A Good Week to Breath Narnian Air

Opening The Chronicles of Narnia to get lost in Aslan’s country is as easy, joyous, inviting, and stunning thing to do, as climbing into a warm bed for comfort and rest.  Lewis’ work throughout these seven volumes is indeed legendary, and I’m sure, will be around for many centuries.  Though we did not cover all of it and though it is true that we have seen some parts of it that are very hurtful to the reader, I do submit that any reader will be helped a great deal by reading these fiction stories.  The series is indeed a pre-baptism of Christianity, and it should be taken as nothing more.  If it is taken as a full orbed systematic theology from Lewis or something along those lines, disappointment will surely follow quickly.  It is clear that Lewis could have done a far better job in certain places portraying Christian doctrine, but even after all these mistakes cleared up, Lewis is not inspired, only the Bible is.  If the series is taken as what it was meant to be, a children’s fiction fantasy world, no reader will be upset.  Though it is still true, the ideas within this fantasy world have their consequences that need to be talked through.

Overall the most fascinating thing about the whole mythology is of course, the character of Aslan.  The picture Lewis paints in Aslan shows the world what God in Jesus is like to humanity.  This stunning picture of glory and grace put into detail over and over throughout the mythology takes my breath away every time I open it to behold.  Is God really as gracious, powerful, terrible, beautiful and lovely as Aslan is?  No, He’s better!  When Christians get to heaven and behold the Lamb of God on His throne, Aslan will look like a pot-hole in comparison to Lord of Glory!

Mr. and Mrs. Beaver said it well in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, “‘Safe?’”  said Mr. Beaver; ‘don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you?  Who said anything about safe?  Course he (Aslan) isn’t safe.  But he’s good.  He’s the King, I tell you.’” [6]

Polly Toynbee, a very well known columnist for the British Guardianreviewed the 2005 Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie and had this to say about it.

Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion…of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls…Did we ask him to?

No, we didn’t ask Jesus to do this.  I don’t think we would have given the option either.  He chose to do so.  He willingly died to bring us to God.

“Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)

[6] Lewis, 146.

The Last Battle: Surprising Heresy & A Gloriously Small Picture

The Last Battle, the last volume in the Narnian mythology, was awarded the Carnegie medal in 1956 for the best children’s book published that year.[1] That alone tells you that the quality and candor of this book was, and in my opinion still is, in a category of its own.  Knowing this, it was very surprising to me to see something within it completely heretical alongside some of the most heavenly writing I’ve read in fiction.  Now, I am aware that claiming Lewis to be heretical is rare, possibly arrogant, and perhaps a bit foolish, but one part of The Last Battle is not Biblical, hurtful to readers, and dishonoring to God.

Lewis’ heresy is revealed when Emeth[2], a worshipper of Tash and one of the soldiers of Tarkaan from the city of Tehishbaan in Calormene, begins a monologue in chapter fifteen of The Last Battle.  Emeth is angry because the ape (who was using the names of Aslan and Tash for his own political power play) claiming that Tash and Aslan are indeed one and the same calling it Tashlan is blaspheming his god Tash, so he decides to see for himself which god the ape is hiding behind him in the stable.  Emeth rushes over behind the ape and walks into the stable door, supposedly holding this god Tashlan, and is surprised by what he sees.  Rather than seeing a dark hay filled stable room, Emeth sees bright lights, bright skies, and wide open country lands.  Soon thereafter Emeth sees a large lion running up to him, and says to himself, “He was more terrible than the Flaming Mountain of Lagour, and in beauty he surpassed all that is in the world even as the rose in bloom surpasses the dust of the desert.”[3] After falling at the lion’s feet in fear he thought his time was up because somehow Emeth sensed that this Lion, who is obviously a god some kind, would be aware that he served Tash all his life rather than the lion.  The words from Lewis’ pen that come next are shocking.  Aslan said,

‘Son, thou are welcome.’  But I said, ‘Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.’  He answered, ‘Child, all the service thou has done to Tash, I account as service done to me.’  Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, ‘Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?’  The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, ‘It is false.  Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites – I take to me the services which thou hast done to him.  For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him.  Therefore, if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him.  And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.[4]

