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Joined: 2006/3/15
Posts: 168

 Re: Trouble In Narnia

"Everything in this world is saturated with the poison of the world" R E A L L Y ? ? ?

"... the commandment if the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes." Ps 19:8

"...Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it." Ps 119:140

 2010/12/19 1:31Profile

Joined: 2006/3/15
Posts: 168

 Trouble In Narnia

"Everything in this world is saturated with the poison of the world."

"unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled." Titus 1:15

 2010/12/19 1:34Profile

Joined: 2009/5/15
Posts: 1042
Pacific Ocean

 Re: Ginny

I cannot speak with any authority on C.S. Lewis' writings.

I can speak with a reasonable amount of authority on Lewis, as I have read a great amount of what he wrote. Some of the things that he wrote will seem odd and bizarre when you do not understand that he was a professor of mid-evil history. His fiction writing was heavily influenced by his profession.

That being said, I agree with Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones that an intellectualized, philosophical approach to the faith is dangerous, Dr. Jones said that "some" people would be converted by C.S. Lewis to the faith, and I happen to be one of those people, during a very vulnerable point in my life, Lewis's books, "The Great Divorce," "Surprised by Joy," "Mere Christianity," and "The Pilgrims Regress," protected me from apostatizing from the faith. (His books did not give me faith mind you, they protected me from intellectual suicide which would have led me away from the faith.) Dr. Jones spoke this in his sermon series on Revival. Jones was rightly concerned that if we condensed christianity to Philosophy, then there would be no atmosphere in which the Holy Spirit could breath revival.

The third problem with Lewis is his Mysticism, or at least what I can honestly perceive as a leaning that way. But in all honesty, I am not convinced that Lewis had any agenda to introduce it into the faith. I think He was rather innocent in an ignorant sense. That sense being that he, along with a great many people who were damaged by the Humanism of the 1800's were lead to adapt scripture to fit with their time. There are many people who have done this type of thing. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is also an example. Many fundamentalists did the same. Many great men of God during the 1800's through the 1900's made a lot of compromises with the word. I believe many of them opened doors that if people opened the next door beyond the door they opened, the second "openers" could go down a road toward apostasy. It is a theological telephone game. This is why Ten Shekels and a shirt is such a popular Sermon. It resonates with many of our generation because we have seen the ripples that have been caused by many of these things.

However, I can still be blessed by many things these people said in their endeavors to make Christianity paletable to those who would repudiate it. I think their motives were pure, in spite of many unbiblical conclusions these kinds of people came to.

And this is my conclusion...It is not Lewis that bothers me. It is the people who build upon his foundation and walk through the next door he granted access to. I believe Lewis, for all intents and purposes built on the rock with some precious metals, but I also think that he built upon the rock with a significant amount of wood, hay and stubble. Now, if someone comes along and builds on top of the wood hay and stubble, with more wood hay and stubble, they end up with a "Shack..."

Jeremiah Dusenberry

 2010/12/19 2:13Profile

Joined: 2003/5/8
Posts: 4419
Charlotte, NC

 Re: Trouble In Narnia


"unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled." Titus 1:15

Including the writings of C.S. Lewis :-)

Jimmy H

 2010/12/19 2:36Profile

 Re: In defence.

Quite right, Jimmy.

I've been lurking around SI for years, though never registering to post. I suppose yet another ripping into poor C. S. Lewis was enough to make me do it.

With all due respect to the original poster and to the author of the article, I think the points made were weakly argued and give too little credit to well-meaning Christians who would read Lewis.

Quoting the article: "She goes through a spell book, and it is beautiful and fascinating. Then she finds the right spell and says the words and follows the instructions. And then the Dufflepuds (and Aslan) become visible. Her spell made Aslan visible, and he is pleased with what she did."

I think a point is missed here... Lewis is not promoting literal magic or the channeling of occult forces. Such is too literal a reading. The entire episode with the book is a moral lesson, with Lucy doing wrong with the book and experiencing sorrow for her wrongdoing. The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote of a necessary suspension of disbelief that must occur for one to enjoy fiction of any sort... I think all readers are aware of this suspension on some level - that the world of the book is not the real world. Narnia is a fantastical world (I say fantastical to differentiate it from the "swords & sorcery" image that is evoked by the word "fantasy") and I don't believe anyone can be accidentally deceived into occult experimentation through it.

