My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

04 September 2005

Sunday with Sayers

I'm ever-so-slowly working my way through The Mind of the Maker, by Dorothy L. Sayers. Here are some interesting notes & quotes from the chapter "The Image of God."

  • In what way are we made in the image of God? It cannot be a physical likeness (because both men and women have the same "image"), so it must be something else. A Biblical case can be made for things like knowledge, righteousness, and holiness being that which is similar between us and God (see Col. 3:10 & Eph. 4:24). But Sayers points out that when this idea of the image of God in man is first mentioned, what we see most vividly about God is that He is a Creator. And thus is born the idea that the image of God in man is primarily that of creativity and imagination; we are made in God's image as creators like the Creator. (On this note, you might see this article I linked to a while back about George MacDonald and the Christian imagination.)
  • The next question she addresses is how we know things: We can explain nothing in terms of itself, but only in terms of other things. This is to say that all human knowledge is analogical; we know what we know by tying it to and defining it by other things; only when we know something by direct experience do we say "I never knew what fear/love/hatred meant until I experienced this." So, most human knowledge operates by analogy. This includes our knowledge of God. This helps explain why God is so often spoken of in Scripture by human terms, despite not being human; the two examples given are God as Father and God as Creator. These ideas work because we have knowledge of earthly fathers and can extend the better parts of fatherhood into our conception of God. Likewise, we understand something of creation by the labor of men and women, so in our minds we extend the power of creatorship to the Creator. [This brings up the question in my mind: Does God use the earthly reality of fatherhood and creatorship to help explain what we would otherwise not be able to know? Or does earthly fatherhood and creatorship reflect heavenly realities? I lean toward the second, while Sayers leans toward the first...I think.]
  • There are two types of human creation. The first, more common, is creation which demands destruction. For a carpenter to create a table, he must first commit an act of destruction by sawing down a tree and using that material that was to create something that will be. Secondly, though, is human creation which requires no such destruction, only assimilation. This is what the artist does: he or she takes what God has given in the world and, using their God-like creativity, creates something new without removing any old material from the world. We all do this to some extent; whenever we write or draw or play an instrument, etc. If all this is true, then it is to the creative artists that we should naturally turn for an exposition of what is meant by those credal formulae which deal with the nature of the Creative Mind. Sayers is talking about those creeds which profess faith in "God...maker of heaven and earth." From whom can we gain the best insight into what it means to be a maker? Those whose making is most like the Maker's; we have much to learn from the artists.
Sorry if this post is too philosophical; I know not everyone thinks epistemology is more fun than xbox, but this is what keeps me awake on Sunday afternoons. :)


  1. To enter comments now, you'll have to do one of those "type the word you see in the box" tests; this is because I've been getting Spam comments and they are irksome to my soul. Sorry if the change is bothersome.
  2. I've added a new "news" link to newsmap - it's a really cool, more visual way of getting the daily news.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sad to admit, I had to look up the word "epistemology"

dad o.