C. S. Lewis


C. S. Lewis, a well-known author and apologist, is best known by
people of all ages for his seven volume series entitled The Chronicles of
Narnia. As Lewis wrote about the land of Narnia, an imaginary world
visited by children of this world, he had two obvious purposes: to
entertain the readers and to suggest analogies of the Christian faith.
Although some feel that his stories are violent, Lewis is successful at
using fiction to open peoples’ hearts to accepting Christ as their Savior
because he first entertains the audience with a wonderful story.

Lewis talked about how he came to write the books of Narnia, saying
that they "all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and
parcels in a snowy wood" (Lewis 79). The Chronicles tell of the different
adventures of English children as they visit the kingdom of Narnia and
fall in love with the lion Aslan. Aslan, "the son of the Emperor over Sea,"
can be compared to this world’s Jesus Christ (Schakel 133). As a child,
Lewis always favored fairy tales and fantasies; as an adult, he decided to
write one (Lewis 60). And so began The Chronicles of Narnia. Rather
than planning to write a fictional book that succeeded in using
apologetics, Lewis admits that the "element" of Christianity, "as with
Aslan," entered "of its own accord" (Hooper 31). Walter Hooper, C. S.
Lewis’ biographer, describes Lewis as being the most religious man he
ever met (Schakel 132). For this reason, no matter what Lewis wrote,
his religion would greatly impact all of his works.

Although Christian symbolism can be found in The Chronicles, Lewis
recognized the importance of getting "past those watchful dragons"
which are people who are not open to the beliefs of Christianity because
they were told they should believe it (Hooper ix). But how should Lewis
go about getting past those who are not open to the idea of Christianity?
He believed that the best way to do this was to present it in a fictional
world, a world in which it would be easier to accept. The audience
grows to love Aslan and everything that he symbolizes; they begin to
wish for someone like Aslan in this world. After finding this love for
Aslan, they will ideally transfer that love to Christ when presented with
the Gospel later in life. It is important to remember that The Chronicles
of Narnia are successful because many readers do not realize the
resemblance of Aslan to Jesus Christ. Even though Christian themes are
present, the Chronicles are not dependent on them (Schakel 132). Peter
J. Schakel, a professor of English at Hope College in Holland, Michigan,
states that a non-Christian reader can approach the book as a fictional
story and "be moved by the exciting adventures and the archetypal
meanings, and not find the Christian elements obtrusive or offensive"
(132). For this reason, "the Narnian stories have been so successful in
getting into the bloodstream of the secular world" (Hooper 99).

Hooper discusses how Lewis will be successful in sharing the gospel if
he can get past the "partition of prejudices" that prevent non-Christians
from accepting the beliefs of Christianity (99-100). In other words, to
get past those "dragons," it is paramount that The Chronicles are
self-sufficient in entertaining the reader (Schakel xiii). It is important to
not describe The Chronicles of Narnia as an allegory, an "extended
metaphor in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative . . . are
equated with meanings that lie outside the narrative itself ", but instead to
describe them as "pure story" (Schakel xii). The readers should enter
Narnia first with their hearts and only later with their mind (Schakel
134). When the audience begins by interpreting the symbolism evident in
The Chronicles, they destroy Lewis’ primary intention: to entertain. It is
especially important to respond in this manner when reading the stories
to children (Schakel 134). Although Schakel suggests that adults should
begin by reading about Narnia imaginatively and later to reflect
intellectually, he warns that it would be harmful to "explicate the
‘meanings’ of the books" (135). If the audience cannot enjoy The
Chronicles of Narnia as just a story, it will be impossible for them to get
anything else out of it. Schakel believes it is important for the children to
first fall in love with and long for Aslan and then to transfer that love and
longing towards Christ (134). Schakel discusses it well when he says
"children should be left to enjoy [The Chronicles] imaginatively and
emotionally, without being asked to reflect upon