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Virtue in Literature (4) – The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe: Faith

Edmund Pevensie is a sinner. He is not a person that is basically good and nice and therefore in no need of salvation. He is traitor. A traitor to the rightful king of Narnia; a traitor that colludes with a wicked tyrant. He is a traitor to his family, willing to hand them over to a tyrant in order to advance himself. And he betrays both family and king for couple of pieces of candy, a mere pittance that consumed and forgotten in a heartbeat. Edmund Pevensie is you and me.

While the details may be different (most of us haven’t travelled to magical lands and met eight foot tall witch-queens), like Edmund we have betrayed the rightful King. And in our sin we have hurt and betrayed those we love most, those we have the highest duty towards. We have sinned and sinned greatly and we too have nothing to show for it.

But the problem runs deeper than this. Not only has Edmund sinned and thereby harmed his siblings, he has also harmed himself. Instead of finding himself prince of Narnia, Edmund finds himself imprisoned, the tool and pawn of the White Witch. Edmund is forced to accompany the Witch, unable to slow her or stop her and unable to free himself. Left to himself he is utterly without hope.

Enter Aslan. Edmund has forfeited his liberty and has justly been sentenced to death, but Aslan offers to take his place. It is one thing to die for a just man, but Edmund, by colluding with the tyrant queen, has betrayed Aslan, the rightful king, and has thereby made himself the enemy of Aslan. Aslan nonetheless dies in his place.

As you all know (at least, I assume you have all read this) Aslan rises. With Aslan’s resurrection many other creatures of Narnia that had been under the curse of the Witch also rise. Edmund too rises into a new life. Not only is he spared physical death, but he becomes a new creature, a new type of man. Putting his evil ways behind him, Edmund becomes a steadfast follower of Aslan, standing firm against evil and ruling justly, not as a prince, but as a king of Narnia.

What liberated and transformed Edmund? No great act on his part, but rather simply turning from his sin and following Aslan. The Bible calls this faith and it is the cornerstone of Christianity. Like Edmund we are under the power of darkness and we justly deserve death. Like Edmund there is nothing we can do about this. But we too have had someone take our place. In response we are asked to repent and believe and when we do we too become new creatures.