Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or by extension by some other group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practioner or believers. The term derives from Greek δόγμα "that which seems to one, opinion or belief" and that from δοκέω (dokeo), "to think, to suppose, to imagine". The plural is either dogmas or dogmata , from Greek δόγματα. dogmata is more etymologically correct, and thus preferred.
Dogma in religion
Dogmata are found in religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, where they are considered core principles that must be upheld by all followers of that religion. As a fundamental element of religion, the term "dogma" is assigned to those theological tenets which are considered to be well demonstrated, such that their proposed disputation or revision effectively means that a person no longer accepts the given religion as his or her own, or has entered into a period of personal doubt. Dogma is distinguished from theological opinion regarding those things considered less well-known. Dogmata may be clarified and elaborated but not contradicted in novel teachings (e.g., Galatians 1:8-9). Rejection of dogma may lead to expulsion from a religious group.
For Catholicism and Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christianity, the dogmata are contained in the Nicene Creed and the canon laws of two, three, seven, or twenty-one ecumenical councils (depending on whether one is Nestorian, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, or Roman Catholic). These tenets are summarized by St. John of Damascus in his Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, which is the third book of his main work, titled The Fount of Knowledge. In this book he takes a dual approach in explaining each article of the faith: one, for Christians, where he uses quotes from the Bible and, occasionally, from works of other Fathers of the Church, and the second, directed both at non-Christians (but who, nevertheless, hold some sort of religious belief) and at atheists, for whom he employs Aristotelian logic and dialectics, especially reductio ad absurdum.
The decisions of fourteen later councils that Catholics hold as dogmatic and two decrees promulgated by Popes' exercising papal infallibility (see Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary) are considered as being a part of the Church's sacred body of doctrine.
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