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Lord of the Rings: Christian or Cultic?

April 2004

By Eric Barger

The following position paper is a supplement to the live Take A Stand! Seminar presentation entitled “But it’s Only Fantasy! How Demonic Imaginations are Changing the Minds of a Generation.” Though this position paper will stand on its own, it will make a far greater impact when incorporated with the seminar presentation due to the biblical principles outlined within the presentation.

(Please Note: Understanding that what folks sometimes think they have heard a speaker say and knowing the kind of passionate feelings that many hold concerning J.R.R. Tolkien, I want my position to be crystal clear and for there to be no misinterpretation of it. This is the reason for the length and depth of this position paper.)


Let me open by frankly admitting that my position on The Lord of the Rings has not always been crystal clear. I have wrestled with the issues I am addressing here for many years but with so much else going on in our ministry I just never took the time to personally do any in-depth research on the topic. In days past I was somewhat neutral concerning Tolkien’s work, in particular The Lord of the Rings; and I usually responded that it may be somehow acceptable for some Christians to read the books. Then when the motion picture versions of the Rings trilogy became blockbusters, the volume of questions directed my way greatly increased, which started me on a quest to know more about Tolkien and his works. This paper is to finally resolve any confusion about the issue.

After much study and prayer and after what I believe to be the conviction of the Holy Spirit dealing with my heart, I am no longer taking a neutral position. I have come to the final conclusion that those wishing to be consistent with scripture should completely abstain from endorsing, reading the books, or watching the motion picture adaptations of The Lord of the Rings. This is not merely my opinion. I have come to this conclusion by both surveying the Bible for related information which points to God’s will and by surveying the culture and noting its ready acceptance of witchcraft and the occult in our day. If you are a Tolkien fan and in particular a Believer in Christ, then please indulge me as I lay out my case. I am not saying that anyone is necessarily demonized or living in sin by reading Rings; however, biblically minded Christians will want to at least entertain my thoughts and hold them up against the Scriptures to see if they are indeed valid.

I am excruciatingly aware of how disconcerting my position will be to some. Though I do not relish it, I often find myself on the opposing side of popular issues. I am well aware that many popular voices from both within and outside of the church have given glowing endorsements of Tolkien’s trilogy. I know that my words will undoubtedly be compared to them; being praised by some and disdained by a great many as well. Please believe me that I am in no way presenting this information to be cantankerous, controversial, or to merely draw attention to myself as a legalistic “radical.” It is being consistent with biblical themes and godly commands that concerns me here and not whether I am in step with the ideas of others. I am aware that I may be writing this piece at the cost of sacrificing future speaking invitations from churches or conferences and at the possible cost of financial support as well. I know that this has been the case in the past because of my position opposing such issues as Freemasonry in the Church. I regret this, but if truth is at stake, so be it.


While I am going to spend the remainder of this paper documenting and explaining my position I need to voice an irrefutable fact that led to this conclusion early on. It is simply inconsistent for a Christian to denounce the Harry Potter books and movies and other occult-laden television shows, movies and books and then endorse stories that employ so-called “white and black” magick such as The Lord of the Rings. I know how simplistic this may sound to Rings fans, but bear with me. It is curious to me how The Lord of the Rings gained such monumental status as a “Christian” classic when the attributes of the occult are so obvious while any biblical parallel (such as the correct view of creation or of the person of God) are at best veiled or skewed out of biblical context. How can we overlook the mass involvement of the occult in Tolkien’s trilogy and still claim to be critical, biblical thinkers?

I admit up front that it often takes radical opinions and actions to bring needed change. However, I do not believe that what I am saying here is radical at all. The weight of evidence concerning how biblical Christians should view the Lord of the Rings phenomenon should be obvious. Regrettably, it apparently is not.


