Thursday, July 10, 2008

Has it really been a week?!

I've read Proverbs 11-13. And I've read John 12-18. And Galatians 5 and 6. And Ephesians 1. I *should* be reading Ephesians this week. That is where my Sunday School is going next. There is always tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday though.

I haven't listened to any sermons in whole, though I've started a few. Must be more focused!!!

To read my rant-y review of The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis...I just can't believe how upset that book made me. I mean I *rationally* knew that Lewis was about as far apart from reformed as you can get, but I wanted these childhood favorites to stand up to a rereading. And all but the last one did. The other six were good to great depending on the book in question. But this last one whomped. It was just theological suicide.

-------------------Theological Ramblings feel free to skip to the end-------------------------------

----------In fact if you're not a believer, you probably should skip to the end--------------------

Second. Susan is missing. She's no longer a "friend" of Narnia. This is 'tragic' for several reasons. One is that technically speaking she will have lost her mother, father, two brothers, and a sister. She'll be all alone in the world. Two is the not-so-subtle theme that you can lose your salvation. If being a friend of Narnia translates directly into being a Christian, then Lewis' message seems to be that Susan represents Christians that have fallen from grace and lost their salvation, lost their way. Of course there are some believers who do in fact believe that this is the case. That Christians can un-Christian themselves, un-save themselves, re-damn themselves. I for one am not one of them. Of course, there is the potential that this fictional Susan could regain her friend status later on in life. That she could have another opportunity to believe. But Susan as allegory just doesn't work for me.

But the thing I found most unsettling was buried towards the end. A conversation with a worshipper of Tash that just does NOT sit well with me at all.

This is the story a Calormen soldier, Emeth, tells the friends of Narnia:

Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, "Son, though art welcome.' But I said, "Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash." He answered, "Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me." Then by reason of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, "Lord, is it true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?" The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, "It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites--I take to me the services which thou has done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore, if a man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he knows it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child?" I said, "Lord, thou knowest how much I understand." But I said also (for the truth constrained me), "Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days." "Beloved," said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek." Then he breathed upon me and took away the trembling from my limbs and caused me to stand upon my feet. And after that, he said not much, but that we should meet again, and I must go further up and further in.

(756-757 of the omnibus edition)

It's hard to find anything in that passage that is theologically sound. It is all horribly and sloppily wrong. If The Last Battle is taken as allegory then this ending is nothing but heresy to sound Christian doctrine. It preaches salvation by works. (If you're good you'll go to heaven.) And it carries the banner that it is not WHAT you believe or WHO you believe but your SINCERITY that matters. Your "goodness" that matters. There is nothing remotely biblical about that passage. And there is everything unbiblical about it.

One other irritant, a much smaller matter, is that it paints Aslan as weak. Aslan does not have the power, the authority, the ability, to "show" himself to others. The other Calormen soldiers and the unbelieving Narnians can't see this new country--this afterlife country--as it is. They see darkness, blinding darkness. They don't see the sun, the flowers, the beauty and wonder of it all. They see dark and smell manure. And Aslan can't do anything about that. He can't un-blind these people. He is powerless to save them. He's willing BUT NOT ABLE to save these people.

Some readers may not find that theologically unsettling. But once again Lewis has strayed from scripture. The God of the Bible is far from weak and powerless. He's not sitting around waiting and hoping that someone somewhere will maybe someday "see" him and "believe." He is a God who acts. He's a powerful God. A sovereign God.

Theologically disappointing? Yes. Yes. Yes. It's more than disappointing. It's infuriating. Shocking almost as well. All of the other Narnia books have been good. Really good. I haven't found anything unsettling or upsetting or unsound in any of the other six novels. But here in this final book, it is one big dud.

---------------------------- End of Theological Rant------------------------------------------

Blogged with the Flock Browser

1 comment:

Amy said...

Hello Becky,
I just stumbled upon your blog and this entry about the Last Battle. I'm wondering if a different way to interpret the conversation between the Calormen and Aslan is that the soldier had already chosen to believe in Aslan and to serve him. Therefore, he was able to see Aslan while the others were not. Also, I think that his works didn't save him, but rather that now that he believed, his works counted as toward his 'reward' in heaven (but not his salvation). Anyway, it's been a few years since I've read it, and I also struggle with the Susan issue. I don't remember the episode with the soldier all that well, so I may be way off, but from the section you quoted, that's how I would interpret it.