I’m currently reading through a book titled Angels In The Architecture: A Protestant Vision For Middle Earth by Doug Wilson and Doug Jones. The book is excellent, and I plan on doing a full review when I finish, but for the moment I want to focus on the main story of the book. As the title implies, the motif of “Middle Earth” comes up often throughout the book, because I think it’s very important. This morning while reading, I came across a couple of paragraphs that literally sent chills down my spine. I think these couple of paragraphs really sum up the big idea of this Protestant Vision for what “the Doug’s” refer to as “Middle Earth.” It also sums of what we as good Protestants ought to broadly be doing between now and Christ’s return.
“But what about our use of the phrase middle earth? In one sense, we are referring to the traditional cosmology of the earth being suspended between heaven and hell. We are using it, however, in another sense too, a sense based on an ancient tie in the history of the two words. Even if we cannot make the etymological case, then we can use it as an etymological illustration. The English word earth comes from the same Old English word that gives us yard, a tamed piece of ground.
In this sense, think of middle earth as a cultivated portion of land, surrounded rounded by wilderness. The wilderness is modernity, full of monsters, and the yard is a small and pleasant shire. While our children are little, we want to imitate our medieval forefathers and tell our children the truths in fairy tales that will keep them out of the woods. When they are grown, they will be able to fight the monsters and expand the fences of middle earth.”
This is so important. If you’re left clueless as to what your calling is as a Christian, here’s some direction. We are called to be kingdom builders. We’re called to find a plod of dirt and cultivate it into a kingdom adorned and filled with the Image of the King. As G.K. Beale writes, we are called to push Eden to the ends of the earth. If this is what we are called to, then it means that we aren’t called to let the wilderness overtake the shire. When God created man, He created him to take dominion and to subdue the earth (Gen. 1:28). It is in mans nature to be a kingdom builder.
Perhaps kingdom building for you looks like planting a church on a plod of land and multiplying by building covenant communities throughout your city, county, and state. That’s one was to push the overgrowth of the forest back. Perhaps for another it looks like having a quiver full of children who are like arrows in the hand of the warrior, and are used to strike the death blow to the heart of the enemy. As Bojidar Marinov has written, “Your life must be devoted to finding that specific corner of the Garden that belongs to you, and leave it built up and operating for the glory of God when you leave this earth. Your job is to capitalize—that is, make useful and productive—a portion of God’s creation. You’ll have to find out which part of it is yours.
I don’t know what part of Middle Earth belongs to you. But, one thing is for sure, the wilderness of postmodern America is full of ugly monsters. The forest is dark and vast, and the enemy is marching in hordes towards the shire. It’s not time to cower. You are called to fight the monsters, and to expand the fences of middle earth! If God is for us, then who can be against us?
For King and Kingdom!