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Dogmatic theology

Dogmatic theology

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Dogmatic theology is that part of theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 dealing with the theoretical truths of faith concerning God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 and his works, especially the official theology recognized by an organized Church body, such as the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, Dutch Reformed Church
Dutch Reformed Church
The Dutch Reformed Church was a Reformed Christian denomination in the Netherlands. It existed from the 1570s to 2004, the year it merged with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands to form the Protestant Church in the...

, etc. At times, apologetics
Apologetics is the discipline of defending a position through the systematic use of reason. Early Christian writers Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, "speaking in defense") is the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of reason. Early Christian writers...

 or fundamental theology is called "general dogmatic theology", dogmatic theology proper being distinguished from it as "special dogmatic theology". However, in present-day use, apologetics is no longer treated as part of dogmatic theology but has attained the rank of an independent science, being generally regarded as the introduction to and foundation of dogmatic theology.

The term "dogmatic theology" became more widely used following the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 and was used to designate the articles of faith that the Church had officially formulated. A good example of dogmatic theology is the doctrinal statements or dogmas that were formulated by the early church councils who sought to resolve theological problems and to take a stance against a heretical teaching. These creeds or dogmas that came out of the church councils were considered to be authoritative and binding on all Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s because the church officially affirmed them. One of the purposes of dogmatic theology is so that a church body can formulate and communicate the doctrine that is considered essential to Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and which if denied would constitute heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...



Dogmatic theology may be defined as the scientific exposition of the entire theoretical doctrine concerning God Himself and his external activity, based on the dogmas of the Church.

Dogmatic theology emphasizes the importance of propositional truth over experiential, sensory perceptions.

Origin of the term

The term dogmatic theology is thought to have first appeared in 1659 in the title of a book by L. Reinhardt. A. M. Fairbairn holds that it was the fame of Petau which gave currency to the new coinage dogmatic theology; and though the same or related phrases had been used repeatedly by writers of less influence since Reinhard and Andreas Essenius
Andreas Essenius
Andreas Essenius was a Dutch Reformed theologian, controversialist and academic. He became professor of theology at the University of Utrecht.-Life:...

, F. Buddeus
Johann Franz Buddeus
Johann Franz Buddeus or Budde , German Lutheran theologian and philosopher; born at Anklam, Swedish Pomerania, where his father was pastor, 25 June 1667; died at Gotha 19 November 1729.-Life:...

 (Institutiones theol. dogmat., 1723; Compendium, 1728) is held to have given the expression its supremacy. Noel Alexandre
Noel Alexandre
Noël Alexandre, or Natalis Alexander was a French theologian and ecclesiastical historian.-Biography:In 1654, Alexandre joined the Dominicans in his hometown...

, the Gallican theologian, possibly introduced it in the Roman Catholic Church (1693; Theologia dogmatica et moralis).

Both Roman Catholic and Protestant authorities agree that the expression was connected with the new habit of distinguishing dogmatics from Christian ethics or moral theology, though Albert Schweizer denies this of Reinhard. In another direction dogmas and dogmatic theology were also contrasted with truths of reason and natural theology
Natural theology
Natural theology is a branch of theology based on reason and ordinary experience. Thus it is distinguished from revealed theology which is based on scripture and religious experiences of various kinds; and also from transcendental theology, theology from a priori reasoning.Marcus Terentius Varro ...


See also

  • Christian apologetics
    Christian apologetics
    Christian apologetics is a field of Christian theology that aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and expose the perceived flaws of other world views...

  • Christian theology
    Christian theology
    - Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

  • History of Catholic dogmatic theology
    History of Catholic dogmatic theology
    The history of Catholic dogmatic theology divides into three main periods:* the patristic;* the medieval;* the modern-Patristic period :...

  • Conservative Christianity
    Conservative Christianity
    Conservative Christianity is a term applied to a number of groups or movements seen as giving priority to traditional Christian beliefs and practices...

  • Constructive theology
    Constructive Theology
    Constructive theology is the re-definition of what has historically been known as systematic theology. The reason for this reevaluation stems from the idea that, in systematic theology, the theologian attempts to develop a coherent theory running through the various doctrines within the tradition...

  • Feminist theology
    Feminist theology
    Feminist theology is a movement found in several religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and New Thought, to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of those religions from a feminist perspective...

  • Liberal Christianity
    Liberal Christianity
    Liberal Christianity, sometimes called liberal theology, is an umbrella term covering diverse, philosophically and biblically informed religious movements and ideas within Christianity from the late 18th century and onward...

  • Liberation theology
    Liberation theology
    Liberation theology is a Christian movement in political theology which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions...

  • Process theology
    Process theology
    Process theology is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and further developed by Charles Hartshorne . While there are process theologies that are similar, but unrelated to the work of Whitehead the term is generally applied to the...

  • Queer theology

External links

Further reading

  • Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul P. Enns
    Paul P. Enns
    Paul P. Enns is an evangelical Christian pastor, biblical scholar and writer who serves as a full-time minister at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, and as adjunct professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary...

    (ISBN 0-8024-3428-2)
  • Dogmatic Theology by William Greenough Thayer Shedd (ISBN 0-8407-5743-3)
  • Christian Theology (2nd Ed) by Millard J. Erickson (ISBN 0-8010-2182-0)