Thursday, July 18, 2013


Dogmatism!  Our dog is named "Lula Bella". This is not about her, nor any other dog, albeit she is a little arrogant when she wants to be!  Dogmatism means to be strongly opinionated and in the context I'm using it, opinionated about doctrine.  (Lula Bella has little doctine outside her unrelenting desire for doggy treats!)

Over the centuries the Catholic Church was very dogmatic. In order to be a true Christian one had to be of the universal (catholic) faith.  So far, so good!  I agree that the universal Christian church are the true followers of Jesus. However, things changed! Catholicism became a "denomination".  They changed, and as a consequence those who disagreed with change, became schismatic (the church divided).  Over the centuries the Roman Catholic Church , which was the name of the new denomination, became so dogmatic that it persecuted fellow Christians, even by torture, for not being followers of the "true faith". Kings, as "Protectors of the Faith" carried out the sentences of the Bishops and even Bishops led mobs.

In 1517, Martin Luther, repulsed by indulgences and other man-made abuses of the Roman Catholic Church, nailed the Ninety-five Theses to the castle church door at Wittenberg, Germany.  That started the "Reformation", and those who were schismatic were labeled "Protestants".  Although, the Reformed Church abandoned Roman Catholic doctrine, they kept the dogmatism of the Catholic Church. Just like the Catholics, those "reformed" started their own persecutions.  Although not a formal part of the reformation, the Anglican Church, was also a schism from the Catholic Church. That church in it's dogmatism was the impetus for the Congregational Church, the Friends, and the General and Particular Baptists among others.  Those new denominations broke off because of the persecution and rididity of not only the Anglican (Church of England), but because of the State Church supported by the Parliament and the King.

In all fairness, the extreme dogmatism existing at the time of the Reformation which led to persecution by death, has diminished. Both Roman Catholicism and the Anglican Church have mellowed, and in my opinion, mellowed beyond dogmatism to extreme liberalism!  (That's another story.)

However, some churches today insist that you be of their persuasion or denomination to be a "true Christian". Such denominations, although some deny being just that, are so dogmatic that the common love of other Christians and Christian Unity  is non-existent.

Ephesians 4:2 (KJV) " With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;  3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;"
Christians "forbearing one another in love" precludes arrogancy of dogmatism.  Those who are dogmatic care little about other's interpretation of Scripture, and their pride keeps them from relenting to the possibility of their own miscomprehension!  I'll use an example:  On the issue of "apostasy from the faith", I believe as free agents we must maintain our faith in Christ keeping the seal God has placed on us unopened. There are others who believe in "eternal security", which is commonly called "once saved, always saved" without regard to a faithful walk.  Although I am certain my interpretation is right, I'll never be totally sure until I'm in heaven. Therefore, I must put my own pride aside and leave the possibility open that the other interpretation just might be right. We use the same Bible... we just interpret it differently. God knows what's right and one of us is wrong. It can just as easily be either one of us although each of us is certain we're right.
The key to what I'm saying is "pride".  We ust put our inheritance from Adam aside and be humble and meek. We can do that without abandoning our own position because we "forebear one another in love". If that argument diminishes the authority and sacrifice of Jesus, "pride" is no longer the issue, truth is!  Dogmatism comes into play when the Christian believes truth is not what God says, but pride in their own interpretation of what God says without regard to love. (We must keep the faith, but faith with unity).
Although being ecumencial is about unity within the universal church, ecumenicalism is a feeble attempt to unite. The problem therein is that churches believing in the inspired word of God must not unite with those which deny that it is!  We cannot unite with those heretical!  We cannot unite with those who do not believe in the grace of Jesus sacrifice as an atonement of our sins and that Jesus IS GOD!
2 Peter 2:1 "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."
That's so clear that I won't elaborate. We have false preachers and false doctrines among us. In times past these were clearly cults. Now mainstream churches are culprits. They are as the Laodician Church of Paul's time "neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm". Christ will "spew them out of his mouth"! We are not to unite with those. That's not dogmaticism... that's obedience!
Ephesians 4:2 goes on to say that we are to keep the unity in a bond of peace. That means that those who oppose our particular interpretation are still part of Christ's Church, but that we have differences in belief. That's why churches have doctrinal statements; to identify how they interpret Scripture since just about every church body has differences in interpretation. Some say that they don't have doctrines outside the Bible.  Since the Bible is subject to interpretation even those churches are doctrinal and are blind to their own spin!  Some are so dextrous with thought that they say they're not a denomination yet practice denominationalism to the point of dogmaticism!  Those "denominations" even believe that if you're not one of them, you're hell bound!
Again, from Ephesians 4...  "There is one body and one Spirit". "One body" is uncapitalized and means the one true church, followers of Christ. "one Spirit" is capitalized and means "One True God".  Although we may differ in how we understand certain ideas if we follow the One True God, we are indeed Christ's Church!  Even those churches which are dogmatic are still of Christ's Church although they deny others that same right!  Those churches are part of the One True Church, but they are prideful, arrogant and don't place any emphasis on what Paul says about Christian Unity.
1 Corinthians 1:11 (KJV)  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
Paul was speaking to Christians. He called them "brothers". He rebuked them saying "there are contentions among you". Contentions are controversies over disputes, in this case doctrinal disputes. Paul, Apollos and Cephas had followers as did Christ. However, they all didn't understand Christ the same way and were disputing over it. He rightfully pointed out that the individuals named didn't die for them, but Christ did! There was one Christ... and Apollos, Cephas and himself (Paul) aren't Christ!
I speak of dogmatism with a sad spirit. Dogmatic churches displace the love of God and neighbor with the interpretation of Apollos or whatever modern-day prophet emerges!  Those churches are Pharisitical. The letter of the law is more important than the grace of God. Yes, if I'm wrong, but sincere, God loves me enough that I'll be saved in the end just as long as it's by Christ alone!  I'm a "Disciple of Christ" because I follow Jesus, not because I adhere to some who deny their own denomination. I don't follow John the Baptist. I don't follow John Wesley. I don't follow Alexander Campbell. I follow Jesus Christ and I'm part of the Church of Jesus Christ, the universal (catholic with a small "c") church. We all can be part of that church without regard to denomination or lack of denomination!

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