The 72 Disciples of ConfuciusA visitor looks at the statues of the 72 Disciples of Confucius in the courtyard at the Koshi-byo, or Confucius Shrine in Nagasaki, Japan. (photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

Dogma, well at least its noted absence, has made its way into two of our recent shows. And it is non-dogma itself that binds two very disparate belief systems. Astrophysicist Lord Martin Rees avoids it, “I am not a person who adheres to any religious dogma.” And so did flamboyant preacher Aimee Semple McPherson as she embraced Pentecostalism, a non-dogmatic and fast-growing denomination of Christianity.

Though himself atheist, Martin Rees notes, “I can see a closer affinity with Confucianism and systems of thought like that.”

Confucianism is seeing a cultural revival in China with schools opening up to full capacity. A 31-foot statue of the ancient philosopher was unveiled a few months ago near Tiananmen Square in China’s capital, and then mysteriously disappeared. Confucian teachings were banned by Chairman Mao during the Cultural Revolution.

Pentecostals, attracting new followers in huge numbers globally, have also met resistance. At least one theological seminary has banned their own from “speaking in tongues” which demonstrates a direct experience of God as a gift of the Spirit.

These are two differing systems of belief from the other sides of the world. Both without dogma, but still with their own doctrine and staying power.

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what are your sources for this? pentacostals have dogmatic positions on many issues and practices and Confucianism, as practiced, is one of the most conservative/formalized/hierarchical religious systems ever created which is why the Chinese govt has invested in reviving it and why it was always in some tension with Taoism.

The Catholics explain the difference between dogma and doctrine in this way: that all dogmas are doctrines, but not all doctrines are dogmas.Not all Pentecostals choose non-dogmatic interpretation of God’s works. But ...Aimee
Semple McPherson’s brand did, which is what allowed her to preach and
make her contribution. I should have been more specific and not
included all Pentecostals in the comparison.-Susan

I'm not sure what this means except that to say that ASM was a Protestant, that said she was a very conservative one in terms of her reading of the Bible and its relations to social principles:

Just to add to this, I'm a PhD student studying Foursquare (ASM's church) at Cambridge. I think what the author is saying is that Aimee, out of all Pentecostals (who were at times extremely dogmatic) was the most adamantly non-dogmatic. That is certainly true. I think she represents a strain of Christian thinking that is very unique, because she was so non-dogmatic. Sure she had doctrines and wrote faith statements, but in terms of strict dogma, it is wholly appropriate to say that she was simply unconcerned with it. What was important to her was saving souls, everything else was peripheral. This is reflected in the church she started which, although full of doctrine, prides itself on being "middle-of-the-road" and generally non-confrontational regarding dogmatic issues (unlike many Protestant denominations). I think Susan Leem was right on target with this post.

Pentecostalism is some new modern religion invented by men for men, imply using the name of a 2000 year old religion.

Pentecostalism doesn't have dogma? I guess I missed something in the link provided.

I guess I really don't know what is meant when it is stated that Pentecostalism and Confusianism are without dogma, they seem to both be operating out of some belief systems.