Can we define Legalism?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by 12strings, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. 12strings

    12strings
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    Can we define legalism, or is it simply anyone stricter than I am? Here are a few examples of what some might call legalism:

    1. I believe I should dress up for church, but don't necessarily think everyone else should.
    2. I believe I should dress up for church, and I think other people should too, but I don't say anything.

    3. I believe that it would be wrong for me to go to a movie, but I think other Christians have to decide for themselves.
    4. I believe Christians should not go to movies.

    5. I believe that I should not preach except in a white shirt or tie, but that other preachers can preach in different colors
    6. I believe no preacher should preach in a blue shirt, only a white shirt with a tie.


    Please give your definitions and reasons for what you consider "legalism."
     
  2. Tom Butler

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    Among evangelicals and Baptists, legalism is not works salvation. It's more of using something as a test of one's spirituality.

    I can remember when one's spirituality was judged by the length of the skirt or the length of the hair. There, was, at one point, a culture where women's wearing pants was frowned upon. In my own church, that opposition melted away when mini-skirts came in. All of a sudden we were tickled to death when a woman wore slacks instead of mini-skirts. Particularly those who sat on the front rows.

    Those Baptist cultural norms, however, shift. Our church disfellowshipped a man in the 1930s for gambling. He had invested in the stock market.

    When I was growing up (40s and 50s) Rook was okay, poker was unspiritual.

    Mini-skirts are now out of style. Cleavage is in, particularly among young women.

    If you wait long enough, something new will come along by which our spirituality or carnality will be judged.
     
  3. Don

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    Why would 1, 3, and 5 be legalism?
     
  4. JesusFan

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    The simplest answer to this interesting question to me ia that legalism would be whenever my own personal convictions/preferences are exaulted to the place where its required to be held the same fashion for ALL "good Christians!"

    Its involves those "grey areas" in the walk with Christ, the areas where the Bible allows for freedom in Christ to make decisions based upon my own faith/conviction etc!

    Areas such as movies/tv shows/eterntainment, how to have worship/bible versions etc!
     
  5. Flippo

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    legalism

    Why don't we call legalism what it is in the Bible? That legalism is anything you add to grace in order to be saved i.e. you must have short hair to be saved.
     
  6. JesusFan

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    Also, remember to add that it includes do/dont that Christians "have to do" to show really saved by God!
     
  7. annsni

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    I think of it as "majoring in the minors". Making those things which are NOT top shelf doctrine issues and making them such.
     
  8. RustySword

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    I define legalism as the belief that Christians, although justified by grace through faith, are sanctified by keeping the law, i.e., all that stuff in Exodus through Deuteronomy.
     
  9. seekingthetruth

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    Jack Hyles was the master of legalism. Every time someone brings up the word legalism, my mind says "Jack Hyles".

    Unfortunately, many IFB churches are patterned after the teachings of Hyles, or are pastored by a graduate of Hyles Anderson University.

    This gives the good IFB churches an undeserved bad name.

    Many pastors use legalism to make the members prove their salvation and appear holy and godly.

    I don't have to prove my salvation to anyone but God. Besides that, I didn't earn it, Jesus gave me that salvation so it really isn't mine to brag about anyway. If I get what I have earned then I will burn in hell. And legalism won't help me there.

    John
     
  10. HAMel

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    To me, legalism is but an avenue relied upon by the self-righteous to judge others based on approved/endorsed conduct bounced against adherence to precise laws created as they go along.

    As it is with most any government (Federal and State) only the legislature can enact laws. Everything else is but a policy and most always, policies are negotiable. When folks find they can't negotiate..., they simply move to another church.
     
    #10 HAMel, Oct 25, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2011
  11. 12strings

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    So just to clarify, If a pastor believes that to honor God, he should only preach wearing a white shirt....this pastor is not a legalist so long as he does not believe this rule applies to others? Would you not say that he is himself enslaved to legalism, even if he is not spreading it?
     
  12. HAMel

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    Would you not say that he is himself enslaved to legalism, even if he is not spreading it?

    I would conclude that wearing a White Shirt to be his prerogative. There's nothing wrong with being well dressed.
     
  13. webdog

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    That's one definition but not the only one.
     
  14. 12strings

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    even if he believes it to be a sin for him if he wears blue?
     
