Saturday, September 15, 2012


The answer to that question is both yes and no.  Throughout history there have been those secret organizations that have preserved the inner teachings of past spiritual leaders.  These societies have remained obscure and hidden in order to avoid the heavy hammer of persecution.  Religions have been fond of killing heretics and of destroying libraries of ancient texts that contradict theological dogma.  Since the late 1800’s and early 1900’s to the present, mush has been revealed regarding the inner teachings of past spiritual avatars.  The “cat is out of the bag.”
However, there has certainly been a backlash to New Age thought.  We are all familiar with the Moral Majority and Rome has clamped down on more liberal ideology.  The evangelists are still out there making millions as they try to convince the world of its evil ways.  Headlines are certainly filled with news of fundamentalist activity in the Middle East and like a trapped rat; religious institutions are fighting back-an oxymoron.  Growth in the “Secret” phenomenon has brought old wisdom to TV and there are some 86 million web sites devoted to the topic of spirituality.  So, while adherence to religious dogma is on the decline and schisms are occurring in a number of Christian denominations, the trend has been for religions to “dig in” rather than to relinquish.
Die hard dogma adherent’s use the current trend towards a broader concept of spirituality as evidence of the approaching “end times.”  By raising the specter of the Apocalypse they use fear to keep their flocks in an unwavering holding pattern.  Of course, what they fail to understand is that “apocalypse” means revelation or the revealing.  It does not mean the end of the world.  Truly, we are entering a time of revelation and part of that revelation will spell the end of religious dogma.

A P.S. Clearly, recent events in the Middle East is evidence that religious dogma is not dead. Even the Pope is getting a bit nervous, calling for an end to fundamentalism.



In a theological context, dogma is not only religious doctrine; it is a set of statements that represent the core of any religion.  To disagree with the dogma of a chosen religion or faith means that you no longer adhere to that faith.  With respect to the Catholic Church, dogma is generally found in the Nicene Creed and various pronouncements of ecumenical councils and the infallible Pope.  Protestants call their dogma doctrine or statements of faith and for Islam; one is referred to the “aqidah.”   Each organized religion has some sort of official set of “something” which is at the heart of their teaching and which also require strict conformity.  The key is that to question dogma is to question the very basis of institutionalized belief.  To do so often leads to expulsion.  This is a heavy hammer to hold over ones head. 
Is there little wonder that people are afraid to question the dogma of their usually inherited religion?  Question pronouncements of the Ayatollah and you may forfeit your life.  Argue with the Pope and be excommunicated.  Denounce a minister and be labeled the spawn of Satan.  History has shown that to question dogma has often led to the burning stake, torture, being outcast, shunned, abused, ridiculed and cast out of society.  Up until the Enlightenment, questioning was usually a death sentence. 
It is critical to remember that institutions only have power if you give them power.  Early man gave most of his power to religious institutions and reclaiming that power has been an uphill battle.  Despite the enlightenment, the scientific revolution, the Age of reason and the failure of most religions to effectively solve any of humanity’s laundry list of problems, religious dogma still enslaves the majority of the world’s population.  While there is no question that many do not actively follow the dogmatic religious creeds, we live in a world where the influence of such creeds affects everyone.  Religions have money and that means power. 
Whether you are among the faithful or among the non-believers, your lives are greatly controlled by the religious elite.  Despite all claims to the contrary, there is very little separation between dogma and the state.  Perhaps the only major world power that is not greatly swayed by religion is China, its government must still deal with countries that are.  Policies of the United States and Europe as well as those of the Middle East are dominated by religious influence.  Even the most ardent atheist feels the effects of the power of religion.  From domestic social policies to foreign policies, the “church” wields tremendous influence.