C.S. Lewis knew about war first hand. He battled in trenches during World War I and experienced the horrors of war: he watched friends die, he smelled gunpowder and blood, he heard bullets whizzing by, he tasted the gritty dirt. Yet, he refused to become a pacifist.
Why? He understood the Christian call to war. In his fairy tale Prince Caspian, a tyrant named Miraz is enslaves all of Narnia, murders the king, and denies Aslan’s existence. The son of the murdered king, Caspian, is therefore called into war. In desperation Caqspian summons the high kings and queens of Narnia. To his surprise, they arrive with the great general himself, Aslan.
In a wonderful moment, “Aslan, … lifted his head, shook his mane and roared. The sound deep and throbbing at first like an organ begning on a low note, rose and became louder, and then far louder again, til the earth and air were shaking with it … Down in Miraz’s camp men woke, stared palely in one another’s, faces, and grasped their weapons.” He unnerves his enemies, and awakens the Narnian creatures to war.
Aslan does not stop there. He transforms the Penvsie children into knights as well. Michael Ward writes “the boys do not simply harden, they become knightly … Peter is ‘Knight of the Most Noble order of the Lion;’ … [He] is the model knight, able to hew trecherous and murderous Sospesian in pieces, … but gentle enough to kiss the furry head of the badger.”
Yet, Lewis does not suggest that War is Aslan’s primary interest. No, war is a means to an end. Aslan limits the cruelty of his troops by setting their eyes on the true victory: not violence and death, but peaceful life, celebration, and eternal joy!
Even as I write, I long for this knighthood, under the good general who ends tyranny, and looks forward to peaceful joy. When we watch movies about just wars, we always long to fight. Yet, what war is there for me to fight? What tyrant should my general lead me against?
We have one great general, Jesus Christ, who commands us against three great enemies: the devil, the world, and the flesh. Paul writes, “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” Christ enlists us, and equips us for the war to come. He guides us as we battle our inner-tyrant, and simultaneously sets our vision on the great final hope: heaven’s joyful peace. By his strength let us long for our eternal knighthood.