Lewis is puzzling here to me, because it seems that he is putting some form of universalism to bear here in this passage.  Whether or not the Calormene man knew so, the service he did to the Tash, the false god, Aslan counts as service toward Himself, the true God.  Could this then imply that what Lewis means to teach is that a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or any type of pagan worshipper really worships Yahweh, the true God and God of the Bible, even if they are not aware of it?  Another meaning cannot be present here.  All evil is done to the service of Satan, while all good is done to the service of Yahweh.  This is unhelpful to the most extreme degree.  This is not merely a theological slip-up from Lewis, he is claiming that there are other ways to serve and honor the true God than by repenting from sin and believing in Him.  The child reading this, receiving his “pre-baptism” as Lewis calls it, is receiving teaching from this absolutely different than what the Christian Scripture puts forth.  Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  There is no other way to know this God.  “Good” service done in the honor of a false deity, from a Biblical point of view, is service done to the false deity, not service done to Christ.  This passage from the mythology is simply wrong, hurtful to man, and ultimately dishonoring to the true God.

I am sorry to say this last scene is not the only hurtful thing about the theology of The Last Battle.  After an apparent bus accident, all the characters from the former Narnia volumes find themselves back in Narnia, unsure as to how they arrived there.  Aslan informs them that there really was an accident in which all of them died, and that they are now residents of the real Narnia forever.  The joy that passes through them is extremely rich and very evident as they explore their new home, finding out that they can run faster than animals, swim up waterfalls, and not grow weary one ounce from doing so.  The description of Narnia is simply breathtaking, and gives the reader a foretaste of what’s to come in the New Jerusalem for certain.  Listen to the words that come from the Unicorn, “I have come home at last!  This is my real country!  I belong here.  This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.  The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this.  Bree-hee-hee!  Come further up, come further in!”[5]

After this the party runs off into the distance as fast as they can.  They travel through the entire land of Narnia and make their way up the snowy capped mountains and then they see it, golden gates.  The door opens and out walks everyone they have ever known rushing to greet them in Aslan’s name.  The scene is breathtaking when Aslan finally walks up to them in this great golden city made especially for its inhabitants.  He tells them that they have now begun to the true story, where every chapter is better than the one before, and with that, the seven volume Narnian mythology is finished.

One might say, “What is wrong with that?”  To which I answer, one thing; it is glorious but small.  The description of the beautiful scenery is so breathtaking the reader cannot help but smile as he reads about this new Narnia.  But that’s just it, Lewis seemed to glory in the landscape and the glories of the new Narnia more than Aslan himself.  This is why it is a glorious but small.  Is this what the true heaven will be like?  In part yes, but the reason the citizens of that city will be rejoicing is because the One focus of the celebration will not be the country itself, but it’s foundation and builder, Jesus Christ.  Lewis painted a picture where the scenery of Narnia was treasured more than Aslan himself, when the real heavenly city will be just the opposite.  This prompts me to ask my readers, would you be happy in heaven to have all the purified joys you can have (friends, food, physical fitness, breathtaking nature, pleasures galore, etc) if Jesus were not there?  The Christian would answer simply, “No.  He is my prize!  If He’s not there I don’t want to be there!  He is my treasure, not His gifts!”

Therefore, though the imagery and literary genius of The Last Battle is clearly evident, and I have personally benefited from its work, I do think it is more harmful to readers than helpful in my opinion simply because it paints to much an un-Biblical picture.

[1] Sayer, 318.

[2] There could be an interesting word play going on in this man’s name, for it means “truth” in Hebrew.

[3] Lewis, 756.

[4] Lewis, 757.

[5] Lewis, 760.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: The Worst & Most Beautiful Pain

In the book Voyage of the Dawn Treader we find, what is in my opinion, the second greatest piece of Biblical imagery in the entire mythology.  A young boy named Eustace becomes an ugly scaly dragon as a consequence for being selfish and stubborn.  The reader feels somewhat happy this happens to him because he has been such a nuisance to the voyage.  Eustace repentantly realizes his mistake and desperately wants to become a boy again, so he tries and tries to tear into and rip off his dragon skin.  There’s just one problem, he can’t get his dragon skin off no matter how hard he tries.  The deeper he tries to go into his dragon scales, the more pain he feels.  After hours of self-determining effort on Eustace’s part, Aslan comes to his aid and leads him to a well to bathe in.  But since he’s a dragon he cannot enter the well.  Eustace realizes his skin must come off first.  Eustace tries again to painfully tear through the layers of dragon skin and gets farther this time but still sees that he cannot do it on his own.  To which Aslan says, “You’ll have to let me undress you.”  Eustace describes the event:

