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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