Weak Conscience Christians? Legalist?

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35_051212_the_legalist_the_jackelope

The Legalist, The Imaginary Jackelope of Modern Christians
And
Weak Conscience Christians

 

By David C. Geminden

Updated on May 12, 2012

 

The Legalist, The Imaginary Jackelope of Modern Christians

And

Weak Conscience Christians

By David C. Geminden

Updated on May 12, 2012

davidgeminden@yahoo.com

How do I begin on the topics alluded to in the title of this article?  Maybe, I should trace backwards in time to when I was an unsaved child growing up on wheat farms in Oklahoma near the towns of Enid, Carrier, Lahoma and Goltry.  I was born in the mid 1940’s and was the middle child of five brothers.  We had no sisters.  My brothers and I had very active imaginations as kids while growing up on the farm.  Our imagination was used to create many illogical stories and jokes that we thought were funny.  We always laughed at them; therefore, they had to be funny (smile).  Well, let me get started.

Many strong conscience Christians often wonder why some Christians seem to demonstrate illogical reasoning by believing some non-sinful things are sin in themselves (doubtful things) when the Bible does not explicitly or implicitly refer to them as sin.  Through studying the Bible, I found out why these Christians are illogical on doubtful items.  The reason is given in 1 Corinthian 8:7,12 where God refers to these Christians as Christians that have weak consciences (weak conscience Christians).  Their weak conscience (overly sensitive conscience) is the thing that causes them to be illogical concerning doubtful things.

Modern day strong conscience Christians also display much illogical reasoning when they try to justify their despite for weak conscience Christians and justify their refusal to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians by calling them legalists and Pharisees.

When I was a kid living on a farm in Oklahoma, we used to use illogical reasoning just for making jokes to laugh at and have fun.  We used to have fun mentally creating nonexistent critters by taking selected characteristics of existing critters and mentally attributing them to a nonexistent make-believe critter.  We had many laughs doing that while we were young.

On one vacation trip we took to Colorado, our folks stopped at a tourist shop to look around and let us buy some junk.  That is when we, being kids, first saw our first jackelope; someone had taken a large stuffed jackrabbit and glued some small antelope horns to the top of its head.  As kids, that was really funny to us.  The shop sold pictures of the jackelope; of course, we all had to buy a picture.

We, being kids, also had to extend that illogical reasoning even farther.  We would see an antelope grazing in the fields along the road; and we would call it a jackelope because it had horns like the imaginary jackelope.  When we saw a jackrabbit, we would call it a jackelope because it had the body of the imaginary jackelope.  The extended illogical reasoning we used concluded that any critter that had at least one to a few characteristics of the imaginary jackelope was a jackelope.  As kids, we had a lot of fun with that type illogical reasoning.  Also, when we saw a horse in the field, we would call it a thousand-pound jackrabbit because it had fur, a tail and four long legs like a jackrabbit.

Many years later, I now like to refer to that childish illogical reasoning as “forward-jackelope-logic” and “reverse-jackelope-logic”. Forward-jackelope-logic is being used when a person mentally creates nonexistent critters by taking selected characteristics of existing critters and mentally attributing them to a nonexistent make-believe critter.  Reverse-jackelope-logic is being used when a person reclassifies a critter as some other type critter because it has at least one to a few characteristics of the other critter.  Now I am an adult,  I have found that many adults still use forward-jackelope-logic and reverse-jackelope-logic.  One area where forward-jackelope-logic is used extensively is in the supporting of atheistic and theistic macro-evolution.  Here, the forward-jackelope-logic is used to create imaginary critters, affectionately known as missing links, to fill in for the supposed missing fossils in the many non-fossil bearing geological sedimentary layers that occur between fossil bearing geological sedimentary layers.  This is done by taking some characteristics from the fossils in the fossil bearing layers above and below the non-fossil bearing layers and creating imaginary in-between critters (the supposed missing links) with those characteristics.  They do this even though the majority of the evidence in fossil bearing sedimentary layers display obvious rapid catastrophic aqueous sedimentary burial of critters and plant life.  The vast majority of sedimentary layers do not show evidence of having laid around for very long before the next layers were deposited on top of them, certainly not enough time for any supposed goo-to-you type of evolution to occur that supposedly changed one kind of critter and plant into another kind.

I have also noticed that many Christians use forward-jackelope-logic and reverse-jackelope-logic when dealing with a selected biblical topic.  This occurs where Christians deal with the biblical topic of weak conscience Christians.  Forward-jackelope-logic is the primary logic used to create the so-called biblical concept called legalism and the so-called biblical critter called a legalist by combining characteristics from different critters found in the Bible and  attributing them to an imaginary theological critter called a legalist.  This forward-jackelope-logic takes the characteristics of the Pharisees, the false gospel teachers described in Galatians (the Galatianists), the false gospel teachers described in Colossians (the Colossianists) and weak conscience Christians described in Romans 14:1-15:7 & 1 Corinthian chapter 8 and assigns those characteristics to the so-called theological biblical critter called a legalist and the so-called theological biblical concept called legalism.  Next, reverse-jackelope-logic is used to reclassify Pharisees, the false gospel teaches described in Galatians, the false gospel teachers described in Colossians and the weak conscience Christians described in Romans and 1 Corinthians as the so-called theological biblical critters called legalists.  I believe the primary motive for this use of forward-jackelope-logic, that created this so-called theological biblical critter called a legalist, is for the purpose of justifying despite for weak conscience Christians and refusal to follow the biblical command to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians.  Since they have illogically reclassified weak conscience Christians into the same category as the false gospel teachers described in the Bible, they now illogically apply the biblical response that Christians should have toward false gospel teachers, like the Pharisees, Galatianists and Colossianists, toward weak conscience Christians instead of following the biblical principle to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians found in Romans 14:1-15:7 and 1Cor. Chapter 8.

A very popular illogical argument that I get from many Christian brothers and sisters that try to prove that legalists are really found and described in the Bible appears to be equivalent to the following type of argument that tries to prove that jackelopes really exist in nature.  Since there are critters in nature (the Bible) that have at least one to a few of the characteristics of the so-called jackelope (legalist), there must exist in nature (the Bible) a real live “jackelope” (legalist).

Through studying some logicians lists of different logic fallacies I found that academia calls what I call reverse-jackelope-logic as being the logic fallacy of undistributed middle.  So far, in my studies of fallacies I have not found a formal academic fallacy definition that describes what I call forward-jackelope-logic; however, I am still searching.  Maybe academia should call forward-jackelope-logic “the fallacy of forward-jackelope-logic”(SMILE)?  I guess forward-jackelope-logic could simply be called fallacy of childish imagination.

Example of fallacious logic of Undistributed Middle in short form:

1)      Pharisees believe some non-sinful things are sin.

2)      Weak conscience Christians believe some non-sinful things are sin.

3)      Therefore weak conscience Christians are Pharisees.

The above example is fallacious because the weak conscience Christians described in the Bible also believe some non-sinful things are sin.

Example of fallacious logic of Undistributed Middle in short form:

1)      Legalists believe some non-sinful things are sin (only one of many characteristics covered by the broad and relative theological definitions of a legalist and legalism).

2)      Weak conscience Christians believe some non-sinful things are sin.

3)      Therefore weak conscience Christians are legalists.

The above example is fallacious because many non-Christians also believe some non-sinful things are sin.

For some time now, since about 1975, I have been engaging Christians in discussions on Rom. 14:1-15:7, 1 Cor. 8:1-13, 1 Cor. 10:23-33.  I have done this in an effort to determine what the average Christian’s theological view of legalism, legalists and weak conscience Christians are.  As you know, those portions of the Scriptures talk about weak conscience Christians (Rom. 14:1-15:7, 1 Cor. 8:1-13, 1 Cor. 10:23-33), weak conscience non-Christians (1 Cor. 10:23-33), and strong conscience Christians (Rom. 14:1-15:7, 1 Cor. 8:1-13, 1 Cor. 10:23-33).

I will now step back in history, my history, a little bit.  Before I was saved most of my unsaved friends and I looked with despite upon other unsaved folk that wanted us to abstain from things that were not illegal or considered sinful.  I will not list here any of the language that we used to express our despite.  We also looked with despite upon Christians that also wanted us to abstain from things that were not illegal or considered sinful (doubtful things).  I was saved just before I joined the Army in February 1964.  My tour of duty in the Army was from February 1964 to February 1968.  I started attending a Bible study group at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, and I found that the military folk in the Bible study did not speak with despite toward other Christians (weak conscience Christians) that believed some items were sin, things that were not called sin in the Bible.  With an attitude that displayed the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance—Gal. 5:22-23), they endeavored to abstained 100% from the extremely doubtful items, items that most weak conscience Christians and weak conscience non-Christians have a weak conscience about.  Concerning doubtful things that only a small percentage of weak conscience Christians have a weak conscience about, which they referred to as “petty doubtful things”, they did not do 100% abstinence from.  That was a completely different life style than what I had been used to.  Obvious, I did not have the fruit of the Spirit that they displayed in bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians and by not despising them.  Something inside of me wanted to have that same fruit of the Spirit; my heart burned with guilt over the despiteful/spiteful attitude that I had lived with for so many years.  Therefore, I listened with eagerness as those Christians explained their motives.  They explained to me their motive for abstaining from some things that were not sin by showing me the principle of bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians described in Romans chapter 14 through 15:7 and 1 Corinthians chapter 8.  They also showed me 1 Corinthians 8:7,12 where the buzz-phrase “weak conscience Christians” is derived from, which is where God through the Apostle Paul, describes some Christians as having their consciences defiled because of their weak consciences (overly sensitive conscience).  Also, from Romans chapter 14 through 15:7 and 1 Corinthians chapter 8, it is implied that the “strong” are those Christians that do not have a weak conscience (which they referred to as strong conscience Christians).  Also concerning consciences, in 1Timothy 4:1-3 God speaks of some folk that will depart from the faith as having their conscience seared with a hot iron.  Obviously, a person with a seared conscience is not a Christian.  Also, in the Bible a seared conscience and a weak conscience (overly sensitive conscience) are two completely different problems.  Note, the Pharisees, the Galatian false gospel teachers, the Colossian false gospel teachers and the weak conscience Christians are treated as different critters in the Bible even though they may have a few similar characteristics.

