Some Christian readers don’t like C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia because certain characters in the stories use magic. For these readers, “magic” is the same as “witchcraft,” a practice strongly condemned in the Bible: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18).
I don’t think we need to spend any time defending C.S. Lewis against a charge of promoting the use of witchcraft. Even so, he might have been well-advised to be more careful.
Dr. Cornelius, a dwarf, has “some small magic” which includes a sleeping spell. The magician Coriakin has a book of spells which apparently anyone can open and use (kind of like leaving a loaded gun lying around the house). Uncle Andrew makes a great deal of trouble for himself by fooling around with magic that he doesn’t understand. And there are a werewolf and a hag who intend to use magic to call up the White Witch from the dead, but are killed before they can do it.
More serious magic–imposing perpetual winter on Narnia, turning people into stone–is done by the White Witch herself, who is not human, and who wiped out all life on her own world by speaking The Deplorable Word. I am not counting as “magic” the actions of Aslan, the Great Lion, who sang life into existence on Narnia. Aslan is a symbolic representation of Jesus Christ; and “magic” is much too vulgar a word to describe Christ’s works–which were done so that we would be able to believe He is the Son of God.
Those of us who love the Chronicles–are we being careless? Speaking only for myself, I’ve always just let the magic slide right past me. What I really get a charge out of is how Lewis, by forcing me to look at Jesus from another, unfamiliar angle, startles me into seeing Jesus afresh. It’s kind of like running into Jesus unexpectedly: and I think that’s sometimes a very good way to encounter Him.
If you don’t like the Narnia books on account of the magic, and think you’re better off steering clear of them, I won’t attempt to persuade you otherwise. I respect your position.
How much do I respect it?
In my own fantasy novels, prominently featured on this blog, I have avoided the use of magic altogether. Characters may think that some of the things they see are magical; but thinking doesn’t make it so. I allow only such things as the Bible allows–which you’ll have to admit gives me pretty wide latitude. Prophecy, tongues, healing, divine guidance–okay. Turning people into stone, or summoning up the dead–not okay.
Have I succeeded? Well, I don’t know how many of you out there have actually read my books: “the few, the proud,” whatever. But if you have, I’d appreciate hearing from you.