LOTR is no Christian allegory!

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Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
[quote:290f3bc899][i:290f3bc899]Originally posted by Paul manata[/i:290f3bc899]
And, Gandolf, Frodo, and Aragorn were VISABLE images of Christ in the movie
[/quote:290f3bc899]

I put this in not to chide Paul personally but to correct a huge misconception out there that somehow LOTR is a Christian analogy. This opinion is shared by some on this Board too. But I have not seen any evidence to support such claims. Here is what Tolkien himelf says regarding his story. I'll be happy to see any evidence that supports the Christian analogy theory. But the Forward written by Tolkien refutes any such notion in my opinion.

[quote:290f3bc899] [i:290f3bc899]Tolkien in his Forward to the second edition of LOTR pg. xvi[/i:290f3bc899]
"And I should like to to say something to here with reference to the many opinions or guesses that I have recieved or have read concerning the motives and meaning of the tale. The prime motive was the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them. As a guide I had only my own feelings for what is appealing or moving, and for many the guide was inevitably often at fault."

"As for any inner meaning or 'message', it has in the intention of the author none. It is neither allegorical nor topical." [/quote:290f3bc899]
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
[quote:d64991fabf][i:d64991fabf]Originally posted by Paul manata[/i:d64991fabf]
[quote:d64991fabf][i:d64991fabf]Originally posted by webmaster[/i:d64991fabf]
Exactly. As I said, LOTR made me think about Jesus Christ as much as Alice in Wonderland. [/quote:d64991fabf]

i don't buy it. besides it made MILLIONS of others think about Christ, shouldn't you care for them?

Tolkian cannot divorce it. He lived in a system that christianity was huge part. If one cannot see the BLATANT effect the bible had they are blind...so is he.

-Paul [/quote:d64991fabf]

But Paul, isn't all logical thinking Christian? Doesn't a rational worldview presuppose Christianity?

{A little Van Til joke}
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
[quote:452dee7ed3][i:452dee7ed3]Originally posted by Paul manata[/i:452dee7ed3]
[quote:452dee7ed3][i:452dee7ed3]Originally posted by webmaster[/i:452dee7ed3]
Exactly. As I said, LOTR made me think about Jesus Christ as much as Alice in Wonderland. [/quote:452dee7ed3]

i don't buy it. besides it made MILLIONS of others think about Christ, shouldn't you care for them?

Tolkian cannot divorce it. He lived in a system that christianity was huge part. If one cannot see the BLATANT effect the bible had they are blind...so is he.

-Paul [/quote:452dee7ed3]
Actually in Tolkien's day, biblical Christianity played a rather small part. Socialism and theological liberalism were the dominant trends of the day.
And for you to suggest that Tolkien didn't know what he was writing his massive book about is quite a stretch. I think it's rather dishonest to use an author's work in such a manner when he blantantly says what the meaning is and isn't. Just because a bunch of Christians find some similarities to Christian theology doesn't mean they're right. There are plenty of other scholars and readers who understood the themes of LOTR to be paganism or an allusion to WWII (i.e. Peter Jackson and the movie writers). See their making of Fellowship of the Ring (EV) to hear their comments about it.

[Edited on 2-19-2004 by puritansailor]
 

rembrandt

Puritan Board Sophomore
"Walking with Frodo"... a Christian LOTR devotional came in the mail the other day for my brother's small group... sigh :no: ...
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[quote:25d55f0173][i:25d55f0173]Originally posted by Paul manata[/i:25d55f0173]
so you guys think that The Lion, The Witch,a nd The Wardrobe violates the second commandment?...ASLAN [/quote:25d55f0173]

While I greatly respect Lewis and value almost all of his writing, I'd have to say yes. After all, when the Israelites made the golden calf, they weren't trying to make some other god to turn to--they were simply trying to make for themselves a tangible expression of the One God. I had to think about this one for a second, but when I honestly consider it, I can't see a difference between Aslan and the golden calf.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[quote:44ef8f51d6][i:44ef8f51d6]Originally posted by Paul manata[/i:44ef8f51d6]
[quote:44ef8f51d6][i:44ef8f51d6]Originally posted by Me Died Blue[/i:44ef8f51d6]
[quote:44ef8f51d6][i:44ef8f51d6]Originally posted by Paul manata[/i:44ef8f51d6]
so you guys think that The Lion, The Witch,a nd The Wardrobe violates the second commandment?...ASLAN [/quote:44ef8f51d6]

While I greatly respect Lewis and value almost all of his writing, I'd have to say yes. After all, when the Israelites made the golden calf, they weren't trying to make some other god to turn to--they were simply trying to make for themselves a tangible expression of the One God. I had to think about this one for a second, but when I honestly consider it, I can't see a difference between Aslan and the golden calf. [/quote:44ef8f51d6]

wow. This is just for consideration and am not trying to imply something about you, so please don't be offended: Is it a possibility that you may be taking the 2nd commandment in a way similar to how the Jews took the first commandment, i.e., only saying one specific word for God..all others violated the 1st commandment?

