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True Wilderness by H. A. Williams CR

August 27, 2015

TTW 2I knew Fr. Harry in his final days at Mirfield. He’d been a dogmatic Anglo–catholic priest who, hearing confessions of gay men at All Saints Margaret Street, where he was vicar, realised the ‘disconnect’ and was plunged into a mental breakdown – which was a breakthrough.

This book was his most profound and influenced my generation of Christians hanging on by our fingertips. Originally given as lectures in Trinity Chapel, Cambridge, this work discusses the cross and the resurrection with psychological insight. Enduring the wilderness is understood as necessary to the refinement of the soul and a stage in the soul’s journey. There is something of this is what the medieval Christian ascetics called The Dark Night of the Soul, though here the withholding of grace was not dependent on the destructive urges of the individual, though this in  itself is a moot point, but rather an initiative of God to test the person’s faith.

His obituary in the Daily Telegraph: “idiosyncratic views . . . won for him a cult following”.

Better the Church Times had recovered from indignation about an indiscreet broadcast, it reviewed him as “one of the most attractive and persuasive writers on personal religion in England today”. The Methodist Recorder said about the sermons collected in The True Wilderness (1965): “this shatteringly honest book must make a profound impact on all who read it.”

During the 1960s and 1970s Williams was something of a cult figure. The evident honesty of his views was refreshing, even if his opinions were not always shared, and it was plain to audiences and readers that he was articulating something that had been hammered out, often very painfully, on the anvil of his own experience.

He was in great demand as a preacher, though a 45-minute sermon in Westminster Abbey at the consecration of his friend and former pupil, Robert Runcie, as Bishop of St Albans was, in the circumstances, thought to be too much of a good thing.

He conducted, more economically, some of the prayers at the wedding in St Paul’s of another friend and former pupil, the Prince of Wales. Somewhat improbably, Margaret Thatcher confessed to being an admirer, a fact which gave him, as a natural Conservative, much pleasure.


Academic theology is as essential for a knowledge of Christian truth as a house is to my home. But only if it becomes part of what I am, like my home, can it be the living truth which Christ came to give. Christian truth, in other words, must be in the blood as well as in the brain. If it is only in the brain, it is without life and powerless to save’..I decided, therefore, that alongside of teaching academic theology I would try to ask myself how far and in what way a doctrine of the creed or a saying of Christ had become part of what I am. The pulpit seemed to be the obvious place from which to expound what I had discovered. And I resolved that I would not preach about any aspect of Christian belief unless it had become part of my own life-blood. For I realised that the Christian truth I tried to proclaim would speak to those who listened only to the degree in which it was an expression of my own identity’.I said I decided on this course. But that is misleading. The decision was taken for me in some area of my being over which I had no control. I found it became impossible to propound an official point of view like a political speaker taking a party line. Such a procedure appeared so false to myself that the words would not come out. Unless what I proposed to say came from the depths of my own experience I was struck dumb.’

“As with Jesus, so with us, there is no escape from the human situations in which we find ourselves. God will not say, “Abracadabra”, and get us out of it. Nor will He supply us with a spiritual drug to deaden whatever doubt or anxiety or fear or pain may come our way, and cheer us up so that we feel good. Perhaps we confuse escape with something quite different: victory. For Jesus there was no escape. But there was victory. Yet how, if He died deserted by men and feeling forsaken by God? How victory? The victory consisted precisely in not running away, in not trying to escape. It meant squarely facing the enemies inside- – the doubts, the despair, the perplexity, the panic, the isolation.”

‘In the middle of the 20th Century the Redeemer meets our needs as they are felt and understood by us. If the ministers of His Church preach a fourth century or a sixteenth-century, or a nineteenth-century Christ, then when people ask for bread they are given a stone’

But the idea that we somehow do God honour by the constant denigration of ourselves is as absurd as the idea that the way to compliment a parent is to tell them how horrible their children are

TW 3 What was withheld from me was the ability to transmit second-hand convictions whatever their source. All I could speak of were those things I had proved true in my own experience by living them and thus knowing them at first hand.”

And so we are tempted of Satan, tempted to give up, to despair.Tempted to cynicism. Tempted sometimes to cruelty. Tempted not to help others when we know we can, because, we think, what’s the use. Tempted to banish from our life all that we really hold most dear, and that is love, tempted to lock ourselves up, so that when we pass by people feel, ‘There goes a dead man.’ And behind each and all of these temptations is the temptation to disbelieve in what we are, the temptation to distrust ourselves, to deny that is is the Spirit himself which beareth witness with our spirit. God in us.