I was so afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back and let him do it.  The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart.  And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt.  The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.  You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab off a sore place.  It hurts like billy-oh but it is fun to see it coming away…Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft…then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I had no skin on – and threw me into the water.  It smarted like anything but only for a moment.  After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm.  And then I saw why.  I’d turned into a boy again…After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me…with his paws…in new clothes – the same I’ve got on now, as a matter of fact…It would be nice, and fairly true, to say that ‘from that time forth Eustace was a different boy.’  To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy.  He had relapses.  There were still many days when he could be very tiresome.  But most of those I shall not notice.  The cure had begun.[1]

This story portrays a massive two massive realities present within the Christian life, that of regeneration and sanctification.  By regeneration I mean “that act of God by which the principle of the new life is implanted in man, and the governing disposition of the soul is made holy.”[2] In regeneration God does heart work.  He gives the person a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26-27), circumcises that heart (Deuteronomy 30:6), puts the fear of Himself in the person so they will not depart from Him (Jeremiah 32:39-41), and sees to it that this new spiritual life He began in them will be completed until His return (Philippians 1:6).  Eustace was made a new boy that day by Aslan’s hand, so too each person who puts their faith in Christ becomes a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).  As seen in Eustace’s story, man cannot do this work on his own, God must do it if it’s going to stick.  Also as seen in Eustace’s story, this process of regeneration in man will be painful, because tearing soul out of the grip of the devil’s grasp leaves it mark.  Once regeneration takes place, salvation has begun.  The man who was unrighteous is now right in God’s eyes, and God in response to His own work in the man, begins to turn that man into what He is not, righteous.

This is precisely where the second reality comes into view, sanctification.  By sanctification I mean the “gracious and continuous operation of the Holy Spirit, by which He delivers the justified sinner from the pollution of sin, renews his whole nature in the image of God, and enables him to perform good works.”[3] Just as Eustace felt the horribly painful claws of Aslan tearing into him, so too when Christ conforms us into His image, His pruning is often just as painful.  John 15:1-2 portrays this, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” The pruning of Christ can be very painful, but o’ is it good to be more like Jesus and less like our old selves!

Therefore, I submit that this image is the second greatest piece of Biblical imagery in the entire Narnian mythology.  It is wholly helpful to the reader and not hurtful in the slightest degree, because it shows the Christian reader how they came to be where they are now as Christians – namely that what Aslan did to Eustace, God did to every Christian.  It also shows the unbelieving reader how one begins the process of becoming a Christian namely by laying down your arms and giving all over to God, only to be surprised by the joy of finding out that your “all” was already God’s in the first place.

[1] Lewis, 473-476.

[2] Berkhof, 460.

[3] Berkhof, 532.

The Horse and His Boy: God is Sovereign, God is Good

Though the Horse and His Boy is not a well known work of Lewis’ it is an astounding work of fiction that, in my opinion, applies to all people no matter what age.  Shasta, the main character, has always thought of himself as an unfortunate boy, especially in light of his past events where he seemed to get left out.  The scene I want to address in this book finds Shasta as low as one can be, feeling so sorry for himself and his circumstances, that tears began rolling down his face.  What happened next put this to a direct stop.

Shasta discovered that someone or somebody was walking beside him.  It was pitch dark and he could see nothing.  And the Thing (or Person) was going so quietly that he could hardly feel any footfalls.  What he could hear was breathing.  His invisible companion seemed the breathe on a very large scale, and Shasta got the impression that it was a very large creature.  And he had come to notice this breathing so gradually that he had really no idea how long it had been there.  It was a horrible shock.[1]

After going through all sorts of possibilities of what this large Thing could be Shasta could not bear it any longer.  He mustered up the courage to talk to It and ask It what it was.  The Thing replied and told Shasta that It was not a giant or something dead, and asked Shasta to tell It his sorrows.  Without noticing the Thing had not answered the question but redirected the entire conversation, Shasta began to tell the Thing his entire pitiful life story.  After detailing his unfortunate experiences the Thing turned to Shasta and said:

