Some critics have claimed that the explanation of Aslan's sacrifice in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe supports the ransom theory of the atonement. (Edit: There's also a much briefer definition of what that is here; basically, the Ransom theory holds that Christ died to provide a ransom to the Devil - it is generally rejected by Protestants, which would make it odd for C. S. Lewis to support it). However, I haven't been able to find anything in Lewis's other works to support that. Are there opinions on whether that passage actually supports that view, and is anyone aware of any other Lewis writings that would support (or explicitly contradict) that view?


1 Answer 1


To cite an answer on Christinanity SE that sticks to C. S. Lewis' expressed views on the matter, avoiding theological debates:


does not see any need to settle on a particular theory of the atonement, considering it to be something beyond human understanding.

In a letter written to a "Mr. Young" (otherwise unidentified) dated 31 October 1963 -- so less than a month before he died -- Lewis is clearly replying to five specific questions that Young had asked him. One of them, #3, related to the Atonement:

  1. When Scripture says that Christ died 'for' us,a I think the word is usually ὑπέρ (on behalf of), not ἀντί (instead of). I think the ideas of sacrifice, Ransom, Championship (over Death), Substitution, etc., are all images to suggest the reality (not otherwise comprehensible to us) of the Atonement. To fix on any one of them as if it contained and limited the truth like a scientific definition wd. in my opinion be a mistake.

a The editor, Walter Hooper, suggests Romans 5:8 at this point.

Source: C.S. Lewis, Collected Letters. Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge and Joy 1950-1963, ed. by Walter Hooper (HarperCollins, 2007), p. 1476 [italics in original].

Credit goes to Davïd for this answer, that deals with how CSL believes his book should be read rather than with his beliefs on the subject.


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