‘All that separates and injures and destroys has been overcome by what unites and heals and creates. Death has been swallowed up by life.’

The Spirit is ourselves in the depths of what we are. It is me at the profoundest level of my being, the level at which I can  no longer distinguish between what is myself and what is greater than me. So, theologically, the Spirit is called God in me.”

Self, we are told, is the enemy. We must choose between self and God. Now it is gloriously true that in the garden secretly and on the cross on high Christ taught his brethren and inspired to suffer and to die. But such self-sacrifice and self-surrender is possible only when selfhood has been achieved. And it is in fact an affirmation of the self, not a denial of it. We do not abdicate what we are when we give ourselves away, as though we displaced ourselves in order that God might reign where we once reigned. The alterna­tive between God and the self here is false.

If God is our Creator then it is by means of our being ourselves to the fullest possible extent that he reigns. For God is not our rival. He is the ground of our being. And only when we begin to reign with him in the full possession of our human selfhood can we begin also to suffer with him and to die.

On the one hand we long for wholeness, and in so far as we do not possess it we are in a despair which, because it is too painful to recognize, we hide from ourselves by our com­pensatory activities. But, on the other hand, we are afraid

of the very wholeness for which we long, and fight against its growth in us. That is the tragic dichotomy in which man is involved. He longs for that against which he fights. At all costs he wants what he is determined to reject. We talk of people as the slaves of money or class or drink or sex or reli­gion. But that is the less important part of the truth. The deadly attraction of these compensatory substitutes is not so much in themselves but in the protection they give from the desire and pursuit of the wholeness of which men are terrified. Concentrate, for instance, on making money, and maybe you can stifle the fundamental but threatening desire for wholeness, or concentrate, again, on absolute ortho­doxy in matters of faith and morals, and maybe you will be able to deafen yourself to your desire to accept God’s invitation to heal within you what is sick and to raise up what is dead.

To want to be fully alive, to be fully without let or hindrance what I have it in me to be, such desire requires no explanation. It seems natural to us, and so, self-evident. If I have a good voice, my desire to use it in singing does not need to be explained. But the fear of wholeness and the fight against-it, that does require explanation. Until we have apprehended the dynamics of this dread, we shall remain a house divided against itself.

Why, then, are we frightened of wholeness? The answer is that the more whole we are, the more capable are we of suffering. If I were deaf, I would not suffer from a road-drill outside my window. If I were blind and without any sense of smell, I could live contentedly in a gasworks. So far the point is obvious enough. But we are more than our physical senses. We are made up also of feelings which are deep, mysterious, and extremely vulnerable. Such feelings may be considered by us as too destructive to continue. I say “considered by us”, but it need not be a matter of conscious decision or deliberate choice. If, for instance, the sight of blood produces within me an intolerable anxiety, a feeling too painful to be borne, then I faint. For the moment I am willing to surrender consciousness itself rather than endure the fear and stress which the sight of blood evokes.

Now, all of us have put certain elements of ourselves into permanent unconsciousness. According to those who have observed these things clinically, the infant and small child instinctively drive certain strong feelings into un­consciousness because such feelings are considered too destructive to have. Every human being is unique and therefore what is thus made unconscious differs in content and degree from person to person. But such an un­consciousing is universal. To an infant, its mother is its universe and its god. The infant depends entirely upon its mother for everything. To the infant (as with everybody always) to defy its universe brings destruction. Hence the infant and small child must be, not itself, but what mother wants. Such conformity is felt to be the sine qua non of con­tinued existence.

If, to take only one example, my mother does not give me the physical tenderness and cuddling for which I crave, then in time, and to the degree in which it is withheld, I drive my longing for physical tenderness into unconscious­ness. The infant is no longer its full self. It is the full self minus its desire for cuddling. Or to take another example, the infant when something is withheld from it may get into a rage. When parental training takes the form of ostracizing the infant when it is in a rage, then the price is too great.

Thus to destroy one’s universe is to destroy oneself. So the feeling of anger is driven into unconsciousness. The infant, again, is no longer its full self, but is full self minus its capa­city for feeling angry. In both these examples, wholeness is felt to involve destruction and disaster. And wholeness thus comes to be dreaded as lethal.

