Reading Reflection:

Modern Reformation magazine/ July/August 2011 So I received my last free copy of Modern Reformation since they published my essay last fall.  Sigh.  It was like getting a major reward in the mailbox every other month.  Ralphie’s dad thought his leg lamp was special… Anyway, I was joyfully surprised to find in my major award an excerpt from the late Dorothy Sayers’ (1893-1957) essay, “Creed or Chaos?,” from her book, Letters to a Diminished Church (2004).  The very first paragraph is the whole reason I’m a housewife theologian: 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. If we profess to be Christian, then we need to actually know the One whose name we’ve taken.  As Schaeffer said, He is there and He is not silent.   That’s why the whole “deeds without creeds” mentality makes no sense.  Your deeds are based on your creeds.  You act based on who you are, and what you believe.  Christianity is not synonymous with morality.  We are all under the Great Commandment to love God with all of our minds, hearts, and souls; and our neighbor as ourselves.  However, Christianity gives us the only man who ever fulfilled this commandment, so that we will not be condemned.  He also happens to be the Son of God, and in him we are given new life, not just a morally improved one.  Being made into the likeness of Christ, we are now finally free to truly love our neighbor because much grace has been given to us.    Christians are given the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20).  Jesus tells us something very important about himself in the first sentence: he has been given all authority on earth and in heaven.  That's pretty creedal.  And if we are to disciple and teach, that's creedal as well.  We are told to baptize (with trinitarian doctrine) and He even gives us some important docrine of assurance in his last statement: "and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (v.20b).  So, I would say theology is pretty important.