Archives for 12.1.06

on the hue and cry about legalism

I always cringe when the ‘L’ word is raised. Usually it means someone is about to attack the notion of holding to Bible based standards of some kind. Some are positively virulent in their opposition to rules. They hate it so much that they make rules about it. Seems kind of ironic, eh?

In the paragraph above, I almost typed “Biblical standards”. I think the adjective “Biblical” does cause some confusion. If I were to use it, I would mean “Bible based” as opposed to “Bible commanded”. Bible based standards are choices of wisdom. They are based on principles derived from scripture and should be followed in order to avoid being a fool. They will not produce righteousness, but a righteous person will live by wisdom. A righteous person will not be a fool.

On the other hand, there are these crowds of people railing against what they call “rules-based” Christianity. If they mean that you cannot become righteous by keeping rules, I agree. If you mean, however, that an anti-rules-based Christianity = I can drink alcohol, go to movies, listen to degraded and degrading music, etc., etc., then you are a fool.

I am not particularly worried if someone calls me a legalist. I am particularly worried about being a fool. I try to live my life by the wisdom found in the Bible. I don’t always succeed. When I don’t, I at least feel a little foolish. Sometimes I am so ashamed of my foolishness that I cry out to the Lord as Paul did in Romans 7, “oh wretched man that I am”. But I am not so foolish as to think that I can just dispense with wise rules of conduct that hold me and those for whom I am responsible accountible. For whom am I responsible? My family, our church members. To whom are they accountible? In some respects to me, but in all respects to God.

This post was prompted by a few others, one at Touchstone, and two at Sharper Iron (here and here). I can understand Hutchens posting as he does, but I am increasingly dubious of the wisdom and judgement of those in charge of the front page at Sharper Iron. The postings appear to have an antinomian tendency of late. They reflect something. I don’t think it is fundamentalism.