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What Is Dogmatic Theology?

By Geisha A. Legazpi
Updated May 23, 2024
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Dogmatic theology is a belief in an absolute truth that has been set by the Christian faith. This means the Church has put forth some truths that have been spread by word of mouth, tradition, and historical data, and the followers of the Church must accept it as a fundamental truth. Examples of this are the Immaculate Conception, Assumption of Mother Mary, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Empirical data, or facts that have been physically experienced and recorded, are usually the accepted norm in scientific study. In dogmatic theology, facts and figures are more fluid because most written historical references are backed up by word of mouth tradition. What is accepted and practiced in this field of study is that God has given humans a concept, a truth, or a miracle. Learned individuals such as priests can study it for moral improvement or guidance.

Dogmatic theology is sanctioned by an organized theological body. Some of the more recognized organized theological bodies are the Roman Catholic Church and Dutch Reformed Church. It is also commonly associated as a science with the concept of God and His works as its focus of study. As a scientific field of study, dogmatic theology is the science of objective faith through gathered data; Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican priest that became a saint, has summarized that gathered data are principles revealed by God. These principles act as the foundation of sacred science, which means that just as a student accepts a fact taught in class, a person studying dogmatic theology should also accept the fact as taught by God.

Theology is still being taught in the elementary and high school levels in a number of select schools all over the world. For a more advanced study of theology, students will need to have taken philosophy and theology courses. The next advancement in the study of theology will be to become a deacon, where a student will earn his theology degree. The last stage of study would be to become a fully ordained priest.

For priests and the faithful, learning theology is a continuing education. Some priests still read up on the published works of Rev. Francis Hall, a dogmatic theology professor, and Rev. Joseph Pohle, a philosophy professor, to create their own written works in order to teach their parishioners. Parishioners and the faithful, in turn, teach what they have learned to the next generation, which propagates a cycle of learning the Christian faith.

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Discussion Comments

By donasmrs — On Jul 25, 2012

@turkay1, @anamur-- Dogmatic theology doesn't just set requirements for being a Christian. The reason that dogmatic theology came about in the first place was because Christians were confused about what they were supposed to believe. They heard inconsistent and contradictory information about the faith from different sources and were baffled about what to believe and what to do.

So when the Church was formed, the first thing they decided to do was to set up dogmatic theology that cleared up people's confusion about the faith. They wanted to be the single source of the most accurate information about Christianity. And dogmatic theology also gave the Church the basis to determine heresy.

So dogmatic theology wasn't something that the Church decided to put together just for the sake of setting up rules. It answered a need and that need will always be there.

By serenesurface — On Jul 24, 2012

@turkay1-- I don't know too much about this subject and I wouldn't want to mislead you. In my opinion, there is no room for interpretation in dogmatic theology. That's actually the meaning of dogma-- it's a doctrine which is considered to be absolutely true, regardless of there being proof or not. That's why sometimes dogma is referred to as blind faith, because no one questions it.

But I don't mean any disrespect to Christian dogmatic theology when I say this. I cannot claim anything about Christian theology. But I assume that when a person accepts a religious authority and accepts the theology of that authority, I don't think there can be room for questioning. How can you question the truth?

Plus, faith doesn't require evidence, so it can't be doubted. All faiths have to be dogmatic, or it wouldn't be faith in the first place.

This is just my opinion and I would love to hear from others knowledgeable in this field who can give you a more accurate answer.

By candyquilt — On Jul 23, 2012

All faiths have doctrines that put forth requirements for people to believe and follow. It's definitely not something exclusive to Christianity. But religions also usually have some room for interpretation and even a single doctrine can be interpreted to mean different things.

Does Christian dogmatic theology allow for interpretation?

I don't mean interpretation about the basic tenets of the faith. I'm sure someone who accepts the authority of the Christian Church would not argue about the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But there most be more vague aspects of doctrine that are open to interpretation right?

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