What is meant by 'legalism'?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Psalm116, Oct 29, 2003.

  1. Psalm116

    Psalm116
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    I'm new to a lot of the terminology here as well as the theological concepts.

    If someone is a 'legalist' does that mean that they think their salvation is affected in some measure by following the Mosaic Law?

    Or by following certain rules? (i.e. dresses-only for women, headcovering, etc.?)

    Thanks in advance for the info.

    Sarah
     
  2. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    You are going to find a variety if views on tis one [​IMG] . Both defintions are used, and that is the basis for a lot of the confusion.
     
  3. Pastor Larry

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    Typically, a "legalist" is someone who has more standards than the one using the term. :D

    Technically, it is someone who believes that strict obedience to the rules and regulations gains them standing with God (not necessarily salvation).
     
  4. Psalm116

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    Typically, a "legalist" is someone who has more standards than the one using the term.

    Ain't that the truth! Thanks for the replies. After I posted it I looked back over the posts for the past year and found the same question.

    Sorry to post it again!
     
  5. Askjo

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    Look at "legalist" or "legalism." That mean "double standard"! Legalism refers to a person who is strict to anyone, sins again -- whatsoever!

    For example, a pastor criticized anyone about movies, but he still watched them through cable TV.

    I heard a pastor said, "Throw TV out of your house." Someone visited him and found TV in a closet. How hypocrite is this pastor?
     
  6. donnA

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    Legalism is anything you add to grace thinking God will favor you more, love you more, not understadning that your being acceptable to God is based soley on Jesus and what He did for us.
     
  7. untangled

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    Hey Brothers and Sisters,

    Legalism is hard to define. There are a few legalistic congregations in my community. One such had a Christian CD burning of all but old fashioned choir songs. Not that music makes someone legalist but that's just an example. Some of them forbid women to wear any make up.

    It can cause trouble between churches. One church preaches against what another does, and so forth. If you ask me a little make up wouldn't hurt anyone's walk with Christ. [​IMG]

    In Christ,

    Brooks
     
  8. gb93433

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    I think Romans 2:1-8 is a good description, “Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.”
     
  9. Travelsong

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    I think in the broadest sense legalism is defined by any doctrine which sets unscriptural prerequisites for salvation (you must believe in a literal six day creation to be saved), or in any way adds to Scripture by creating laws to govern behaviour (certain types of music are inherently sinful, therefore you cannot listen to certain types of music).


    Yes, I think this board is jam packed with legalists-and I am a conservative Baptist.
     
  10. Johnv

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    In the intended sense, travelsong got it right.

    In the unindended sense, legalism is when I practice something in the Bible that you don't like [​IMG]

    Seriously, it's unfortunately become a catch phrase for just that. For example, on this board, I've seen people who adhere to obverving the Sabbath day called legalists by people who don't. I myself try to adhere to kosher dietary guidelines, and have been called a legalist for that as well.
     
  11. Justified

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    Forcing someone to act in a way they do not believe and/or understand yet, in order to say that they are such and such.
     
  12. Baptist in Richmond

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    IMHO, legalism could be defined as this:
    The Bible tells us A is a sin,
    The Bible tells us B is a sin.
    A and B are unrelated, but parts of each relate to C. Although the Bible does not say that C is a sin, I think it is, so C is a sin.
     
  13. davidgeminden

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    Hi,

    The words legalist and legalism are not found in the Bible, so how can a logical person claim that the Bible defines the words? Also, words equivalent to legalist or legalism are not found in the Bible. Man has generated the terms legalist and legalism and they're supposed Biblical definitions. Man has done this by subjectively selecting characteristics found in the Bible and assigned those characteristics as the supposed Biblical definition of the words legalist and legalism.

    A brother in Christ,
    David C. Geminden

    [email protected] and [email protected]

    "Jackelope Logic" & "Weak Conscience Christians and Legalism"
    http://www.geocities.com/davidgeminden/index.html
     
  14. Travelsong

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    The word "trinity" is also not found in the Bible.

    If you prefer, insert the term "Pharisaical teaching" whenever you see the word "legalism". They mean the same thing.
     
  15. Salty

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    I had a unique ideal. I went to my dictionary (Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk)

    legalism n. strict conformity to law; esp the stressing of the letter of and forms of the law rather than the spirit of justice.

    For example should my wife be disclipined since she misses church every other week? She works nights at a hopittal and is required to be there every other weekend. According to Heb 10:25 she should either quit her job or be in attendence (lets just hope the preache doesnt wake her up during his fire & brimstone preaching.

    I think the dictonary defenition sums it up very well.
     
  16. Baptist in Richmond

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    I cannot speak for anyone else, but note that I specifically stated that my post was purely opinion.

    Travelsong addressed my other point already.
     
  17. davidgeminden

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    Hi Travelsong,

    Thanks for your response.

    You wrote:

    My Response:

    It is true that the word "trinity" is not found in the Bible. By the way, the word "rapture" also is not found in the Bible.

    An important step in our reasoning process of determining if the definitions assigned to theological terms not found in the Bible is to determine if the use of good logic or fallacious logic was used to derive them.
    In logic courses taught in colleges, including Christian colleges, one finds a category of fallacies called "fallacies of definitions". One type of fallacious definition is one that is too broad, a definition that includes characteristics that should not be included. Another type of fallacious definition is one that is to narrow, a definition that does not include all the characteristics that should be included. The theological definition of the word "trinity" is not to broad or too narrow, since it ONLY covers the triune nature of God and nothing else. Therefore, the theological definition of the word "trinity" is not fallacious. The theological definition of the word "rapture" is not to broad or to narrow, since it ONLY covers the catching away of the saints at Christ's return and nothing else. Therefore, the definition of the word "rapture" is not fallacious. The modern Christian theological definitions for the words "legalist" and "legalism" are clearly to broad, since there definitions include the characteristics of Pharisees and their teachings, the false gospel teachers in the Galatian churches and their teachings, the false gospel teachers in the church at Colossae and their teachings and the weak conscience Christians that Paul described in Romans chapter 14 and in 1 Corinthians chapter 8 and 10. Even though the above four critters have a few things in common, there are significant differences between them. That is why God in the Bible spoke of those four critters as distinctly different critters and gave unique descriptions of each one, even though they had a few things in common. Therefore, the modern definitions of a legalist and legalism are fallacious. God is very logical. I like to follow his example.

