legalism

/Tag: legalism
21 March

Taping fruit to a dead tree

By |2019-04-11T05:55:42-06:00March 21st, 2019|Uncategorized|105 Comments

Someone told me a few years ago that there's an expression in the SCOC that "dead churches" are just taping dead fruit to the tree, or taping fruit to a dead tree. I'm not sure now which expression they use, but I really like the latter. It's the equivalent of saying someone is just photoshopping their results, or astroturfing them. It's a very colorful phrase that is packed with a lot of meaning. Ironically, though, taping fruit to a dead tree is precisely what Stanton does. In fact, it's the only thing a legalistic church, Stanton or otherwise, can do. There is no better metaphor for legalism (law-keeping as a means to justification before God) than taping fruit to a dead tree. Our human will [...]

5 May

Rules-based parenting vs. grace

By |2019-04-11T06:21:49-06:00May 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|23 Comments

Since May Week is legislating new rules for parents this year in order to crack down on teens and their texting habits (I've heard that they are, indeed, banning texting between teens interested in each other), I think it's an appropriate time to write about the subject of rules-based parenting—and how that relates to legalism, Pharisaism, and our understanding of God as our father, and his grace. Have you thought about why the Old Testament comes with 613 rules from God for His people? And have you thought about why the New Testament wiped out such ordinances? Or why people constantly try to interpret the New Testament in such a way as to re-create an Old Testament style legal system? The disparity in how God related [...]

12 October

Love and marriage, love and marriage

By |2019-04-11T02:09:18-06:00October 12th, 2013|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Note: The "a-ha" moment I describe in Turning the Tables on Legalism about what it would feel like to receive legalistic love from my kids first clicked in my mind regarding marriage. This article is the true story of when I first made that connection. I'm thankful for the love of my wife, in part because she exhibits her love for me in ways I neither deserve nor ask for. That makes me feel privileged and honored to be her husband. I know without a doubt that I have her loyalty and affections. I could argue that most everything good in my life flows from the fact that I feel such security in our relationship. That's because love is inherently inspiring, motivating, and empowering, whether it's [...]

18 September

Love: More than a feeling

By |2019-09-27T09:58:44-06:00September 18th, 2013|Uncategorized|17 Comments

One of the more enlightening moments in the recent Labor Day talk, which I've good-naturedly entitled Not Ready To Give An Answer, was when we were told that those of us who preach incessantly about love have succumbed to a feel-good religion involving no real sacrifice or cost; a cheap gospel that is all about making you "prosperous and healthy and wealthy and wise." "And so as I hear about so many people who were raised in the church, people who are no longer wanting anything to do with the church they were once a part of, seem to have bought into a type of gospel that says "Jesus wants you to be happy" and "Jesus wants you to be joyful" and "Jesus wants you to have [...]

6 September

Turning the tables on legalism

By |2019-04-11T02:08:58-06:00September 6th, 2013|Uncategorized|109 Comments

The underlying assumption made by a legalistic theology (approach to understanding God), or more accurately, hermeneutic (approach to interpreting the Bible), is that God wants his children to be law-keepers, and the Bible is his law book. Neither can be further from the truth. That is not to say I am antinomian (against law) or lawless, nor am I afraid of absolutes. I have not fallen prey to the shifting sands of moral relativism in the slightest. I will confess that I am very much afraid of imposing an absolute that God hasn't, however, because that is adding to the Word, and speaking where it is silent. My understanding of the Bible soared and it became a joy to read when I came to realize [...]

23 August

The paradigm shift from law to love

By |2019-04-11T02:08:42-06:00August 23rd, 2013|Uncategorized|72 Comments

I almost corrected her when she said "God never fails" but then I realized that since "God is love" she's actually right on. Out of the mouth of babes! This could be a book-length article, but it won't be. It's just an appetizer; something to whet your appetite before a life-long meal at God's table discovering his love for yourself. I've found the understanding of God's love to be the keystone in the arch spanning God and man, his creation. It's what makes the Bible, God's inspired history of mankind's time on Earth, make sense. Without an understanding of God's love, the Bible--yes, even the Word of God itself--becomes merely a "sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal." It is a chaotic compilation of laws, commands, [...]

12 August

Rules for marital sex

By |2019-09-26T10:46:06-06:00August 12th, 2013|Uncategorized|118 Comments

This is a subject I intend to handle with as much tact as possible, but I make no apology for treating the subject boldly as well as 100% scripturally. It is important to speak the truth on this, because the oppressive reach of church teaching extends even into the sacred realm of the marriage bed, which Paul declares to be "undefiled." The church leaves no sacred cows, so unfortunately, neither can we. I believe sex within marriage to be a gift of God, and something to be enjoyed without guilt or shame. The teachings of the church on sex seem to start with the premise that it is dirty and shameful; hence rules such as abstaining on Saturday night. In one instance, a woman was [...]

7 August

When are rules not rules?

By |2019-04-11T02:08:19-06:00August 7th, 2013|Uncategorized|141 Comments

It's hard to avoid talking in circles when discussing doctrines with members of the church, simply because words don't mean what we would expect them to mean. Thus, the conversation goes in circles, because the meaning of words keeps shifting. A case in point was a recent conversation about rules. It was denied emphatically that the church had extra-Biblical rules. I asked if church members were allowed to have Facebook accounts. There was a long pause. "There is no rule against it, but it's taught against." So how exactly does that work? Does the word "rule" mean something different to them than to me? If I, as a person of authority in my household, instruct my kids not to have a Facebook account, that's a [...]

10 July

What is legalism?

By |2019-06-17T07:15:51-06:00July 10th, 2013|Uncategorized|29 Comments

Legalism is a term that gets thrown around a lot, and it's generally referring to an approach to the Bible that is law-centric rather than grace- or love-centric. A legalistic theology (or more accurately, hermeneutic), does not necessarily preclude the idea of grace; but generally pushes love and grace to a very minor role in our approach to God, and establishes our compliance with God's laws as the primary means of approaching him. The Pharisees of Jesus' time were a legalistic sect. They measured their own closeness to God by their adherence to the Law, and judged harshly those who did not measure up to their own standards of law-keeping. Of course, the legalist would not describe himself that way. He thinks that his standard [...]