  15. JesusFan

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    Apostle paul addresses this topic by stating that IF a particular issue/behavior is NOT done in faith, that it violates that person prersonal conviction, would be sin TO HIM, but not to any else who did NOT share his same convictions!
     
  16. DHK

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    This is the only Scriptural definition of legalism. The others are more recent man-made definitions that have more to do with sanctification and holiness, as well as soul liberty and the autonomy of the local church. All of those issues are separate issues from legalism, which alone has to do with salvation.

    If a church decides at a church business meeting that all the men must wear bow ties and all the women pink skirts, then that is their prerogative as that local church to make that decision. They can also decide to have purple carpet and green curtains. If you don't like it don't join the church. This is a combination of soul liberty and the autonomy of the local church. Do you not believe that we still have freedom in our nation without being condemned by our own brothers and sisters in the Lord??
     
  17. JesusFan

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    Thought do that legalism refered to after the fact of salvation, that one is a genuine Christian, but now feels bound to live by law keeping, even though saved by Grace?
     
  18. DHK

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    The issues concerning legalism was clarified long ago right here:

    And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. (Acts 15:1)
    --Here was the problem. These men wanted to ADD to salvation WORKS of circumcision and the keeping of the law. Note that they believed that it was necessary for their salvation. These men, called Judaizers, were legalists. And all who have followed in their footsteps--adding works to grace are the same--legalists.

    Concerning the law: Which of the 613 were you referring to?
     
  19. 12strings

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    You are right that they do have that prerogative according to U.S. Law, but a church that did that would be doing great violence to the gospel and severely hindering their own witness to the lost by requiring such a thing. If It's not called legalism, fine, but it's something bad.

    Here's my 2 issues:
    1. If the word legalism applies only to requiring extra works for salvation, then what word would describe requiring obedience to extra-biblical standards for one to be considered an "obedient" Christian.

    2. And, even if one does not push their beliefs on others, If a person believes that something is a sin, that the Bible does not call a sin; are they a legalist, or is it something else? If I believed I had to open doors with my right hand only, because my right hand is my dominant hand, and I want to give my best to God, am I a legalist? If we don't use that name, is there any grounds for a fellow believer to come along and say, "You are just wrong about that! God would be just as pleased with you using your left hand...or wearing blue...or playing with cards...or letting your wife wear pants." ???
     
  20. DHK

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    That is the equivalent of saying that those churches who have schools that require uniforms for their students "are severely hindering their own witness and doing great violence to the gospel." Nonsense. My example was just a bit more extreme to catch your attention.
    I know churches that require their women to cover their heads.
    I knew a preacher some time ago that would not allow anyone to preach in his pulpit that word wire-rim glasses.
    Many years ago I knew a man who would not admit into membership women who would not agree to not wear jewelry or pants. (another generation.) This was an exceptional case. There were many other churches at the same time that preached it from the pulpit and would hold the same standard (at least for pants on women) for those in leadership. For others it had to be by conviction and usually it ended up being 100% anyway.

    In all of the above the gospel was never hindered. Your reaction is an over-reaction.
    The issue has nothing to do with legalism.
    If you believe my standards are "extra-biblical," then I probably don''t. I would probably view you as having standards that are worldly. The issue is therefore: worldliness vs. holiness. It is summed up in Romans 14, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." If you are fully persuaded in your own mind that it is perfectly acceptable for your wife to go to church in a halter top and skin-tight jeans then you will stand God for allowing her to do so. You are the head of your house. For me, I see it as sin. It is not modest, and that is what the Bible demands. Again the issue is worldliness vs. holiness.

    If your wife wears a halter top to church, I am not going to PUSH my beliefs on her. I trust that she would be convicted by the Holy Spirit not to dress that way again. We don't have such rules. We have standards for those who are going to be on the platform, so dressing like that would eliminate her from singing in a choir or doing a solo, etc. She could not be a representative of the church in any way dressed like that.
    The Bible doesn't call halter tops sin. But I do. Are you going to come to my church and argue with me over it? So it is with many other such issues. Thus they are left to each autonomous local church to decide for themselves where to draw the line. It is up to pastor to teach these things.
    No, but you would be different. There is nothing wrong with you opening the door with simply your right hand. I am sure that many people do just out of habit.
    I have a reasonable explanation for the things that I do. My decisions are not made in vain.
     

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