Additionally, Lewis was writing in a literary manner, infusing his text with literary allusion and ideas which are metaphorical. To judge it based on a face-value literal reading is insufficient.

"In the world of C.S. Lewis’ day, this would not have caused practical problems. However, these days, kids can go to regular bookstores and buy spell books written by modern witches."

The occult has always been available to young people who would seek it.

Quote: "Many Christians are treating the Narnia books as being an allegory with Aslan representing Jesus and the children representing Christians."

Lewis was explicit in saying that this was not his intention. Can we blame the author if readers misunderstand?

Quote: "What will happen when Disney comes out with a movie of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”? Christian kids may wind up feeling free to practice magic. And this could help break down the barrier between Christianity and Wicca. It could “Christianize” witchcraft in the eyes of some Christian kids. "

Are kids so easily deceived? If they are, it should not be hard for parents or role models to undeceive them. At least, such is my experience with my own kids and with the youth work I do. More troubling, I would argue, is the effect of a potentially "Christian-like" message being projected on a screen - we all have a way of filtering that content out of consideration. I think it a greater chance that any redemptive message, if there is one, in the Dawn Treader movie would be considered as obvious nonsense like the magic book.

Quote: “I had some ado to prevent Joy and myself from relapsing into Paganism in Attica! At Daphni it was hard not to pray to Apollo the Healer. But somehow one didn’t feel it would have been very wrong”.

The words of a classical enthusiast on vacation. He's like an excited child. Cannot flexibility be granted for words he wrote to a friends who knew him and understood him?

Quote: "Lewis also said that “Christianity fulfilled paganism” and “paganism prefigured Christianity.”

But without giving any context, how can one be sure of how it was meant? To paste in a quote as evidence against him is not just.

Quote: "And Lewis developed a “lust” for the occult that remained with him even after he returned to Anglicanism"

And we all have our struggles, the temptations of the old flesh. Who doesn't?

Quote: "Note that Lewis said that he had trouble with that lust for the occult ever since his encounter with the Matron in his boys’ school. He wrote that statement in 1955. By then, he had written all but three of his books."

I wonder if the author of the article did any research into Lewis' biography and the potential sexual abuse that he, as a child, suffered from this woman. I am not making any simple assertions based on this, but I mean to suggest that there are complexities to his character, and unpleasant things that are passed over by Christian biographers of Lewis. He, however, did seek the healing and sanctification that was taught in the anglican tradition he was a part of. One cannot sum him up with a few sentences linking childhood suffering to misread stories for thinking adults.

Quote: "Lewis said that he was strongly influenced by George MacDonald, who was a universalist. MacDonald’s book “Lilith” is based on an occult teaching that Adam was married to a demon named Lilith before he married Eve. By the end of MacDonald’s book, Lilith is redeemed, and Adam says that even the devil will eventually be redeemed."

The charge of universalism against MacDonald is too simplistic. I am not defending MacDonald's ideas, but a universalist he was not. His theology cannot be ascertained by one literary novel. His sermons are complex and his ideas are deep... and they deserve better than such a summing up.

Let me be clear: I am no apologist for Lewis. I think most of his stories are not well written and his scholarship lacking in rigour (in his "Preface to Paradise Lost", a commentary on John Milton's epic poem, he manages to twist the text into a Christian reading that would satisfy many North American evangelicals). His apologetical works are more significant, in my opinion, but they are very much works of their time and place. How many dozens of threads on SI seem to condemn Lewis because his writings don't line up with a North American evangelical standard, or a revivalist standard of conduct? Lewis was an academic and an Anglican. His exploring of ideas fits into a British late-modernist phase of thought, which was significant in Britain in the years of the Depression, the War, and the post-war years.

I suppose I can sum up by saying this: the problem is not Lewis' writings... the problem, if there is one (which I doubt) is with evangelicals who cannot read critically. I am not suggesting that everyone should read Lewis just to understand the man or the literary history that is embodied by Aslan. I am suggesting that for the author of the article quoted in the original post to line up some context-weak facts about Lewis' life and create a case against his books is not right... it is unfair to Lewis and poorly done by the author.

Let those who want to read them read them and learn from the reading. Let those who do not want to read them not read them and benefit from abstention. Why cut the man down because he wasn't an revival-believing-evangelical from the 21st century? We all can do better than that.

