Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Jerusalem from the Old City Wall

The early church father Tertullian famously asked, “Where does Athens meet Jerusalem?”  Athens and Jerusalem were synechdoches for Hellenistic and Hebraic culture, or more specifically, human reason and divine revelation.  Tertullian implied that there was no intersection between the two, an assertion that was true in one sense and profoundly false in another.  It is true that God’s revealed truth is a challenge to fallen human wisdom, not a supplement to it.  But the answers it gives are answers to the same questions all human beings have to ask, answers whose full implications can only be discerned in the light of those questions and of the history of our failed attempts to figure them out on our own, with our rebellious assumptions and premises.  The failure to understand the proper relationship between reason and revelation that Tertullian represents has hindered revelation from shedding the light it was meant to shed: that Light that, coming into the world, needs to enlighten every man.



Commentary, Rom. 12:1 (KJV)


So where does Athens meet Jerusalem?

Tertullian couldn’t find a single place

And thus condemned the blind and groping race

To groping blindness.  Greeks?  Well, as for them,

They asked the Questions brilliantly, but slim

Or none the odds that they would ever trace

The Answers, which the Jew in every case

Possessed; the Questions never occurred to him.


Separate, they both remain opaque,

A price we pay for our ancestral treason.

The unexamined life will never find

A Cross between the two is what can make

The sacrifice of self an act of Reason:

To love the Lord your God with all your mind.

Modern Jerusalem from Mount Scopus

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD


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