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Who does it for you? Aslan or Jesus?

By Mark Hurst - posted Monday, 23 January 2006

Don’t get me wrong, I loved reading the Chronicles of Narnia. C.S. Lewis was a wonderful storyteller. But with all the Christian hype around about the movie The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, I felt someone should ask the question, “Is Aslan a good representative of Jesus?”

Right up front I’ll say I have not seen the movie so this is not about the movie. I am writing more about the Christian hype that surrounds the movie. I got myself in trouble a number of years ago in a church where I was critical about the Jesus movie. Church members thought it was wonderful and they wanted to distribute copies of the video throughout their neighbourhood as an evangelistic strategy. I said the movie was poorly done, took scripture out of context, made Jesus look weak and portrayed him as someone who never had a bad hair day. I said the movie was dangerous because it presented a false picture of Jesus. I was not popular in that church after that. I may not be popular after this article.

The Bible Society of New South Wales is distributing thousands of kits with information about how churches can use the Narnia movie to talk about Christianity. Preachers around the world have been using the movie as a sermon text or even doing a whole series of sermons around Narnia. The movie’s producers have catered to churches as a marketing strategy - something they learned from The Passion of Christ - and it is working for them.


Narnia has become the latest Christian “high” for many who go from one Christian fad to another. Before it was The Passion, now it is Narnia, next it will be … who knows. But there will be a next. Some Christians have bought into the consumerist model where you need to go from one high to the next to keep the excitement alive. This represents the shallowness of much of western Christianity today.

I was talking with some people last week who saw the movie - two adults and one nine-year-old boy. After the movie they discussed whether Aslan was a good model of Jesus. They asked the boy, “Who do you prefer, Aslan or Jesus?” He chose Jesus. Why? Aslan was not the non-violent, loving figure that this boy had come to know as Jesus.

Without getting too theological about this, it comes down to our view of the atonement. If we believe that God had to use violence to save us - that redemptive violence is part of God’s plan - then we probably have no problem with Aslan. It is not surprising that Disney made the Narnia movie. It fits in with the redemptive violence plots that fill most of their movies. You have innocents being threatened by evil forces and some hero is forced to use violence to overcome the evil and win the day. Evil and violence are only defeated with more violence, thus negating the biblical message that the way to overcome evil is with good. (Aslan dying is just an interesting plot twist in the overall redemptive violence plot.)

Jesus as the conquering lion fits many Christians’ picture of their saviour. He strides in and violently conquers evil. The innocent are saved. But the picture of Jesus in the New Testament is not one of the conquering lion, but the slain lamb.

Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals." (Revelation 5:1-5)

Now here is a movie plot for you. John is in heaven observing an awesome display. He and the hosts of heaven are distraught because a mysterious scroll cannot be opened. But wait. In strolls a lion. Not just any lion but “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David”. This lion is a conqueror so he will have no problem tearing open the scroll and winning the day.


For many Christians, the story ends there. But the Book of Revelation has a plot twist that makes all the difference.

Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

They sing a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth."

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About the Author

Mark Hurst is a pastoral worker for the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ).

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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