Tolkien’s Lost “Noel”

Originally published in the 1936 Annual of Our Lady’s School, Abingdon, Tolkien’s “Noel” was unknown and unrecorded until scholars Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull discovered it while searching for another poem in June 2013. In May 2015, Our Lady’s School, Abingdon discovered their copy of the Annual and in Feb 2016, news of the discovery was widely reported.

As the Tolkien Estate and Our Lady’s School has future plans to publish the poem, I include just the first section of the poem here.

NOEL by J. R. R. Tolkien

Grim was the world and grey last night:
The moon and stars were fled,
The hall was dark without song or light,
The fires were fallen dead.

For more information on the discovery and future plans, see:

“Undiscovered J R R Tolkien poems found in 1936 school magazine,” Oxford Mail, February 15, 2016.

“Two Poems by J.R.R. Tolkien Found in School Publication in England,” New York Times, February 16, 2016.

“There and Back Again, Again: New Tolkien Poems Found in Old Annual,” Tor.com, February 17, 2016

If interested in reading other posts I’ve written on Tolkien, please click here.

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Jason G. Duesing is provost and associate professor of historical theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., and author and contributor to several books including Seven Summits in Church History (Rainer Publishing, 2016). You can follow him on Twitter @JGDuesing.

The Light Still Shines in the Darkness: Carl Henry on Advent Hope

“The opening chapters of two great New Testament books keep running through my mind. Both deal with God’s creation and its despoilment by sin; both hold out the alternatives of salvation or judgment. Both chapters are familiar to you, I’m sure. One is the classic prologue of John’s Gospel; the other, that awesome first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans.

John’s prologue twice mentions darkness, each time sweepingly enough to cover not only man’s fall and sinfulness but also the darkness of Crucifixion Day, and even that of our own declining civilization. How graphically this work ‘darkness’ brings into focus the moral malignancy and spiritual sham of the human race! ‘The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not’ (1:5, KJV). Other versions stress the point that no fury of darkness can overcome or extinguish God’s light; until endtime judgment overtakes us, the light of God’s living Word will continue to expose human wickedness for what it is.

Romans chapter one is much more specific about moral evil. The exploding wickedness of the Gentile nations supplies a sort of Richter scale of civilizational decline, a measure of the slide of men and nations into the abyss of iniquity. As shocks and aftershocks of ethical earthquake surge over modern life, Paul’s letter speaks not only to the Romans but to us also about the crucial crisis of our times, and the judgment that lowers above us.

The theme of Paul’s epistle and John’s Gospel is the same: The light of God is shining through the darkness of human history and is penetrating the very mind and conscience of even a rebellious age. Suppress the truth of God though it may, fallen mankind can in no way eradicate it. God’s light and truth remain and continue to unmask what we are ….

Even in the midst of this dark hour, the Christian community is called upon to sound the call of repentance, forgiveness, and God’s triumph. God is still active in our secular society. He not only warns the impenitent masses of dire judgment but prods them also toward faith, and even prepares some for salvation. Multitudes today are thirsting for personal faith. Many are looking for a messiah; they must be turned from false christs to the risen and returning Lord.

God’s Logos is still lighting every man, still shining in the darkness. The truth of God is still penetrating the mind and conscience of even the most wicked. Even some who seem hopelessly given over to iniquity may come by God’s grace to new life and hope and joy. God is still at work in our world. He is manifesting the consequences of rebellion by abandoning the impenitent wicked to licentiousness and by allowing a long-privileged West to revert to paganism. But God is also lifting to his Savior Son those who seek refuge from the nihilism of daily life without Christ. In his mercy God enables even the desperate to embrace Christ as the rescuer from ruin and despair.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans this planet was overwhelmingly pagan. All the Christians to be found in the ancient empire city of Rome could have squeezed into a few small homes. But Paul knew something that, hopefully, you too know and will carry with you into a world desperately needing a vanguard of devout and dedicated disciples. Paul knew the reality and power of the Risen Christ who can turn a vagrant world right side up, can restore recognition of the Lord of nature, of history, and of conscience.

If hope is to prevail in our time, we who know God’s transforming mercy and power must become roving tentmakers in the service of Christ who pitched his tent in a terribly wicked world and unveiled, for us to see, the glory of our life-renewing God. Let us call individuals and nations to a new vision of justice and righteousness. Let us invite a vagabond race to share with us the joys of life redeemed and fit for eternity. For the crisis of our times, the light that shines in darkness is still more than adequate.”

–Carl F. H. Henry, “The Crisis of our Times and Hope for Our Future,” May 14, 1979, published in The Christian Mindset In A Secular Society (Multnomah, 1984), 143-150.

