For: a warped representation of evil, wizardry and occult elements, and biblically incompatible mythology
The Fellowship of the Ring is an epic tale full of action, the undead, and dark, evil hordes of positively-portrayed elements that are in conflict with scripture. While admittedly there’s a lot of spirituality in the movie, for every alleged Christian influence there are one or more clearly unchristian influences. Granted, no one is going to die for seeing The Lord of the Rings, but, objectively speaking, it’s not going to help a Christian live better, either.
A Warped Representation of Evil
The plot of The Lord of the Rings is built on, and dependent on, an understanding of evil—both in its spiritual sense and its physical manifestation—that is unbiblical, impossible, and itself spiritually warped.
Sauron, the villain, creates a magic ring, and “into this ring he poured his cruelty, his malice, and his will to dominate all life.” In an early battle the ring is cut off Sauron’s hand and his body disintegrates. The statements, “His life force is bound to the ring,” and “They are one, the ring and the Dark Lord,” are used to explain that the ring sustains and brings back Sauron’s spirit. The ring also exercises its own, volitional, independent power, bordering on animism (“It betrayed…” “It ensnared…” “It abandoned…” “The ring has awoken. It has heard its master’s call.” “Something happened the ring did not intend.” “The ring is trying to get back to its master. It wants to be found.”).
The movie goes to great lengths to portray the ring as not only inherently evil (incapable of being used for any good purpose whatsoever), but irresistibly evil, corrupting people from the outside in. Biblically, any temptation and evil power can be resisted.1 Also, in The Lord of the Rings, the wisest and morally strongest are the most likely to give in, and the foolish and morally feeble most likely to withstand it.
The ring is equated with evil itself multiple times, as in “this one chance to destroy evil forever,” and, “evil was allowed to endure,” both of which are merely references to the ring.
As an aside, any theories that the ring is a symbol of a moral or physically reality (and therefore doesn’t have to behave like other inanimate objects) eventually break down. For instance, the ring cannot represent temptation because being tempted is not evil, since Jesus was tempted, yet without sin. The ring cannot represent sin, because the power of sin cannot be destroyed by someone who has ever given in to it, as main character Frodo does. The ring also cannot represent drug addiction, because the ring is equally powerful over those who have used it before and those who haven’t.
Wizardry and Occult Elements
One of the heroes of the story and one of the villains of the story are wizards, not just in name but in practice. Wizardry is an abomination, according to scripture.
As an aside, despite the well-intentioned excuses that have been come up with for the presence of “wizards” in these films, Gandalf and Saruman are not angels. A sinful angel is a demon, not a wizard, and Gandalf sins observably. Also, despite any unnatural positive associations with the word, calling a good character a “wizard” is, biblically, on the same level as calling him a “Satanist” or a “Necromancer”.
Magic mirrors and seeing stones are employed to gain visions of current or future events. Magic staves are used to throw people across the room. Spells are recited which summon, control, and magically shape a river. Various inanimate objects are imbued with magical properties.
Positively-portrayed characters use telepathy and mind reading.
A positively-portrayed character of says that she feels the world’s changes in the water, earth and air. She is also rumored to be a “great sorceress” and a “witch”, and displays powers not inconsistent with those titles, while by no means distancing herself from the idea. She is positively portrayed even after giving false prophecy.
Rings both good and evil are forged, “within” which are magically “bound the strength and will to govern each race,” implying that the magic rings bestow, not merely enhance, character, skill and leadership qualities.
As an aside, any alleged Christian parallels, allegories or metaphors in The Fellowship of the Ring are ultimately useless, at best, and borderline heresy, at worst. Mild spiritual-sounding phrases in the movie are far from religion-specific, and are at least as compatible with non-Christian spirituality. Many of the attempts to find a strong Christian message in the vague spiritual or mysterious elements in The Lord of the Rings would be equally successful applied, especially unknowingly, to the greater part of the Koran or the Book of Mormon.
Biblically Incompatible Mythology
The Lord of the Rings revolves around creatures whose nature puts them at odds with the biblical concepts of sin, salvation, evil and death.
Wizards, hobbits, dwarves and elves are presented as non-humans, and are all, to greater or lesser degrees, sinful. Elves are further portrayed as immortal. Biblically, however, the wages of sin is death,2 which means that under a just God no one can be sinful and undying. Additionally, in both real life and in non-negotiable rules for fiction, the only basis for forgiveness of sin is the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which presents a problem for the majority of creatures in The Lord of the Rings, because as a man, Jesus Christ could and did atone only for the sins of mankind.3 Apart from an atonement by a person fully God and fully elf, dwarf, hobbit or wizard, the only way to deal with sin in The Lord of the Rings is to punish it all, or wink at it.
As an aside, the view of death (or undeath) in The Fellowship of the Rings is also off kilter. Characters are described as “neither living nor dead” because of a power that takes them from being alive to being non-alive, but keeps them from actually being dead. They also have the power to turn other (unwilling) people into undeads like themselves.
1 See 1 Corinthians 10:13 and James 4:7-8a.
2 Romans 6:23
3 1 Corinthians 15:21-22