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Dogmatic Joy: An Introduction

Hello! Welcome to my blog.

My name is Lorenzo Galuszka. I am a graduate student of theology at Yale Divinity School and a layman from the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. I hope to use this site to share some of my theological reflections as I make the journey through divinity school.

So… what does “dogmatic joy” mean?

The word “dogma” has long been associated in the public consciousness with narrow-mindedness and exclusion. To be dogmatic about something is, to the average ear, to be unbending and rigid to the point of being unreasonable. Just look at Dictionary.com’s synonyms for the word “dogmatic”: arbitrary, imperious, dictatorial. How could dogmas ever be a source of joy?

It is the purpose of this blog to help rehabilitate “dogma” and “doctrine” from their negative connotations, and present them as they really are: joyous articulations of the goodness of God as He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ.

By way of demonstration, allow me to highlight one of my “favorite” Christian doctrines: justification by faith alone. As the Articles of Religion from the Church of England put it, “We [human beings] are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings” (Article XI).

This doctrine is a cause for joy. It lets me know that despite my sinfulness, God looks upon me as righteous because of Christ. I do not have to worry about amassing good works so that God will accept me, nor need I look to my own faltering faith or imperfect repentance for assurance that God’s verdict upon me will be favorable. I am not accounted righteous because of my works, or even because of my faith, but because “one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all” (Romans 5:18, NRSV)– a reality which is gratefully acknowledged by faith. For anyone who worries about their standing before God, this is indeed “a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort.”

There are many joyous doctrines like this in the Christian faith, from the major dogmas like the Trinity and the Incarnation to minor practices like infant communion. In this space, I will be exploring these doctrines, and how they help us understand the goodness of God in Christ.

Any theological topic is game, but here are some of the subjects I anticipate writing about:

  • The Holy Trinity
  • The Incarnation
  • The Cross
  • The Eucharist
  • Justification by faith alone
  • The Gospel

Stay tuned!

 

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A Reflection on Mary in Advance of the Advent/Christmas Seasons

Perhaps the most unusual aspect of my Catholic upbringing is that I had no devotion to the Virgin Mary throughout my childhood and adolescence. Of course, I did not view her negatively, but I did not ask for her intercessions, nor pray the Angelus, the Rosary, or the Hail Mary. When I became Anglican during university, my lack of Marian devotion and minimal interest in Marian theology remained.
 
I am increasingly convinced that this is not ideal, especially given my pro-life convictions. The Advent and Christmas seasons provide more support for the pro-life position than any other—the Annunciation and virginal conception, the pregnancy of Mary, the leaping of John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb, even (tragically) Herod’s massacre of the infants. They are also the liturgical seasons in which Mary is most prominent.
 
This is not coincidental. From Annunciation to Nativity, Mary persisted in her commitment to the sanctity of the life she bore. She is the exemplar of the woman who said yes to life.
 
Yet Evangelicals have pushed her to the margins of our spirituality, theology, and iconography (not literally our icons, but the whole visual system we present to the world as representing our Christianity). Evangelicals can correct this unfortunate development with an added Marian emphasis in preaching, theology, and devotion, done tastefully and non-excessively (see Luther’s Mariology for a good example). Contemplation of Mary will not only further illuminate the pro-life position, but, like all good Mariology, it will draw our attention to her Son—not the one who said yes to life, but the One who is Life itself.