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Creed or Chaos?: Why Christians Must Choose Either Dogma or Disaster (Or, Why It Really Does Matter What You Believe)

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  276 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Today you hear it even from many well-meaning Christians: "It doesn't really matter what you believe, so long as you're sincere."But in Creed or Chaos?, author Dorothy Sayers demonstrates that such a "doctrineless Christianity" is not merely impossible; it's dangerous. Indeed, argues Sayers, if Christians don't steep themselves in doctrine, then the Christian Faith -- and ...more
Paperback, 116 pages
Published June 1st 1995 by Sophia Institute Press (first published January 1st 1940)
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Sep 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Excellent. This is Sayers' best starting point for a new reader. The author views life in the context of the Incarnation, and stresses the need to make Christian dogma meaningful in ordinary life. In the essay “Creed or Chaos,” she points to the fatal error of allowing people to “suppose that Christianity is only a mode of feeling . . . [it is] hopeless to offer Christianity as a vague, idealistic aspiration: it is a hard, tough, exacting, and complex doctrine steeped in drastic and uncompromisi ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My first foray into Dorothy Sanders' writings. This book consists of 7 essays on different aspects of Christianity and its centrality to all of human experience. I read particularly profound thoughts out loud to my husband, of which there were quite a few. Dorothy is similar to Lewis in terms of her writing style and topics (Christianity, dogma, ethics, economics, work, etc.), but she is a bit more caustic and biting. Her writing is still eerily relevant; many of the essays were written during W ...more
David Johnston
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) was one of the first women to be awarded a degree by Oxford University, she graduated with first class honors in French. She referred to herself as a scholar gone bad because she left academe and worked as an advertising copy-writer and as such was responsible for a successful national campaign for Colman's mustard. She is best known for her Lord Peter Wimsey detective novels. In Murder Must Advertise she has her intrepid detective go under cover working for an adverti ...more
Nathan Sexten
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very well-written collection of essays, although some of them weren't full of the most original ideas. The best essays were the final two - "Why Work?" and "The Other Six Deadly Sins" - which contained, respectively, a great theology of creation, and criticism of society's good intentions that mask its avarice or other self-centered motives.
Michael Artlip
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Currently re-reading the book.
Rev Ricky
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love this book. It is spicy, a little feisty and straight down the middle of beautiful.

Jesus criticized the Samaritans in John 4 for not knowing what they worshiped. I wonder if he would say the same to us today. As a matter of fact, it seems most christians worry more about how they worship than about what or who.

Sayers believes not knowing who we worship leads to disaster. Our beliefs are the most important thing about us: "if Christian dogma is irrelevant to life, what in heaven's name is
Mark Enlow
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant read! Favorite quote which sums up the book: "The thing I'm here to say to you is this: that it is worse than useless for Christians to talk about the importance of Christian morality, unless they are prepared to take their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology. It is a lie to say that dogma does not matter; it matters enormously. It is fatal to let people suppose the Christianity is only a mode of feeling; it is vitally necessary to insist that it is first and foremost a r ...more
Ashley Stangl
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing and extremely relevant book of theology. It's both encouraging and depressing to realize that Western civilization was struggling with the exact same issues in the 1940s that we're dealing with today. Very easy to read and understand--possibly the least intimidating theology book I've ever encountered. A lot of the material overlaps with concepts discussed in "The Mind of the Maker" and "The Man Born to Be King", which can get repetitive, but also adds a nice level of coherence between h ...more
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Some of the finest of Dorothy L. Sayers non-fiction essays are collected in "Creed or Chaos". They are about many different issues but maybe the central theme is something like the Church in relation to the world, as it is the Church who have the Creed, and without it all goes to chaos. Three of the ones I enjoyed the best was "Creed and Chaos", "Why Work?" and "The Other Six Deady Sins". As a good start to Dorothy L. Sayer as a theologican and a cultural critic, look no further.
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This a series of lectures or articles by Sayers. The main article is an argument for the return to dogmatic confessionalism. She saw in the early 20th century a swing toward laissez faire statements of belief which she predicts will end in chaos in the church. There are other essays including "Why Work?" a defense of the doctrine of vocation and "The Other Six Deadly Sins" a somewhat comical view of the perception that "lust" is the only thing the church preaches against.
Chloé Bennett
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grad-school
Everything Sayers writes is amazing! This is a lovely, highly readable way to informally study the concept of Creed in Christianity.
Mike E.
Aug 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: pluralists, skeptics, Christians
Recommended to Mike by: The Emmans family
This book was given to me by the Emmans family in 2002. As I was pruning my bookshelves I put it in my summer reading bookbag.

I am glad that I did!

She writes well and and has much to say worth hearing and meditating on. My favorite chapter was "Why Work?" Sayers writes, "Work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do."

