Today is the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation! We’re celebrating by examining the Five Solas the best way we know how: through the rulers in Lord of the Rings. We just examined Sola Scriptura through The Ruin of Théoden. For more information, see our preview post.
Spoiler warning:this post does contain minor spoilers for the film version of Return of the King.
It’s one of the most powerful and stirring moments in film history: Aragorn, returning from his parley with the mouth of Sauron, sees a shaken and dismayed army before him. But he doesn’t let them face the enemy in their fear; he delivers a speech that still gives me chills.
It’s rousing, effective, and moving. It’s an incredible battle boast. And it works; his men are visibly heartened by Aragorn’s speech.
The Middle English word for “boast” was bēot, and it was a battle cry that a warrior would shout before or during a battle; one which would inspire him and those around him with confidence and strength.
Hold your ground! Hold your ground!
Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers, I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.
A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day, we fight!
By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!
The boast had three parts:
- The Pledge to attempt a challenge. (“This day, we fight!”)
- The Prophecy of the possible outcomes. (“A day may come when the courage of men fails…”)
- The Prayer to a higher power or ideal. (“By all that you hold dear on this good Earth…”)
A good bēot was seen by the Anglo-Saxons as proof of the warrior’s determination, bravery, and character. I think Aragorn’s boast would do well.
Object of the Boast
There’s no such thing as not boasting. Whatever you look to for validation, strength, and reassurance, that is what you boast in. Perhaps your boast is in your beauty or your intelligence; maybe it’s in your work, your family, your church. We all know instinctively that we need to have something on our resume to commend us to God’s good favor. Most of us realize that we can’t do it on our own.
But simply having a boast isn’t enough. The object of your boast has to be worthwhile. A boast in the amount of chocolate you’ve eaten probably wouldn’t inspire anyone.
The Reformation doctrine of Solus Christus gives us the object of our boast: Christ Alone saves us. He alone is our rallying cry. He alone stands between us and God, mediating our dispute and giving us the strength to continue on, because He interceded for us. We have no hope outside Him; there is no one else to whom we could go, because He alone holds the words of eternal life.
The Apostle Paul gives an incredible boast of his own in the book of Romans.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
–Romans 8:31-39, ESV
Nothing can separate us from Christ; though tribulation will try, Jesus has fought to win us.
So stand strong. This day, we have been fought for.
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Continue celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation with us! The next article is coming soon.
Thanks for reading Redeeming Culture!