|Q. I think a dogmatic point of view is often rigid, absolute – but rarely attains the truth given the sinful or dynamic nature of humans. (A.M.)
The God of Relativity
I know how you feel. I used to think all Christians were rigid, unsophisticated dummies. In addition, many people today no longer believe in “absolutes” or dogma. Those very words seem to describe narrow-minded bigots who are rigid fundamentalists.
The Superiority of Relativity
We now grow up with an educational system that teaches us and our children that relative values are best. There is no “truth.” Everyone must make decisions for themselves.
True for You but not for Me
In fact, I will go so far as to state the current worldview makes a “god” out of tolerance, acceptance and multiculturalism.
This is a worldview that says, “That may be true for you but it isn’t for me.” “Find your own truth – but don’t try to force your truth on me.” “All truth is relative.”
So let’s define our terms:
The word “dogma” means “a tenet or code of tenets” or “a doctrine or body of doctrines formally proclaimed by a church.” “Dogmatism” is “a positiveness in stating matters of opinion especially when unwarranted or arrogant” (Webster’s 2001, 154).
The fourth, fifth and sixth definition of “absolute” in Webster’s Dictionary means “positive,” “relating to the fundamental units of length, mass and time” – “fundamental,” “ultimate” (2001, 2).
Laws of Society
Here is a shocker: I can tell you right now that you actually are a dogmatic, absolute person according to Webster’s Dictionary definitions.
How can this be?
Well…my freedom ends where your nose begins!
In other words, you will not tolerate me punching you in the nose to get your wallet just because I want it. My freedom ends where your nose begins.
I cannot just take your car or rob your house or do whatever I want with you and your possessions. There are rules and laws that govern a civilized society – no matter how much I believe in my own “freedom” to do or think as I choose.
Furthermore, consider this: By telling me that absolutes and dogmas are wrong you are likely saying in effect,
“You are wrong to have absolutes – absolutely!”
Are you being “fundamental” or “absolute” in your position?
Laws of Nature
Secondly, there are not only absolute rules in society, but there are also laws of nature.
No matter how much we protest, if my parachute doesn’t open after I jump out of the plane, I will die. I will perish no matter how much I scream that I dictate my own laws and find my own truths. The law of gravity rules my life – no matter what I think is “truth.”
The notion that one can dictate his or her own truth is a myth. It serves the classroom well and results in endless, pointless philosophical discussions. But, it does not exist in the real world.
A Faith of Reason
Christianity is a reasoned, intelligent presentation of a personal God who has visited His own world. Volumes of evidences point to this conclusion. The study of “apologetics” has convinced many skeptics of its truth. So please, before you reject something that some extremely intelligent people have accepted, please remember this:
…”although the Bible consists of sixty-six separate books penned by over forty authors over a period of several thousand years, it is an integrated message system. Every passage, every word, every number, and every place name is there for a specific reason. A skillful design pervades the whole. The second foundation is that this message system is from outside our dimensions of space and time. It is literally of extraterrestrial origin” (Missler 2002, 1).
Dynamic, Sinful Beings
The second part of your question states that humans cannot find the truth given their sinful or dynamic (changing) nature.
Yes, you are correct. Humans cannot find the truth on their own. This is why God reached out to us – not the other way around. As C.S. Lewis puts it, “God became one of his own creatures who lived among us” (The Problem of Pain). How else could we know the “truth?”
In our sinful, dynamic state of being we cannot come to understand much of anything. We are always changing truths and rules – just examine the history of our own Encyclopedia – it changes every year. Examine other religions worldwide. They are seeking to find God on their own.
Yet, there is a God in heaven who gave us a message of “extraterrestrial origin” as Dr. Missler states. It is a book filled with thousands of prophecies to prove His being and knowledge of things far beyond us.
Perhaps you may wish to explore this for yourself. You can find our recommended books at your local bookstore or through Amazon.com.
Cornish, Rick. 2005. 5 Minute apologist. Colorado: NavPress.
Missler, Chuck. 2002. Learn the Bible in 24 hours. Nashville, TN: Nelson.
Muncaster, Ralph. 2004. Examine the evidence. Eugene, OR: Harvest House.
Webster’s New Dictionary of the English Language. 2001. New York: Popular Publishing.