But the Glorious One bent down his glorious head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, “Son, thou are welcome.”
But I said, “Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.”
He answered, “Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me.”
Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, “Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?
The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, “It is false. Not because he and I are one, but 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.”
“But I said also, yet I have been seeking Tash all my days.”
“Beloved,” said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.”
This conversation between Aslan and the Calormene soldier has been a sore spot among Lewis critics. Aslan, they charge, has welcomed an unbeliever into the Narnian version of heaven. The man did not know Aslan and therefore should be locked out of Paradise. Lewis, they say, has wandered away from the clear teaching of Scripture that no one can be saved apart from the name of Jesus.
So here’s the question: Is it possible for someone who has never heard of Jesus to have his sin wiped away?
Well, I can give you an example of someone who did. His name was Abraham. God promised Abraham more descendants than he could count and that the whole world would be blessed through him and his family. A crazy promise because Abraham was an old man and he didn’t have any kids. But…
“Then he believed in Yahweh, and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6) Abraham believed God and, in return, God considered him as righteous.
Wait a second. In Acts 4:12 it says “for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Without Jesus, no one can be saved.
Yep, you’re right. And that’s exactly how Abraham ultimately was saved. When Jesus died, he took Abraham’s sin upon himself, too. Without Jesus’ death and resurrection, there is no salvation for anyone. But Abraham had never heard of Jesus because Jesus hadn’t been born yet, so Abraham was saved by his faith in Yahweh.
Let’s slide from Genesis 15 to Romans 1.
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.” Romans 1:20
According to Paul, God’s glory shines clearly through his creation so that all people everywhere can know who he is. Move from here to Romans 2.
“There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 2:9-10
These Greek Gentiles are some of those who have seen God’s glory through creation, but never heard of God’s special Law given to the Jews. Keep going in Romans 2.
“For when the Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts…” Roman 2:14-15
According to Paul, it appears that it is at least possible for people to know God through creation, to live like they have God’s law written on their hearts, and, as a result, experience glory, honor and peace. Just like Abraham, their sins are wiped away by their faith in the God of creation, made clean through the blood of Jesus. I have heard stories of people who, when they hear the story of the Bible, begin to weep, saying, “This is the God I have been serving!” And then they immediately become followers of Jesus.
So was C.S. Lewis wrong to allow the Calormene soldier into the Narnian heaven? I don’t think so.
What do you think?