Dorothy Sayers on the Incarnation

The incarnation means that for whatever reason God chose to let us fall into a condition of being limited, to suffer, to be subject to sorrows and death””he has nonetheless had the honesty and the courage to take
his own medicine…. He himself has 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…. He was born in povertyand…suffered infinite pain””all for us””and thought it well worth his while.

–Dorothy Sayers; (Those of you who are bibliophiles and research types heads up, I have seen this lots of places including from Tim Keller, but I am thus far unable to find it in Sayers’ herself and I would love to have the Sayers reference if anyone knows such–KSH)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

9 comments on “Dorothy Sayers on the Incarnation

  1. Laura R. says:

    I’ve located it on p. 4 in [b] Creed or Chaos? [/b], a slim volume of essays published by Harcourt, Brace in 1949. This excerpt comes from the first essay, “The Greatest Drama Ever Staged.” The wording is slightly different.

  2. elice says:

    good information~~~~

  3. William Witt says:

    “The Greatest Drama Ever Staged” is one of my favorite Sayers essays. I have my students read it every time I reach my course on “The Anglican Way of Theology.” The actual quote runs as follows:

    He [Jesus of Nazareth] was not a kind of demon pretending to be human; he was in every respect a genuine living man. He was not merely a man so good as to be “like God”–he was God.

    Now, this is not just a pious commonplace: it is not a commonplace at all. For what it means is this, among other things: that for whatever reason God chose to make man as he is–limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death–he [God] had the honesty and 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.

    The entire essay is well worth reading. Another favorite paragraph:

    So that is the outline of the official story–the tale of the time when God was the underdog and got beaten, when he submitted to the conditions he had laid down and became a man like the men he had made, and the men he had made broke him and killed him. This is the dogma we find so dull–this terrifying drama of which God is the victim and hero.

    Merry Christmas to all on T19, and especially to Kendall. Might I suggest that thoughtfully reading a copy of this essay would be a most fitting way to celebrate this season. Creed or Chaos? has been reprinted. The essay can also be found in several collections, including The Whimsical Christian, available used for at little as $3.25, plus shipping at

  4. Kendall Harmon says:

    Many thanks to Laura R. in #1. I alas do not have that volume at present, and I suspected it might be a place to find the quote. I am definitely getting a copy.

    Thanks too to Dr. Witt for the full quote and the book info., and, indeed, Merry Christmas to all blog readers.

  5. Laura R. says:

    You’re most welcome, and a Merry Christmas to you and all T19 readers as well!

  6. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    WOW–thanks to all above and Merry Christmas, too. Dr. Witt, that post is fabulous–I will share with others and pass it around–not only serious observational wisdom, but great sermon fodder, too.


  7. libraryjim says:

    Thanks, Dr. Witt, I’m posting that on my Facebook status!

    Jim E. <><

  8. lostdesert says:

    Thank you Wm Witt. Worth the reading.

  9. Ross Gill says:

    Kendall, If you find it hard to get hold of a copy of ‘Creed or Chaos’ the essay ‘The Greatest Drama Ever Staged’ can also be found in a collection of essays bundled together in a book called ‘Letters to a Diminished Church’.