnia the good was corrupted by the White Witch (with Edmund's help). She had corrupted her world and then sought to enslave another. In our world, Satan has been the force of evil and corruption. He was once God's highest angel, but the allure of pride entered his heart. 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be of sober spirit. Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." Evil is on the loose.
· Sin will ultimately cause pain. Edmund was taken in by the power and intrigue of the White Witch. When she offered him Turkish Delight, how could he possibly turn her down? After all, the treats look so tasteful. Something in Edmund's heart warned him about the witch, but he gave into the temptation. As a result he got a stomach ache and brought incredible pain to those around him. Like Edmund, we are faced with temptations everyday. While the lusts of the flesh look appealing, they will eventually turn sour and cause pain. Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." Sin may look appealing, but it has disastrous consequences.
· Good will triumph over evil. With Aslan slain and the armies of Narnia defeated, it seemed that all was lost. Good has been overcome and death reigns supreme. Yet, at the lowest point in the story, the Witch's victory is overturned. The Deep Magic is trumped by an even deeper power-the power of Good. The same is true in our world. At the lowest point in world history, the death of Jesus, God was at work. When the disciples thought all was lost, God was preparing for his greatest act in history-the resurrection of his Son, Jesus. While we may experience pain and suffering, we can live with the confidence that God has ultimately won. The evils of this world will one day all be defeated and good will reign supreme. God will turn our sorrows into joy.
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