Tolkien Theology

Josh Larsen

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth—first found in his fantasy novels and later envisioned in multiple screen adaptations—has captured countless imaginations, Christian imaginations in particular. Drawing from his Catholic faith, Tolkien offered a tale that echoes the biblical narrative in its characters, descriptions, and themes. In the following essays on The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Rings of Power, Think Christian writers share theological reflections on the major adaptations of Tolkien’s work.

Spiritual Formation in 1977's The Hobbit, by Abby Olcese

The Rankin/Bass animated adaptation of Tolkien’s classic children’s novel offers an unexpected journey of discipleship.

Fellowship's Shire and Paradise Lost, by D. Marquel

With its Edenic beginning and scenes of temptation, The Fellowship of the Ring serves as a fantasy variation on the book of Genesis.

The Two Towers: Belief in New Beginnings, by Ryan Guerra

A transitional movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers offers a biblical picture of sacrificial endings and hopeful starts.

Trusting in The Return of the King, by Zachary Lee

God's sovereignty reigns in the Lord of the Rings finale, even at the steps of the Black Gate.

Clearing the Gollum From Your Throat, by Josh Larsen

In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Tolkien’s trickiest character forces us to confront the ugliness of our sin.

The Hobbit, Smaug, and Remembering Who the Real Enemy Is, by Josh Larsen

Peter Jackson's second Hobbit film reminds us that Satan is both the primordial Smaug and the great deceiver.

Five Armies and a Precious Stone, by Michelle Reyes

The Battle of the Five Armies, the final Hobbit film, contemplates the disease of treasure and the cure of home.

Foolishness and Faith in 1978's The Lord of the Rings, by Sarah Welch-Larson

In Ralph Bakshi’s animated adaptation, the hobbits are kindred spirits with the members of the early church.

Rings of Power and the Persistence of Evil, by Robert Rivera

Sauron — like Satan — slyly prowls through Season 1 of Prime Video’s Lord of the Rings series.

Bonus Content

Tolkien Theology (The Rings of Power). On this TC podcast, Josh Larsen, Claude Atcho, and Sarah Welch-Larson weigh in on Prime Video’s Lord of the Rings-based series, as well as previous screen adaptations of Tolkien's work.

Topics: Movies