Did C. S. Lewis Have an Insufficient Understanding of the Holy Spirit?

[This](http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=231) post on Narnia is obvious bunkum by someone who obviously learned the term *deus ex machina* when he was in 3rd grade and hasn’t learned anything about literature, philosophy or religion since. Basically, it’s a few thousand words complaining about the fact that Aslan shows up whenever he wants to and then leaves, and about the fact that Aslan suffers and then gets better. Good heavens! As if God, by virtue of being powerful, is required to break his own rules! Nevertheless, it did raise one interesting question for me:

Why *does* Aslan leave? Or better yet, why does he keep coming back? In the real-world parallel, Jesus said, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” The idea being that if Jesus is gone from us, then we still have the Holy Spirit, and that in some sense this is an improvement. But in Narnia, there is no functional equivalent of the Holy Spirit at work. There’s definitely a sense of God directing history, and there’s evidence enough of the supernatural (I understand Lewis believed in modern miracles), but there’s nothing to indicate any kind of supernatural ability being dispense to anybody, in any sense. But if there’s no “Narnian Holy Spirit,” then whenever Aslan leaves, it is clearly *not* an improvement.

In C. S. Lewis’ defense, I will say that he was writing in allegory, and that somewhere along the line, the analogy always breaks apart. On the other hand, as it stands, we end up with references to a 2-person godhead, which is a standard problem for people who give insufficient place to the Holy Spirit.

Hat tip: [Dangerous Idea](http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/)

PS. This guy has his site riddled with quotes from [Lazarus Long](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/074348844X) and he’s bothered about *dei ex machinae* in C. S. Lewis?!

Author: KB French

Formerly many things, including theology student, mime, jr. high Latin teacher, and Army logistics officer. Currently in the National Guard, and employed as a civilian... somewhere

7 thoughts on “Did C. S. Lewis Have an Insufficient Understanding of the Holy Spirit?”

  1. I’d never thought about the lack of Trinitarian reprsentation before. Thanks for bringing it up. It’s a huge thing, when I stop to think about it.

    And for the record, Lewis did not write the Chronicles of Narnia as allegory per se. You could Google it and find more information, but it was a different sort of imagery of the Christian faith–sort of a What If similar things played out in another world. Thus the symbolism is intentional and yet the direct 1:1 we expect in allegory is somewhat excusable.


  2. It’s been a long time since I’ve read it, so forgive me if my memory is off, but I think there’s a possible Holy-Spirit representation in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (my favorite of the series). I believe Reepacheep the mouse mentioned at one point that he had been having visions of Aslan’s country… that would seem Holy Spirit inspired.


  3. ‘cuse me if I am completely dense but if we are picking on the Trinity, where does God the father show up in the series? It appears to me that Aslan is all three-in-one as far as the analogy goes and I agree that whenever you try and push an analogy too far – it tends to break down on the finer points.


  4. I don’t recall Reepicheep having visions. The way I remember it, he had been prophesied to as a baby mouse. Of course, the prophecy could have come by way of Holy Spirit. Or by Aslan earlier in Narnia’s history.

    As far as God the Father–Aslan is repeatedly referred to the Emperor-Over-the-Sea (or something very close to that). In the stone table scene in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aslan scolds any who would think of defying the “magic” (aka laws) of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea, including by himself.


  5. Aslan is referred to as the **son** of the emperor over the sea. That makes him Jesus pretty clearly in my book. “Emperor over the sea” sounds quite a bit like the “For God is in heaven, and you on earth” of Ecclesiastes 5:2 (which I did have to look up).

    I thing Reepicheep’s prophecy probably counts as a Holy Spirit thing, but even then, it’s pretty light…


  6. One thing to keep in mind is that Aslan created the world of Narnia in “The Magician’s Nephew,” and if he truly is a type of Jesus, then we are to understand that “by Jesus everything is made that has been made,” as stated in John 1:3, so it was by Aslan that the Emperor wrote the Deep Magic. Also, at the end of the series, it’s revealed that Narnia is really a Shadowland of the real country of Narnia, which is connected to every other real world which has “shadowlands” of itself, and that the final thing recorded by the Pevensie children is that “Aslan no longer looked so much like a lion.” If “Aslan’s country” is supposed to be Heaven itself (as the land and sky merged across the sea), then Reepicheep entered Heaven by canoe, and the Emperor Beyond the Sea is still transcendent in nature, which would explain his physical absence during Narnian’s creation.


  7. Another note on the Holy Spirit’s presence would be the several references made (primarily in VODT, The Silver Chair, and The Last Battle, those who had previously visited Narnia became strengthened and empowered. I would say this innate “regeneration” would be the strongest evidence for the Holy Spirit to be at work. Also, the Deep Magic at work which rose Aslan from the dead could also be a connection.


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