Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Aslan and Atonement

Not only is this blog rarely original, but it is rarely timely as well. For instance, I almost never read the Presbyterian Outlook on-time. I catch major articles highlighted on Presbyweb and then receive the dead-tree version second-hand from a parishioner. (She is so nice to give me her copy when she finishes it.) Nonetheless, I get my copy fairly late. Today, I happened to be reading the December 26, 2005 issue of the Outlook.

Inside was a review of the movie, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Now, C.S. Lewis was a life-changing author for me. I am inclined to like the movie, and despite quibbles, which I won't describe here, I thought it was a decent adaptation of the book. What I found strange was the reviewer's choice of words.

If you don't know the story, there is a witch who has wrecked havoc on a magical place called Narnia. Aslan is a lion, Narnia's protector and savior. When I was young, I didn't catch the Christian imagery. Now that I am older, I see that the whole book is drenched in it. Here's how the movie reviewer described the climatic scene.
What the evil Ice Queen [the witch] doesn't understand is that even if she defeats the lion, she still loses. His sacrificial death serves as such an inspiration to his followers that he remains alive to them (a thinly-veiled Christological reference."

The only veil I see is the one that the reviewer is using to cover up traditional soteriology. In the book (and the movie for that matter), Aslan offers himself as a sacrifice. He is killed, and he comes back to life. His death is more than an "inspiration to his followers." The success of their battle against the forces of evil are dependent on the much alive Aslan.

Some dislike the book and the movie for the overt Christian symbolism. They believe C.S. Lewis had an agenda, but this reviewer reveals his own. I wonder if this obvious misreading of the Aslan's death and resurrection belies attitudes about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Too many times I have heard people (including clergy) suggest that Christ's death was important because it inspired the disciples. His great sacrifice of love was so powerful that the apostles believed that it was like Jesus never died. Jesus was alive in their hearts. You can believe that if you want, but that has not been the position of the Church or the Scriptures. Clearly, Christians have believed that Jesus rose bodily from the grave. The tomb was empty.

Is it possible that the author is interpreting Aslan through his own understanding of Christ?

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