Thanks for your time and patience,

 2010/12/19 4:13


Quote: "And Lewis developed a “lust” for the occult that remained with him even after he returned to Anglicanism"

And we all have our struggles, the temptations of the old flesh. Who doesn't?

Hey Aaron, I'm with you there man. To condemn a man for such a statement would be to condemn myself. This area in particular has been my lifelong sort of struggle/temptation. This is mainly where I was saved from. At least he was honest for saying so. Each one of us is going to have a personal lust for a sin that we'll need to conquer through the Blood. It's no shame to say that such a struggle exists.

Most will never know this struggle and pull of the occult, just as there are many temptations for other believers that I will never know or understand. I'd imagine if everyone here were totally honest with themselves, they'd admit that they're no different in their own way, regarding statements such as these.

That's if we're being totally honest though...

 2010/12/19 8:30

Joined: 2010/3/10
Posts: 31


Thanks Aaron for the post. I'm not a C.S. Lewis fan, but it's only God who is the final authority on Lewis' life.

 2010/12/19 10:30Profile

Joined: 2007/6/25
Posts: 766


I don't see a big difference from the Narnia series and Harry Potter series. Both use mythical creatures, witchcraft and all sorts of paganism.

 2010/12/19 11:34Profile

Joined: 2008/10/25
Posts: 3433
This world is not my home anymore.

 Aaron Hobbs

Dear Aaron,

Please do not stay away from this forum; we need your logic!

Lewis was explicit in saying that this was not his intention. Can we blame the author if readers misunderstand?

Your last sentence brought a smile and it could very well be applied to every thread on SI!!

God bless you and please do not stay away!



 2010/12/19 11:42Profile

 Re: Trouble with Narnia

We had a professor over 30 yrs ago that was an old retired missionary and a Greek scholar, who died of malaria, about 20 yrs ago, on summer break during his annual visit to India, where he taught Greek to the Indian students while the rest of us enjoyed our summer breaks. He was in his 70's while both teaching at our college and going every summer to India.
He would take a whole semester just to teach just the first 18 verses of the Gospel of John from the Greek.
As intellectual as he was - he'd still get tears and would have to stop teaching for a moment, because of truths and love of GOD that would hit him, just from teaching from this Book - he also taught Romans and other books from the Greek. To see a somewhat serious man have to stop teaching for those few minutes, after teaching the same books every semester for countless years had quite the impact.

He said - "Some tell you to just 'eat the meat and spit out the bones' - but WHY - when you can have the finest filet and not risk the damage of even the tiniest of bones?"

A whole semester on just 18 verses of John 1 but that class could have gone on forever on just those 18 verses.

Most of us understand that we could never stand before the HOLINESS of GOD Himself and live - but yet we can taint the fact that He is as much TRUTH as He is HOLY.
He is HOLY, TRUTH & LOVE in equal proportions - yet we ourselves decide which proportions of which we will accept.

This is what makes us humans and why we need a True Revelation of the total nature of GOD.
We need to SEE Him, though this experience may feel it will close to kill us.

Many claim to have "seen Him" but unless they come from that "experience" with an awesome reverence for His Holiness, Truth & Love in equal measures - they've had a counterfeit experience - because His Nature cannot be unequally balanced. Using our own scales to measure out His Qualities as we will borders on blasphemy.

The fear of GOD is the beginning of wisdom for a reason.
No one can say that they speak for His Character unless they've seen Him in His fulness (as much as humanly possible).

To mix anything that is not 100% Holy & Truth to represent The Lion of the Tribe of Judah or any other representation of GOD our Savior is a fearful thing.
How far can be push allegory?
How far can we push "symbolism" in His Word?
Can we go so far as to say that the destroyers of humankind through taxation and resulting famine is Jesus riding a horse - when His Word says that He is returning to destroy those who are destroying the earth and it's inhabitants through these things?

If our hearts are not in fear for the babes in Christ - then our hearts are not in the Love of Christ & His Full Nature.
We are giving the OT equivlent of "mixed cloth" when we could be studying to show ourselves able to handle the WORD instead of going whichever way the wind blows to Keep them liking us (normally the case for compromising) which is Not the Love of Christ - it's just "self" wanting to be "liked".

Love speaks the Truth in Holiness.

 2010/12/19 12:54

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