Senator Dianne Feinstein’s comments to court nominee Amy Barrett about her faith are already well worn. But Sohrab Ahmari’s short op-ed in the New York Times is definitely worth your time if you are inclined to ponder the role of faith in the public square. For the article click here.
Feinstein’s line that has drawn so much attention is this: And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.
I appreciate the Senator’s articulate assessment. The irony of her comments is that which was meant as a warning and rebuke is actually high praise for the faithful. Barrett, it seems, is bringing her faith to bear in the public sphere. This is what a Christian is to do. In fact, a Christian can’t help but do this. The challenge for the Christian (and really any person religious or not) is to be faithful to their dogma and be a good citizen within the confines of civic authority but Barrett should be no more excluded for service to her country than ardent supporters of Feinstein and her agenda. But I digress. I am not a political commentator.
On a more practical level, Feinstein’s charge should serve as a reminder and an encouragement to all of us who cling to Christ as Lord. Our dogma should live so loudly within us that others take note.
At St. John’s the last several weeks, we’ve been exploring Christian dogma as it comes to us in the Apostles’ Creed. It is a powerful summary of the Christian faith. Among other things in the Creed, we profess…
… belief in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth…
In other words, we believe the world is God’s and everything in it. We believe we have the responsibility to steward wisely the precious gifts he’s given us. We believe human life at all stages has purpose and value because we are made in the image of God.
… belief in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, our Lord…
That is, we believe we are in need of rescue and that Jesus, the Christ of God, came to us full of grace and truth to save us from death and our own destructive ways through his own suffering, death, and triumphant resurrection.
… belief in the Holy Spirit…
In other words, we believe that as God saves us so he remakes us in his image by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside us. We believe he uses the church, through word and sacrament, and the communion of saints for his redemptive and transformational purposes. And we believe, as God’s forgiven people, there is a brighter future ahead.
Here we have the heart of Christian dogma, a faith that affirms a life giving and compassionate God. And yet it is a dogma that undermines an increasingly popular view of radical self-determination, apparently absent of any higher authority other than the Zeitgeist or spirit of the times.
Christians understand their call to serve others as Christ served humanity. Christians understand that what their dogma teaches is the only real hope for human flourishing, whether for themselves, their families, their communities, or their world.
Thank you Senator Feinstein for paying such a high compliment to one of our own. May it be said of all the faithful – Dogma lives loudly within us.
For further reading: