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The Chronicles of Narnia The Lion “The grace of God best fills a man who empties himself of himself.” CS Lewis
I just got back from seeing The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, troche the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I was a little dazed with joy when it was over because it was so wonderfully done. When I got home the first thing that drew my attention was a large stuffed lion (3 feet tall) we call Aslan. We bought it for our grandkids’ room a few years ago. I felt compelled to say thanks to this big stuffed lion called Aslan. Of course I was saying thanks in my heart to Christ for all that He did to save me. Christ’s loving sacrifice is beautifully allegorized in this film. I recommend it, and encourage you to stay to the end when you see the movie. There is a little post scene that follows the end credits. I think a third of my theatre group missed this last part because they left early. When you go be careful not to take children who are too young, there are some scary figures and scenes in the movie.
About the author
C. S. Lewis was an accomplished scholar at Oxford University in London during the early to mid part of the 20th Century. He was an atheist for many years before turning His life over to Christ in 1929 (John 9: 35-38). He was led to the Lord by an associate and friend, J.R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings.
Aside from the Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis wrote several other Christian books. Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters the most noted.
The allegory: The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe
An allegory is the use of figurative language to explain a hidden meaning, often something spiritual or moral. I personally believe C.S. Lewis used the Chronicles of Narnia, (a children’s make believe story) to explain the forces of good and evil and the role of Christ and Satan in this world.
The figurative language in the film
I will not mention all of the figurative language in the movie, but only that which caught my eye and heart. If my interpretation is different than yours, then so be it; without an allegory explanation, it is up to each of us to draw our own parallels. I look to the Scripture to draw mine, because I believe C.S. Lewis wrote with this purpose. It fits so much with what he wrote outside of the Chronicles, and seems to reflect his own previous conflict with evil and Satan.
The main characters in the story are Aslan (Christ), the White Witch (Satan), the animals (mankind), and the children (God’s chosen leaders; perhaps the disciples).
The main symbols in the story include the great stone (the cross), Aslan’s death (the crucifixion), the breaking of the stone table (torn temple curtain), Aslan’s miraculous recovery (the resurrection), and the final battle (the defeat of Satan).
Aslan was a lion in this story which is an appropriate symbol to represent Christ. A lion is the King of the beasts as Christ is King of all (John 19:21). Christ is even called the lion of Judah in the book of Revelation (Revelation 5:3). Aslan was good, kind, powerful, and willing to give up his life for another (Edmund). The animals who served Aslan loved Him very much and were willing to fight for Him against the White Witch. Christ was also good, kind, and powerful. He loved those who were helpless, and was gentle with the afflicted (Matthew 8:2-3; Luke 7: 12-14). He was powerful too, enough so to stop a storm, and yet He forfeited that power by dying on the cross to save us all (Marl 4:38-39).
The White Witch
The White Witch was an evil and wicked ruler; her reign over the animals who served her was through fear and oppression. Her kingdom was dark and depressing. She was very cunning, presenting herself as a beacon of light, which was a trap for the unaware. Edmund was one of the children who fell into her trap. His foolish desire to be a king himself nearly caused his own death, which Aslan rectified by sacrificing His own life for Edmund.
Satan is very much like the White Witch as Scripture proves, because like her, he rules through fear and oppression. His kingdom is very dark and depressing. Like the White Witch he is also a great deceiver and liar as Genesis, chapter 3 (temptation of Adam and Eve) records. Edmund (one of the children) is likened to both Adam and Eve because he believed the White Witch’s lie about becoming a king, as did Adam and Eve about becoming God (Genesis 3:4-5).
The animals in this story talked and some were combinations of ½ man and ½ animal in appearance. They either followed the White Witch or Aslan. Some of these animal-like creatures who followed the White Witch were more sinister looking, especially those doing her immediate handy work. The rest seemed rather normal. Whether sinister looking or not, it was clear that each of these animals who followed the White Witch was on her side as the final battle approached.
The animal-like creatures who followed Aslan were similar in appearance to those who followed the White Witch; accept none of them looked sinister. The only other contrasts were that they seemed to be at peace with one another and loved their master rather than feared him.
The animals in the allegory are analogous to mankind. Just as each animal-like creature represented a different species in Narnia, so man is varied as well. Mankind today is made up of many races, colors of skin, customs, and languages. But as different as mankind is from one another he is the same in one context, he is created in the image of God, by God (Genesis 9:6) The only real important difference is whose side is he on; Christ’s or Satan’s? Like those animal-like creatures who aligned themselves with the White Witch, there are multitudes in our world who reject Christ as Lord and master, and thus have lined up with Satan. Some are more sinister and evil than others, but all are on his side. There are also millions who have accepted Christ as Lord, and are on His side. The Scripture is very plain about these two sides. Jesus said it Himself, “You are either for me or against me (Matthew 12:30; John 3:16 &18).
Men, women, and children who have put their trust in Christ are like the animal-like creatures who served Aslan (John 1:12). They are on His side because their faith in Christ assures them a place on God’s side forever (John 10:28-30). Some are definitively more committed than others. Like the animal-like creatures in Narnia some chose to fight on the front lines, while others stayed near the back during the battles. In the end each will be rewarded according to the kind of fight they waged, but all will be in the kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:10).