When I got out of the army and found a good church to attend, I naturally thought that I would see that principle being followed by the mature strong conscience Christians in the congregation.  I soon learned that was not the case.  Within a few years, I came to the conclusion that the majority of Christians in fundamental churches were weak conscience Christians and that the majority of Christians in evangelical churches were strong conscience Christians that refuse to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians.  Christianity had polarized to these two extremes in the area of doubtful things, leaving modern Christianity with very few strong conscience Christians that bear the burden of weak conscience Christians.  Because of this and the observation of weak conscience fundamental Christians calling other weak conscience fundamental Christians legalists and strong conscience evangelicals calling all fundamentalists legalists, I started searching the Bible again for more detail on the concept of weak conscience Christians, strong conscience Christians, and legalism.  Calling a weak conscience Christian a legalist seemed illogical to me because the theological definition of a legalist that I held to did not cover the characteristics of weak conscience Christians.  The definition that I held to only covered those who taught a false gospel of reliance on works to earn or help earn salvation, which I later found out was probably the original theological meaning assigned to the terms legalism and legalist.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 8 God, through the Apostle Paul, describes the characteristics of weak conscience Christians.  Their weak consciences caused them to conclude that eating the leftover meat that came from an animal that had been used  in a pagan sacrifice to a pagan god was sin in itself.  Their weak consciences overrides their normal common sense reasoning ability causing them to not comprehend and understand the fact that eating the leftover meat from the pagan sacrificial animal is not sin in itself.  God, through Paul, in 1 Corinthians chapter 8 tells the Christians at Corinth that eating this leftover meat that came from the sacrificial animal was not sin in itself.  In Romans chapter 14 through 15:7 God, through the Apostle Paul, uses the phrase “weak in the faith” and the word “weak” when talking about Christians with weak consciences that believe something is sin, even though God does not call it sin.  In 1 Corinthians chapter 8:7,12 God describes the specific area of weakness in these Christians, and that weakness is a weak conscience (overly sensitive conscience).  I believe it is important to notice that having this weakness (a weak conscience) is not called sin by God in the Bible.  In Romans 15:1 God uses the term “strong” to refer to those Christians that do not have a weak conscience; therefore, by implication, the specific area of strength in these strong Christians is a strong conscience.

As I previously stated, the definition that I held to only covered those who taught a false gospel of reliance on works to earn or help earn salvation.  However, I found that the theological definitions of a legalist and legalism held by the majority of modern Christians, including fundamentalists and evangelicals, seemed to me to be very broad and relative because they include all the characteristics of and/or both the common characteristics of the Pharisees, of the false gospel teachers described in Galatians (Galatianists), of the false gospel teachers described in Colossians (Colossianists), of the weak conscience Christians described in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8, and any characteristic that they disliked and observed in other Christians (See Appendix B at the end of this document which is a list of theological definitions of a legalist and legalism produced by modern day Christians).  Also, the terms legalism and legalist or equivalent terms are not found in the Bible.  Those broad and relative theological definitions were very perplexing to me.  Why did they want to include weak conscience Christians in the definitions when they are significantly different from the false gospel teaching Pharisees, Galatians and Colossianists in the Bible?

The theological terms of legalism, legalist and Trinity are all not found in the Bible.  Even though the word “trinity” is not found in the Bible it is a logically developed theological definition piecing together the information found in the Bible in a way so that it does not leave the impression that the author of the Bible (God) is a contradictory God — claiming there is one God when there are three gods.  The modern theological definition of legalism and a legalist are illogically developed definitions being illogically too broad and relative because they include all the characteristics of the false gospel teaching Pharisees, of the false gospel teachers described in Galatians (Galatianists), of the false gospel teachers described in Colossians (Colossianists) and of the weak conscience Christians described in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8.  Also, God really only views all four of those critters in the Bible as four separate critters even though they obviously have a few similar characteristics.  The only logical bunching together would be the false teachers in Galatians, Colossians and the Pharisees as false gospel teachers; even though, they have slightly different false salvation plans (false gospels).  God does not refer to weak conscience Christians (those that believe doubtful-things are sin in themselves when the Bible does not call those things sin in themselves) as false gospel teachers, but only as weak conscience Christians (Christians that have a weak consciences).  I believe we should do likewise and maintain the false gospel teachers and the weak conscience Christians as different critters in our theological terminology even though their may be a few overlapping characteristics (such as doubtful-things and sinful form of judging, etc.) because the weak conscience Christian did not develop and teach a false gospel plan of salvation.  False gospel teachers will also include abstaining from doubtful-things as works necessary to earn or help earn salvation, but weak conscience Christians do not.  That is why I use the phrase “weak conscience Christians” instead of legalism and legalist, so that other Christians will not think I am talking about someone that is a false gospel teacher.

Here is a shortened list of some of the theological definitions for legalism and a legalist that are included in Appendix B.

1.      “Legalism is the belief that a person must act a certain way so that God will bless, help, and prosper him.  Legalism tells why one does or does not do something.” —— By Tod M. Kennedy.  The full document can be found at HTTP://associateship/ministry_files/The_Reading_Room/Outlines_1/Legalism.

2.      “Legalism is a religious system that teaches that a person can do something to earn or merit salvation or blessing from God. — It is legalism.” —– The full document can be found at HTTP://reapportionment/~would/ice/legalism.

3.      “Legalism is the compelling of another believer to practice or not practice something not expressly commanded or forbidden under Grace.” —— By Pastor Pat Forrest.  The full document can be found at HTTP://companionway/~Forrest/legalism.

4.      “Legalism is a philosophy of religious practice wherein faith is expressed by adherence to a command and obedience infrastructure.  The place where legalism finds its most ubiquitous expression is in the evangelical, conservative, fundamentalist community.” —— The full document can be found at HTTP://whatshername/counseling/journl2.ht.

5.      “Legalism is the teaching that sinners are saved (justified, sanctified and accepted with God) upon the basis of their own works of legal obedience.” —— These quotes are from a document titled “Damnable Heresies” by Don Fortnight.  The full document can be found at HTTP://Graceland-for-today.com/42.ht.

6.      “Legalism is that idea that one earns or merits salvation by their obedience.” —— This quote is from a document titled “Keeping The Commandments Of God” and can be found at HTTP://chickenhearted/cont rib/exec_outlines/NT/NT_05.ht.

7.      “Legalism is conforming to a code or system of deeds and observances in the energy of the flesh, hoping to gain the blessing and favor of God by such acts.  Legalism invariably denies the principle of grace and exalts the pride of man. The book of Galatians was written as a ‘magna Carta’ against such practices”. ——- This definition was given by Charles R. Swindall in the year of 1967 in a document called “Friday Bible Class 759” while he was Pastor at the Waltham Evangelical Free Church at Waltham, Massachusetts.

8.      “Legalism is the belief that keeping the law and its requirements is essential for salvation and Christian growth (Gal. 3:1-3).” —— By David L. Hocking over a radio broadcast program.

9.      “Legalism is an attitude, a mentality based on pride.  It is an obsessive conformity to an artificial standard for the purpose of exalting oneself.  A legalist assumes the place of authority and pushes it to unwarranted extremes.” “— In so many words, legalism says, ‘I do this or I don’t do that, and therefore I am pleasing God.'”  “Or ‘If only I could do this or not do that, I would be pleasing to God.'”  “Or perhaps, ‘These things that I’m doing or not doing are the things I perform to win God’s favor.'” —— by (Charles R. Swindoll, “The Grace Awakening”, pages 81and 82, published in 1990).

10.    “The great weapon of authoritarianism, secular or religious, is legalism: the manufacturing and manipulation of rules for the purpose of illegitimate control”.—— By Daniel Taylor, “The Myth of Certainty” (Waco, TX: Word, 1986), pages 34-36.

11.    “Legalism may be defined as a fleshly attitude which conforms to a code for the purpose of exalting self.  The code is whatever objective standard is applicable to the time; the motive is to exalt self and gain merit rather than to glorify God because of what He has done, and the power is the flesh, not the Holy Spirit” —– by (Charles Ryrie, “The Grace of God”, page 117).

12.    “It cannot be emphasized too strongly that having to do something is not legalism, but the wrong attitude is —– Israelites had to bring their sacrifices, otherwise they would have suffered certain penalties.  It was the attitude toward doing what they had to do that determined whether or not their action was legalistic —— Having to conform to a law is not of itself legalism” —– by (Charles Ryrie, “The Grace of God”, pages 117-118).

13.    “The slide over two generations of time, from lordship (where biblical principles were understood and external standards were implemented) to legalism (where biblical principles were ignored and external standards were exalted) to libertinism (where biblical principles are forgotten and external standards are despised) has produced a scandalous variety of Christianity.” (page 114)  —— “The effect was the development of a classical form of legalism (conformity to an outward code as a sign of spirituality), which corrupted true spirituality by shifting the focus from the internal to the external.” (pages 138-139) ——- By Douglas R. McLachlan, “Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism”, American Association of Christian Schools, 1993.

14.    “Legalism an insistence upon the observation of human regulations, as if one’s fellowship with God were dependent upon that observation.  In N. T. times, another form of legalism insisted upon the observation of O. T. rules and ceremony, which had been fulfilled in Christ and thus were no longer binding upon the Christian.  The letter to the Galatians was written to attack legalism and assert Christian freedom.” —— From the glossary in “The Believers Study Bible” by Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.

15.    “The term legalism commonly denotes preoccupation with form at the expense of substance. While it is now used metaphorically in all areas of human life, it appears to have had a theological origin in the seventeenth century, when Edward Fisher used it to designate ‘one who bringeth the Law into the case of Justification’ (The Marrow of Modern Divinity, 1645). No equivalent term existed in the biblical languages. However, the idea is found in both Testaments.” —— From “Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology” Edited by Walter A. Elwell — Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516-6287.

Only one of the above definitions confined the definition to a type of false salvation plan, where works are involved in earning salvation.  Note, that in the “Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology” they admit that the original concept was confined to a false method of salvation,“one who bringeth the Law into the case of Justification”.  Many of the above definitions are very broad and relativity.

I believe that it is important that I now make some comments about the definitions that are found in English dictionaries.  In the past, many English dictionaries usually gave two definitions for the word legalism (See Appendix A, items 5 and 7).  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.”  Note: this second definition is defined as a type of false gospel plan of obtaining 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 too 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 and relative definition, some folk actually judge everyone else, except themselves, to be legalists since everyone else is stricter than themselves.  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 (even strong conscience 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 and relative 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 (that is, a theological and a non-theological), but have actually replaced the two definitions in their dictionaries with one very broad and relative definition of a legalist and legalism (See Appendix A, items 1 and 4).  This combined definition usually is as follows: “strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral Code” (See Appendix A, items 1 and 4).  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 and relative theological definitions of a legalist and legalism, which they originally developed using illogical reasoning, of the variety that I referred to previously as forward-jackelope-logic.

