You have every right to choose a faith and to passionate about it. But here’s an important question to ask: are you passionate, or dogmatic?
Dogmatism is, in a nutshell, is blindly embracing a belief system without being able to defend it, or if need be, reform it. While you may think that you are driven by passion, deep inside you are driven by fear. Feeling defensive? Read this article before you react.
First of all, we know that no belief system can be proven scientifically. There is, at the end of each religious debate, a need to make that little leap—’I believe this to be true, and I make a commitment to it.’
But there is still a need to understand a faith system. Indeed, we say that we can make no real commitment until we know what we’re getting into. It’s a lot like falling in love and choosing a partner to spend the rest of your life with. You have no guarantees that this relationship will work out, but you decide to take the risk. But you would be a fool if you didn’t try to get to know him, understand his character and weigh the consequences and the expectations.
Same thing goes for making a commitment to a belief system. Read on it, study it, and hear what others have to say. Be able to discuss this faith on a reasonable, rational level. You don’t have to convert others—they are free to choose their belief systems, too—but at least be prepared to speak intelligently in behalf of your community of followers.
Dogmatists are unable to do that, and very often their discussions deteriorate into ‘Because I’m right and you’re wrong, and you’re going to hell because you don’t believe the same thing.’ These discussions are not about being right or wrong, but about learning from each other and deepening our own understanding in the process.
Why do you run away from this discussion? What is scary about listening to other ideas? Are you afraid that you will be wrong? Why does the other person’s perspective pose such a big threat to you? Then your faith is not as strong as you thought, if it can’t even survive an intelligent discussion.
Why are you afraid to think about your faith? To think through the concepts, or even to re-examine particular principles that may not be as solid as you once perceived? Do you think the God you worship will disappear, like thin smoke, because you disagree with one building block in your system of beliefs? Don’t confuse religion with the Being that it worships. Thinking about your faith, praying with your whole heart, reflecting on the nature of God and the best way to understand him, will bring you closer to Him. Stubbornly clinging to a system, hiding behind it because you are afraid of really asking about the Truth, will stand in the way of a true and personal faith.
But people are afraid to think, to listen, and to question, because it is easier to inherit a system of beliefs than it is to face the nature of God and the complicated questions surrounding Him. It’s a lot like any human relationship: it’s easier to put someone on a pedestal than to muster the courage to ask for a first date, and it’s easier to go on candlelit dinners and write mushy love letters than to take life together ‘for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.’ Dogmatism puts a system of beliefs on a pedestal and hides beyond the candlelit glow of blind ignorance. But critical thinking and willingness to engage in discussion is the true measure of a commitment to God: as frightening, as overwhelming, as messy as it may sometimes be, it engages us in a personal spiritual journey that transforms us and deepens faith in a way blind ignorance never can.
Photo from definingmomentchurch.com