Law & Liberty. The definition of legalism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by evangelist6589, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. evangelist6589

    evangelist6589
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    A friend is sending me this book FREE of charge and I look forward to reading it. To you what is legalism? Explain your definition. Also tell us of denominations and churches that are legalistic. Independent Fundamental Baptists? Hardcore Fundamentalist Pentecostalism? Church of God in Christ? The Plymouth Brethren? Seventh Day Adventists? Or whom? Legalists often DEFEND their position by saying that legalism only adds to salvation but this is simply a incomplete definition as it may also be an attitude with sanctification. Also is someone whom holds Biblical standards a legalist? Is someone whom says NO to alcohol a legalist? Is someone whom says NO to movie theaters a legalist?

    I have a story about the SDA as once I visited a friend at a SDA school and those boys made a big deal about me drinking a Pepsi in front of them, reading from the NIV, eating meat, and such. Well to be frank I was in error for being a stumbling block to them on that campus. Their 5-point Armianism was incredibly obvious at the school, and later I saw they had a bit in common with BJU, except BJU was more Calvinistic as the Adventists all thought if they did not have a Godly diet they could lose their salvation!! So sad..

    Some historical legalist practices according to Wikipedia.

    [*]Asceticism, such as fasting and other forms of self-denial.
    The keeping of Christian Sabbath, especially regarding prohibitions of various otherwise innocent activities on the day of worship.
    Various extra-biblical ordinances and customs that become associated not just with wisdom but with holiness, in the contemporary situation, such as prohibitions against theater, movies, dancing, rock music, playing cards, interracial marriage or mixed bathing.
    Total abstinence from alcohol (See also Christianity and alcohol.)
    Ritualism, a superficial or superstitious use of customary prayers and liturgy.
    Similarly, certain exclusive ritual practices, such as rigorous insistence on the tetragrammaton as the only name by which God is honored, dietary laws, Saturday Sabbath, or Passover (Christian holiday), especially when practicing these rituals is held necessary for salvation.
    Sacraments, especially when the underlying theology allegedly views them as communicating God's grace automatically (compare ex opere operato).
    Various rigorous and restrictive beliefs, such as that, only the King James Version of the Bible constitutes God's word.[6]
    The belief that Christian families should homeschool.
    The belief that women should never wear pants or shorts.
    Iconoclasm
    Circumcision
    Puritanism
    Judaizing
    Restorationism
    Christian Reconstructionism, which is based on the belief that Christians should still obey and enforce the full Mosaic law.
    [/LIST]
     
    #1 evangelist6589, Mar 12, 2014
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  2. JamesL

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    It would seem to me that a legalist is someone who thinks of Christianity in a primarily legal fashion. In other words, someone who is more focused on following rules, laws, commandments rather than being led by the Holy Spirit.

    Outward observance in contrast with inner reverence.

    It might not be legalistic to abstain from drinking, or to abstain from movies, or to abstain from any particular activity. That could simply be a form of putting away the deeds of the flesh. That's going to depend on one's reason for such.

    God cares less about what you do, and more about what you think about what you do. And that goes for good or bad deeds.



    Either Calvinist or Arminian can be legalistic, since they both believe works are a criteria for determining our eternal destination
     
  3. Judith

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    Legalism is the attempt of an individual to do enough to be accepted as worthy.

    The seeking of holiness/godliness is the attempt of the already saved individual who has been made holy by the finished work of Christ to live experientially what they are positionally. May I say that both can anger the liberal as well as many conservitives.
     
    #3 Judith, Mar 19, 2014
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  4. JamesL

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    Can you explain what you mean with these two phrases, and how you connect them?
    Made Holy
    What They Are Positionally

    Do you think you have only "positionally" been "made holy" ???
    positionally been given a new heart?
    positionally washed?
    positionally cleansed?
    positionally made a new creation?
    positionally indwelt by the Holy Spirit?

    I'm just curious
     
  5. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    Interisting ..... could you explain how a Calvinist incorporates works into eternal salvation?
     
  6. Van

    Van
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    Another aspect of Legalism is thinking your view should be applied to others. It is a my way or the highway mentality. For example a Calvinist would say if you are a hyper, you are not really a Calvinist. Legalists believe in compulsion rather than persuasion.

    The Law of Liberty is the Law of Christ, where we apply all that Christ taught to our lives not to avoid the lash of legalism, but out of our devotion and love of Christ and His righteousness.
     
  7. Greektim

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    Is it not similar to dogmatize, "Calvinism is wrong" rather than "I believe Calvinism to be wrong"?
     
  8. OnlyaSinner

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    I've seen descriptions for legalism separated into two facets, something like this:

    Legalism in salvation means adding human works of some kind to belief in the finished work of Christ. Whether those "required" works be water baptism, speaking in tongues, celebrating the mass, or whatever, I consider that to be heresy.

