Narnia and Deism

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Narnia and Deism

Postby Aravis Narnia » Oct 09, 2009 5:23 pm

Deism believes one gets to know the Higher Power through nature and reason. That there is no formal worship or sacred writings- but that there is a deity and that insight is revealed to people. Contrary to popular opinion, Deism does not state that the deity left the creation behind- but that there is limited intervention and that there is a plan indeed.

I have noticed some elements of Deism in Narnia. For example, there is no formal worship in Narnia of Aslan/Emperor- but the citizens definitely thank Him. Deism does not believe in miracles- and when Lucy recites the spell to make things visible, Aslan becomes visibles and says that He is not going to break His own laws.

Christian Deism specifically follows the teachings of Jesus Christ as a great example and teacher, without coming up with dogmas or the sort. And Narnia seems very similar to this. Could it be possible that C.S. Lewis was more of a Christian Deist, even if formally affiliated with the Anglican Church, given how things are in Narnia?

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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby 220chrisTian » Oct 10, 2009 6:34 pm

I'm not familiar enough with the Chronicles to comment on this topic in depth. But I just want to say that creation [MN] is a miracle. So is resurrection [LWW]. They defy "nature," if you will. But I don't think miracles break God's laws either. And there may be no formal worship or set writings, but this isn't earth and people definitely bow to Aslan! Don't Deists believe Christ isn't divine? And yet Aslan represents Christ in the series. He is the son of the Emperor-over-sea. :)
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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby Aravis Narnia » Oct 10, 2009 7:20 pm

I am not saying that Narnia is totally Deist. I am just stating that it incorporates some Deist concepts and that C.S. Lewis may have agreed with them.
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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby TheGeneral » Oct 11, 2009 12:10 pm

I think I know what you mean, Aravis Narnia. I don't know enough about Deism to provide a solid arguement, but what little of it I do know, I believe there are some elements of it found in the books.
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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby aslansothername » Oct 13, 2009 3:07 pm

I do not believe that Lewis was a Deist. If you read Mere Christianity you can see that, and even in the Screwtape Letters as well. I am hopefully going to post some clips of C.S. Lewis speaking about Christianity soon. Keep an eye out for them.

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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Oct 13, 2009 5:08 pm

I agree with aslansothername. Here are some quotes from Lewis that support that idea.
The next step is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious readings and churchgoing are necessary parts of Christina life. – Mere Christianity


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We don’t know much about the religious life in Narnia. They definitely know about Aslan and stories about him. Narnia is not supposed to work the same way as this world. I don’t think Aslan can be known through “nature and reason.” I know in our world Lewis does not show deist tendencies unless you count this statement about miracles: "Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature."
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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby 220chrisTian » Oct 16, 2009 8:30 pm

Pattertwigs Pal wrote:We don’t know much about the religious life in Narnia. They definitely know about Aslan and stories about him. Narnia is not supposed to work the same way as this world. I don’t think Aslan can be known through “nature and reason.”
Good points, Pattertwig. :)

I know in our world Lewis does not show deist tendencies unless you count this statement about miracles: "Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature."
I agree with Lewis that miracles don't break the laws of nature. At the same time, it was my understanding that deists don't believe in miracles at all. So I don't see how such a statement would have deist tendencies. :-\
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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Oct 17, 2009 7:58 am

220chrisTian wrote:
I know in our world Lewis does not show deist tendencies unless you count this statement about miracles: "Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature."
I agree with Lewis that miracles don't break the laws of nature. At the same time, it was my understanding that deists don't believe in miracles at all. So I don't see how such a statement would have deist tendencies. :-\

I was going with the line of thought that if miracles do not break the laws of nature then they are really not miracles (see definition below) thus it could be said that Lewis did not believe in miracles.
The NEW OXFORD AMERICAN Dictionary mir·a·cle *N. a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency:
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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby Shadowlander » Oct 20, 2009 1:09 am

I have read that Lewis was a Deist before converting to Christianity, but I don't know if that had any direct play in the Chronicles. I've also noticed when reading them that Narnians (and Archenlanders) don't seem to have churches, temples, or any other religious edifices, however to echo Pattertwig's Pal, things in Narnia work a little differently anyway.
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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby Gandalfs Beard » Oct 20, 2009 1:20 pm

Lewis was only briefly "Deist" after Owen Barfield had convinced him that the distinction between Myth and Reality were abitrary. It was Tolkien who finally convinced Lewis that Christianity was "the One True Myth" a year or so later. Before that he was an Atheist for quite a lot of his life.

But that didn't mean that Lewis's approach to Christianity was entirely orthodox. In my view, he still had at least an Inclusive approach, which at times bordered on Universalism. Though of course he consciously believed that Christianity was the True Path, which definitely makes him not a Universalist.

Deism isn't cut and dry though. They were all over the map theologically. Many did believe (such as Ben Franklin) in the Divine Watchmaker who set the Universe in motion then left it to it's own devices, while others were more or less Christian, and many others believed in something they called "Nature's God" who was non-transcendent.

