As I look at the current scene, I see a church in desperate need of three great movements of God:
A recovery of the life of the mind. An increasingly illiterate generation is harder to reach with a faith founded on the message of a Book; an increasingly illiterate church is incapable of experiencing full-orbed Christianity based on the whole counsel of God. Electronic inundation keeps us perpetually distracted. From a cultural (rather than a technical) standpoint, we may well be entering a new Dark Ages. The original rebirth of learning and culture that we call the Renaissance of the Sixteenth Century started with a recovery of interest in reading classical literature in the original languages using grammatico-historical exegesis to recover its original message to its original audience. God used that movement with its motto of ad fontes, “back to the sources,” to make the Reformation, the recovery of the pristine Gospel of the New Testament, possible. If history repeats itself, a new Renaissance just might lead to a new . . .
A recovery of sound doctrine. When the new learning of the Renaissance, the ad fontes tradition, was applied to Scripture, the original documents were enabled to speak again with their own voice. This led to a recovery of sound doctrine in five areas: Sola Scriptura, Scripture alone is the only infallible and inerrant authority and final court of appeal; Sola Gratia, salvation is by grace, God’s unmerited favor, alone, apart from works; Sola Fide, salvation is received by the empty hands of faith alone; Solus Christus, Christ alone is the only Mediator between God and men; Soli Deo Gloria, God’s glory alone is the end of salvation and the purpose of all of life. All these truths are in danger of being lost again. We therefore need a new Renaissance leading to a new Reformation. Otherwise, we gorge ourselves on spiritual junk food while the great truths of the faith slip through our fingers. But if God would grant us Renaissance and Reformation again, they just might lead to . . .
A recovery of vital spirituality. The great error of our generation is to believe that this recovery is possible apart from the first two. Biblically and historically, it is not. Martin Luther recognized the debt the Reformation owed to the Renaissance: “Whenever God wants to break forth truth anew out of His Word, he prepares the way by the rise of languages and letters, as if they were John the Baptists.” And if Christianity is true, then only the faithful preaching of the pure Gospel of the New Testament can give us the genuine spirituality and real Christian lives that Revival is all about. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone! Without Renaissance and Reformation, all our zeal for Revival is vanity and striving after wind. Do not stop praying and working for Revival. But do start praying and working for the Renaissance and Reformation without which no true revival with lasting impact is possible.
Lantern Hollow Press pursues the goal of Renaissance as defined above by publishing quality fiction that seen the world through in terms of the Christian world view, along with other materials that support such works and help build the culture that can produce and appreciate them. If my analysis above is correct, that is a more important endeavor, with greater implications for the advancement of the Kingdom of God, than you might have imagined.
Donald T. Williams, PhD, is R. A. Forrest Scholar at Toccoa Falls College and the author of eight books, including Stars Through the Clouds: The Collected Poetry of Donald T. Williams, Inklings of Reality: Essays toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters, 2nd edition, and Reflections from Plato’s Cave: Essays in Evangelical Philosophy. To order, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.
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 did I go from seminary studying theology to graduate study in English literature? It is a question I am often asked. There are many good answers. One is that Theology is the queen of the sciences, and Philology, even more than Philosophy, is her chief handmaiden. Another is the sheer wonder of what Christians believe. Take the reality of Christ’s Person, for example. How would a theologian limited to mere prose try to capture it? I have seen the results, abstract and dry, too often. The problem is not just that they are incomprehensible; they manage to be incomprehensible without conveying any compensating sense of the beauty and mystery surrounding this most glorious of truths. Here’s my way of doing it (published in Christianity Today, 17 October 1979).
TO CHRIST OUR LORD
Thrice holy, three times spoken, meant, and heard
By one Voice speaking once, once only hearing,
One only multifold, all-meaning Word
From out of time, in time and flesh appearing;
Separate, though inseparably one,
Thou who art not the Father, yet art God,
Thou who art Son of Man, yet no man’s son;
Root of Jesse, Rock of Ages, Rod
Of Aaron blossoming in barren soil
Whose petals blades are of a burning sword
That strikes its deep wounds full of healing oil;
Servant of all and universal Lord:
With literal metaphors, we stumbling seek
To praise Thee, strong Firstborn of all who speak.
Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://www.createspace.com/3562314 and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest book from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. https://www.createspace.com/3767346.
Donald T. Williams, PhD
I recently did an interview with CSPAN on my small book on Robert E. Lee, and I thought I might share it:
To be honest, I haven’t watched it–I hate watching myself on TV–so I’m just taking other people at their words that I didn’t make a fool of myself. :)
So, for once, we have no elves, dwarves, or Jedi. No Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling, or Lucas. Just something on a real person from actual history, a person who was much more human than many people like to think.
If the book intrigues you, it will be out on April 30. Here is the link to order on Amazon.com.