Often the word doctrine specifically suggests a body of religious principles as promulgated by a church. Doctrine may also refer to a principle of law, in the common-law traditions, established through a history of past decisions, such as the doctrine of self-defense, or the principle of fair use, or the more narrowly applicable first-sale doctrine. Some organizations simply define doctrine as "that which is taught", or the basis for institutional teaching to its personnel of internal ways of operating.
Examples of religious doctrines include:
According to the sociologist Mervin Verbit, doctrine may be understood as one of the key components of religiosity, and doctrine itself may be divided into four categories:
The content of a doctrine may vary from one religion to the next, as will the degree to which it may occupy the person's mind (frequency), the intensity of the doctrine, and the centrality of the doctrine (in that religious tradition).