Historically I have received more flack because of my contrary position concerning Harry Potter - from those claiming to be Christian - than any other issue we have ever addressed in nearly twenty-one years of ministry. Though not for the same reasons that Christians may think, the comparison and equivocation of Potter and Rings is made by the lost around us on a daily basis. The fact is that the world sees no difference in the genre of the two stories. If the world so readily sees the occult parallel why then is it so hard for us as Believers to figure it out? I perceive the reason for this to be two-fold. First is the growing disregard for the authority of Scripture within the Church. One doesn’t have to go too far to find heretics within our midst who have lost their anchor and are floating in the perilous sea of liberalism. They will certainly see no problems in the Rings story because they also find no fault in the world of the occult – yet still claim to be Christians. Secondly, there has been a sort of occultic desensitization that has transpired in the culture over the past 50-75 years. This phenomenon has drawn millions of people to embrace “white” magick as an acceptable solution for dealing with the trials of life. With society now captivated by the philosophy of sorcery, spells and incantations, and with no moral absolute to hold to, it is no wonder that so called “white” witchcraft has become an acceptable vehicle for the heroes of a supposedly “Christian” fantasy story.

I would ask anyone who disagrees with this to please site biblical references that allow for the use of “white” magick done in the name of “good.” I am quite open to examine all ideas but in my 20+ year study of the Bible, biblical history and the world of the occult, I have yet to make that connection. Certainly Tolkien was a gifted writer with a very vivid imagination. This is not in question. What I question here is how biblical thinkers could rectify occult themes and practices by Tolkien’s heroes. Though we may want to cheer on Frodo and Gandalf as they trek through Middle Earth, the story can be likened to a sumptuous meal with a place setting of snakes and a garnish of arsenic. As long as one doesn’t care what’s alongside or what the final outcome may be, then as long as we just say the story is teaching spiritual truths, then everything will be OK.

I surmise that The Lord of the Rings became so widely accepted in the Christian community merely because Tolkien claimed Christianity (Catholicism) as his religion and because some persist in seeing the story as a veiled Christian allegory. While I readily agree that Tolkien’s heroes live by noble standards when compared to Harry Potter and his gang, allegories – even biblically correct ones - are of little consequence in a culture such as ours. Also, if the allegory approach really worked evangelistically, then doesn’t it stand to reason that the masses would now be clamoring after Christ due to the success of the Rings movies? (Regardless of Mel Gibson’s personal religious beliefs, contrast that with the thousands that have come to Christ because of the boldness of “The Passion of the Christ”!)

If anyone doubts just how veiled any Christian references are in the Rings storyline, then let it be noted that a 144 page book has been written called Finding God in the Lord of the Rings to help readers make their way through the complexities of Tolkien’s story to allegedly find God in there. That being the case, could it be that more liberal views which blindly accept the occult and its practitioners in a more favorable light may be embraced by some who have merely been told that Rings was a “Christian” novel yet have never compared it to Biblical truth as it relates to the occult? I am not questioning anyone’s sincerity, including Tolkien’s. What I am pointing out is that many of the themes contained in the Rings story are found wanting when examined for biblical soundness. The point is that if Christians wink their eyes at occult activity in a supposed “Christian” story because it is somehow justified as a tool to show us goodness or to triumph over evil, then is it a stretch to believe that we may possibly find merit in the occult in some other venue, even in real life?

It is also important to note that it is more than just counterproductive to give Tolkien books or Lord of the Rings DVDs as evangelistic tools to witches, pagans or New Agers around us. If we do so, telling them that Tolkien was a Christian and that the story is a Christian allegory, they will surely contract the idea that the Christian worldview is actually much more closely related to their own than they ever previously dreamed!

Regardless of how creatively written the storyline may be Tolkien is indeed on shaky footing when examined biblically. This should be evident to those willing to use the Bible as the only guide to navigate the complex world which Lord of the Rings presents us with. However, it would seem that popularity by other Christians or the culture itself hold sway in the minds of many millions and that biblical examination is either too much trouble, too confusing, too time consuming or just plain too convicting. To believe that Tolkien’s work somehow lines up with scripture is akin to believing that God allows for occult practices by His church as long as we do it for the Kingdom of God!

It should trouble biblical thinkers that J.R.R. Tolkien (and his protégé, C.S. Lewis, see info below) utilized pagan imagery and characterizations that are considerably outside the pale of biblical Christianity. More troubling is the fact already stated that Rings has become so overwhelmingly accepted by Christians as a Christian story which supposedly gives an accurate portrayal of God’s values and truth, though it wholly abandons God’s absolute forbiddance of pagan practices regardless of how noble the use may be. I hope that the reader here will become troubled enough to recognize that if there ever was a day when the church could plead ignorance concerning these overtly occult themes, that day is long past.


