Love and Knowledge: The Keys to Being All That We Are Intended to Be

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In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the way that the knowledge of self and the knowledge of God occur in this story is through redemption and forgiveness which is highlighted by Edmund’s restoration to Aslan and to his siblings.  In order to understand the redemption Edmund experiences, we must understand why he needs to be redeemed.  First, Edmund disobeys the Imago Dei within him by seeking instant gratification which the Witch offers him in the form of Turkish Delight.  When Edmund returns to Narnia, he desires more self- gratification, and he wants the power and position the Witch had promised him, but he realizes too late that he is only a pawn for her to capture all of his siblings and stop the coming of spring in Narnia.  Next, Edmund becomes a slave of the witch until he is freed by Aslan’s armies. This story is bitter sweet because we know that Edmund is rescued, and he is restored to his siblings, but it will be at a tremendous cost.  When Edmund is saved from the Witch, he and Aslan have a very touching talk, but the other children are commanded not to talk with him about “what is past” (139).  Edmund has been forgiven and his past is behind him.  We see the self restored in Edmund and in the other children once they live in the presence of Aslan.  However, the battle for Edmund and all of sinful humanity is not over until Aslan lays his life down on the Stone Table-it is at the Stone Table wherein the deep magic, deeper than the White Witch can comprehend, moves and changes all of Narnia.  Aslan’s death heralds his coming resurrection, and when he comes back to life, he must destroy the Witch and her followers.  Once Aslan has accomplished the Witch’s defeat, Lucy is commanded to give the life giving cordial to her brother Edmund and to all others close to dying (179).

After one reads about all of these characters as found in all four of the novels analyzed, it becomes quite clear that the scriptural passage which integrates all four of these books is found in Matthew 16:25-26 “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”    For example, Ransom has to go into all out battle against evil forces in both books.  First, Ransom must fight off Weston and keep Perelandra as the place the eldils and Maledil would have it.   Secondly, back in England, he must destroy the Director of N.I.C.E and his minions in order for the people of St. Anne’s and those who flee Edgestow to have the opportunity to find God and to have lives that are free from conditioning and eugenics or worse. For his loyalty and love, Ransom goes to be with Maledil back in Perelandra.  Then, Mark and Jane must go through severe trials in order to see themselves as husband and wife in the biblical way that Lewis would have us understand.  Next, there are the children Digory and Polly, and Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.  All of the children lose themselves in another world in order to encounter Aslan and find themselves.  Most importantly, all of these characters lose their way for a time, even if it’s only momentarily, but all of them find their lives when they are in the service of Aslan who loves them and causes them to love him.

At the beginning of this paper, I use George Benson’s song “The Greatest Love of All,” and the lyrics of this song cause me to reiterate the question: Is learning to love yourself truly the greatest love of all? Do Digory and Polly, and Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund and the Studdocks become renewed, changed,  God -loving people simply by telling themselves that they love themselves?  Absolutely not because self-talk alone is not what changes the characters in these novels.  In contrast to Benson’s popular notion, the novels we have analyzed demonstrate that the children and the Studdocks all learn to love God and others first by failing to love Him, and then via supernatural intervention, they are transformed by God’s love, and they are able to know Him and to love Him and others. Hence, readers can safely deduce that there is nothing in the novels which suggests that learning to love oneself is the greatest love of all.  Instead, Lewis shows us that learning to love God provides us with the reason and the passion to love oneself and God.    In essence, the children and the Studdocks know themselves by knowing God, and they know God by knowing themselves as derivative on God.  Thus, the novels we have analyzed so far strongly suggest that the concepts of knowing God and knowing oneself are inseparable.

In closing, Lewis reflects Calvin’s idea that when God moves toward us and we choose and/or are called to move toward God, we become all that we are intended to be- followers of God whose Imago Dei is daily renewed into the likeness of our Creator-God.