Define: Legalist

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Rufus_1611, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. Rufus_1611

    Rufus_1611
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    I see the word "legalist" or "legalism" dropped on this board every once in awhile and based on the context I've wondered if folks have different definitions of what this word means.

    I always thought a "legalist" was someone who believes that there are certain works or laws that must be followed in order to be eternally saved. Is this an accurate definition or is there a definition that is more accurate?
     
  2. Hope of Glory

    Hope of Glory
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    I think that can be one meaning.

    Also, those who come up with extra rules that God "forgot". Such as "thou shalt not wear t-shirts."

    I think it can also be applied to those who obey the rules, but only because they have to, but they're not going any further. Although, I think this is the least used way.
     
  3. webdog

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    Read the hip hop thread, and you will see it firsthand.
     
  4. ShotGunWillie

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    Is it clearly defined, I missed it
     
  5. Rufus_1611

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    Your response in the hip hop thread was what inspired this thread. I thought the use of the term in that thread was ignorant but perhaps you could provide a definition that meets what you were describing?
     
  6. npetreley

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    From the wikipedia... whether you like the wikipedia or not, I believe this is a good definition:

    There's nothing about "eternal salvation" in there. Why? Only the ME folks believe there is more than one salvation, so they are the only ones who need to differentiate between eternal salvation and other types of salvation.

    Regardless, I believe webdog was talking more about an "improper fixation on law or codes of conduct".
     
  7. webdog

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    Probably because it is found in your posts.
     
  8. ShotGunWillie

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    Oh, okay, thanks, back to the topic, my posts
     
  9. abcgrad94

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    I agree. Also, I view legalism as "obeying the letter of the law" but not always following the spirit of the law.
     
  10. webdog

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    I didn't use it out of ignorance, and I assumed that was the case for this thread...

    le·gal·ism
    –noun 1.strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, esp. to the letter rather than the spirit. 2.Theology. a.the doctrine that salvation is gained through good works. b.the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.
     
  11. dan e.

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    I like the wikipedia definition, and I agree with npetrely's comment on how it appeared to be used in the other thread.

    There seems to be an improper fixation on rules and traditions of all kinds, but I imagine that has always been and always will be.
     
  12. npetreley

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    I also like this quote from the wikipedia...

    This is a concept the ME folks fail to grasp. True obedience comes from true faith, the love of God, and the works God does in us. It doesn't come from the so-called "accountability" of spending 1,000 years in hell if we don't perform well enough.
     
  13. Amy.G

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    They also have a hard time understanding the meaning of grace and the depth of it.
     
  14. npetreley

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    That's the problem with ME and legalism in general. It's as though ME/legalists think that unless you focus on obeying rules and consequences of sin, people will end up antinomians. I don't think they are aware that they're doing so, but they are denying the power of grace. It's as if they're worried that grace and the love of God can't accomplish God's purpose of conforming us into the image of his Son, so they have to make up lots of rules to do the job.
     
  15. Steven2006

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    Legalism in Christian living may appear in two different forms, though often legalistic Christians practice both forms together.

    In the first form of legalism Christians pursue sanctification by trying to keep the Law through self-effort. This legalistic approach to sanctification opposes the principle of grace, neglects the power of the Spirit, and leads to spiritual frustration and failure in attempting to conquer the sinful flash.

    Christians experience freedom from bondage to legalism and victory over sin when they live by grace, rely on the Spirit, and obey Scripture through the power Spirit-produced love.

    A second form of legalism imposes on Christians a code of conduct of human regulations about external observances and deeds. This form of legalism requires outward conformity to certain human regulations as a measure of religious achievement; does not properly consider one's inner character, motivation, power, and goals as essential factors in biblical spirituality; and appeals to fleshy performance and human pride. Paul evidently had this form of legalism in mind when he referred to Christians who submit to regulations "in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men" (Col. 2:22). Paul warned the Colossian Christians that their legalistic regulations were contrary to their identity with Christ. "If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourselves to decrees, such as, "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!" (2:20-21). Submission to these ascetic prohibitions is supposed to produce spiritual victory over the flesh. Instead, legalistic asceticism has two serious problems: It is the practice of "self-made religion" (2:23), and it does not sanctify (2:16-23), for it is of "no value against fleshy indulgence" (2:23)

    Both forms of legalism involve a fleshy self-effort to conform to an outward code instead of an inward willingness to obey God from a Spirit-filled heart.
    - From 'Understanding Christian Theology"
     
  16. npetreley

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    That is excellent. Is it all a quote? Do you have a link?
     
  17. Steven2006

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    Yes, that is all a quote. No sorry no link. I have the book, I just copied it from that.
     
  18. Rufus_1611

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    So long as God has written laws in that book of His...you're probably right.
     
  19. dan e.

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    Yeah, that is true. What I agreed with was that there is an "improper fixation" on those laws. Even Jesus "broke" the Sabaath, but what was His response to His accusers. He held them in check on their understanding, their "improper fixation", on what the Sabaath was and meant for.

    There are laws in the Bible, and people will always misunderstand them. Likewise, people have prescriptions of how Christians should look and act, and if believers don't adhere to those prescriptions, then they are "sinning", or are "wrong". That is legalism.
     
  20. Hope of Glory

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    "We're not under the law."

    That's a true statement.

    But, some twist that to mean, "We're above the law."
     

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