What is Christian Dogma? Should Christians Be Dogmatic?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What does it mean to be dogmatic?  What is meant by the term Christian dogma?  Is it good to be dogmatic?

What is Dogma?

Dogma is a set of codes, beliefs, and principles which are held to be necessarily true and cannot or will not change.  For example, there are dogmas of science and religion which are objectively true.  A dogma of science is that the sun is presently hot or that the sun is using energy.  A dogma of religion held by Christians is that God cannot lie, that He is eternal, that He has always existed and that He is also sinless and holy.  That is a dogma that is objectively true and is unchangeable. Christians believe that the Bible is true, that the Word of God is a set of authoritative teachings concerning the nature of God, and that God is the true Author of Scripture even though He used human writers (2 Tim 3:16).

Generally, dogmas are not challenged since they have attained a status of broad acceptance, like the dogma of the sun being presently hot.  For Christians, the fact that God cannot lie is something that cannot be challenged by human reasoning and is considered a Christian Dogma.  If a Christian does challenge this truth, then that person is considered to be in a state of apostasy because what they are claiming is something that is heresy because the Bible states that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Romans 3:4). This dogma will never change with time or be affected by circumstances or human activity.   Two plus two will always be four and will always be true.  This is objectively true and what we can call a mathematical dogma.

Christian Dogma

A Christian should be dogmatic when it comes to what the Bible clearly reveals but they cannot be dogmatic in areas where the Bible is not specific and abundantly clear about something.

Should Christians Be Dogmatic?

The answer is yes and no.  A Christian should be dogmatic when it comes to what the Bible clearly reveals but they cannot be dogmatic in areas where the Bible is not specific and abundantly clear about something.  For example some Christian denominations believe that dancing is wrong or that believers should not play cards, but that is an area where the Bible is silent.  When a Christian is challenged by a non-Christian that Jesus was and is God, then they should be dogmatic about this because the Bible is clear that Jesus is God (John 1:1; 5:18, 8:58, 10:30-33, 20:28).   Believers should also be dogmatic about the fact that Jesus was without sin (Heb 4:12; 1 Peter 2:22).  An example of where Christians cannot be dogmatic is by telling someone why they are suffering.  They may be suffering from something that they have done, for some ongoing sin,  that God is using their suffering to strengthen their character or a number of other reasons that we cannot possibly know.  There are cases where God uses suffering for our perfection, for our correction and maybe even for His glory, like when we are persecuted.  For a Christian to walk up to another Christian and dogmatically tell them that they are suffering because of some hidden sin is wrong.  Only God can see into the human heart.  In all probabilities, we don’t know the circumstances behind or the reasons for their suffering and so we should not be dogmatic about it by telling them why they are suffering.  God alone knows the purpose for their trials and tribulations.

The late Bible teacher, Dr. J. Vernon McGee once said that the only exercise some Christians get is by jumping to conclusion, running a person down or walking all over a person.  We should never be dogmatic about things that God has not clearly revealed to us in His Word.  One thing that we can be dogmatic about is the fact that we are sinners and that we make wrong decisions and cannot know the human heart (Jer 17:9).

Conclusion

I was once told that my refusal to budge on a biblical fact was that I was being too dogmatic.  Can a person be too dogmatic about what the Bible teaches?  No!  It’s like saying a woman can be too pregnant or a Christian can be too holy. Being dogmatic about something is necessary because that something is either true or it is not true.  It is dogmatically true or it is dogmatically false.  The person that scolded me said “You mustn’t be dogmatic.”  That was a criticism that I have heard more than once but I believe it is a good thing to be dogmatic because this means that we hold fast to something that has been proven true.  For example, what the Bible teaches on committing adultery is true.  The fact that it is sin cannot change with time or circumstances.

To be dogmatic is to be like a dog holding onto a bone that refuses to give it up. He fights to keep it and his powerful jaws will just not let go.  Christians, what the culture deems as acceptable or as “normal” is not always what is acceptable to God.  What seems right to a man can be an abomination to God or as Proverbs 21:2 says “A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart” (New Living Translation).   I have counseled over many issues, and time and time again it seems that some Christians just don’t get it.  I get a lot a persecutions over issues and from Christians no less.  One recent example was whether believers should marry non-believers.  The Bible is clear that Christians should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14).  I can be dogmatic about this but I cannot be dogmatic about whether a believer should live in one state or another.  I cannot be clear on it because the Bible is not clear on it.  Where the Bible is silent, so must I be.  Where the Bible is not silent, neither can I be silent.  What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.  God’s commandments don’t change, just as God doesn’t, to which we can be thankful.  If you haven’t yet repented of your sins, confessed them to God, pleaded for forgiveness from God, and then trusted in Christ, then I can dogmatically state they you are headed for a fiery judgment (Rev 20:11-15) but Christ died for you and is willing to grant you eternal life if you believe in Him (John 3:16).  That is Christian dogma and something to which I can most certainly be dogmatic about.

