Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle — A Theological Warning

Just finished reading The Chronicles of Narnia (it was my second time to read them). It’s a beautiful series with memorable imagery and allegory to Christ and Christianity. I highlighted many sentences that depicted the beauty and “un-tame” nature of Aslan. Though I do not like focusing on negatives, I have to say, I am deeply disappointed with the way The Last Battle ends for two reasons. I would never have thought CS Lewis to believe or teach these things.

First, he depicted Susan as no longer being a friend to Narnia, or in other words, losing her salvation. Near the beginning of the story, King Tirian visits our world and there are seven friends of Narnia at a table. I couldn’t add it up based on all the characters who had been to Narnia. One person was missing. (They weren’t named in the scene until later.) Then near the end, we get barely two lines about Susan having fallen away and stopped believing in Narnia, becoming more interested in worldly pleasures and pursuits. I think there is an apt warning here for us, but the end result is not biblical. Perhaps she never really believed in Narnia and Aslan at all which would be the only way to justify this writing. Maybe it’s a depiction of the kind of warning Christ gives in Matthew 7, to those who think they know Him, but really don’t as evidenced by their lack of obedience to His commands and teachings. If she was a believer in Narnia and Aslan, though, then I think she would have been in Aslan’s Country with the others, if not at first greatly humbled by her choices when she sees Aslan.

Two, there is a passage where an enemy Calormene named Emeth is granted entrance into Aslan’s Country. Emeth was sorrowful because he served Tash (the Calormene god) his whole life. Yet Aslan took what service Emeth did for Tash and credited it as if done to himself. In Aslan’s words, only good things can be done in Aslan’s name and bad things done in Tash’s. And since Emeth did good things, even though he was serving Tash, he was really serving Aslan without knowing it. Yikes! This is dangerous theology! I kept waiting for an explanation to correct what I was reading, but it didn’t come. That was it. Not only does it imply works based salvation, but it also implies that even if you don’t proclaim Christ, you’ll be okay if you meant well. I’m frankly quite shocked by this from CS Lewis.

I skimmed several blogs and reviews on the books, from Christians and non alike. (One Christian reviewer also mentioned–in addition to the two issues I have–that he felt the humans were far too enjoying Aslan’s Country over Aslan himself. Rather a good point, I thought.) Many reviewers talk about Lewis being racist because the bad guys are always dark-skinned. Many say he was negatively targeting Muslims. I don’t know about all that, but if the notion from Lewis’ passage of Aslan accepting Emeth’s work is that any person who believes in a deity will be counted righteous before God because he did good things, and good things can only be done unto the true God, then his teaching is false. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Hey, I’m not slamming Lewis here. He is one of the most renowned biblical scholars. Only the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and thus everything else is fallible. Peter warns of false teachings. Do I rank Lewis amongst false teachers of today like Joel Olsteen, Joyce Meyer, or Rob Bell? Certainly not. But we’ve got to be wise when it comes to any teaching and ensure it stands up to the absolute truth of God’s Word. That’s why–among many good reasons–we must invest and devote our time and minds to reading and studying God’s Word for ourselves.

Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle — A Theological Warning