In The Last Battle, Emeth was a soldier from Calormene who worshiped Tash. Apparently, he thought that Tash was basically like Aslan, so Aslan interpreted Emeth's worship of Tash as actually being worship of him. Aslan tells Emeth in chapter 15 that "I take to me the services which thou hast done to Tash... if any man swear by him and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him."

Obviously, Emeth ends up going to Aslan's Country.

What's the theological significance/basis of this? How did this reflect C. S. Lewis's broader views on salvation? Does Lewis think that sincerity is "enough" for salvation?

  • Maybe include the exact quote from The Last Battle? It goes something like "if you do good deeds in the name of Tash, then they're really dedicated to me, and if you do evil in my name, then you're really doing it in the name of Tash". Which I've always thought is a good way of looking at religion: it doesn't matter which God people worship, only whether they do good or evil in the name of that God.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 17:01
  • Lewis began his life as a Christian, left the church when religion became a chore to him, and was slowly reconverted in his 30s after becoming friends with Tolkien. Because he converted as an adult, he was considerably more picky about doctrine, and didn't follow every convention blindly. This would explain his benevolent acceptance of the fungibility of good deeds. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._S._Lewis#Return_to_Christianity Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 9:55
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    @Lauren - I don't know about back then, but this is a common Catholic belief now. From no less a personage than the Pope: "The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!" Even further: "We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.” Even old conservative Benedict rejected the notion of damnation for virtuous unbelievers, to some extent.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 22:19
  • @Obie2.0 to be fair, Pope Frankie is very unlike Pope Palpatine before him. I'm not Catholic myself, so I can't speak to what doctrine is like now or was like at the time of Lewis with any authority. Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 22:51

2 Answers 2


C. S. Lewis can be fairly described as a Christian Inclusivist – he believed that Christianity was true, but was not willing to claim that only "Christians" would be saved.

This is different from universalism – though not his favorite doctrine, he did believe in the existence of hell, and that some would go to it:

Some will not be redeemed. There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of Our Lord's own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason. (The Problem of Pain, chapter 8)

As opposed to Christian Exclusivism, in which saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation (cf. Westminster Confession of Faith 1-1; John 14:6, Acts 4:12), Lewis (and many others) take what they consider a more hopeful approach – that some, though not knowing about Jesus Christ or not explicitly following him, will nonetheless be saved (cf. Mark 9:40, Acts 17:23–28, 2 Peter 3:9, etc.).

Lewis makes this position more explicit in Mere Christianity, using the example of "a Buddhist of good will":

There are people in other religions who are being led by God's secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it. (Book 4, Chapter 10, "Nice People or New Men")

This is precisely what appears in this passage in The Last Battle. Aslan repudiates Tash and his wicked followers, so this isn't universalism. But despite following a false god, Aslan saves Emeth, because of his good motives and good will.


I think what Lewis meant when he allowed Emeth into "heaven", as the allegory is, is that doing your best to please an unknown God, by obeying the instructions given, i.e, your conscience. Paul talks about this in the book of Acts to the Athenians (17:23).

  • So, to Emeth, Aslan was kind of like the Athenians' unknown God? Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 2:40
  • Yes, precisely. The Athenians and Emeth had both been seeking the true God in their universe and done the best they could based on their limited information. Emeth excels, however, because he was monotheistic, but the Athenians had a pantheon.
    – LeoValdez
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 2:49
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    This answer could be improved by quoting and comparing the passages referred to. Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 7:09

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