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Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Janetta Hampton, Jul 4, 2002.
Can someone give me definitions for legalism and fundamentalism?
It depends on who you ask.
"Legalism" is generally used to describe the premises of those who believe there is a stark line between good and evil, right and wrong.
Understood in its proper sense, it refers to the blasphemous, anti-Christ doctrine that adds the "works of the Law" to faith for justification.
"Fundamentalism" is a name for those who hold to the doctrines of Biblical literalists.
That is how I have observed the terms used in my part of the country?
Technically, fundamentalist doesn't mean all Bible-believers. It refers to a specific group that were especially 'separatist'.
But non-Christians tend to use it to mean 'any Bible-believing Christian'.
Legalism (imo) means paying too much attention to rules alone and not enough to motives. Being too focused on outward compliance to rules as opposed to having an undivided heart...
1. Fundamentalism: The historic adherence to the "Fundamentals" as published by R.A. Torrey in 1921. Today "fundamentalism" is divided into three catagories.</font>
Militant fundamentalism: Believes that a fundamentalist must not only separate from all apostacy and theological compromise, but must also strongly condemn such apostacy and theological compromise, name names, institutions, and ministries involved in such apostacy and theological compromise.</font>
Moderate fundamentalism: Believes that a fundamentalist must separate from all apostacy and theological compromise, but need not publicly expose and condemn men, insititutions, and ministries involved in such.</font>
Modified fundamentalism (also called neo-evangelicalism): The repudiation of both the need to expose apostacy and theological compromise, but also the need to separate from it. "Inclusivism" is the watchword of the Modified fundamentalist.</font>
2. Legalism. The concept of adding the works of the law (either biblical or man-made rules) to grace either to receive salvation, keep salvation, or to attain spiritual maturity.</font>
Judiastic legalism: The heresy condemned in the book of Galatians which attempts to add the works of the law to the grace of God for salvation. Such legalism is characterized by law keeping in order to receive, or to keep, salvation. Such heresy is common among arminian groups such as 7th Day Adventism, Pentecostalism, etc. This type of legalist is seldom a genuinely saved person, having "gone about to establish his own righteousness and not submitted himself unto the righteousness of God."</font>
Pharisaical legalism: The idea of keeping the law, either biblical or man-made rules, in order to become spiritually mature. This type of legalist is often saved, but fails to understand that holy living is the result of spiritual maturity and not the cause of it. </font>
I should have known Thomas Cassidy would have an unabridged, annotative definition!
Thanks for the help. I have heard the terms used many times but I got different definitions depending on who I was talking to. Just like Aaron said. Now I know why. Thanks DocCas for the break down.
Just curious; where do these definitions of legalism come from? Thanks.
The definition of "Fundamentalism" is from "History of Fundamentalism in America" by Dr. George W. Dollar, who was one of my teachers and mentors. The definition of "Legalism" is my own.
I used your definition of legalism in another forum on another site. I should have asked your permission first but I figured it was from a theological source other than yourself; I know its after the fact, but can I quote you? If not, I can remove it.
Thanks and apologies.
Please feel free.
Since the legalism definition was yours, let me ask you a question; why can one not pursue spiritual maturity by adhering to biblical rules?
I'm not Doc, but let me point you to my answer:
This is from Colossians Chapter 2:
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to him.
We received Christ by faith, not by works or obedience to the Law. There is nothing wrong with the Law and the Law is not evil. It is still a help to us as an external reference point for our Christian walk -- but it is not the basis of our faith... Christ is the basis of our faith and the One who calls us to walk with Him.
7 Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done.
8 Don't let anyone lead you astray with empty philosophy and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the evil powers of this world, and not from Christ. 9 For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body, 10 and you are complete through your union with Christ. He is the Lord over every ruler and authority in the universe.
Christ is completely sufficient for us. We do not need an external self-improvement plan to make us successful in the Christian life. We just need to follow Jesus, learn His will for our lives and learn to listen to the call of the Spirit. Our devotional life is key to our responsiveness to Christ. Studying the scriptures, joining with other believers in worship and service, and obeying the Spirit's impulse will give us all we need to be obedient to Christ.
11 When you came to Christ, you were "circumcised," but not by a physical procedure. It was a spiritual procedure--the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to a new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross. 15 In this way, God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross of Christ.
Sin does not have power over us anymore unless we yield to it. Our sin nature has been eliminated and now we have to unlearn the ways of sin and learn the ways of God. (We still sin however because of habit, yielding to temptation -- forgetting that we are not bound to sin, and because of willful disobedience for easy self-gratification.)
16 So don't let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new-moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17 For these rules were only shadows of the real thing, Christ himself. 18 Don't let anyone condemn you by insisting on self-denial. And don't let anyone say you must worship angels, even though they say they have had visions about this. These people claim to be so humble, but their sinful minds have made them proud. 19 But they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For we are joined together in his body by his strong sinews, and we grow only as we get our nourishment and strength from God.
20 You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the evil powers of this world. So why do you keep on following rules of the world, such as, 21 "Don't handle, don't eat, don't touch." 22 Such rules are mere human teaching about things that are gone as soon as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, humility, and severe bodily discipline. But they have no effect when it comes to conquering a person's evil thoughts and desires.
Legalism, judgmental people and spiritual rule makers are to be ignored. We certainly are called to be part of a spiritual body (a local church) that holds us accountable for our lives, but we should not allow others to impose a legalism on us that puts us back into a bondage designed to somehow conquer sin or that claims to make us acceptable to God.
Paul specifically notes (v.23) that this kind of religiousity does us no good. In a counter-intuitive way (a way that seems foolish to many people), we find freedom from sin by indulging in doing what is right instead of trying to avoid what is wrong. Instead of trying to deny ourselves of things for which we lust, we should indulge ourselves with the things we truly need -- service to others, worship, fellowship, natural evangelism, following God's will for our lives in our careers, homes and families, following our God-given hobbies and interests, exploring our artistic creative sides, loving our neighbor and loving God.
Legalism (rule keeping) has no spiritual benefit. It only keeps you from following Christ in faith.
Since He his the Word (John 1:1) and he did not abolish the Law (Matthew 5:17), it would seem that to live in obediance to him would be to live as he did; in Matthew 4:4 He quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God".
What translation are you using?
Cotton, we can! However, the pursuit of spiritual maturity will result in holy living, not vice versa. The way to spiritual maturity is not to live according to a lot of rules, living according to God's rules is the result of spiritual maturity. Pursue an intimate relationship with God, and holy living will be a great joy rather than a difficult task.
That particular version is the "New Living Translation" that I pulled from online. It is not much different than other translations, including the New Revised Version which I used this morning to teach the same passage.
Amen to that DocCass!
Well, I believe I said Biblical rules. I would agree that traditions of men can be detrimental, however I disagree that following God's rules is incorrect or bondage. How else does one know what sin is?
Well, I believe I said Biblical rules. I would agree that traditions of men can be detrimental, however I disagree that following God's rules is incorrect or bondage. How else does one know what sin is?</font>[/QUOTE]God's rules are not to be ignored, but they are also not to be for *as* a path to spiritual maturity. (I realize that that statement sounds very strange... I still does to me and I've known this truth for 15 years.) Faith is the way to spiritual maturity. The rules are simply guidelines -- training wheels -- that keep us from tipping over when we lean to far one way or another. Rule-keeping doesn't help us spiritually, but faith-following transforms us.
Put another way, the emphasis should not be on what you can't do and simply resisting sin, but should be on what we can do and busying ourselves loving God, our neighbor and doing good works. Biblical rules are there for us for guidance, but not as a means of perfection.