The Gospel According to The Lord of the Rings: Week 20, Tripartite Vision

Fleming Rutledge finds many theological themes in the Council of Elrond, so we'll sit with the Council for a few posts.

Early in the deliberations, the history and involvement of Gollum is recounted for the group. Aragon reports having captured Gollum and, after an interrogation, handing him over to the elves of Mirkwood for guarding. But Legolas shocks the council in reporting that Gollum has escaped.

Hearing the news, Gandalf responds:
"Well, well, he is gone," said Gandalf. "We have no time to seek for him again. He must do what he will. But he may play a part yet that neither he nor Sauron has foreseen."
Again, as we observed last week, a providential note is struck here, that "something else" is at work in the drama, something beyond the plans and actions of the Council. Rutledge also draws attention to the inclusion of Sauron here. Even the mighty Sauron cannot plumb the depths of the plans of the "something else" at work. There is a greater power than Sauron at work in the world.

Rutledge also returns to a theme we noted early in this series, how there are three agents at work in the drama unfolding. She observes:
[F]or our purposes in bringing the deep apocalyptic narrative to light, it is very important to note the inclusion of Sauron in [Gandalf's] statement...Once again Tolkien has made the drama tripartite, and therefore implicitly theological. In considering the case of a prisoner like Gollum, it is essential that all three players be kept in mind: (1) Gollum himself; (2) the Enemy or enemies; and (3) an unnamed but strongly implied providential agent. This staging with three, not two, active agents--the creature, the Enemy, and the unseen forces of good--is the same which is presupposed in most of the New Testament. 
In a post this week, I raised the challenge that churches need to articulate why God matters in our lives, especially during this pandemic. My point was that Christian speech has been mostly reduced to rehashing or repeating the speech of science, self-care, and social work. Notice in this speech how the the only agent in the drama is ourselves. Christian speech has become atheistic. Watch for this online, how we only talk about ourselves.

In short, we can't say why God matters because we've lost connection with the "tripartite, and therefore implicitly theological" way The Lord of the Rings and the New Testament see the world.

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