My own view is that Transcendence and Nature are not separate, but Two aspects of One Reality--which is what some Deists believed also. Also, I think that if something, anything exists or occurs, including Miracles, or the so-called "Para-normal" and "Super-natural"; then they are by definition Natural--which seems to be what Lewis was suggesting.

The non-worshiping aspect of Deism does seem to be a part of Narnia. Narnians aren't generally portrayed as praying, gathering for mass, supplicating before altars, producing offerings, and other such rituals that generally are viewed as "worship" by monotheists and polytheists alike. Rather, the Narnians celebrated Life with Feasting, Merriment, Dancing on the Dancing Lawn under the Moonlight, the ecstatic revelry of Bacchus and Silenus. This is much more akin to the Pre-theist Animist/Nature form of Paganism, in which the celebration of Life itself was seen as a form of "worship" of Creation.

Due to Lewis's lifelong study of Pagan, Medieval and Renaissance (when Deism came into being) thought, it's really no surprise that it should have some bearing on his approach to Christianity, and also be such a huge part of his fiction.

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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby jesusiskingofkings » Oct 21, 2009 11:30 am

I do not think that Lewis was a deist. (Though I have not read as much on Lewis as I would have liked and maybe I will sometime soon) But from just seeing his biography, reading the Screw tape Letters and the Chronicles them selves it is apparent that their is no church, mosc, temple, none of that. I think that in a way is a statement by Lewis. In that worship is much more than singing and the gathering of believers. It’s a life long commitment. How we live our lives is an act of worship. The Narnians do gather in times of peace and war and have fun; they sing, dance and have parties. We see this in the Silver Chair, Prince Caspian, and in the Horse and His Boy.

Now, every time Alsan does appear, everyone bows. You see this in all of the books. The greatest example of this is in the Horse and His Boy when King Lune, King Edmund, Queen Lucy and Shasta and Aravis and Cor all bow to Aslan when He comes into the room.
That is an act of worship and humility.

So, just because the animals and creatures and men of Narnia are not gathering for an act of worship does not mean that just living their lives in truth, love, humility, honor etc... Is this not itself an act of true worship?

That’s all for now,
To Narnia and the North!!!!!!!
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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby Atarah » Oct 21, 2009 4:00 pm

Aravis Narnia wrote:I am not saying that Narnia is totally Deist. I am just stating that it incorporates some Deist concepts and that C.S. Lewis may have agreed with them.

I think you're looking at the problem backwards. Deism takes its teachings from Christianity, not the other way around. Narnia is built to resemble the Christian life, so any similarity it has to Deism is coincidental, since both were inspired by Christianity.
The NEW OXFORD AMERICAN Dictionary mir·a·cle *N. a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by [known] natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency:

Emphasis and brackets added by me. This is but one definition of miracles.

Remember how Aslan described the Deep and Deeper Magic in LWW? I think that's what Lewis meant when he said that miracles do not break any laws of nature. God is the law-giver, and as a good and loving King, He will not break His own laws. Thus such miracles as the resurrection must fit perfectly into the natural order which God has established. And they do. Now, that doesn't mean that we are automatically going to understand how those laws work. We have only scratched the surface of how the universe operates under the laws that we have learned to recognize in the dimensions we can see and comprehend. How many more laws and dimensions wait to be discovered? The number could be infinite!

Long story short, we have barely begun to understand the laws of the Deep Magic. We have quite a ways to go before we can begin to comprehend the Deeper Magic. All I know for now is that those laws must work, because Jesus is alive and I'm going to heaven!
Gandalfs Beard wrote:the Narnians celebrated Life with Feasting, Merriment, Dancing on the Dancing Lawn under the Moonlight, the ecstatic revelry of Bacchus and Silenus. This is much more akin to the Pre-theist Animist/Nature form of Paganism, in which the celebration of Life itself was seen as a form of "worship" of Creation.

Actually, I see it as more of a Jewish thing; a form of worship of the Creator. The Jews certainly know how to throw a party!

God made us to work, yes, but He also made us to have fun. Jesus attended weddings and at one point even provided the drinks. He celebrated with His disciples and told several parables that either revolved around or ended with a party. He said He came so that we might have "life to the fullest." He also said that a day was coming when we would no longer use buildings to worship God, but we would worship Him in spirit and in truth. Maybe then the celebration of life itself is also the celebration of the Author of life.

When the Israelites went into battle, the priests led with trumpets and praise songs. David stripped down to his base tunic and danced before the ark of the covenant. Paul tells us to "rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!"

Remember, Aslan participated in that romp. In fact, he kept it from growing out of control, something both Lucy and Susan knew would happen if he weren't there.
Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware wrote:Life more abundant. A life bubbling and exploding with excitement, vitality, and joy. Revelry--divine, holy revelry. Should it surprise us to find the Christian experience described in these terms? Not in the least. For as Lewis remarked in Miracles, Jesus "is the reality behind the false god Bacchus."

