How many of us at one point have tried to convince somebody of something way out there? Whether it be the boogieman, that monster in your closet, Easter bunny, Santa Claus, or even God, it boils down to I swear I saw it! I swear! Thats how Lucy from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe felt as she stepped out of the wardrobe and tried to explain to her siblings what had just happened. We have all found ourselves in this predicament, special recognition to theists. Somebody who believes in God often finds themselves in this situation, trying to explain spirituality to somebody who has never experienced it is like explaining color to a blind person, its impossible.
The modernists, heirs to the Age of Reason, they refuse to accept anything if it cannot be proven logically. They live with a complete lack of faith. To them, Christianity is nothing more then irrational superstition, a matter of inner, subjective feelings rather than any kind of truth about what exists in the real world (pg 196-197, The Soul of the Lion). This is nothing new to the world, masses of people have always thought If I cant see it, its not there and many theists have gotten stuck on this answer. They have come up with you cant see the wind, but you can feel it and see the effects of it, but with molecular research this has gone back to square one. So how can theists have any standing ground in the matter?
There is one category of mysticism that everybody can relate to, story-telling. This is the one area that Christianity shines. The Bible is full of allegory, parables, love, death, salvation, you name it, it goes there. For thousands of years men and women have lived and died for this book and what it stands for. However with the Age of Reason it was left behind and labeled as creative story-telling. A man by the name of C.S Lewis published a book called The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 1950. Since then it has been acclaimed as one of the greatest childrens books of all times, boasting a total of 7 books in the collection, a cartoon series, and even a newly screened movie. This story has become popular with people from all walks of life, especially the Christian community, but why? Arent Christians bent against fairy-tales and mysticism? In most cases (Harry Potter) yes, they are. However this one is special.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe goes where few have. Its a giant tear jerking, edge of your seat, nail biting allegorical rendition of the ever so popular Christian Bible. Whether it was intended to be written as that is disputed. However it is a well known fact that C.S. Lewis was a born again Christian himself, so its argued in favor of it being written as interpreted by the Christian community.
The story begins with four brothers and sisters, Peter, Edmund, Lucy and Susan. It takes place during World War II, in which the children have been relocated to an old mansion in refuge of the London bombings. During the course of which a wardrobe is found, not just any wardrobe, but one to another world all in its own, stumbled upon by the youngest, Lucy. When she tries to explain what amazing things she saw through the wardrobe she is labeled as just an imaginative child and her thought are dismissed (sound familiar?). She then gets Edmund, the mischievous brother, to go through with her. He meets the White Witch, who we will get to later. After they come back Lucy tells Edmund to tell the others of what they both saw. When attention turns towards him, he blatantly lies and denies it all. Saying that they were just playing, pretending there was a Narnia is all. The older siblings, Peter and Susan, worried about Lucy and her insisting that there is a Narnia; go to the professor for help.
When they inquire to the professor about their sister Lucy, they are taken aback when he asks them how they know that what she has been saying isnt true. They have been assuming that a story about a world in the wardrobe just cant be true. They have been operating out of what their worldview allows them to believe, not out of any evidence or logical train of reasoning (pg 50). He mentions three possibilities: either Lucy is lying, or she is insane, or she is telling the truth. In his book Mere Christianity, Lewis applies this same logic to the claims of Christ. Either He is a liar, a lunatic, or the Son of God. Not that Lucy is a stand-in for Christ, or Narnia for heaven. But both in his nonfiction apologetics and in his radically fictional fantasy novels, Lewis is demonstrating how to think.
Eventually all of the children make it through the wardrobe, where a series of dramatic events ensues. Narnia is consumed by winter; they are told it is because of the reign of the White Witch, the character Edmund met on his first visit to Narnia. They are told Aslan, the king of Narnia, is gone and the White Witch has taken rule over the land transforming it into a place of perpetual winter.
The struggle between good and evil in this story is obvious, which makes it easy to relate it to the struggle between sin and virtue in the Bible. The White Witch needs the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve (an obvious biblical reference) for her reign, and Aslan is there to free them. The White Witch is the ruler of Narnia as Satan is the ruler of earth, by conquest not by right. She is the beautiful queen of Narnia, and just as the devil Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).
We discussed how Edmund ran into the White Witch during his first visit to Narnia. Upon his first encounter with the Queen she presented him with sweets and drinks, and promised him much more if he brought back the other sons of Adam and daughters of Eve (his siblings). This leads us to the betrayal, the original sin. By bringing sin into Narnia, he triggered Aslans return and upcoming rule.
When the children enter Narnia the second time, Edmund goes off on his own to tell the White Witch of his siblings presence. To his surprise he is not treated with the appreciation and hospitality as he expected, instead he is locked away as the witch goes off in search of his brother and sisters. As the story progresses we meet Aslan in all his grace and glory. C.S. Lewis does something interesting by depicting Jesus as Aslan. Instead of making Jesus out to be meek and mild as depicted in the Bible (the lamb), he makes Him out to be a Lion, the most powerful and graceful of all animals the king of the jungle. This is a good depiction, as we have a domesticated God today, not the God of power and fury as in the Old Testament. When Aslan returns, the winter frost begins to thaw and spring presents itself, which leads us with another symbol. The fact that the most joyful holiday takes place in the depressing depths of winter is symbolic in itself. The light of Christ comes precisely in our moment of greatest darkness (John 1:4-5). In winter we find a time of hope (pg 56).