Let me make some comments about non-Christians that have weak consciences and/or about false Christians (non-Christians) that have weak consciences and also teach a false gospel of doing works to earn or help earn salvation.  Since their weak conscience causes them to believe some doubtful things are sin and they believe that doing works earns salvation, they will include abstinence from those doubtful things as works that they have to do to earn salvation.  According to the English dictionaries that have a theological definition for legalism and a legalist, they are legalists because the dictionary theological definition of a legalist and legalism is one who has reliance upon works to earn salvation.  According to the non-theological definition in those dictionaries, all Christians can be categorized as legalists, not just the weak conscience Christians.  However, modern strong conscience Christians illogically wiggle out from under the non-theological definition of being called a legalist by saying that it is the weak conscience Christians who are really what the non-theological definition of a legalist and legalism is really referring to.  They also, try to reinforce that idea (that weak conscience Christians are really the legalists) by illogically creating their own modern theological definition as I am describing in this article.

Non-Christians — especially atheists, agnostics and irreligious people, usually with much despite — apply the dictionary non-theological definition of a legalist and legalism to true faithful Christians because in their eyes true Christians are always strict and too strict compared to themselves, I believe that it may be wise for modern Christianity not have theological definitions for the terms “legalist and legalism”.  I believe it may be wise to let the world have their dictionary list only their broad and relative definition of a legalist and legalism.  Christians should face up to the fact that in the eyes of non-Christians we (true Christians) are strict and too strict for them.  Let the world have the words legalist and legalism for their own special buzz-words to describe us (true Christians) with.

Maybe it is time to give a more complete list of some of the many characteristics given by modern Christians that I have heard and read over the years, which are derived from fallacious theological definitions of a legalist and legalism.  Note: some of these characteristic statements are actually standalone broad and relative fallacious definitions.  It is obvious that many of them were generated deliberately to be broad and relative.  That list is given as follows.

A person is a legalist if they are guilty of at least one or more of the following characteristics.

1)      Strict, conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code.

2)      Literal conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code.

3)      Excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code.

4)      Strict adherence to the law.

5)      Literal adherence to the law.

6)      Excessive adherence to the law.

7)      Has strict, often too strict and literal, adherence to law or to a code.

8)      Has strict and literal adherence to a list of do and “don’t” things.

9)      Has strict adherence or conformity to a list of do and “don’t” things.

10)    Conformity to some other persons list of do and “don’t” things.

11)    Conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code.

12)    Adheres to law or to a moral code.

13)    Has a list of do and “don’t” things.

14)    Follows a list of do and “don’t” things.

15)    Believes and teaches some items and practices (doubtful things) are sin in themselves when the Bible does not call them sin.

16)    Teaches abstinence from doubtful things.

17)    Abstaining from doubtful things that other people believe are sins in themselves.

18)    Judges other people.

19)    Has a proud personality.

20)    Judges other Christians for not believing some doubtful things are sin in themselves.

21)    Not walking in the Holy Spirit

22)    Not being led by the Holy Spirit.

23)    Teaches reliance on doing works to earn or help earn salvation.

24)    Does good works to obtain sanctification (spiritual maturity).

25)    Does good works to have fellowship with God.

26)    Does good works to receive blessings (rewards) from God.

27)    Does good works to please God.

28)    Does good works to be spiritually mature.

29)    Has a critical mental attitude.

30)    Has a self-righteous attitude.

31)    Lives a sanctified life.

32)    Does religious ritual.

33)    Goes to religious services.

34)    Has circumcision.

35)    Has a taboo list.

36)    Does hand washing before meals.

37)    Depends on personal heritage.

38)    Depends on ability.

39)    Conforms to a regulatory system to please God.

40)    Conforms to a regulatory system to please men.

41)    Tries to change their life.

42)    Tries to change another person’s life.

43)    Tries to help another person change their life.

44)    Believe they must change their life in addition to trusting in Christ.

45)    Believe they must join a church in addition to trusting in Christ.

46)    Believe they must give up habits in addition to trusting in Christ.

47)    Believe they must do good works in addition to trusting in Christ.

48)    Believes a person should not smoke.

49)    Believes a person should not go to movies.

50)    Believes a person should not read the Sunday comics on Sunday.

51)    Believes a guitar is sin.

52)    Believes a person should dress neat for church services.

53)    Believes saxophones are sin.

54)    Does not like to sing modern Christian praise mantras (songs).

55)    Does not sing modern Christian praise mantras (songs).

56)    Does not use Christian rock music.

57)    Does not use Christian jazz music.

58)    Does not use Christian rap music.

59)    Does not use Christian new-age music.

60)    Does not use Christians country-and-western music.

61)    Does not listen to rock music.

62)    Does not listen to jazz music.

63)    Does not listen to rap music.

64)    Does not listen to new-age music.

65)    Does not listen to country-and-western music.

66)    Has special rules for Sunday

67)    Does not mow the lawn on Sunday.

68)    Does not go shopping on Sunday.

69)    Believes drinking alcoholic beverages is sin.

70)    Does not drink alcoholic beverages.

71)    Does not watch TV on Sunday.

72)    Does not own a RV.

73)    Is faithful in his life about praying regularly.

74)    Is faithful in his life on reading the Bible.

75)    Is faithful in his life on giving regularly.

76)    Does not send their children to public schools.

77)    If they home-school their children.

78)    If they believe in the literal six 24 hour days of the creation account.

79)    If they believe in a literal yearlong flood that covered all the land on the earth in the days of Noah.

80)    If they believe the bulk of the fossils were buried by the biblical worldwide flood in the days of Noah.

81)    If they reject the theory of evolution.

82)    If they support having rules and standards in Christian Schools, Colleges and Seminaries.

83)    Is Performance orientated.

84)    Has a negative attitude.

85)    Obey rules.

86)    Inflexible.

87)    Demands that principle precedes people.

88)    Is oppressive.

89)    Is intolerant.

90)    Is manipulative.

91)    Is violent.

92)    Feuds.

93)    Is hostile.

94)    Accuses others of heresy.

95)    Is competitive.

96)    Compares.

97)    Resents.

98)    Practices exclusivism.

99)    Practices elitism.

100)  Is bigoted.

101)  Is self-righteous.

102)  Is arrogant.

103)  Loves status.

104)  Is a showoff.

105)  Seeks approval of others.

106)  Is critical.

107)  Is suspicious.

108)  Is insensitive, unloving and lacks compassion.

109)  Observes days, months, times and years.

110)  Always corrects others.

111)  Tries to impress others.

112)  Reads a KJV Bible.

113)  Has a KJV Bible.

114)  Prefers to use the KJV Bible for most of his everyday Bible reading and study.

115)  Is a member of a fundamental Baptist Church.

116)  Is a member of an independent fundamental Church.

117)  Is a member of a nondenominational Christian Church.

118)  Does not hold to Reformed theology.

119)  Does not hold to Covenant theology.

120)  Holds to one of the Dispensational theological views.

121)  Believes in a pretribulation rapture of Christians.

122)  Believes in the future millennial reign of Christ on the earth.

123)  Does not hold to Calvinism.

124)  Believes that all non-KJV English translations of the Bible are sin.

125)  Reads a KJV Bible.

126)  Owns a KJV Bible.

127)  Take a KJV Bible to Church.

128)  Believes in the free will of man.

129)  And on and on the list can go —————.

As I have previously indicated, I believe the reason why so many Christians easily fall for illogically broad and relative theological definitions of a legalist and legalism is because they want to justify their despite for Christians that have weak consciences about doubtful-things that they don’t have a weak conscience about, and they want to justify their refusal to bear the burden of these weak conscience Christians.

Another interesting thing that has always been a bit perplexing to me is when modern Christians say that the false Gospel teachers described in the Bible at Galatia and Colossae and the Pharisees were also teaching, in addition to a false gospel plan of salvation, a separate scheme of doing works of the law (and/or/both good works) just for what we today call “earning spiritual maturity”.  I believe that spiritual maturity in the eyes of the false gospel teachers at Galatia and Colossae and the Pharisees meant doing a bang-up job of earning salvation.  To those false gospel teachers spiritual maturity and salvation were the same thing; that is, spiritual maturity was earning or helping to earn their salvation.  Maturing spiritually in the eyes of those false gospel teachers meant only that a person has a higher probability of obtaining salvation if they did many good works.  Those false gospel teachers did not think of spiritual maturity and salvation as two separate theological issues like Christ and the Apostles did.  The false gospels that those false gospel teachers taught were, at least, two steps (or more steps) plans for obtaining salvation, with the second step being doing good works (in some cases including works of the law) as being necessary to obtain salvation.  Paul, I believe, made it very clear in Galatians and Romans that the true gospel plan of salvation had only a single step, that is, faith in Christ alone apart from works.  Living in Christ and maturing in Christ, according to Galatians, Romans and Colossians, is a separate issue and are not a part of the gospel plan of how to obtain salvation.  The distortion of the false gospel by the false gospel teachers in Galatia was a false salvation plan of faith in Christ plus works of the law to earn salvation.  Doing good works in our daily living and the Spirit led growing in Christ are not an integral part of obtaining salvation; they are a Spirit and Bible led result of salvation.

