Liam Neeson is the latest actor to say something foolish in public that is causing outrageous outrage. In this case Neeson is suggesting that the Lion creature in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series could just as well represent Mohammed and it does Christ.
Liam Neeson provides the voice for Aslan, the Lion creature who figures prominently in all of the Narnia books in the films based on the same. Aslan is a representation of Christ, whose self sacrifice on “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” is an allegory for Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection.
“Ahead of the release of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader next Thursday, Neeson said: ‘Aslan symbolises a Christ-like figure but he also symbolises for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries.
“‘That’s who Aslan stands for as well as a mentor figure for kids.'”
Neeson, himself a practicing Catholic, was no doubt trying to be ecumenical, attempting to make the Narnia stories more approachable to people raised in other religious traditions. It is a well intentioned attempt that has nevertheless sparked outrage among fans of C.S. Lewis and believing Christians.
C.S. Lewis was a deeply believing Christian who was in no sense of the world multicultural. He believed that only through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as the redeemer of sin could any human soul hope to attain the joys of Heaven in the afterlife. Muslims, Buddhists, or followers of any of those other great spiritual leaders and prophets are simply in error and out of luck.
Hence, Aslan cannot possibly represent Mohammed, Buddha, or anyone else but Christ. Since we know of C.S. Lewis’s attitudes toward the matter, it is not open to interpretation.
This is not to say that Liam Neeson is necessarily in error is trying to express a larger truth. A case can be made that there are many paths to ultimate truth and that various religions and belief systems are all attempts, albeit imperfect, to arrive at the same destination. The Bahai hold beliefs along those lines, as do certain deists.
Neeson’s error was to try to reinterpret a piece of classical children’s literature to fit into that point of view and by implication ascribe to its author views he did not hold. The Narnia books were not based on the idea of many paths going to one truth. For C.S. Lewis, there was only one path, which he repeatedly stated in his written body of work and in his public statements. Hence the outrage and consternation.
Source: Narnia fans’ fury after Liam Neeson claims Aslan – the symbol of Christ – could also be Mohammed, Tamara Cohen and Simon Caldwell, UK Daily Mail, December 4th, 2010