The children arrive at Aslans armys encampment along with their newly acquainted beaver friends, Edmund being absent after being captured by the White Witch. He is found in the Witchs camp and brought back to Aslans encampment. After talking with Aslan, Edmund returns to his siblings with Aslan at his side, Aslan says Whats done is done, there is no need to speak to Edmund about the past, showing forgiveness and compassion. Soon after the witch calls a meeting with Aslan about the execution of Edmund for betrayal. This is where we are introduced to the great magic, the laws of Narnia, it is stated that the punishment for betrayal is death, and just as Edmund has done, he is to be punished. The witch and Aslan go into Aslans tent for a private discussion. They both come out, Aslan saying that she has renounced her claim on Edmunds blood. However Aslan has a look of trouble and sorrow upon his face.
That night Lucy and Susan are awakened by Aslan walking by the tent. He catches the sleuthing around following him, and they ask if they can join him, he agrees saying he would enjoy the company. This is another symbol, just as Aslan wanted company as he walks up the mountain; Jesus wanted company when he went to pray in the garden of Gethsemane. They walk for a while and he finally tells them Its time and departs on his own. Reluctant to let him go solo, they follow. What ensues is horrifying to the children. Aslan walks right into a crowd of the witchs minions and allows himself to be brutalized. They humilify him by shaving his mane (a lions pride) and beat and spit on him. Leading him up to the top of the stairs, they lay him, tied up, on a stone table. The witch kneels over him saying You know Aslan; Im a little disappointed in you. Did you honestly think that by giving your life you could save the human traitor? Your not saving anyone, so much for love and with that, she plunges a dagger into the lion, extinguishing the great king of Narnia. All the while Lucy and Susan watched in horror.
The crowd disperses, leaving the corpse of the former king lying on the stone table. Susan and Lucy go to weep over their king. As dawn approaches, the corpse disappears and the table cracks, representing the nullification of the old laws(the great magic) just as the tabernacle curtain tore when Jesus was crucified. They turn to see the sun break the horizon, and there stands their king, in all his blazon glory, resurrected as the true ruler of Narnia. This is also in correlation of Jesus resurrection, the most powerful part of the Christian mythology. The death of Christ means nothing in and of itself, it is the resurrection that makes the Christian faith what it is.
With their only true enemy defeated, the Witch and her army make an advance on Aslans encampment. What follows is an epic battle of good versus evil. As they fight Aslan and the girls make a side trip to the Witchs castle. In the courtyard they find countless stone statues of former residents of Narnia. Upon seeing her friend Mr. Tumnus, Lucy becomes grieve stricken, but when Aslan steps up and breathes a breathe upon his face, he is reanimated unto his old self. They go throughout the courtyard and revitalize all of the residents that the Witch has turned to stone. Lewis uses the same analogy of a statue coming to life in Mere Christianity, his classic defense of the truth of Christianity. He describes the difference between physical life and spiritual life. Adopting two Greek words, he says that bios (that is, physical life) is a matter of mere biology, while zoe (that is, spiritual life) comes from God. (pg 106)
A man who changed from having Bios to Zoe would have gone through as big a change as a statue which changed from being carved stone to being a real man.
And that is precisely what Christianity is about. This is a great sculptors shop. We are the statues and there is a rumor going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life
One of the revived citizens of Narnia is a giant with a rather large club proceeds to smash the walls of the castle and devastate the place. This whole scenario is a representation of the breathe of God being the breath of life (just as he breathed into Adam) and the smashing down of the barriers of sin. It can also be said that it is turning a hard, stone-like, sinful heart and replacing it as new.
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezek. 11:19-20)
With the newly revitalized troupes, Aslan and the girls head to the battle. Upon their arrival they find a fierce find underway. During the course of the battle many soldiers are turned to stone, and Edmund injured badly.
Earlier in the story they met a figure who, rather closely, depicted Santa Claus. He gave them all gifts, Peter a sword, Susan a bow, and Lucy an elixir. This elixir has more to it then just being magical healing water. After the battle Lucy goes up to the soldiers who have befallen the witches curse. As she pours the elixir onto them, they are revitalized. And like before, Aslan does his thing with the breath. But the elixir has tradition behind it. The device recalls the ancient Christian practice of anointing with oil, which was done for the sick and sometimes accompaniment to baptism. This was considered symbolic of the anointing of the Holy Spirit (pg.110).
After the battle we are then taken to the castle of Cair Paravel, where the four thrones reside. Aslan crowns them, and they take their places on the thrones. The sons and Daughters of Adam and Eve take their rightful places as sovereigns over the world of animals. More than that, they symbolize the Christians status as a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), saints who will judge the world (1 Cor. 6:2), who will receive the crown of life (James 1:12).
Aslan slips away, as Mr. Beaver explains he has other countries to attend to, he will often drop in, but he cannot be controlled. He is wild. He is not a tame lion. Lucy inquires to Mr. Beaver is he safe? and receives a reply of he is not safe, but he is good. This is one of the things modern day Christianity seems to have lost. As mentioned before, we have dumbed down God. When we think of God, we think of Jesus meek and mild. We forget that God is not just a humble servant, but a God of power and love. A God that can destroy the universe with a snap of his finger, who can cause plagues with a wave of his hand, and worldwide floods with a blink of an eye. However if we do as He says we need not worry about such things, for he is not tamed, oh no, but surely, He is good.
The children spend years ruling over Narnia, and one day stumble across and old familiar lamppost, and some coats. As they pass back through the wardrobe the end up back in the professors house, seconds after they had left, with the housekeeper still storming after them for making a ruckus(why they hid in the first place). When they tell the professor about their adventure, they are excited to one day go back. But the professor also tells the children not to try to get back into Narnia. It will happen, he tells them, when they are not looking for it. That is to say, it is not a matter of works but of grace (pg 119) once a king in Narnia, always a king in Narnia, Just as your name shall never be erased from the lambs book of life.
(To note, every cite was taken from “The soul of the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe by Gene Edward Veith.)