Ought We to be Afraid of Being Dogmatic?

Let us no longer be afraid to be dogmatic. To be dogmatic is not to be dictatorial. To be dogmatic is simply to be confident concerning that which we know to be the truth, Where anyone has mastered the facts of any branch of knowledge we expect rum to be dogmatic, except in religion! If ever I am to go under the surgeon’s knife, I shall want to find a man who knows most about the type of surgery which is involved, and who is completely devoid of any misgiving or hesitation in handling his lethal instruments. I shall want my surgeon to be dogmatic to the last degree. And if I am given one of those spinal shots which leave one wide awake to see the ghostly company surrounding the operating table, I hope I shall be spared any round-table discussion about the procedure. When life is at stake, we want thoroughly informed and confident counsel. Yet, when the very life of the soul itself is at stake, with what strange perversity do we Protestants decry the note of certitude! In no other realm of knowledge do we exalt the man who says, “Of course, I would not be dogmatic about it.” It is only in the field of religion that we have come to exalt the mood of tolerance above all other intellectual virtues. We American Protestants are the victims today of a passion for religious tolerance which allows no conviction to stand in the way of its determination to sweep everybody into one cheerful company, whose sole loyalty is to one conviction alone-tolerance of everything! Lacking a first-hand experience of Christ and his saving grace, multitudes of our church people are finding a spurious religious glow in movements which promise to bring in the millennium by uniting all religious-minded people into one group by means of some magic formula which places fellowship above conviction.

– Walter Barlow, God So Loved, as quoted in Southern Presbyterian Journal.