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So after yesterdays disclaimer, I have two more today. . .

Disclaimer 1. By calling this theological idea Tolkien, I am not saying he would agree with it. While I think there is some evidence (particularly at the end of book 4) that he might have gone in for this thinking I think there is a also pretty good likelihood that he would chuckle at the ideas that I am about to suggest. I’ve read his book many times, but I don’t know his theology. Nor am I saying that what I point out here only happens in the best fiction book ever written. I call it Tolkien Theology because I think about it every time I read his works.

Oh, and here’s the second disclaimer – LOTR Spoiler alert!

Okay, now I guess I’m really ready to start this treatise.

“God doesn’t cause sin or tragedy, he allows it, and then he uses bad things that happen as a result of it.” This is the Free Will’er Mantra. “God used 9/11, God used Columbine, God will use Virginia tech. God will use Hurricane Katrina. But he had nothing to do with any of them happening.”

Do I have this correct, Armenians? If not, let me know.

As anyone knows who has read the book, bad things happen in the Lord of the Rings. Good people die. Others experience long hardship. There is betrayal. There is murder.
And here is the intriguing part: These bad things are all required for the better things to happen.

The best example is the capture and forced march and threat of torture and death for Merry and Pippin. They suffered greatly. It was evil. It was horrible. But it was also required.

As Gandalf says of Saruman and The Dark Lord:

“And so between them our enemies have managed to bring Merry and Pippin, with marvelous speed, and only in the nick of time, to Fangorn, where otherwise they would never have come at all”

So this evil happened for a reason. It wasn’t just bad and something that had to be turned around for the good.

There are other examples of this (bad being required for good to happen). I will mention just one. Many times Gollum, the murderer, the betrayer, the deceiver, is near death but due to luck or mercy, he is allowed to live. It was not just. He didn’t deserve life. But he hadn’t stayed alive even as he tormented Frodo and Sam in their last desperate journey, there would have been no happy ending. The Lord of the Rings would have taken back the One at Mount Doom and all would have been lost.

So Tolkein didn’t just use the evil deeds that the enemies of Gondor did (“Well, that’s too bad, but let’s see what we can do with it”), he wrote them to do these deeds because the deeds were necessary.

So here is the question. Is our God in as much control of our universe as Tolkein was of his? Can it be that some evil in our world is not just put up with by God or used by God but something he requires or ordains in order that a greater good will happen?

Is your God more or less sovereign that a human author?

You say, “But Merry and Pippin and Gandalf were just characters. They weren’t real. I’m not fictional.” Yes, it’s as I suspect. One significant reason you Armenians don’t like the “God is really sovereign” plan is because it makes humans seem too low. We humans are real! We are important! We are self actualized! We have free will!

But be sure of this. The degree that our Infinite God is more ‘real’ (transcendant, self-existing, actualized, on a higher plane) than us finite humans is greater than the degree that a human author is more real than his characters.

It’s time to consider whether or not this is true.

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June 2007