Whether beloved Christian author C.S. Lewis meant to preach the gospel through his Chronicles of Narnia series is still disputed. However, with the release of the film adaptation of Lewis book today, churches, denominations and ministries of all sizes, will be taking hold of what some view as a God-inspired opportunity to spread the message of Christ.
"We're utterly compelled to help fuel and drive Hollywood's new interest in faith-based movies, Tom Allen of advocacy group Catholic Outreach, told the Associated Press. "It's what countless concerned citizens have longed for and prayed for. Now it's here, prayer's answered and we intend to make the most of it."
This includes buying out entire theatres for the films opening night, authoring Narnia-based Bible Study books, and handing out Narnia Outreach packets explicating the Christian allegories in the scenes.
"Beneath the surface of the story lies a beautiful metaphorical tale of Jesus Christ and God's plan for humanity," wrote Mark Shea, author of A Guide to Narnia, 100 questions about The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Large denominations, including the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (the largest Baptist, Methodist, and Lutheran bodies respectively), already began offering online and print resources for pastors to make the most of Narnia.
In the case of the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention, an entire website has been dedicated for Narnia resources, including sermon illustrations, discussion points, suggested books, biographies, reviews, and a movie trailer.
Most of the resources steer clear of the debate on whether Narnia was ever meant as a retelling of the Christian story. (In 1956 Lewis described as pure moonshine the view that he began the series as a way to spread the gospel to children.)
Instead, the denominations focus on the Christian perspective of the film, and offer ways to evangelize through the message embedded within the movie.
For those of us who have not been completed in our sanctification, an opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ is coming soon to a theater near you, a discussion point in the Baptist website reads.
Lewis Chronicles of Narnia series have sold more than 95 million copies in 41 languages since The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was published in 1950. The movie opens today in theatres across the U.S.