What are the Christian themes in "The Lord of the Rings"?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
Although published as the sixth in the series, The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis is the first of the Narnia books when arranged chronologically. Much is explained in this book of beginnings, inc...

July 01 2013 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Jennifer Henkel Bible/History Middle School Teacher, Lover of the OT!
J.R.R. Tolkien claimed that his book was pure fantasy, an attempt to write a mythology for England.

He was asked about Christian themes, and he stated that there were none, and none was attempted. He became annoyed with people trying to fit the Bible into his books.

July 08 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Data Steven Best Former mil intel analyst, chiropractor & Bible Teacher
George McDonald (1824-1905) sometimes termed "The most Christlike man of letters of his day," lived through childhood in a cottage so small he had to sleep in the attic. Due to theological disagreements he was forced out of ministry, and so he devoted himself to writing. His family financially supported by Lord Byron's widow, MacDonald took to full-time writing amidst literary circle of Lewis Carroll and Lord Tennyson.His writings for adults and children were fairytales in which spiritual realities breakthrough into everyday life. These works were a major influence on J.R.R. Tolkien and CS Lewis, who said "I regard McDonald as my master."

Lewis and Tolkien wrote as contemporaries and encouraged one another, while learning from each other's weaknesses and strengths. Lewis is credited for encouraging Tolkien to expand his epic trilogy and have them published. However, it has been written that Tolkien was extremely annoyed at Lewis's popularizing theology in his writings, as he felt that should be left to professionals. (Being a Roman Catholic this would be expected with his theology. Colin Duriez, in his "Tolkien and CS Lewis: The Gift of Friendship," reveals that Tolkien disliked Lewis's Narnia series, feeling it was both "theologically heavy-handed and artistically slapdash." What they did share, according to Duriez, aside from friendship and the companionship of writers, was a desire to move away from the neopagan mysticism so prevalent in many of the writers of their day, what is sometimes called the "Pan worship" of the early 20th century (and currently repeating in the early 21st century).

They looked inward and outward for insights into "the nature of things" – especially things which could not explained or might be considered supernatural, while insisting on integrating the imagination with human reason, thus involving the whole person, which was a much more Christian approach in writing fantasy. According to Duriez, Lewis encouraged Tolkien to write more stories like the Hobbit, but on a grander scale, such as his tales of Gondolin and Goblin wars, but nowhere is there any indication of Tolkien attempting to parallel the Gospels. The age-old themes of good versus evil, heroism and self-sacrifice can be found far afield from Christianity. 

That Tolkien drew from his vast knowledge of Nordic legends and folktales, and the creation of many of his characters for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, is well known, but what I have always found great interest is the character, "Strider", later revealed to be the kingly heir, Lord Aragarn, whom the people have been waiting to lead them to victory. Anyone who is familiar, with the history of Navarre and northern Spain, know there were many wars fought over the Kingdom of Aragon, which may very well have provided parallel backgrounds for Tolkien to draw upon. Given the fact that the Pyrenees mountains, seemingly unconquerable castles, and lush valleys are so similar to those in the Lord of the Rings, I'm relatively certain that it did, and the story has nothing to do with the gospel.

December 26 2015 4 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini N S 4th-generation Bible-believing Christian
I read the Narnia chronicles as a child. As an adult, I heard people say that "The Lord of the Rings" is very similar to the Narnia chronicles, so I got ahold of the books and read "The Lord of the Rings" and was greatly disappointed. The great thing about the Narnia chronicles is that when Aslan (a representative of Christ) comes on the scene, everything will be all right. There is always hope, because there He is. In "The Lord of the Rings," there is no Aslan-like figure. As I was reading "The Lord of the Rings" I came across an episode where a character actually dies in place of another character and actually rises again, but even when this individual does this, he still has flaws and imperfections. He is not an all-powerful savior and is unable to lead the good characters to ultimate victory. 

There's another character in "The Lord of the Rings," a king, whose arrival is much anticipated by the good characters, and I started to hope that when he would arrive on the scene he would turn out to be an Aslan-like all-powerful individual, but he didn't do anything like that, though he generally was a good character. He was a man with weaknesses and no guarantee of victory. In the end, the good characters won the victory but only through their own efforts and cooperative teamwork. 

I have a feeling that (intentional or not on the part of the authors) it reflects the difference between Catholicism and (Protestant) Christianity: Tolkein (author of "The Lord of the Rings") was Catholic, so he would've believed we must achieve salvation through our own works. As a Catholic he wouldn't have had any motivation to introduce a Savior figure on whom everything ultimately depends. C.S. Lewis (author of the Narnia chronicles) was Protestant, so he would've believed in salvation that we don't earn ourselves--salvation is the gift of God, not of our own works. I don't agree with everything Lewis ever wrote, but he got the free gift of salvation right.

December 24 2020 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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