‘I do not call you unfortunate,’ said the Large Voice.  ‘Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?’ said Shasta.  ‘There was only one lion,’ said the Voice.  ‘What on earth do you mean?  I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and –’ ‘There was only one: but he was swift of foot.’ ‘How do you know?’  ‘I was that lion.’  And Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued.  ‘I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis.  I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead.  I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept.  I was the lion who gave the Horses new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time.  And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.’…‘Who are you?’ Shasta asked.  ‘Myself,’ said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again, ‘Myself,’ loud and clear and gay: and then the third time ‘Myself,’ whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all around you as if the leaves rustled with it.[2]

Shasta was no longer afraid of the Voice, or the Lion walking beside him.  Rather he felt a terrible gladsome trembling in Its presence.  All of the sudden Shasta realized that as the Lion had been talking a light began to grow around Him, so much so that he had to blink over and over because it was almost as bright as the sun.  Then he turned toward the light and saw it.  There stood a Lion, walking beside him that was taller than his horse, soft and strong at the same time.  He caught a glimpse of His face, and jumped out of his saddle and fell on his face before It, without saying a word.  Their eyes met, and the Lion and all His glory around Him vanished leaving Shasta and his horse alone on the mountain path.  A few days later, Shasta was walking on a hillside far away where all the landscape could be seen around them.  Shasta noticed the path he walked on the other night where the Lion met him and was astonished to behold that the path they walked on was a cliff with jagged edges dropping far beneath on the left side.  Shasta warmly thought to himself, “I was quite safe.  That is why the Lion kept on my left.  He was between me and the edge all the time.”[3]

Thus we see Lewis’ purpose in The Horse and His Boy.  His aim throughout the whole story with almost every character was one and the same: to expand and display the reality present in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good, to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Aslan, as you have seen, has this kind of encounter with Shasta and many other characters.  All of the characters, even Bree the horse, seem to be down and out when Aslan comes to them with sovereign encouragement one by one.  This story is amazingly helpful because it teaches the reader that those awful circumstances in your own life which you think were the lowest of lows, were precisely the ones that God came to your aid, whether you were aware of Him or not, working them together for your good.  And not only your good, but God worked them the best possible way to get to your best possible good.  Aslan had been shaping, crafting, and carving out Shasta’s life from the very beginning, and when Shasta realized this he was infinitely humbled because such a glorious King such as Aslan was intimately involved with someone like him.  The same is true for all Christian and non-Christian readers.  Thus, I think this story has been, is, and will be used of God to bring many people to Himself throughout the past, present, and future simply because watching Shasta deal with real, hard life, and watching Aslan reveal Himself to Shasta gives the reader a window into God’s heart that is rarely seen in this generation.  Through life, Lewis learned one stunning truth that led his own heart to trust God like no other, namely, that God is sovereign and good.  This is the helpful, not hurtful, message of The Horse and His Boy.

[1] Lewis, 280.

[2] Lewis, 281.

[3] Lewis, 290.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe: The Greatest Image of the Whole

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, perhaps the most well known book in the entire Narnia series, offers a multitude of Biblical imagery for its readers to take notice of.  Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy wander into Narnia through an old large wardrobe and eventually find out from Mr. and Mrs. Beaver its cold, snowy dreariness is due to the reign of the evil White Witch.  After losing Edmund to the White Witch through tempting him with Turkish Delight, Peter, Susan, and Lucy train for battle against the dark forces with Aslan at their side.  It is before the battle that we come to one of the greatest (if not the greatest) pieces of Biblical imagery in the whole of the seven volumes of Narnian mythology, the death and resurrection of Aslan.

As I said, Edmund was tempted and led into following the White Witch through her delectable desert Turkish Delight.  Edmund eventually learned that the promises of the White Witch were as empty and cold as her heart was.  Peter, Susan, Lucy, and others broke into the camp of the Witch’s evil minions to rescue Edmund.  They succeed and take Edmund back to their camp.  By this time Edmund is well aware of his own fall into sin and is very happy to be out of the evil Witch’s grasp.  Back in Aslan’s camp, Aslan takes Edmund aside to have a chat with him, and though the reader does not get to hear the details of it, it is clear that Edmund has been forgiven and restored to his previous position as joyful a Son of Adam.  This section of the narrative has much to tell the reader of temptation, sin, the folly of it, and the graciousness of God in our failure and guilt.

