Doctrine & Dogma

Doctrine & Dogma

The explication and officially acceptable version of a religious teaching. The development of doctrines and dogmas has significantly affected the traditions, institutions, and practices of the religions of the world. Doctrines and dogmas also have influenced and been influenced by the ongoing development of secular history, science, and philosophy.

Dogma [
griech. ] das, verbindliche religiöse Lehrmeinung, kirchlicher Glaubenssatz. Nach katholischer Lehre ist das Dogma ein … (Duden Schülerlexikon).

Dogme : 1. Point de doctrine établi ou regardé comme une vérité fondamentale, incontestable (dans une religion, une école philosophique). ➙ article (de foi), croyance, doctrine. Les dogmes du christianisme.

◆ Opinion émise comme une certitude; une vérité indiscutable. Des dogmes politiques, littéraires, scientifiques. « Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, ce sont des dogmes de paix et d’harmonie » (Hugo). Admettre qqch. comme un dogme. ➙ 1. loi.

2. Absolt Le dogme : l’ensemble des dogmes d’une religion (spécialt de la religion chrétienne). ➙ dogmatique. Formation du dogme. Enseigner le dogme. ➙ théologie.

dogmatic: characterized by assertion of unproved or unprovable principles

Search with ‘ocean’ on the word ‘dogma’

When religion, shorn of its superstitions, traditions, and unintelligent dogmas, shows its conformity with science, then will there be a great unifying, cleansing force in the world which will sweep before it all wars, disagreements, discords and struggles — and then will mankind be united in the power of the Love of God. (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 146)

Bahá’u’lláh represents all these, and thus destroys the rivalries and the enmities of the different religions; reconciles them in their primitive purity, and frees them from the corruption of dogmas and rites. For Bahaism has no clergy, no religious ceremonial, no public prayers; its only dogma is belief in God and in his Manifestations (Zoroaster, Moses, Jesus, et al., Bahá’u’lláh). (Abdu’l-Bahá’, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v1, p. vii)

Shall man, gifted with the power of reason, unthinkingly follow and adhere to dogma, creeds and hereditary beliefs which will not bear the analysis of reason in this century of effulgent reality? Unquestionably this will not satisfy men of science, for when they find premise or conclusion contrary to present standards of proof and without real foundation, they reject that which has been formerly accepted as standard and correct and move forward from new foundations. (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 140)

It is only from the dogmas and creeds of the churches that we dissociate ourselves; not from the spirit of Christianity. (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 159)

There are a Minimum of Rituals in the Bahá’í Faith and no Man-Made Dogmas

"In response to your letter of 3 September 1979 asking if there are dogmas and rites in the Bahá’í Faith, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to convey its reply.

"A dogma is a principle, tenet or teaching, especially an authoritative teaching, and in these senses it is apparent that the Faith has ‘dogmas’. The word is also used, however, to describe that body of rigid doctrines that have accumulated in a religion after the passing of the Founder; such man-made dogmas are entirely absent from the Bahá’í Faith, nor can it ever acquire them.

"Concerning rituals, the beloved Guardian’s secretary wrote on his behalf to an individual believer on 24 June 1949:

‘Bahá’u’lláh has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in His Faith. The few forms that are there-like those associated with the two linger obligatory daily prayers, are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them, and a great blessing but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things, that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two.’

"Thus it can be seen that the Faith has certain simple rites prescribed by Bahá’u’lláh, such as the obligatory prayers, the marriage ceremony and the laws for the burial of the dead, but its teachings warn against developing them into a system of uniform and rigid rituals incorporating man-made forms of practices, such as exists in other religions where rituals usually consist of elaborate ceremonial practices performed by a member of the clergy. In another letter written on behalf of the Guardian his secretary stated:

"In these days the friends should, as much as possible, demonstrate through their deeds the independence of the Holy Faith of God, and its freedom from the customs, rituals and practices of a discredited and abrogated past.’ (Translated from the Persian)

"In freeing the believers from the religious rituals of the past and from those customs which are contrary to the Bahá’í principles, the institutions of the Faith should be careful not to press the friends to arbitrarily discard those local tradition which are harmless and often colourful characteristic of particular peoples and tribes. In ‘The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, on page 41, we read:

‘Let there be no misgivings as to the animating purpose of the world-wide Law of Bahá’u’lláh. Far from aiming at the subversion of the existing foundations of society, it seeks to broaden its basis, to remould its institutions in a manner consonant with the needs of an ever-changing world. It can conflict with no legitimate allegiances, nor it undermine essential loyalties. Its purpose is neither to stifle the flame of a sane and intelligent patriotism in men’s hearts, nor to abolish the system of national autonomy so essential if the evils of excessive centralization are to be avoided. It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world’…"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, October 16, 1979) (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 476)

