Thursday, August 17, 2006

Keen Observers Will Notice...

...that the descriptive header on this blog now includes the name Dorothy Sayers [1893-1957]. She was a British author and playwright known best for her Lord Peter Wimsey detective stories, and also was for a time a member of the Inklings with Lewis, Tolkien and others.

I've read very little of her work, but chanced upon a re-issue of her book of essays called Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine at the public library. I'm just into it, and I like her style and especially her economy of words. She is another voice from the past who can cut through the dense post-modern fog and especially Christian fog.

A couple of samples:

"Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as bad press. We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much upon doctrine—dull dogma as people call it. The fact is quite the opposite. It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness. The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man—and the dogma is the drama."—from Chapter 1

[I think she's right. But my sense is that a lot of people are tired of what has been offered in place of the "boring" stuff in church and ready for something different. What if you went to church and heard almost nothing about Our Story, Our Experiences, Our Distinctives, Our Building, Our Programs, Our Feelings, Our Journey, Our History, Our Movement, Our Leadership, Our Vision, Our Favorite Topics, Our Authority, and heard almost nothing but dogma—God Revealed in Scripture? Was it Tozer who said "It's very difficult to get people to come to a church where the only attraction is God," or something like that? I think some of us are willing to give it a try.]

"'Any stigma," said a witty tongue, "will do to beat a dogma.'"; and the flails of ridicule have been brandished with such energy of late on the threshing floor of controversy that the true seed of the Word has become well-nigh lost amid the whirling of the chaff. 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 worshipping. He thus showed himself sadly out of touch with the twentieth-century mind, for the cry today is: 'Away with the tedious 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."—from Chapter 3

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