“the Dear Old Doctrines of the Church”

“the Dear Old Doctrines of the Church”

  • Submitted By: Shookandrew
  • Date Submitted: 02/22/2009 8:36 PM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 1808
  • Page: 8
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“The Dear Old Doctrines of the Church”

1. My mother always complains that, while I was growing up, every other word out of my mouth was “why.” Maybe every human being is born with an innate thirst for knowledge and understanding; I certainly was. However, my mother never had an answer for me. It was always “because I said so” or “because that’s just the way things are.” Like my mother, society tends to force upon us these prepackaged conceptions that John Stuart Mill called a “dead dogma,” instead of letting each individual find his own “living truth” (34). However, as I soon learned, when an individual does find his own “living truth,” society often punishes him for his nonconformity. I recall vividly a Southern Baptist pastor who once tries to crush a “living truth” of mine only to find his own “dead dogma” thrown back in his face. Although the pastor might maintain that his position served the best interests of his church, I will argue that his advocacy of the King James Version was inappropriate not only because it was an example of a “dead dogma” but also because, in his interaction with me, he displayed a lack of Christian charity.

2. Both John Stuart Mill and Ralph Waldo Emerson subscribe to the idea that nonconformity is an essential part of establishing the truth. In Mill’s essay, “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion,” he argues that we must actively question our truths or beliefs. This testing process forces us to clarify our understanding of what we believe and prevents our truths from becoming “dead dogma” or ideas that we conform to out of complacency or ignorance (34). Emerson promotes similar ideas in his essay, “Self-Reliance.” He emphasizes uniqueness and believes that being self-reliant requires one to find his own truth. He used the phrase “the Dear Old Doctrines of the Church” to ridicule the religious beliefs that fit Mill’s description of a “dead dogma.” While Emerson does praise individualism, he concedes that it...

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