-Paul [/quote:44ef8f51d6]

I've thought about that, and about whether the true interpretation of the second commandment and verses like Romans 1:23 might be more "broad" than I am viewing it as. However, I haven't been able to think of any other way to interpret them that is self-consistent. What is the key difference you see between the golden calf and a character like Aslan, keeping in mind that the Israelites were simply creating the golden calf out of their desire for a tangible symbol of Yahweh, and that it certainly would have moved some of them to worship Him beyond just the image?
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
[quote:6bbd49be0c][i:6bbd49be0c]Originally posted by Paul manata[/i:6bbd49be0c]
so, Blue, you also think that "The Pilgrams Progress" is a violation of the second command as well?

-Paul

[Edited on 2-22-2004 by Paul manata] [/quote:6bbd49be0c]

Where is a graven image of Christ pictured?
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[quote:0bff2aa05a][i:0bff2aa05a]Originally posted by puritansailor[/i:0bff2aa05a]
[quote:0bff2aa05a][i:0bff2aa05a]Originally posted by Paul manata[/i:0bff2aa05a]
so, Blue, you also think that "The Pilgrams Progress" is a violation of the second command as well?

-Paul

[Edited on 2-22-2004 by Paul manata] [/quote:0bff2aa05a]

Where is a graven image of Christ pictured? [/quote:0bff2aa05a]

Patrick, you took the words right out of my mouth. [i:0bff2aa05a]The Pilgrim's Progress[/i:0bff2aa05a] is simply a parable of a pilgrim just like ourselves, telling the story of a believer's journey. Unlike Lewis' book, Gibson's film, and the "Holy Spirit doves" in Christian bookstores, it does not create a symbol attempting to depict God (and thus create worship)--and [i:0bff2aa05a]that[/i:0bff2aa05a] is what the second commandment prohibits.

And Paul, I ask again, what difference do you personally see between Aslan and the golden calf that convinces you the former is not violating biblical commands? I cannot come up with one as of yet, but I'm really trying to understand your perspective.

Chris
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Just to bring this back to LOTR, I thought I would include some more info from Tolkien about his motives in writing the series. As a preface to The Silmarillion, a letter is included to his editor explaining his desire for writing these books. In it he repeates his denial of "allegory" as noted from his preface to LOTR and then explains that his inspiration for his books was to create a mythology for the English language.
[quote:bad245e5c0] [i:bad245e5c0] Tolkien, The Silmarillion, pg. xiii, xiv [/i:bad245e5c0]
But an equally basic passion of mine [i:bad245e5c0]ab initio[/i:bad245e5c0] was for myth (not allegory!) and for fairy-story, and above all for heroic legend on the brink of fairy-tale and history, of which there is far too little in the world (accessible to me) for my appetite.

Also- and here I hope I shall not sound absurd- I was from early days grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country: it had no stories of its own (bound up with it's own tongue and soil), not of the quality that I sought , and found (as an ingredient) in legends of other lands. There was Greek, and Celtic, and Romance, Germanic, Scandinavian, and Finnish (which greatly affected me); but nothing English, save impoverished chap-book stuff. Of course there was and is all the Arthurian world, but powerful as it is, it is imperfectly naturalized, associated with the soil of Britian but not English; and does not replace what I felt to be missing. For one thing, it's 'faerie' is to lavish, and fantastical, incoherant and repetitive. [b:bad245e5c0]For another and more important thing: it is involved in, and explicitly contains the Christian religion.
For reasons which I will not elaborate, that seems to me fatal. [/b:bad245e5c0]Myth and fairy-story must, as all art, reflect and contain in solution elements of religious truth (or error), but not explicit, not in the known form of the primary 'real' world.
{bold added by me}[/quote:bad245e5c0]
So as you can see, more evidence from the mouth of Tolkien that LOTR is not a Christian allegory.

You may wonder why I would think this is so important. Really, it has to do with honesty and credibility. We as Christians should not be so eager or desperate to hijack popular fiction for the purpose of advancing the gospel (especially when contradicting the clear intent of the author). Not only is that dishonest or even lying, but to do that indicates weakness and inadequacy on our part, that somehow our Gospel (as contained in the Scriptures) is not reliable or powerful enough in itself to convey the truth needed to reach our culture with Christ. Such an approach is insulting and degrading to the sufficiency of Scripture and the message contained therein. I would rather stand upon the shoulders of Peter and Paul than Aragorn and Gandalf when preaching the gospel.

[Edited on 2-22-2004 by puritansailor]
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[quote:67a5bfdf2c][i:67a5bfdf2c]Originally posted by puritansailor[/i:67a5bfdf2c]
Just to bring this back to LOTR, I thought I would include some more info from Tolkien about his motives in writing the series. As a preface to The Silmarillion, a letter is included to his editor explaining his desire for writing these books. In it he repeates his denial of "allegory" as noted from his preface to LOTR and then explains that his inspiration for his books was to create a mythology for the English language.
[quote:67a5bfdf2c] [i:67a5bfdf2c] Tolkien, The Silmarillion, pg. xiii, xiv [/i:67a5bfdf2c]
But an equally basic passion of mine [i:67a5bfdf2c]ab initio[/i:67a5bfdf2c] was for myth (not allegory!) and for fairy-story, and above all for heroic legend on the brink of fairy-tale and history, of which there is far too little in the world (accessible to me) for my appetite.

