Did Lewis Get the Gospel Right in The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe?Tuesday, December 13, 2005
This past weekend my most valuable treasure and I celebrated our 12th anniversary. We went with some of our dear friends, the Ballards, on a joint anniversary celebration out of town. After finding a theatre along our path northward to our destination in the north Georgia mountains, we stopped to see the first installment of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. As far as I could tell, after having read the book several times, the producers seemed to stick pretty close to the book. And the movie production of this worked brought out, for my wife and I, some excellent clarification and/or elaboration on some parts of the book which would have been missed otherwise.
Over a fierce game of Scrabble last night with some friends I waxed without eloquence on my troubles with the movie and the book. I've alwasy been bothered by Lewis' depiction of the White Witch as having some kind of authority over Edmund. More strange is that, despite the fact that such a depiction does not seem to find root in Scripture, the White Witch has no authority over the other three children. Further, Aslan sacrifices himself for Edmund. But why not the other three? Great pains are taken to show the sinfulness of Edmund, and it plays the focal role in the movie. But the sins of the other children are altogether passed by. What happened to the biblical doctrine of depravity, sin nature, etc.? Without this, the biblical doctrine of the atonement gets very, very murky, and the movie reflects that clearly. What happened here?
I've concluded that though Lewis was probably a Christian, there are abberant views of the gospel (like the conspicuous absence of justification by faith in his writings) that greatly concern me. Lewis, like all of us, was a product of his time. He could not escape the influences of modernity, neo-orthodoxy, and the theological errors pervading the English landscape in his day. People will no doubt look back on us some 60 years from now and point out similar concerns. We cannot see these areas. They are blind spots. Lewis had his. But these blind spots are of much more concern than are other theological issues. After all, it is on this point that our very lives are anchored.
My buddy Steve Camp posted an article I have not yet completed reading. It is a post on the theology of Lewis, and its relationship to the book and the movie. Read through it here. And read other material also to help me out. This is one of those things where I sense a great disturbance in the force, to use a Star Wars analogy (probably even worse than Lewis'!), but I don't know for sure what it is. I bend my ear to those more knowledgeable than I on these issues.
In closing I only offer this. Don't get caught up in the Hollywood hype. Worse yet, don't get caught up in secular Christianity's hype. They are in it to make money and not feed our souls. Be wary of the movie, and always be aware that bad theology is usually found in shiny wrappers that look, feel, sound, and taste so good. A little error mixed in with some good is always a recipe for unhealthy spiritual living. Know the theology before you go. That's my recommendation. That way, your emotions are toyed with such that you recommend it for its asthetic values rather than its theological ones.