Monday, August 18, 2008

Shades of Gray

dog·ma :

1. That which is held as an opinion; a tenet; a doctrine.

The obscure and loose dogmas of early antiquity. -- Whewell.

2. A formally stated and authoritatively settled doctrine; a definite, established, and authoritative tenet.

3. A doctrinal notion asserted without regard to evidence or truth; an arbitrary dictum. Syn: tenet; opinion; proposition; doctrine.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998

When it comes to Christianity and the Bible, everyone seems to have an opinion - and problems inevitably arise when opinions are held religiously. One of the most significant problems occurs when people confuse doctrine with dogma. By doctrine I mean true teachings based solidly on settled and largely uncontested facts of scripture. Dogma, on the other hand, is really another beast altogether. In the modern usage of the word, dogma is subjective in nature and distills down to mere opinion presented as objective truth.

Unfortunately, much of what is taught in some of our churches and Christian organizations is dogma. Let's face facts, it's a dogma eat dogma world out there. There are as many opinions as there are shades of gray and many of them conflict - certainly with each other, and often with scripture itself. Each one claims authority in its own circles, and each is quick to label opposing opinions as heresy.

For far too long these dogmas have divided the body of Christ. The gospel was never about what to believe about Christ, it was about accepting him in faith - and faith implies a significant measure of not knowing. His primary concern, it seems, was showing love and grace to the world. We would do well to follow that example.

This blog is primarily a place to collect my own thoughts on the message of love and grace in Christ as the Holy Spirit guides. Still, I invite and encourage feedback. I am under no delusions that I have all the answers and I welcome the ideas and constructive thoughts of anyone who might stumble across one of these posts. God be with you.

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