Let us take another example, starting this time with a grown-up person. Why is John Smith so wet, incapable of making any decisions, or taking any initiative, just drifting with every tide? Or, to put the identical question in reverse, why is John Smith so over-assertive, always laying down the law and telling everybody what to do? Because the atmo­sphere in which he was brought up was hostile to his having a mind and will of his own. His parents did not want him to be John Smith, but their son, thinking, feeling and doing what they wanted. Hence he buried his capacity to make decisions and so forth, buried it deep and out of sight within himself. Otherwise, in all sorts of subtle ways, his parents would have disowned him. It was too dangerous to be himself. Hence now he either can’t make decisions or is compensating for this inherent incapacity by laying down the law about everything. Here again, wholeness spelt disaster.

It is, I believe, for reasons of this kind that we are terrified of, and stubbornly resist, the very wholeness for which we also long. This terrible contradiction within our nature is not our fault — just as a man can’t be blamed for fainting when he sees blood. It is not our fault. But it is our tragic predicament, common both to the priest and the people to whom he ministers. How then does Christ redeem us? How does he make us whole?

Christ, our Creator, redeems us first by his wrath. The wrath of God is his refusal to allow us to rest until we have become fully what we are. Discontent, unhappiness, suffer­ing, are the common experience of all. Sometimes we feel them acutely. More often we are able to smother them. They hover in the wings of our personality because we don’t like to see them strutting upon the stage. There are moments when they force themselves in front of the footlights and we have to take notice of them, whether we like it or not. I suspect, for example, that the heat engendered by Honest to God was to a large extent due to its forcing us to notice our own incompleteness. That in turn was due to our having misused traditional orthodoxy, not as a means of being confronted with the living God, but as a conspiracy to conceal from ourselves the pain of being only half of what we are. Be this as it may, unrest, doubt, the sense of apparent futility or staleness or ineffectiveness or drabness, or the sharper deeper wounds which everybody now and then must endure — these are God in his wrath, not punishing us, but refusing to let sleeping dogs lie, insisting that we be not less than we have it in us to be.

In other words Christ comes to us by means of our ordinary, common experience of living. In the heartache, the fever, and the fret, there is Christ in his wrath refusing to allow us to stay as we are, reminding us of our intolerable halfness. Whatever they believe or don’t believe, when people come to us in deep personal distress, what they are complaining of is one stage or element of Christ’s redemp­tive work within them. Let us have ears to hear what these people are really telling us: that they are starting to realize that they can’t go on living without receiving the wholeness of which they are terrified.

I should say that all of us suffer from some degree or other of neurotic stress. It can be there, without in any way incapacitating us from doing our work. It can show itself as no more than the twitch of the finger or the mouth. The analogy with physical disease misleads us. Our neurosis is a protest against our being half-people. It may be triggered off by external circumstances, but its real cause is that a would-be-stifled part of us is insisting upon recognition, and the status quo within is fighting back. The result is painful to bear. But it is a sign that the work of redemption is going on inside us. It is God’s wrath against the me that is a pharisee in order that this me may open itself to accept and welcome the me that is a publican. Here I hope it is obvious that the wrath of God is completely identical with his love. It is not another aspect of God, but one and the same thing. God’s love for me the publican is his wrath for me the pharisee who tries to exclude the publican.

Iis a pity that we think of Lent as a time when we try to make ourselves uncomfortable in some fiddling but irritating way. And it’s more than a pity, it’s a tragic disaster, that we also think of it as a time to indulge in the secret and destructive pleasure of doing a good orthodox grovel to a pseudo-Lord, the pharisee in each of us we call God and who despises the rest of what we are.

But this evening I don’t want to speak about the disguised self-idolatory which will be practised in our churches on Ash Wednesday. For Lent is supposed to be the time when we think of Jesus in the wilderness. And the wilderness belongs to us. It is always lurking somewhere as part of our experience, and there are times when it seems pretty near the whole of it. I’m not thinking now of people being ostracized, or without friends, or misunderstood, or banished in this way or that from some community or other. Objectively, as a matter of actual fact, these things happen to very few of us. Most people’s wilderness is inside them, not outside. Thinking of it as outside is generally a trick we play upon ourselves — a trick to hide from us what we really are, not comfortingly wicked, but incapable, for the time being, of establishing communion. Our wilderness, then, is an inner isolation. It’s an absence of contact. It’s a sense of being alone — boringly alone, or saddeningly alone, or terrifyingly alone. Often we try to relieve it — under­standably enough, God knows — by chatter, or gin, or religion, or sex, or possibly a combination of all four. The trouble is that these purple hearts can work their magic only for a very limited time, leaving us after one short hour or two exactly where we were before. As I said, our isolation is really us — inwardly without sight or hearing or taste or touch. But it doesn’t seem like that. Oh no. I ask myself what I am isolated from, and the answer looks agonizingly easy enough. I feel isolated from Betty whom I love desperately and who is just the sort of woman who never could love me. And so to feel love, I think, must be at the same time to feel rejection. Or I feel isolated from the social people who, if noise is the index of happiness, must be very happy indeed on Saturday even­ings. Or I feel isolated from the competent people, the success-boys who manage to get themselves into print with­out getting themselves into court. Or I feel isolated, in some curious way, from my work. I find it dull and uninviting. It’s meant — it used — to enliven me and wake me up. Now it deadens me and sends me to sleep. Not, in this case, because I’m lazy, or thinking of tomorrow’s trip to London, but because it makes me feel even more alone. Or I feel isolated from things which once enchanted me, the music I play, the poetry I read, the politics I argue about. I go on doing it now as a matter of routine, not in order to be, but in order to forget, to cheat the clock. The L.P. record will take forty minutes if you play both sides, and then it will be time for tea.

Or perhaps I’ve been robbed, robbed of my easy certainties, my unthinking convictions, that this is black and that is white, and Uncle George was a saint, and what they told me to believe is true and the opposite false, and my parents are wonderful people, and God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world, and science is the answer to every­thing, and St Paul was a nice man, and there’s nothing like fresh air or reading the Bible for curing depression — fanta­sies, like children’s bricks, out of which I thought I should build my life, and which now have melted into air, into thin air, leaving me with nothing. Out of what bricks, then, I ask in despair, am I to build? Is it to go on always like now, Just — tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow — a slow procession of dusty greyish events with a lot of forced laughter, committee laughter, cocktail laughter and streaks of downright pain?

But what I’ve been describing is the true Lent, the real Lent, which has nothing to do with giving up sugar in your tea, or trying to feel it’s wicked to be you. And this Lent, unlike the ecclesiastical charade, this sense of being isolated and therefore unequipped, is a necessary part, or a neces­sary stage, of our experience as human beings. It therefore found a place in the life of the Son of Man. Because he is us, he too did time in the wilderness. And what happened to him there shows us what is happening to ourselves. Here, as always, we see in his life the meaning of our own.

What then happened to Jesus in the wilderness?

I believe that in the later gospels the story has been written up. It looks to me like a sermon from an early Christian preacher, one of the greatest sermons ever deli­vered. But, even so, it can’t compare with the stark simpli­city of our earliest record. Here it is, and in this case at least St Mark tells us more by being less talkative than St Matthew and St Luke. At his baptism in Jordan, the Spirit of God had descended upon Jesus, and in his heart there rang an immediate certainty of being chosen to do great things — “And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.”

If we say this is poetry, we’re not saying it’s unhistorical, but simply that a bare record of outward events can’t convey the truth about man, and so the truth about the Son of Man.

What does the story tell us?

Notice first that it is by the Spirit that Jesus is driven,

thrown out is the actual word, into the wilderness, the same Spirit which had brought him the conviction of being called to do great things. The Spirit is ourselves in the depths of what we are. It is me at the profoundest level of my being, the level at which I can no longer distinguish between what is myself and what is greater than me. So, theologically, the Spirit is called God in me. And it is from this place where

God and me mingle indistinguishably that I am thrown out

into the wilderness. The story of Jesus reminds us that being thrown out in this way must be an inevitable concomitant of our call to God’s service. To feel isolated, to be incapable for the time being of establishing communion, is part of our training. That is because so far our communion has been shallow, mere pirouetting on the surface. We’ve come to see its superficiality, its unrealness. Hence the feeling of loss. The training doesn’t last for ever. In fact, new powers of communion with our world are being built up within us. We are being made the sort of people of whom it can be said, “All things are yours.” But it belongs to the training to feel it will last for ever.

