Hymnus Deo

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Windows - George Herbert


LORD, how can man preach thy eternall word ?
He is a brittle crazie glasse :
Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford
This glorious and transcendent place,
To be a window, through thy grace.

But when thou dost anneal in glasse thy storie,
Making thy life to shine within
The holy Preachers, then the light and glorie
More rev'rend grows, and more doth win ;
Which else shows watrish, bleak, and thin.

Doctrine and life, colours and light, in one
When they combine and mingle, bring
A strong regard and aw : but speech alone
Doth vanish like a flaring thing,
And in the eare, not conscience ring.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Understanding Dispensationalists" by Vern Poythress - a Review

This is probably the most even-handed critique of Dispensationalism available. There have been many books that have critiqued Dispensationalism's founding and history, as well as some of the more bizarre tenets of its chief teachers and adherents. And there is a place for that. Vern Poythress, however, takes a completely different approach. His goal, which he states very clearly, is one of dialogue, rather than immediate alienation.

Beginning with Darby and Scofield, and then moving on to more recent Dispensationalists, Poythress looks at some of the key hermeneutical distinctions that separate the system from Covenant theology. He then notes some recent developments in Covenant theology, and moves on to a critique of Dispensationalism.

Poythress raises alot of good issues, and the various lines of critique he offers are deserving of much consideration by Dispensationalists. He shows Dispensationalism’s failure to adequately deal with the New Testament’s interpretation of Old Testament-based typology. And his criticism of the lack of clarity and consistency in one of Dispensationalism’s main hermeneutical positions, that of the claim of a “literal” hermeneutic, is right on track. Poythress is an all-around brilliant guy, well-studied in linguistics as well as theology, which makes him particularly suited for this task.

And this brings us to a few minor problems I have with the book. Poythress is an Amillennialist, and not a Preterist. His exegesis is off in a couple of places because of this, but this is relatively tolerable. The real difficulties come with Poythress’s brilliance. Along with his knowledge of theology and linguistics, Poythress is a professor of science and mathematics. While he brings a technicality and detail to the discussion that is much needed because of this, the book is consequently very laborious reading in places. The sections particularly where he incorporates his linguistic knowledge would prove tough plowing for even most educated readers, if they have no understanding of linguistics themselves. Thankfully, this is not true of the entire book.

In summary, “Understanding Dispensationalists” offers a helpful critique of Dispensationalism, but is probably left to trained theologians and those laypeople who have a greater measure of theological knowledge. For the average layperson, I would recommend Keith Mathison’s “Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?” instead.

Monday, March 15, 2010

This Bread I Break - Dylan Thomas

This bread I break was once the oat,
This wine upon a foreign tree
Plunged in its fruit;
Man in the day or wind at night
Laid the crops low, broke the grape's joy.

Once in this wine the summer blood
Knocked in the flesh that decked the vine,
Once in this bread
The oat was merry in the wind;
Man broke the sun, pulled the wind down.

This flesh you break, this blood you let
Make desolation in the vein,
Were oat and grape
Born of the sensual root and sap;
My wine you drink, my bread you snap.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The sun worshipper

I sacrifice my body, nearly naked, to you,
O Helios, charioteer of the sky,
With three pieces of Lycra
Feigning to conceal my shame.
Anointed in coconut oil, with a libation of mimosa,
I lay before you on this altar of vinyl and aluminum
As you send down your fire to consume me.

Worthy are you, o bestower of brown skin,
Of this my offering and praise;
For you give much, and ask little in return.
You stand almost supreme in the pantheon;
You are next only to Captain Morgan and Jack Daniels.

But soon I must return to my dark cubicle
Where I will lament my difficult life
And complain of my bondage to other gods,
Imagining true freedom
And longing for an exodus
To other temples where I might drink away my pain,
Or to you, to recline in obeisance once again.

They say I am vain
But this is no surprise to you
For beneath you is nothing new
And there is no one above to see me
But You.

Monday, March 08, 2010

I Hear the Accuser Roar

The following is a hymn I learned while working for His Mansion Ministries in New Hampshire. Internet searches have turned up pieces of the hymn in various forms, but never exactly the way I learned it, nor as complete. So I thought I would post it for the benefit of others. The only tune I know for it is a contemporary one, though it is apparently an older hymn. The author was Samuel Grandy, about whom I know nothing.


I Hear the Accuser Roar

I hear the accuser roar,
Of ills that I have done;
I know them well, and thousands more;
Jehovah findeth none.

Sin, Satan, Death, press near,
To harass and to appall;
Let but my risen Lord appear,
Backward they go and fall.

Before, behind, around,
They set their fierce array,
To fight and force me from my ground
Along Immanuel's way.

I meet them face to face,
Through Jesus' conquest blest;
March in the triumph of His grace,
Right onward to my rest.

There, in His book I bear
A more than conq'ror's name,
A soldier, son, and fellow-heir,
Who fought and overcame.

His be the Victor's name
Who fought our fight alone;
Triumphant saints no honor claim,
Their conquest was His own.

By weakness and defeat
He won the meed and crown
Trod all our foes beneath His feet,
By being trodden down.

He hell in hell laid low;
Made sin, he sin o'erthrew;
Bowed to the grave, destroyed it so,
And death, by dying, slew.

Bless, bless the Conq'ror slain!
Slain in His victory!
Who lived, who died, who lives again,
For thee, His Church, for Thee!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Marginalia by Billy Collins

Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -
"Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!" -
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
who wrote "Don't be a ninny"
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
Another notes the presence of "Irony"
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
"Absolutely," they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
"Yes." "Bull's-eye." "My man!"
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written "Man vs. Nature"
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird singing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

a few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil -
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet -
"Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love."