Dorothy L. Sayers formulates a theory in "The Mind of the Maker" to explain just how man can be said to have been created in the image of God. God, she proposes, is a creative Trinity. The Father carries an idea, complete and whole in His mind; the Son works to reveal that idea; and the Holy Spirit is the power which results from the revelation of the Father's idea. The creation process requires that all three of these parts be present in a balanced unity. In creating man, God placed in him this creative trinity--He gave man the privilege of being, like Him, a maker. Sayers explains how this trinity is revealed in the artist, and how a lack of a balance affects the success of the work.
In this paper, I have suggested that Sayers' theory can be applied to the life and responsibility of a Christian. The Father's idea, then, becomes the clear and perfect understanding of dogma; the Son's revelation of that idea becomes the Christian's revelation in his life and work of his understanding of the nature of God; and the Holy Spirit's power becomes the power of the Christian life to advance the world nearer to a just society.
Extending Sayers' theory this way can be supported by referring to Sayers' own work. In her detective fiction, characters who are "good guys" demonstrate a balanced unity of understanding, work, and social responsibility. "Bad guys" generally show a maladjustment somewhere in one of these three parts. Lord Peter, the detective hero of the novels, most clearly reveals the image of God (even though he is not characterized as a Christian), in part because he is so perfectly balanced, and in part because God Himself does not ever appear, and in his absence Lord Peter becomes the being most worthy of worship in Sayers' fictitious world.
In the four religious plays considered in this paper, every-day good-type people are focused upon. Each character exhibits some good quality, but what is good is, nearly destroyed by an atrophy in some other area of the trinity. In one play especially Sayers identifies three things as the supreme desires of all men: to understand what the world is all about; to find worthwhile work to devote themselves to; and to live in a society which is just and decent. The characters in all four of the plays considered find a balance of these things in Christ.
In her essays and addresses, Sayers at some points emphasizes the importance of a clear understanding of theology, at other times the necessity of finding a work which is worthwhile and creative, and at still other times the problem of balancing theology and creativity with the need to function as a responsible citizen. However, the whole of her work demonstrates the need for a balanced unity of all three of these things, especially within the life of the Christian.
In the final chapter of this paper, Sayers' own life is examined. She herself always sought just this kind of a balance: she worked to reveal in her art the understanding she possessed of God, of Christian theology; and she did so as a responsible citizen, hoping that her work and her understanding would be received with power by the people she loved. She did not always feel herself to have been perfectly successful; however Sayers was aware that, although she was created in His image, she was not herself God. She worked to reveal the image within her, accepting herself as the imperfect medium of a perfect message.
Robert P. Dunn
Master of Arts (MA)
Year Degree Awarded
Date (Title Page)
Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings
Sayers; Dorothy L. (Dorothy Leigh); 1893-1957--Criticism and interpretation; Christian life
Loma Linda University Libraries
This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.
Karman, Janice C., "The Christian Life : Dorothy L. Sayers' Balanced View" (1980). Loma Linda University Electronic Theses, Dissertations & Projects. 1051.
Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives