The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Behind the Wardrobe

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If you are one of the half a jillion people preparing to see the first episode of the Chronicles of Narnia this weekend, here is yet another article to add to the hype and hysteria. By most reports from the pre-screeners, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is receiving high marks for quality, family friendliness, and authenticity. As with most movies based on best-selling books, the purists have been grumbling about a few “that wasn’t in the book” issues, but overall it looks to be pretty faithful to the C.S. Lewis classic.

While much has been made of the biblical allegory style of the Chronicles of Narnia, very few people “see beyond the surface” of this deeply meaningful set of books. Yes, Aslan is a Christ figure and the White Witch is a Satan/Devil figure. But if you stop there, you will miss many of the other parallels that aren’t quite as obvious. As you watch the movie, take notice of the details. C.S. Lewis knew he could never hope to improve upon the Gospel story, he simply wanted to retell it: “I said, ‘Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as he became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen.’”[1] It isn’t so much that we can find a biblical reference behind every tree in Narnia, but that the real biblical story was so much a part of C.S. Lewis that it shines through in his writing. So, intentional or otherwise, let’s look for some of the parallels.

  • The Wardrobe

The wardrobe itself is the portal to Narnia. The children did not simply imagine themselves in Narnia, they actually went there. The other children thought Lucy was losing her mind because she insisted on sticking to the “I walked through the wardrobe into a snowy, cold world and met a faun named Mr. Tumnus” story. The other children didn’t believe until they got snow all over their own shoes. Similarly, we can’t make anyone believe the Gospel of Christ. We can make the most rational, reasonable, evidential, emotional or heated pleas in the world and still not get someone to “see things our way.” Only God can do this: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

  • Magic

Magic in Narnia is really just the law of God. “Lewis uses magic as a synonym for laws that God has written into the universe.”[2] We are told of deep magic and deeper magic in Narnia. Deep magic makes it possible for Aslan to die in Edmund’s place and satisfy its requirements. “And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor? Now I will kill you instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased.”[3] But Deeper Magic is something the Witch knows nothing about. Deeper magic brings Aslan back from the dead. As Aslan tells it:

[T]hough the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.[4]

The Witch is a created being, just as Satan is. Satan can read the word of God, but he will never truly understand it. Deep Magic in Narnia is the law written on tablets of stone, but Deeper Magic is the law written on tablets of human hearts (2 Cor. 3:3). The letter of the law and the spirit of the law is what is contrasted here with the two “deep magics.”

  • Turkish Delight

Simple enough. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Think quail and manna in the desert (Num. 11:31–32). Christians will remain divided over issues like alcohol and tobacco use, but the key to all God’s good gifts is moderation. When the ______ (insert controversial substance here) takes control of the individual, the individual is no longer in control. Edmund was driven to the things that he did because he was being controlled by his desire for just one more taste of the Witch’s “Turkish delight.”

  • The women

Even though Susan and Lucy are not women, they are still female and this qualifies. Just as two women first saw Jesus in His resurrected body, Lucy and Susan are the first to see Aslan conquer death. This is an interesting parallel mainly because it’s such a strong argument that the Bible was written truthfully and factually. Women were not considered to be worthy witnesses, and if, as liberal scholars claim, the Bible was written, not as the Word of God, but as a work of man, this embarrassing little detail would most certainly have been left out. To the first-century Jewish mindset, the Messiah would not trifle Himself with women, He would have first appeared to men. Lewis seems to pick up on this and make it a part of his own story as well.

These are just a few of the many parallels between the Bible and Narnia. There wasn’t enough space to cover the idea of the waiting period in Narnia, before the children appear to fulfill the prophecy, just as there was the waiting period between Malachi’s prophecy to close the Old Testament and the arrival of John the Baptist. Or the turning of the stone statues into flesh. Or any number of ways that Narnia parallels the biblical narrative. Mel Gibson summed it up best when he spoke to Diane Sawyer in reference to The Passion of the Christ, “I hope the movie makes people want to read the book.” How true. Perhaps Narnia can reignite our passions for the real story…The Word of God.

[1] Lewis quote from Andew Coffin, “The Chronicles of Making Narnia,” WORLD (December 10, 2005), 23.

[2] Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder, Frodo and Harry: Understanding Visual Media and its Impact on Our Lives (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 20.

[3] C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (New York, NY: Harper Trophy, 1994), 155.

[4] C.S. Lewis, Wardrobe, 163.

 

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