lord of the rings

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Book Review: “The Messiah Comes to Middle Earth” by Philip Ryken

The Messiah Comes to Middle Earth by Philip Ryken is a collection of lectures given by Ryken that explore the notions of prophet, priest, and king in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In the first lecture, Ryken explains the notion of the threefold office of Christ found in Lord of the Rings as an amalgam of different characters therein. Then, he goes over the notion of the threefold office in the early church and Scripture. Gandalf the Grey is seen as the prophet. This doesn’t necessarily mean what we often think–foretelling the future–but rather the sharing of wisdom. Gandalf “sees the present in true perspective” (15). After going over ways Gandalf may be seen as prophet, he looks at some applications that can be made. A response is offered by Sandra Richter.

The office of priest is found, Ryken outlines, in the priesthood of all believers reflected in Sam, Frodo, and others. He ties this doctrine into the Reformation and draws out the notions of priesthood as bearing burden and sacrifice unto death. A response is offered by Jennifer Powell McNutt.

Regarding the office of king, Aragorn is the plain choice, though Ryken has already alluded to how some of these roles intertwine in other characters in the previous lectures. Prophecy is one aspect of a king fulfilled, and Ryken relates that in LOTR to that in the Bible. William Struthers offers a response here.

The Messiah Comes to Middle Earth is a practice of literary apologetic and intertwining myth with our reality. It’s brief, to the point, and applicable.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.


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Really Recommended Posts 3/1/13


Having scoured the internet for great posts to commend to my readers, I have turned up this smorgasbord for your reading pleasure.

My Father’s “Eviscerated” Work – Son of Hobbit Scribe J.R.R. Tolkien Finally Speaks out– Christopher Tolkien gives some fascinating insight to the world of the Lord of the Rings as well as Tolkien’s writing process in this interview/overview. I find it unfortunate that he feels his father’s work has been distorted by all the commercializing, and in particular I am saddened by his analysis of the movies. I have enjoyed them greatly and found The Hobbit in particular to be edifying (see my analysis of the first Hobbit movie). Nonetheless, this was a fascinating read.

William Lane Craig: [Young Earth] Creationism is an embarrassment–  A Youtube video that is really a picture with an audio file in which Craig discusses the scientific impossibility of the young earth position which is held by the majority of evangelical pastors. The problem is that some have taught that the only Biblical position is that of the young earth interpretation and when youths realize that the earth is not 10,000 (or so) years old, they will fall away.

Much Undead Ado About Nothing– Our recent obsession with zombies and the undead has lead to some interesting philosophical and scientific reflection. Check out Anthony Weber’s excellent post, which relates back to The Walking Dead, among other references.

Bait and Switch– Eminent philosopher Alvin Plantinga evaluates Sam Harris’ book on free will. Spoilers: Plantinga is unimpressed. Read on for his systematic refutation of Harris’ work.

The New Apologetics– Check out this fantastic post on literary apologetics and using imagination in the defense of the faith.

‘Going Clear,’ Lawrence Wright’s Book on Scientology– Scientology is fascinating in its ability to continue. Founded by a science fiction author who describes the real world in terms that reflect those writings, Hubbard founded a religion that continues to fascinate. Check out this look at a recent book outlining the beliefs of Scientology.

Time to Tour the Camp– I found this post on the Holocaust and abortion fascinating and convicting. Please, check it out.

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