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

2 thoughts on “Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle — A Theological Warning

  1. Ginny Peyton says:

    Ben, this caught my eye because I read and enjoyed that series. It’s been years since I’ve read the last book but I remember the part about Susan. If you ascribe to the “once saved, always saved” theory held by many Baptists, her absence is troubling. It troubled me as a child, too. But, as you point out, perhaps she was never really a believer.
    I don’t recall the other character from your second point, but the situation sounds like relativism, which I’m encountering every where these days, even in my own church, though not from the pastor.
    I notice you list Joyce Meyer as a false teacher. I tend to enjoy her teaching and writing. I’m curious as to why you find her a false teacher. Would you tell me some time, when you have a chance?

    1. Hey, Ginny! Good to hear from you. I’m not sure this is the best medium to answer your questions, but I’ll give it a go. First, the mantra “once saved, always saved” is not something I believe because Baptists hold to it. I believe it to be biblical. There is strong evidence in both Jesus’ teachings and in later letters that God does not take away what He has freely given. What an awful way it would be to live wondering if the choices I were making could lose me my salvation! If I receive grace, it is mine as a gift; I do not have to then continually keep earning it. An authentically repentance heart–the kind Christ calls for–is incapable of turning back from Jesus. The old self is dead (Romans 6:2); it cannot come back to life. Do we struggle and doubt and fall back into sin? Sure. But grace abounds over these things. Romans 8 says there is no more condemnation; no more separation. Period; there is no “if” or “as long as” once a person has truly put their faith in Christ. Can someone at one point claim Christ and then later denounce Him? Yes, but the Bible speaks to this person: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” (1 John 2:17) I think the most pressing evidence is a passage that I have referred to a great many times recently, in Matthew 7. It is with greatness sadness and heaviness of heart that I read Jesus’ words warning that there are those who believe they are saved but because they do not live with repentant hearts or strive to obey Christ’s commands and teachings, they aren’t really saved at all. This is no works-based salvation, mind you. It is a genuine faith in Christ that is evidenced by these things.

      As to Joyce Meyer, well there are thousands and thousands of Christians who listen to her, but she teaches a prosperity gospel that cannot be backed up biblically. She teaches that “redemption” really means “receipt”, and that if you run into trouble in life, you can cash in that receipt, as if we can go to God and say “you owe me”. The gospel Christ teaches is quite different and calls us to give up our comforts and safety, our possessions and positions, our families and friends, our very lives…for the sake of the gospel. Christ teaches that if you are living obediently, you can actually expect suffering and persecution for the sake of the gospel. The world will hate you for this message. She teaches that salvation is about us and the betterment of our lives, when it is really about God’s glory and the proclamation of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth. She and Joel Olsteen both always fall short of saying anything that could possibly cost them followers or money, even refusing to confirm that Christ is the only way to God. The gospel message is both dangerous and unpopular. The road it leads Christ-followers down is narrow and few choose it. It should raise a red flag in us, then, when their prosperity message is so popular. People are being fed a message they want to hear rather than investigating these teachings against the Bible for themselves. And yes, it is fooling many Christians (2 Peter 2:1-3) into ineffective and disobedient lives.

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