I’m excited about the next installment in the Hobbit Movie trilogy by Peter Jackson. Modern technology and filmmaking have enabled these creative people to make some amazing films. I am sometimes taken back at the popularity of them. But I shouldn’t really. For when we consider the great stories of our time, there is something about them that resonates with something bigger, something in the back of our minds, something that says Yes! Jerram Barrs calls these the “echoes of eden.”
One foundational truth of Christianity is that we have descended from a historical Adam and Eve, who were created by a personal God. They were representing all humanity, and Adam as the first man was placed in a position where he and God lived under a promise. The contract was one with blessing and curse. “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
We know the story, as it is handed down, Eve tempted by the serpent, who was Satan, believed the lie, that God was withholding something, freedom, and she also believed that she wouldn’t die. Adam, I believe, was standing there silently avoiding his responsibility to guard, love and provide for Eve. He took and ate as well.
Things changed. From the moment of Adam’s disobedience, they were no longer in a perfect relationship with God. The curse which follows sin, resulted in not only their physical death and decay of all creation, but also the spiritual death and alienation from God.
The agony of this alienation was brokenness in their relationship with God and also with one another. Hiding in the garden, Adam and Eve try to cover their shame and nakedness.
The story continues. God in the cool of the evening, arrives walking and seeking Adam.
In the midst of the shame God comes. He at once shows his holiness by casting them from the garden and at the same time shows mercy clothing them and showing them the promise of a redeemer.
These first chapters of Genesis, which some consider fairy tales, resonate in us today. Others have looked at the history of God’s plan in terms of Creation, Fall and Redemption. Throughout history mankind has told myths and stories that bring hope from tragedy. There are many stories where a hero from humble birth arrives to save his people, stories of the humble coming to bring restoration through sacrifice.
I am a great fan of Tolkien. J.R.R. Tolkien was a big proponent of telling stories. He believed that the myths and great stories of time echoed the truth. (Read On Fairy-Stories pdf) Humanity having come from the same parents, bring with them an awareness of truth. It is interesting how even those who are not very interested in spiritual things, love the the story of a Hobbit. We see an humble person part of a greater story. We see the values of courage in the face of fear. We see self sacrifice for the good of others. How many people long for the Return of the King, who defeats the evil Sauron, heals the sick and injured with his touch and brings peace throughout the kingdom?
I believe that the Christian who is a writer, musician, dancer, painter, photographer, designer, composer, director, or in any creative field, has the opportunity to communicate profound ideas from God’s word, communicating what Francis Schaeffer called True Truth.1 We can write great stories, sing great songs, paint wonderful works, that share the same echoes of eden.
We can enjoy the creativity and works that others make as well. We can look with discernment and see where others connect sometimes unknowingly to the very ideas we celebrate in the gospel. For we all long for wholeness and goodness. We all look for someone to help make things right. We ache and groan with all of creation for the moment the King returns to make all things right.
Where do you see the echoes of Eden in the creative work of others?
1. It is an important principle to remember, in the contemporary interest in communication and in language study, that the biblical presentation is that though we do not have exhaustive truth, we have from the Bible what I term true truth. In this way we know true truth about God, true truth about man, and something truly about nature. Thus on the basis of the Scriptures, while we do not have exhaustive knowledge, we have true and unified knowledge.
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Escape From Reason, Ch. 2)