CXIX

 

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.”

It is now 1983-84, my second year as pastor in Marietta.  I’m still working on the dissertation on Spenser in odd moments, but starting to adjust to the new routine, so that the fertilization of a new kind of immersion in the Bible is able to start interacting with my other reading and my observations of nature again in interesting ways.  At least, I thought they were interesting.  We shall see what you think.  The first one is on Adam’s naming the animals.

AdamNaming1

Commentary, Gen. 2:19

Sonnet XXXVII

AdamNaming2

And how he thought about them, trooping past,

Stopping to like his hand or sniff his knee—

Tiny as bee or hummingbird, or vast

In girth, the river-horse—and first to see

In fur and feather, clad heraldically,

The colors—and the antics!—speechless, stare

At scampering mice, at stallions’ thunder, tree-

Like limbs of elephants, ambling bulk of bear—

This creativity beyond compare—

What fruit brought forth in bare but fertile mind;

From sound and sight, throat muscles, subtle air

To weave the words, the Poet’s power unbind:

To call the Correspondences by Name,

As Adam called the animals who came.

AdamNaming3

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to http://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.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Stars Through the Clouds

CVIII

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.”

It is now 1982-83.  I have accepted a position as pastor of the First Evangelical Free Church of Marietta, GA.  The transition from teaching writing to preparing two sermons a week, doing hospital visitation, counseling, etc., is one that I had prepared for, as you will realize if you’ve been following this history.  But nevertheless, it was rather all-consuming, for a while taking up all the space on my hard drive, as it were.  As a result, I only wrote one poem that year.  But the new stimulation of the discipline of weekly biblical exposition would bear much poetic fruit down the road.  This poem was in The Evangelical Beacon, July, 1985, p. 17.  It is about the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem.

Christ's Entry into Jerusalem by Hippolyte Flandrin c. 1842

Miracula

 

It is not so astounding that a stone

Would have cried out, “Hosannah” had the crowd

Left the Lord to enter town alone.

More marvel you can read theses lines aloud:

In us,

He gave a tongue to dust.

TriumphalEntry1

It is not so amazing that He meant

To purchase all our sorrow for His own

And for that painful bargain to have spent

The Glory at the right hand of His throne:

His love

Him to such deeds would move.

TriumphalEntry3

But ponder this for paradox:  the ones

To whom that Gift was given—life complete,

Eternal peace, adoptions as His sons!—

With such ingratitude can daily treat

As worthless toys

Such high and holy joys.

TriumphalEntry4

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to http://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.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

CXVII

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.” 

Playing with Alliterative Meter enables one to use alliteration more effectively in the iambic pentameter line, as in the following.  Some people might think it is too much.  Wimps!

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb:

An Anticipation

Sonnet XXXVI

Capture5

Let sound the sackbuts, come, cornettoes, call

The folk to feast and joyous revelry.

Already lute and lyre fill the hall

With sweetest sound of merry minstrelsy.

The Lord beneath his royal canopy

Himself shall sit as host, for he abounds

In kingly kindliness and courtesy.

Hold back for no unworthiness!  He frowns

On base ingratitude, but loves the sounds

Of Joy unearned, unearnable, delights

To honor those who come.  The call resounds,

For one last moment echoes in the heights.

Surely you’re coming with us?  Do not doubt!

The door that closes shuts forever out.

Capture9

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to http://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.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Mission Report: Bulgaria 2015

Mission Report

BULGARIA 2015

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Church Planting International

From May 25-June 8, 2015, a team of five students and two faculty from Toccoa Falls College traveled to Bulgaria.  We had a dual purpose.  First, we participated in an international choir and orchestra that performed Haydn’s oratorio “Creation.”  (Imagine something like Handel’s “Messiah,” only dealing with Genesis 1 rather than with the coming and ministry of Christ.)  More importantly, we were there for ministry.  The students worked with local church music ministry teams during their time off from rehearsals, and I was privileged to work with local pastors and youth leaders and with local college student ministries in addition to preaching in two Evangelical churches.