The children in this story were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. They each had different roles, but all had one prophesied purpose and that was to help Aslan save Narnia by defeating the wicked White Witch.
The disciples, as well as all of God’s leaders throughout the centuries are direct parallels to the four children in this story. From the very beginning of time God has chosen and called certain leaders to help Him win over man and defeat evil.
The stone table
The stone table was the place where Aslan was taken to be slain by the White Witch. In a bargain to save Edmund’s life, Aslan decided to offer his own life in exchange.
The cross on which Jesus died is the parallel to the stone table upon which Aslan died (Colossians 2:13-14). Just as Aslan freely gave up his life on a cold stone table for Edmund’s, so did Christ give up His life on a rugged cross for all of mankind.
The White Witch tied up Aslan on the stone table; he was jeered by all of her subjects, and then his hair was sheered in a final act of humiliation. The White Witch then thrust a knife into his heart as everyone around the stone table celebrated.
Christ’s own crucifixion is the parallel to Aslan’s. Just as Aslan was humiliated and slain on a cold stone table, so was Christ humiliated in his beatings and final death on the cross (Luke 24:20).
The broken stone
The stone table, on which Aslan died, broke in two pieces shortly after the White Witch left to attack the rest of Aslan’s forces.
The torn curtain in the Temple at Christ’s death is the parallel to the broken stone table. The tearing of the Temple curtain signified the promise that there would no longer be a barrier between God and man (Matthew 27:50-53). Christ’s death on the cross assured us all of this promise.
Aslan’s miraculous recovery
After a large earthquake and the breaking of the stone table, Aslan came to life appearing to Susan and Lucy.
The resurrection of Christ is the parallel to Aslan’s miraculous recovery. Mary sitting outside the tomb of Jesus when He arose is parallel to Susie and Lucy staying by Aslan’s side until his miraculous recovery (John 20: 11 & 16).
C.S. Lewis’ story about Narnia is great allegory about good, evil, Christ, Satan, saved man, and lost man. The images he used to tell his story were clear and never confusing. This generation of children and young people need clear pictures of who God is and what He has done. They need to know the real authors of good and evil, whether it is abstractly taught or put in allegory form as C.S. Lewis did in the Chronicles of Narnia.
There are other children’s stories about good and evil that have come out in the last few years which do not present a clear picture of good and evil. Harry Potter films and books are a good example of this. Unlike the Chronicles of Narnia, the Harry Potter books and films confuse us about the author of good. Harry is a wizard for example, a figure in Scripture that is totally evil (2 Chronicles 1, 2 6; Mal. 3:5; Leviticus 19:30-31; Deut 9:9-14). To make a wizard a hero of good can only lead to confusion for this generation of children who desperately need not only to understand what is good, but need to know the real author of good, Jesus Christ. The argument is made that Harry Potter books are making avid readers out of children who found little interest in reading before. This may be true; for the Harry Potter books are exciting to read. But in the end when these children grow up and have to face the great challenges of living in this world, it will not be their reading skills that will get them through life, but their relationship with the God who created them, and with Christ who gave up His life so that they could have the abundant life they were meant to live. Embrace the Chronicles of Narnia and walk away from the Harry Potter books and anything like them.
Take your family to see Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Talk about it and then read the series together with your children over the next few months. Make comparisons to God’s Word as you talk about the different characters and events in the story. Focus on building within your children strong beliefs of what is good, which begins first of all with the author of good, Jesus Christ the Son of God.
I leave you with one of the greatest quotes C.S. Lewis ever made. I don’t know if he said this right after his own conversion from Atheism to Christ or much later when he had taken time to reflect on his decision. But regardless, Lewis knew he needed to repent of his sin of unbelief before receiving the full grace of God through Christ (Acts 2: 38; Philippians 1:9-11).
“The grace of God best fills a man who empties himself of himself.” CS Lewis
John 9: 35-38 35 Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” 38 And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him.
John 19:21 21 So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews’; but that He said, ‘I am King of the Jews.’ “
Revelation 5:3 and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”
Luke 7: 12-14 12Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother
Matthew 8:2-3 2 And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” 3 Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Mark 4: 38-39 38Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.
Genesis 3:4-5 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis 9:6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.
Matthew 12:30 “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
John 3:16 & 18 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 1:12 but as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.
John 10:28-30 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 “I and the Father are one.”
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Colossians 2:13-14 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Luke 24:20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him.
Matthew 27:50-53 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
John 20: 11 & 16 11 But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).
Revelation 5:5 and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”
Acts 2: 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Philippians 1:9-11 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
2 Chronicles 1, 2 6 1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, 2 He did evil in the sight of the Lord 6. He made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger.
Mal. 3:5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers.
Leviticus 19:30-31 30 Ye shall reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord. 31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.
Deut 9:9-14 9 “When you enter the land which the Lord gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. 10 “There shall not be one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 “For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord.