The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia, #7) The Last Battle discussion

The Taarkan **Spoiler Alert***

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Wendy Why did the faithful Taarkan end up getting to come into Narnia? Usually Lewis writes allegorically so is he trying to tell us something when a worshipper of Tash is allowed to enter the new Narnia? Any thoughts?

Alicia It wasn't the name that mattered, but rather the conduct of the Taarkan and how he chose to see and do things. He didn't believe in the cruelty and underhanded ways his countryman were doing things, but rather in honor and a code of conduct. So even though the Taarkan thought he was worshipping Tash, the whole time he was actually worshipping Aslan through his thoughts and deeds. So when the time came for the end of the world and judgment, he was placed where his heart had always led him.

Wendy Yes, that absolutely makes sense. What I'm actually curious about, though, is what Lewis is saying metaphorically. For instance, he obviously believes in a Savior and so he writes about Aslan as Christ. I was just trying to see how the Taarkan translates into Christianity. He may not represent anything at all - Lewis may just be saying that good people will be recognized by God. But I've always wondered if Lewis wrote in the Taarkan to represent someone that we normally wouldn't think of as a Christ-follower, like a Buddhist or Zoroastrian, and show that they could go to heaven too. OR, is it a smaller metaphor - not someone with a different religion, but someone with a different practice of Christianity. I hope this makes sense. I'd love to hear from fellow Christians on this.
P.S. I know we all have our own opinions on what is brought up here - the KEY that I'm tryign to get at is what is LEWIS saying. Since this is a book discussion. :)

Alicia My first thoughts on reading the book, especially given the setting and the type of culture and whatnot that the Taarkan's had, was that they perhaps represented Muslim's and those of similar faith. They too believe in just one God, but with different ways of looking at things sometimes.

On furthur reflection though, I think that Lewis had him there to represent anyone who believes in the ways of Christ, but isn't neccesarily a Christian.

Wendy I have thought that at times as well. Somehow, it all makes sense in the book when you read it, but when you stop to think about it when you're done, you go...hmmm.

Maybe that is the ultimate message to get from this: that God does things we don't understand, but that when we get to heaven it will just all make sense. And if not...then I'll be the first in line to talk to Lewis about it in heaven! :)

Allison I recently finished all of the books recently and haven't been able to stop thinking about the symbolism and where it all fits in. Personally what I think Lewis is trying to say about the Taarkan is that there are so many faiths and beliefs/Gods out there but Aslan is the one and true "Christ." Some people have never heard of Aslan, some have only heard weird things about Him, and others have heard good things but don't know Him fully. Pretty much what Diamond was saying, "anyone who believes in the WAYS of Christ, but isn't necessarily a Christian."

Aslan as Christ is not judging the Taarkan because he worshiped Tash. That is what he was taught, he didn't know better, therefore he cannot be held accountable. The Taarkan still strove to do good and he had a good heart. In the end, how could a loving Aslan destroy him for being so devout when he didn't know better?

message 7: by Ann (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ann I'm so glad that someone has made this discussion thread! I just finished "The Last Battle" a few days ago, and have been mulling this question over since.
I was very intrigued by those last few chapters, and who got to go the the "real" Narnia with Aslan. I think I've got to agree with Diamond and Allison - at least, that's what I took from it. That it didn't really matter which God you were doing the deeds for, but more what the deeds themselves were was indicative of which God it was done for... hm - I wonder if that makes any sense. I.e. if it was a good deed, it was done for Aslan (whether or not you knew it) and if it was something evil, it was done for Tash (again, whether or not you knew it).
I, too, was struck with the Buddhist idea as well. I wonder, did any other Calormene's get to Real Narnia?

Alisa Kester Although it's true that the Taarkan was a good man, that's not why he made it into Real Narnia. It doesn't matter how good you are, there's only one way in, and that's through Aslan. In our world, the Bible states that even those who have never heard the name of Christ can become believers and thus be saved, by believing in Christ through all the evidence of Christ that was created into the world. Lewis believes this, so it makes sense to me that although the Taarkan had not heard of Aslan, he still believed in Him through the evidence of his eyes. He chose to follow Aslan even though he didn't know Aslan's name.

Wendy Wow Alisa great insight! I hadn't thought in that direction before.

message 10: by John (last edited Oct 08, 2008 09:19PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John "...because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him, for I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. 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."

-from chapter XV, "Further Up and Further In"

I actually took Lewis to mean by this that Christ is the source of all good in mankind, regardless of whether mankind recognizes it or not. Lewis is making a statement about the timeless purity of Christ's love; that it crosses national, ethnic and even religious boundaries. Emeth was welcome in the blessed realm because Aslan knew Emeth had been seeking him, even though Emeth gave the name Tash to what he'd been seeking. I think Lewis is trying to say that Christ knows our hearts and that the nature of the soul transcends the trappings of human society.

This places him at odds with conventional Christian teachings where the only way to salvation is through consciously embracing Christ as one's personal savior, but I think that Lewis' religious beliefs were probably more complex than most people give him credit for.

message 11: by Ann (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ann I think that's pretty much how that passage struck me, too, when I read it, John. Thanks for putting it so clearly! :) It is an interesting idea that whatever you do that is good is done in the name of Aslan, whether or not you know. I suppose what Emeth *thought* Tash was, what Tash stood for, was really what Aslan was and stood for, Emeth just didn't know which person/God/idol to attribute his ideals and beliefs to, but he did hold all the ideals that Alslan stood for, thus allowing him into Real Narnia....

message 12: by Elisabeth (last edited May 03, 2012 08:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Elisabeth Wheatley I think it was that the Taarkan sought the truth and kept on looking for it. When Aslan meets him, he says that all good deeds are done in the service of Aslan because he and Tash are opposites and evil is always in the service of Tash and good is always in the service of Aslan. Therefore, all the good that the Taarkan had done to please Tash was really for Aslan. Did I explain that clearly?

I'm not so sure about the biblical reference, though. I'm not sure if the bible says that some non-believers can go to heaven or not, but for some reason I think that it does. But I'm going to have to research that last part, so please don't take my word for it.

Ashley-Anne Diamond wrote: "It wasn't the name that mattered, but rather the conduct of the Taarkan and how he chose to see and do things. ..."

oh thats brilliant well put

message 14: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma Ann said: "I'm so glad that someone has made this discussion thread! I just finished "The Last Battle" a few days ago, and have been mulling this question over since.
I was very intrigued..."

Aravis from The Horse and His Boy got into the Real Narnia, and she was Calormene by birth, although she married an Archenlander, so maybe she was considered one of them afterwards.

Benjamin Wirtz This was the one part that was troubling to me too. It's like saying if a Muslim worships Allah in a way that is just and caring then he really worshiped Jesus and got to go to heaven. I really hope I am misunderstanding Lewis'es meaning on this one.

Philip Paul This poses an interesting theological challenge.

Doesn't the bible state that Jesus is "the way, the truth and the life" and that "no one comes to the Father except through him"?

Why don't we replace the names ... Jesus would tell someone that because he believed in _____ instead of God wholeheartedly, that he was actually believing in God. So I could believe in whoever I want and still get into heaven?

Is this heresy?

Lesley Arrowsmith Lots of Muslims live in places where there is no real Christian presence (or you really have to search to find them) - if they're loyal to Allah, and do good, then that is as if they were being loyal to Jesus, and doing good. That's what CS Lewis is saying.
In the Bible it says, in the parable of the sheep and goats, that it is what the people did that is most important - did you give food to the hungry, or clothes to the naked and so on - not what they believed, because you can have a belief, and still not be doing what God wants.

Siobhan I don't know about contrasts to Allah, but it fits with Jesus' parables, where he often states that it's not who you say you worship, but how. I was reading my son his toddler bible earlier and there was the story of Mary and Martha (think I have the names right) where Mary sits and listens to Jesus because she wants to hear about God, but Martha is concerned with following etiquette and when she berates Mary, Jesus berates her - just because she thought she was doing the right thing doesn't mean she was, anymore than Whether Mary was doing wrong or right. It's not in the actions themselves, but in the emotion behind it. I'm not sure if I'm explaining this cohesively.

And Philip, I don't think it's heresy if you take it as a parable. It's a children's story with God allegory's in a fantasy realm, it would make for a good parable.

Siobhan John wrote: ""...because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him, for I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not ..."

Didn't Lewis say he went into Christianity "kicking and screaming"? I loved his autobiography, and the religious journey he centred it around, and I'm pretty sure that's the phrase he uses. He calls his faith 'joy' but in the most ironic sense, and spent years denying it before the likes of Tolkien broke him. I'd say his religious beliefs were extremely complex.

message 20: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 01, 2013 06:17PM) (new)

To tell the truth, I never really thought about this, issue in The Last Battle, but I have to say I don't agree with C.S. Lewis, if he is saying that it doesn't matter who you profess allegiance to as long as you are doing good things.

Isaiah 64:6 says our righteousness is as filthy rags, even our best works will never take us closer to heaven. Relationship and a faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior do matter, not just works or a desire to be good. So I can agree with Lewis on this one, (if that's what he was saying.)

message 21: by M.R. (new) - rated it 5 stars

M.R. Graham Isaiah is also Old Testament, though, and the New Covenant negated much of that. "Except through me" doesn't explicitly say anything about the state of belief of the subject so much as it does about whether or not Jesus has chosen that individual for salvation.
God is love; therefore, it isn't possible to live a life of love in separation from God, even if one has never actually heard of God. Consistent good deeds don't in themselves guarantee salvation, but they can be an outward sign of inward goodness. Someone who strives for righteousness can't be faulted for never having been exposed to the truth (That fault lies with those who failed to spread the truth.) and if that one is chosen, that may constitute "through me."
My words are failing at present, sorry. xP I guess that could be summed up as: Works don't save, but having a good heart that drives you to do good works may get you chosen, even if you've never heard the Gospel.

Michael People frequently gloss over this part of the story, especially if they were younger when reading it. However, I think this is one of those areas where C.S. Lewis is wrong.

Aslan says,
"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."

He is clearly making a theological statement, it is to out of place to just be a part of the fiction. He seems to be expressing that staying true to our convictions is most important. This however isn't true. Lewis is right when he says that "if any man do a cruelty in [Aslan's] name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted." In this Aslan obviously represents Jesus and Tash represents other gods or Satan. However, just because the logic works one way doesn't mean it works the other. Who and what we are convicted by matters a great deal. C.S. Lewis is a brilliant man but I think in this situation he was wrong, and it is sad because it is an important concept.

message 23: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 02, 2013 09:30AM) (new)

M.R. wrote: "Isaiah is also Old Testament, though, and the New Covenant negated much of that. "Except through me" doesn't explicitly say anything about the state of belief of the subject so much as it does abou..."

Thanks for joining the discussion! You've raised some interesting points, I'll start by addressing the first two.

Although Isaiah’s statement is found in the Old Testament, we still find in the New Testament that “ . . . all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”(Romans 3:23) and “you have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law . . .” (Galatians 5:4). (Paul was speaking to a church who had adopted Jewish laws, and works thinking it was necessary for their salvation.) So the New Testament still demands us to be sinless and holy before God and tell us works are not sufficient for achieving that.

Jesus did say “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). Like you stated, Jesus simply says that He is the way to salvation. Whether a person must believe in Him to be saved, is not discussed there, but He said elsewhere “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:18) Elsewhere in the Bible: “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) and “ . . .Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved . . .” (Acts 16:30) and “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 1:8-9).

Wow, that looks like I’m trying to write my own concordance! All throughout the New Testament it says faith and belief in Jesus Christ are required for salvation. It is a gift, yes, but one we must except.

As for the Old Testament I believe it is still relevant because "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction for instruction in righteousness." (2 Tim. 3:16). Although, I do agree with you that Jesus fulfilled the law - the sacrifice the sinless life and the requirements of the law so we don’t have to sacrifice sheep or whatever when we sin.

Faire This point of Narnia is the one I have spent most time on. Christianity clearly teaches that Jesus really is the only way to get rid of sins and that sins separate us from our Father in heaven. Now there are two points in consideration:

1.) Do we have to accept Christ's sacrifice (which kills our sins) during our life? I think that Lewis didn't believe so. In one of his books he tells this story: a man dies and meets God. Now he clearly sees all his life, his decisions and reality in full truth - for the first time. Two thinks can happen two him now: either he tells God "be it your way" and kneels, or God says the same to him - and sends him away.

I think that Lewis means that our whole life set the stage for this final decision - every decision we made up to that point either helped us or hindered us from accepting God's way, that is the way of submission and accepting His salvation. This is what could have happened to that young man in Narnia: he saw the reality, knew that he was wrong about who the God is, but was willing to renounce this error and submit to God.

Honestly, this is very in align with my (and presumably Lewis') sense of justice, but not much with actual text in Bible, which seems to stress the importance of making decision before we meet God after our death - see parable about Lasarus and rich man, or that one about settling our dispute before we come to the Judge. So I hope that God would give people last chance when then die and see truth, but am ready to accept that it is not so, because I understand, that my view of justice is very limited and influenced by my culture (see end of Job's story).

2. Do we have to accept nominally Jesus?

Or put in different way: what if we understand our sinful state, are more then willing to accept God's grace, but are wrong in person or process? Does it any good for a Hindu believer to wash himself in Ganga?

And again, Bible seems to stress a lot that to worship different Gods is a grave and severe mistake with consequences, yet from our human point of view it would seem that such a bona fidae mistake should be pardonable. And again, I think it is far better to play it safe and suppose the stricter variant is true.

Rissa Cpt. Jack Sparrow Is awesome Tash seems to be the equivalent of Satan, so is he saying that if you worship Satan and believe in him, the your actually worshipping God and you'll end up going to heaven? this has always been confusing to me.

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