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Finished the Last

October 30, 2006

Finished _The Last Battle_ at lunch today. What a great ending. High quality literature.

However, I may have to issue a heresy horn postumously for Mr. Lewis. What the heck, the Calormen, Emeth, going to Aslan’s country, the real Narnia? I’ll post the text of the passage in question later, but for those that know of what I speak, what the heck? He served Tash (a false god) all his life and Aslan counts that as faith since Emeth had faith for faith’s sake? At least that’s how I took it on the first read through.

What do you folks think? Am I off here, or does Clive get a horn?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeana permalink
    October 30, 2006 8:54 pm

    I don’t think it was faith for faith’s sake. Aslan was saying that all the time that Emeth was serving/worshiping Tash, he was really worshiping/serving Aslan-even though he didn’t know it. Emeth himself is confused by this and Aslan explains that nothing good can be done without him and nothing evil can be in in his name. And also that Emeth had never really truly been seeking Tash. His heart was actually seeking Aslan and those who seek the true God always find what they are looking for. Even though he knew him by another name, he had spent his whole life seeking after Aslan. It wasn’t his deeds that gained him admittance to Aslan’s Country – it was his heart. Aslan always counted Emeth as a believer, even when Emeth didn’t.

    Emeth is also a foil for Shift the Ape, who did evil things in Aslan’s name. He SAID he served Aslan, but he really served Tash.

    What about tribes in the African bush who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ? Suppose they serve a god named “Brother of Light” but their hearts are actually seeking their one true redeemer?

    I know that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved.” If that is true for all time, how did Abraham get into heaven when he didn’t know the name of Jesus? (and no talk of dispensations here!) And before Jesus was even born, let alone died and raised again? (Obviously, I’m not saying that God is Tash.) It’s because even though Abe didn’t know it—he was always looking forward to Jesus. All the promises God gave to Abraham were the paving stones for Christ’s entry. He never knew the name “Jesus ben Joseph of Nazareth.” He didn’t even know there would be a Nazareth. But all the while he was pursuing him.

    I think the point Lewis is making is that God gets to decide who gets into heaven and why and that sometimes we just might be surprised.

    It’s also a warning. Am a I truly serving God or could I be serving a false god in Jesus’s name? Who is my heart pursuing? Aslan? Or Tash? When I seek glory for myself by doing things “for” God, am I really serving him? No. I’m serving myself. Tash is me.

    Finally, I think CSL has a bigger view of heaven than most Christians today. We tend to think of Heaven as the end. But Lewis is trying to remind us that it is only the beginning of our relationship and journey with God. Heaven will not be endless tedium of harp stroking while floating on white clouds. No! We will be continually seeking Christ, further up and further in! His mystery and love have no bounds and we get to spend all of eternity on a treasure hunt for the one true King.

    Maybe Emeth thought he had spent all his life serving Tash, but he didn’t know that “all his life” was only the cover page. He came face to face with Aslan and now his story was truly about to begin.

    You could probably still make a good case for a heresy horn…but can you really presume to know who God will let into heaven? Will you really be shocked to find a Muslim, or a Hindu, or an African Bush-Man in heaven?

    And now that I’ve practically comandeered your blog and written my own whole post—-let the conversation continue. I’m looking forward to more of your (and others) thoughts on this.

  2. October 30, 2006 10:06 pm

    Hail Comandant Jeana! 🙂

    Easiest to go paragraph by paragraph (p.):

    # 1st p. Comment to come later

    # 2nd p. Kudos on mention of Emeth being a foil. True true.

    # 3rd p. Don’t disagree with your statement about the bush-man (the perfect hypothetical for these debates). The bushman is very different from a Muslim or Hindu (generalizing of course). More about this later. Paul is quite clear that no man is without excuse.

    # 4p. Don’t disagree. OT faith was all about faith in the ability of God to save. Abraham’s faith that God would fulfill the promise. Israel’s continual faith in the saving of God from Passover on. Faith that Messiah would come. These are the faiths that saved prior to Christ.

