Liar, Lunatic or Truth

A while back, I began reading CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series, beginning with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe thinking that I’d do some writing about what I found as it related to Christianity.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe takes place in England during the Second World War, specifically during the Blitz. The main human characters are four children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy- they’ve been sent to the house of an old Professor “in the heart of the country” to escape the air raids. One of the objects in the house is an old wardrobe, which sometimes leads to another land, called Narnia. One day while playing hide-and-seek, the youngest, Lucy, hides in the wardrobe and discovers Narnia. She has an adventure or two, then returns with seemingly no time “used up” back in England. She tells her siblings, who inspect the wardrobe to find…no Narnia. In chapter 5, the eldest children (Peter and Susan) decide to tell the professor the story. After listening, he asks them how they know that the story is not true.

Lucy, it turns out, is not typically a liar, which then takes them logically that Lucy is “mad”. The professor denies that she is “mad” and then…

“Logic!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”

This is clearly a reference to what is known as Lewis’ trilemma. In his book Mere Christianity, Lewis writes,

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”

What then are we to do with the fact that Narnia is not “always present” and the time difference between the two worlds?

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Filed under CS Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

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