Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

dogmatic religion



All dogmatic religions, those claiming to be the only way to please God, are challenged by two significant facts. The first is the history of their own theological development and any changes in church practice over that history. The second challenge stems from certain inevitable consequences of insisting one religious understanding is demanded of all.


The challenge to dogmatic religion presented by its own history and experience involves the way church practice and theology has evolved over time. If anything in this world is certain it is change, and that includes religious change.


No religiously observant person who has reached the status of senior citizen in our society can deny the reality of changing religious thought in our lifetime. The cultural revolution of the sixties, coupled with the rapid development of new life changing technologies have altered every religious denomination. These dramatic changes in accepted behaviors and new access to broader knowledge have affected the mindset of the entire nation. Since ultimately churches survive at the behest of their members, when members change in their thinking, so must the church. Some may want to deny this reality, but history is just too clear on this point. Churches do change in practice and doctrine, and they do so reluctantly but of necessity.


From the civil rights movement of the sixties to the equality issues of more recent times, each new social revolution invariably brings a transformation in societal thinking which the church is powerless to resist in the final analysis. They will scream and holler about maintaining their dogma, but in the end the need for financial support from disenchanted members will force their hand.


Naturally, having to admit past changes is tantamount to relinquishing dogmatic religion as a reality. Dogma cannot survive change so neither can dogmatic religion. In order to remain dogmatic one needs to deny or obscure past changes.


To the extent changes in church practice and dogma can be demonstrated, future change becomes inevitable. An institution which has changed in the past can hardly insist with great conviction that it will never change again. Religion and the spiritual well being it supposedly promotes is of necessity an evolutionary process. This is where dogmatic Christianity breaks down. They teach an instantaneous process by which individuals transform themselves spiritually. This transformed state is then maintained by church dogma. The ultimate change is accomplished in one momentous step through an unchanging process, one with universal applicability. Spiritual states must change but the means to that change must be unchanging, i.e. a matter of dogma.


The second challenge to dogmatic religion grows out of the many adverse consequences which such religious thought promotes in its adherents. Dogmatic religion is a denial of humility and a promotion of intolerance. It elevates the opinions and beliefs of one person or group over those of all others. It is spiritual arrogance and ultimate self aggrandizement. It makes man the arbiter of the spiritual well fare of others. It is unsupportable by any measure of reasonableness. These evident facts cannot be eliminated or rendered unimportant by reference to any sacred writings nor any church's interpretation thereof. Neither can such ill effects become virtuous by claiming a sacred mandate.