I have also observed, what seems like about 80 to 90% of the time, when Christians used the terms legalist and legalism when referring to other Christians, they were actually referring to Christians that have weak consciences about something that they don’t have a weak conscience about.  Again, all this led me to conclude that the primary motive (reason) for modern Christians creating these broad and relative theological definitions of legalism and a legalist was for the purpose of reclassifying weak conscience Christians into another critter to justify their despite for Christians that have weak consciences about doubtful-things that they don’t have a weak conscience about, and they want to justify their refusal to bear the burden of these weak conscience Christians.  To me, these broad and relative theological definitions of a legalist and legalism seem to have SUPPLANTED the biblical concept of weak conscience Christians in the minds of most fundamentalists and evangelicals.  I found this SUPPLANTING appears to occur in three ways.  The first occurrence is a PARTIAL SUPPLANTING that occurs in the minds of those that still use the concept of weak conscience Christians.  They reason that untaught Christians are the only Christians that can have weak consciences and that these untaught Christians are primarily new Christians.  They then conclude that Christians who are not new Christians (those that have been Christians for more than two or three years), who have been taught the Bible and who still have the characteristics of the weak conscience Christians described in Rom. 14 and 1 Cor. 8 are legalists.  The second PARTIAL SUPPLANTING method is one that I found out about in July of 1998 after having posted some of my initial thoughts on this subject (which listed only one PARTIAL SUPPLANTING method) on some Christian message-boards on the Internet.  This second PARTIAL SUPPLANTING method pulls Romans 14:3,4,16 out of context, and it says that weak conscience Christians that are speaking evil, blasphemous judgments (being judgmental and condemning) of the strong conscience Christians are really Pharisees and legalists.  This second PARTIAL SUPPLANTING also says that those weak conscience Christians that don’t speak evil, blasphemous judgments (not being judgmental and condemning) of the strong conscience Christians and possibly could be influenced to sin against their conscience by the example of a strong conscience Christian are really the true weak conscience Christians.  However, these verses (Romans 14:3,4,16) are not describing Pharisees and legalists, they are describing weak conscience Christians that have stumbled to the point of falling into the sin of speaking evil, blasphemous judgments (being judgmental and condemning) of strong conscience Christians.  The Third SUPPLANTING method totally RECATEGORIZES the weak conscience Christians in Rom. 14 and 1 Cor. 8 as legalists.  If this third method is true, does that mean that we are to bear the burden of some legalists and not other legalists?  Why do modern Christians want such ALL-INCLUSIVE theological definitions for a legalist and legalism?  Are modern Christians trying to hide something or hide from something?  Why do they want the definition to cover the characteristics of weak conscience Christians?  Clearly, the Bible reveals that weak conscience Christians are stricter than Christians that do not have weak consciences.  Also, our everyday life experiences clearly reveal that the strictness level is directly proportional to the number of Christians that have a weak conscience about an item and/or the degree of their overly sensitive conscience.  The level of strictness also depends on a person’s personality characteristics and/or the degree of sinful pride. But, does that justify modern Christians CATEGORIZING them in the same CATEGORY that you would place a PHARISEE and then treating them just like false gospel teachers, such as the PHARISEES and those false gospel teachers talked about in Galatians and Colossians?

Again, It appears as though many fundamentalists and evangelicals regard another Christian to be a legalist if he is guilty of at least one of the common characteristics of the Pharisees, the false gospel teachers that infiltrated both the churches of Galatia and the church at Colossae, and weak conscience Christians.  The Pharisees and the false gospel teachers taught that certain things were sin when in actuality they were not called sin in the Bible; and that is also a characteristic of weak conscience Christians.  Also, the weak conscience Christians in Romans chapter 14 were doing non-biblical judging where they were speaking evil, blasphemous judgments of strong conscience Christians (Romans 14:3, 4, 16) and their activities, which is also the same type judging characteristic that the Pharisees and false gospel teachers had.  However, I have not been able to find a place in the Scriptures where God CATEGORIZES weak conscience Christians, Pharisees, and the false gospel teachers at Colossae and Galatia into one category like modern Christians do with the modern theological concepts of a legalist and legalism.  Early in my Christian life, I came to the conclusion that God wants us to treat all four as four different groups of people with their own set of characteristics, even though, they may have a few similar characteristics.  Over the years, I have often referred to these four groups as Pharisees, Galatianists, Colossianists, and weak conscience Christians.  The Pharisees taught a false gospel of Pharisaism.  The Galatianists taught the false gospel of Galatianism.  The Colossianists taught the false gospel of Colossianism.

Many years ago, I also concluded that another motive for many modern Christians, fundamentalists and evangelicals, to accept and use the very broad and relative concepts of legalism was TO HIDE something that they are guilty of.  Many fundamentalists use the concept of legalism, in an indirect way, TO HIDE the fact that they are weak conscience Christians that have a weak conscience about fewer or different items than the weak conscience Christians they are accusing of being legalists.  Many Evangelicals use the concept of legalism TO HIDE the fact that they are strong conscience Christians guilty of despising weak conscience Christians and their spiteful refusal to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians.  Therefore, when weak conscience fundamentalist Bill encounters another weak conscience fundamentalist that is not a new Christian and has a weak conscience about some items that he (Bill) doesn’t have a weak conscience about, Bill will call him a legalist instead of a weak conscience Christian.  If weak conscience fundamentalist Bill would call another weak conscience fundamentalist a weak conscience Christian, he would be teaching other fundamentalists to call him (weak conscience fundamentalist Bill) a weak conscience Christian; and the truth would hurt him (Bill) worse than being called a legalist.  It seems as though many weak conscience fundamentalists do not mind being called a legalist if it hides their weak consciences.  Strange!  We see both weak conscience fundamental Christians calling other weak conscience fundamental Christians legalists, and evangelicals calling all fundamentalists legalists.

For years, I have listened to my generation of weak conscience fundamentalists call other weak conscience fundamentalists legalists.  Now I am hearing the next generation of weak conscience fundamentalists, who do not have weak consciences about as many items as the previous generation, calling all the previous generation of weak conscience fundamentalists legalists; and they are also calling other fundamentalists of their own generation legalists, like their predecessors did.  I believe Christians should do like the Bible does, and they should not use the term legalist of legalism when making comments about or describing other Christians that have weak consciences about doubtful items and describing false gospel teachers.  Our statement should be similar to the following.

1)      Joe has a weak conscience about holding a microphone in his hand while singing.

2)      Bill has a weak conscience about the Movie Theater.

3)      Mary has a weak conscience about earrings the size of quarters.

4)      Harry, like the majority of weak conscience fundamental Christians has a weak conscience about certain wild styles of popular music; and since the percentage of weak conscience Christians that have a weak conscience about those certain wild styles of popular music is high, the strong conscience Christians, in a common sense application of Rom. 14 and 1 Cor. 10:23-33, should walk in love and abstain from the use those certain wild styles of popular music.

5)      George, in addition to having a weak conscience, has a very proud domineering personality, which creates an extreme nagging wife and authoritarian atmosphere.

6)      Jeff  has a weak conscience about smoking and says smoking is sin in itself, but is being hypocritical by secretly smoking.

7)      Jim teaches salvation by works alone.

8)      Phil teaches salvation by faith in Christ plus works of the law (the false gospel of Galatianism).

9)      Bob teaches salvation by faith in Christ plus works.

10)    Like the Pharisees, David, teach that Christ is not the Messiah and that salvation is by faith in God plus works of the law and man made ordinances (the false gospel of Pharisaism).

11)    Greg teaches salvation by keeping the Mosaic Law plus keeping human ordinances, such as, touch not, taste not and handle not plus voluntary humility and worshiping of angels instead of only holding the Head (Christ) because they believe Christ’s sacrifice did not forgive all our trespasses since the fullness of the Godhead did not dwell in Christ bodily (the false gospel of Colossianism).

Notice, as the Scriptures do, a Christian can be biblically accurate and very clear in describing the problems without using the non-biblical categorization concepts called a legalist and legalism.  Christ called the Pharisees (not the weak conscience Christians) hypocrites, blind guides, fools, whitewashed tombs, serpents, brood of vipers; but did not call them legalists.  God, through the Apostle Paul, did not refer to weak conscience Christians as legalists; He referred to them as weak conscience Christians.  God never used illogically broad and relative theological terms like legalists and legalism to describe the Pharisees and weak conscience Christians.  That is because God is logical and knew that the Pharisees and weak conscience Christian were two different critters, although, they had a few similar characteristics.  The extreme despite for weak conscience Christians by modern freedom abusing strong conscience Christians is the driving force that has driven modern freedom abusing strong conscience Christians to deliberately use illogical reasoning to develop those illogically broad and relative theological terms of despite (legalists and legalism).  Christ, through the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 14, commanded strong conscience Christians not to despise weak conscience Christians.  Christ, through the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 14, accused some of the weak conscience Christians at Rome of setting themselves up as “the judge” and of blasphemously judging strong conscience Christians (an indication of spiritual immaturity and/or/or both pride) ; However, he did not call them legalists or accuse them of legalism.

Also, many fundamentalists and evangelicals often use the terminology “personal preferences” to hide the fact that most of the time their problem really revolves around doubtful issues, items that weak conscience Christians believe are sin in themselves.  All this is done in an effort to help hide from their biblical responsibility to weak conscience Christians by making all weak conscience Christians appear only as very proud, picky and selfish individuals without a weak conscience being involved in the problem.  But, in reality, there are a number of levels of personal preferences: there are non-sinful personal preferences, doubtful non-sinful personal preferences and there are sinful preferences.  Non-proud weak conscience Christians are not being foolishly picky over their personal preferences; their weak consciences prevent their reasoning ability from distinguishing between the non-sinful things and the accompanying sinful things and practices.  The weak conscience of a non-proud weak conscience Christian is what forces him to conclude something is sin, not his personal preferences.  For a weak conscience Christian that happens to also have a proud personality, his pride can often cause him to use his non-sinful personal preferences to conclude additional items as sin, beyond what his weak conscience pushes him to conclude are sin, in his proud effort to manipulate other Christians around him.  Again, the weak conscience of weak conscience Christians overrides their normal common sense reasoning ability causing them to conclude a doubtful item is sin even though it is not called sin in the Bible.  Therefore, God wants strong conscience Christians to walk in love toward weak conscience Christians.

Concerning manipulation, obsessive accusations of being a legalist (the broad relative concept of a legalist) is the favorite billy-club used by obsessive freedom abusing strong conscience Christians with proud personalities to manipulate other Christians.  More spiritually mature non-obsessive freedom abusing strong conscience Christians, even though they believe weak conscience Christians are legalists, usually only occasionally, not obsessively, call weak conscience Christians legalists.

Over the years, I have heard both fundamental and evangelical preachers tell their congregations that they should be balanced.  But, how can the fundamentalists and the evangelicals ever have balanced congregations while they are hiding behind the broad and relative theological concepts of a legalist and legalism?  I believe that there is a great need in our day to encourage more strong consciences Christians to be strong conscience Christians that bear the burden of weak conscience Christians as the Apostle Paul did.  And, like the Apostle Paul, without using the terms legalist and legalism, they should be admonishing both the weak conscience Christians (that are speaking evil, blasphemous judgments of strong conscience Christians) and the strong conscience Christians (that are spitefully judging weak conscience Christians and not bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians) to become strong conscience Christians that bear the burden of weak conscience Christians.

