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There is a C. S. Lewis quote from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that resembles a famous quote by St Augustine.

Here is St. Augustine:

The very thing which is now called the Christian religion was with the ancients, and it was with the human race from its beginning to the time when Christ appeared in the flesh: From then on the true religion, which already existed, began to be called the Christian

That quote comes from St. Augustine’s Retractations I.12.3.

There is scriptural support for Augustine’s assertion. St Paul in his mission to the Greeks famously instructed the Athenians (in Acts 17.23) declaring, “for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: “To the unknown god.” Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you.”

I very clearly recall encountering a meme some time ago citing C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe which captured the above sentiment perfectly.

C. S. Lewis wrote something to the effect of (trying to recall in my own words):

“You worship another deity but it is the Christian God in disguise.”

Or:

“We worship the same God, just a different name.”

My question for all of you: Is any one familiar enough with C. S. Lewis’ material (fiction or even non-fiction) to find an actual reference to this quote by C. S. Lewis that I am trying to describe?

I’ve spent hours combing through Google search terms trying to find this quote / meme by C.S.Lewis. No dice.

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    At the end of The Last Battle one character who has been good but a worshipper of Tash meets Aslan and throws himself down expecting to be killed. Aslan picks him up saying "Many worshipped Tash thinking him to be me. Many also worship me, thinking me to be Tash." May 22, 2020 at 2:36
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Peter Turner
    May 23, 2020 at 21:36
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    DJClayworth's comment makes me think. In the Last Battle (seventh and last of the Narnia books) invaders of Narnia devise for propaganda purposes a combined god that supposedly all can worship 'Tashlan', combining Aslan with their own cruel god Tash. However, they do not believe it themselves and at time of stress call to Tash, not Tashlan, to help them. CS Lewis is probably here impliedly criticising wishy-washy 'all religions are paths to the same truths' sentiments. But he yet acknowledges a virtuous follower of another religion may be following Jesus and not know it.
    – Timothy
    Feb 12, 2022 at 12:43
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    A minor detail. But the reference for the quote is Retractions Book 1, Chapter 12, paragraph 3 (not I 1,2,3 as given above)
    – AngusHaw
    Apr 12 at 13:41

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I actually have more than one potential answer to my initial question now, although I'm not sure that they are exactly the original quote I’m looking for. These are the best answers so far:

The first lead comes from @DJClayworth in his comment to my original question who suggested:

At the end of one character who has been good but a worshiper of Tash meets Aslan and throws himself down expecting to be killed. Aslan picks him up saying "Many worshiped Tash thinking him to be me. Many also worship me, thinking me to be Tash.

Of course I haven’t read the Narnia series so I am not very well informed about the character development or context. Here is my valiant but feeble interpretation of @DJClayworth’s comment: Perhaps CSL is conveying that the conflict between worshippers of two adversarial characters (perhaps with Aslan being Yeshua-like and Tash being Lucifer-like) are somehow worshiping the same deity. That’s the best I can possibly extrapolate so far. I don’t know what else to infer from this?

I found the actual page reference from the book providing a little more context. Here is the full paragraph from Lewis’ (1956) The Last Battle:

Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.

(pp144-145). This book cited here was republished in 2007 by HarperCollins.

I have difficulty extrapolating the christian metaphor or narrative that Lewis is trying to convey. It completely escapes me. The unusual language that is almost Shakespearean doesn't help either. I can’t imagine C S Lewis’ audience of children would understand this any better than I can.

Anyways, the quote I described in my original question sounded to me more like a pointed “maxim” or “axiom” about God’s universal nature drawing all religions and human cultures from a single origin. That is more what I was getting at in my question.

Moving onto the second lead that I am working with now, there is a popular meme in circulation attributed to C. S. Lewis without a proper citation (so this destroys its credibility - - it’s almost baseless) but I think it is much closer to my original question.

One meme reads:

I am in your world,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.

Another similar quote and even more axiomatic reads: “In your world, I have another name. You should know me by it.”

In this quote, I suppose it could be interpreted that the God who we know in Heaven goes by many names when humans walk the Earth and so we should come to get to know Him in the name of Christ.

At this point I suppose this meme is probably the one that I saw years ago that I can only remember vaguely today. This is as close as I’ve got to the answer to my original question but my memory is telling me that I am still missing something.

This ‘axiom’ (more like a vapid meme) is not only unsourced but it’s also way beyond the confines of Catholic doctrine which lends it even less credibility in my mind.

I checked C. S. Lewis’ Wikiquote page looking for a reference but didn’t find anything. If any of you people here on Stack Exchange have a reference, please feel free to update this answer with a correction.

I'll mark my question as answered.

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  • The "meme" you quote is from an earlier Narnia book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. A little more research would've easily found that quote, it's definitely not baseless!
    – curiousdannii
    May 22, 2020 at 14:59
  • You get my upvote for finding the quote I was thinking of. May 22, 2020 at 15:13
  • @Angeles89: Of course I haven’t read the Narnia series It's HEARTBREAKING that you haven't read them. Please do and ask more questions about them. Narnia series is so enriching because they enable us to reflect on the Christian faith from another worldview, literally. There's a deep meaning to that quote from VDT, which has a completely different meaning than the Tash quote from TLB. May 22, 2020 at 16:18
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    Second quote...You (sons of Adam and daughters of Eve) know the Creator/Savior as Aslan in this world (Narnia) but in your world (Earth) He has another name (Jesus). Oct 20, 2020 at 12:14
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    @angles FWIW, I think Tash is more like an Allah like character than lucifer, (although it probably depended on your point of view in Calormen)
    – Peter Turner
    Oct 14, 2021 at 20:55

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