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…Theologically, this country is at present in a state of utter chaos, established in the name of religious toleration, and rapidly degenerating into the flight from reason and the death of hope.
Dorothy L. Sayers(1893–1957) | Creed or Chaos (1940)
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It is disturbing when talking to church members to have them tell you that they don’t read the confessions, creeds, or catechisms while being a member of a Reformed church. They articulate political positions and desire the church to take a stand against evil in the world but have a low view, high ignorance of doctrine.
Sometimes these are the same members that leave the church in high dudgeon when they hear doctrine that conforms to the creeds and confessions but they hadn’t heard it before, they disagree, and now must leave. For instance, the church member that doesn’t think elders are part of church leadership, joins a Presbyterian church, and then complains when the elders do their job. How will these people stand against the spirit of the age?
It is concerning. Something I have found helpful is the way that my current federation of churches (URCNA) requires that one of the two Lord ‘s Day sermons be preached from the confessional standards. What a delight! My pastor walks us through them week by week. As a layperson it is extremely helpful to be led to focus the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort. This goes a long way in helping me do what I would likely not do on my own, or do with such understanding.
I wonder what Sayers would think if she were alive to see what conditions are like today, 80+ years after she wrote that very concise and accurate description of what “Christianity” was like back then.
Again, a lot of this is simply reflecting the emotion-driven, subjective nature of the society around us.
Christianity is a religion for thinking people. It hangs together better than any other explanation of everything we see around us. When people say, “You have to check your brain at the door of the church,” I have no idea what they are talking about. Except to know that they are not talking about a serious, Biblical church.
I’ve been down this road with many a skeptic…. To no avail. I agree this is a message for the shallow Christian but unfortunately it’s often the non-threatening shallowness that kept them hanging on in the first place. Shall the fundamentals win?
Regeneration comes in handy in these situations…. Is the Genesis account rational? To me it is! How philosophical supplements are needed? How about Jesus testimony? Reason without regeneration is an exercise in futility. Make the case but don’t ignore the plain speaking of scriptures to estranged sinners.