Maybe I should say something about how I apply the principle of bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians in my everyday Christian life.  But first, I need to describe my personal classification of different levels of weak conscience Christians and classifications of doubtful-things.  My observations of weak conscience Christians reveals to me that there are certain doubtful-things that almost all weak conscience Christians have a weak conscience about; those doubtful-things I call extremely-doubtful-things.  Among modern weak conscience Christians there is a group that I refer to as extremely weak conscience Christians because they are EASILY offended, grieved and fall into the sin of blasphemously judging strong conscience Christians; those weak conscience Christians are equivalent to those weak conscience Christians that Paul was admonishing in Romans chapter 14.  These extremely weak conscience Christians have a weak conscience about extremely-doubtful-things and lots petty-doubtful-things; and these extremely weak conscience Christians are most often found in the extreme strict end of the Fundamental Christian movement.  The rest of the Fundamental Christian movement is made up of weak conscience Christians that only have weak consciences about extremely-doubtful-things and very few petty-doubtful-things, and they do not become offended and grieved at strong conscience Christians and do not sin by blasphemously judging strong conscience Christians; they are following the instructions Paul gave in Romans chapter 14.  This all means that the number weak conscience Christians that have a weak conscience about petty-doubtful-things is much smaller than the number of Christians that have a weak conscience about extremely-doubtful-things.

Years ago, one of the first things that I discovered was that the Bible only listed about four doubtful things that the weak and strong conscience Christians were quarreling about in that era: leftover meat from pagan sacrificial animals, certain days, certain foods and alcoholic beverages (Romans 14:21).  My common sense reasoning keep telling me that there should be some sort of information in the Bible that indicates a differentiation between extremely doubtful things that almost all weak conscience Christians and weak conscience non-Christians will have a weak conscience about and the “not-so-extremely-doubtful-things” or “petty-doubtful-things” that only a small percentage of weak conscience Christians (primarily the extremely weak conscience Christians) have a weak conscience about.  However, I found that the Bible did not explicitly refer to extremely doubtful things and to petty doubtful things.  That baffled me for a little while.  Why didn’t God give us clear and obvious information like that?  The biggest reason why that baffled me was because a person could then easily claim that Christians should abstain 100% from any doubtful thing even if only 1 person in 1,000,000 had a weak conscience about it and even if you lived 1000 miles away from that 1 person.  Therefore, I started looking for information in the Bible that would indirectly indicate (imply) logically a differentiation between extremely-doubtful-things and petty-doubtful-things.  My experience with modern weak conscience Christians revealed to me that it was the extremely-doubtful-things that most often caused the hottest battles between weak conscience Christians and strong conscience Christians.  I felt that surely the same thing must have been happening during the era that Paul lived in, since Christians in his time had the same human nature that modern Christians have.  Finally, it dawned on me that the examples that Paul listed in his epistles might be the extremely-doubtful-things in his era that weak conscience Christians and strong conscience Christians were fighting over.  If so, it was those extremely-doubtful-things that Paul listed that were causing the weak conscience Christians to speak evil judgments (blasphemous judgments, Romans 14:16) of the strong conscience Christians who exercised their freedom in those things.  Therefore, I concluded that God could be implying that the extremely-doubtful-things are the only doubtful things where near 100% abstinence from was necessary.  However, this also meant that God did not explicitly list any petty-doubtful-things and give explicit instructions on how to handle the petty-doubtful-things.  Therefore, I concluded that God is expecting strong conscience Christians to use their common sense logic and leading of the Holy Spirit in determining how often, when and where to exercise their freedom in the area of petty-doubtful-things.  Even though 100% abstinence from the petty-doubtful-things is not necessary, the exercising of our freedom in these areas should not be done in a way that will encourage those few weak conscience Christians that have weak consciences about the petty-doubtful-things to become bold enough to act against their weak conscience (1 Cor. 8:9-13)

I will present another line of reasoning that leads me to similar conclusions.  The Bible tell us that a husband and wife are to love each other, but leaves out a lot of fine detail, such as: how often to have sexual intercourse, how often to buy flowers for my wife, do I buy her flowers or something else, how often to tell my wife how much I love her, should I take my wife out to dinner, how often should I take her out to dinner, etc.  Obviously, God is expecting husbands and wives to use their common sense that is guided by biblical principles and the Holy Spirit.  Since the Bible does not explicitly tell strong conscience Christians how many Christians have to have a weak conscience about an item to warrant 100% abstinence from that item, God is expecting us to use our Holy Spirit guided common sense guided by the biblical principle of the “fruit of the Spirit” and the biblical principle of bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians.

I should emphasize again that deciding whether to mentally classify a doubtful thing as an extremely-doubtful-thing or a petty-doubtful-thing and whether or not to exercise your freedom on a particular petty-doubtful-thing under the circumstance you find yourself in are all subjective decisions a strong conscience Christian needs to make.  Please remember that the items that I list in this article as being classified as either an “extremely-doubtful-thing” or a “petty-doubtful-thing” are categorizations made by me and are therefore subjective.  The category of petty-doubtful-things is a category of doubtful-things that you will find very few Christians (primarily the extremely weak conscience Christians) have a weak conscience about.  Exercising our freedom on things only classified as petty-doubtful-things will minimize the number of weak conscience Christians that we will offend/grieve and caused to blasphemously judge strong conscience Christians and/or cause to sin against their weak conscience.  To wisely make those decisions, a strong conscience Christian must use common sense that is guided by the Holy Spirit and applicable scriptural principles.  Because those decisions are subjective in nature, there will be variation among strong conscience Christians as to what is considered an extremely-doubtful-thing or a petty-doubtful-thing and when and where to exercise their freedom concerning any petty-doubtful-thing.  I believe the classifying of doubtful things into categories as extremely-doubtful-things and petty-doubtful-things is an effective way of minimizing the number of weak conscience Christians that we would offend and/or cause to sin, even though the classification into one or the other category is subjective.  I believe that this goal of minimizing, in my opinion, is a wise practical way of applying the Biblical principle of bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians.  Since we will not be able in this life to not ever offend anyone, in our private daily prayers to God we need to ask him to forgive us of our sins of offending weak conscience Christians, since we can not predict when we will come into contact with an extremely weak conscience Christian that has a weak conscience about some petty doubtful thing/things we do.  If a strong conscience Christian tries to 100% of the time not to offend any weak conscience Christian, he will appear paranoidly strict, like the extremely weak conscience Christians are, in his efforts to achieve that 100% goal in this fallen world that we live in.  From discussions with Christian folk about their growing up years, I have learned that some of them had strong conscience Christian parents that paranoidly tried to not offend any weak conscience person instead of just trying to just minimize the number of weak conscience Christians that they might offended.  The illogical reasoning used by weak conscience Christian parents in justifying why they believe something is sin in itself and the paranoid actions of strong conscience Christian parents trying to not offend any weak conscience Christian by abstaining 100% of the time from every possible doubtful items causes many Christian youth to become very exasperated, aggravated, provoked, vexed, angry and bitter towards their parents (Col. 3:21 — Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.) (Eph 6:4  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.).

Another method of helps in reducing the number of weak conscience Christians that you personally offend, grieve, cause to sin against their weak conscience and/or blasphemously judge you would be to seek out and attend a local church that is not made up of extremely weak conscience Christians.  I have found that in a local church that is not dominated by extremely weak conscience Christians the majority of weak conscience Christians are intuitively following God’s admonitions in Romans 14 and are not offended, grieved, will not sin against their weak conscience or blasphemously judge strong conscience Christians.  However, those weak conscience Christians usually still accept the majority consensus view/definition of legalism and a legalist — that is, an illogically broad, relative definition of legalism that classifies weak conscience Christians as legalists, which has always been perplexing to me since they accept the same definition that classifies themselves as legalists.

Frankly, I believe it would be impossible to live in this sin cursed world and not be guilty of the sin of offending some weak conscience Christian, because there will always be someone who will have a weak conscience about some strange-doubtful-thing.  Therefore, I believe the best we can do in this life is to try to minimize our sins in this area by minimizing the number of weak conscience Christians we offend.  If I do not apply the principle of bearing the burden of weak conscience people in a minimization fashion, I will become obsessively paranoid in my efforts to not offend any weak conscience Christian.  The majority of modern Christians that exercise their freedom in Christ in the area of doubtful-things refuse to admit that they have sinned when they offend a weak conscience Christian; their rationale is that weak conscience Christians are legalists, and offending a legalist is not a sin.

According to Rom. 14:1-15:7, 1 Cor. 8:1-13, 1 Cor. 10:23-33, following the principle of bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians should accomplish several things.  According to my comprehension, the following is a list of those things:

1)      (Romans 14:1) — It should prevent bitter disputes with weak conscience Christians over doubtful things; thus, keeping peace in the body of Christ.

2)      (Romans 14:1-12, 13, 15, 16, 19, 21; 15:1 and 1Cor. 10:23-33) — It should prevent weak conscience Christians, as well as weak conscience non-Christians, from stumbling to point where their judging is slanderous, blasphemous, evil speaking of our good and us.  We should walk charitably for the purpose of maintaining peace, causing edification and not pleasing ourselves.

3)      (1 Cor. 8:9-13) — It should prevent weak conscience Christians from becoming bold enough to partake of the doubtful items that they believe are sin.  Because, if the actions of a strong conscience Christian causes weak conscience Christians to partake of things that they believe are sin, he has caused those weak conscience Christians to be become guilty of sin; and now that strong conscience Christian is guilty of sin since his actions caused the weak conscience Christians to go against their weak conscience.