Let me reiterate that I am not questioning the fact that Tolkien (and Lewis) were very prolific and entertaining writers and storytellers. Indeed, both men created fascinating fantasy worlds. Their prose is some of the most imaginative ever created. However, are we to blindly accept all of their works as sound, purely because in times past some individuals have found possible biblical parallel within their characterizations or storylines? Correct biblical thinking would say: And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:17) So we must ask: Is using sorcery, reincarnation, and “white” witchcraft – even to make a case that supposedly advances the Kingdom of God – acceptable in the Lord’s sight? (We’ll explore this question more below.)

Could it be that at least part of the reason that Rings has become a so-called “Christian classic” is that someone told us that it was? It is this sort of unverified acceptance that has plunged the mainline denominations into the complete state of theological disrepair that they are in today. You see, the people in the pews took someone’s word for what was biblical and approved by God and many of those “someones” turned out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing who knew not the Word of God and cared for its truths even less!

In the minds of some, Tolkien seems to have a place next to the Apostles. I have personally been confronted by angry individuals who believe it unthinkable of me to suggest anything negative about the works of either Tolkien and Lewis. Even the concept that we ought to test everything for ourselves by the Bible has been called "narrow" and "judgmental." What is going on here? Are any such literary works exempt from the “Berean-esque” scrutiny of Scripture? Regardless of how widely accepted these books may be or who may be endorsing them, the question still remains: Are works such as The Lord of the Rings doctrinally sound and do they reflect a biblical worldview?

For several decades, it seems that many Christians accepted or ignored the absolute evil of “white vs. black” magick themes in literature. The awe of the storytelling and imagery used in Rings probably suppressed much thought of the occult activities in which both the heroes and villains participated. Perhaps this was just biblical ignorance. Maybe it was just an uncomfortable sidebar such as overlooking the bad habits of a friend or relative because he or she is just so loveable and enjoyable.

In seasons past (i.e., the1940s) it could be that in the minds of some, the occult activity which permeates the heroic lives of Tolkien’s Frodo and Gandalf wasn’t worthy of much discussion. At that time in history, there was no occult invasion underway and certainly no fascination by the masses with such ideas. After all, they were indeed the good wizards and their magick was used to overcome alleged “evil.” Let’s make no mistake that this is the same line of thinking used by modern pagans to justify their supposedly “good” occultism. Why we accepted these stories as “Christian” or how they became standard works for Christian consumption, is not the point. What is evident is that a wake up call is in order.

Tolkien (and Lewis) created their stories in a day when the occult was not the norm, when there was NOT a mass proliferation of occult philosophy and practice and when the majority of the church had little or no understanding of such things. This does not justify the “white vs. black” magick scenarios in their works, but could serve to explain it. In my mind, this is another very important reason that Rings and other works of its kind are off limits in our day.

Then came the 1960’s and the great outpouring of evil activity that led us to the drug culture, the sexual revolution, and the blurring of truth in general.

Evolution, abortion and nihilism replaced God, life and hope. Along with this cultural shift came an insatiable demonically induced hunger to experience the paranormal.

By the 1980’s an estimated 100 million people in the United States alone had adopted the philosophies or even the complete lifestyle of the New Age Movement (according to a 1987 Gallup Poll).

Now, decades after the heyday of Lewis and Tolkien, our culture is reaping increasingly horrific rewards for the abandonment of truth and righteousness – including an occult explosion unparalleled in history.

Still, how could these men – revered by so many Christians in this century and the last – have missed it so badly?


Let me suggest that since Lewis was affected so greatly by Tolkien that the answer could lie in Tolkien’s Catholicism (see section on Lewis below). Following standard Catholic operating procedure, it is obvious from his works that Tolkien saw nothing wrong with integrating not just secular but downright unbiblical ideas and imagery into his writing.

It is a fact that when embarking upon fresh mission fields, Catholic missionaries have for centuries made a habit of integrating the religion of a region into the tradition and practice of the Church in any given area. The resulting cultural and spiritual synthesis has allowed many unbiblical beliefs to operate alongside the teachings of the church.  (A glaring example of this is the current mix of Catholicism and Caribbean Santeria and voodoo that has now immigrated to Catholic communities within the United States in places such as Miami and New York City. A quick search on the Internet turns up thousands of page hits showing the complete marriage of these occult religions and Catholicism).

The idea was and is, “come and join the church, participate in the mass, follow our teaching and keep your pagan idolatry and customs too.” This may explain why Tolkien and to some lesser extent his protégé Lewis often steered their fantasy stories into the world of sorcery, spells and incantations. Though apparently not occultists themselves, Tolkien in particular seemed to see very little wrong with the occult. This is obvious from the near compulsory use of sorcery they displayed in their fantasies. To them it was a vehicle just as it is for millions of New Agers and pagans today.

Though both men incorporated many attributes of absolute morality into the integrity of their hero characters (i.e., Frodo and Aslan), the vehicle of “white vs. black” sorcery on which they often perched their heroes is sorely lacking any Biblical basis.

The use of elves, unicorns, witches, magicians – even to attempt to allegorize the story of Christ - are off limits – especially in our day. With the proliferation of the occult and the complete public acceptance of “white and black” magick these themes will prove detrimental to the cause of evangelism and certainly present a double standard.


The answer is that He CAN’T!

Perhaps there is no better reason than this to reevaluate our acceptance of The Lord of the Rings.


Regardless of how fervently “intellectual” Christians have attempted to justify them, the occult themes portrayed in Lord of the Rings have ALWAYS been out of bounds for Believers according to the Scriptures. If for reasons unknown to us Tolkien allowed an apparent fascination with the occult to override clear biblical thinking, we must not allow the same to happen to us.

Though there may be absolute standards in play in the role of a fictional hero, a writer undermines absolute truth by utilizing an ideal such as the occult. This aligns with one of the main problems evident in our society today - that the end justified the means. This is completely opposite to what the Scriptures teach. White magick can NEVER be a vehicle to convey pure biblical truth. The Rings motion pictures clearly applaud the heroes’ use of sorcery – all for the cause of “good.”

The end NEVER justifies the means for the Believer…not to win souls; not to gain favor in the cause of Christ and not to write stories which are claimed (if not by the writer, then by the masses) to parallel biblical characters and stories.

It is easy to understand why non-Christians see the obvious contradiction in the denouncement of Harry Potter while many Christians hold Tolkien up as an icon. Potter and Rings are marketed side by side and both are read and endorsed by an enormous amount of folks. Again, why can’t we Christians understand that the world doesn’t see the difference?

I am troubled by how few Christians are willing to buck the tide and call the Rings phenomenon as it really is biblically. It shouldn’t be a shock though since many Christians have also argued on the side of Harry Potter as well. This being the case, how many more will see no problem with Rings – paying no mind to what the Scriptures may say. There seems to be a near complete lack of understanding about just how serious this issue is in the sight of God. Let me assure you again that the resistance by “Christians” to the position I am outlining here is fierce. It doesn’t help that respected men such as Chuck Colson and Dr. James Dobson have taken either neutral or positive positions on Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. Maybe it is just ignorance or bad advice. They both head large organizations and each depends on many others for input on lots of issues. Hopefully, their stated positions are not to simply appease some who underwrite their ministries. God bless them, but if for example Dr. Dobson is incensed by the lewdness of Abercrombie and Fitch, perhaps he needs to start getting advice on the practices and pervasiveness of the occult around us from sources that understand it, are exposing it, and who are warning people as to the dangers.

In the Watchman Expositor in 1998 Craig Branch correctly summarized that: “Defenders of FRP games, imagination games, and other entertainment which utilizes witches, wizards, sorcerers, magic, ghouls and monsters point to the Wizard of Oz, Grimm Fairy Tales, and the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis…” All the world seems to see in these stories is the depiction of witchcraft. Yet many Christians persist in overlooking it. Make no mistake, God is not overlooking it.


Many professing Christians eagerly defend Rings because they have been conditioned to believe that the story is an allegory that portrays Christ. However, Tolkien himself assured us that he didn't intend to teach Biblical reality through his mythical fantasy. In a 1956 letter he wrote, "There is no 'allegory' -- moral, political, or contemporary -- in the work at all. It is a 'fairy-story' ... [written] for adults (The Letters of J. R. R Tolkien, page 232).

