Holy Bible

Dogma drives the Christian life

Christianity is a dogmatic religion, on that much the greatest theologians across the Christian spectrum agree, from Martin Luther to John Henry Newman. There is a famous saying of Dorothy L. Sayers with which I begin my class on the Doctrine of God at Grove City College each year: “The dogma is the drama.” That statement captures the nature of the Christian message, and points to a further fact: the dogmatic drives the Christian life. Indeed, the dogmatic is precisely what makes the Christian life distinctively Christian. The tendency today is to subordinate the dogmatic to the pre-dogmatic: to set up putative power relations and concepts such as oppressor and victim as the framework for interpreting dogmatic statements. Dogma thereby loses its priority and becomes a tool for manipulation. We should eschew such approaches. Read 2 Corinthians, the most personal of Paul’s letters, and then read 1 Corinthians, taking note of how Paul’s experience of ministry is shaped by his understanding of the cross of Christ. His is a dogmatic testimony, whereby his suffering (and victimhood) does not provide the framework for understanding the dogmatic content of the faith. Quite the reverse: For Paul, the faith is the framework for understanding his experience. Read the full article by Carl R. Trueman.