My common sense reasoning indicates to me that, as near as possible, 100% abstinence from a doubtful item is necessary to accomplish the first two results when the percentage of Christians and/or non-Christians that have a weak conscience about an item is significant (what is considered significant is subjective); and when a doubtful item is considered sin by the majority of the weak conscience Christians and weak conscience non-Christians (again, “majority” is a subjective decision).  The Scripture’s reveal only a few extremely doubtful things that the majority of weak conscience Christians during Paul’s lifetime had weak consciences about: leftover meat from pagan sacrificial animals, certain foods, non-vegetarian diets, not esteeming of certain days above another and alcoholic beverages (Romans 14:21).  Today the majority of modern weak conscience Christians that have weak consciences have weak consciences about some of those same extremely doubtful things as well as new and different extremely doubtful things such as: tobacco, alcoholic beverages, certain musical rhythms/styles (certain styles of rock, country and western, jazz, rap, and new age), etc.  There is much variation among weak conscience Christians as to the things that they have weak consciences about.  The extremely weak conscience Christians will have weak consciences about extremely-doubtful-things and a lot of petty-doubtful-things.  Some weak conscience Christians have weak consciences about only the extremely-doubtful-things and not about petty-doubtful-things.  Some have weak consciences about the extremely-doubtful-things and very few petty-doubtful-things.  Rarely, some will have weak consciences about only petty-doubtful-things: such as movie theaters, pants on women, guitars, saxophones, certain types of electronic musical instruments, video rental stores, holding a microphone while singing or preaching, ear rings larger than a quarter, regular deck of playing cards, non-King James English translations of the Bible, etc.  This all means that there is great variety among fundamental churches.  Because of this variety, a person will also find some fundamental churches where the weak conscience Christians only have weak consciences about very few doubtful-things, which are the ones I usually seek out to attend.  Among extremely weak conscience Christians, it is not unusual to find some of them that out of one corner of their mouth blasphemously judging Christians that don’t have a weak conscience about the extremely doubtful items that they have a weak conscience about and out of the other corner of their mouth spitefully and blasphemously judge as being legalists other weak conscience Christians that have weak consciences about some petty doubtful items that they do not have a weak conscience about.

I endeavor to do 100% abstinence from the extremely doubtful things, such as the ones that I listed previous (alcoholic beverages, tobacco, certain wild styles of music).  Well, almost 100% on certain wild styles of music since I do not always turn off the TV and radio during commercials or turn off the sound system in stores when I am shopping.  If I am visiting unsaved friends, neighbors and relatives, I usually do not ask them to turnoff the music they are listening to.  A very high percentage of Christians that have weak consciences will have a weak conscience about most of those extremely doubtful things if not all of those items, so I endeavor to do, well — let me say, 98% (smile) abstinence.  An interesting thing that I have noticed over the years is that the extremely doubtful things that the majority of weak conscience Christians have a weak conscience about turn out to be the doubtful things that weak conscience non-Christians are most likely to have a weak conscience about as well.

Another thing, that my common sense reasoning indicates to me is that 100% abstinence from a doubtful item is also not necessary to accomplish the first two items, listed previously, when the percentage of Christians and/or non-Christians that have a weak conscience about an item is small.  Since their number is small, the non-proud weak conscience Christians usually will not speak evil of the strong conscience Christians.  Thus, there usually will not be any bitter disputes occur in the church over such things; those few weak conscience Christians will not set themselves up as “the judge” and will only do biblically proper judging and discerning that is not of a sinful slanderous, blasphemous, evil speaking nature.  Even though 100% abstinence is not necessary under this condition, the exercising of our freedom should not be done in a way that will encourage those few weak conscience Christians to become bold enough to act against their weak conscience (1 Cor. 8:9-13) or become grieved (Romans 14:15).

Well, a little more detail about the not-so-extremely-doubtful items (petty-doubtful-things): movie theater, pants on women, guitars, saxophones, certain types of electronic musical instruments, video rental stores, holding a microphone while singing or preaching, ear rings larger than a quarter, regular deck of playing cards, non-King James English translations of the Bible, etc.  The percentage of weak conscience Christians that have a weak conscience about only petty doubtful things (outside of the extremely weak conscience Christians) is significantly smaller than for those that have a weak conscience about extremely doubtful things.  Therefore, I do not endeavor to do 100% abstinence from them.  However, I do use my God given common sense wisdom and courtesy guided by the biblical principles of the “fruit of the Spirit” and the biblical principle of bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians to determine when, how often and where to use or partake of the petty doubtful things.  As an example, I do not use a regular deck of cards at Sunday school class fellowships and Church sponsored fellowships where I know there will be Christians that have a weak conscience about them.  However, I do use them at home and when I am having fellowship with Christians that do not have a weak conscience about them.  I will also use them when I am visiting with unsaved friends, neighbors and relatives that do not have a weak conscience about them.

Many years back (in the mid-1970’s) I concluded concerning doubtful things that the majority of Christians in the Fundamental group of Christians were equivalent to the group of weak conscience Christians that God through Paul was admonishing in Romans chapter 14 and that the majority of Christians in the Evangelical group of Christians were equivalent to the group of strong conscience Christians that God through Paul was admonishing in Romans chapter 14 and 15.  Yes, modern Christianity is one-big-time repeat of Romans 14:1 through 15:7.  Since these two groups of Christians are large in number, it is easy for each to fall into the sins described in Romans chapter 14.  That is, some weak conscience Christians will speak evil, blasphemous judgments of the strong conscience Christians, and some strong conscience Christians with much despite refuses to bear the burden of any weak conscience Christians and with much despite accuse the weak conscience Christians of being legalists and Pharisees.  Both the modern day strong conscience Christians that despise all weak conscience Christians and spitefully call them legalists and also the modern day extremely weak conscience Christians that despise other weak conscience Christians and spitefully call them legalists display more human intellectual brilliance (smile, I am being sarcastic) than their counterparts in Paul’s day by having developed the illogically very broad and relative theological concepts called a legalist and legalism while those in Paul’s day were not intellectually brilliant enough to develop the same illogically very broad and relative theological concepts called a legalist and legalism.

In 1 Corinthians 8, I do not see any indication that the weak conscience Christians there were speaking evil, blasphemous judgments of the strong conscience Christians; however, apparently some of them were emboldened by the practices of the strong conscience Christians to partake of that which they believed was sin, in and of itself.  However, I believe, in Rome the crowd of weak conscience Christians apparently, was large enough to give them the courage to also speak evil, blasphemous judgments of the strong conscience Christians (Romans 14:3,4,16) that exercised their freedoms in Christ.  A large crowd of people easily gives each other the courage to do things that they might not do otherwise.

Romans 14:1-13a tells us what the ideal responses of the weak conscience Christians and strong conscience Christians should be.  In this ideal situation weak conscience Christians would be fully convinced in their own minds and would be abstaining from the things that they believe are sin and at the same time would not be speaking evil blasphemous judgments of strong conscience Christians.  The strong conscience Christians would be fully convinced in their own minds and would be exercising their freedoms doing those things that the weak conscience Christians believe are sin without despising and without setting at naught the weak conscience Christians.  Both would not be judging or setting at naught brothers and sisters in Christ because they would be taking into account the fact that they all will appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give account of themselves to God.  Sounds great, however ——-

Notice, the ideal situation developed in Romans 14:1-13a is the situation that strong conscience Christians would like the best because they would not have to give up ANY of their freedoms in Christ.  However, God knew that this ideal scenario would not work or last long, and in Romans 14:13b-15:7 put more responsibility on the strong conscience Christians to keep the peace within the fellowship of Christians in the area of doubtful things.  This He did by having the strong conscience Christians walk in love by bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians by abstaining from those extremely-doubtful-things that cause the weak conscience Christians to speak evil, blasphemous judgments of the strong conscience Christians.  To me, common sense application of the Scriptures indicates that God is just expecting the stronger to be able to walk in love and handle more responsibility in squelching the battle and keeping the peace (Romans 14:13b-15:7).  Since the strong conscience Christian’s reasoning ability is not shackled by a weak conscience (overly sensitive conscience), he should be mature enough to handle the extra responsibility of bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians and, at the same time, be teaching and admonishing both weak conscience Christians and strong conscience Christians to mature.  However, as in Paul’s day, many strong conscience Christians today refuse to accept that God given responsibility; but today they use the broad and relative theological concepts of a legalist and legalism to justify not accepting that responsibility and to justify their despite.  What I find very interesting and perplexing is that many modern day weak conscience Christians also uses the same broad and relative theological concepts of a legalist and legalism in an indirect way to hide his guilt of being a weak conscience Christian and their despite for other weak conscience Christians that have a weak conscience about more items than they do.  Because many weak conscience Christians in Fundamentalism are taught the same broad and relative theological concepts of a legalist and legalism by most of their leaders, they will automatically jump to the other extreme when they grow out of having a weak conscience; and will often leave Fundamentalism screaming legalism as they rashly dive into Evangelicalism, instead of becoming strong conscience Christians that bear the burden of weak conscience Christians.

So far, I have indicated that the illogical reasoning that the weak conscience Christians fall into is caused by their weak conscience when they are dealing with things they have a weak conscience about.  I have given extensive details of the illogical reasoning that freedom abusing strong conscience Christians use to develop the imaginary jackelope type critter called a legalist.  However, concerning weak conscience Christians, I have not given extensive details of the illogical reasoning process that their weak conscience causes them to use.  I shall do that now in the next few paragraphs.

If the Bible does not clearly state that something is sin, then I consider it a doubtful thing if some Christians believe the doubtful thing to be sin.  Doubtful things are things that the Bible does not call sin, but weak conscience Christians are very likely to believe are sin.  In the Apostle Paul’s time, the non-sinful leftover meat from the pagan sacrificial animals is considered sin because the animal it came from was associated with sinful pagan sacrificial worship.  Some modern weak conscience Christians believe guitars are sin because they are often associated with the sinful life of rock stars.  Their weak conscience is so overly sensitive that it shackles their reasoning ability, preventing them from thinking logically when they are thinking about doubtful things.  Their weak conscience keeps them from being able to logically distinguish between non-sinful things and sinful things and practices when non-sinful things accompany sinful things and practices.

If the Bible does not directly call something sin, then the only other possibility we are left with is the possibility that the Bible might indirectly indicate and imply that something is sin.  Weak conscience Christians illogical reasoning also shows up in their logic when deducing what the Bible indirectly implies is sin. Deductive logic is the form of logic that God built into man that he expects us to use when determining what things God has indirectly revealed as sin in the Bible.  Because of man’s fallen nature, some people will have overly sensitive consciences (weak consciences) that causes them to illogically reason when dealing with doubtful things.  An integral part of the deductive reasoning process is syllogisms, which are arguments or form of reasoning in which two statements or premises (major and minor premises) are made and an obvious logical conclusion is drawn from them.  For the deductive conclusion to be true, the premises used to produce the deductive conclusion must all be 100% true.  Let’s take, for example, the illogical reasoning used to produce the illogical conclusion that smoking and chewing tobacco are sin (the following reasoning example is also used on many other doubtful things).  The following is a restating of this example in syllogism form, as it would be given in formal logic classes in Christian Colleges and Seminaries.

Premise 1) Working ill to our neighbor is not fulfilling the law (Romans 13:10 KJV).

Premise 2) Not fulfilling the law is transgression of the law.