    # 5-7 p. No disagreement. Well said.

    # 8-9 p. and now 1st p. If Emeth were like the bushmen in that he had no knowledge of the true deity, I would not disagree with your (or CSL’s) assessment. But that is the crucial difference between Emeth and our hypothetical bushman. Emeth knew of the true Aslan. He understood the Narnian faith (to a certain extent) and continued to pursue his Tash, to desire to see Tash’s face. That is where the Hindu and Muslim find their trouble. Perhaps they are not ignorant of the name of Christ. A case could maybe be made for the Muslim worshipping Creator and not Muhammed’s Allah. But into that boat falls the Catholic who does not buy into the heretical claims that Rome asserts. The Hindu is an entirely different story altogether. There is no belief in a central deity. The Hindu’s belief can be anywhere from pure animism to idol worship. Again, the case could be made that a Hindu might worship ‘correctly’ the unknown god as Paul made the case for in Athens, but that will be determined by God (as you said) on an individual basis and will provide many a surprise when we leave the Shadowlands.

    But I return to my argument; Emeth knew of Aslan. But chose not to seek Him. Instead Emeth followed and sought some freaky 4 armed bird.

    Heresy Horn to CSL

  3. Jeana permalink
    October 31, 2006 8:02 am

    I still disagree that he knew of Aslan. The only Aslan he knew was Shift’s distorted version of Aslan. I know the name of Kaali (Hindu Goddess) but I don’t know all of what she is about. Emeth’s heart was seeking Aslan, even though the only name he new to associate with his God was Tash. This is where I see the similarity between Muslim and Emeth as you’ve already pointed out. Also, Emeth’s acceptance by Aslan is foreshadowed by Jewel the unicorn when Jewel says that Emeth is “worthy of a better god than Tash.”

  4. October 31, 2006 2:33 pm

    Debatable. Emeth says that “the name Aslan was hateful to me.” Is that because of the Ape combining Tash and Aslan into one? Was that because of a prior knowledge of Aslan (he knew things of Narnia prior to coming), and he had only ever served Tash. The book is unclear and if anything I’ll give ya the benefit of the doubt because of when he says the Name was hateful to him.

    But he still pursued Tash. We now enter the unknown territory of how spiritually responsible a person is if the ‘gospel’ they receive is a poor, or worse yet, untrue gospel. But tempered with that, how spiritually responsible is someone to seek out the true gospel for themselves? Questions I can’t answer.

    But I still take issue with CSL’s conclusion here:

    “Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him.”

    Huh?

    I just sent Dr. G an email, so hopefully he can shed some light on the issue. I welcome anyone’s understanding regarding that last part. I guess that’s where I’m getting hung up the most.

  5. Slothboy permalink
    October 31, 2006 5:07 pm

    It has been too long since I read all those books. The Last Battle was always my least favorite because it seemed too heavy handed and confusing. My impression was always that CSL was trying to cover every base of his “Jesus is Aslan” thing and it was like “I get it. Thanks.”

    But that was years ago. I would probably have different impressions now.

  6. November 1, 2006 9:24 am

    Hi Dr. G,

    Dan Hutchison here.

    I just finished reading The Last Battle for the first time and I’m struggling a bit with Emeth the Calormen being allowed into the real Narnia. Bit confused how Lewis, using Aslan, teases that out. “Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him.”

    Any help you could lend to my understanding would be most appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Grace and peace,
    Daniel Allen Hutchison

    Daniel,

    Emeth is the most bold presentation by CSL to say that some people know Christ, but don’t know that they know Him. He draws from Matthew 25 (When did we feed you, cloth you, visit you?).

    Emeth means “Truth” or “Faithfulness”. He views Emeth as a sincere seeker who finds Aslan after this life since his seeking was genuine and his response real when he met Aslan.

    I think it is a weakness, but agree with CSL that all who seek will find.

    Garry

    Dr. G,

    Thank you for your prompt response. Would it then be similar to the idea put forth in The Great Divorce (reading through it currently with my small group at church) that those from on the bus could stay if they chose to?

    Also, I am hosting a discussion regarding this topic on my blog. Would it be alright with you if I posted our exchange for reference?

    Thanks again, it’s good to hear from a familar prof who is very familar with the writer as a whole, and not just the book itself.

    Grace and peace,

    dah

    Daniel,
    Emeth is similar to the Great Divorce persons who still can enter in though their condition is different than Emeth. You may include my comments in the blog.
    G

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