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Parson to Person: Why so dogmatic?
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Occasionally I am asked, "Why are you so dogmatic?" And of course the connotation is that it is a bad thing. After all, shouldn't ministers be the most open and accepting of other views and other religions? Let's look at this for a minute.

We live in an age of relativism where very few people seem willing to take a hard stand on anything. According to the relativist, no one can know truth dogmatically or absolutely, all truth is relative, and that truth is changing. Those who promote relativism want dogmatically to apply their view to every area of life and particularly to the spiritual area of life. .

Unfortunately, relativism is what we call an illogic impossibility. If relativism is true then the relativist cannot know that their view is right. If truth is relative, if it is constantly changing, how do they know that their statement toward this effect is true? They can't. If truth is changing, than what they believe may change tomorrow. With such a view you can never be sure of anything.

Personally, I believe we can know truth. Furthermore I believe we can know absolute truth because of God's own revelation to us in the pages of the Bible.

The dictionary defines dogmatic as, "authoritative, definite fact; positive assertion." As a Christian, I believe that the Bible is the authoritative, inerrant, infallible word of God. The Bible, by the way, is the only religious book to make such direct claims about itself. Other religious writers claim to be writing things about God, while the Bible claims to be God's revelation to us about himself.

The Bible says, "The main thing to keep in mind here is that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private opinion. And why? Because it's not something concocted in the human heart. Prophecy resulted when the Holy Spirit prompted men and women to speak God's Word" (2 Peter 1:21 MSG).

Believing the Bible to be God's revealed word to us is the reason that I can speak or write with authority. I do not for one minute believe I have a corner on truth, but I believe the Bible does. I know that when I use Scripture I can speak with absolute certainty that what I am saying is true.

Let me try to put this all into perspective for you. Suppose you were ill and needed medical attention. Would you go to a doctor who said, "Well, there are many different views about your illness, and we want to be open. I'm not really sure what the right thing to do is so we will try a number of different things and if you feel better well fine, but even then we might not stop there because there are other treatments and other ideas about what you may have. I'm just not sure." Or would you want to go to a dogmatic doctor who said, "Here's your problem. Here's the treatment; do this and you'll be better."

Along those same lines, would you trust your life to a pharmacist who didn't hold a dogmatic view on how to prepare your medication? Would you really want to trust your life to a pharmacist who mixed his medicines based upon his personal whims of the day, or what he had available?

When you take your car into the shop, how long would you stay if the mechanic said, "Well, I've not really studied mechanics, but I've read a lot of different opinions about it, and I think that my views on this are as valid as the next guy. Now, I'm not really sure what might be wrong with your car, but we'll just keep trying different things until we hit on the right thing." How long would you stay with that mechanic? Not long. You want a dogmatic mechanic working on your car - one who will say, "The sound you describe means this is the problem. We can fix it in this amount of time for this much money."

Yet, when it comes to the most important question in life, their souls' eternal destiny, people seem content to take chances. It was the great mathematician-philosopher Blaise Paschal who once put forth this wager: "If I choose to believe the teachings of the Bible and later on find out I'm wrong, I lose nothing. If I choose to believe anything else and later on find out I'm wrong, I lose everything."

I have staked my life on the truth of God's revealed word. For that reason, and because I care for you, I am willing to be misunderstood, maligned, mocked and abused; but I will not compromise what I believe as truth on the alter of acceptance. In the words of Martin Luther, "Here I stand, I can do no other."

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. He can be heard Thursdays on the radio on WMVV 90.7 (FM) at 8:30 p.m.