Another Reading: 10 Interesting Bible Facts About Jesus

Resources: New International Version Bible (NIV) THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide



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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Zhongguo Long December 28, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Ah, hello, my dear Pastor! I stumbled onto this article and must I say, I am astounded by such loyalty to the Messiah and God! 😀 In fact, it is obvious that this article ITSELF was inspired by the words of God themselves! The rebels desire God to show up and reveal his power, but wouldn’t the power of God, shown intelleculy through a lowly human, be even more astounding? I say YES! YES, my dear Pastor!

Note: By rebels, I refer to everyone who rejects God.

True, people should be passionate about God! Especially in this evil culture, where even the children swear at each other, but in Britain, it’s only in bad neighbourhoods, (thankfully).
I grow tired of evil, even my own evil, and I long for the Messiah, Yeshua, to return. Only then we will get a taste of true theocracy, that is, rulership under God.

Wishing you well, Zhongguo Long, that is, Chinese Dragon
(As for my true identity, you’ll probably be able to guess it.)

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Jack Wellman December 28, 2013 at 4:11 pm

So good to hear from you and sorry, I can’t tell but I would guess that your name is close to mine? Thanks for your encouragement also my friend as truly the Word is getting more and more watered down but only the Solid Bedrock of Truth never erodes and that is the Bible.

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Jack H December 29, 2013 at 4:29 am

In a word, yes. 😀

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Jennifer Attaway Gilliam January 2, 2014 at 7:42 am

I am inspired to find someone who has the same belief as I do. It is hard to find a Preacher who believes Dogmas are a good thing anymore. They believe they must adjust with the public and change their doctrine to keep attendance high because that is more important than speaking the truth. I firmly believe in the truths of the Bible that have been shown to me. I vote according to these, love according to these, and try to live according to these!
I sincerely appreciate your article and I hope you have many more I can receive inspiration from.

Jennifer Attaway Gilliam

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Jack Wellman January 2, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Thank you Mrs. Gilliam for your very encouraging comments. I find it very rare to have such encouragement today, even from believers. I once had a man leave our church who hated it when I gave an opening or closing prayer with the words that “God, please forgive us of our sins as we are sinners, yet saved….etc.” He came up to our elder and said that he hated that because he was not a sinner? I told the elder that if this man says he’s not a sinner, then why isn’t he in heaven already? I later said that since he said that he’s not a sinner then “I’m sorry for you because Jesus came to die for sinners.” I know the truth offends but a pastor should stick to the Bible, unwatered donw, and the Word of God does this: It comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable and the trust sets you free or it makes you mad.” I am comfortable with the truth, even though I have some who can’t handle the truth. Thanks for your comforting words Mrs. Gilliam. Our church is going thru some trials but I stand firm on the Word of God for His Word changes not.

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Mr A Cotton January 4, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Well I am good at not believing all the Catholic Churches Dogma`s. When I landed on this site a couple of years ago you certainly made me see some of the faults.
What do you make of this Jack.
Will Kinney who said on YouTube here is one of John MacArthur`s Biblical Agnosticism. In one of his sermons about Matthew 6:13 he has this to say: “The doxology is simply this;
For Thine is the kingdom,the power,the glory forever Amen.
That`s a doxology. You just say it,you just think it,you just offer it to God,you don`t dissect it.
And by the way,there`s manuscript evidence that Jesus didn`t say this,that`s why it`s not included in some of your versions of the bible. We don`t know whether He said it or not.
Some manuscripts have it,some don`t. They were defending the King James bible against what MacArthur said about it.
It`s the only bible to have the lords prayer printed in capitol letter`s.
You have the old version of the King James bible Jack that`s the one I want but you can`t buy it now.
These two people where defending the King James Bible,and they said there are a few mistranslation`s but nothing major like the Lords Prayer.
I looked in the catholic one and they were right.
This MacArthur has upset quit a lot of people about this,and he said in reply you must have the wrong MacArthur.
It`s a big issue about different version`s of the bible,and there are quite a lot of things left out of all the other`s.
I am still watching them now and again because there seems to be quite a lot of video`s about this topic.

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Jack Wellman January 4, 2014 at 5:31 pm

I don’t believe that it makes one difference or another Anthony. I know that seems inadequate as an answer but God’s call is effectual, that is His call will not depend upon inadequate translations because God does not depend upon humans (and their differing translations) but upon the Holy Spirit. In the end, nothing can prevent God’s calling a person into the Kingdom (Romans 8) and that God draws men to Christ (John 6:44) and the Holy Spirit draws men to Christ and that flesh and blood never interfers with this calling because Who Jesus is does not depend upon any one else but God (Math 16:17). The King-James-only defenders can get into arguments that destroy, in my opinion, the sovereignty and power of God’s work in those whom He desires to be saved. I have all the faith and confidence in John MacArthur in as much as I would any of the soundest theologians there are today. The truth does not depend upon Will Kinney or any man but upon God alone. YouTube is notorious for getting people off onto tangents and whether he has a point or not, any added doxology, if it be for praise of God and to His glory, is fine with me.

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GG May 13, 2014 at 10:54 am

“…I get a lot a persecutions over issues and from Christians no less. One recent example was whether believers should marry non-believers. The Bible is clear that Christians should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14). I can be dogmatic about this but I cannot be dogmatic about whether a believer should live in one state or another…”

I’m not trying to doctrinally nitpick or anything, but I am genuinely curious, how does your statement above square with 1 Corinthians 7:12-16? I always took the ‘yoked’ comment to refer to a mental state of mind or the state of one’s heart; one shouldn’t yoke themselves in their actions or thoughts with an unbeliever. However, being married to an unbeliever was permitted because that person can be won over to Christ through the believing spouse?

Just curious.

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Jack Wellman May 13, 2014 at 7:09 pm

GG, I know what you mean. Where the Bible is silent, so then will I be silent and not dogmatic on such things as where to live and what job to take etc. A person can be married, and should not divorce from a person who is not a believer because in 1 Corinthians 7:10-17 Paul writes:

“To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he [or she]should not divorce her [or him]. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? Live as You Are Called Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.” and in verse 1 Cor 7:24 “So, brothers,in whatever condition each was called, there let him [or her]remain with God.”

Being married to an unbeliever was permitted yes, because they were already married but what I am saying here in this article is that they should not marry an unbeliever in they are a believer for that is an unequal yoke and it will be a constant trial. I think that it is more than a mental state of mind or one’s heart but one of obedience and this chapter is about marriage and not mental or heart issues. Read off of 1 Cor 7 and you can see the context and subject matter is all about marriage. Does this help GG? I pray it does. Thank you.

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MM January 25, 2016 at 1:36 am

Referring to “The Bible is clear that Christians should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14).” And “To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
I was married and divorced my husband. Am I to stay unmarried because I left! This is a issue I have struggled with. But I can’t help but to feel as if I’m to stay alone.

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Mitchell Solano February 20, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Rabbi, I am a recent Jewish convert with many years of intensive Hebrew study. I would not be in this place if I had not objectively challenged the dogmatic views as they are in Judaism. I too have made enemies of sorts and lost many friends to be here. Yet here I am. Now here, I see the same human failings that existed before. I the sheep that follow without question can be led astray by wolf if separated from a good leader. I follow no one except God himself and prove every word in the texts as well as verbally. The chasm of knowledge is vast and the unity within Christianity is also vast. So many bibles, views and opinions. It is quite astonishing what we as people have done to the word of God. We seem to violently protect the truth while holding on to that which is not. Challenge the establishment and see what happens. Ask a question that no one wishes to engage, you will be labeled thus. For myself, I wish to teach the church what I know so that the sheep may learn to study on their own and lead, never to be deceived by those who would do so intentionally or out of ignorance. And is this not what 2Tim is about. I did love your article and it is an inspiration to those of us that are awake enough to see. Thank you.

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Walter M Locher November 25, 2017 at 6:23 am

Can people hold a dogmatic belief that is not true?
Can you give an example of a dogmatic belief you hold to be true?
What would it take to convince you that the belief wasn’t true?
Is it reasonable to hold beliefs as true w/o considering what conditions could prove them false?

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Sean Castleton July 22, 2018 at 10:10 pm

Dogma has been transliterated as “philosophical tenet” in regards to the bible. A belief or set of beliefs agreed upon by a body of believers based upon circumstantial events. My stance on this perception is based upon logic. Simply put, believing in something is one thing, but actually knowing something to be true is quite another. To believe in something based upon metaphors and known flawed predispositions is not logical.

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Jack Wellman July 22, 2018 at 10:23 pm

Thank you for your comment Mr. Castleton. Dogma is defined as a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true, and in this case, the principles are those of the Bible and the author is God Himself. There is no greater authority.

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