Monday, January 19, 2009

Narnia and the biblical book of Kings

Our kids grew up with me reading The Chronicles of Narnia to them. I'm sure they have read them many times by themselves, too. I have probably read them more than 20 times myself over the years. Lewis' way with words, and his ability to express a theological truth in fiction have always amazed me and I find myself quoting from Narnia and the Space Trilogy every now and then to explain a theological concept. So, it surprised me that I hadn't thought of this earlier, but The Silver Chair has a passage that basically describes my feelings about the historicity of the books of Joshua-Kings (the Former Prophets in the Hebrew Bible).

Our heroes, Scrubb, Jill, and Puddleglum have freed Prince Rilian from his prison chair and they are getting ready to figure out how to escape. Suddenly, the witch returns and proceeds to enchant them, getting them to forget that there is any other world but hers. They cease to believe in any world but her dark one; all seems lost. That sets the scene, so, without further ado, here's Puddleglum:

“One word, Ma'am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia.

<idle musing>
Well said, Puddleglum. Even if there is no proof that David or Solomon existed, even if the first temple hasn't been discovered in an excavation, even if the is no archaeological evidence for the Exodus, I am still going to believe in the “made-up world” of the Bible where there is a God who intervenes, who takes an active interest in his people's welfare, who rescued me from sin and darkness, who has made me a new creature. As Luther once (might have) said: “Here I stand; I can take no other.”
</idle musing>

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