The book is a collection of writings. Each chapter can be taken on its own. In short, her thesis is that truth matters--a lot. Truth comes from G
Dec 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This collection of related essays (some of them originally speeches given during WWII) punches well above its modest weight, as they say admiringly in boxing. Sayers is compulsively quotable without ever sounding twee, and she minces no words. Of an ignorant but common attitude toward Jesus that was a problem even five generations ago, she writes, "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 ...more
Joel Mitchell
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this collection of essays Dorothy Sayers discusses the need of sound, objective doctrine over a more subjective “all you need is sincerity” approach to Christianity. I have previously admired Dorothy L. Sayers as a translator of The Divine Comedy and author of the Lord Peter Wimsey detective series, and I must say she is equally engaging as a theologian/philosopher.
Sep 01, 2014 rated it liked it
I was drawn to this book for two reasons: 1. Dorothy Sayers was a mystery writer who also wrote books on theology. 2. I am interested in books that discuss the fundamentals of the Christian faith. When I got the book, I was particularly pleased that this book promotes the importance of the Christian creeds -- the Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Although Sayers wrote in the years after WWII, apostocies creeping into the church was as real then as they are now and were ...more
Craig W.
May 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone, especially readers of the Wimsey book
Creed, doctrine and dogma are not words associated today with reasonable people. “Creed or Chaos” shows that association is itself irrational and that ignoring creed or perverting it leads to ruin.
This is not abstruse theology. It will make sense to any one with even a casual familiarity with Christianity. The author uses basic ideas in three widely accepted Christian creeds, the Apostolic, Nicene and Athanasian and discusses how our beliefs about the nature of God, Christ, and man have conseque
Becky Pliego
I admire Dorothy Sayers and I always learn a great deal from her.

This short and easy to read book is fantastic. I especially recommend chapters 1-4 and ch. 5 (next time I revisit this book, I will skip chapters 5 and 7).

Note: Sayers was an Anglican, so I do not agree with all her theology.
What can be said about this that has not already been said? Dorothy Sayers is a brilliant apologist with clear diction and a standpoint that is firmly rooted in reality, not in dusty clouds and miasmas. Definitely worth a read--and perhaps several.
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Some of the "big issues" of Sayers' early post-war era are things of the past by now, but with a smidgen of mental flexibility they can be transposed to current situations. The real, solid elements of orthodoxy discussed here, both the difficulties and the solutions, are timeless.
Sep 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
In her clear and unabashed way Sayers says many things that the church today needs to hear and act on. A thorough understanding of the ideas and the consequences of those ideas which are embraced in post modern western culture and the church living within that culture.
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Phenomenal. A few minor quibbles re: the nature and cause of evil. But the comments on practical applications of theology and work as a calling were fantastic. Highly recommended.
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this for my Classics Club challenge and it was great. See my full review here:
Jun 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Good book. Raises some very interesting issues about mediocrity and Christianity that are still relevant today.
Rex Bradshaw
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant little essay/lecture collection. The titular essay is particularly good, but one could almost say that each essay is better than the one that came before.
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Powerful writing; as much so today as it was 75 years ago. The title essay alone is worth the price of he book and the time spent reading it.
First Edition. Read for a course at Baylor University entitled: Oxford Christians, taught by Dr. James Barcus.
Nov 01, 2009 added it
Very short, easy to read.
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, theology
I highly recommend this book to anyone who thinks theology isn't "practical." I will definitely be reading this book again!
Sep 05, 2010 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Juliet by: Daniel Mejia's Dennis E. Dorsch
1949 version
Mary Beth
rated it liked it
Nov 20, 2014
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Dorothy Leigh Sayers was a renowned British author, translator, student of classical and modern languages, and Christian humanist.

Dorothy L. Sayers is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between World War I and World War II that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. However, Sayers herself considered her translation of Dante's Divina Co
“It it is worse than useless for Christians to talk about the importance of Christian morality, unless they are prepared to take their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology. It is a lie to say that dogma does not matter; it matters enormously. It is fatal to let people suppose that Christianity is only a mode of feeling; it is vitally necessary to insist that it is first and foremost a rational explanation of the universe. It is hopeless to offer Christianity as a vaguely idealistic aspiration of a simple and consoling kind; it is, on the contrary, a hard, tough, exacting, and complex doctrine, steeped in a drastic and incompromising realism. And it is fatal to imagine that everybody knows quite well what Christianity is and needs only a little encouragement to practice it. The brutal fact is that in this Christian country not one person in a hundred has the faintest notion what the Church teaches about God or man or society or the person of Jesus Christ.... ...Theologically this country is at present is in a state of utter chaos established in the name of religious toleration and rapidly degenerating into flight from reason and the death of hope.” 46 likes
“For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is— limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death—He had the honesty and the courage to take His own medicine. Whatever game He is playing with His creation, He has kept His own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself. He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair and death. When He was a man, He played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile.” 25 likes
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