Emeth in The Last Battle

Posted: March 12, 2010
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So I went over much grass and many flowers and among all kinds of wholesome and delectable trees till lo! in a narrow place between two rocks there came to meet me a great Lion. The speed of him was like the ostrich, and his size was an elephant's; his hair was like pure gold and the brightness of his eyes like gold that is liquid in the furnace. He was more terrible than the Flaming Mountain of Lagour, and in beauty he surpassed all that is in the world even as the rose in bloom surpasses the dust of the desert. Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honor) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome.

But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child?

I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.

Then he breathed upon me and took away the trembling from my limbs and caused me to stand upon my feet.

The Last Battle
Collier/Macmillan pg. 164-165
—C.S. Lewis

I was just rereading this book again and came back to this controversial part in the story. I remember reading this the first time and being a bit disturbed by it because it can lend itself to some pretty trippy theology, but since then, i've revisited this book many times (The Last Battle is my favorite from the Narnia series) and I'm beginning  to love this portion and find beauty in it.

I mean just look at that description of Aslan—awesome:

The speed of him was like the ostrich, and his size was an elephant's; his hair was like pure gold and the brightness of his eyes like gold that is liquid in the furnace. He was more terrible than the Flaming Mountain of Lagour, and in beauty he surpassed all that is in the world even as the rose in bloom surpasses the dust of the desert.

and in the story this is the description given by someone who did not acknowledge Aslan in his life. He was completely stunned at his presence: "it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not have seen him."

But the controversial part is what Lewis says through Aslan... and my reflection on this might be controversial as well... oh wells. The first time I read this I was like "no! not all roads lead to God; all faiths are not ultimately the same". I still firmly believe that but I don't think that's what Lewis was trying to illustration here. At the very least I think Lewis is trying to portray...

  • God's image in all of us whether we acknowledge him or not. common grace?
  • There's an absolute Goodness... a Right and Wrong... a real Judge that would say "Son, thou art welcome" or "growled so that the earth shook"
  • God's character is not necessarily reveled in the actions of those who claim to be followers nor his "anti-character" by those who claim to follow another (see first bullet).

I kinda wanted to get more deep but ran out of things to say. I just really like this passage and wanted to post it. All you universalist debaters stay away. Not something I wanted to get into in this post.

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