Why evangelicals can’t brush off conversations about racial reconciliation

“Putting your faith in action with regards to racial reconciliation means you must be willing to: speak to your neighbor; gain knowledge; and see those around you. But you must also see that there’s still a fight worth engaging. So often what hinders racial reconciliation is apathy to the topic of race ….

One of the problems from our apathy is that when people do rise up to discuss the continued racial struggles, concerns, and problems within our churches and society, many cry out that if we simply stop talking about race then all the struggles we see will disappear. I can understand why someone might think that bringing up the need for racial reconciliation can rebirth old wounds and, therefore, cripple the progress of racial reconciliation.

The problem is, race continues to be talked about because there continue to be problems.

And there continue to be problems because often conversations about race revolve around racism.

And these conversations centered on racism happen because people are racist.

So, until we see an end to racism, both personal and systemic, we will need to continue this conversation. And we can’t brush off conversations about racial reconciliation because the gospel so clearly addresses it.”

— Trillia Newbell, “How Should the Christian Live?” in The Gospel & Racial Reconciliation, 48-49.

Are you rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God?

–We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2 ESV)

“Are you boasting and exulting and glorying in the hope of the glory of God? If not, and if you would like to, I can give you Paul’s prescription as to how it becomes possible to do so.

“It is in 2 Corinthians 4, versus 17 and 18: ‘Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while (as long as we) look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.’ …

“For exactly the same reason he says in writing to the Colossians, ‘Set you affections on things above, not on the things on the earth’ (Col 3:1).

“If you have not seen something of the glory of God and of Christ it is because you are looking too much at other things. You are looking too much at your newspapers, at your television, at the world and its gaudiness. Turn away from it all and begin to look at, to gaze upon, the things which are not seen, the things which are eternal. Set your affections there.

“It calls for an effort of the will, and discipline. It means diligence in your study of the Scriptures, and meditation upon them. Seek Him there; ask the Spirit to reveal Him to you. Ask Him to manifest Himself to you. Once you have caught a glimpse of Him and the glory that awaits you, then you will be very ready to join Paul and say that you boast and glory and exult in the hope of the glory of God.”

— D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans: Assurance, 57-58.

The Competitive Christian Athlete

“Competition, rightly understood and ordered, is not simply about the individual competing; it is about the God who created him and the opportunity to be challenged to greater achievement because we live in community with other image bearers.

Thus, the appropriate way to compete in sporting activities is to fight self-sacrificially to win the contest with all of your might, but having done so, to respect and admire your opponent for having done the same.

In other words, the Christian should understand that his or her opponent is not the enemy; he or she is a friend whom God has provided to help him or her grow and develop and to cultivate God-magnifying excellence. The Christ honoring competitor will be more competitive–not less.

Nevertheless, the Christ-honoring competitor will not get his or her identity and self-worth from his or her performance because to do so would turn God’s gift into an idol. Christian competitors thank God for the ability to compete, but they also thank God for their opponent’s ability as well.”

–David E. Prince, In the Arena, 25-26.

In the Arena: The Promise of Sports for Christian Discipleship

David E. Prince
B&H Books, 2016

I Can’t Live Without You

“[B]elievers look on Christ as the only one who gives the Spirit and the one who gives all grace necessary for sanctification and holiness …. The natural man tries to spin out a web of holiness from his own fleshly efforts. Such men begin with great determination and follow this with vows, duties, resolutions and self denials. In this way, they continue for a while, their hypocrisy, for the most part, ending in apostasy.

The saints of God, on the other hand, as they begin to walk with God, realise their need of these things.

  1. Saints see their need of the Spirit of holiness to dwell in them.
  2. Saints see their need of a habit of holiness to be infused into them.
  3. Saints see their need of actual assistance to enable them to do the good works which God had planned for them to do.

Saints know that if these three things are lacking, they can never, with all their might, power and efforts, do one act of holiness before the Lord.

They know that without Christ they can do nothing. Therefore they look to Jesus, and this is their communion with him in their life of sanctification and holiness.”

— John Owen, Communion with God, 151-52.

What Did Christ’s Death Accomplish?

“What did Christ’s death accomplish?

It redeemed us to God–purchased us at a price, that is from captivity to sin for the freedom of life with God (Titus 2:14; Rev 5:9).

How did it do that?

By being a blood-sacrifice for our sins (Eph 1:7; Heb 9:11-15).

How did that sacrifice have its redemptive effect?

