How Does One Avoid Being Dogmatic?

DogmaticYou can’t! I could end the article here since my simple response answers the question. However, I am sure readers will demand an explanation. Fair enough. One cannot avoid being dogmatic in theology, apologetics, philosophy, science, or in any intellectual enterprise. The reality is that we all begin our reasoning somewhere. If we desire to avoid an infinite regression of justifications for each and every belief that we have, we must begin our thinking at a dogmatic first principle. A first principle that is an absolute given. Without this first principle, our minds are firmly planted in mid-air, and our reasoning about anything could not even get off the ground.

Dogmatism is quite offensive in our current cultural climate. We will be told that all views must be given a fair hearing and that we should all strive to be open minded. The funny thing is that such folks rarely if ever are as open minded as they tell us we should be. If you think about it, it is to no detriment to themselves since in this ultimate sense of needing a first principle, it is impossible to be completely open minded. Indeed, for those who say we must be open minded and non-dogmatic in regards to other perspectives than our own quickly find themselves dogmatically asserting this fact contrary to those who do not hold to their own position on this matter. Is the non-dogmatic and open-minded person being consistent when they condemn dogmatism and non-open-mindedness? For instance, when the postmodernist demands non-dogmatism and open mindedness on the part of the Christian (who affirms that Christianity alone is the true religion), and asserts the inappropriateness of Christianity’s exclusive claims, aren’t they being just as dogmatic and close minded as they think the Christian is being? Indeed, this is necessarily the case; for such line of reasoning is on par with a person who says: We should be open to all views, while in the same breath condemning folks who do not believe one should be open to all views.

Dogmatism is unavoidable, and as Christians who believe that we have a sure revelation of God, we should not cater to postmodern truth denying notions. While all worldviews are dogmatic at their foundations, Christianity is likewise dogmatic at its core since on the Christian claim, God, whose authority is ultimate, gives us information about reality from his all-encompassing perspective. Indeed, when man asserts things dogmatically, he does so from a limited perspective and hence inappropriately. However, when God asserts truth, he does so from a privileged perspective.

Christians should not shy away from asserting that they have the truth in God’s Word. However, we should learn to proclaim truth in a manner that is honoring to the God for whom we speak. This should be clear to the Bible believing Christian since God dogmatically declares in his Word that are to speak the “truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)

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