245

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.”

If you want a guest speaker in your church who tries at least to practice what he preaches in this villanelle, get in touch with me.  Such a thing can be arranged.

Dr. Williams Preaching What He Practices

HOMILETICS 101

Nothing less can speak to our condition,

Not prooftexts, pretexts; we must have the Word:

There is no power but in exposition.

The Text is captain of the expedition,

The Apostle’s accents are what must be heard,

For nothing less can speak to our condition.

The finger on the verse, the fair rendition,

Then, not to brandish, but to thrust, the Sword:

There is no power but in exposition.

When heralds mind the message and the mission,

Not feelings only—mind and heart are stirred,

And nothing less can speak to our condition.

Can mere opinion lead to true contrition

When bone and marrow splitting’s not incurred?

There is no power but in exposition.

Such splitting, like the atom: in that fission

The power is unleashed, the Faith conferred.

For nothing less can speak to our condition;

There is no power but in exposition.

Dr. Williams Practicing What He Preaches

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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 books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

 

 

Advertisements

244

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.”

 Why is the modern church so spiritually impotent?  Maybe it should pay attention to the biblical idea of what it should be about, and how.

Williams Trying to Make this Point

PRACTICAL ECCLESIOLOGY

Commentary, 1 Cor. 14:26, Col. 3:16

Each member has a place; each one belongs,

As seen when, gathered as a congregation,

They sing their psalms and hymns and holy songs.

Whether two or three or mighty throngs,

The Lord is in their midst.  A priestly nation,

Each member has a place; each one belongs.

The Lord himself with love eternal longs

For them; each one by special invitation

Is singing psalms and hymns and holy songs.

A pincer movement, ministry:  the prongs?

A verse, a prayer, a word of exhortation.

Each member has a place; each one belongs.

How beautiful the feet, the sandal thongs

Which go to every tongue and tribe and nation

Singing psalms and hymns and holy songs.

Spectators passive in their pew?  It wrongs

The vision, suffocates the celebration.

Each member has a place; each one belongs,

Singing psalms and hymns and holy songs.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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 books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

 

238

 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.”

The church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford is the chapel of Oxford University.  Its long history witnessed many significant events: the heresy trial of the Oxford Martyrs, with one column still bearing a gash from the erection of the platform on which they stood, for example.  A cross of bricks embedded in the asphalt of Broad Street marks the spot where the stake was driven for their execution.  Latimer asked Ridley to play the man when they were burned together, for God would see to it that their fire would light a candle that would never be put out.  Thomas Cranmer at first recanted, but then he recovered his courage, recanted his recantation, and was burned holding first into the fire the hand that had signed that dastardly recantation. The saints were made of stern stuff in those days.

St. Mary the Virgin

THE OXFORD MARTYRS

St. Mary the Virgin has a pillar defaced,

A ledge chipped in the stone on which to rest

The beam that held the platform where they placed

The men they meant to martyr.  Who’d have guessed

The way the Faith they stubbornly confessed

Would rise up like a Phoenix from the flames?

(A few blocks down, a cross still marks its nest.)

And when those stalwarts stood to hear their names

Read out as heretics, their mortal frames

Consigned to fiery death, could they have known?

Did they by faith then hear the Lord proclaim

Their place among the martyrs ‘round His throne?

Latimer and Ridley played the man,

And Cranmer clasped the fire by the hand.

The Pulpit

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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 books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

 

 

 

236

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.”

As the heir of the Reformers, the Puritans, and the Revivalists of the First Great Awakening, Evangelicalism was the steward of a theological legacy that I still espouse with all my heart.  It is therefore heartbreaking to watch the current iteration of the movement tearing itself apart and selling its birthright and its very soul for various messes of theological, cultural, and political pottage.  I try to capture a bit of the pathology here.  See if there is anything you recognize.

Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards, Newton: What would they think of us?

COUNTERFEIT SPIRITUALITY

American Evangelicalism in the New Millennium

A sanctimonious sobriety

That masquerades as godly discipline;

A pathological anxiety

That claims to be a zeal to flee from sin;

A stupid, stubborn contrariety

Presenting itself as love of truth and right;

Ears that itch for notoriety,

Eyes not strong enough to bear the light:

We suffer from the sad satiety

Of pietas degraded into “piety.”

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 books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

234

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.”

Rom. 13:13 does not appear in any of the standard lists of evangelistic passages Christians memorize for use in personal witness.  It’s not in The Roman Road, The Four Spiritual Laws, or the diagnostic questions of Evangelism Explosion.  But it was the key to Augustine’s moment of realizing that salvation was by grace, not by his own continually failing efforts.  The key phrase is “put on Christ.”  Don’t just keep trying; put your full trust in Christ, in His merits, in His efforts.  Here in a villanelle is the famous scene where the future saint heard a child’s voice chanting “Take up and read,” and he opened his Bible to that verse.  The rest, as they say, is history.

St. Augustine much later, as a bishop

THE CONVERSION OF AUGUSTINE

Commentary, Rom. 13:13

The Voice cried out in answer to his need

To take the plunge, to be converted now,

Singing, “Tolle, lege, take and read.”

For years he’d stumbled over the hard creed

Of Jesus in the flesh—who could see how?

But nothing less would answer to his need.

His mother’s prayers were destined to succeed

Through Ambrose’ preaching, his own quest, and Thou

Singing, “Tolle, lege, take and read.”

“But can you live without us? They would plead—

His mistresses—as if to disallow

The Voice that cried in answer to his need.

“Yes!  Rather put on Christ who came to bleed

And make no plans the field of flesh to plow.”

Such was the answer he took up to read.

At last the Hound of Heaven had him treed,

Weeping, broken, and prepared to bow.

The Voice cried out in answer to his need,

Singing, “Tolle, lege, take and read.”

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 books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

Donald T. Williams, PhD