Tyler Kenny of Desiring God raised a fascinating issue this week about Aslan and Jesus. “If after watching The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (which released in US theaters this weekend), you find yourself or your kids feeling drawn to Aslan with alarming emotion, don’t assume it’s just the result of some cinematic spell. Aslan had that effect even back when he was knowable only through words on a page.”
Kenny went on to share how a concerned mother wrote C.S. Lewis about her son, Laurence, who, having read The Chronicles of Narnia became concerned that he loved Aslan more than Jesus. In his response, Lewis offered this relief:
“Laurence can’t really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that’s what he is doing. For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before.”
Lewis gave this recommendation for a prayer:
“If I were Laurence I’d just say in my prayers something like this: ‘Dear God, if the things I’ve been thinking and feeling about those books are things You don’t like and are bad for me, please take away those feelings and thoughts. But if they are not bad, then please stop me from worrying about them. . . . And if Mr. Lewis has worried any other children by his books or done them any harm, then please forgive him and help him never to do it again.’” (quotes from C. S. Lewis: Letters to Children.
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The Chronicles of Narnia are my favorite stories to this day. I’m reading through them again now and I find myself, again, drawn to Aslan. He evokes fear, love, respect, comfort…. All things that Jesus seemed to have commanded when He was walking the earth. I see Aslan as a clear type of Christ – even within the fictional world of Narnia, Lewis seems to make no bones about Aslan’s identity so that if Aslan were suddenly transported to our world He would be who we might call Jesus Christ. Lewis didn’t create this character, he wrote about a Being he already knew and loved. He simply gave Him a new name and shape so that readers could meet or re-meet the Son of God in an unadulterated way. Of course Lewis could only write Him as he knew Him, so Aslan is not a perfect type, but even reading the Gospels we get merely other peoples’ perspectives on Jesus. He is unchanging and too huge for our imagination. So any part of His character we write about or talk about or sing about is good, but never exhaustive. If I wrote a story about my husband, but in the story he was a bear you would still get to know my husband’s essence and character from my perspective. It couldn’t be all-encompassing, but you could decide whether he was someone you wanted to know or not. I think the same is true for Aslan and any affection felt for Him is affection for this perspective of Jesus Christ – further research will only deepen that love as one gains more perspective on the King of Kings.