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CCVII

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.”

Gerard Manley Hopkins

THEODICY

Hopkins knew the Lord was just, yet pled

The justice of his own request for rain.

ThePsalmist’s echoed accents make it plain,

It wasn’t the first time such words were said.

Even Jesus wondered as he bled

Why God had turned His back upon the pain.

The Spirit’s calculus of loss and gain

Cannot be quickly figured in your head.

 

So when like Job we groan and question why

And plead our case, but seem to plead in vain,

We might remember that the Lord’s reply

Was simply a refusal to explain,

And then a pure, white Lamb who lived to die.

It is enough:  We follow in His train.

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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CLIV

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.”

 

Theology can’t be all serious!  Let’s see, how many rhymes can I find for “divinity?”

TrinityDiagram2

DITTY FOR SEMINARIANS

 

A scholar of divinity

Was studying eternity,

And since he had a minute, he

Sat down to write a paper.

But e’er that he could pen it, he

Found that he must begin it; he

Met Despair, and in it, he

Got lost as in a vapor.

For eternity’s infinity,

Though open to the Trinity,

To Man’s soul is a mystery,

And always will escape her.

(Well—if it seemed hard to begin it, he

Should have tried to end it!  He

Would still this very minute be

A-working on the paper.)

 

The "Trinity Knot": Three in One

 

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, due out Sept. 1, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

CLI

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 greatest explanation of why poetry matters is Sir Philip Sidney’s magnificent “Defense of Poesy.”  Sidney defends poetry against those who could see no place in the curriculum for “lies.”  The end of learning, he says, is virtuous action.  The Philosopher writes about the ideal, but does it so abstractly, is so “misty to be conceived,’ that “a man may wade in him until he be old before he find sufficient reason to be honest.”  The Historian, by contrast, writes concretely and tells a story we can relate to—but he is limited to what actually has been.  He cannot talk about what ought to be, the ideal, without departing from his expertise as a Historian.  “But now doth the peerless poet perform both”:  Like the Historian he speaks concretely and tells a story, but like the philosopher he is not limited to what has been but is free to talk about the ideal.  Here I try to add the Theologian to Sidney’s framework.

The Poet

The Poet

DEFINITIONS

Tending to Show that Theology

Is Indeed the Queen of the Sciences

I

Philosopher:  a man who tries to shave

With Ockham’s Razor by the flickering light

That shines behind his back in Plato’s Cave.

He’ll know that’s what he’s doing if he’s bright;

He may take Pascal’s Wager if he’s brave

(Fides quaerens intellectum), and he might

Thus feel his chains fall off and leave that place

And know the sunlight full upon his face.

William of Ockham

William of Ockham

II

Historian:  He deals in documents,

And what he cannot find there he invents.

As long as it fits in with and makes sense

Of what we have of solid evidence,

It’s called “interpretation,” and he prints

It up.  In this there is no vain pretence

As long as we can tell the difference.

 

III

The Poet is a wielder of that Word

Which clothes the unformed thought and makes it seen,

Which sings the silent thought and makes it heard,

Which tells us how to say the thing we mean.

Sir Philip Sidney said it long ago

In his divine Defense of Poesy:

Philosophy’s business is to seek to know

Not just what is, but that which ought to be,

Truth in its very essence, plain and bare

(Though he may leave it hanging in the air);

History can tell us how, below,

The truth has fared and still is apt to fare;

The Poet’s language teaches us to care.

A Theologian

A Theologian

IV

The Theologian has to be all three:

The logos, the divine philosophy

Which was incarnate in our history

Must still be fleshed with words to make men see.

The Theologian simply has to be

All three.

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, due out Sept. 1, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Book-CSLTheology-Cover

PHILOLOGY THE HANDMAID

As this blog post appears, I will have just gotten back from a week at Snow Wolf Lodge near Pagosa Springs, Colorado, teaching about the place of literature and literary study in the Christian world view and the Christian life for Summit Ministries.  Literature?  In most treatments of the Christian world view the subject of literature never even comes up.  If I am successful in this post, you will realize that this omission is a serious problem.

Snow Wolf Lodge at Sunset in the Rockies

Snow Wolf Lodge at Sunset in the Rockies

Christians believe that the only way we can know God is that He has revealed Himself.  He has done so in nature, for “the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1).  He has done so in history, by calling into existence the nation of Israel, redeeming it from slavery in Egypt in the Exodus, and preserving it as a nation.  Supremely He has done so by sending His Son into the world.  The miraculous birth, sinless life, authoritative teaching, atoning death, and glorious resurrection of Christ show us who God is more profoundly and more clearly than anything else.

The classroom at Summit Semester

The classroom at Summit Semester

There yet remains a problem.  Nature is fallen.  As such it still shows us God’s power and His intelligence, but it no longer reflects His majesty perfectly.  History by itself contains no rubrics to point out the core redemptive history of Israel as being special or significant.  Christ is no longer with us in the flesh.  Therefore, nature, history, and Christ need to be presented to us in a way that reports, points to, and interprets their revelatory significance reliably and authoritatively.  The provision for this need is a book, the Bible.  It is the lens that brings the rest of revelation into focus, the Rosetta Stone that interprets it for us and renders it intelligible.  Our access to revelation therefore depends on our ability to read in such a way that we can receive the ancient message, let it speak to us for what it is, and humbly and obediently hear in the Text the Voice of the Spirit who inspired it.

