The solution to doubt is, then, according to Lewis, faith. Not blind belief, but a commitment informed by reason, goodness, and imagination. What God has told us in the light of day and which we then know to be true, we should not doubt in the middle of our darkest night. The only way forward is to, in the words of Aslan, “Remember the signs!”
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis described faith as “the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.” His is a crucial observation for a world that often pits reason against faith. Lewis understood that reason is not opposed to faith, and that faith must always be guarded against changing emotion.
This point is powerfully illustrated in The Silver Chair, the fourth book of The Chronicles of Narnia series. The story opens with Jill Pole, a typical English schoolgirl, being called suddenly (and even more strangely than anyone before her) into Narnia. Aslan, the Great Lion, gives her the task of rescuing Prince Rilian, son of Caspian, who had been missing for ten years. To help her, Aslan gives Jill signs to recite and remember, along with this dire warning:
“Here on the mountain, the air is clear … as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind.”
Jill learns quickly just how true his warning is. Eventually, having left the surface of Narnia and descended to the depths of the underworld, she, Eustace Scrubb, and Puddleglum the Marshwiggle find Narnia’s lost prince. He’s so deeply enchanted by the Witch’s dark magic that he can no longer tell madness from reality, truth from lies. It’s only in the full grasp of his “madness,” which actually turns out to be his moments of lucidity, that the prince unknowingly invokes the final sign given to Jill: he calls on the name of Aslan.
In that moment, Lewis masterfully portrays the fog of doubt and deception. Under the Witch’s enchantment, it’s not clear who is a friend and who is an enemy. In fact, the three adventurers feel sure that the prince will attack them the moment he’s set free, but as Puddleglum reminds them in a moment of powerful courage, they’ve sworn to obey the words of Aslan. Only that better commitment, which might be called the right ordering of their loves, sees them through.