dogmaticIf you can’t point to at least one verse/fact that runs contrary to your doctrinal position that makes you at least a little bit uncomfortable, or if you can’t cite at least one good argument against your position you might just be a bit too dogmatic and probably haven’t read widely enough. While I think we can be confident in what we believe, very few matters of intellectual dispute are so cut and dry that there aren’t decent arguments for contrary positions. If you are not aware of those other arguments, and if you are not made at least a bit uncomfortable by any of them, this should be a sign that your confidence in your doctrinal position might be a bit premature.

Generally, one should not adopt an idea or doctrine without first subjecting it to those of a contrary opinion. What do those who hold to a different idea/doctrine have to say about the idea?  What are their criticisms of it, and what is their case for a contrary idea/doctrine?  As Solomon said, the first to present his case seems correct until another examines him.  It is way too tempting to read just one book on a subject and walk away thinking you just heard the last word, and dogmatically teach that view as if it were settled truth.  It may be, but you’ll never know until you’ve tested its ideas against the ideas of those who argue for a contrary position.  I’ve heard it said that he who reads one book on a subject is confident he knows the truth and he who reads three books on a subject is confident that he doesn’t know the truth, but he who reads 10 books on a subject is able to formulate an informed position.  I’ve found this to be true in my own intellectual life.  While contrary voices may not upend your original position, at the very least they will refine it and help you to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of your position, as well as your opponents’, and give you a greater appreciation for the complexities involved and a deeper understanding of the truth.

 

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