Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Last Battle

Part of the bedtime routine we have with Baby Archer is that after bath time at night, I read something in the background as baby eats and gets rocked to sleep. We've read through the entire chronicles of Narnia, and are about halfway through the Book 7: The Last Battle.

I had not read through The Last Battle in years, probably since I was doing a political science paper on Post Modernism when I was in college. I had forgotten how brilliantly CS Lewis subtly predicted the rise of moral relativism in this book.

The premise of the novel is that an Ape and a Donkey find a lion skin. The Ape dresses the Donkey up in the skin, and tells the Narnians that Aslan has returned and basically enslaves them. The Ape gets in league with the Calormenes, and eventually gets people to believe that Aslan and Tash, the demon/god of the Calormenes were the same thing. All gods are the same, "just by a different name." By a stroke of literary genius, CS Lewis even has the Ape start convincing the Narnians that the real name of Aslan is Tashlan to drive home this point.

What ultimately ends up happening is that no one can tell right from wrong. The dwarves in particular get fed up with the whole Tashlan thing, and want nothing more to do with religion or the real Aslan at all. "Just a fairy tale" they say. Others don't know what to believe because they've been told that all paths lead to God basically, whether its Tash or Aslan or whatever. Ultimately Aslan has to return to set things straight because no one can seem to find a way out of the morally relativist abyss that the Ape and the Donkey have thrown everyone into.

Sounds somewhat familiar in our time, does it not? People say things like, "All religions are the same, one is not better or worse than another," or "It's not our place to understand the mechanism through which God saves us or is at work in the world." The fall out being that on the one the one hand, you have massive amounts of skepticism and religious apathy abounding because of this due to the fact that if everything is true, then nothing is true, so why bother? On the other, you have massive amounts of people not knowing what is true, or who the real Aslan is, because we've managed to obscure him and his true message in the murky puddle of relativism both within and outside of Christian belief.

Not naming any names or pointing any fingers, I find this food for thought in light of recent statements made by certain religious leaders across the spectrum. Luckily for us who still believe in the costly grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will not be deceived because, as CS Lewis analogized it, "Aslan is on the move..."

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