The Lion opened his mouth, but no sound came from it; he was breathing out, a long, warm breath; it seemed to sway all the beasts as the wind sways a line of trees. Far overhead from beyond the veil of blue sky which hid them the stars sang again; a pure, cold, difficult music. Then there came a swift flash like fire (but it burnt nobody) either from the sky or from the Lion itself, and every drop of blood tingled in the children’s bodies, and the deepest, wildest voice they had ever heard was saying:
“Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters.”
The beasts and birds, by contrasts, cry out a reply in harmonic unity. “Hail, Aslan. We hear and obey. We are awake. We love. We think. We speak. We know.”
My daughter and I have been reading through The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. It’s a wonderful story, but it is also a wonderful theology of humanity. Lucy, the youngest of the four, finds herself in a game of hide and seek. She finds refuge in a wardrobe. The wardrobe becomes the secret pathway to a new world called Narnia. Upon arriving in this new world, she meets Mr. Tumnus, a faun.a Mr. Tumnus discovers that Lucy is a daughter of Eve and further that she is not a threat to his well-being. He invites her for a cup of tea. Lucy, initially hesitant, accepts his kind request. Lucy enjoys the hospitality of the faun and falls peacefully asleep in the comfort of his home. Upon awaking, Mr. Tumnus is full of grief. He belittles himself for making a pact with the Witch. The deal was that he was to inform the Witch if he ever met a human. Lucy’s grace to the faun changes him. The Witch shows no grace, but Lucy does. Grace changes the faun. Once Mr. Tumnus gets a taste of the good, namely Lucy, he turns away and devotes himself to the good. Yet, he will soon discover that though he is forgiven, there is always pain when you associate yourself with evil.
Later in the story, Edmund, Lucy’s older brother, also enters the land of Narnia. He was mistrusting of Lucy’s original assertion that such a land existed beyond the wardrobe. Edmund is initially met by the Witch herself. Humans have always been a threat to the Witch’s rule over Narnia. She whispers words of deceit to Edmund. She tempts Edmund to accept her gifts. Edmund willingly takes it and offers her all the information she desires. The information undoubtedly will out all of Edmund’s siblings at risk, including little Lucy. The offer from the witch is equivalent to a type of wilderness offer where the devil offers food and royalty in exchange for loyalty.
The point of the story is that there is redemption from evil, even when you have made an alliance with evil. The redemption from evil begins when your heart starts to turn towards the good; we can say to be more precise, when your heart begins to turn towards God himself.
We know that there is redemption for Edmund in C.S. Lewis’ story. Later on he is known as King Edmund, the Just. But before he could become a Just King he needed to be humbled by a Just Lion named Aslan. Edmund, as you may remember, was full of doubt. He rejected the supernatural and even mocked Lucy; in essence, he mocked the good, true, and beautiful. Edmund cared nothing about others. He was merely concerned about his needs above anything else. The good news is that his heart began to turn towards Aslan. Aslan is pictured in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles as a messianic figure; a tender leader and a great warrior.
The prophet Joel provides a tender picture of how Yahweh receives repentant sinners.
Joel begins with this apocalyptic promise of doom for Israel. Locusts will come and devour everything. But Yahweh says, “Change your ways and I will receive you.”
Joel 2:13 reads:
Tear your heart, and not your garments,
and turn to Yahweh, your God;
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness…
Yahweh is asking for the heart of a people. He wants their inner disposition to be changed towards him.
All these outwards signs that Joel speaks of matter little if the heart is not changed. What Yahweh is after is allegiance. Yahweh is a jealous God. “Turn to me,” Yahweh says. “Hear my voice and I will receive you and show you abundant love.”
There is a lovely little narrative later in Edmund’s story that makes this point. When Edmund finally meets Aslan in the story Edmund is encouraged by a forgiving leader. When Edmund is confronted by the Witch, she accuses him. The Witch is unaware of Edmund’s change of heart. The Edmund who naively accepted Turkish delight from evil has matured into accepting the delight that comes by embracing the good.
“You have a traitor there, Aslan,” said the Witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund. But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he’d been through and after the talk he’d had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn’t seem to matter what the Witch said. (13.37)
Edmund’s conversation with Aslan dispels all the after-effects of his betrayal. Edmund has begun to change radically and forever, and part of that change is that he’s not thinking about himself all the time. Edmund has begun to see that one voice echoes abundant love and mercy and another voice is deceitful.
Joel reminds the people of God to remember God’s mercy. And in very Narnia-like language Joel writes that Yahweh will turn the death of the land into a flourishing land where God abides:
Do not be afraid, you wild animals,
for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green.
The trees are bearing their fruit;
the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.
23 Be glad, people of Zion,
rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given you the autumn rains
because he is faithful.
He sends you abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains, as before.
This is not just the language of national repentance, but of personal repentance. During this season, God is calling us to know that when we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and full of mercy and grace and abundant in love. When we confess our sins, God is there to speaking to us words of grace and comfort. At that moment it doesn’t matter what evil may be speaking and accusing us as long as we keep looking to Jesus, our advocate.
“And as the Witch was speaking, Edmund just went on looking at Aslan. It didn’t seem to matter what the Witch said.” No. It shouldn’t matter. It really shouldn’t.
- The faun is a half human–half goat (from the head to the waist being human, but with the addition of goat horns) manifestation of forest and animal spirits that would help or hinder humans at whim (back)
How much of myself should I give? That’s the question C.S. Lewis asked in Mere Christianity. We can be the type of people who try to give everything, but then just give up trying to be good. Or we can become the type of people who spend our lives trying to give of ourselves to others grumbling and complaining in the process wondering why others don’t notice and making a martyr of ourselves each day.
Paul says our identity is only in Christ. Everything else, Paul says, is loss. So, how much of ourselves should we give? C.S. Lewis in that famous line says: “Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it.’”
This can all be summarized in Paul’s famous statement: “Take up your cross and follow me.” Jesus does not want to compete with any rebellious bone in your body. He wants your all.
Worship demands your all. Body and soul. Whatever part of yourself not prepared to enter into the presence of God this morning, pray during confession that Jesus would kill it, so your worship may be pleasing in the sight of our God.
 Lewis, quoted in Devotional Classics.
I am currently working my way through these. This conference provides a wonderful introduction to the man who opened the wardrobe to all readers.
Dr. George Grant exhorted and encouraged us this evening to conquer the world. This remarkably titanic vision, he argued, is actually grounded in the prayer our Lord taught us: “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” We need to start believing this prayer.
Grant sprinkled his optimistic talk with particular moments of history where darkness reigned, but yet God–in His mercy–provided and prepared men to embrace the challenge and plant seeds that would bear much fruit long after their deaths.
Among many contributing factors to the grim state of our culture, Pastor Grant argued that a pessimistic view of the world is very much guilty for what is transpiring in our midst. If we expect darkness, then why should darkness not prevail?
Grant’s magnificent rhetorical gifts coupled with his pastoral concerns and passion for the Church, and his loyalty to recover a Christ-centered education inculcated in us a robust vision for the world and the profound need to think futurely.
History has taught us much, but the knowledge of history without the formation of a future vision for Christendom is not the way forward. By embracing those true historical heroes, we have an inheritance that causes us to pursue and desire a world where truth, goodness, and beauty prevail and where Christ is all in all.
Here is my opening prayer for the evening:
Almighty and Gracious God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give you thank for your tender mercies toward us.
We are grateful this evening for the labors of Trinitas Christian School in these last fourteen years; for their commitment to training men and women to know biblical truth, and also to apply that truth in all areas of life. With Abraham Kuyper we affirm that “there is not one square inch that Christ has not claimed as His own.” We are thankful that You are the writer and master of history; nothing happens outside Your sovereign control. And this is why we commit this time unto you, for you have fashioned our ears to hear wisdom and our bodies to live by wisdom.