BulgariaPosterCreation

Monday-Tuesday, May 25-6, was travel, a long ordeal involving four planes and five airports: from Atlanta to Charlotte to Paris to Sofia, Bulgaria (the capital city), to Varna, a resort town on the coast of the Black Sea where the international music festival was to be held.  Wednesday we jumped right into rehearsals.  Friday and Saturday, May 29-30, I left the group behind and traveled back to Sofia.  On Friday I met with my host, Pastor Avramov, who gave me a tour of the city and some background on the situation faced by Evangelical Protestants there.  The country is dominated by nominal Greek Orthodoxy.  Evangelicals account for only 1 % of the population.  Though the more serious time of Communist oppression is past, some persecution of Evangelicals continues.  The Orthodox church is fiercely opposed to competition and is not above having Protestant pastors arrested on trumped up charges.  On Saturday we had a seminar on apologetics attended by a dozen Evangelical pastors and youth workers.  They requested the topics of Theodicy (the problem of evil) and Post-Modernism.  The latter surprised me, as I had thought it more relevant to America than to them.  But they assured me that the challenge of a world view that denies any legitimate authority to texts, including the biblical text, was moving into their country as well.  It will be intensified for them by the cynicism which was the natural result of having been systematically lied to by the Communists for so many years.  I found them intelligent, well prepared, and fully engaged.  The Lord has a small core of good servants with which to reach this beautiful but spiritually needy country.

BulgariaSofiaCathedral

Orthodox Cathedral, Sofia

I got back to Varna after midnight on Sunday and was up early Sunday morning to preach at Varna’s Second Baptist Church on “The End of Salvation: the Glory of God,” from Ephesians 1.  We also participated in their worship service, with the students supplementing their worship team.  I met Pastor George again later that week at one of our cantata performances, and he told me that he was so impressed with the importance of what I had shared that he was going to turn it in to a series!  That is a pretty gratifying thing for a preacher to hear.

Preaching at 2nd Baptist, Varna

Preaching at 2nd Baptist, Varna

Monday, June 1, it was back to rehearsals, but I took a break from that in the afternoon to do a lecture at the International Students Center in Varna on “The Historical Case for the Resurrection of Christ,” sponsored by the local chapter of Agape (what we in the states call Campus Crusade for Christ).  They went all out to attract non-Christians, including making the beautiful poster you see here.  In the end they were disappointed that only two Atheists showed up, along with ten Agape members.  But the believers were strengthened and the atheists challenged.  Pray that the Lord will bring forth fruit.

BulgariaLect

I said that while I believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures, I was not going to appeal to them in that way but simply treat them for the sake of argument as historical documents.  What are the criteria that historians use to evaluate testimony?  Multiple attestation, proximity to the event, basic consistency in reportage (but not too consistent, or you suspect collusion—you want discrepancies but not contradictions), hostile witnesses supporting the testimony, testimony that is embarrassing to the witness (for people generally spin stories in their own favor rather than otherwise).  On all the criteria the Gospels and the Epistles pass with flying colors.  They are all within one generation of the events, you have discrepancies (one angel mentioned or two?) but not contradictions (only one angel versus two), Paul and James were hostile before their conversion, and the disciples portray themselves as clueless cowards.  So if we have to take the testimony seriously, we are left with four facts that virtually every serious historian accepts:  Jesus was crucified, he was buried in a borrowed tomb, the body was missing Sunday morning, and almost immediately his followers were claiming that he was alive and they had seen him.

So what are the possible explanations of these facts?  All of them but one have fatal flaws in attempting to explain the data.  The only problem with the one that does explain it is that you have to believe a miracle happened.  Ok.  But this is not some random dude in some miscellaneous place we are saying rose from the dead.  This was a man whose coming had been prepared by Providence and predicted by prophecy for two thousand years.  This was a man whose friends kept asking, “What manner of man is this?” and feeling compelled to answer that question in theistic terms.  This was the reassertion of the life of a man who had already shown himself to be sovereign over life and death.  If ever there were a man about whom we could believe such a thing, it is this man: it is Jesus of Nazareth!

Resurrection

Tuesday-Thursday saw intensified rehearsals and then “Creation” was performed twice, In Dobrich on Friday, June 5, and in Varna on Saturday the 6th.  We prayed that the Lord would make His Word fruitful in that medium.  Then I preached on Sunday, June 7, at the Evangelical Pentecostal Church of Varna, using the same sermon I had given the Baptists.  If the primary purpose of salvation is our benefit, then we must find the suffering and heartache of living in a fallen world a defect in our redemption leading to doubt; but if we see that the primary purpose is God’s glory, then we are set free from that doubt to live boldly for the glory of God.