"My dear co-worker: The meetings in the Temple Foundation Hall should be primarily devotional in character, and any addresses delivered there must be of a strictly Bahá’í character. The Teachings must be referred to, quoted, explained and amplified, and if non-Bahá’í subjects are referred to, they should be considered in the light, and in confirmation of, Bahá’í principles and teachings. We must preserve the identity and purity of the Faith, without restricting it to a rigid and exclusive dogma. (Shoghi Effendi, Extracts from the USBN)

438.21 The time has come when those who preach the dogmas of materialism, whether of the east or the west, whether of capitalism or socialism, must give account of the moral stewardship they have presumed to exercise. (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 686)

Yet, the greater part of organized religion stands paralyzed at the threshold of the future, gripped in those very dogmas and claims of privileged access to truth that have been responsible for creating some of the most bitter conflicts dividing the earth’s inhabitants. (The Universal House of Justice, 2002 April, To the World’s Religious Leaders, p. 3)

the need to shake off the shackles of ancient dogmas that were inhibiting investigation of reality — these principles for the advancement of civilization had made a powerful impression. (Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 25)

To a great extent, too, fossilized religious dogmas that had lent moral endorsement to the forces of conflict and alienation were everywhere in question. (Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 43)

Bahá’u’lláh’s severest condemnation is reserved for those who, presuming to speak in God’s name, have imposed on credulous masses a welter of dogmas and prejudices that have constituted the greatest single obstacle against which the advancement of civilization has been forced to struggle. (Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 59)

To have seen in someone like Benito Mussolini the figure of a "Man of Destiny", to have felt obliged to understand the racial theories of Adolf Hitler as anything other than the self-evident products of a diseased mind, to have seriously entertained the reinterpretation of human experience through dogmas that had given birth to the Soviet Union of Josef Stalin — so wilful an abandonment of reason on the part of a considerable segment of the intellectual leadership of society demands an accounting to posterity. (Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 62)

Even the successive Revelations of the Divine, whose objective was the liberation of the human spirit, were, in time, taken captive by "the insistent self", were frozen into man-made dogma, ritual, clerical privilege and sectarian quarrels, and reached their end with their ultimate purpose frustrated. (Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 110)

Governments, NGOs, and citizens’ groups who are struggling to mobilize a common response to the various crises afflicting our world have the right to expect from religious leadership a similar willingness to sacrifice dogmas and sectarian interests that inhibit the mobilization of humanity’s spiritual resources. (Baha’i International Community, 1993 Aug 03, Ending Religious Intolerance)

It is not only the heart, but the mind, which must devote itself to this process of discovery. Reason, Bahá’u’lláh asserts, is God’s greatest gift to the soul, "a sign of the revelation of … the sovereign Lord." Only by freeing itself from inherited dogma, whether religious or materialistic, can the mind take up an independent exploration of the relationship between the Word of God and the experience of humankind. In such a search, a major obstacle is prejudice: "Warn … the beloved of the one true God, not to view with too critical an eye the sayings and writings of men. Let them rather approach such sayings and writings in a spirit of open-mindedness and loving sympathy." (Baha’i International Community, 1992 May 29, Statement on Baha’u’llah, p. 11)

The attempt to crystallize opinion in the form of religious dogma has been a divisive rather than unifying force in history. (Baha’i International Community, 1992 May 29, Statement on Baha’u’llah, p. 12)

Bahá’u’lláh’s severest condemnation is reserved for the barriers which, throughout history, organized religion has erected between humanity and the Revelations of God. Dogmas, inspired by popular superstition and perfected by misspent intelligence, have repeatedly been imposed on a Divine process whose purpose has at all times been spiritual and moral. Laws of social interaction, revealed for the purpose of consolidating community life, have been made the basis for structures of arcane doctrine and practice which have burdened the masses whose benefit they were supposed to serve. Even the exercise of intellect, the chief tool possessed by the human race, has been deliberately hampered, producing an eventual breakdown in the dialogue between faith and science upon which civilized life depends. (Baha’i International Community, 1992 May 29, Statement on Baha’u’llah, p. 22)

On the other hand, we believe that, if people are permitted to question the dogmas handed down over generations, and to seek truth using their own faculties of perception, they will develop a genuine appreciation for religious tolerance. (Baha’i International Community, 1988 Feb 17, Eliminating Religious Intolerance)


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