Conclusion 1) Working ill to our neighbor is transgression of the law.

Conclusion 1 from the above deductive logic sequence syllogism is then used as one of the premises in the next deductive logic sequence syllogism as follows.

Premise 3) Smoking and chewing tobacco works ill to our neighbors.

Premise 4) Working ill to our neighbors is transgression of the law.

Conclusion 2) Smoking and chewing tobacco is transgression of the law.

Conclusion 2 from the above deductive logic sequence syllogism is then used as one of the premises in the next deductive logic sequence syllogism as follows.

Premise 5) Smoking and chewing tobacco is transgression of the law.

Premise 6) Transgression of the law is sin  (1John 3:4 KJV).

Conclusion 3) Smoking and chewing tobacco is sin.

If anyone or more of the above six premises are not 100% true, then conclusion 3 is not true.  Premise 1, 2, 4, and 6 are 100% true.  Premise 3 is not 100% true.  Therefore, conclusion 2 and premise 5 are not 100% true.  Therefore, conclusion 3 (Smoking and chewing tobacco is sin) is not true.  Many Christians and non-Christians are not offended when they see, or are around, others that are smoking and chewing tobacco.  That is, they do not feel that those that are smoking and chewing tobacco are working ill towards them.  Therefore, Premise3 is not 100% true.  Therefore, Conclusion 3 (Smoking and chewing tobacco is sin) is not true.  Therefore, smoking and chewing tobacco would not be sin, but fall under the category of doubtful things.  However ———

Another illogical argument used by weak conscience Christians to try to prove that smoking and chewing tobacco are sin is the health argument based on the fact that smoking and chewing tobacco, on the average, shorten man’s average life span by a few percent.  The importance of the “few percent” is judged differently by different people.  To some people 10-20% would not be enough to worry about.  The weak conscience of weak conscience Christians causes them to illogically try to use 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 to prove that smoking and chewing tobacco (and some foods, not poison) are sin.  Those passages talk about Christians defiling the temple of the God and the temple of the Holy Spirit with sin, not doubtful things.  They are not talking about doubtful things that affect health by affecting the average life span of man.  The weak conscience Christians are using the illogical reasoning of making an assumption that defiling the temple is also referring to health issues that may or may not shorten man’s average life span by a few percent.  Weak conscience Christians that use the health problem of shortening our average life span by a few percent, also often wind up committing the illogical reasoning of selectively applying it to only a few of the many things that we ingest into our bodies that affect the average life span of man.  They only apply the argument to those items that they have a weak conscience about and not to the other things which also affects our average life span by a few percent.  They are illogically inconsistent in applying the illogical health issue argument.  Because of modern scientific studies, it is found that many foods shorten man’s average life span by a few percent; thus, the number of doubtful things for modern Christians to have a weak conscience about has significantly increased.  However, many weak conscience Christians that have a weak conscience about smoking will not have a weak conscience about some foods that shorten man’s average life span by the same percentage as smoking does.  The exact percent of the effect on our average life span depends on the amounts we take into our body.

Weak conscience Christians have at least two things, due to man’s fallen nature, that can cause them to use illogical reasoning when dealing with doubtful issues, which are their weak conscience and their sin nature.  Strong conscience Christians have only one of those two things, their sin nature,  that can cause them to use illogical reasoning when dealing with doubtful issues.  This reality helps me understand why God put more responsibility on the shoulders of strong conscience Christians to keep the peace than on the shoulders of weak conscience Christians.  However, God has not let weak conscience Christian totally off the hook, since he has commanded them not to blasphemously judge or speak evil judgments of strong conscience Christians concerning doubtful things and not to set themselves up as “the judge”.

I believe that if there had been more open and above board strong conscience Christians bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians in the recent decades past, the blasphemous judging by the weak conscience Christians and the bitter despiteful attitude and spiteful judging by strong conscience Christians today would be much reduced from what it is.  I have observed that many/most evangelical Christians consider strong conscience Christians that bear the burden of weak conscience Christians to be “spiritual wimps and legalists” that do not stand up for their freedoms in Christ.  Many fundamental Christians consider strong conscience Christians that bear the burden of weak conscience Christians to also be “spiritual wimps” that do not live spiritually holy lives since they do not have a weak conscience about doubtful things.  If you want to be a popular Christian nowadays, you have to be, or act like, a weak conscience Christian that speaks blasphemous judgments of the strong conscience Christians or you have to be, or act like, a strong conscience Christian that refuses to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians by exercising your freedoms in Christ in all areas of doubtful things and with much despite accuse weak conscience Christians of being legalists and Pharisees.  Since the majority of modern Christianity, in the area of doubtful-things, is made up of weak conscience Christians and strong conscience Christians that refuse to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians (with both camps accepting the modern very broad and relative theological definition of legalism and a legalist that I describe in the article), there are few strong conscience Christians that actually endeavor to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians.  This means the peer pressure to conform to being a weak conscience Christians or conform to being a strong conscience Christian that refuses to bear the burden of weak conscience Christian is very high; and it appears that the majority of modern Christians do exactly that. Very few Christians today can withstand this peer pressure, and therefore do not become strong conscience Christians that bear the burden of weak conscience Christians.  Truly, in the area of doubtful things, modern Christianity is one-big-time repeat of  Romans 14:1-15:7 and 1Cor. Chapter 8.

As you can tell from the context so far, I usually put my membership in a fundamental Church.  Let me explain why I am a member of a fundamental Baptist Church.  I see at least two major problems with Evangelical churches.  The first is their involvement in ecclesiastical unequal yoking with liberal/apostate organizations and individuals, which gets them involved in the ecumenical movement.  The second is domination by strong conscience Christians that refuse to bear the burden of weak conscience Christians and despise weak conscience Christians.  I have found only one major problem with fundamental Baptist churches, which is domination by weak conscience Christians.  However, thankfully, I have found that the fundamental movement is a diverse movement and contains a significant number of local churches were the majority of weak conscience Christians in them have weak consciences only about extremely-doubtful-things and very few petty-doubtful-things; and also there is very little blasphemous judging of strong conscience Christians and of other weak conscience Christians; and also there are no “King James Only” type weak conscience Christians.  Because of the law of sin dwelling in man, having a variety of Christian churches and Christian denominations does provide an effective means of minimizing the conflict between Christians.

From an idealistic standpoint, I would like to find a Church where the leadership and a high percentage of the membership are strong conscience Christians that do bear the burden of weak conscience Christians and also bear the burden of weak conscience unsaved folk and also do not agree with the present day broad relativity (all inclusive) theological definition of legalism and a legalist and also do not have the terms legalism and legalist as valid theological terms in their theological system and dictionary.  However, the percentage of modern Christians who are strong conscience Christians bearing the burden of weak conscience Christians appears to be too small for that to happen at this point in history.

The following is a short list of example theological phrases that I think would be Biblically wise to use instead of the terms legalist and legalism.

1)      False gospel of salvation by faith in Christ plus works.

2)      False gospel of Pharisaism: salvation is by faith in God (not Christ) plus works of the law and man made ordinances.

3)      False gospel of works: salvation by works alone.

4)      False gospel of Galatianism: salvation by faith in Christ plus works of the law.

5)      False gospel of Colossianism: salvation by keeping the Mosaic Law plus keeping human ordinances, such as, touch not, taste not and handle not plus voluntary humility and worshiping of angels instead of only holding the Head (Christ) because Christ’s sacrifice did not forgive all our trespasses since the fullness of the Godhead did not dwell in Christ bodily.

6)      Weak conscience Christian.

7)      Weak conscience non-Christian.

8)      Strict weak conscience Christian.

9)      Proud weak conscience Christian.

10)    Domineering and/or controlling weak conscience Christian.

11)    Blasphemously judging weak conscience Christian.

12)    Freedom abusing strong conscience Christian.

13)    Proud freedom abusing strong conscience Christian.

14)    Domineering and/or controlling freedom abusing strong conscience Christian.

15)    Non-burden-bearing strong conscience Christian.

16)    Burden-bearing strong conscience Christian.

 

Appendix A) Dictionary definitions of legalism:

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.  Anything 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.

Appendix B) Some definitions of legalism given by modern day Christians:

1.      “Legalism is the belief that a person must act a certain way so that God will bless, help, and prosper him.  Legalism tells why one does or does not do something. Legalistic people work for God’s blessing, they confuse cause and result, they misunderstand grace. Legalism is wrong. Avoid it. —- Legalism is against salvation by grace, spirituality by grace, and the freedom to live the Christian way of life apart from pressure imposed by self and others, by taboo lists, by checklists of right things, by a religious community (Gal. 4:8-11; 5:1-5). —- Legalistic people replace Bible doctrine and the spirit of Bible doctrine with human standards (Mt. 12:1-8; 15:1-3). — LEGALISTIC PEOPLE ATTEMPT TO FORCE THEIR LIFESTYLE UPON OTHERS AND THEREBY JUDGE AND INTERFERE IN THE FREEDOM OF OTHER BELIEVERS (Jn. 7:19-24; ROM. 14:1-12; Gal 2:1-5). — Pride, self-righteousness, and a critical mental attitude characterize legalists and perpetuate legalism (Mt. 12:10; Lk. 18:9-12; Gal. 2:3-5; 6:12-13). — Current day expressions of legalism in the Christian way of life are praying regularly; giving money; Bible reading; denying certain enjoyments; following a cultural list of wrongs; not committing certain sins; personality imitation; relativity of sin; church attendance; emotional response to God, to doctrine, to church, and other believers; taboos to avoid; good behavior.” By Tod M. Kennedy.  The full document can be found at ( http://soamc.org/tfh/FILES/Bible%20Translation%20Commentaries/Legalism%20%20by%20Tod%20M.%20Kennedy/ ).