By making peace, achieving reconciliation, and so ending enmity between God and ourselves (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18-20; Eph 2:13-16; Col 1:19-20).

How did Christ’s death make peace?

By being a propitiation, an offering appointed by God himself to dissolve his judicial wrath against us by removing our sins fro his sight (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10).

How did the Savior’s self-sacrifice have this propitiatory effect?

By being a vicarious enduring of the retribution declared due to us by God’s own law (Gal 3:13; Col 2:13-14)

–in other words, by penal substitution.”

— J. I. Packer, “The Atonement in the Life of the Christian,” in Hill & James eds., The Glory of the Atonement (IVP, 2004), 416.

Why You Should Pursue Ministry Preparation

“The call to ministry is a call to prepare, and ministry preparation is as old as the church itself. The apostle Paul received personal instruction from Christ, and he exhorted Timothy to ‘Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth’ (2 Tim. 2:15). Paul’s exhortation to Timothy rings through the ages, challenging every generation of gospel ministers to be maximally prepared for ministerial service.

“A ministerial amateur is not one who lacks formal training or advanced degrees from reputable institutions. An amateur is one who lack the knowledge base, skill set, and experience for a particular task–in this case, Christian ministry. This means that one can still be an amateur though holding an earned degree, and one can be a faithful minister though lacking one [….]

“There is an alarming inverse correlation between the seriousness of the ministerial task and the casualness with which it is often approached. We would not let an untrained mechanic rebuild our transmission or permit an unlearned pediatrician to diagnose our children. Yet churches often place individuals with the lowest levels of preparation in the highest office.

“Why would one knowingly receive soul care and biblical instruction from an amateur? And why would a minister be content as one? Souls hang in the balance. There is a heaven to gain and hell to shun. There is fixed truth to defend and proclaim. Satan is serious about his calling, ministers must be serious about theirs. The ministry is too consequential to be taken casually.”

— Jason K. Allen, Discerning Your Call to Ministry, 134-137.

Discerning Your Call to Ministry: How to Know for Sure and What to Do About It

Jason K. Allen
Moody Publishers, 2016

 

 

Should We Come to Jesus Daily with Our Sins?

“Q: Shall we daily come to him with our filth, our guilt, our sins? Will he not tell us to keep them ourselves? Shall we always be giving him our sins and taking his righteousness?

A: There is nothing that Jesus Christ is more delighted with than that his saints should always hold communion with him by giving him their sins and receiving his righteousness. This greatly honours him and gives him the glory that is his due. What a great dishonour we do to Christ to try and get rid of our sins in any other way.

‘Lord, this is your work. This is what you came into the world to do. You call for my burden which is too heavy for me to carry. Take it, blessed Redeemer, and give me your righteousness.’

Then Christ is honoured. The glory of his mediation is given to him when we walk with him in this way.

This greatly endears the souls of the saints to the Lord Jesus and constrains them to value him highly.

‘I have been with the Lord Jesus.
I have left the burden of my sins with him.
He has given me his righteousness and in this righteousness I can come with boldness to God.
I was dead and am alive, for he died for me.
I was cursed and now am blessed, for he was made a curse for me.
I was troubled but have peace, for the chastisement of my peace was upon him.
I did not know what to do, nor where to take my sorrow. But by him I have joy unspeakable and full of glory.
If I do not love him, delight in him, obey him, live to him, die for him, I am worse than the devils in hell.’

It is Christ’s great aim in this world to be esteemed highly by his people. And how could he be more highly esteemed than to be acknowledged as the one who takes our sins and gives us his righteousness?”

— John Owen, Communion with God, 144-145.

An 18th Century Charge to a New Pastor

We ever ought to remember that the law of God as it was first given to man, discovers nothing of a Mediator, nor of pardon and renewing grace for sinners. This can only be known by pure revelation from God; and we should take all our ideas concerning salvation from his written word, by the teaching of his Holy Spirit.

 

And you are to administer the ordinance of Baptism to such subjects as only appear to be believers in Christ, and in the manner which he hath appointed–even to those who give evidence that they have been made dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Upon which our Apostle says, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

 

You also are to administer the Lord’s Supper to those who have been thus baptized, and joined to some regular church of Christ. Both of these ordinances have reference to his death as past event, and to the great obligations which we are laid under to love and obey him. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 

Heavenly motives should ever govern our hearts and all our conduct in this life–And, dear Brother, if thou are faithful in this great work thy reward will be that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, thou shalt receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away; which may the Lord grant for Jesus’ sake. AMEN.

–Isaac Backus, “The Charge,” in Mr. Baldwin’s Ordination Sermon, (Boston, 1795).