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1. a religious doctrine or system of doctrines proclaimed by ecclesiastical authority as true
2. a belief, principle, or doctrine or a code of beliefs, principles, or doctrines


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Although the word "dogma" was first used by the Greeks some four hundred years before Christ, it has come to be associated with the collective, intellectual theology of the Church. Dogma now refers to orthodoxy, that which must be believed because tradition has come to a consensus that it is true.

But dogma is always under fire. Whereas the Church of the third and fourth centuries met in council to determine its content, the Church of the nineteenth century subjected it to critical analysis.

In most civilized countries, those who disagree with Christian dogma are no longer subjected to inquisitors and papal courts of inquiry. Such is not the case, however, with other religions. When Salman Rushdie dared question Islamic dogma in his book The Satanic Verses, he discovered, much to the embarrassment and outright horror of many Muslims, that an Islamic bounty had been placed on his head, payable upon his death.

In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, people have sometimes judged the dogmatic letter of the law so severely that they have overturned its spirit. Enforcing dogma is yet another example of how a good thing, meant to inform and support, can become a misguided tool of punishment.

References in periodicals archive ?
Finally there was the view of Erasmus, "the father of the Enlightenment,' who had advocated a rational religion which challenged both the authoritarianism of the old church and the dogmaticism of the new church.
Tragedy is Hegel's tool for inscribing Kant's thought in his own system, but as such not really Kant's concern (and in doing this, Hegel is actually following Schelling's earlier Letters on Dogmaticism and Criticism, where the process of re-aestheticizing Kant has its origin).
Avoiding anything that might smack of dogmaticism or didacticism, Szymborska prefers to conclude her poems with an admission of ignorance or doubt: "I am," she says, "a question answering a question" (174).