2.      “Legalism is a religious system that teaches that a person can do something to earn or merit salvation or blessing from God. — It is legalism, however, to think that by maintaining high standards you are somehow doing something to merit salvation or to earn blessings or rewards. — The word “legalism” also refers to any merit system which operates by works, by which a person tries to please God, or to assist God, or to glorify God by human power. — Religious legalism also refers to any system of religious bondage imposed on someone by another individual, or by an organization, that attempts to make that person a practitioner of legalism.  Bullying tactics are often used: — So, while it is not legalism to have high standards, it is legalism to try to impose those standards on others as a system of spirituality. — There are four principal spiritual transactions in which works are not accepted by God: salvation, spirituality, maturity, and reward. —Legalism in Christian living: Taboos: thinking one is spiritual because he doesn’t do certain things or follows a certain do’s and don’ts; Imitating personalities: the idea that living the Christian life is conformity in dress, mannerisms, speech, etc—.; Relative righteousness: “your sins are worse than mine, therefore I am more spiritual” or “I am spiritual and you are carnal.”  Ecstatics: spirituality by speaking in tongues, groaning, getting in a trance, fainting; Asceticism: spirituality by self-sacrifice or extreme self denial, giving up normal activities, or even necessities in the mistaken notion that God is impressed; Ritual: idea that one is spiritual because he goes through various forms of ceremony or ritual; Confusing means with results: the idea that you are spiritual if you are faithful in praying, giving, witnessing, attending church, and so forth. But, these legitimate activities are a result of Christian growth and the filling of the Holy Spirit. They are not the means for spirituality or growth in Christ. — ROMANS 14 HAS A SPLENDID DESCRIPTION OF THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A LEGALISTIC PERSON WHO IS CALLED THE ” WEAKER BROTHER”. ”  The full document can be found at ( http://www.gracenotes.info/documents/TOPICS_DOC/Legalism.pdf ).

3.      “Legalism is the compelling of another believer to practice or not practice something not expressly commanded or forbidden under Grace. — For example, if you in your freedom under Grace decide to observe the Sabbath in some way, you are perfectly free to do so, you have not sinned. You are NOT free however, to impose your choice on another believer and expect him to observe something contained in the Law of Moses just because you do.  Doing this is called committing the sin of legalism and it is wrong. — Some other areas of legalism that are common are in the drinking of alcoholic beverages, clothing, and tithing.”   By Pastor Pat Forrestal.  The full document can be found at http://www.ohana.com/~pforrest/legalism.htm.

4.      “Legalism is a philosophy of religious practice wherein faith is expressed by adherence to a command and obedience infrastructure. — The place where legalism finds its most ubiquitous expression is in the evangelical, conservative, fundamentalist community.”  The full document can be found at http://www.fishernet.com/counselng/journl2.htm.

5.      “Legalism is the teaching that sinners are saved (justified, sanctified and accepted with God) upon the basis of their own works of legal obedience.” These quotes are from a document titled “Damnable Heresies” by Don Fortner.  The full document can be found at ( http://www.donfortner.com/bulletin_articles/61_2_peter/2pe%2002v01%20Damnable%20Heresies.htm ).

6.      “Legalism is that idea that one earns or merits salvation by their obedience.”  This quote is from a document titled “Keeping The Commandments Of God” and can be found at ( http://executableoutlines.com/1cor/1co7_19.htm ).

7.      “Legalism is conforming to a code or system of deeds and observances in the energy of the flesh, hoping to gain the blessing and favor of God by such acts.  Legalism invariably denies the principle of grace and exalts the pride of man. The book of Galatians was written as a “magna Carta” against such practices.”  This definition was given by Charles R. Swindall in the year of 1967 in a document called “Friday Bible Class 759” while he was Pastor at the Waltham Evangelical Free Church at Waltham, Massachusetts.

8.       “Legalism is the belief that keeping the law and its requirements is essential for salvation and Christian growth (Gal. 3:1-3).”  By David L. Hocking over a radio broadcast program.

9.      “Legalism is an attitude, a mentality based on pride.  It is an obsessive conformity to an artificial standard for the purpose of exalting oneself.  A legalist assumes the place of authority and pushes it to unwarranted extremes. — In so many words, legalism says, “I do this or I don’t do that, and therefore I am pleasing God.”  Or “If only I could do this or not do that, I would be pleasing to God.”  Or perhaps, “These things that I’m doing or not doing are the things I perform to win God’s favor.”  They aren’t spelled out in Scripture, you understand.  They’ve been passed down or they have been dictated to the legalist and have become an obsession to him or her.  Legalism is rigid, grim, exacting, and law-like in nature.  Pride, which is at the heart of legalism, works in sync with other motivating factors.  Like guilt. And fear.  And shame.  It leads to an emphasis on what should not be, and what one should not do.  It flourishes in a drab context of negativism.”  (Charles R. Swindoll, “The Grace Awakening”, pages 81and 82, published in 1990). ——————— “In addition, He has also brought a glorious freedom from the curse of the Law.  BY THAT I MEAN FREEDOM FROM THE CONSTANCY OF ITS DEMANDS TO PERFORM IN ORDER TO PLEASE GOD AND/OR OTHERS.  It is a freedom from the fear of condemnation before God as well as from an accusing conscience.  FREEDOM FROM THE DEMANDS OF OTHER PEOPLE, FROM ALL THE SHOULDS AND OUGHTS OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC.” (Charles R. Swindoll, “The Grace Awakening”, pages 79and 80, published in 1990). ——————- “To paraphrase those verses we just read from Romans (14:13-18): “NOTHING THAT IS NOT SPECIFICALLY DESIGNATED AS EVIL IN SCRIPTURE IS EVIL—-BUT RATHER A MATTER OF ONE’S PERSONAL PREFERENCE or taste.  So let it be.  Even if you personally would not do what another is doing, let it be.  And you who feel the freedom to do so, don’t flaunt it or mock those who disagree.  We are in the construction business, not destruction.  And let’s all remember that God’s big-picture kingdom plan is not being shaped by SMALL THINGS LIKE WHAT ONE PERSON PREFERS OVER ANOTHER, but by large things, like righteousness and peace and joy.”” (Charles R. Swindoll, “The Grace Awakening”, pages 167, published in 1990).

10.    “The great weapon of authoritarianism, secular or religious, is legalism: the manufacturing and manipulation of rules for the purpose of illegitimate control.”  By Daniel Taylor, “The Myth of Certainty” (Waco, TX: Word, 1986), pages 34-36.

11.    “Legalism may be defined as a fleshly attitude which conforms to a code for the purpose of exalting self.  The code is whatever objective standard is applicable to the time; the motive is to exalt self and gain merit rather than to glorify God because of what He has done, and the power is the flesh, not the Holy Spirit”  (Charles Ryrie, “The Grace of God”, page 117).

12.    “It cannot be emphasized too strongly that having to do something is not legalism, but the wrong attitude is —– Israelites had to bring their sacrifices, otherwise they would have suffered certain penalties.  It was the attitude toward doing what they had to do that determined whether or not their action was legalistic —— Having to conform to a law is not of itself legalism”  (Charles Ryrie, “The Grace of God”, pages 117-118)

13.    “The slide over two generation of time, from lordship (where biblical principles were understood and external standards were implemented) to legalism (where biblical principles were ignored and external standards were exalted) to libertinism (where biblical principles are forgotten and external standards are despised) has produced a scandalous variety of Christianity”. (page 114)  —— “Unfortunately, the next generation, the one immediately preceding ours, tended to focus on the externals of outward morality, which had characterized their parents; and seemed to overlook the essentials of inward integrity, which were the real roots of their visible life style.  This glaring oversight was further complicated by the fact that their parents tended to pass on the external standards without explaining the biblical principles.  In an authoritarian era, it’s not difficult to see how this could happen.  The effect was the development of a classical form of legalism (conformity to an outward code as a sign of spirituality), which corrupted true spirituality by shifting the focus from the internal to the external.  Today’s generation has in large part forgotten the principle of lordship, which characterized their grandparents and reacted to the practice of legalism, which characterized their parents.  The result has been the development of a classical form of libertinism, which buys into an unprincipled and standardless form of Christianity, and which is very much like the world, while remaining very much unlike Jesus Christ.  This tragic slide, over two generations of time, from lordship (where biblical principles were understood and external standards were implemented) to legalism (where biblical principles were ignored and external standards were exalted) to libertinism (where biblical principles are forgotten and external standards are despised) has produced a scandalous variety of Christianity which is incapable of either confronting the culture of restraining its evil.” Pages 138-139. ——- “THERE IS THE PRINCIPLE OF ENDANGERMENT (1 CORINTHIANS 8:9-13).  HERE IS A SECTION OF SCRIPTURE DEALING WITH OUR RESPONSIBILITY OF PROTECTIVE CARE FOR YOUNGER AND WEAKER CHRISTIANS.” page 124. ———- “Of course, we must develop a hierarchy of priorities when it comes to familial separation.  OVER MATTERS OF PREFERENCE WE MAY CERTAINLY DIFFER, BUT WE SHOULD NOT DIVIDE.  We shall have to determine whether or not our dispute is constitutional or merely superficial.  If there is no clear-cut ‘thus saith the Lord,’ we shouldn’t judge and neither should we separate (ROMANS 14:10-13).  There are two opposite and equally destructive options open to us as Christians.  One is to see no basis for separation at all.  THE OTHER IS TO SEE EVERY LITTLE DIFFERENCE AS A BASIS FOR SEPARATION AMONG GOD’S PEOPLE.  If the first option is a manifestation of naivete, THE SECOND IS A MANIFESTATION OF HERESY, WHICH AT ITS ROOT MEANS “A PERSON WHO WITHOUT JUSTIFICATION CREATES DIVISION.” And neither naiveté nor heresy will do for authentic Christians.” pages 132-133. By Douglas R. McLachlan, “Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism”, American Association of Christian Schools, 1993.

14.    “Legalism, An insistence upon the observation of human regulations, as if one’s fellowship with God were dependent upon that observation.  In N. T. times, another form of legalism insisted upon the observation of O. T. rules and ceremony, which had been fulfilled in Christ and thus were no longer binding upon the Christian.  The letter to the Galatians was written to attack legalism and assert Christian freedom.” From the glossary in the “The Believers Study Bible” by Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.

15.    “A weak brother is a Christian who, because of the weakness of his faith, knowledge, conscience, and will, can be influenced to sin against his conscience by the example of a differing stronger brother.” page 405.  “Beware of becoming a Pharisee (Matthew 16:12; Luke 12:1; ROMANS 14:3).”  Page 420.  By Garry Friesen with J. Robin Maxson, “Decision Making & the Will of God”, Multnomah Press, 1980.

16.    “The term legalism commonly denotes preoccupation with form at the expense of substance. While it is now used metaphorically in all areas of human life, it appears to have had a theological origin in the seventeenth century, when Edward Fisher used it to designate ‘one who bringeth the Law into the case of Justification’ (The Marrow of Modern Divinity, 1645). No equivalent term existed in the biblical languages. However, the idea is found in both Testaments.”  This quote is from the “Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology”. Edited by Walter A. Elwell — Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516-6287.

 

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