Bruce Blakey doesn’t exactly disagree with my post on legalism’s dangers (quoting him), but he feels the need to clarify what he is talking about:
Legalism is when you add to justification by faith alone. When you say that you must believe and be baptized or you must believe and home school or you must believe and avoid churches that use drums. Of course it is necessary to address issues like fornication, husband-wife relationships, and rebellious chidren. Those are all biblical issues and should be dealt with accordingly. Not every one who talks about legalism is antinomian (against law, living like there is no law). However I have noticed something interesting that you may have encountered as well. Some people who are very legalistic about things at church (no drums) are very antinomian when it comes to what their own children listen to and do. Go figure.
What am I getting at? Let’s teach the Bible. Let’s cut it straight. Let’s consistently apply it in our churches and our lives. Sola Scriptura. When we teach the Bible we have the great joy of seeing the Lord bring forth fruit for His glory.
Of course, I couldn’t agree more. Everybody would be helped by working through the series of articles collected at monergism on this topic.
However, again I feel we must clarify that just as the church is threatened by legalists, so also it is threatened, in some local churches, especially from certain doctrinal backgrounds, by “legalism hunters,” who scurry about and try to homogenize everyone’s behavior, stamping out variety and convictions on the part of other brethren. I have been in the middle of this situation.
Take homeschooling for example. To homeschool is not legalistic. Even homeschooling, plus joining homeschool para-church groups, plus subscribing to magazines, plus being excited about it, plus talking about how the Lord has blessed our homeschooling, all of them put together, are not themselves legalistic. (Somehow I wonder about the grammar of that last sentence.) Having a conviction is not legalistic, folks! But the above list is enough for many pastors and elders to believe that you have, indeed, divided the church by your supposed legalism. They are not willing for other brethren to hold convictions different from theirs.
But, brother homeschooler, the minute you start judging your brother, whether in thought, word, or deed, for not sharing your convictions, then you have become a legalist. You are bound by the text of Romans 14:4; you must, you are required, to believe that your good-hearted, growing brother is implementing schooling for his kids the best he can before the Lord. Even if he sends them to public schools!
Both of these extremes are such a danger. Nuff said for now.