The time has come for Gandalf the Grey to address the Council of Elrond. He will fill in the missing gaps in the story of the One Ring and give account of the conspicuously absent Saruman the White. Join us as we continue reading through The Lord of the Rings.
The Council Of Elrond, Pt. 6
The Council of Elrond is a watershed chapter in The Lord of the Rings. The drama of the tale so far has been muted by mystery; here the magnitude of the conflict of the story is laid bare. The sanguinary end of the Free Peoples of Middle-earth is certain should the current darkness continue. A Power has awoken. The Dark Lord’s mind and will is bent on reclaiming the One Ring to rule them all. He is amassing an army to wage war against Eru Iluvatar and lay claim to his sole divine right to honor. But there is another with clandestine plans to seize power for himself: Saruman the Wise, Saruman the Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colors!
The Elder Days are gone. The Middle Days are passing. The Younger Days are beginning. The time of the Elves is over, but our time is at hand: the world of Men, which we must rule. But we must have power, power to order all things as we will, for that good which only the Wise can see.
Saruman The Fallen
At the bidding of Radagast the Brown Gandalf raced to Orthanc to seek the aid of Saruman the White. But that title seemed to anger the Wizard, and Gandalf felt a fear that he could neither explain nor give good reason for. That is, until Saruman unmasked himself in his means to seize and wield the One Ring. “White!” Saruman sneered. “It serves as a beginning.” He continued:
“White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken.” ‘“ In which case it is no longer white,” said I. “And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.”
Ibid., p. 259
Saruman has left the path of wisdom; he has abandoned his domain – his proper abode (Jude 1:6). The Wizards were Istari: angelic beings sent to assist the peoples of Middle-earth against Sauron in the Third Age. But Saruman – the head of the Order of Istari – has pushed away from the good in order to take hold of the bad.
Paul, in his letter to the church in Thessalonica wrote about the proper conduct of followers of The Way in chapter five. He ends his outline of Christian living thus:
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 NASB
That Good Which Only The Wise Can See
The word “abstain” is an interesting translation. The Greek word has much more meaning packed into it than our English counterpart (which barely corresponds to it). The literal meaning is to have one thing by separating from (letting go of) another. We don’t use abstain in that way. Paul is telling his readers to let go of those things contrary to Christ so that they may have all that God wills for them in Christ. Do not repay evil for evil so that you may seek after what is good for all people, etc.
Saruman has done the opposite. He has left the path of wisdom – that good which only the wise can see – to seek his own ends. He does not want to serve another; he desires to be served. In short, he has fallen. He could have been Saruman the Wise if he had *listened to what the Spirit said through Paul:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:8 NASB
*Yes, we are aware that the Third Age is a pre-Christian age and therefore Saruman could never have read Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
- The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, by Robert Foster
- Christianity in Lord of the Rings, by Peter Kreeft
- The Fellowship of the Ring Audiobook read by Rob Inglis
- The Lord of the Rings 1981 Radio Dramatization by BBC
What stood out to you in The Council Of Elrond Pt. 6? Let us know in the comments below.
On The Secret Fire Podcast we travel chapter-by-chapter and book-by-book through J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth viewing it through Christian lenses. We invite you to join us each week as we continue the adventure on the Arkenstone server in Lord Of The Rings Online.
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