THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH ISN’T “SAFE”

From THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, Vol. 1 (c/o Google Images)

From THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, Vol. 1 (c/o Google Images)

2015-01-08 @ 13:22 CST

C.S. Lewis, the famous Protestant apologist, sought to teach people about the God of “traditional” Christianity in various ways, including allegorical fiction. His most famous series of books in that category is the collection THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, which I once read from front to back. (I have also seen the first two films inspired by the books.) An important character, Aslan the Lion, is a thinly veiled symbol of Jesus Christ – and at the very end of the series, Lewis made crystal clear he meant it to be that way.

I’m rethinking my whole relationship to speculative fiction, but I do remember many quotes from many spec-fic works. I liked this quote, which I found on Google Images today. Three children who visit Narnia – in the first volume – learn about Aslan from two talking beavers. One of them asks if Aslan – who, of course, also talks – is “safe” to be around. No, He isn’t “safe” – but He is good, and that’s the point. And woe be to those who stand against Him – even the Ice Queen, who is so obviously a minion of the Devil.

By the way, Aslan is a Persian word – I recall it means “lion” in and of itself.

I recall also that the biblical apostle Paul knew the Greek literature – even the mythology – written by then-famous Greek authors. He quoted two poems – originally meant to praise Zeus – in praise of the true God (Theos), when Paul stood before the council at Athens. He quoted two other authors elsewhere. All are quoted verbatim in their own Classical Greek, which was more formal than the Common Greek Paul spoke every day.

(Acts 17:28 RSV) “…for ‘In him we live and move and have our being‘; as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.'” (two quotes)
(1 Corinthians 15:33 RSV) Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
(Titus 1:12 RSV) One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”

Paul had a curiosity about the world around him, and about its literature. But he knew how to sift the wheat from the chaff, so he could be “all things to all men”. He didn’t indulge in that kind of thing merely for its entertainment value, or merely to nurture his ENFP-style gift of imagination. This is an example which I, as a fellow ENFP and prone to making certain mistakes accordingly, am trying to learn from now.

I hope it’s understood that I’m doing the same here with Lewis’ fictional work: sifting the wheat from the chaff. Lewis’ fantasy has many things wrong with it, not least the blend of classical mythology with “traditional” Christianity which is so characteristic of so much art and literature over so many centuries in the European world. But Lewis had a valid point about Jesus Christ’s sovereignty. He is King because He is good, both in what He is and in what He does. And no, He isn’t even remotely “safe” to be around – not at least if you do evil by breaking His Father’s commandments. His eventual judgment of the world will be neither evaded nor mocked.

Now let’s go in closing from speculative fiction to prophetic revelation, this time through John:

(Revelation 5:1 RSV) And I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals;
(Revelation 5:2 RSV) and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
(Revelation 5:3 RSV) And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it,
(Revelation 5:4 RSV) and I wept much that no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.
(Revelation 5:5 RSV) Then one of the elders said to me, “Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
(Revelation 5:6 RSV) And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth;
(Revelation 5:7 RSV) and he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.
(Revelation 5:8 RSV) And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints;
(Revelation 5:9 RSV) and they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
(Revelation 5:10 RSV) and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth.”
(Revelation 5:11 RSV) Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands [hundreds of millions!],
(Revelation 5:12 RSV) saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
(Revelation 5:13 RSV) And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!”
(Revelation 5:14 RSV) And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

(יוחנן רכב)

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Categories: Creative Writing, Culture, Google, Internet | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH ISN’T “SAFE”

  1. I find this interesting, of course the scriptures are as always food to us. The part about him intending it all along is the first time I remember hearing that. I have seen these on video at the library when I worked at school. I enjoyed the watching of them, now if I watch them again I will do so in a different frame of mind. Thanks for posting this..

  2. If you have the Narnia movies, of which I think we watched one. I was still struggling with the concepts we were taught in Minnesota about this movie and it’s pagan type use of making it seem Godly and correct. So I suspect if we could see it again, I will try to sift the wheat from the chaff too.
    I didn’t go because of the flack others got for going.
    Yisraela

    • i think it is safest – for us, and for the present – not to go back to this particular movie. There is no telling what might be hidden in it which might cause special problems for you, for one thing. If memory serves, this is one of the DVDs I threw out recently. We could always rent it through iTunes some day if we’re so inclined.

    • But you see, that is precisely the problem. J.R.R. Tolkien criticized his friend C.S. Lewis for mixing fantasy elements from paganism with Christianity. Tolkien sought rather to redefine pagan mythology’s symbols in a sort of “pre-Christian” universe, which technique has its own problems. We’ve seen the results put on film too: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

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