Evangelism, or the lack thereof

C. S. Lewis, his worlds, and his faith.

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Evangelism, or the lack thereof

Postby King_Erlian » Feb 08, 2013 2:16 am

One big difference between the Narnian world and the real world is that in the real world, in the Gospels, Jesus tells his followers to go out into all the world and encourage people from every nation - not just Israel - to join them and follow him. But Aslan doesn't say anything of the kind to the Narnians; all he seems to expect of them is to live in Narnia and have a good time. If anything, he discourages the Talking Beasts from going to countries like Calormen as there, if people knew they could talk, they would be treated like circus animals.

If Aslan were the Saviour of the whole Narnian world, why didn't he set up some way of allowing people in the other countries to know about him? Or if he were only the Saviour of the country of Narnia, did he appear in some form in those other countries - not just as a fleeting visit, as in HHB, but in a way that people could learn about? Or wasn't he bothered about the people who lived there?
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Re: Evangelism, or the lack thereof

Postby parableproductions » Feb 09, 2013 12:09 pm

Hadn't thought about that before either - it seems that they are more of an Old Testament culture than a New Testament one in that the Israelites were told not to mix with the people of Canaan (the reason being that God did not want the Israelites to adopt false gods - however, God also provided a way for non-Israelites in the OT to become part of the Israelite Nation - Rahab & Ruth are two that immediately come to mind that did just that). In Narnia, all who are welcome who seek Aslan - but the Narnians don't seek them out to spread the word.
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Re: Evangelism, or the lack thereof

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Feb 10, 2013 2:36 am

Paul's letters were quite specific on who should evangelise and who might be better to leave it to others. For example, the ones whom Jesus called to be evangelists, such as Paul, himself, Peter, John and James could actually read and write, including Jesus, himself.

And Paul even set out some sort of job description list for those whom he wanted in charge of the Christian church. It follows the infamous verse, 1 Timothy 2:12. A commentary suggests women at least were debarred from teaching publicly by Roman law at the time, and possibly slaves as well.

A lot of animals in the Narnian world could talk, and maybe even read. But I doubt any could write. Obviously Puddleglum could read and write, like Dwarves, possibly Centaurs, and maybe even fauns, but did they want to?
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Re: Evangelism, or the lack thereof

Postby Ithilwen » Feb 16, 2013 12:41 am

I think this is due mostly to the fact that the CoN is meant more to be a simple, entertaining tale than it is to be an exact parallel to the Bible. Aslan is purposely designed to remind readers of Jesus. But I think it would needlessly complicated the story to go too much beyond that, just for the sake of a parallel. I suppose Lewis felt the same way.

The books also do not explain how any of the characters "become a Christian" either. And instead of dying for the sins of the world as Jesus did in real life, Aslan only died for the sins of Edmund. There are also more than one Satan-like figure (Jadis, Tash) instead of only one. And there are no warnings of hell aimed toward those who don't follow Aslan, or any description of it at the end of The Last Battle. The fate of non-followers is left up to the readers to decide in their own minds if they will. So departures in similarities to the Bible are not uncommon. :)


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Re: Evangelism, or the lack thereof

Postby De_De » Jul 09, 2013 8:01 am

I agree with Ithilwen in that CoN was written to be a tale for children, not a parallel Bible. Yes there are a lot of allegories and parallels, but ultimately it is still a story, a fairytale. So we can't judge Lewis for leaving out some stuff from the Bible. I think the allegory Lewis was trying to portray was the verse "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers". That is why the Narnians stayed away from the Calormen.
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Re: Evangelism, or the lack thereof

Postby Ryadian » Jul 09, 2013 11:24 am

As Ithilwen said, Lewis may have never discussed this in-story because it's not meant to be an allegory or an exact parallel. So, I'm not claiming by any means that this was the actual intent, just a possible interpretation.

First of all, let's look at Emeth from The Last Battle. Regardless of whether you agree with the theology around his character's salvation (a discussion for another thread ;) ), it is canon as far as the Narnia books are concerned. Emeth never heard the truth about Aslan until after he'd come to Aslan's country; quite the opposite, he'd heard nothing but terrible things about him. And yet, he was still drawn to Aslan, without even knowing that's who he was drawn to. Similarly, Shasta, Aravis, Bree, and Hwin were all drawn to Narnia in The Horse and His Boy, and through that, eventually to Aslan himself. While Bree and Hwin knew they belonged in Narnia, all four shared the same reason for wanting to go: they agreed with what Narnia stood for, in some aspect or another, especially in terms of the freedom found there.

Basically, what I'm getting at is that, in Narnia's world, Aslan has a way of drawing those who want to know him, to him. (One could argue that he does this with the children from our world, as well.) That's a possibility for why, instead of telling his followers to go out into the world and bring other to him, he instead encourages them to stay in Narnia, in the company of those who already love him, instead of traveling to places like Calormen where they don't.

Another thing is that, as far as we've seen, virtually all the world knows about Aslan as it is. Well, perhaps not Telmar; we know very little about what Telmar itself is like, and besides that it was populated by people from our world. However, in Voyage of the Dawn Treader, not once do our heroes have to explain Aslan. When they meet other people (such as Ramandu and Coriakin), they already know who Aslan is. Even though they don't respect him in Calormen, they certainly know who he is--and do their best to paint a different picture of him.
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Re: Evangelism, or the lack thereof

Postby Varnafinde » Jul 09, 2013 1:28 pm

Ryadian wrote:Basically, what I'm getting at is that, in Narnia's world, Aslan has a way of drawing those who want to know him, to him. (One could argue that he does this with the children from our world, as well.)


That's a very good point. I'm reminded of Jill and Eustace behind the gym, trying to get to Narnia (because Eustace already knows it), then getting distracted and finally drawn in by Aslan himself.

And Aslan tells Lucy and Edmund (in that lovely, well-known speech) that the reason they came to Narnia, was so they should know him better in their own world when they went back.

It seems that Aslan is doing most of the evangelisation himself in Narnia's world.
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Re: Evangelism, or the lack thereof

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jul 09, 2013 11:33 pm

I agree that C.S.Lewis was more interested in ecumenism than direct evangelism. He was far more concerned with the values and beliefs that unite Christians, whatever their denomination, than the sectarian differences that divide. He thought Christians should unite to project their faith more effectively. Thus animals of differing understandings and abilities would not evangelise the sort of established religion that Phillip Pullman criticized him for doing in the Narnia chronicles.

Odd, isn't it, that Calormen saw nothing wrong with evangelising the worship of Tash, a god with a formal temple in his honour and prescribed festivities. As has been said, the Chronicles of Narnia are children's tales, meant to entertain, not evangelise. However, could C.S.Lewis have been just as opposed to organised religion as what the atheistic Phillip Pullman was?
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Re: Evangelism, or the lack thereof

Postby Louloudi the Centaur » Jul 13, 2013 5:39 pm

Well, an important point is that Narnia is not, and never should be used as a Bible or to convert somebody to Christianity. Narnia is a series that is supposed to entertain, but include some writing to reflect upon. So just as long as the Narnia series isn't used to teach Law and Gospel, I think the books should just be enjoyed for the sake of it. :)
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Re: Evangelism, or the lack thereof

Postby coracle » Jul 13, 2013 8:46 pm

waggawerewolf27 wrote:As has been said, the Chronicles of Narnia are children's tales, meant to entertain, not evangelise. However, could C.S.Lewis have been just as opposed to organised religion as what the atheistic Phillip Pullman was?


Are you asking whether Lewis would have been more comfortable just meeting with Christian friends in a more informal way? Or whether he would have preferred to see churches abolished? or reformed?
Lewis was a churchman (Church of England, =Anglican, attended church regularly) who was therefore part of a 'religious organisation'. Until the middle of the 20th century, attending church was a normal social activity, even for people who weren't sure about their faith but had simply grown up in it.

The Narnian stories were there to tell a good story that drew its readers to love the qualities it portrayed, as well as its good, noble and loving Lion, which in time would help them to come to know the true Aslan.
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Re: Evangelism, or the lack thereof

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jul 14, 2013 4:47 am

coracle wrote:Lewis was a churchman (Church of England, =Anglican, attended church regularly) who was therefore part of a 'religious organisation'. Until the middle of the 20th century, attending church was a normal social activity, even for people who weren't sure about their faith but had simply grown up in it.


Yes that is true. But both the Catholic and the Anglican churches have histories as state religions, much like the worship of Tash in Calormen. The secular head of the Anglican church still is the sovereign of UK, with the Archbishop of Canterbury being the spiritual head, instead of the Pope, or the Moderator of the Uniting church or whoever.

Whereas the real church should always have Christ as its head, or, if in Narnia, Aslan. I don't know what C.S.Lewis would make of women as bishops, and other issues the Anglican church is having at the moment. I'd also wonder what he thought about the changes in the Royal succession which have been put into motion, in Australian and New Zealand as well as in UK.

Evangelism is a tricky issue to handle even without dragging Narnia into it. Shift's or Rishda's idea of evangelism, by conducting meetings and blackmailing Narnians to part with their produce to support 'Tashlan', definitely is something to be wary of.
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