We thank you that in education You are forming us to be better lovers of truth and protector of that sacred inheritance given to us by our forefathers. With Chesterton, we affirm that “the true soldier fights because he loves what is behind him.” May our environment be bathed with the grace to know that we are not fighting for a vain cause, but for the future of our children and the glory of the Kingdom of God.
We pray for Pastor George Grant; that he might give us a greater vision for truth in our city, and that his words might cultivate in us hearts to desire truth for ourselves and our children.
May the truth of Your Word, the Goodness of your hands, and the Beauty of your majesty be with us now and forever more, through Jesus Christ, the world’s only Redeemer. Amen.
In Perelandra, C.S. Lewis’s protagonist says of his friend Ransom, who has recently returned from another planet, “A Man who has been in another world does not come back unchanged.” If we think of the glory of heaven where Christ is presently at the right of the Father and if we acknowledge that we are a people who have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, we will be changed. We were in one world, and now we are a part of a new world. If we come this realization, we will “no longer fill our stomachs with stale leftovers and scraps fallen to a dirty kitchen floor. We will smell the banquet being prepared for us. We won’t spoil our appetites with food from the table of fools. We know what our mouths are watering for.” We know today that God gives us more that we can ask or think, and we are being changed more and more as we feast with this abundant God in the kingdom of light.
 Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspectives, 181.
Screwtape offers this salient diabolical advice:
What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call “Christianity And.” You know–Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reformed…substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring.
In letter XII, Screwtape admonishes Wormwood that small sins matters:
…The only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without mile-stones, without signposts.
Screwtape articulates the fact that when the devil enters the realm of pleasure he is dealing with Enemy ground:
Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground…All the same, it is (pleasure) His (God’s) invention, not ours (Screwtape). –From Screwtape Letters, Letter IX
While C.S. Lewis’s interpretation of a demon writing letters of encouragement and rebuke to his nephew can be quite terrifying, the biblical reality is that the reality of Satan is even more terrifying. Satan was not only involved in the first cosmic betrayal of God and his newly created couple, but was continually involved in the affairs of humanity in a restricted, but relatively free fashion in the Old Covenant. In those days, Satan acted in contempt for God and his commandments. The Hebrew nation—graced with the protection of God—chose rather to follow the footsteps of the Father of Lies than to trust in their creator, Yahweh. The pages of the Old Covenant are replete with narratives where demonology, occult practices, idol worship, desecration of holy places, law-breaking, and a complete disregard for purity abound.
It is in the midst of this idolatrous context where Messiah descends. Though Israel was given a robust tradition rooted in the prophetic writings (which were filled with warnings about idolatry), she chose not to fulfill her calling as ambassadors to the nations. God—in his wisdom and providence—provided a way of redemption for his chosen nation. Instead of abolishing her, he re-made her. This re-making process meant that Israel was no longer an isolated nation, but a holy nation composed also of the Gentiles. With the walls of partitions broken down (Gal. 3:28), Paul refers to this Israel as the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16). This new nation of holy priests now (I Peter 2:9) submits to One Lord through one faith and one baptism.
The Church–Jew and Gentile in Christ—does not battle the evil forces of this world as a solitary nation, but as a Holy Nation bound to One true Victor who will no longer fall for the whispers of the serpent in the Garden. This true and final Adam crushed the serpent (Heb. 2:14; Rom. 16:20), ascended into heaven, and rules and reigns from the right hand of the Father.
However, this reality is not an exhortation to idleness and passivity. Rather, it is a call to arms, because the Devil is still looking to devour the sons of men (I Peter 5:8), seeking to add weak men to enter into the fold of apostates (Heb. 6).
Augustine was fond of saying that the devil is bound like a dog, but a bound dog still bites if we dare by our sin approach him.
The words of the affectionate uncle, Screwtape should serve as a sober reminder that evil exists, and that the seduction of the serpent continues to be as poisonous as it was in the Garden. May our faith endure, and may it increase with each rejection of the wiles of the evil one.