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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



religious beliefs affirmed by the highest authorities of a church and presented as absolute truth beyond any criticism. The majority of present-day religions— Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism—have a system of dogma.

The basic dogmas of Christianity which were formulated by the first seven ecumenical councils (fourth through eighth centuries), concerned the creation of the world by god, the trinity of god, Christ (god who became man), life beyond the grave, and retribution for sin. In the Orthodox religion the adoption of dogmas was completed in 787, but Catholicism continued to adopt new dogmas (for example, on purgatory) after that date. The Reformation of the 16th century cast doubt on certain Catholic dogmas. The Lutheran Church adopted dogmas in 1530 (the Confession of Augsburg), Calvinism, in 1551, and Anglicanism, in 1571 (the so-called Thirty-nine Articles).

The dogmas of Judaism (for example, the immortality of the one god Yaweh, the sanctity of the Old Testament and the Talmud, and the coming of the messiah) were developed on the basis of the sacred books of Judaism by theologians between the llth and 13th centuries. Islamic dogmas (for example, the unity of the god Allah, prophets and the granting of divine revelations through them, and the prophetic mission of Muhammed) were formulated by theologians on the basis of the Koran during the ninth and tenth centuries. Buddhist dogmas (for example, reincarnation) were formulated in writing in the Hinayana around the first century B.C. and in the Mahayana in the first century A.D. The dogmatic foundations of Hinduism took shape in the early Middle Ages during the struggle against the Buddhists and Muslims; however, they did not develop as a clearly formed system.

In working out dogma, the church attempted to prohibit criticism of the foundations of its religious doctrine and of the social system, which it consecrated. Denials of dogma were cruelly persecuted. With the development of scientific and atheistic views, religious dogmatic thinking crumbled. In the second half of the 20th century—particularly after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65)—the Christian churches have shown a clear tendency toward overcoming the dogmatic contradictions among themselves in order to halt the withdrawal of the people from religion.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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