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. This is the final article; we’ve also examined Sola Gratia through The Gift of Galadriel. For more information, see our preview post.
Spoiler warning:this post does contain minor spoilers for the film version of The Fellowship of the Ring and Return of the King.
There are few things scarier in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings than the Ringwraiths. From the moment that the Nazgûl shrieks in the dark as he chases the Hobbits onto Buckleberry Ferry, the far-off threat of Sauron in Mordor is shown to have arms that reach out and grasp for the heroes of the story.
But the story of their leader, the Witch-King of Angmar, isn’t just terrifying. It’s also tragic.
The Witch-King’s quest for glory and power left him devoid of either.
Seeking his own glory, he became as nothing; merely a tool for the enemy. He’s been so subsumed by the will of his new master that his name is no longer even recorded. And when the hobbits meet him, he’s being used to bring about the end of the free people of Middle-Earth. His quest for glory and power left him devoid of either.
The Witch-King’s pursuit of power and glory destroyed him. A lust for greater power led him to accept Sauron’s gift of a ring to rule his people; the ring, he thought, would give him the power and glory he really wanted. And while we aren’t being offered a ring to help us dominate our subjects with magical power, our Deceiver tells us the same lie: I can give you power over your life. I can give you the glory you want. Your sin is a small price to pay. And when we’ve given in, it takes us entirely; given enough time, our sin will reduce us to shadows of our former selves. Far from freeing us, our sin will drain our power and leave us forgotten.
There is no hope for the Witch-King of Angmar. But there is yet hope for you.
The Reformation gave us the doctrine of Soli Deo Gloria: to the Glory of God Alone. It is the purpose for which we live, and the power by which we pursue. It’s why God created the world. It’s why God created us. And rather than reducing us to nothing, it gives us a hope and faith when we are at our most powerless.
Romans 5 sums up much of what we’ve been talking about today:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
–Romans 5:1-2, ESV
The end goal of all we live for, the final power behind everything we do, is clear. The Glory of God is the most long-lasting and hardened purpose for which we can live.
Don’t settle for anything less.
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Thank you for celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation with us! If you missed any of Sola Frodo, you can find the other articles here.
Thanks for reading Redeeming Culture!