Category Archives: Dorothy Sayers

The Necessity of Believing Rightly

Even among those who claim Christianity there are a variety of beliefs about the Incarnation of Christ, and also the Resurrection of Christ. I agree with Dorothy Sayers that belief in the Incarnation of Christ is critical to Christian faith. From Sayers’ Creed or Chaos:

“It is not true at all that dogma is ‘hopelessly irrelevant’ to the life and thought of the average man. What is true is that ministers of the Christian religion often assert that it is, present it for consideration as though it were, and, in fact, by their faulty exposition of it make it so. The central dogma of the Incarnation is that by which relevance stands or falls. If Christ was only man, then He is entirely irrelevant to any thought about God; if He is only God, then He is entirely irrelevant to any experience of human life. It is, in the strictest sense, necessary to the salvation of relevance that a man should believe rightly the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Unless he believes rightly, there is not the faintest reason why he should believe at all. And in that case, it is wholly irrelevant to chatter about “Christian principles.”

Generalized Worship

 

Christ, in His Divine innocence, said to the Woman of Samaria, “Ye worship ye know not what”—being apparently under the impression that it might be desirable, on the whole, to know what one was worshiping. He thus showed Himself sadly out of touch with the twentieth-century mind, for the cry today is: “Away with the tendentious complexities of dogma—let us have the simple spirit of worship; just worship, no matter of what!” The only drawback to this demand for a generalized and undirected worship is the practical difficulty of arousing any sort of enthusiasm for the worship of nothing in particular.

“Creed or Chaos?: Why Christians Must Choose Either Dogma or Disaster,”    Dorothy Sayers.

The Dogma is Vital

Dorothy Sayers again:

If we really want a Christian society we must teach Christianity, and it is absolutely impossible to teach Christianity without teaching Christian dogma.  (Creed or Chaos, 1949).

How the essay begins:

It is worse than useless for Christians to talk about the importance of Christian morality unless they are prepared to take their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology.  It is a lie to say that dogma does not matter; it matters enormously.  It is fatal to let people suppose that Christianity is only a mode of feeling; it is vitally necessary to insist that it is first and foremost a rational explanation of the universe.  It is hopeless to offer Christianity as a vaguely idealistic aspiration of a simple and consoling kind; it is, on the contrary, a hard, tough, exacting, and complex doctrine, steeped in a drastic and uncompromising realism.  And it is fatal to imagine that everybody knows quite well what Christianity is and needs only a little encouragement to practice it.  The brutal fact is that in this Christian country not one person in a hundred has the faintest notion what the Church teaches about God or man or society or the person of Jesus Christ.    (Creed or Chaos?, 1949).
You can read the entire essay here.

Confused Minds

Reading from A Matter of Eternity: Selections from the writings of Dorothy L. Sayers:

The popular mind has grown so confused that it is no longer able to receive any statement of fact except as an expression of personal feeling.  (Mind of the Maker, 1941).

…it is hardly an exaggeration to say that many people contrive never once to think for themselves from the cradle to the grave.  They may go through the motions of thinking, but in fact they solve all problems either by the dictate of their emotions, or by accepting without enquiry the ruling of some outside authority.  Even quite well-informed people do this.  (Begin here:  A War-Time Essay. 1940).

“There’s nothing you can’t prove if your outlook is only sufficiently limited.” (spoken by Lord Peter Wimsey in Whose Body?,1923).