Dogma as “that which seems good”

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Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) clarifies  the term “dogma” which, as he notes:

“is derived from the (Greek) verb ‘dokein’ (=seeming, believing) and originally, its literal meaning was “that which seems good or proper to someone'”

He continues to explain that from this original meaning it was transposed to signify the personal opinion of an entire school of thought; then later it was transposed again to public life (the state) to signify the decisions or decrees. Only afterwards did it take a religious meaning.

In the end, dogmas are linked to worship as he cites Vasilios the Great who, in his work on the Holy Spirit, writes: “…for, dogmas are hushed, whereas sermons are publicized…”. Metropolitan John explains:

“This passage gave rise to younger patrologists to interpret Vasilios’ hushing as pertaining to the divinity of the Holy Spirit. But for our present topic of discussion, this phrase of Vasilios has the following significance: Dogmas are those things that the Church (as a worshipping community) confesses, and not those things it promulgates to others, who are outside the Church….we can just make a note that according to Vasilios the Great, the meaning of ‘dogma’ has the community of the Church as a prerequisite, along with a participation in its worship, otherwise it bears no authority”

For the full article see here.

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