Dogma & Doctrine

Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from.

Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system. The Greek analogy is the etymology of catechism.

We are thinking beings; God has gifted us with all kinds of thinking; cognitive, analytical, intuitive, symbolical thought, etc;

Question: What is our Relation as humans to theology?
Answer: Theology is one way of thinking, a methodological world of thought; these are the building block to doing doctrine. Church’s doctrine flows out of their theology. Aquinas for Roman Catholicism and John Calvin for the Reformed faith both helped the church establish her doctrines. Helpful to maintain a distinction between theology and doctrine.

Theology has been interpreted to be ultimately concerned with the church by some, while others say the goal of theology is God and not the church. Doctrine takes both these streams, although Scripture alone is the final authority. Doctrine combines the interpretation of the creeds and the interpretation of Scripture. This is an important statement. Doctrine is institutionalized theology.

Example: It has more of a ring of authority than theology.
Do you agree with Calvin’s Institutes? Yes.  Do you agree with every sentence of the Institutes? Probably not. Calvin is thinking truth out loud for the church to reflect on; when we do doctrine we take what other theologians say about Scripture and see how we can put them down in brief compass, e.g. the Heidelberg Catechism, Westminster Standards; the church felt the need for some short creeds and as time went by the church felt something more substantial was needed, esp. Reformation era; things became more nuanced; doctrine became identified with institutionalized theology.


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