Being Dogmatic Is Not Giving Up

Receiving WordPress’s latest auto-reminder email that suggested I need to renew this blog made me feel like WP was growing impatient and about to put another persuasive turn into the vice. That said, I gave in, spilled the beans, forked over the cash–however you want to think of it–I succumbed to the belief that my words might matter. Here is an overdue post to mark the occasion.

My Evangelical, protestant, Christian seminary might just embody the most defeatist attitude I have ever seen.

As some of you know, I began to notice this after the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando (which occurred after 9/11, which occurred after the first attempt to knock out the Twin Towers in 1993).

As well-read academics, the professors and most of the students are aware of the English language’s five letter word “dogma.” But I am convinced they do not know what it means. Do you?

All I would like to suggest here is that dogma has nothing to do with giving up. Here at school, dogma is treated as the thing at the end of the argument. The fail-safe. When all else–when all logic, when all argumentation–fails, the Christian simply declares, “dogma.” Come to think of it, it’s almost used like saying “uncle” when wrestling around with older siblings or cousins. (Or Uncle Bob).

This approach, dogma as the fail-safe, is a grave, grave mistake. Ohio State was another data point.

The Christian knows we have the victory in Christ. That’s primary and ever will be. Start there and end there. Never stray from there.

The tangible way to do this is with Christian love. With the only real love. With the love that is rooted in the Cross.

The conversational way to do this is asking questions until you demonstrated that you actually are listening and curious to discover what he or she thinks. Don’t stop when he repeats Wolf Blitzer or Obama or Trump or Clinton or Megyn Kelly (why is she in the headlines so much?) or John Stewart or Trevor Noah or John Oliver or whoever. I don’t even watch TV and I can’t help but hear what these people think. And I don’t care what they think. I don’t know them. Neither does the person you’re talking to. Keep questioning. Become an expert in listening.

It is our Christian duty to restore dignity to people. It is our Christian duty to announce the available redemption. This starts with Christ, not fails with Christ.

Being dogmatic does not mean giving up. It means honesty. It means integrity. It means that from the ‘get go,’ you proclaim, “I know my assumptions. Do you know yours?”

One final way I can offer to help re-frame ‘dogma’ in your mind is by comparing it to confidence. Think of any person you would call confident. Then ask yourself, “Would anything meaningfully different be communicated if I called them dogmatic?”

Michael Jordan = confident or dogmatic? Trump = confident or dogmatic? Obama = confident or dogmatic? Your pastor = confident or dogmatic? Your military members = confident or dogmatic? Joel Osteen = confident or dogmatic? Moses = confident or dogmatic? Muhammad = confident or dogmatic? Paul = confident or dogmatic? Martin Luther = confident or dogmatic? Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, any A-List Actor or Actress etc.

Confident living is not silent. Dogmatic living is not giving up.

Being dogmatic is not giving up. Christians, don’t give up.

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3 comments

  1. gmgoetz

    Hey Pete. I was wondering if you stopped blogging, or if it was my timing. I have missed your writing, and was thinking this morning I would attempt to email you, or contact you somehow, and see how you are doing, and what you are up to. So, thanks for letting us know you are still blogging, and walking with Christ, before I wrote.

    Good writing, in that Christians don’t give up. Even in the tough times, especially in the tough times, we know we have, and need, Jesus Christ to hold onto.

    Good to see you in print again Pete. Looking forward to next time.

    George

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete Deakon

      Hey George,

      Thanks for the encouraging comment. I can’t quite explain why I haven’t been blogging, but it’s partly because I’m trying to discern how to take part in the necessary Kingdom Building work. Here at school, as you might be able to tell, I am running into some dead-ends and that is disconcerting to me. I don’t mind forging ahead against some established grains, but I don’t think this blog is the place for such forging. Time will tell. (Church life is going great, btw. 🙂 The Spirit is alive and at work.)

      Pete

      Like

  2. noelleg44

    I was missing your posts, but knew you’d show up again! Figured you were busy learning, challenging, discoursing (is that a verb?). I think you missed your era- you would have made a great Greek philosopher. This post was your usual – thoughtful, insightful and provocative. Based on your concept of dogmatic, I do hope Trump has that quality. I voted for him like all the rest of the Deplorables (that tag both hurt and inspired).

    Liked by 1 person

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