For: fatalism, divination, wizardry, warped philosophy, a warped representation of evil, and biblically incompatible mythology
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a predictable action flick that gets in over its head with unbiblical attempts at mythology, magic and profundity. The result is two-and-a-half hours of stylized battle sequences mingled with a hodgepodge of at best foolish, at worst abominable, worldview elements.
Multiple positively-portrayed characters in The Hobbit point to Fate as the active and compelling force that decides their individual and collective destinies. This mindset also drives the chief dwarf Thorin in his determination to pursue his intended goal, through his sense of moral obligation to act upon advantageous circumstances. Signs and omens are regularly looked to for direction.
One of the dwarves is reported to have practiced divination through reading the portents to determine the right time for their quest. This is one of the activities (along with necromancy) listed by God as, not just a bad idea, but an abomination.1
Two of the most positively-portrayed characters in the film (plus a third one who is anachronistically negatively-portrayed) are wizards, not just in name but in practice. This is another abomination, according to God.
As an aside, despite the well-intentioned excuses that have been come up with for the presence of “wizards” in these films (and the books they were based on), Gandalf is not an angel. Neither is Saruman. Neither is Radagast. A sinful angel is a demon, not a wizard, and Gandalf is hardly what you’d call “sinless”. Also, despite the positive associations the world has given to the word, calling someone good a “wizard” makes about as much sense, biblically, as calling him a “Satanist” or, for that matter, a “Necromancer”.
Gandalf, the primary example of the movie’s “wisdom”, makes a number of statements that sound profound, but actually display a warped and foolish concept of reality.
Gandalf declares that “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay, small acts of kindness and love.” This is balderdash, and worse, unchristian. Ultimately, only God can hold evil in check, and that most certainly is “great power”. Even “ordinary” believers have been given a spirit of power2. Small acts of love and kindness can be (and are) committed by unbelievers, who prefer “darkness”. The armor of God, not small deeds, is what enables Christians to withstand the evil.3 Gandalf sounds profound, but he’s speaking falsehood and pointing his audience away from God, not toward him.
As an aside, Gandalf’s statement that “true courage is about knowing, not when to take a life, but when to spare one,” is unbiblical and nonsensical. Time after time, God commands people to be “courageous” as they take the lives of their enemies (not as they spare them).4 Also, “courage” isn’t about knowing what to do at all.
Gandalf’s lighthearted excuse that, “Well, all good stories deserve embellishment,” is wrong, even as hyperbole. Stating that something is true that is merely “embellishment” is a lie, and no good story (which would include the ones in the Bible) deserves to be lied about. At best, that’s historical revisionism.
A Warped Representation of Evil
Throughout the movie, the primary concern of the characters is that Evil, particularly its spiritual side, will take over the physical realm. Biblically, however, evil only takes over physically where it has already taken over in terms of a people’s spiritual life. Yet, for all the emphasis on the spiritual aspects of evil (particularly witchcraft and “the dead”), there is no concern in The Hobbit for the characters’ souls, and every concern for a mystical darkness that might take over the world regardless of the spiritual state of the peoples in that world. Even the oldest, “wisest” characters of The Hobbit do not know how to stop the Evil, and they don’t look to God or his Word for the answer. If they had, they would have found that if they resist the devil, he will flee5, not keep taking over.
Biblically Incompatible Mythology
The Hobbit is built around an understanding of sin, salvation, evil, and death, that is fundamentally off kilter.
Hobbits, dwarves, elves, orcs, Gollums and wizards, are sinful nonhumans. Since in reality the sinful nature of humans comes from the first Adam, salvation from punishment for sin can only come from the second Adam, Jesus Christ, as fully God and fully man—not partly man, partly hobbit, partly elf, etc. If nonhumans are morally responsible agents, as they are in The Hobbit, there are only two options. Option 1: All of these nonhuman characters go to hell when they die because Atonement is by Christ the man, for humans, not for cats or alligators or hobbits or rocks. Option 2: They can go to heaven as long as their good works outweigh their bad works—which would be heresy, not allegory. There really aren’t any good options.
The dwarves make reference to their “sacred halls” and to one of their own kings who believed that “his rule was divine”, but their minds are always and only engrossed by earthly things—money, physical kingdoms, revenge, earthly glory—giving a skewed representation of religion, or presenting in fact a false religion.
As an aside, The Hobbit’s view of the undead is warped and unbiblical. Biblically, the dead remain dead, or are raised to life again; there is no category for neither/nors. The dead are physically incapacitated. They are no threat to anyone. In The Hobbit, however, undead spirits end up being more physically powerful than live people. This view is completely inconsistent with God’s truth.
1 Deuteronomy 18:10-12
22 Corinthians 10:3-6
4Joshua 10:22-26, for example