Creed or Chaos
Dorothy L. Sayers looks deeply into the controversial topic of the church s downfall including how and why dogma plays a vital role in ones distrust in the spiritual strength of Christianity. Creed or Chaos focuses on dogma as such a doctrine of faith proclaimed by the church and it s misinterpretation as an ideology. In The Greatest Drama Ever Staged is The Official Creed of Christendom, Sayers specifically references the assurance of the demise of the church as a result of the preacher s insistence upon doctrine or dull dogma. Although, she insists that it is in fact the opposite in that the negation of the importance of dogma is responsible for the downfall.
In the same article Sayers battles the deliberation of God and Jesus being both one in the same. It is clear that the notion of the God Jesus resurrection from the dead is something difficult to comprehend. However, if God did rise from the dead, then man rose as well because they were essentially one and the same person. What is the individual to think of this? The compelling story of God s resurrection is one that is preached and told repeatedly and sincerely in the church. Also, according to the church, God created us perfectly free to disbelieve in him as much as one should choose. All together the reason for the death of Jesus was completely a rebottle of his honesty by the Jew s from their disbelief.
There is in fact a doctrine that holds all the remarkable stories of the God Jesus as a man and as the immortal being that rose from the dead. It was essentially up to the church to portray these documentations in such a way that would compel the public to believe and to remain faithful. However is was apparently the church s fault for not compelling the individual in such a way that dogma would be much more than solely an ideology. This is the drama. Sayers says, that is man should play the tyrant over God and find him a better man than himself that that would be an incredible drama in itself. Also, on the other hand with God as the tyrant over man or with man as the tyrant over man dismal stories of oppression and human futility would be created. This is an explanation striving for one s acceptance of God as the almighty and one that should be inevitably understood, along with ones beliefs absorbed by the church through an undeniable dogma.
In Sayers s address delivered in Derby, England in the spring of 1940, it is clear that since her article written two years prior her interest has progressed and led to a deeper interpretation of dogmatic theology versus ones lifestyle. She begins with an explanation of what she believes the people are experiencing. She denounces the public of waging a war of religion, a life-and-death battle between Christian and pagan. The question of freedom and justice and faith and their right to consideration is raised. Her explanation is that of a conflicting fall out about the nature of God and man and ultimately the nature of the universe is instigating a war of dogma.
Sayers considers dogma to be an enormously important aspect of the Christian faith and the church. It is obvious that most of her quarrels evolve because she believes that it is the negation of dogma that is causing the problematic progression of the church s downfall. She is strongly suggesting that dogma should play a vital role in ones lifestyle not only in a Christian sense, but also in that of an explanation for ones being. For Sayers it is a fact that merely one percent of the citizens in her Christian country possess any notion of what the church teaches about God, man, society or the person of Jesus Christ. By way of stating man s inexperienced Christian knowledge and the church s position at the time, Sayers proposes that the church has an opportunity to change for the first time in centuries. Without the necessary persuasion of men and women of the intimate correlation between the structure of society and the theological doctrines of Christianity, the structure itself may perish. It is aggressively stated that Christianity is not only a mode of feeling, but that it is most importantly a rational explanation of the universe. This is ultimately her concern.
In Paul Tillich s Ultimate Concern he examines the regular desires and concerns of life, and deliberates that there is actually one concern above all, an ultimate and infinite concern. Ultimate concern is an abstract translation of the great commandment in which the religious concern is ultimate and takes precedent above all others. At the same time, the ultimate concern is unconditional, independent above all and makes all others preliminary.
Tillich states that the object of theology is what concerns us ultimately. It is only the ideas that deal with their object in so far that it may be a question of ultimate concern that are theological propositions. Not only religious aspects of life lead to one s ultimate concern, but even social, legal, and political forms can become objects of theology as well. Although, they do become matters of ultimate concern through their own form, but by actualizing certain aspects of that which concerns us ultimately in and through their social, legal, and political structures.
The content of our ultimate concern and that, which may concern us unconditionally, may not be just a distinctive object, but something that concerns us individually. Tillich says, Our ultimate concern is that which determines our being or not-being. This means that it is only the deliberations that deal with an object in so far as it may become a matter of our being or non-being that can be theological. The word being does not illustrate a certain time of existence in space. In fact, our own existence is incessantly threatened and recovered by things and events that hold no ultimate concern for us. It is how and why we are here and where we will be once we are gone that has the power to concern us unconditionally.
Sayers certainly agrees with Tillich in that theology deals with and is unconditional and ultimate concern. The simple fact that she believes it vitally necessary to insist that Christianity is first and foremost a very rational explanation of the universe proves that she must also believe it rational that it has the power to cause its termination. Although, Tillich believes that ultimate concern is unavoidable and that it is the root of all others.
Sayers must not believe this concern to be unavoidable, otherwise she is attempting to compel the people to recognize and understand it as a possibility or fact. Regardless of her opinion on that matter she feels strongly that religion without theology may have no meaning at all. When speaking on the subject, Sayers says, I shall and will affirm that the reason why the churches are discredited today is not that they are too bigoted about theology, but that they have run away from theology. According to Tillich, any theological statement must deal with their object in so far that it may become a matter of being or non-being. If Sayers does agree with Tillich s theory of ultimate concern then she is placing the downfall of the church in the hands of the preachers once again, this time for not convincing the public of unconditional and ultimate concern.
Sayers, throughout Creed or Chaos? maintains stress on the relationship between the God Jesus and man. She fervently disagrees that dogma is irrelevant to the life and thought of the average man. Again the aim is at the ministers of the Christian religion and their negation of dogma from their teachings that has made people feel the way they do. In actuality, dogma is extremely important to the Christian faith and relating Him to human life. If Christ were only a man, then he would be wholly irrelevant to any thought about God. Also, if he is only God, then he is entirely irrelevant to any experience of human life. Sayers s point in stressing Jesus Christ as God and man is to give the average man a sense of togetherness on a personal level with his Holy Lord.
This connection is related to the understanding of the divine/human relationship. Martin Buber s I-Thou relationship theory is an explanation of the irreplaceable relationship between God and man. Buber places this relationship in the category of I-Thou which includes trust and mutual concern. With God as the Eternal Thou he possesses and can know in mutual relationship with man although not as an object of knowledge. Sayers believes that if an average man is to be interested in a relationship with Christ, that dogma will provide that interest.
Creed or Chaos is a warning to the church and all of its members that dogma is what can bring Christianity together and strengthen the spiritual faith. Through the texts of Tillich and Buber, other aspects of the Christian religion are personified in Sayers s writings and can be read and discerned from alternative points of view. It is obvious how chaos can easily manipulate one s creed when the lives of the church and the Christian faith are at stake.
Through Buber s I-Thou relationship one can understand the importance of their connection with God and how their belief in that relationship may let them understand the faith. Through Tillich s ultimate concern it is understood that God s power supercedes that of any other, and through his responsibility for our being or non-being one may achieve theological comprehension and ultimate concern. To Sayers, the church and citizens alike must join and elevate Christianity to a level that will not create quarrels with the pagans, and allow the faith to flourish through dogma. Let the dogmatic creed be ultimately stronger then the chaos, and the good Christians will prevail.