    I find it perplexing that Christian colleges and seminaries teach courses on reason and logic, but will turn around and not use good logic when they develop the definitions of a legalist and legalism.

    A brother in Christ,
    David C. Geminden

    [email protected] and [email protected]

    "Jackelope Logic" & "Weak Conscience Christians and Legalism"
    http://www.geocities.com/davidgeminden/index.html
     
  18. davidgeminden

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    Hi SALTCITYBAPTIST,

    Thanks for your response.

    You wrote:

    My response:

    I will make some comments about the definitions that are found in English dictionaries. Most modern dictionaries usually give two definitions for the word legalism. The first is a non-theological definition that defines legalism as "strict, often too strict and literal, adherence to law or to a code." The second is a theological definition that defines legalism as "the doctrine of salvation by good works - a reliance on works for salvation." It has always intrigued me as why they give two definitions, one a theological definition and the other a non-theological definition. The first definition "strict, often too strict and literal, adherence to law or to a code", being a non-theological definition, is a very interesting one, since it does not give any detailed explanation (interpretation) of what the phrase "strict, often to strict and literal, adherence" means. By not giving a detailed explanation of the phrase "strict, often to strict and literal, adherence", they have left the determination of the exact meaning of that phrase up the whim of each individual person who is judging someone else as to whether or not that person is a legalist guilty of legalism. Because of this very broad, relative, variable and adaptable definition, some folk actually judge everyone else, except themselves, to be legalists since everyone else is stricter than himself or herself. This is often the case for many hardened criminals. Non-Christians, especially atheists, agnostics and irreligious people usually with much despite apply this first non-theological definition to true faithful Christians, which in their eyes are always strict and too strict compared to themselves, and call them legalists. Modern day Christians have followed their example and combined the same broad, relative, variable and adaptable idea of "strict and often too strict and literal, adherence" to the defining of the theological definitions of a legalist and legalism. Some of the modern authors of modern English dictionaries have been so heavily influenced by this wholesale redefinition of the theological definition of a legalist and legalism by modern Christians that they no longer have two definitions of legalism (a theological and a non-theological), but have actually replaced the two definitions in their dictionaries with one very broad, relative, variable and adaptable definition of a legalist and legalism. This combined definition usually is as follows: "strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral Code." Modern Christians lap up this definition "like flies to cow manure", and use it in a circular reasoning fashion to help justify their illogical, broad, relative, variable and adaptable definition of a legalist and legalism, which they originally developed using illogical reason, of the variety that I often refer as forward-jackelope-logic.

    The following are some dictionary definitions of legalism and a legalist:

    1. In the (Webster's New Collegiate), (Webster's Clear Type Dictionary) the definition is: Legalism (n) --- strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral Code.

    2. In the English dictionary (American Heritage Dictionary) the definition is: Legalism (n) --- strict and literal adherence to the law.

    3. In the (Oxford English Dictionary) definition is: Legalism (n) --- The principles of those who hold a theological position of adhering to the Law as opposed to the Gospel; the doctrine of Justification by Works, or teaching which savours of that doctrine.

    4. In the 1994 (The Merriam Webster Dictionary) the definitions are: Legalism (n) --- 1) strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral Code. 2) a legal term.

    5. In the 1972 (Second College Edition of Webster's New World Dictionary of the American language) the definitions are: Legalism (n) --- 1) strict, often too strict and literal, adherence to law or to a code. 2) Theol. The doctrine of salvation by good works.

    6. In the 1828 Noah Webster's First Edition of An American Dictionary Of The English Language the word "legalism" is not listed, but the words "legal" and "legality" are listed and do have theological definitions as follows:
    Legal (adj)--- 1) According to law; as a legal standard or test; a legal procedure. 2) Lawful; permitted by law; as a legal trade. Any thing is legal which the laws do not forbid. 3) According to the law of works, as distinguished from free grace; or resting on works for salvation. Scott. Milton. 4) Pertaining to law; created by law.
    Legality (n) --- 1) Lawfulness; conformity to law. 2) In theology, a reliance on works for salvation.

    7. In the 2001 (Webster's New World College Dictionary) the definitions are as follows:
    Legal (adj)--- 1) of, created by, based upon, or authorized by law. 2) in conformity with the positive rules of law; permitted by law[a legal act]. 3) that can be enforced in a court of law [legal rights]. 4) of or applicable to lawyers [legal ethics]. 5) in terms of the law [a legal offense]. 6) Theology a) of the Mosaic law. b) of the doctrine of salvation by good works rather than free grace.
    Legalism (n) --- 1) strict, often to strict and literal, adherence to law or to a code. 2) Theology - the doctrine of salvation by good works. -- legalist (n) - legalistic (adj) - legalistically (adv)
    Legality (n) --- 1) quality, condition, or instance of being legal or lawful 2) legal aspects.


    A brother in Christ,
    David C. Geminden

    [email protected] and [email protected]

    "Jackelope Logic" & "Weak Conscience Christians and Legalism"
    http://www.geocities.com/davidgeminden/index.html
     

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