Most people, when they hear of Dorothy Sayers, immediately think of her delightful detective novels based around Lord Peter Wimsey. But she was much more than another Agatha Christie. She was also a superb thinker and committed Christian. A contemporary of C.S. Lewis and T. S. Eliot, Sayers was a first-rate thinker who had a passionate belief in the importance of Christian doctrine and theology.
Unfortunately she has tended to be overshadowed by the likes of other famous Christian laypeople from England: Lewis, Eliot, Tolkien, Muggeridge and Chesterton. But she was in many ways their equal, and she can rightly be described as one of our most important Christian intellects and authors of recent times.
Sayers was appalled at the general lack of doctrinal knowledge amongst most believers, and she wrote extensively on the need to develop a Christian mind. And she strived to make theological truths accessible to the common man. It is her theological interests that make up the theme of this important book.
Laura Simmons is well versed in the writings of Sayers. Indeed, she spent one summer reading through the 30,000 pages of letters written by and to Sayers. This book demonstrates that Simmons has a very good grasp indeed of the mind and writings of Sayers.
The title of Simmons’ book refers of course to the 1940 essay by Sayers, Creed or Chaos? In that important tract Sayers demonstrates her clear grasp of the importance of right belief as the basis of right living. Orthodoxy, in other words, precedes orthopraxis. We cannot rightly live the Christian life if we do not have a right understanding of basic Christian doctrines and teaching.
Simmons examines a number of theological concerns that Sayers addressed over her important career. Sayers wrote on many theological issues, on the nature of words and language, on women’s issues, and creativity and art. Simmons explores all these vital topics in depth.
The very extensive bibliography of both primary and secondary sources shows that Simmons’ has deeply mined the works of Sayers, and those written about her. Hers is a first-rate treatment of a first-rate Christian thinker and writer.
Simmons deserves praise for bringing the theological side of Sayers back into the public spotlight.