Other Kjos Articles:
Legalized Mind Control Part 1
NARNIA - A POSTMODERN PATH TO FAITH AND SALVATION?
December 25, 2005
An argument between evangelical and secular Narnia fans has been raging for decades: Are The Chronicles of Narnia supposed to be Christian? The release of the Disney movie has added fuel to this debate. Its director, Andrew Adamson denies the connection to Christianity and says its spiritual themes are common to the fantasy genre. Nor does the producer, Mark Johnson see a Christian message. "When I read the book as a child," he said, "I accepted it as a pure adventure story. It never occurred to me Aslan was anything more than a great lion."
Even Douglas Gresham, Lewis' stepson, said recently: �Churches in Britain and America are promoting the film as a Christian film, but it�s not... and the Narnia books aren�t Christian novels.�
Evangelicals disagree. "We believe that God will speak the gospel of Jesus Christ through this film," said Lon Allison, director of Illinois' Billy Graham Center.
A letter C.S. Lewis wrote to one of his many young fans back in 1961 may close that debate:
That letter, sent from Magdalene College at Cambridge, brings us back to another question: Are his "supposal" (a word coined by Lewis) stories true to the Bible? Are they even compatible with Biblical thinking, which is based on God's absolutes?
"Lewis was anything but a classic evangelical, socially or theologically," wrote Bob Smietana in a Christianity Today article titled "C. S. Lewis Superstar." "Though he shared basic Christian beliefs with evangelicals, he didn't subscribe to biblical inerrancy or penal substitution.... Part of Lewis's current appeal... is a postmodern interest in 'thin places'�places where the physical world and the spiritual world meet.... Fantasy allows you to explain and grasp and integrate into your life things that are not logical.... It is to say that we can tell each other truth in story."
But when you communicate "truth in story," the truth can be stretched like a rubber band. That's why He warns us repeatedly against any meddling with His message! He will not let us add or delete anything. His certainty must not be tainted with our uncertainties. [See God's unchanging Word]
The last book written by C. S. Lewis (published in 1964) shows the author's view of social change and ambiguity. In "The Discarded Image," he tells us that when people no longer like the old Paradigm or cultural "Model" with its beliefs and values, they will simply discard it: "...phenomena to support that new one will obediently turn up." Nothing is permanent; everything changes along with human thought, wants, and speculations. Even "ultimate realities" must change:
Lewis ends his book with this prediction: "It is not impossible that our own Model [including the Biblical worldview] will die a violent death, ruthlessly smashed by an unprovoked assault of new facts -- unprovoked as the nova of 1572. But I think it is more likely to change when, and because, far-reaching changes in the mental temper of our descendents demand that it should. The new Model will not be set up without evidence, but the evidence will turn up when the inner need for it becomes sufficiently great. It will be true evidence.'
"What Lewis imagined to be 'not impossible' some generations away -- the death of the modern model or worldview -- turns out to be happening," wrote the leading postmodern Pastor Brian McLaren, who has indeed discarded absolute truth.
That's not surprising. And gifted authors like Lewis and Tolkien have helped that process. Their remarkable ability to bring Christian readers into new worlds and make them feel at home in the midst of pagan rituals, occult mysteries and magical forces have taught unbiblical versions of the most important gifts God has given us: His peace in the midst of turmoil, His unwavering faith, and His eternal gift of salvation.
First, God's peace is based on certainty: absolute confidence that God will be and do what He has promised in His Word -- no matter how difficult our circumstance. This peace is incompatible with the postmodern belief that everything must change and nothing is absolute.
Likewise, it clashes with the dialectic process, which is driving the transformation of churches as well as schools, corporations, government and homes. In other words, there can be no peace when truth (thesis) and myth or opposing opinions (antithesis) continually merge together (synthesis) into an evolving consensus. In this context, everything becomes uncertain -- even truth itself. Everything is subject to change with each new thought, feeling or group input.
