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Benj's article 'Legalism'

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 9:34 pm    Post subject: Benj's article 'Legalism' Reply with quote

Very good, thought-provoking piece, Benj.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Protestant, Evangelical, Christian theology, especially in popular versions of the same, the charge of legalism is an accusation of ignorance of the Christian Gospel, or of unbelief. In that context, to apply the criticism of legalism to a theological position or religious attitude, implies that the accused has over-turned the Gospel of salvation through faith and new life in Jesus Christ, and has substituted some principle of personal merit or ritual purity for the unearned grace of God.

Throughout the history of Christianity, certain beliefs and practices have tended to draw charges of legalism. These include:

* Asceticism, such as fasting and other forms of self-denial.
* The keeping of the 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, playing cards 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, a Saturday Sabbath, 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).
* Biblical literalism of the sort that underlies Christian fundamentalism.
* Various rigorous and restrictive beliefs, such as that, only the King James Version of the Bible constitutes God's word.

Several underlying dynamics appear in these controversies. The permitted scope of veneration of material objects, versus claims that such veneration is idolatry, affects the perceived sanctity of ritual spaces and objects, and therefore of the rituals and customs themselves. Teachings about the authority of the church, the sources of legitimacy of that authority, and the role of clergy versus the priesthood of all believers, also affect these debates. Related to these disagreements are debates concerning the authority of the Bible, and whether it is to be interpreted literally or more freely.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Benj,

I really liked your update on Legalism. I have found also that legalism also produces a type of self-righteousness. People who adhere to rules and regulations tend to feel that they are alright with God which i feel can lessen the important work of the Cross. Only through the Cross can we get alright with God not by adhering to an organizations rules and regulations or even our own convictions. Only through the Cross can we truly become the righteosness of God.

thx for the great update

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

excellent thoughts. thanks for your replies.
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