Dogmaticness and why it’s a problem

22 Jul

Dogma is a wonderful word.  Without looking at the Kevin Smith movie, the word relates to belief and religious philosophy.  People’s dogma relates to how we see the world and why we understand how the world works.  We each develop our own sense of a dogma and it may be based on an established dogma or a mesh of various beliefs. The word dogmatic though is a little different.  Webster defines “dogmatic” as “characterized by or given to the expression of opinions very strongly or positively as if they were facts.”  Being dogmatic is expressing your opinions and thoughts as fact.  It’s not quite the same thing. 

Now, I will be honest with you, for anyone reading this, I don’t mind people stating their dogma as fact, although I don’t appreciate dogmatism.  To me, dogma is essential to life.  And the religion someone choses to follow should be followed whole-heartedly.  A christian should BE a christian.  Christians should see themselves as right.  And a buddhist should live his life devoted to his teachings. If what you believe isn’t worth believing with all your heart and standing for completely, then you should probably move on. 

But on the other hand, dogmatism is very different.  Dogmatism is creating your own opinions and following it whole-heatedly.  A christian can be dogmatic and it can create problems.  The Bible, God’s Holy Word, doesn’t spell everything out completely.  For example, the Bible talks about miracles.  The Bible also says that when “that which is perfect is come,” that miracles will be done away with.  And yet, at no point, does it define what that is.  Many consider the perfection mentioned to be the completed Bible, while others see it to be when Christ returns.  It could be seen either way.  And yet, all too frequently, if you try and disagree with someone on the this topic, they get irrate and consider you to be heretical.  Another famous issue Christians debate is when the “rapture” will occur.  Some see the rapture as clearly outlined before the tribulation, while others see passages that say Christ will return during the tribulation and others see Christ returning at the end of the tribulation.  Some even consider that the tribulation has already happened.  But try to question someone about their belief and they may get rather vocal with you. 

If you are reading this, and think these issues are cut and dry, that’s cool.  We all have the right to interpret the Bible as we see fit.  You don’t get to fuss and mistreat your fellow christian because they disagree however, because the Bible doesn’t spell it all out.  In the book of Acts, Luke mentions a group of people called the Bereans who questioned what Paul and Luke taught them.  These are heroes of the faith to me. They searched the scriptures to verify what they were taught.  That is what we are supposed to do.  And that is how we should handle moments when people disagree with us.  No arguement just researching the Bible. 

Finally, the worst problem with many dogmatic people (and yes, I notice a degree of irony in my dogmatically fussing against dogmatic people) is that they don’t necessarily know why they believe what they do.  A priest, preacher, rabbi, etc told them something at one point and they believe it.  They can quote some random words they call scripture, but really don’t know where it’s at.  Or they know where it’s at but argue if you mention another verse that may imply something different than they have been taught to believe.  They focus so much at one point that they miss bigger points and push people away. 

As christians, we need to move away from dogmatism I believe.  The truth is somethings we will never know on earth.  Being rude and hateful just diverts God’s love from being seen.  There are points where all christians must come together if we want to claim to be christians.  Christ died and was resurrected.  God created us.  These are essentials of the faith.  Years ago, I heard of a denomination that’s core belief was summed up as “on essentials, stand firm.  On questionable things, feel free to believe as you see fit.”  That’s not exactly the church’s dogma, but I think it’s a pretty good place to start. 



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