Another common defense of Tolkien and Lewis seems to be that no matter what they wrote or believed, their names are now synonymous with brilliant writing and great thinking. Also, it is in the unregenerate nature of man to attempt to push the envelope into more “progressive” thinking. It is “in” to glean some deep truth from a veiled story. It seems to me that in a world so sick with sin we do NOT need another veiled view of Jesus today. What we need today is a bold and unabashed view of the risen, living Savior! He is what changes lives and sets captives free. (I guess it’s easy to see what I think of the so-called “seeker sensitive” approach!)

Sticking to the Bible should be our goal, but for many that’s sadly just too mundane. Perhaps the intelligentsia among us should reverse course and try to nullify some of their “higher thinking” replacing it with simple biblical truth?


1) The Identity of God - Tolkien wrote in a letter that the chief purpose of life is “to increase our knowledge of God,” but the idea of God contained in his writing is very different from the Biblical revelation of God. Dr. Ralph C. Wood, an expert on Tolkien's work, described Tolkien’s concept of God as “a remote supreme being who rules the universe through ‘lesser gods’ or ruling spirits, an idea much closer to Norse and Celtic mythology than the caring personal God of the Bible.”
(http://www.lightforthelastdays.co.uk/docs/current_events/j_r_tolkien.html) This concept is indeed evident in his stories.

Interesting as well is the fact that Tolkien was fluent in several languages including Latin, medieval Welsh, Anglo-Saxon, and Gothic, a form of ancient German. I don’t want to make too much of this, but could it be that in his obviously fertile mind, Tolkien simply mixed his study of the Dark Ages with the story of Christ where he produced a wizard hero with moral absolutes? Dr. Ralph Wood, the award-winning professor from Baylor and Wake Forest Universities and renowned expert on Tolkien agrees, stating: Tolkien was caught on the cusp that joins two worlds: the traditional Christian world of angels and demons and dream-visions wherein the natural and the supernatural were inextricably interwoven, and the modern world where space and time have been radically relativized by scientific discovery, psychological exploration, and imaginative invention.” (Christian Century 110, 6, February 24, 1993 p.208-11)

He also invented several new languages, one of which he deemed “Elvish.” He was quoted as saying that the entire Rings came to him as a result of the new language he had created. Today there exists a society called the “The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship” (elvish.org) dedicated to “the scholarly study of the invented languages of J.R.R. Tolkien.” One has to wonder if the same spiritual forces that skewed his view of God may also have filled his new-fangled vocabulary as well?

While Tolkien exhibited some strange and cultic ideas about who God is, Lewis affirmed the idea of Godhood for man (misquoting Psalm 82) in not one but two of his books: Beyond Personality (London: The Centenary Press, 1945), p.48 and Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan Company, 1952), p.174-175. Though I didn’t find information that indicated that he was endeared to any other Mormon doctrine, I was particularly sensitive to his statements on this.

2) The Finished Creative Work of God – (As a Catholic) Tolkien affirmed his faith in the One God who created the universe. But his mythical God stopped creating before the work was finished, and then turned the rest over to a group of lesser gods or "sub-creators." In other words, Tolkien invented a hierarchy of deities that defied the Biblical God's wise warnings concerning both real and imagined idolatry.

(The Letters of J. R. R Tolkien, Humphrey Carpenter, editor (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981), page 284)

3) Tolkien taught reincarnation – Besides his extensive use of unbiblical themes such as elves, gnomes, dwarves and wizards and other creatures empowered with magical skills, he gave his elves the certainty of unconditional eternal life teaching overt reincarnation. Humans, on the other hand, are not afforded such in Tolkien’s fantasy. Their lives -- with rare exceptions -- must end with their physical death.

Instead of the Christian's hope of eternal life, Tolkien's world offers reincarnation -- but only for a select group. This popular notion defies the Scriptures that tell us that "it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment..." (Heb 9:27)

Concerned about this contradiction, the manager of a Catholic bookstore asked Tolkien if he might have "over-stepped the mark in metaphysical matters." Tolkien wrote this response, ”‘Reincarnation' may be bad theology (that surely, rather than metaphysics) as applied to Humanity...  But I do not see how even in the Primary world any theologian or philosopher, unless very much better informed about the relation of spirit and body than I believe anyone to be, could deny the possibility of reincarnation as a mode of existence, prescribed for certain kinds of rational incarnate creatures.” (The Letters of J. R. R Tolkien, page 189)

Tolkien also overstepped the biblical mark by building ancestor worship into the storyline – one of the pagan world’s most revered practices.