Jesus never marketed his message with entertaining thrills or dialectic compromise. Nor should we! Like Him, we must bring true light "into the world," even though "men [have always] loved darkness rather than light." [John 3:19]
Second, our FAITH must be based on God's Word, not man's changing philosophies. When C.S. Lewis wrote about Narnia half a century ago, the actual practice of witchcraft and ancient occultism was generally out of reach. In an era of politically correct cultural Christianity, few knew the Bible well and even fewer knew much about other religions. The stories seemed safe, yet exciting and far from reality. People enjoyed them but didn't believe them.
This is a different era. Magical powers are now both real and tantalizing. Among teens, witchcraft is said to be the fastest growing religion, accessible to all through the Internet. And children in public schools are trained to view all religions through a pluralistic filter that rules out any claim that one "God" is better than any others.
"Faith is in the eye of the beholder," declared Tilda Swinton who played the part of the Witch. "Lewis' original book is more 'spiritual' than religious.... You can make a religious allegory out of anything if that's what you're interested in."
Like many today, Lewis had, early in his life, been captivated by the mythical worlds that filled his mind and heart. As he wrote in "Surprised by Joy," the possibility that "the visible world" might conceal huge "'uncharted realms' started in me something with which, on and off, I have had plenty of trouble since�the desire for the preternatural, simply as such, the passion for the Occult. Not everyone has this disease; those who have will know what I mean. ... It is a spiritual lust; and like the lust of the body it has the fatal power of making everything else in the world seem uninteresting while it lasts. It is probably this passion, more even than the desire for power, which makes magicians....
"The vagueness, the merely speculative character, of all this Occultism began to spread--yes, and to spread deliciously -- to the stern truths of the creed. The whole thing became a matter of speculation: I was soon (in the famous worlds) altering 'I believe' to 'one does feel.' And oh, the relief of it!... From the tyrannous noon of revelation I passed into the cool evening of Higher Thought, where there was nothing to be obeyed, and nothing to be believed except what was either comforting or exciting.�
It may be tempting to let fantasies confuse magic with the mighty power of God, but the two are incomparable. God reigns over all! He alone is worthy of our faith.
Third, Biblical SALVATION is based on God's victory, not human effort. "The Last Battle," the final book in the Narnia series, gives us a glimpse of Lewis' view of salvation and eternal life. The idol of the neighboring nation is Tash, a large, frightening creature who walked like a man but had a head like a vulture. After the final destruction of the worlds, the evil characters have all died. But Emeth, one of evil Tash' faithful servants, ends up in the new heavenly Narnia along with Aslan's loyal subjects.
"Do tell us who you are and what's happened to you," begs Jill, a "saved" human who has been reunited with King Peter, King Edmund and Queen Lucy. So Emeth begins his long story: "...always since I was a boy I have served Tash, and my great desire was to know more of him.... But the name of Aslan was hateful to me." He then describes the events of the final battle between the evil forces of Tash and the faithful followers of Aslan. Finally he shares his surprise at finding himself in the new world -- face to face with Aslan:
What does this passage suggest? That a person who serves Satan faithfully will reap eternal blessings if he does some "good" things? That those "good deeds" will save you, even if you trust in a false god and reject the true gospel? That Rick Warren is right and those who resist his "Second Reformation" are wrong? Remember, his Reformation calls for a change in Christian focus from doctrine and beliefs to deeds and behavior.
But God's Word tells us the opposite: �...by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
Never have our children been surrounded by so many spiritual counterfeits, seductive suggestions and occult images. And seldom has the Christian community been less prepared to resist such temptations. But God is more than sufficient to guide and guard those who trust and follow Him.
'Narnia': Christ Need Not Apply
� 2005 Berit Kjos - All Rights Reserved
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Berit Kjos is a widely respected researcher, writer and conference speaker. A frequent guest on national radio and television programs, Kjos has been interviewed on Point of View (Marlin Maddoux), The 700 Club, Bible Answer Man, Beverly LaHaye Live, Crosstalk and Family Radio Network. She has also been a guest on "Talk Back Live" (CNN) and other secular radio and TV networks. Her last two books are A Twist of Faith and Brave New Schools. Kjos Ministries Web Site: http://www.crossroad.to/index.html
Virtually banned from American schools in the early sixties, the Bible has faced a rising onslaught of wrath, ridicule, and legal assaults.