At two points in C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair, Prince Rillian makes an important claim about the state of their adventure:
“Doubtless this signifies,” said the Prince, “that Aslan will be our good lord, whether he means us to live or die. All’s one for that.”
“Courage friends,” came Prince Rillian’s voice, “whether we live or die, Aslan will be our good lord.”
These two passages have haunted my mind since I finished the book a couple of weeks ago. As Christians we often face such a sense of anxiety over non-essentials in life, that we miss a sense of reality that our intellectual ancestors understood quite well:
I should wish neither, for my own part; but if it were necessary either to do wrong or to suffer it, I should choose to suffer rather than do it.1 – Socrates
Pro 15:16 Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it.
Pro 15:17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.
It is better to die moral than it is to do immoral deeds. Similarly, it is better for Rillian and company to die in the service of Aslan (the good), than to commit themselves so deeply to survival that they are willing to do evil.
This is same lesson of Daniel refusing obeisance to the king, Paul preaching though he knew he’d take a beating, and every Christian act of political resistance or generosity. It is better to suffer an injustice for being in the right than to use evil to get what we want.
Courage friends, whether we live or die, Jesus will be our good lord.
1Plato, Plato in Twelve Volumes Translated by W.R.M. Lamb., vol. 3 (Medford, MA: Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd., 1967).