Shortly thereafter the White Witch fearfully strolls into Aslan’s camp and claims to still have ownership over Edmund because he is a traitor, and all traitors belong to her.  Aslan invites her into his tent, they talk, and she leaves the camp without Edmund.  We learn in the pages after this that Aslan made peace for Edmund by giving the Witch something in his place.  Night falls and while the whole camp is sleeping Susan and Lucy see Aslan leave camp walking off into the woods.  They follow Aslan and to their shock eventually see that he is going to meet the Witch and her minions at the sacred Stone Table.  They now understand what has happened.  Aslan has offered the Witch payment by giving her himself in return for Edmunds freedom.  Susan and Lucy watch in horror as Aslan begins to be beaten, mocked, scourged, shaved, and eventually killed by the Witch.  All hope seems to be lost.  The hilltop where the sacred Stone Table was broken in two from Aslan’s death is now empty and Susan and Lucy are weeping over the dead body of Aslan, when all of sudden a blinding light shines behind them and Aslan appears in resurrected bodily form alive and well.  He explains to the girls that there was a deeper and stronger magic from the dawn of time[1] that the Witch did not know about.  The three of them run back to the battle, which is already underway and going in favor of the Witch, and defeat the Witch and her minions for good.[2]

The first thing to be said is that Lewis has surely done a masterpiece here in this narrative.  The reader feels triumphant jubilance as the Witch is destroyed by Aslan in the end after what happened to him.  No doubt Lewis is making a very Christian theological statement in this book.  Sacrifice, love, substitutionary atonement, ransom, burial, death, and resurrection are all present within this passage.  Clearly Lewis has written the death of Jesus Christ into the Narnian mythologies.  The question to at hand is; is this a helpful or hurtful image of the death of the Son of God?  To which I answer; yes and no.  Yes this image is extremely helpful because so much in here is so obviously and richly Biblical.  Space and length prohibit me from going into all the Scripture fueling this image about the substitutionary atoning death and sacrifice of the Son of God Jesus Christ on behalf of His people.  Just as the innocent Aslan took the blame for guilty Edmund standing in his place to die for sins he himself did not commit, so too innocent, perfect, and sinless Jesus Christ was treated by God as sin though He never knew sin, taking the fatal blow for the elect that we would know and treasure Him above all things.  In this manner the passage points forward a reality greater than itself ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

But do you notice that the images are not identical?  This is why I must say that in part, the image of Aslan’s death is hurtful to the readers.  Who did Aslan offer himself up to on the Stone Table?  The White Witch.  Who did Jesus offer Himself up to on the cross?  God, not Satan.[3] It is precisely here that Lewis portrays a divergent view of the atonement called the Ranson-to-Satan theory. This theory defines the atonement of Christ as a ransom paid to Satan to pay for the debts mankind had accrued to him.[4] Origen, along with several other early Church fathers held this view, though they each stated it in a different manner.  Anselm’s writings show hints of this view here and there, but Berkhof shows that this view gradually disappeared for its lack of intelligent support soon after.[5]

Therefore, though this is by far the greatest piece of Biblical imagery (probably the one piece which stood out most to Lewis’ critics) in the entire Narnian mythology and therefore incredibly helpful, it is faulty in its understanding of atonement and therefore hurtful to the reader no matter the age.

[1] The reader is left feeling that this stronger magic from the dawn of time is the love with which Aslan loved Edmund and gave himself for his freedom.  Also echoes of the creation event at the dawn in Narnia where Aslan sung Narnia into existence come back to mind from The Magicians Nephew.  Perhaps Aslan was moved by love to create Narnia?

[2] This story is found on Lewis, 172-186.

[3] See Romans 3:21-26, Jesus died for God, not Satan.

[4] Berkhof, 384.

[5] Berkhof, 385.

The Magicians Nephew: Singing Creation Into Being

In response to the invigorating inspiration I’m feeling after drinking deeply of Narnia and C.S. Lewis throughout the Desiring God Conference this past week, I’ve decided to focus on his fantastical work of fiction, The Chronicles of Narnia for a few days.

