THE TRUE WILDERNESS

 

This book is comprised of twenty-one sermons preached in Cambridge University during the mid twentieth century.  The preacher/author was, at the time Fellow and Dean of Trinity College and his work involved teaching academic theology at the University.  In 1969 he went on to become a father at an Anglo-Catholic house in Yorkshire, something similar to a monastery.  This particular book is still available new and became a bestseller when made available. It is regarded as the best statement of this man’s writings.  If I mention that his autobiography, published in 1982 is entitled “Some Day I’ll Find You” you will get an idea of what you are likely to find in these messages.  Here is a man who, by his own admission had worshipped a god of his own fashioning, a religious god, one that had been foisted upon him by the church as he had known it, this god had confused him, ministered guilt to him and in the end contributed to a significant breakdown.  For fifteen years he underwent counseling founded in the psychoanalytical approach and so continued his pilgrimage to discover God and himself.  Essentially a man of the 1950’s and sixties he never the less represents what has become commonly known as post-modernism, in particular in matters of Christianity.  Reading both his autobiography and this book of sermons shows a man seeking God from his own standpoint, working upwards, as best he can from his own experience and intellect, aided by psychology.  He aims at finding a god that satisfies him, accommodates his sexual preferences and gives him peace.  His abhorrence of established Christianity in its various forms, including Evangelicalism is evident throughout, although this is manifest with a subtle scorn and tempered by a humorous side.  It is the absolutes that trouble him and obviously he does not accept the historical Jesus, seeing things more in terms of myth and certain everlasting principles that under-gird everything.  These principles Jesus embodied as a man, inevitably the Jesus of this writer is an embodiment of the ‘Christ’ principle but not the Christ Himself, for the “Christ principle” is to be found in many others revered in various world religions.  Williams writes from his own experience, no more, no less, in this sense his writing has elements of integrity, but he is only being honest to himself and brings the God of the Bible, and Jesus His Son along with Paul and the other apostles under the measure of his own mind.  The essence of Christianity is Christ Jesus the Lord; it does not begin with man and his experience but with God and what He has done in His Son.  Of necessity it requires revelation coming from above as Jesus told Nicodemus.  (John 3)  Martin Buber said that “nothing masks the face of God so much as religion,” and this statement is a kind of motto for H.A. Williams.  I came away from reading these short homilies and his autobiography with a sense of grief and sorrow and wondering if, by the end of his life he had found the True God in Christ Jesus the Lord and himself in Him or not.  The honest spiritual groping of a man after God is not to be frowned upon nor mocked but is the word of the Lord Jesus to be trusted or not for He said that those who truly seek shall find, did this man find Him?  Is God not willing to grant us revelation from above, has He not given to us, in Christ His Son that which does not have its origin in our own selves but in Him that answers, not all questions but settles the important ones in Himself?

 

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Last modified: May 14, 2012

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