…is like playing tennis without a net.
It results in a certain formlessness, the reduction of an intellectually vigorous and astringent faith to something sentimental and twee–nothing but a religion of ‘spirituality’ and good works. The articulation of this ‘faith’ becomes a sad, ridiculous struggle with words which cannot have any meaning other than the ‘re-interpretation’ of that meaning according to each person’s preferences, and about which no one can argue because all have agreed that there is no such thing as objective theology.
The practice of the faith becomes vague and incoherent collection of good causes, passionate personal intentions of making oneself somehow better or following one’s idea of Christianity within a wilderness of personal opinion, sentimental conclusions. One is “on the edge of a grimpen where there is no foothold.”
It’s not even a case of the blind leading the blind.
More like the bland leading the bland.
And those in such a state cry out with touching bravado, “Ah yes! we brave pioneers are willing to wrestle with meanings and meaninglessness. We often walk in darkness without seeing the great light, and is it not a courageous act of faith to walk boldly into that void where we may be sure of nothing except that we are sure of nothing? I once heard a sermon in Cambridge by a theologian who mistook his own atheism for the via negativa–the spiritual way of negation. He piously said, “We who have no dogma and no certainty and no absolute authority to blindly obey, we are the courageous men of faith who “go bravely into that darkness which is the darkness of God.”
There’s a fool named Rycker in Graham Greene’s The Burnt Out Case who is in mortal sin and mistakes the darkness in his soul for the Dark Night of the Soul.
No, give me dogma even if it damns me, for dogma is the frame of the window through which I glimpse the heavens from my prison cell.
A final thought: a religion with no dogma? This is most often the religion of comfortable, educated, middle class people who think they do not need dogma. “What need have I of dogma when I have my pension plan in place?”
I doubt very much if this is the sort of religion that produces missionaries and martyrs.