    Legalism in sanctification is where setting standards, and agreeing/disagreeing on them, is involved, and can be very subjective, though I see the issue as being well short of heretical. There are things in today's world such that it can be difficult to apply specific Bible principles in coming to an application, and people who truly love God can disagree. Or maybe one can just use this tongue-in-cheek description: "A legalist is anyone whose standards are stricter than mine; a liberal is anyone whose standards are less strict than mine."
     
  9. Van

    Van
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    Less than perfect example of a Calvinist declaring how others should express themselves. Not to be dogmatic about it. :)
     
  10. Greektim

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    Check my grammar. It was not a declaration but a question.
     
  11. Van

    Van
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    I said it was less than perfect!!!
     
  12. JamesL

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    I'm not certain what you mean by Eternal Salvation. I've had a couple of exchanges with that phrase used, and it seems to refer to God's foreknowledge, election, etc in contrast to Gospel Salvation being the preaching, regeneration, etc. (I could be wrong there though). That's why I was very careful to use the word Destination instead of Salvation

    To the Calvinist, saved means "saved from hell, going to heaven" (in a nutshell).

    Many have objected to the [?Primitive Baptist?] use of "saved" in several different contexts. Like when Ky Redneck was posting about being "saved" through baptism, and more than one Calvinist jumped in thinking that the intended meaning was that we can be "saved from hell, going to heaven" by being baptized.

    All that said, the Calvinist believes there is one criteria by which a man will enter through the Pearly Gates - a life of good works. Such an elaborate doctrinal system to have such a simple bottom line.

    In order to see it, one must work backward through the TULIP, starting with Perseverance of the Saints, and its very common synonym Once Saved, Always Saved.

    OSAS is associated with the P in the TULIP - perseverance in good works, or the "fruit" of saving faith.

    But these works must not be credited to man - so perseverance hangs on the former points of the TULIP. Notice carefully the system explained in its most basic form:

    Man is totally depraved, and devoid of anything capable of doing works good enough to please God (and thereby enter heaven). So, God foreordained that He would rescue some for His own glory. He sent His Son to die for them only, and works in their hearts to change their disposition, whereby they now willingly choose to submit to a life of (imperfect) obedience to Him.

    Or another way to put it - Man starts with a lack of anything capable of producing "good works" necessary to enter heaven. However, God has done this marvelous work in some, and now men do the good works necessary in order to enter heaven. It's not the man working, however, it's God.

    The good works must be performed, or else it is "evidence" that God has never done this marvelous work in the man.

    Or another way to put it - without these good works, a man has no hope of entering heaven. But since man cannot receive any glory in it, God must first regenerate the man so that the man can now "do the will of God", which is perceived as the good works necessary to enter the gates.

    If there is any doubt, just subject any man (or every man) to both Calvinism and Arminianism. You will find that the Eternal Destination is the same under each position. It's just that the Arminian is honest enough to give a straight answer to "yes or no" questions.

    Suppose I have faith, but I do not persevere in good works. Will I enter heaven?
    Arminian: No
    Calvinist: That just means your faith is spurious (short, honest answer is NO)

    Suppose I start out with faith in Christ, then fall away. Will I enter heaven?
    Arminian: No
    Calvinist: That just means you never were saved (short, honest answer is NO)

    The Calvinist will not give the short, honest answer. It's always danced around, and cloaked with "God hasn't begun a good work in you" (taking Philippians 1:6 out of context)

    But sift through the dancing and weaving, and you have a basic requirement that a man must live a life of good works if he has any hope of entering heaven. That's why there are so many self-appointed fruit inspectors running around. They think it's their job to inspect the works of believers to prove that they're "going to heaven"


    That's why Calvinists are nothing but Arminians in disguise - both require good works to be "saved from hell, going to heaven" It's just that Arminians don't disguise it, they openly proclaim it
     
  13. Aaron

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    Legalism is simply the idea that one's justification is based on any degree of adherence to the law, or any work of the flesh. It is not legalism to state that one must not lie. It is legalsim to think that one is justified because he stopped lying (mostly) or that his justification is somehow shaken because he lied or committed any sin (or didn't say the prayer right, or because he didn't turn his life "wholly" over to god, or didn't think exactly right about what he was doing, etc.)
     
    #13 Aaron, Mar 21, 2014
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  14. Earth Wind and Fire

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    That makes sence Aaron.....very profound:thumbs::laugh:

    Question ....aren't you outlining Lordship theology?
     
    #14 Earth Wind and Fire, Mar 21, 2014
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  15. Earth Wind and Fire

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    I don't know if the Calvinists would agree withyou here however I've not seen any of them dispute you (yet). Interesting take though....I would like nothing more than one or a few Calvinists to rip it to pieces and prove you wrong.....otherwise I would personally have to give you credit for a brilliant discovery. I do like things exposed to the light in order to reveal truth. We shall see.
     
  16. Van

    Van
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    Once born anew, a new creation created for good works, what would flow from such an event? Not just Calvinists, but all who believe in eternal security, i.e. once saved, always saved, believe good works does not provide salvation, but rather proves salvation.

    But what about the person with no "good works." That would not be no "good works" according to the fruit inspectors, but no "good works" according to God who knows our hearts. We, the eternal security folks, believe those with no good works according to God were never saved, not they were saved but did not remain saved because they did not do or think "good works."