Also- and here I hope I shall not sound absurd- I was from early days grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country: it had no stories of its own (bound up with it's own tongue and soil), not of the quality that I sought , and found (as an ingredient) in legends of other lands. There was Greek, and Celtic, and Romance, Germanic, Scandinavian, and Finnish (which greatly affected me); but nothing English, save impoverished chap-book stuff. Of course there was and is all the Arthurian world, but powerful as it is, it is imperfectly naturalized, associated with the soil of Britian but not English; and does not replace what I felt to be missing. For one thing, it's 'faerie' is to lavish, and fantastical, incoherant and repetitive. [b:67a5bfdf2c]For another and more important thing: it is involved in, and explicitly contains the Christian religion.
For reasons which I will not elaborate, that seems to me fatal. [/b:67a5bfdf2c]Myth and fairy-story must, as all art, reflect and contain in solution elements of religious truth (or error), but not explicit, not in the known form of the primary 'real' world.
{bold added by me}[/quote:67a5bfdf2c]
So as you can see, more evidence from the mouth of Tolkien that LOTR is not a Christian allegory.

You may wonder why I would think this is so important. Really, it has to do with honesty and credibility. We as Christians should not be so eager or desperate to hijack popular fiction for the purpose of advancing the gospel (especially when contradicting the clear intent of the author). Not only is that dishonest or even lying, but to do that indicates weakness and inadequacy on our part, that somehow our Gospel (as contained in the Scriptures) is not reliable or powerful enough in itself to convey the truth needed to reach our culture with Christ. Such an approach is insulting and degrading to the sufficiency of Scripture and the message contained therein. I would rather stand upon the shoulders of Peter and Paul than Aragorn and Gandalf when preaching the gospel.

[Edited on 2-22-2004 by puritansailor] [/quote:67a5bfdf2c]

Well said. The modern evangelical tendency to, as you put it, hijack secular things to try to advance the Gospel has so many negative effects and implications. In addition to the things you pointed out, believers who try to "Christianize" everything are actually denying (or at least overlooking) God's providence in a way, by not recognizing that He uses [i:67a5bfdf2c]everything[/i:67a5bfdf2c] for His glory and purposes, indirectly just as well as directly. Michael Horton's [i:67a5bfdf2c]In the Face of God[/i:67a5bfdf2c] is a great book exposing this and other gnostic tendencies within modern evangelical Christendom.

BTW, has anyone else seen the book [i:67a5bfdf2c]Finding God In the Lord of the Rings[/i:67a5bfdf2c] in bookstores? I've never read it, and was wondering what kinds of parellels its authors try to cook up, and if their stretching of things is really obvious or not.

Chris
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[quote:3cfdef4f14][i:3cfdef4f14]Originally posted by Paul manata[/i:3cfdef4f14]
if Aslan is a false image, as blue stated then so is the shepard in pilagrams progress...can't have it both ways. I don't know why your not comfortable in following your position out to the bitter end...maybe makes you think that it may be misunderstoof on your part. [/quote:3cfdef4f14]

I've been thinknig more about this whole issue, and I realized that my whole perspective lies on the meaning of the word "image" used in Exodus 20 and Romans 1:23. Could someone who knows Hebrew and/or Greek please comment on this? I guess I've been thinking in the mindset that the "images" forbidden in both of those verses refer to images in a broad, general sense, meaning any representative symbol--visual or in writing. If this is indeed the case, my position will remain the same.

However, if the Hebrew and Greek words translated as "image" in Exodus and Romans refer exclusively to visual images, I would stand corrected that Aslan and the shepherd are not, in fact, violations of the second commandment. I would still hold, however, that the [i:3cfdef4f14]movie[/i:3cfdef4f14] based on Lewis' book would be a violation, since it presents a visual symbol of Christ. Paul, do you agree with me that [i:3cfdef4f14]at least[/i:3cfdef4f14] the movie presents a graven image, and is no different from the golden calf?

Again, the input of someone who knows Hebrew/Greek as to the meaning of "image" in passages like Exodus 20 and Romans 1:23 would be much appreciated.

Thanks,

Chris

[Edited on 2-23-2004 by Me Died Blue]
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
[quote:36686212b9][i:36686212b9]Originally posted by Paul manata[/i:36686212b9]
if Aslan is a false image, as blue stated then so is the shepard in pilagrams progress...can't have it both ways. I don't know why your not comfortable in following your position out to the bitter end...maybe makes you think that it may be misunderstoof on your part. [/quote:36686212b9]

There is more than one sheperd in pilgrim's progress. It's a group of shepards which more than likely symbolizes pastors, who give him a view of heaven and also warn him of the dangers left in the way. So, again, where's the image of Christ?
 
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