When you read “dogmatics” with Bavinck think systematic theology. When you see “dogma,” think doctrine, or truth.
[O]ne who clings to the truth of religion cannot do without dogma and will always recognize in it an unchanging and permanent element. A religion without dogma, however vague and general it may be, without say, faith in a divine power, does not exist, and a nondogmatic Christianity, in the strict sense of the word, is an illusion and devoid of meaning. Opposition to dogma is not resistance to dogma as such, for ‘unbelief has at all times been most dogmatic” (Kant), but to certain specific dogmas with which people no longer agree. —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics
Length: 85 pp
Author: Dorothy Sayers
Creed or Chaos? is a collection of essays written by Dorothy Sayers, an author who wrote around the mid-eighteenth century during the World Wars. She wrote widely in various genres, notably mystery novels.
I put Sayers in a category with C.S. Lewis. I do not always agree with these authors, but where I do agree I thunder “Amen!” Sayers saw things, and what she saw she articulated extremely well. What vision. What words. Although old and out of print you will not find this book old and out of date.
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 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, certified Him “meek and mild,” and recommended Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.
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.