And so, we are tempted of Satan. Tempted to give up,

to despair. Tempted to cynicism. Tempted sometimes to cruelty. Tempted not to help others when we know we can, because, we think, what’s the use? Tempted to banish from our life all that we really hold most dear, and that is love. tempted to lock ourselves up, so that when we pass by people feel, “There goes a dead man.” And behind each and all of these temptations is the temptation to disbelieve in what we are, the temptation to distrust ourselves, to deny that it is the Spirit himself which beareth witness with our spirit, God in us. The water in the bucket of my soul doesn’t look like the ocean. Yet every Sunday we affirm that it is. For in the creed at the Holy Communion we speak of the Spirit as he who with the Father and the Son together is wor­shipped and glorified. We say it, but every day we’re tempted not to believe it. And this self-distrust conjures up the wild beasts. Sometimes they’re sheer terror, panic, which makes us feel about the most ordinary undangerous things, “I can’t do it.” Or the wild beasts are the violent rages roaring inside us, triggered off by something ridi­culously insignificant — a word, a glance, a failure to show interest in some petty concern. Or the beasts prowl around snarling as envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness.

This then is our Lent, our going with Jesus into the

ilderness to be tempted. And we might apply to it some words from the First Epistle of St Peter: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice, in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

Christ’s glory is his full and satisfying communion with all that is. It is the opposite of being isolated. All things are his and he fills all things. This complete communion springs from a love which is able to give to the uttermost, a love which doesn’t give in order to get, but which finds in the act of giving itself its own perfect satisfaction. To love is to give. To give is to be. To be is to find yourself in commu­nion with all about you. And this communion is glory. Christ’s glory and yours. You don’t have to wait for it until you die or the world comes to an end. It can be yours now. Accept your wilderness. From the story of the Son of Man realize what your Lent really means, and then the angels will minister to you as they did to him. In other words, you’ll find moments when giving for love’s sake really satisfies you, really makes you feel alive and in contact. And at such moments Christ’s glory is revealed, and we rejoice and are glad. We look at the travail of our soul and are satisfied. Lent, we discover, is Easter in disguise.

in so far as we live for others — I am aware of how little I myself do — but in so far as we live for others, we do so not only by our actions and attitudes . . . but also by (what is inseparable from them) our interior state, what we are and what we experience most deeply inside us. The happiness and misery which come to us, the exulting and the agorrw we experience as individuals alone. But they are not for an alone. They are for mankind. When we thank God in joy or cry to him in our pain, we articulate the prayers of world — prayers which, for this reason or that, per cannot be articulated in some hearts. So we find our: offering our joy or our pain to God to be used to others.

There have been periods in my life — and it must be true of all of us here — periods of black despair when only thing that we could do with our distress was to God, however half-heartedly and fitfully, to use it to light and peace to others. After all, Christ has allot um, invited us, to share his cross. And this doesn’t mean madly putting up with it. It means offering it for the salvation of souls. These are extreme moments. But we can do much the same when we are on a more even keel. Talking to people in a pub or at supper we find their most hidden desires for goodness and love revealed beneath the surface of what they say. It may simply be a chance remark or an im­mediately forgotten exclamation. But they show what the person is feeling after, and in our own hearts, as we continue the conversation, we can seize upon this desire of theirs (hidden to a large extent even from themselves) and articulate it in a silent movement of our heart to God; for it is Christ in them, the hope of glory. It is a revelation of God at work redeeming. It owes nothing to our words or deeds, so the prayer is really an act of worship for God’s own goodness and love thus manifested in those we are talking with. It is another way in which we are allowed to participate in the redemptive process.

Consider one of the practical consequences of this. I go to the Holy Communion and experience God’s love and beauty. Afterwards I find myself in a worse temper than usual or more full of desire. It probably worries me, yet this is exactly what I should expect. My communion with God has given me the confidence to accept a little more of what I am. The prayer in the hymn has been answered — “What is frozen, warmly tend.” And it is only by being thus first unfrozen, that these potentialities of mine can be after­wards transformed to contribute to goodness and love. Keep them permanently in quarantine, and they will always remain my enemies — and God’s.

the alternative, God or man, is false. This is particularly important in these days when we are apt to think, “My experience of the worthwhileness of life, of gladness, of adventure, of communion, of love, this is not God. ‘It’s just my emotions, or it’s just sex — something which can be explained away by biochemistry, or psychology.”