One of my favorite promises of Christ is that we will have life to the fullest. Apparently, that was one of Jack's favorite promises as well.
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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby 220chrisTian » Oct 21, 2009 7:32 pm

jesusiskingofkings wrote:I think that in a way is a statement by Lewis. In that worship is much more than singing and the gathering of believers. It’s a life long commitment. How we live our lives is an act of worship. ... Now, every time Aslan does appear, everyone bows. You see this in all of the books. The greatest example of this is in the Horse and His Boy when King Lune, King Edmund, Queen Lucy and Shasta and Aravis and Cor all bow to Aslan when He comes into the room. That is an act of worship and humility.

So, just because the animals and creatures and men of Narnia are not gathering for an act of worship does not mean that just living their lives in truth, love, humility, honor etc... Is this not itself an act of true worship?
Agreed! :ymhug:

Atarah wrote:Remember how Aslan described the Deep and Deeper Magic in LWW? I think that's what Lewis meant when he said that miracles do not break any laws of nature. God is the law-giver, and as a good and loving King, He will not break His own laws. Thus such miracles as the resurrection must fit perfectly into the natural order which God has established. And they do. Now, that doesn't mean that we are automatically going to understand how those laws work. We have only scratched the surface of how the universe operates under the laws that we have learned to recognize in the dimensions we can see and comprehend. How many more laws and dimensions wait to be discovered? The number could be infinite!

Long story short, we have barely begun to understand the laws of the Deep Magic. We have quite a ways to go before we can begin to comprehend the Deeper Magic. All I know for now is that those laws must work, because Jesus is alive and I'm going to heaven!
Exactly! Thank you! This is what I wanted to say above and couldn't! :ymblushing:
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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby jesusiskingofkings » Oct 26, 2009 10:19 am

I do not believe or accept the concept of deism. However, I do believe and most Christians understand that you do not need a building to worship God. I can do that in my own home. I can do that at work. Worship is a very broad thing that is directed only towards God, the way we talk, think, and handle certain situations, the way we work, all of that can be an act of worship.

Just because there are no temples or churches or what ever Narnia does not mean that Lewis was a deist.


However, the stone table, Aslans How, the dinner table that is set out for the birds to beast every day in the VDT. All of those things are kind of like relics or historical things that are held in reverence and respect but know one in Narnia worships the stone table, just like no-one in Christianity worships the cross. They do with their lives worship Aslan.

To Narnia and the North!!!!!!!
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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby EveningStar » Oct 26, 2009 11:07 am

Give serious thought to the idea that there were several races of talking animals in Narnia. Unlike all of mankind which sprang from two original sinners and is therefore fundamentally fallen, the talking animals of Narnia were in a position to individually choose to adhere to God's kingdom or to fall.

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes the death of Aslan to save a traitor is a direct comparison to Christ's death on the cross. And yet he died to save Narnia's chances of overthrowing the White Witch by saving Edmund, a human being from Earth who was subject to the same fall as all other Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve. As a fallen man, Edmund did not "bring death into the world" by his sin and Aslan did not die to redeem the souls of all living creatures for such was not necessary.

We are so wrapped up in a religion of sin, fall, forgiveness and salvation that we forget these talking animals lived in innocent oneness with God, and that as God used to walk with Adam and Eve and not hide his face from them, Aslan walked amongst the talking animals. They are not estranged. They don't have to have a saviour die for them.
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Re: Narnia and Deism

Postby Dr Elwin Ransom » Oct 26, 2009 1:46 pm

Absolutely agreed in this: Aslan's death for Edmund, and His salvation of Eustace as well, portray some aspects of salvation, but cannot capture them all in a purely "allegorical" way. For me, that's been a given for a long time. Does this weaken my view of the Chronicles? No way -- it strengthens my view, because the whole story itself, not just this element, echoes truth.

Lewis was not a deist. Though his writings argued for Biblical truths more directly from reason, he backed up his ideas with Scripture and believed it was true (with some unfortunate exceptions, such as a literal creation and fall). Any Deist who believes in a God yet doesn't necessarily buy into this whole redemption-narrative thing must thus throw out the Bible. This is understandable for the non-Christian, but not for the Christian.

Aravis, you're well aware of Lewis's "trilemma," about how you can't just make Jesus into a "great moral teacher" and ignore His claims to be God and the Savior of His people. Why dismiss that, I wonder?

There is nothing remotely Christian about such a view. Please, read more of Lewis, and more of Scripture, before considering these wrong ideas. I think the question results from more of a passing familiarity with either rather than an informed question. Even a less-than-in-depth reading of either what Lewis wrote or what God inspired in the Bible will make it clear that "Christian Deism," God-and-morality without the Jesus-is-God or miracles or salvation-from-sin parts, is an oxymoron and has no place being called Christian (although this is actually how many "Christians" act).

It would not be loving of any Christian to avoid pointing out this truth. ... :(
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