Elmer the Elk Surveys his Domain: the Snow Wolf Lodge Dining Hall

Elmer the Elk Surveys his Domain: the Snow Wolf Lodge Dining Hall

So faithful reading is required if we are profitably to receive God’s revelation and know Him.  “How do we do that?” becomes a critical question.  Part of the answer is to realize that the Bible is made out of literature.  It is not (mostly) systematic theology.  It has some (Romans, Ephesians), but it is mostly history, poetry, prophecy, parable.  The theological message is fleshed out most basically on the skeleton of a Story—the story of our creation, fall, redemption, and restoration through Christ.  So if you don’t know how poetry works, if you don’t know how stories work, you will be handicapped in receiving God’s revelation of Himself.  You will be handicapped in knowing Him, enjoying His salvation, and following His will for your life.

Echo Canyon, Containing the Classroom

Echo Canyon, Containing the Classroom

In other words, Theology is the Queen of the Sciences, and Philology is her Handmaid.  I said Philology, not Philosophy.  Philosophy is a Handmaid too, but Philology is the Head of the Handmaid staff.  Note the difference in spelling.  Philology is the love (phileo) of words (logoi), the loving study of language and literature.  Any version of the Christian world view that leaves literature out of account leaves its disciples hamstrung in trying to understand anything else it wants to teach them.  I spent a week on this with my Summit students, and we were just getting started.

"Theology is the Queen of the Sciences, and Philology is her Handmaid."

“Theology is the Queen of the Sciences, and Philology is her Handmaid.”

I’ve written a whole book on this topic:  Inklings of Reality: Essays toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters, 2nd ed. (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2012).  To order it, go to  https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

InklingsofReality5c

 

3R MINISTRIES

I’ve been asked to put together a brochure that would briefly explain who I am and what I have to offer as a speaker as well as a writer.  A couple of weeks ago I blogged here about the three great movements of God I see as desperately needed today: Renaissance, Reformation, and Revival.  That was as good a summary of what I am about as anything I could offer.  So, based on it, here is some material for that brochure:

3R MINISTRIES

Renaissance:  The restoration of the life of the mind;

Reformation:  The restoration of sound doctrine;

Revival:  The restoration of vital Christian spirituality.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Pastor, Professor, Writer, Speaker, Apologist

Portrait-DTW1

At the Areopagus Forum, Atlanta, 2014

Renaissance—a restoration of the life of the mind; Reformation—a restoration of sound doctrine; Revival—a restoration of vital Christian spirituality.  These are the three great movements of God we desperately need in our generation.  And our great mistake is to believe that you can have the last one without the first two.”  —  Donald T. Williams

The "Trinity Knot": Three in One

The “Trinity Knot”: Three in One

Donald T. Williams, PhD, is one of the foremost apologists and Christian thinkers you may not have heard of.  What makes him unique?  He is a border dweller, camped out on the border between fields of theology and literature, the border between pastoral ministry and serious scholarship, and the border between this world, Narnia, and Middle Earth.

Donald Williams

At the International Society of Christian Apologetics, Charlotte, NC, April, 2015

Pastor, professor, and poet, theologian, apologist, and cultural critic, Williams is R. A. Forrest Scholar at Toccoa Falls College in the hills of NE Georgia.  He also serves as Scholar in Residence for Summit Ministries and has served as a pastoral trainer for rural pastors in places like Uganda, Kenya, and India for Church Planting International. He is the president of the International Society of Christian Apologetics.  Williams is the author of nine books, including Mere Humanity: G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, and Jr. R. R. Tolkien on the Human Condition (Nashville: Broadman, 2006), Inklings of Reality: Essays Toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2012), Stars Through the Clouds: The Collected Poetry of Donald T. Williams (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2011), and Reflections From Plato’s Cave: Essays in Evangelical Philosophy (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2012).  His articles appear frequently in popular magazines such as Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity and Christian Research Journal as well as various scholarly journals.  He is also one of the featured “talking heads” in the popular recent apologetics video “Mining for God” (www.miningforgod.com).

Very definitely one thing and not another!

Williams speaks frequently for churches, colleges, Christian schools, home school groups, campus ministries, and other ministries.  Popular topics include “The Theology of Tolkien’s Middle Earth,” “Why We Lost the Culture War, and How to Make a Comeback,” “Worldviews in Literature,” “The Problem of Evil,” “True Truth: Why We Need to Remember Francis Schaeffer,” and “The Validity of Lewis’s ‘Trilemma.’”  His preaching is expository, in the tradition of men like D. Marty Lloyd-Jones.

Preaching at Christ's Coworkers Church in rural Kenya

Speaking at Christ’s Coworkers Church in rural Kenya

 

*To book Dr. Williams for your church, school, or group, contact him at dtw@tfc.edu.*

3R Ministries

Renaissance; Reformation; Revival!  

Donald T. Williams, PhD

381 Talmadge Drive

Toccoa, Ga. 30577

dtw@tfc.edu

706-886-1299

706-491-0766

Sola Scriptura;  Sola Gratia;  Sola Fide; 

Solus Christus;  Soli Deo Gloria!

 Order Dr. Williams’s books at https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

If you are interested in the case for God or more on the Christian world view, check out Dr. Williams' book REFLECTIONS FROM PLATO'S CAVE in the Lantern Hollow E-store.

If you are interested in the case for God or more on the Christian world view, check out Dr. Williams’ book REFLECTIONS FROM PLATO’S CAVE in the Lantern Hollow E-store.