Preaching at Evangelical Pentecostal Church, Varna

Preaching at Evangelical Pentecostal Church, Varna

My hearty thanks if you supported us with your prayers or your funds.  Keep praying that the Lord will make the ministry fruitful; for unless He builds the house, we labor in vain.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

R. A. Forrest Scholar & Prof. of English, Toccoa Falls College

President, International Society of Christian Apologetics

 

“To think well is to serve God in the interior court.”

For more on apologetics by Dr. Williams, check out his books at Lantern Hollow Press:  Inklings of Reality, Stars Through the Clouds, and Reflections from Plato’s Cave.  To order, go to

http://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

“AND TO THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STOOD . . .”

My Facebook status for the Fourth of July will read as it did last year: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stood…”

Why the past tense? The first step to victory is to be honest and clear about what the goal of the mission is. As Americans who care about our country, it is no longer about preserving our form of government, but restoring it. To do this many reforms will be necessary, the most important of which is restoring a cultural climate in which grammatico-historical exegesis makes sense again. In other words, until we care again about what the authors of old documents (from the Bible to the Constitution to the literary classics) were actually trying to communicate, and believe them capable of doing it, the Constitution will mean anything that a 51% majority of the voters or any five Supreme Court justices want it to mean. And as long as that is the case, what Francis Schaeffer called “the outward forms of constitutionality” actually count for nothing.  We have just been reminded by SCOTUS how true this is: as in Roe v. Wade the court has once again created a ” constitutional right” (to same-sex marriage) out of nothing.  Most people just shrug their shoulders or accept the claim that the “right” is in the 14th amendment despite its complete absence from the wording or the intention of the framers as discerned by historical context.  Why?  Because they have been taught that meaning is in the eye of the beholder.  Therefore, to them the Constitution really does mean what 51% of the voters or five out of nine people in black robes think they need or want it to mean.

FoundingFathers

The Founding Fathers at Work

Until this changes, we can get nowhere.  Any tinkering with structures or rules, even any replacing of elected (or appointed) officials, will mean nothing until this deeper cultural reformation of our philosophy of reading is achieved in our homes, schools, and churches. And it will be an uphill battle only winnable by God’s intervention in a new Renaissance, Reformation, and Revival that go beyond anything we can engineer ourselves. Whether that comes or not, let us be found faithful. Clarity about what the problem is–rebellion against God’s authority, our Author, and therefore also the authority even of human authors made in His image–is the first step.

Was the Constitution perfect? No. But it did provide a possibility of checks and balances in the separation of powers that was better than any other nation has devised, and which gave us the chance at a republic–as Franklin said, “If you can keep it.” We didn’t. In the republic the Framers envisioned, for example, the HHS Mandate, the courts taking it upon themselves to redefine marriage or create a right to murder one’s own children, congress passing bills no one has read, etc., would have been unthinkable. Now such things are routine. Unelected judges and bureaucrats have power they were never intended to have, and our elected officials are impotent to rein them in, because they do not even understand the monster they have created.

" . . . a republic--if you can keep it."   Ben Franklin

” . . . a republic–if you can keep it.” Ben Franklin

Why didn’t we keep our republic? Because the church did not do its job of evangelism and discipleship. Even when we won converts we did not teach them the biblical world view. We let their minds be formed by the Enemy. We let the culture around us slide into decadence, and as long as our churches were full we didn’t care. Then we were shocked when things turned against us. Even if the Constitution were perfect, it would be no protection in a world in which antirealist philosophy, subjectivist hermeneutics, and relativist ethics rule the educational system, the media, and pop culture. When it is no longer considered self-evident that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, then the republic founded on that bedrock cannot survive as the same entity. We should not be surprised that it has not.

This is not ultimately a political problem: it is a cultural problem, and beneath that, a religious problem. When we start making progress there, only then will we see real progress on the political front. Or maybe we will see a new Dark Ages. That would be horrible in many ways, and we should do everything we can to prevent it—but if it comes, the dark just makes the light shine brighter.

Restoration?  We shall see.

Restoration? We shall see.

Donald T. Williams is R. A. Forrest Scholar and Professor of English at Toccoa Falls College. He is the author of nine books, including Stars Through the Clouds: The Collected Poetry of Donald T. Williams, Reflections from Plato’s Cave: Essays in Evangelical Philosophy, and Inklings of Reality: Essays toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters, 2nd edition, revised and expanded, all from Lantern Hollow Press. To order, go to http://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

InklingsofReality5c