Narnia and the Ransom Theory
Recently I was introduced to the concern that the C.S. Lewis overly emphaizes the Ransom Theory in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I'd be interested in further dialogue on the issue...anyone else perceive such? Here is what I initially had to say:
I'm a little less concerned about the Ransom Theory here. In fact, I never really gave it too much thought...gleefully reading the novels to my daughters. A couple of points...one being that I am not terribly sure that Lewis was a huge proponent of the Ransom Theory - or any other specific theory of redemption, in fact as I recall in "Mere Christianity" he skirts the specifics of the atonement deliberately - admitting only that there are a number of facets.
Fr. Harakas in a lecture I heard while in school used this term "facets" and "images" in relation to the atonement. He refers to the "illustrative" language of the New Testament, which certainly includes the notion of our being ransomed. 1 Timothy 2:6 (as an example). Linking it to a sort of verbal iconography, he says that "we use the term “images” so as to escape the sort of rationalistic literalism of a forensic analysis."
As an allegory, we have to be careful not to also forensically analyze the tale being told. (As someone presently writing an allegorical novel I am particularly sensitive to this, because I realize there are portions of my work that if analyzed too technically might be ground for someone to label me a gnostic). Like the illustrative language of the Scripture, might we see Lewis' tale in a similar light - as opposed to an accurate rendering of precisely how we are saved? (If that were even possible?)
We might also consider being thankful that Lewis opted not the make Aslan's death be a scarifice to appease the "Emperor over the seas". And let's not forget that via the Resurrection, Aslan crushes the witch's power and fully restores the world. He also kills the witch. This is ultimately what saves all of Narnia - Aslan's death doesn't finish the job as it were.
In the end, I look forward to seeing the film. I am reconciled to the story's shortcomings, because given all the other stuff coming out of Hollywood, this is wonderfully refreshing. An opportunity to talk to people, to discuss the allegory with people with whom we'd normally not have a chance to do so. While I hated "The Passion" initially, I have come to greatly appreciate it - despite its many shortcomings - I think we need to support such efforts - it's good for our culture to see conservatively minded religious films being made...even if they aren't perfect. Especially in light of the upcoming "DaVinci code" movie.
Of course, with all of this said, I of course reserve judgement on the film until I have seen it...and even then, as I have demonstrated before: time may tell a different story in my mind. (But, Star Wars Episode 3 is still a steaming pile)
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Narnia and the Ransom Theory