What We Believe?

Since graduating from college I have had the blissful freedom to read the books that I want to read. It has been a great discovery process with some new favorite authors and genres. One new writer I have discovered is Dorothy Sayers a contemporary of Lewis and Tolkien. Where as Lewis is a master at presenting complex truths in a form that is easy accessible with out dumbing down the message, Sayers seems to thrive in expressing herself to an intellectual audience. Sarcasm is one of her most important tools. Here is an excerpt I found humorous from “The Whimsical Christian.” This is a piece written by Dorothy Sayers about how someone from her era (late nineteen fifty to the sixties) might answer questions about Christianity.

Q.: What does the Church think of God the Father?

A.: He is omnipotent and holy. He created the world and imposed on man conditions impossible of fulfillment; he is very angry if these are not carried out. He sometimes interferes by means of arbitrary judgments and miracles, distributed with a good deal of favoritism. He likes to be truckled to and is always ready to pounce on anybody who trips up over a difficulty in the law or is having a bit of fun. He is rather like a dictator, only larger and more arbitrary.

Q.: What does the Church think of God the Son?

A.: He is in some way to be identified with Jesus of Nazareth. It was not his fault that the world was made like this, and, unlike God the Father, he is friendly to man and did his best to reconcile man to God (see atonement). He has a good deal of influence with God, and if you want anything done, it is best to apply to him.

Q.: What does the Church think of God the Holy Ghost?

A.: I don’t know exactly. He was never seen or heard of till Whitsunday. There is a sin against him that damns you for ever, but nobody knows what it is.

Q.: What is the doctrine of the trinity?

A.: “The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the whole thing incomprehensible.” Something put in by theologians to make it more difficult—nothing to do with daily life or ethics.

Q.: What was Jesus Christ like in real life?

A.: He was a good man—so good as to be called the Son of God. He is to be identified in some way with God the Son (q.v.). He was meek and mild and preached a simple religion of love and pacifism. He had no sense of humor. Anything in the Bible that suggests another side of his character must be an interpolation, or a paradox invented by G.K. Chesterton. If we try to live like him, God the Father will let us off being damned hereafter and only have us tortured in this life instead.

Q.: What is meant by the atonement?

A.: God wanted to damn everybody, but his vindictive sadism was sated by the crucifixion of his own Son, who was quite innocent, and therefore, a particularly attractive victim. He now only damns people who don’t follow Christ or who never heard of him.

Q.: What does the Church think of sex?

A.: God made it necessary to the machinery of the world and tolerates it, provided the parties (a) are married, and (b) get no pleasure out of it.

Q.: What does the Church call sin?

A.: Sex (otherwise than as excepted above); getting drunk; saying “damn”; murder; and cruelty to dumb animals; not going to church; most kinds of amusement. “Original sin” means that anything we enjoy doing is wrong.

Q.: What is faith?

A.: Resolutely shutting your eyes to scientific fact.

Q.: What is the human intellect?

A.: A barrier to faith.

Q.: What are the seven Christian virtues?

A.: Respectability; childishness; mental timidity; dullness; sentimentality; censoriousness; and depression of spirits.

Q.: Wilt thou be baptized in this faith?

A. No fear!

I think large parts of it are still accurate in describing what many non-Christians (and Christians) consider are the beliefs of Christianity. Reading it I though it was funny, but I also am reminded of conversations I have had lately both with those that have grown-up in the church and those that haven’t. Though we are such an information saturated culture it bothers me how little Christians know of their faith. Who doesn’t own several different copies of the Bible (preferably the NIV)? If we know so little or our views are distorted think what non-Christians know. To many have rejected something that they believed to be Christianity, but was really a theology built on Christian clichés and popular misconceptions.


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