    Often, those denying "good works" are necessary for salvation or to sustain salvation point to the thief on the cross whose "good work" was to trust in Christ.

    So if a person has wholehearted faith, devotion and commitment to Christ, again as determined by God who knows our hearts, then we believe God puts us spiritually in Christ, and nothing can pluck us out. Even our faith is protected so we, who have actually been born anew, will never want to walk away or disavow Christ.

    Full disclosure, good works does provide "salvation" in a manner of speaking. We, the born anew folks, earn rewards through our good works, such as Christ saying to us on that day, welcome home, faithful servant. And so if we enter heaven as one escaping from a fire, we have lost part of our salvation, our rewards, and we do not enter heaven "abundantly."
     
  17. Aaron

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    Yes. Yes I am!

    That is, if it's the Lordship theology that I've encountered, and to which I was almost enslaved. Christ IS Lord. I don't "make Him Lord."
     
  18. Aaron

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    Thank you for being open and honest about the position of noncalvinists, but dadblame you for making us wade through that cesspool of blasphemy to get to it.
     
  19. Judith

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    James thank you for the question;

    "Do you think you have only "positionally" been "made holy"
    Answer; yes even as Christ is holy
     
  20. JamesL

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    What would flow? That depends on whether one is led by the Holy Spirit or the flesh. Read the parable of the sower. Jesus explained that there were 4 soils. The only one said to not believe is the first one. Satan snatches the WORD so that he may not BELIEVE and be SAVED.

    The 2nd and 3rd "receive the word with joy" but one fell away immediately and the other got caught up in the cares of this world

    I don't know where you get this nonsense that ALL who believe in eternal security also believe that good works proves salvation. There are many Eternal Security believers who recognize that the bible is not being facetious in its warnings to believers against falling away

    Once Saved, Always Saved teaches that if God has "saved" you then you will persevere in good works. Another way to put it is "once working, always working"

    Neither use of "saved" has anything to do with security. Both uses have everything to do with works. Once you have begun a life of good works, you will continue in a life of good works til the end of your days.

    That despicable doctrine does not teach that our security is found in Christ, but rather our own devotion and good works.

    You need to do some research into what OSAS, because it has nothing at all to do with security found in Christ


    I don't. That thief is totally irrelevant in the discussion, and there are plenty of scriptures and much better examples to prove the point.

    But by your reference, you acknowledge that not ALL of us who hold to the security of the saints also believe that good works are a necessary component in our eternal destination


    These two paragraphs of yours are in total conflict. If someone's works are burned up, and he is "saved as one escaping the flames" and he has no reward, then he has no good works. Paul taught that our works will be tested to determine the quality, whether good or bad. Good works will not be burned up. So if a man has none after the fire, then he had none before the fire


    There you have exposed your belief that faith and commitment are synonymous. Faith is not a commitment, faith is assurance:

    Romans 4:21-24
    and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness. Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead

    Commitment comes after one believes and is credited with righteousness.

    John 12:42-43
    Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

    Hardly sounds like a life of good works. They would not even confess Christ, though the believed in Him.

    1Cor 11:27-30
    Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.

    There were some who had died for abusing the Lord's Supper. Would you say they persevered in good works? I wouldn't. Otherwise, they would not have been judged.

    What about the sin unto death? Many OSAS believe that 1John 5:16-17 is alluding to God's judgment of physical death for a believer. WHAT ?!?

    If God judges a believer with physical death, what is the process? Options:
    1) Believer backslides, then comes back, then God kills him
    2) Believer backslides, and God kills him before he comes back

    Why would God kill the man after he comes back? Wouldn't that mean the man confessed his sin and was cleansed of unrighteousness? Ref 1John 1:9

    But if God kills him before he comes back, wouldn't that mean the man is in a state of NOT persevering ??


    But, really, I never intended to argue the fallacies of the fictitious doctrine of OSAS, I was simply observing that by holding this doctrine, the Calvinist is simply an Arminian in disguise.

    The OSAS camp believes that works are a necessary component to "saved from hell, going to heaven" just like the Arminian.

    And because they share this element, they are both subject to legalism - which is the topic of the OP.

    Whether one believes works will "keep" their standing or "prove" their standing, both agree in substance. No works, no heaven. But Paul taught justification by faith APART from works. Your view says "Faith, not apart from works"

    But if that were the case, how could Paul be accused of teaching a license to sin (Rom 3:8) ??
    And why did he not capitalize on the opportunity to expound a position similar to yours? He could have ended all discussion by inserting one sentence - Works naturally and necessarily flow from saving faith. But he DIDN'T. Why is that?

    I also see you didn't care to give a short answer to either of my questions I posed:

    Suppose I have faith, but I do not persevere in good works. Will I enter heaven?
    Arminian: No
    Van: fill in your answer here

    Suppose I start out with faith in Christ, then fall away. Will I enter heaven?
    Arminian: No
    Van: fill in your answer here
     

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