Wow, I can’t believe a week has gone by so fast. Sorry for the late entry, been a very interesting week recovering from the jet lag, finding a job. Yes, I found a job in only four days in New Hampshire. Clearly, I went to the wrong place first. Oh well.

Welcome to this week’s Craft post. We are in the middle of a long Worldbuilding series and are going through a sub-series on religion. If you are new or haven’t kept up, you can find all the posts so far on Worldbuilding, in the link in the toolbar above. They are all broken up into each sub-series. If you are just not caught up on the religion posts, you can find all of those here. Today’s post is on the Doctrine of Religion and I am going to break this up into two parts, not two posts. The first part is going over Doctrine in religion and then in the second Interpretation.


What is doctrine? Well, let’s look at the definition of the word.

Doctrine: (from Latin: doctrina) is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the essence of teachings in a given branch of knowledge or belief system. Wikipedia.

Or how about a more layman’s definition.

Doctrine: a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government.

So doctrine is what the organization, government, etc teaches. In other words, the beliefs of the body. In the religion you are creating, you will develop a doctrine for it. In religion doctrine, you usually have a creation account, the fall of the people, the main idea of rewards vs. punishments, etc. You don’t need to follow religions of our world if there is something you think is interesting you can usually form a religion around it. Also, religions don’t have to answer every question.

Most religious doctrines have major and minor beliefs. How many major tenets determines usually how old the religion is and how widespread. Not all religions have hundreds of major doctrines and few minor ones. Some could have three, or four. To give you some ideas on this let’s look at the basic tenets of Islam and Christianity.

Christianity Islam
  • Jesus Christ is the Only Way to Eternal Salvation With God the Father
  • We Are Saved by Grace Through Faith – Not by Works
  • Jesus Christ is the Son of God
  • The Incarnation of Jesus Christ
  • The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ From the Grave
  • The Ascension of Jesus Christ
  • The Doctrine of the Trinity
  • The Holy Bible is the Inspired and Infallible Word of God
  • We Are Baptized With the Holy Spirit at the Moment of Salvation
  • Regeneration by the Holy Spirit
  • The Doctrine of Hell
  • The 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ Back to our Earth
  • Iman (Faith)
  • Salah (Prayer)
  • Zakah (Giving)
  • Sawm (Fasting)
  • Hajj (Pilgrimage)

 There are twelve main tenets of Christianity and five for Islam. To be fair for Christianity, they could be broken down into, four: God (Trinity), Jesus (Birth, Death, Resurrection), Second Comming, and Baptism. Hell while a major belief, it falls under Jesus really. Because if you are going to heaven by believing in Christ, then where do you go if you don’t. Now some will disagree with me about breaking down those 12 tenets into four, leaving out saved by grace through faith, or not making hell its own tenet. It really comes down to each person’s individual beliefs. We will get there in a second.

When you are trying to figure this out for your religions, think about what the religion is about and why someone would believe it. Because your tenets came from somewhere, either a witness of events (The Gospels of Luke and John, Letters of Paul) or from someone’s writings after interviewing people the other (Gospels of Mathew and Mark). They maybe writings from God himself as in the case of Moses and the Ten Commandments. It is really up to you to figure this out. What if your tenets come from the author’s observations. This is more of a scientific basis, but if you’re going to have a holy tree be the end all be all of your religion than observing it and seeing how things interacted is a way of doing it.

Quickly, let’s cover minor tenet’s or doctrines. These minor beliefs are more they can usually be backed up by the holy scriptures of a religion, but they aren’t universally believed. The best example of this is Christian’s End of Days or the second coming of Christ. There are so many different beliefs of how this is going to happen, just google Christian Eschatology, oh wait I did it for you (Google Search here, Wikipedia here). There are so many different views on this topic alone. Check out some blog or forum posts on the topic and just see how vicious Christians can get fighting over defending their viewpoint. In the end, it doesn’t matter who is right.

When crafting your minor tenets and you should, maybe you don’t need to go nuts with them, but throw a few out there and show how people handle them. That is a great way to switch to the next part of this post on Interpretation.


While for the most part, the majority of religious people will agree whole heartily on the major tenets of the faith, it is the minor beliefs where people disagree. In Christianity alone, the whole Protestant church and its many denominations form solely on disagreements over small not really important issues. One of the biggest minor tenets is over if women can teach men. The more charismatic branches don’t see why not, were the more Fundamental are opposed to it. When you check out of the arguments for each side both have valid stances. However, that is not the purpose of this part of the post.

You get different viewpoints on religious texts is one of the things that comes out of the interpretation, you also get structure and practices. Two examples, the structure of the Catholic church comes from reading texts on leadership in the bible. While I don’t know if this is true, but I personally think they took more from the Old Testament and modeled it on the Jew priest system. The other is prayer tenet of Islam. Why do Muslims have to pray six times a day? While prayer is important, but add to that, you have to face towards Mecca as well.

Creating a religion has more to do than just here is what they believe, it is about why they believe it and based on the interpretation of the belief comes how the structure of the religion and their practices. When you are creating your tenets, keep in mind how you can use these beliefs to cause friction among followers on how they interpret whatever religious writings or tablets they get their religions from. Just because you have huge dividing points among followers of your religion doesn’t mean that they can’t be united.

Think of this, what if your main character(s) are trying to do something but a legion of follows of this religion is standing in your way. How can you get past such a wide spread of people? Then you learn that while these people are united in opposing you on this issue or topic or action, they are divided by the great difference of beliefs. You decide to use this minor beliefs squalls to cause fighting amongst their numbers allowing your characters to slip by and continue with what you need to do.

Well, that is all for now, next week I am going to focus on Structure of Religion and the week after next Practices. Unless I come up with something else that will be the last post on Religion and three weeks from today I will wrap-up on the Religion sub-series. Please check back on Monday, for this week’s Writing Wrap-up, unlike last week I will be posting one. Find me on Twitter @@timrgreenebooks. I am going to try to find a writing article to post. That’s all hope everyone is having a great writing week.



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