Response to Comment about Dogmas
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Response to Comment about Dogmas

In response to last week’s essay, one member objected that the following sentence I wrote was not respectful of Christian denominations that rely on dogmas: “In my opinion, the most helpful community of faith, and perhaps the one that best reflects the faith of Christ, is one that does not try to heal by reciting dogmas.” I would like to comment on dogmas in general and how they apply to healing wounds in particular.
I think that many dogmas contain truths and insights that serve as foundations of Christian communities and orient religious practices. Christian dogmas, in general, are grounded in Scripture, and I respect those dogmas that deepen Christian faith and practice. However, I don’t respect those dogmas that serve to endorse victimization. Sometimes, individuals or communities have used dogmas as weapons to silence those who seek justice. For example, the dogma of the divine right of kings held that the king was appointed by God to be God’s instrument on earth. Those who opposed any statement of action of the king were, in essence, opposing God and deserved severe punishment.
Fortunately, we now reject the divine right of kings, but a similarly venal dogma widely accepted today is that the reason God created animals was for people to use them as people please. I regard this dogma, grounded in Genesis 1:26, as poor scriptural analysis, in part because Genesis 1:29-30 prescribes a completely harmonious, vegan world, not today’s world in which humans regularly abuse animals for the most trivial of reasons.
Regarding the value of dogmas when it comes to healing, I think there are many times when reciting dogmas, however true they might be, don’t help heal those in great pain. For example, “It is God’s will,” or “We must believe that it is ultimately for the best” can, at times, salt wounds. Sometimes our most effective healing occurs when we offer to be present and, when prompted, affirm our faith that God cares.

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