Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Last Battle (Book)

"Tash is Aslan: Aslan is Tash." --Shift, the ape.

Last night, I decided to take another step back from Timeaus and Phil. of Theo. and began to read The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis. I just needed something that didn't require too much thinking. I could use a break from deep thought.

I was glad to realize that I was looking in the wrong place.

The Chronicles of Narnia are known to have many sub-themes with The Last Battle being the final conclusion and, in many ways, like the final days of ours here on Earth.

This book begins in the far west reaches of the Narnian map. A donkey and an ape live as friends as near to the border of Narnia as any speaking animal would dare live. It is not (yet) explained why they have been driven to live so far away from any other civilization.

It seems as if the ape always convinces the donkey to do what he wishes claiming that he is wiser than the donkey and the donkey doesn't know any better. The donkey, being the humble beast that he is, believes him.

One day, they went out near a pool with a waterfall which was fed by a river from the dumb animal kingdom (even further west). They saw something floating in the water. The ape, Shift, devilishly convinces the donkey, Puzzle, to jump in the water to grab the object.

The object turns out to be a lion's skin.

Shift makes this into a coat for Puzzle and convinces him to wear it. He tricks Puzzle into imitating Aslan in order to get whatever he wishes. The donkey becomes his puppet as he goes about tricking the kingdom of Narnia.

What Lewis is getting at here is a picture of an antichrist. Puzzle isn't Aslan, nor does he wish to wrongly imitate him. But, Shift convinces him to.

"No one who had ever seen a real lion would have been taken in for a moment. But if someone who had never seen a lion looked at Puzzle in his lion-skin he just might mistake him for a lion, if he didn't come too close, and if the light was not too good, and if Puzzle didn't let out a bray and didn't make any noise with his hoofs." p 12.

Shift and Puzzle lead many Narnians astray. They are so excited that Aslan is back that they believe anything that the tricksters say. "I believe it all. If I seem not to, it is only that my joy is too great to let my belief settle itself. It is almost too beautiful to believe." p 17.

Yet, this Aslan (Puzzle/Shift) is different than who they know the true Aslan to be. They are dismayed at this. Although they know Aslan is not a "tame" being, they knew him to be better than this. Even though they knew that they could never predict the acts of Aslan, they knew his acts to be wholefully good.

"Would it not be better to be dead than to have this horrible fear that Aslan has come and is not like the Aslan we have believed in and longed for? It is as if the sun rose one day and were a black sun." p 32.

It seems like there isn't much that the Narnians can do. Times are bleak by the fourth chapter. "It would have broken your heart with very pity to see their faces." p 41.

Shift had even brought a different nationality into Narnia in order to cut down living trees (murdering them). This other culture worships a vicious god named Tash who "fed on the blood of his people." p 42. In Shift's wicked way of speaking he says "Tash is Aslan: Aslan is Tash." p 40.

We must heed Lewis' warning. We cannot be deceived by the Devil.

As we learn more of Philosophy and entertain the idea of what reason can tell us about God, we must remember that there is no higher authority than Scripture (the words of God himself). This is a worthy break to take to remind us that Shift is wrong. Tash is not Aslan: Aslan is not Tash. Even though we can think of who God ought to be or who God should be, he was not made in our image. We must remember who he is by knowing Scripture. We were made in his image. We owe it all to him. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Proverbs 9:10. It is not the other way around. We cannot build up to our idea of God. But, let him reveal himself to us. Do not be led astray be false idols or antichrists.

I like ancient philosophy and phil. of theo. simply because it enables us to draw a bridge from where the world is to where we are.

How can we take what the world knows and connect it to the true God? The only final answer is the Holy Spirit's work through the Gospel. But, philosophers might be able to help on the roads in between.

Phil. of Theo.

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