Sadly, the rise of allegory can probably be traced to C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, some of the best-loved children's books since their publication in the 1950s. Most fantasy authors will admit that their primary inspiration came from such works as Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and Lewis' most famous The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, even though neither man wrote his book intending for it to be taken as an allegory. The Chronicles of Narnia are "what if" tales, as Lewis specifically stated: "...[Aslan] is an invention giving an answer to the question, 'What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?' This is not allegory at all." This is made clear at the end of The Voyage of the 'Dawn Treader' when Aslan tells Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace that in their world he has another Name, and that they must learn to know him by that Name.
But even this is a dangerous position for an author to take, for when he writes a being like Aslan, he is making a statement about Christ. In fact, he is essentially writing Christ. This is taking on one's self a massive amount of responsibility, but because Lewis got away with it (and in doing so created a classic), many writers now operate under the assumption that they can do the same. The shelves are filling with allegorical fantasies that feature Christ or a Christ-like figure as a dragon, as a canine, as a feline - and authors have lost sight of the magnitude of what they are attempting to do. The process of writing an allegory has become as simple as picking some creature that seems in the author's mind to represent some attribute of God, and then enhancing that attribute to make the creature into something which (again, in the author's mind) is "like God."
This quote by A.W. Tozer sums up the state of affairs in modern American Christianity. God has been put in a box. His perfections have been diluted and cheapened into "what God is for me," and this personalized, subjective, and unbiblical way of looking at Him cannot help but overflow into the writing of professing believers. Thus, Christians have no problem with portraying Christ as a dragon or of comparing God to their dog. In fact, it seems perfectly natural to them. They never stop to think of the horror the early Christians would have felt at the thought of applying such base images to a holy God."The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God
that are unworthy of Him."
One argument that might be raised in defense of such allegories is that it helps readers to understand God better, or at least to understand certain of His attributes better. But unworthy thoughts do not lift the mind to see God more clearly; they lower God to the level of the human mind and thus degrade Him. In the pages of Scripture, God does not express much enthusiasm for man's self-made ways of worshiping Him. He has given us His Word in order to reveal Himself to us, but too often we forget that in the Bible we have God Himself speaking to us; if we recalled that to mind more often, why would we think we need weak word-pictures to reveal Him to us? God does not need help in revealing Himself to us.
Is all allegory evil? I would not go so far as to say that. I do think that Lewis, in portraying Aslan as a lion (a scriptural term for Christ - the Lion of Judah), in pointing always to Christ, and in grounding the representation in Scripture, did an excellent job with his Chronicles of Narnia and created a deep, thoughtful story worth reading over and over. But writers ought to be careful with this method of Christianizing their stories - and, indeed, with any method of Christianizing anything - and should stop marching on as though they had every right to portray God however they want. Although they may think they are sharing the Gospel and proclaiming Christ, it is quite likely that they are doing more harm than good. The nature of God is not a thing to be taken lightly.