Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dorothy Sayers the Apologist

Christianity is an historical religion. Not just in the sense of having a long history, which it does. But Christianity is also historical in this manner: the central event - the one thing that makes Christianity what it is - is an historical event, namely, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To be sure, other world religions have history, that is, in the former manner of speaking . But they lack the same quality of historical integrity, verifiability, veracity, and most of all, falsifiability.

I usually ask skeptics and Christians alike this same question: "are there any facts, which if they were proven to be true, would cause you to give up your faith?" I've heard the skeptic and the Christian both answer with an adamant and definitive, "NO!" You see the problem here, don't you? Both answers have remove the subject of inquiry from the field of knowledge, facts and history, something the Christian ought never to do. Paul says if Christ is not dead, then our faith is in vain and futile and we are still in our sins (1 Cor. 15). In other words, show the body and it's all over; eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.
But in fact, Christ has been raised. And this didn't happen once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, or in never-never land. But in history. In time and space. Somewhere between the years 30-33 AD (depending on which crucifixion dating you go with). It's CSI Jerusalem! There were eyewitnesses. They saw him dead on a Friday. Saw where he was buried. Knew the tomb. Went to the tomb on Sunday. Saw him alive again. Touched him. Heard him. Saw him (1 John 1:1-4). Ate fish with him. And not just once, but many times. And he was seen by over 500 witnesses. There are codices. Manuscripts by the thousands. Even the stones cry out. We confess that Christianity is historic and factual on a weekly basis. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. No other world religion is able to make these kinds of claims to historical investigation. It's as if Paul is saying, "Go ahead; put Christianity on trial. Just the facts. There's more than enough there for a verdict."

Christianity and history are intricately woven together. Makes sense. As we confess, "He was made man." The author of history appeared on the page. The playwright became the lead role in the greatest drama ever staged, as Sayers calls it. And she's right.For the greatest drama ever staged also happens to be the one myth that became fact. It is the greatest true story, but it does not for that reason lose the drama or the beauty of a good story. It is the best story precisely because it is true. It is concrete, tangible, and historical in every sense of the word. Sure enough there are myths of dying gods in many mythologies. However, to compare these to Christianity is like comparing The Simpsons to a reputable nightly news program. Here's what Dorothy the apologist has to say about all this.

Christianity is, of course, not the only religion that has found the best explanation of human life in the idea of an incarnation and suffering god. The Egyptian Osiris died and rose again; Aeschylus in his play, The Eumenides, reconciled man to God by the theory of a suffering Zeus. But in most theologies, the god is supposed to have suffered and died in some remote and mythical period of prehistory. The Christian story, on the other hand, starts of briskly in St. Matthew's account with a place and a date: "when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King." St. Luke, still more practically and prosaically, pins the thing down by a reference to a piece of government finance. God, he says, was made man in the year when Caesar Augustus was taking a census in connection with a scheme of taxation. Similarly, we might date an event by saying that it took place in the year that Great Britain went off the gold standard. About thirty-three years later (we are informed), God was executed, for being a a political nuisance, "under Pontius Pilate" - much as we might say, "when Mr. Johnson-Hicks was Home Secretary." It is as definite and concrete as all that.

Dorothy Sayers, The Greatest Drama Ever Staged, Letters to a Diminished Church. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004, p. 2-3.



    Who are those who are included in salvation? All men who believe and obey what the apostle Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost are saved. It does not make any difference what denominational name is written on the church building where you worship, if you obey the gospel preached by Peter, then, you are saved, you are a member of the Lord's church, you are part of the church of Christ, you a member of the body of Christ, you are a Christian.

    What did Peter preach?
    1. Peter preached that Jesus was a miracle worker. (Acts 2:22)
    2. Peter preached that Jesus was resurrected from the dead by God the Father.(Acts 2:24-35)
    3. Peter preached that Jesus was both Lord and Christ.(Acts 2:36)
    When the three thousand believe Peter, they asked "What shall we do?"(Acts 2:37)
    4. Peter told them to repent and be baptized in order to have their sins forgiven.(Acts 2:38)

    This is the same message Jesus preached. (Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved....)

    THE TERMS FOR PARDON ARE: Faith-John 3:16, Repentance-Acts 2:38, Confession-Romans 10:9-10, Baptism (immersion in water) 1 Peter 3:21

    All who meet the terms for pardon are saved regardless of the denominational name on the church building.

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    1. I'm not entirely sure what prompted you to post your comments, considering I didn't even mention Christian denominations whatsoever. That being said, thank you for reading, for posting, and for supporting this blog.

      The remarkable thing about the Christian faith is that it is both inclusive - Christ died for all - and it is exclusive - there is no way to the Father except through Christ. You've got the "terms for the pardon" correct. However, I think you may have mistaken God's work in a few cases for man's efforts. Everything you have said is true, so long as Christ is the author and perfecter of it all (Hebrews 12:1-3). For how can we confess that Jesus is Christ - or confess our sins for that matter - unless by the Holy Spirit.

      Thanks again for reading and posting.