AskDefine | Define dogmas

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  1. Plural of dogma

Extensive Definition

wikt Dogma Dogma (the plural is either dogmata or dogmas, Greek , plural ) is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization, thought to be authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from. While in the context of religion the term is largely descriptive, outside of religion its current usage tends to carry a pejorative connotation—referring to concepts as being "established" only according to a particular point of view, and thus one of doubtful foundation. This pejorative connotation is even stronger with the term dogmatic, used to describe a person of rigid beliefs who is not open to rational argument.

Dogma in religion

Religious dogmata, when properly conceived, reach back to proofs other than themselves, and ultimately to faith. Perhaps the pinnacle of organized exposition of theological dogma is the Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas, who proposed this relationship between faith and objection: "If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections—if he has any—against faith" (I 1 8).
Dogmata are found in many religions such as Christianity, and Judaism, where they are considered core principles that must be upheld by all followers of that religion. As a fundamental element of religion, the term "dogma" is assigned to those theological tenets which are considered to be well demonstrated, such that their proposed disputation or revision effectively means that a person no longer accepts the given religion as his or her own, or has entered into a period of personal doubt. Dogma is distinguished from theological opinion regarding those things considered less well-known. Dogmata may be clarified and elaborated but not contradicted in novel teachings (e.g., Galatians 1:8-9). Rejection of dogma is considered heresy in certain religions, and may lead to expulsion from the religious group.
For most of Eastern Christianity, the dogmata are contained in the Nicene Creed and the canons of two, three, or seven ecumenical councils (depending on whether one is Nestorian, Oriental Orthodox, or Eastern Orthodox). These tenets are summarized by St. John of Damascus in his Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, which is the third book of his main work, titled The Fount of Knowledge. In this book he takes a dual approach in explaining each article of the Eastern Orthodox faith: one for Christians, where he uses quotes from the Bible and, occasionally, from works of other Fathers of the Church, and the second, directed both at non-Christians (but who, nevertheless, hold some sort of religious belief) and at atheists, where he attempts to employ Aristotelian logic and dialectics, especially reductio ad absurdum.
Catholics also hold as dogma the decisions of fourteen later councils and two decrees promulgated by popes exercising papal infallibility (see immaculate conception and Assumption of Mary). Protestants to differing degrees affirm portions of these dogmata, and often rely on denomination-specific 'Statements of Faith' which summarize their chosen dogmata (see, e.g., Eucharist).
In Islam, the dogmatic principles are contained in the aqidah. However, the dogmatic principles are built after examining God's signs, and truths. Islam condemns belief without logic.
Within many Christian denominations, dogma is instead referred to as "doctrine".

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