4) Both Tolkien and Lewis endorsed drinking alcohol and smoking and did so in their personal lives – This may seem trivial to some but it should be pointed out. Lewis wrote these themes in his children’s books and also included swearing in the stories as well. Tolkien’s Rings includes characters engaged in smoking.

5) Paganism Sympathy - Perhaps the reason that Tolkien and Lewis showed pagan sympathy in their stories is due to their affiliation with one Charles Williams who was a member of the highly satanic, Qabalistic "Order of the Golden Dawn." (The "Order of the Golden Dawn" was primarily made up of mystical "Christians" and former followers of Madame Blavatsky the founder of the Theosophical Society that still adhered to Luciferianism.)  Williams, along with Tolkien and Lewis, were members of a close knit Oxford reading group known as “The Inklings.” This is almost certainly where Lewis arrived at his extra-biblical ideas concerning the Holy Grail and other mid-evil myths.

6) Occult Desensitization – If it happened to Tolkien and Lewis then it could happen to us. I have pointed out consistently for several years that the Harry Potter books were conditioning unsuspecting minds worldwide to accept the occult as normal. It isn’t that every reader of the Potter or Rings series is going to somehow automatically become a witch or sorcerer. The concern is that many will be endeared to these satanic ideas because of the psychological alliances they have made with the characters they’ve read about and cheered for through the pages of the books or on the silver screen.

If the mind lives for any substantial amount of time in the fantasy realm of the occult, sorcery and witchcraft, there is certainly a possibility that when facing the same occultism in real life that our human response will not be one that immediately opposes it. It is obvious that rather than rejecting the occult, what is happening is that entire generations are increasingly reacting in a positive fashion to its practices and practitioners. Smaller, yet more tragic are the numbers from this group who are not just favorably reading about Satan’s playground of sorcery and spells but are instead desirous to actually participate in it! Our response as Christians is to understand that the occult – the same practices promoted by Tolkien’s heroes – is repulsive in the site of God. He condemns such in no uncertain terms with the use of the word “abomination” three times in Deuteronomy 18:9-12. The Hebrew word here is the strongest condemnatory language used in the entire Bible on any issue! Dare we react in any other way? We had better call evil “evil” and never confuse it for “good.”


- Though Lewis and Tolkien may have been Christians and though their works may be endorsed by many fine evangelicals, this does NOT necessarily place God’s stamp of approval on ALL they may have written. These men may have written some awesome apologetic work in the minds of some, but the use of “white vs. black magick” imagery in their fantasies is totally out of sync with Biblical truth. Exercise caution!

- Second, as I close, I want to reiterate a previous point that in the day when these two men were composing their fantasies, witchcraft and the occult had not risen to such a prominent place of respectability that it has today. Again, this in no way excuses Lewis or Tolkien but does explain why their stories may have gone for so long without much consternation in Christian circles. Now we know better. Remember also that in the 1940s relative standards of morals had not become the norm for the culture. It is indeed a different day today. Because of that, we must react differently to fiction which offers the answer to overcome one evil (“black” magick) with merely a different dose of the same poison (“white” magick). Both are just as deadly and will surely take their toll unless recognized for the satanic tool which they are.


Though the Scripture tells us, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:21-22), we should rightfully be troubled by the lack of biblical thinking reflected in the worldview of many in the church today. Many Christians seem resolved to allow their feelings, culture and emotions to rule the entertainment choices that they make. The result is that some have allowed God’s scriptural principles to take a back seat when making critical decisions about what to allow into their hearts and minds. As I have ministered on these issues over the last two decades, I have often wondered what part of this passage from I Thessalonians it is that so many Christians seem not to understand? Where is the biblical worldview and spiritual discernment that scripture clearly demands from followers of Christ? Tragically, it may be nearly nonexistent, for George Barna has reported that only 9% of born-again adults actually hold a biblical worldview! (www.barna.org) This fact should shock us all.

Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are not the real problem, but merely a symptom. It is the lack of critical biblically-based thinking that is the problem. My prayer is that in every choice you make you’ll allow the Scripture to solely and completely guide you. The only way this will be possible though is for each of us to feast on it daily, making it a lamp and light to guide our paths, that we might not transgress against the God of the universe. If we’ll follow this rule we’ll receive His richest and fullest blessings on our lives, families and homes.


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Concerning C.S. Lewis, for some time I have questioned why so many have held him up to be a sort of model apologist. It will be chagrin to many but in reality he was by no means a strong Bible believer. Many will want to reject this but the data clearly suggests that Lewis did not believe in the Bible as inerrant and infallible. He also held to the idea of theistic evolution and ascribed to many unscriptural Roman Catholic ideas such as prayers for the dead and purgatory and did himself confess sins to a priest with regularity. According to the book C.S. Lewis: A Biography, pp. 198, 301, Lewis was given the sacrament of last rights before he died. These are not veiled facts but many more liberal minded evangelicals will certainly be uncomfortable with them. Though author J.I. Packer is an obvious fan of the work of C.S. Lewis he wrote in the Dec 7, 1998 edition of Christianity Today that Lewis was “a man whose theology had decidedly unevangelical elements."

Lewis held a skewed view of Hell as was obvious from his book (The Great Divorce, see p. 65) and denied both the total depravity of man and the substitutionary atonement of Christ.

D. Martin Lloyd-Jones warned that C.S. Lewis had a defective view of salvation and was an opponent of the substitutionary and penal view of the atonement (Christianity Today, Dec. 20, 1963). In a letter to the editor of Christianity Today, Feb. 28, 1964, Dr. W. Wesley Shrader, First Baptist Church, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, warned that “C.S. Lewis ... would never embrace the (literal-infallible) view of the Bible” and “would accept no theory of the ‘total depravity of man’” (F.B.F. News Bulletin, Fundamental Baptist Fellowship, March 4, 1984, www.wayoflife.org)

Perhaps the most disconcerting information that relates to our discussion of the occult here is what Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity. He claimed that followers of pagan religions can be saved without personal faith in Jesus Christ: “There are people in other religions who are being led by God's secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it ... For example a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ's birth may have been in this position” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 176-177).

In 2001 Christianity Today ran a series of articles outlining the proposition that Lewis was at very least a pagan sympathizer. (Though the CT website boasts several articles on both Lewis and Tolkien, the three part series from 2001 have unexplainably been deleted from the Christianity Today website but are undoubtedly still available in hard copy. My presumption is that these articles stirred more controversy than the mostly vanilla attitudes of the CT editors could handle.)

Is Lewis is Heaven? Only God can say. In fairness let me reiterate that none of us – I repeat, NONE of us - have absolutely 100% pure theology on every minute and microscopic detail and whether a person spends forever in Heaven or Hell is determined by faith in the risen Savior and our utter dependence on Him alone (Romans 10:9-10, 13).

While our residence for eternity is not decided by peripheral theological minutia, what I’ve discovered about Lewis’ beliefs certainly makes me more than a little uncomfortable with the idea of promoting his work as “Christian.” Was he indeed a gifted wordsmith using Christian sounding themes? Yes, however his literary skills may have been the subtle poison that numbed many into accepting him into the apologetic community. Given the facts there are far too many red flags for me. Many of the ideas which Lewis’ prolific writing prowess spawned and helped spread are indeed apologetic in nature but sadly find their virtue against the cause of Biblical accuracy and not for it.


Suggested resources:

Entertaining Spirits Unaware: The End-Time Occult Invasion, Eric Barger & David Benoit, 2000, (Info here)

My resources on Harry Potter on our website, in particular “Harry Potter and Christians”

Berit Kjos has great information concerning these issues

www.lightforthelastdays.co.uk – lots of info on Tolkien

In 2001 Christianity Today ran a series of articles outlining the proposition that Lewis was at the least a pagan sympathizer. (Though the CT website boasts several articles on both Lewis and Tolkien, the three part series from 2001 have unexplainably been deleted from the Christianity Today website but are undoubtedly still available in hard copy. My presumption is that these articles stirred more controversy than the mostly vanilla attitudes of the CT editors could handle)

George Barna research on the attitudes of the church today.

(c) copyright 2004, Eric Barger

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