The Dogma is the Doctrine

Greg Strand – April 10, 2013 2 Comments

This is a classic statement on the dramatic nature of doctrine made by Dorothy Sayers, Creed or Chaos? (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1949), 3:

Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as ‘a 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 the precise 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….This is the dogma we find so dull – this terrifying drama of which God is the victim and the hero. If this is dull, then what, in Heaven’s name, is worthy to be called exciting? The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused Him of being a bore – on the contrary; they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certifying Him ‘meek and mild’, and recommended Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.

As Sayers points out, it is not doctrine that makes for dullness but the neglect of doctrine. I love her wonderfully rich statement (both content-wise and rhetorically) that “the Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man – and the dogma is the drama.”

It is doctrinal truth that forms and shapes life! Since this is true . . .

  1. Why is dogma considered dull and drama exciting?
  2. Why is it we often bifurcate between doctrine and life, dogma and drama?
  3. What do you do to ensure that “the dogma is the drama” is true in your life and ministries?

 

Greg Strand

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Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

2 responses to The Dogma is the Doctrine

  1. Once again, thanks Greg!

    • You are welcome, Kerry. It is always good to hear from you! I am grateful to know these posts can be used fruitfully by those of you in the local church, which is the front-lines of ministry.

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