You are here:Home-Resources-Counsel of Chalcedon Magazine-1989 Issue 3-The Dogmatic Spirit

The Dogmatic Spirit

What is called the dogmatic spirit is not popular among men. It is characterized by an authoritative method of presenting truth; by an unwillingness to modify truth to fit it to current conceptions; by an insistence on what seem to many minor points; and above all by (what lies at the root of most of its other peculiarities) a habit of thinking in a system, and a consequent habit of estimating the relative importance of the separate items of truth by their logical relation to the body of truth, rather than by their apparent independent value. Such a habit of mind seems to be the only appropriate attitude toward a body of truth given by revelation, and committed to men only to embrace, cherish, preserve, and propagate. It seems to be, moreover, the attitude toward the body of revealed truth commended to those who were to be its "ministers" and not its masters, by the Lord and his apostles, when they placed it as a rich treasure in the keeping of stewards of the mysteries of God, but it is irritating to men. They would discuss rather than receive truth. And, if they must receive it, they would fain modify it here and there to fit preconceived opinions or permit cherished practices. Especially in a busy age in which Pilate's careless question, "what is truth?" represents the prevailing attitude of men's minds, the dogmatic habit is apt to fare somewhat badly.