Friday, August 12, 2005

The Scourging of the Evangelical Shire

This post is for the Tolkien fans out there. I have just completed reading the Lord of the Rings masterpiece again, and I was once again reminded that my favorite part of the trilogy comes about when Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin return to the Shire. What the movie fan doesn't know is that, upon their arrival home, our heroes find the Shire decimated, and the evil Sauruman is running the show. The came home from battle having to fight evil in their backyard. Frodo and Sam are both dismayed at the evil they have fought in the Shire:

Frodo: "The very last stroke. But to think that it should fall here, at the very door of Bag End! Among all my hopes and fears at least I never expected that"

Sam: "I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess. And that'll take a lot of time and work."

I think this is an apt metaphor to what I'm finding in evangelicalism. I once lived quite comfortably in the evangelical Shire. I was theologically ignorant, distrustful of all outsiders, and basically could only think about the next meal. I had no idea that there were theological warriors from the North running around protecting my pristine world.

Then one day, I left the Shire. I picked up a book by Arthur W. Pink entitled "The Sovereignty of God." To compound problems, I felt compelled to go into the ministry. I wanted to learn everything that I could about the Bible and theology. I started asking annoying questions of others in my Shire. Mostly, they reckoned me a wreckless Baggins. They hoped my foolishness would subside.

I left the Shire for Seminary, and I fell in love with books. On my journey, I was almost immediately run over by a Pied Piper in the road. His fruit-laden truck full of "God Love Himself More Than You" almost killed me. Luckily, being the hungry Hobbit that I was, I tasted the fruit and found that it was fine indeed. My ego was the only thing damaged in the end, and I was mysteriously strengthened by the entire experience.

The road from the Shire took me to strange countries. I went to Italy, Brazil, Portugal, and New Hampshire. It was in these places that I became aware of the diabolical enemy. I found he was indeed on the move in every land which I visited.

Upon graduating Seminary, I became the pastor of a small Baptist Evangelical Shire. I have found in my travels that the enemy has not been idle in our own camp. The Wormtounges of the world have been whispering in the ears of many, and they have been bewitched. But there is still hope where the fellowship holds. The lies of the enemy can be undone by the faithful witness of the few. But their is a terrible mess to clean up by those faithul. It is my hope that before my time comes to cross over to the Grey Havens that I shall see the revival that my heart so desires. But at least one thing has not changedin the Baptist Shire, and this is a source of great joy: the food in the Shire is still delightful.


ColinM said...

Man, I love it! Lord of the Rings gets me pumped up as well. The thing is, I still haven't seen the third because I want to have 3 uninterrupted took 2 weeks to watch the first two. It has to be perfect. I know all my coworkers think I am an idiot when I go to the kitchen for 2nd breakfast.

jdthorne said...

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

Paula said...

I like that 'Piper' thingy you threw in there. nice shot.

There's a lot of truth in knowing God doesn't need us. He certainly loves us. But I will never forget how my spirit was vexed when I heard one of our worhsip leaders say something to the effect that God was in the Church that day just for the sake of hearing our praises. Yeah, right. I wondered if she'd ever heard of an acceptable offering. (Pardon my snarkiness.)

Keep us on our toes, Sojourner. I'm enjoying your posts whenever I can get over here. LOTR gets me pumped too. I'm about a due for a repeat reading as well.