A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Dogma Is the Drama...

Dorothy...so said Dorothy Sayers, the gifted novelist and poet. The website of the Dorothy Sayers Society posts the following:
Her theology was traditionally Anglican with emphasis on doctrine. Every available moment of her time was spent writing, to the small hours of the morning. Letters, articles and essays streamed from her pen. The war led her to write Begin Here, followed by The Mind of the Maker, in which she compares the human with the Divine creator. She explored by-ways of knowledge, delighted in puzzles and enjoyed many a fight which she conducted with wit and good humour. Her formidable presence, magnificent brain and logical presentation put her in great demand as a lecturer. She worked with the Rev. Patrick McLaughlin at the St Anne's centre for Christian discourse and became in 1952 churchwarden of her London parish, St Thomas-cum-St Annes.
For those of us who are always arguing for the significance of doctrine (dogma) and theological reflection, Sayers' words are a welcome breath of fresh air. Sayer's understood the singular necessity of such intellectual work and why it was important.
C.S. Lewis would have agreed. His biggest complaint in reference to modern theologians was that they lacked imagination in their work. Perhaps that is why more than a few contemporary Christians either do not care or completely disdain theological reflection seeming to imply that God created our hearts, but that our heads are an accident of uncontrollable forces. Perhaps the problem is not in the substance of Christian theology itself, but that those who have presented it have done so in such boring fashion. The boring quickly becomes irrelevant.
Both Sayers and Lewis understood that doctrine was the drama and it provided the narrative that gave coherence to Christianity.

And that's interesting.

1 comment:

Henry Neufeld said...

Perhaps the reason is that so many people who emphasize doctrine actually have less imagination than those who don't. I understand that there are fine, imaginative, orthodox theologians. There are also incredibly boring and useless theologians, not just liberals, but of all stripes.

While I think that orthodox theology is exciting, I frankly find many of the advocates of it don't display much imagination, and certainly no ability to communicate at all.

Perhaps they should all take C. S. Lewis's suggestion (I forget the reference), that every pastor should be required to translate a serious work of theology into language that ordinary people can understand. By "ordinary" I don't mean stupid or lazy, I mean intelligent people who don't want to dedicate their life obscure nuances of some doctrine.