Why is it that in search of being “relevant,” the church has often substituted moralism for the drama that unfolds in scripture?  Why is it that we focus more on marriages, our purpose, stewardship and countless of other items that wind their way into sermons rather than “the greatest story ever told” – Christ’s incarnation, life, death and resurrection?

English playwright, novelist and poet, Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957), wondered the same thing in her book, Creed or Chaos? Why Christians Must Choose Either Dogma or Disaster, written in 1949 (so this isn’t a new phenomenon within the Church).  She wrote:

Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as “a bad press.”  We are continually 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 recommend Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies…

…That God should play the tyrant over man is the dismal story of unrelieved oppression; that man should play the tyrant over man is the usual dreary record of human futility; but that man should play the tyrant over God and find Him a better man than himself is an astonishing drama indeed.  Now, we may call that doctrine exhilarating or we may call it devastating; we may call it revelation or we may call it rubbish; but if we call it dull, then words have no meaning at all.

Source: The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People In a Bad News World by Michael Horton

  1. Ironic! I just read Creed or Chaos yesterday as my daughter and I were working on her thesis statement for her second term paper. Letters to the Diminished Church is full of wisdom. The chapter on “Why Work” responds to a society that sees work as a drudgery and not a God given gift to mankind. It is really an interesting treaties on American society, “A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste, and such a society is a house built upon sand.”
    Truly a worthwhile read!

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