May you breath deep of Narnian air this week 🙂

Though The Magician’s Nephew is in the Narnian mythology is filled with wonderful images and fantastical stories the most astounding theological encounter in this book occurs when the reader watches Aslan create Narnia.  This scene begins in the end of chapter 8 and comes to completion at the end of chapter 9.  The scene is breathtaking to read,

In the darkness something was happening at last.  A voice had begun to sing…it seemed to come from all directions at once…Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself.  There were no words.  There was hardly even a tune.  But it was beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard.  It was so beautiful Digory could hardly bear it.[1]

After this scene those present looked above them and saw the blackness filled with stars, and each of them were singing as well.  But the voice of the stars grew fainter as the voice of the one singing drew near.  Wind came rushing, the blackness of the sky turned to grey, hills began to stand up around them, the sky changed to pink and then to a brilliant gold, and as soon as the voice swelled to the mightiest sound it could produce the sun rose over the hills.  And from the sun’s light they all could see the source of the singing, a large, golden lion standing in the middle of the valley.  At this moment we read that two distinct reactions occurred from seeing the lion.  Some of the party present there loved this singing so much they could remain before it for an eternity listening to its pleasure.  Others present, the Witch and Uncle Andrew, could barely stand to be before it, and seemed as if all they wanted to do is run and hide in a hole in the ground to get away from it.  The song began to change after this and the lion began walking toward the party standing there.  With each step the singing lion took with its large paws trees and mountains and animals and rivers and flowers and all sorts of lovely things were bursting forth into existence, until finally, all was created.  Narnia had been created by the voice of the lion.  Aslan stood in the center of a circle created by the all the animals he had just made, and he said to them, “Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, awake.  Love.  Think.  Speak.  Be walking trees.  Be talking beasts.  Be divine waters.”[2]

This scene is clearly theological and clearly very Biblically based and therefore helpful to anyone reading it.  We see that this is the creation story, this is Genesis 1 for Narnia, and just as Narnia came into being by the voice of the powerful lion, so too, the earth, the universe, and all they contain came into being by the voice of God Almighty (Genesis 1:1-2).  Aslan’s voice described here shows itself to be strong and to be powerful, almost in Psalm 29 like fashion when the voice of the Lord is so powerful that it can snap the cedars of Lebanon in two as if they were twigs.  Lewis clearly gives an ex nihilocreation, a creation out of nothing that can only be done by God and no one else.  “While Greek philosophy sought the explanation of the world in a dualism; which involves the eternity of matter, or in a process of emanation, which makes the world the outward manifestation of God, the Christian Church from the very beginning taught the doctrine of creation ex nihilo and as a free act of God.”[3]This free act of God is later defined by Berkhof as “the act of God whereby He, according to His sovereign will and for His own glory, in the beginning brought forth the whole visible and invisible universe, without the use of pre-existent material, and thus gave it an existence, distinct from His own and yet always dependent on Him.”[4]

Thus we see that this creation account is very Biblical, because creation is taking place before their eyes out of the mouth of Aslan.  Lewis probably had in mind here the truth that creation was accomplished, not by the Father alone, but through the Word of God (John 1:1), by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Trinity.  The Father would be represented by Aslan Himself, the Word of God is evident in this Narnian story with creation coming into being by the singing “voice” of Aslan, whereas the Spirit of God is evidently present in the rushing wind (the Hebrew word for Spirit is present in Gen. 1, and can also be translated as wind or breath) at the time of the act of creation.  This is a Biblical creation account clearly depicting the ex nihilo creation which is distinct from and dependent on God for its existence, it clearly shows this as a free act of God, which shows His strength over the devil’s (the Witch hated that Aslan’s power was older and stronger than hers), by the Word of God, and by the Spirit of God.  If we were to be sticklers and want this to be a completely Biblical creation account we would now search for evidence of Aslan creating Narnia for His own glory.  And though this element is not explicit perhaps it is implicit within the narrative itself.  All creatures come to Aslan and obey His voice after there made don’t they?  Whether or not this element is clearly stated, all present within the story know who received, and who still should receive, the glory for creating Narnia – Aslan.  Thus, Lewis wonderfully displays the full Biblical, and therefore helpful not hurtful, account of creation here in the Magician’s Nephew.

[1] Lewis, C.S. The Chronicles of Narnia. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2001, page 62.

[2] Lewis, 70.

[3] Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996, page 126.

[4] Berkhof, 129.