Of course it is our physical make-up. Of course it is our emotions. Of course it is sex. Very much more so, probably, than we understand, or, in our stupid suburban spiritual snobbery, are willing to admit even to ourselves. Of course it is everything we are. But then, everything we are is God imparting himself to us, and therefore in every­thing we are we feel after him and find him. The whole of us flows from the one fountain of life, and it is by means of the whole of us that we return to the source from which we have sprung.

…design dust-jackets for novels. It required a certain degree of skill and imagination, and it contented me for quite a long time. Then I began to get bored with it. Occasionally it was more acute than boredom. It was a very painful, though rather inarticulate, sense of frustration. It then occurred to me that I was perhaps wasting my time designing dust-jackets. Maybe I had it in me to be a real painter, perhaps a great painter. If so, then I should have to devote myself to it completely. I couldn’t go on designing dust-jackets and at the same time give myself away to the visions of beauty which seemed ready to dance before my eyes. The moment came when I knew I had to decide one way or the other. Yet, in another sense, it wasn’t really a decision at all. My power to see in ordinary objects more than most men see, and to put it on to canvas, this inner power of mine gave me no rest until I had surrendered to it. I became a painter, and found a richer, more satisfying life. More painful than the old one, certainly liable to agonies unknown before, but fulfilling and infinitely worthwhile.

That is what repentance means: discovering that you / have more to you than you dreamt or knew, becoming bored with being only a quarter of what you are and therefore taking the risk of surrendering to the whole, and thus finding more abundant life. I’m afraid the example I gave was a bit highfalutin — it could only happen to one man in a million. Let’s consider something more common: falling in love and marrying. To begin with I’m contented to live by myself and for myself. What makes me grow tired of this apparently satisfactory state of affairs? Well, of course, it’s Betty with whom I’ve fallen in love. But what then has Betty done as far as I’m concerned? She has evoked my hitherto dormant capacity to give myself away to another person_ She has made me realize that it is only by such surrender…

Children are not innocent creatures, as Freud, Henry James and Ronald Searle have shown us in their own ways. What is true of children is that they have no riches. They cannot trust to the character they have built up over the years. They cannot say to themselves, “I am this sort of person. I am not that sort of person.” Hence they are very open to influence. To receive is for them the most natural thing in the world. For the average child, life is one long act of receiving. They have as yet no defences against life.

When Jesus urged men to repent, he was urging them to become as little children. He wasn’t asking them to eat the dust. He was confronting them with the necessity of a radical change of outlook, a fundamental re-orientation of their lives, so that they would no longer trust for security in the persona they had built up — the drama of being me which I continuously stage for my own benefit — so that they would no longer trust that, but have the courage to become as receptive as little children, with all the openness to life, the taking down of the shutters and the throwing away of the armour which that entails. Without smith repentance we cannot believe in the gospel, for the gosh announces that our only security is God’s love for us, and if we look for security in what we have achieved we cannot find security in what is given us. Try to secure a place high up on the list and you don’t appear on it at all.

Bonhoeffer, in a well-known remark, complained that the churches were offering cheap grace. I believe that in the same sense the churches sometimes tend to offer cheap therapy, presenting Christ as a sort of psychiatric patent medicine which quickly cures us of our disturbing feelings. I believe this to be theologically wrong. First, God must be loved for what he is in himself and not as a means on earth of winning heaven or of escaping hell. Secondly, there is no reason to suppose that in any individual at any particular time God is necessarily on the side of the psychic status quo any more than in a nation at any particular period he is necessarily on the side of the political or economic status quo. Indeed, since we have not yet apprehended and have not yet been made perfect, the opposite is to be expected. And, thirdly, the New Testament everywhere insists that we can know the power of Christ’s resurrection only, if we also know the fellowship of his sufferings. If, without our choice or contrivance, feelings arise within us which cause distress, then Christ is there in the distress itself, not to save us from the pain of rebirth but to assure us that we are indeed being born again.

To change the analogy: when, of old, there stirred in Abraham the desire to leave the city where he belonged and to travel he didn’t know where, perhaps the most obvious course would have been to persuade him that he suffered from wanderlust — a disturbance of which God would cure….

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